How To Treat Root Rot In Houseplants

The more quickly root rot is discovered, the more likely it is that you can save the damaged plants. If you think your plant may have root rot, use this procedure.

  • 1. Define the source of the rot. Just because your plant is withering doesn’t mean it has root rot. Instead, carefully dig it out of the ground and look at the roots to determine how healthy it is.
  • 2. Wash the roots in a sink of water. As much soil as you can away from the roots should be removed because it can be fungus-infected.
  • 3. Remove the damaged portions. Trim away any muddy or black roots using clean tools. Be aggressive since root rot might return if it is not treated. After pruning, if you have very little root structure left, remove some of the leaves to give the roots less growth to sustain.
  • 4. Get rid of the dirt. You should get rid of the potting soil even if you’re not certain that a fungal infection is what caused the root rot. It isn’t worth the risk to maintain dirt if there is a possibility that it contains spores.
  • 5. Thoroughly wash your tools and the pot. Rub alcohol or a bleach solution made from nine parts water to one part bleach should be used to clean both your equipment and the plant’s container. As a result, fungus spores won’t spread.
  • 6. Put new dirt in the plant’s pot. Gently separate the remaining roots and completely enclose them in a well-draining potting mix appropriate for your particular plant to stop future incidences of root rot. Use a potting mix made for container plants instead of backyard dirt; it will have a combination of lightweight elements to prevent soil compaction.

Root Rot

Fusarium Root Rot: Fusarium is a widespread soil fungus that has several species. It can cause rotting symptoms in plants on the roots or stems, particularly if there is a cut or other lesion. Overwatering and oversaturating roots can cause fusarium fungi to quickly overgrow since they can also take over dead or dying tissues.

Pythium Root Rot: Pythium is a parasitic bacterial organism that feeds on decaying plant materials, making it a great candidate to transform overwatering into a serious case of root rot. This bacteria can be spread from plant to plant by fungus gnats, which are covered in our blog post on common houseplant pests.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Root Rot may be caused by Pythium or Fusarium, particularly in inactive climates with excessive watering. Without the help of fungi or bacteria, overwatering can also result in root rot. The roots of your plant will start to rot if they are left in excessive moisture without drying out, and even after the soil has dried, healthy roots may get infected.

How to Identify Root Rot: Since the roots are unable to adequately absorb moisture and nutrients, withering and discolored leaves are an external indicator that something is wrong with the roots. The roots will be fragile and spongy and appear dark brown or black.

In order to effectively treat root rot, you must act soon after spotting its symptoms. You will also need fresh potting soil, bleach, sanitized scissors or shears, and a fungicide from your neighborhood nursery or garden center.

Break the soil from the root ball and remove the plant from the pot. To remove the soil, wash the plant roots under running water.

Your plant’s leaves should be pruned back. Although it’s sad, fewer foliage means the new, smaller root system won’t have to work as hard and will have more time to develop. Trim the foliage back at roughly the same rate as you did the roots; for example, if you only had to remove 1/3 of the roots, only need to remove 1/3 of the foliage.

Soft Rot

A bacterial ailment known as Erwinia Soft Rot, which also affects tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables, is common in succulents. In order for the Erwinia bacteria to break down the plant matter, this rot liquefies the interior of the fruit or succulent. We don’t blame you if you’re making a face because it’s a little gross.

When the bacteria are given to a plant stress area, Soft Rot begins to proliferate. Bacteria can enter the wound area if it falls over and bends a leaf. Using unsterilized scissors or shears increases the risk of introducing microorganisms. Cleaning your instruments is a must before pruning.

How to Identify Soft Rot: Soft Rot develops at the site of a cut, thus it initially resembles a scab before the surrounding region darkens to a dark brown or black color. Additionally, you can observe that the damaged leaf or area appears damp and waterlogged and may even leak liquid.

Once the plant has been infected with the Erwinia bacteria, there is no known treatment for Soft Rot. However, you can attempt to avoid Soft Rot by immediately treating any wounds on the plant with a fungicide. To prevent overwatering, allow the soil completely dry between waterings, and keep succulents away from places with high humidity levels.

Root rot: Are plants able to recover?

You must decide whether the plant may be rescued after root rot has been diagnosed. It is too late to preserve the plant if the entire root system is already mushy. Replanting the plant in new soil with proper drainage will help restore the plant’s health if it has any healthy, white, firm roots.

Clean the roots of the plants gently under running water and trim all brown, mushy roots with a pair of sharp scissors to prepare them for replanting. Just above the injured area, cut the healthy root. Work fast to replant in a short period of time. To prevent the spread of fungi to other plants or soil, sanitize the pruning shears with a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water4 after all the roots have been cut down.

If left untreated, root rot will cause plants to die. Gardeners frequently don’t become aware of the issue until it has advanced because the earliest signs of root rot appear beneath the soil. Take action right once to fix the issue if plants start to exhibit signs of root rot, such as yellow leaves or slowed growth1.

The most vulnerable plants to root rot are those in soils that are too compact for water to drain out effectively or in containers with insufficient drainage holes. Garden plants are not immune to root rot, although container plants are most at danger. By adopting measures to enhance soil drainage prior to planting, the majority of garden root rot problems can be avoided. 2 While it may appear that too much water is the source of the problem, the truth is that too much water creates the ideal environment for the true culprit: fungus.

How long does root rot take to heal on a plant?

If you follow the above instructions, your overwatered plant will typically recover in 714 days. It can take more time if there was significant damage. However, if there were sufficiently strong roots, results are frequently seen in as little as two weeks.

After repotting, give the soil a light watering and wait until it is dry before adding more. Avoid watering the plant excessively like you did previously, especially now!

How can root rot be stopped?

Wet conditions in the plant’s soil provide toxic fungi the chance to flourish, which results in the disease known as root rot. Because roots require air to function properly and prolonged immersion in water deprives them of oxygen, the roots decay. Since it’s more difficult to regulate moisture and water might become confined, houseplants in pots are more likely to develop root rot than their planted counterparts. While other causes can also contribute to root rot, overwatering is the main cause of root rot issues. So, we’ll focus on the precise method for treating root rot brought on by excessive moisture.

Root Rot Diagnosis:

You must first confirm that the roots of your plant are indeed rotting. Navigating the best remedy for your plant will be made easier by immediately removing any further potential problems. If you want to determine if your issue is genuinely indoor plant root rot, start by observing any obvious symptoms, such as:

Remember that it’s normal for older leaves to change color and fall, so pay greater attention to those younger ones. If you observe browning, yellowing, or dead leaves, it may be a sign that the roots are also dying. Wet soil and wilting foliage are two telltale signs of root rot.

Look at the saucer of the pot; if water is still there, too much water was supplied at some time, soaking the soil and roots of your plant. Standing water should never be present because it might create waterlogging of the soil and its roots.

Assess the roots at the bottom, which will have received the most water exposure, after slipping the plant out of the pot. Check the roots to see whether they are dark brown in color, squishy or spongy, or even covered in fuzzy moldy debris. These are all warning indications of rot. All of these are symptoms of weakened roots.

Root Rot Rx:

Firm roots and light colour are characteristics of healthy plants that are not rotting (usually either beige, green, or tan). The soil must be adequately moistened and the leaves must be in good condition. Once you’ve determined that your houseplant’s problem is actually root rot, it’s time to create a treatment strategy. Priorities first

1. Let the dirt dry out.

Allow the soil to air out if you’ve recently seen some standing water or a change in leaf color and are unsure whether it’s root rot yet. Allow the soil around the plant to dry out for 3-5 days. For plants that aren’t yet damaged, this technique occasionally works. Drying the soil is beneficial since plant roots require oxygen to function properly. However, if the roots of your plant are severely decomposing, go to the instructions below right away because it’s probably too late to dry the soil.

2. Get rid of all the browned leaves.

Attempting to remove any dead leaves is the first step in this process. As close to the plant’s root as you can, make sure to remove them from it.

3. Get rid of old soil.

The next step will be to repot. To do this, you must first dig the plant out of its present soil. As you take the plant out of the pot, carefully scoop out as much soil as you can. Brush off wet or clumpy soil being careful not to overly damage the root system.

4. Remove rotting and dead roots.

Trimming off rotten roots will be done carefully while the plant is still in its pot. Attempt to preserve as much as you can by removing dead roots and preserving good ones.

5. Replant in fresh soil.

Repot your plant next using sterile potting soil (one that is appropriate with your specific plant). Fresh soil will help ensure that any bacteria or fungi that may have developed have been largely eliminated. Additionally, it will provide nutrients that may have been lacking in the previous soil and aid in the plant’s recovery.

Remember that the plant is probably already susceptible and under stress from the root rot. And depending on how severe the damage is, repotting could make your plant much more stressed or even kill it. But given that the plant is already declining, it’s definitely worth a chance. Also, it’s actually your only opportunity. Allowing the root rot to continue in its current condition of decomposition will eventually kill the entire plant because root rot cannot be reversed and spreads swiftly.

Preventative Measures:

Always, prevention is the best course of action. So make an effort to develop a watering schedule that works for the particular indoor plant you have. Simple procedures like these can help prevent root rot in the future.

  • Use pots that have a drainage hole.
  • Use appropriate soil, and periodically check to make sure the water is draining properly.
  • The plant roots must have access to some air, as was previously said, in order to survive. The plant will be able to absorb oxygen and avoid probable root rot if the soil is allowed to somewhat dry out (only the top layer). The finger test—in which you wiggle your finger a few inches deep into the soil to gauge the moisture level—works well for determining whether to water many tropical houseplants. Its presence indicates that the soil’s bottom is noticeably moist. Therefore, you won’t water again until the top layer is mostly dried.
  • Again, don’t let extra water build up and remain in the bottom dish of the pot.
  • Depending on the season, you’ll also need to change how much water your plant receives. Plants typically require less water during the colder, drier months.
  • Keep an eye on your plant. Knowing when the plant needs less or more will help you stay in the moment.

Since root rot affects the part of the plant that cannot be seen, it is frequently not discovered until major harm has already been done. Your houseplant may be saved if you swiftly follow the survival instructions. However, if your plant simply won’t survive, we strongly advise taking some cuttings to reproduce it. In this manner, some of the plant survives and everything is not lost!

How can I tell if the roots of my houseplants are rotted?

Root rot is frequently difficult to identify until significant harm has been done. Slow growth, squishy stems, and wilting, yellow, deformed leaves are indications of root rot (especially when the plant has been well watered, as wilting leaves can also be a sign of a dry plant). Typically, the soil will smell foul and the roots will be reddish brown in color.

The best course of action is to remove and replace the plant if root rot symptoms have been found. The plant frequently can’t change its direction.

Can peroxide prevent root rot?

Using a watering can or spray bottle, combine one part 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with two parts water. Carefully spray the mixture over the plant’s root system.

In addition, after being absorbed into the soil, hydrogen peroxide will decompose, releasing additional oxygen and promoting root growth by expanding the soil’s volume.

Prior to planting, you can sterilize potting soil or combine with the same mixture.

The soil or mix will be prepared for planting after a week of two to three waterings.