Root Rot Identification, Treatment & Prevention

Have you noticed your plants leaves are turning yellow, wilting, growth is slow or just dying off? There’s a chance your plant could be suffering from root rot.

What is Root Rot?

Root Rot is a disease that attacks the plants roots when the soil the plant is in is staying too wet for a long period of time. As the disease is spread through the soil, it can sometimes be hard to fight and often the plant dies.

What Causes Root Rot

Root Rot can be caused by poor drainage and overwatering as the soil becomes waterlogged or from a fungus that has flourished from being constantly wet.

Overwatering the plant causes the soil to become waterlogged, not allowing any oxygen through to the plants roots which causes them to rot and decay as they die. Even if the problem is corrected, the rot can spread to the healthy roots, eventually killing them as well.

Another cause of Root Rot is fungus. Since fungus thrive in wet conditions, when the soil stays soggy it’s the perfect environment for fungus to grow. The fungus attacks the roots of the plant and will eventually cause the roots to rot and die.

How Quickly does Root Rot Affect Plants

The root rot fungus is a fast acting plant killer! It will enter your plant through its roots, changing them from a healthy white colour and firm in texture to brown and mushy. This gross fungus can kill your favourite plant in as quick as one week to 10 days! So it is crucial to identify it as soon as possible and begin treatment.

How to Identify Root Rot

Since Root Rot happens under the soil where we can’t see, it can often be difficult to identify. The things you need to look out for are wilting leaves, distorted leaves, yellowing leaves, stunted growth or leaves dropping off. This happens because plants that are suffering from Root Rot can’t absorb up the moisture or nourishment they need from the soil.

Roots that are affected by Root Rot are black and mushy and may even fall off when you touch them. Healthy roots are a white colour and will feel firm.

How to Treat Root Rot

Once you’ve identified Root Rot and you think your plant can be saved, it’s best to act fast to try and prevent it from getting worse. If all of the plants roots are black and mushy, the plant is too far gone and can’t be saved. However, if the plant still has some firm, healthy white roots, you can try repotting the plant into a pot with good drainage and fresh well draining soil best suited to your plant.

Gently remove the plant from the soil and rinse the roots under running water, being sure to remove all of the brown, mushy roots. If you’re planning on repotting your plant back into the same pot it was originally in, be sure to rinse the pot out to clear out any of the possible fungus that could remain in it and dispose of the soil.

When treating Root Rot, there’s a chance that you will have to remove a lot of the plants root system depending on how badly your plant is infected. To help give your plant a better shot at life, you can cut some of the leaves off to help reduce stress on the plant and give it a better chance to grow back roots.

How to Prevent Root Rot

To ensure you don’t have to deal with the pains that are associated with your plant getting root rot you can take the following precautions to avoid it.

  1. Ensure that you are not overwatering your plant; make sure you only water your plant when the top inch of the soil is dry to prevent overwatering.
  2. Ensure your plant is kept in the correct soil, well draining soil is best for allowing adequate water flow and avoiding your soil being waterlogged.
  3. Replant your plant into a pot with good drainage. Pots without holes are another key player in causing your plant to become waterlogged. If you’re in love with a pot that doesn’t have a hole for drainage you can keep your plant in another pot and use the other as a pot cover.

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