How to Identify and Treat Root Rot

Are you noticing yellowing leaves and a wilted appearance on your beloved tropical plants? It's possible that they are suffering from root rot, a common issue among container plants.

Example image of plant impacted by root rot

Root rot is caused by various factors, but once the cause is identified and with proper treatment and preventative measures, you can save your plant from further damage and even help it thrive again. In this article, we'll guide you through the ins and outs of root rot and help guide you back to full plant health.

1. What is root rot?

Root rot is a fungal disease that affects plants, particularly those grown in containers. It generally occurs when the roots are exposed to too much water for an extended period, either from overwatering or from lack of drainage.
It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed once identified as it usually causes significant damage to the plant's roots and can even kill it.

2. Causes of root rot?

Overwatering, Poor drainage, using the wrong potting mix, using too much fertilizer, general contamination within the soil medium or too much humidity.

Another cause may be using soil mediums that don't hold water well enough or contain excessive amounts of peat moss/pine bark which can retain moisture leading to standing water at the bottom layer inhibiting root growth and development. Container plants with shallow pots also fall prey easily as they are easily overwatered and so their roots tend to sit in water most times causing them to begin decaying.

3. Symptoms of root rot

Symptoms of root rot can be difficult to identify, especially in the early stages. The first sign is usually a general wilting or yellowing of the leaves, which could also indicate other issues such as overwatering or underwatering. However, if the plant continues to decline even after adjusting its watering schedule, it's possible that root rot is to blame.

Another symptom of root rot is brown or black mushy roots that have a foul odor. These roots will look unhealthy and may start to fall apart when touched. If you suspect root rot, gently remove your plant from its pot and examine its roots for any signs of decay.

In some cases, plants with severe root rot may not show any visible symptoms until it's too late to save them. This is why prevention and early detection are key in keeping your plants healthy.

If you notice any symptoms indicating root rot in your plants, act quickly by taking steps to treat the issue before it spreads further.

4. Treating root rot

Treating root rot is essential to save your aroid plant from further damage. Once you have identified the symptoms of root rot, you need to act quickly. The first step in treating root rot is to remove the affected parts of the plant.

To do this, carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently wash away all soil or potting mix around the roots. Cut off any discolored or mushy roots with a sterile pair of scissors or shears.

After pruning away damaged roots, it's necessary to sterilize your tool before using them again. Then treat the remaining healthy roots by applying an antifungal treatment like hydrogen peroxide diluted in water (1:4) for 5 minutes.

Before replanting your plant, make sure that it has enough space and air circulation for its leaves above ground level while its new pot should be filled with potting mix, we, of course, recommend our carefully formulated and Soilless Molly's Aroid Mix which promotes better drainage and reduces the chances of root rot. 

Once replanted, water only when needed until signs show that its recovered completely. Remember not to overwater as this can lead back to root rot issues in no time! 

5. Preventing root rot

Preventing root rot is always better than having to deal with it. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Choose the right tropical potting mix - opt for a soilless mix like Molly's Aroid Mix that has good drainage and aeration.
2. Water your plants properly - avoid overwatering and make sure the soil dries out slightly before watering again.
3. Ensure proper drainage - use pots with drainage holes, or add a layer of gravel/stones at the bottom of your container to improve water flow.
4. Keep an eye on humidity levels - tropical plants like high humidity but be mindful not to create excessively damp conditions that can lead to fungal growth.
5. Monitor plant health regularly – check your plants frequently for signs of stress or disease, including yellowing leaves, wilting foliage, or any unpleasant odors from the soil.
6. We recommend repotting plants on a yearly basis as it gives you the necessary opportunity to review the health of your plant in detail and rule out any potential illness on the horizon.

By following these preventive measures, you can avoid root rot altogether and keep your tropical indoor plants happy and healthy!



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