How to Restore Plants Suffering From Root Rot | Cactifi

How to Restore Plants Suffering From Root Rot

Photo by おにぎり on Unsplash

A problem that many plant beginners face is root rot. Plant parents feel compelled to keep watering their plants as a sign of showing love, little do they know, they might be killing their plants!

The leaves start to get dull and turn yellow, and you try your best to revive it with no success. You might try to adjust your watering scheduling, but nothing seems to help. Your plant is suffering from root rot.


What causes Root rot?

 Root rot can result from 2 different situations:

  • Letting the plant sit in water for too long. This can happen because the pot doesn’t have proper drainage holes or the pot is in a saucer that is filled with water. When the plants sit in water for too long, the roots die due to a lack of oxygen. As a result, they die, decay or rot away. The rot spreads to healthier roots and kills them as well.
  • Watering the plant too frequently thus activating fungus in the soil. By watering your plant too frequently and not allowing it to dry out between watering, you are creating a suitable environment for the fungus to thrive. The fungus may lie dormant in soil indefinitely and then gets activated when the plant is overwatered once or twice. The root rot fungus attacks the roots and causes them to rot.


How do I know if my plants are suffering from root rot?

Is the plant wilting and its leaves turning yellow for no obvious reasons? You should start by taking the plant out of the pot to observe the roots.

  • If the roots are black and mushy/slimy, you know the plant is suffering from root rot
  • If the roots disconnect or fall off the plant when you touch them, it’s probably root rot
  • Healthy roots might also look black or pale, but they will feel strong, sturdy, and flexible (sort of like a wire)

 What’s the solution?

You have to act immediately. Here are the steps that you should follow:

  1. Remove the plant from the soil and wash the roots under running water
  2. Be gentle with the plant, but wash away as much soil and affected roots as possible
  3. Use a clean pair of scissors/shears to trim away all of the remaining rotten roots
  4. If a big portion of the roots is affected, you may have to prune away one-third to half the leaves on the plant. That’s due to the fact that the now limited number of roots will not be able to sustain the same number of leaves. This will give the plant a better chance to regrow the roots.
  5. Dispose the soil in the pot that the plant was in
  6. Wash the pot thoroughly with a bleach solution
  7. If possible, dip the remaining healthy roots in a fungicide solution to kill off any possible root rot fungus
  8. Repot the plant with fresh clean potting mix.
    Note: Ensure the pot has proper drainage and only water the plant when the top 2 inches of soil are dry
  9. Give the plant time to regrow its roots before attempting to fertilize it, to avoid stressing the plant
  10. Use a root rot supplement when watering the plant to fortify it against root rot

Fingers crossed, the plant should now be able to recover, and you will get your beautiful houseplant back. Happy planting!


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