Nothing can strike fear into the heart of a plant parent like the words “root rot,” usually whispered behind closed doors for fear their plant collections may overhear and get ideas. Not all is lost when root rot strikes, but should you find yourself dealing with this issue, prepare yourself to lose some of your plants.
What is root rot? Root rot occurs when a plant’s soil becomes overwhelmed with water. The roots begin to die, and unfortunately as that happens rot sets in, which can lead to even healthy roots become infected and dying as well. It can also occur as a result of fungi in the soil, which goes after healthy plant pieces and destroys them.
Whichever the cause of your root rot issues, you need to act quickly to correct what is happening, especially if it is a fungal problem, as that can easily spread to your other plants. If you suspect a fungal infection as the cause of your root rot, immediately quarantine your sick plant and check the ones around it for any signs of it.
Root rot causes the plant to wilt and the leaves to turn yellow (even when you pull back on watering or change the light). If you suspect root rot as the cause of your plant’s distress, first remove the plant from the soil and check the roots for mushiness/discoloration.
Once root rot is confirmed, toss the soil from the empty pot and clean it out thoroughly with soap, water, and a touch of bleach (if it is a small enough pot, you can even pop it in the dishwasher!).
Cut off the deceased roots and thoroughly clean the remaining roots. Spray them with a fungicide to ensure health, then repot the freshened plant in clean soil.
Moving forward, make sure to only water when the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry and be sure to only use well-draining soil.
Don’t forget to tag us in your plant photos on Instagram @cellardplants and use #CellarDoorPlants so we can see your gorgeous babes! Happy de-rotting!