Is Root Rot Killing Your Houseplants? Let’s Find Out!

Last updated on October 17th, 2022

Yellowing leaves, limp stems, or stunted growth: they all indicate that your plant is in distress. The cause can be anything from the lack of sunlight, insufficient soil nutrients, or even root rot.

To identify what is causing your plant to wilt, you need to understand what the issue is and then focus on how to fix it. So, how do you find out if your plant has root rot and what are the causes of it? And more importantly, how do you revive a plant with root rot? Treating root rot is not easy.

And if root rot is severe, the plant may not survive. However, if you catch the problem early, you may be able to save your plant. Let’s take a deep dive and find out more about identifying root rot and how to save your plant.

What is root rot?

Wilting stems, yellow leaves, or dropping leaves are all signs that your plant is not healthy. If the droopy leaves don’t respond to sunlight and watering, root rot may be the reason. One of the leading causes of root rot is overwatering.

Sometimes it’s difficult to identify root rot as pest infestation, and other plant diseases show the same symptoms.

What are the causes of root rot?

The two primary causes of root rot are overwatering and poorly drained soil. When the soil is soggy, it is tough for the roots to absorb the oxygen they need to survive. Oxygen-starved roots slowly start to decay and die. Even after the issue has been identified and rectified, the rot can spread to healthy roots. Once the roots weaken, they become susceptible to soil fungus, which further causes root rot. The soil may already contain fungus. However, when there is excess dampness, fungus spores get activated and attack the roots.

Root rot symptoms

Root rot often mimics the symptoms of pest infection, and as such, diagnosing the problem can get tricky. However, there are some obvious signs that can help you identify the issue above the ground level:

Quick decline in the plant health

Poor or stunted growth

Small and pale leaves

Brown, yellow, or wilting leaves

Loss of lushness in the plant’s canopy

Branch dieback – which means progressive death of shoots, twigs, and branches

Cankers or dead areas on the plant due to the upward growth of the fungus

Dark brown or mushy roots

A tried and tested method for a proper diagnosis is to dig under the soil and check for decay. You can use a Pulaski, as it has two sides. One can be used for chopping and the other for scraping or digging. However, please remember that utmost care is needed while doing this test, as damage to the roots will kill the plant.

How to treat a plant with root rot?

Sadly, root rot is not easy to treat. The first thing your plant needs for survival is fresh soil. The following tips will give your plant a new lease on life:

Gently remove the plant and check the roots. Healthy roots will be firm and white. Remove as much soil as possible from the roots and identify the rotten parts.

Next, cut away rotting foliage and roots with a pair of sharp pruning shears. Try not to damage healthy root growth.

Once all the dead or squishy roots have been removed, repot the plant in fresh and healthy soil. See that your pot has a drainage hole.

With enough care, your plant will bloom again.

Ensure your plant is getting the right amount of water and sun, and the soil is not continuously damp and soggy.

Final Thoughts

With better care and understanding, root rot in plants can be avoided. You need to be conscious of what your plant needs – sun, water, nutrients, etc. You can also feel the soil with your finger to see if the plant needs water. And hey, if you need tips on plant care, you can always ask the experts.

Also, Homebliss has its finger on the pulse when it comes to decorating your home with plants. Head to the website to find out what’s trending and what’s not.