Root Rot: How To Care For Plants With Rotting Roots


If you grow plants, ornamental trees, shrubs, vegetables and houseplants, you’ll likely encounter:

and somewhere down the line root rot.

So, what causes it and how to get rid of root rot?

This condition can cause a lot of damage and spread to other plants. It’s best to know what conditions cause a problem, let’s learn the causes and what to look for.

root rot symptomsroot rot symptoms

How To Identify Root Rot & What Is  Root Rot?

This condition causes a lot of the stem and root base decay problems in shrubs, trees, bedding plants, and houseplants. A lot of Phytophthora species (the disease) exist and they each cause a similar set of symptoms of root rot.

So, what does root rot look like?

Black root rot, a condition caused by bacteria Thielaviopsis basicola which largely affects herbaceous perennials, growers of bedding plants, and some woody plant species.

As it shows almost no symptoms, it can be passed on from one plant to another while they appear healthy until it greatly impacts the plant and crop production.

Fusarium root rot fungus, also known as tomato root rot, impacts soybeans, tomatoes, and pulses.

The fungi causng this condition can live for many years in the soil or plant debris.

This kind of root rot can spread through irrigation lines, while transplanting, and can even survive through winter and affect more plants with the same symptoms as other kinds of root rot.

Meanwhile, phellinus noxius attacks tropical plants and usually trees.

The infected symptoms include leaves becoming yellow, defoliation and even death. This pathogen is also known as brown tea root disease.

Armillaria, also known as honey fungus is a kind of fungi that causes white root rot or white rot disease on trees and woody shrubs.

Cannabis root rot, a disease caused by different pathogens also exists for cannabis plants.

Root and plant rot can spread to bulbs, woody plants, herbaceous perennials, and bedding plants.

You’ll find these fungus-like and microscopic Phytophthora species throughout the soil and can live for a long time even without host plants.

You’ll find root rot on St Augustine Grass called “Take-All Root Rot” with a reddish brown look. Even cannabis plants experience Rhizoctonia fungus diseasePhytophthora, Pythium root rot.

Related Reading

What Causes Root Rot?

Usually, the spores spread through the air. You can also lay dormant in the soil for a long time before infecting new plants in the area.

The above ground symptoms of root decay show up only after the disease is fairly advanced. Plants appear weak and diseased since the condition makes the plant unable to get water or nutrients from its roots.

The foliage will exhibit symptoms of yellowing or becoming more sparse.

In many cases of root rot, branches dieback and these issues get worse as time goes on until it dies. The color from the foliage of a conifer can fade from it being green but dull to gray and then brown.

Looking below-ground by checking the roots for Phytophthora root rot. Check the stem base and collar of the plant to see if the root system is poor. The roots of a plant helping with feeding will start to rot away.

These microscopic Phytophthora are organisms you cannot see. In other words, you cannot look at the roots and see the fungus growing, you only see the effects of it.

How Can You Control Root Rot?

One way to control Phytophthora root rot is to reduce soil compaction and provide a good drainage of soil for your plant and improve the soil moisture. If you notice diseased plants early, destroy the affected plants and replace the soil with new soil. Do not introduce plants such as Buxus, Lavandula, and Rhododendron as they are very susceptible to the root rot disease.

Related Reading: Soil Solarization: How To Kill Soil Pests and Diseases Using The Power Of The Sun

Are Any Natural Remedies Available?

So you want to know how to fix root rot in soil?

There are actually no chemical root rot treatments that are a root rot cure.

Then how to treat root rot?

You must work with properly draining the soil and oftentimes, a raised planting location or site helps with draining.

Try to break the soil surface so want water does not pool up around your plant’s collar or plant roots in general.

Separate all your plants to fix the soil drainage in their location. When growing in a hydroponic garden, the water needs proper aeration.

If you’re buying plants from someone else, check them carefully before putting them into your garden.

Look for any root rot symptoms as it can strike quickly and cause you a lot of issues trying to keep plants in shape.

Do not use any plants that find themselves frequently over-watered until you know they are clear of this issue.

Why Does The Root Rot Problem Stick Around?

One day everything seems fine and then the next day you see one area of your garden has Phytophthora, you’re hoping it does spread elsewhere. In this instance, to prevent root rot you need to get everything out of that area, soil included, before it spreads further.

Look at your situation and react quickly. If not, you may lose a lot of plants quickly that can easily be saved by neutralizing the threat before it overtakes the area.

Weather issues are difficult to deal with and predict. Make sure you have something in place to get rid of excess rain water. Your irrigation system has to be robust while draining well enough to keep water from pooling.

The spores can travel from the air to water, or from one puddle to another depending on where it originates. That’s why it’s best to just never let your garden get too drenched and know what to do if it ends up having this issue.

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