What is root rot?
Root rot is a fatal plant disease where the roots of the plant quickly rot and subsequently that kills the entire plant. It can be caused by several waterborne pathogens, and infection generally begins in the roots of plants, consuming nutritive substances within the plant’s vascular system. Indoor plants tend to suffer the most frequently from root rot while infection tends to be rarer outdoors.
What are the common symptoms of root rot?
- Brown, slimy roots
- Severely stunted growth
- Wilting persists even after plant is watered
- Stems can be easily bent (not turgid)
- Small leaves with interveinal chlorosis (yellowing)
- Lower branches begin to die, eventually whole plant dies
- Necrotic spots may appear on foliage and stems
What are the common causes of root rot?
- Poorly-draining media leading to waterlogging
- Medium does not contain enough pore space for air
- Clay soils can compact over time, squeezing air out of the medium
- Tools that have previously contacted infected tissue
How can I identify root rot?
The easiest way to diagnose root rot is to directly examine the root area and look for slimy discolored tissue. In a hydroponic setup this is generally easy to accomplish by lifting the plant out of its container just long enough to examine the “root ball.”
In soil grown plants, the medium can make diagnosis a bit more difficult. Soil sample test kits which test for pathogens are available, however an alternative (and less expensive) method for diagnosis in soil applications is detailed below:
- Find the plant you think is infected with root rot.
- With your index finger push aside a section of the top 2-3 inches of soil in your container.
(this part can be tricky at first, make sure to sample several sections)
- Look for discolored brown roots or a gelatinous slime, both are indicative of infection
It is important that plants whose roots are observed to display a high level of infection should be removed, as there is no cure for root rot once a plant is infected. Plants displaying a light to moderate level of infection can sometimes be revived, but it is recommended to throw out any infected plant due to the risk of cross-contamination. Cuttings can generally be taken successfully from infected plants without issue, if you do not wish to lose the plant completely.
We have many products that can help you get healthy roots like these.
Hydrogren Peroxide - A common solution to hydroponic root rot, not reccomended for soil. Will kill the infecting bacteria and turn turn roots white. Use in reservoir at 2ml per gallon.
Mykos Mycorrhizal Inoculants - A great way to encourage root growth in soil setups. Just add and generous amount of the powder to your water before watering and let the fungal colonies help rebuild your roots.