Root rot is a major cause of premature plant death. It’s often not easy to identify the problem because it affects the roots under the soil. If you take care of your plant, you can notice the problem because most signs of root rot appear on the leaves or stems.
For instance, a plant that has developed yellow leaves and a soft stem most likely has a rotten root. But can you save a plant from root rot?
YES! You can save the plant that is affected by root rot if you identify the problem in its early stages. The simplest way to identify it is by checking how fast the leaves turn yellow. Leaves change their color because of a lack of nutrients from the roots. So, when the roots aren’t functioning correctly and can’t supply nutrients, the leaves adapt by changing color.
What is root rot?
Root rot is a disease that affects the root system, causing it to decay. The diseases result from fungi present in the soil. The fungi grow in soils that are wet for long periods.
This problem happens in overwatered soils, whereby the soil has too much water that closes pores, preventing proper air circulation. Lack of air results in the growth of fungi that attacks the roots, causing them to rot. As the roots rot, the plant adapts to survive changes.
So, the best way to prevent root rot is to ensure the soil is moist to sustain the plant’s growth. Overwatering increases the chances of the plant dying.
How can you identify a plant with root rot?
Since the problem occurs in the soil, it’s not easy to identify it during the early stages. However, if you have a system of repotting plants or changing the soil monthly, you can inspect the roots to check for damage.
The first sign of rot is the presence of soft, brown roots. Roots in their normal state are hard, firm, and white. But, when they are affected by a disease, they become soft, soggy, and brown.
As the roots become soggy, they weaken and stop transporting food to the stem and leaves. It leads to nutrient deficiency in the foliage. Leaves turn yellow, wilt, and die. Besides that, stems becomes weak, resulting in stunted growth.
However, you can prevent this if you identify and fix a plant with root rot. Once the leaves turn yellow, check the roots to see if they are in good condition. These simple symptoms can help you save a plant from root rot.
How do you Save a plant From root rot?
To save a plant from root rot, check the roots to see if the damage is small or big.
To identify if you can save the plant, feel the roots to see if they are mushy. You can’t save the plant if the whole root system is mushy. However, if some roots are white and firm, then there is a possibility to save the plant from root rot.
Here is a simple method to help you bring back your plant.
How to revive rotten roots
Once you have found the problem, it’s time to start treating the plant. Follow these steps;
- Let the soil dry
Since water is the major cause of this problem, your soil likely has standing water. Let the soil dry for 2 to 3 days in direct sunlight so that air can flow into the roots. Once it is completely dry, remove the plant using a shovel from the container.
- Inspect the roots
Check the roots and cut off the decayed and damaged roots from the plant. Make sure you leave healthy roots that can regrow. Try to keep as many roots intact as possible without damaging the healthy ones. When trimming the dead parts, ensure that you use a sharp knife.
- Change old soil
Remove the current soil and add new soil to avoid contamination when returning the roots to the soil. Sterilize the pot, then add the fresh soil. It ensures that bacteria or fungi in the previous soil are not present.
- Remove all browning leaves.
Before you repot the plant, remove all the affected parts, including the brown and yellow leaves. It leaves your plant healthy and free from contaminants.
- Repot the plant
Once you have removed all the affected parts, return the plant to the soil and take good care with minimal water, as advised. You can purchase a moisture meter to check the moisture present in the soil before watering.
Remember that repotting a plant increases stress levels and can lead to its death. But it’s the only option to save a plant from root rot. And since the plant is already dying, there is no problem in trying to save it. So, when you repot it, give it some time to adapt to its new environment.
How to prevent root rot
Before you start thinking about the problem, you must first prevent the problem. That happens by taking care of the plant. It includes improving your water routine, using proper tools, and paying attention to your plant. Here are some helpful tips;
- Make sure your plant pots have enough drainage holes.
- Purchase potting soil that can drain water properly.
- Purchase a moisture meter to measure the moisture content in the soil before watering. Or you can water the plant when the topsoil is dry. Dry soil lets fresh air into the soil, reducing the potential growth of fungi.
- Avoid giving the plant water until it accumulates on the top of the soil.
- Know the correct amount of water to give plants, depending on the season. For instance, a plant requires more water in the summer and less water during colder, drier months.
How long does it take a plant to recover from root rot?
Once you have followed the process and removed all the affected parts of the plant, it can recover from 10 to 15 days. That will also determine the extent of the damage and how you care for it in those recovery days.
If the plant has extensive root damage, it can take more than two weeks before the root system recovers and starts to grow. Also, you have to hydrate the plant properly for it to recover.
Can root rot reverse itself?
No. The problem can’t reverse itself. The only possible solution is to remove the affected parts of the root and then repot it in fresh soil with the remaining healthy roots.
Should you water the plant after root rot?
After you have removed all the affected soil and repotted it, you can water it with enough water when it is dry. Ensure you don’t overwater it again.
Can you fertilize the plant after root rot?
No. You shouldn’t fertilize the plant after repotting it. Fertilizing the plant can result in stressing the plant, which in turn will kill it.
Can you cure the rotting by not watering?
If the topsoil has standing water and you have not seen signs of root rot, you can cure it by not watering until the soil is dry. You can cure it if it’s in its early stages of rotting. Let the soil dry for 4 to 6 days before you can begin watering.