Tips on how to Stop and Deal with Root Rot in Houseplants

Has your beforehand perky, lush, and inexperienced houseplant abruptly turned sickly yellow and droopy, or are there brown areas on the foliage and dropping leaves?

Root rot is a typical situation in houseplants. As a result of they’re grown in such small environments in comparison with what they’d expertise in nature, they’re much more delicate to extremes corresponding to an excessive amount of water. And an excessive amount of water is a direct reason for root rot.

A close up vertical image of a houseplant removed from its pot suffering from root rot. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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Just about any species is prone to root rot, although some are extra resilient than others.

Arising, we’ll assist you determine in case your plant has root rot and what to do about it.

Right here’s what I’ll cowl:

Managing Root Rot in Houseplants

Earlier than we determine find out how to determine it, let’s discuss what causes root rot.

Causes of Root Rot

There are two major causes of root rot. The primary is an abiotic situation when there may be a lot water within the soil that the roots actually drown.

When the soil is oversaturated, the roots aren’t capable of entry sufficient oxygen, and so they begin to flip smooth and mushy. Identical to another creature when it’s disadvantaged of oxygen – the plant begins to die.

A close up horizontal image of a gardener holding a monstera in a wicker pot.

As well as, there are numerous totally different fungi and water molds (oomycetes) that may trigger the issue, however Fusarium spp., Pythium spp., Phytophthora spp., Rhizoctonia spp. are the commonest and assault the broadest vary of vegetation.

All of those pathogens thrive in excessive moisture and will be unfold by way of water, in contaminated soil, on contaminated instruments, and by bugs, significantly aphids. The pathogens enter the plant by way of broken vascular tissue.

The pathogens aren’t airborne, however if in case you have a moist house or rising space, they will unfold by means of the water droplets within the air.


The signs of this illness can range relying on the species affected. However basically, you’ll see yellowing leaves, brown patches on the foliage, dropping leaves, and stunted development.

A close up horizontal image of a houseplant growing in a pot suffering from disease.

The plant could be wilting despite the fact that the soil feels adequately moist.

The easiest way to inform if the illness is current is to take away the houseplant from its container and examine the roots.

You’ll typically see brown, black, darkish, soggy roots. A few of the tissue could be wholesome however there can be distinct proof of rotting areas.

Within the case of enormous, woodier vegetation like some palms and Ficus species, the outer layer of the roots – often called the dermis – may slough off, leaving the pale inside uncovered.

You may also discover a nasty odor. For those who’ve ever sniffed the previous water in a vase that has been holding lower flowers, the odor.


Root rot is sort of at all times preventable. One of many best methods to keep away from it’s to be cautious about how a lot and the way you water.

Keep away from overwatering by testing the soil together with your finger or a moisture meter earlier than you water.

A close up horizontal image of a gardener watering a rubber tree growing in a decorative pot.

Don’t depend on a watering schedule, since each species is totally different and can take up moisture in a different way relying on the temperature, any breezes in your area, or the relative humidity in your house.

Ensure each container you utilize has drainage holes. You possibly can place a container with drainage inside an ornamental pot, however make sure to empty it out half-hour after watering. The identical applies for those who use any type of water-catching saucer.

Use a well-draining potting soil appropriate for the species that you simply’re rising, and don’t put a layer of rocks or damaged pottery on the base of the pot. This truly makes the issue worse, not higher.

Once you water, make sure to apply the water to the soil, not on the leaves. Or use the backside watering method.

You possibly can study extra about find out how to water houseplants in our information.

At all times use clear, recent soil and wipe any instruments or containers with a ten p.c bleach answer earlier than pruning or potting up.

Once you carry a brand new specimen house, isolate it for every week or two to verify it doesn’t have any signs of illness to keep away from spreading the pathogens to your different vegetation.

Lastly, keep away from stressing your vegetation. A harassed houseplant is extra prone to pathogens current within the soil. Inappropriate gentle, drought, and pest issues can all trigger stress.


Step one in remedy is to take away the plant from the container and eliminate all of the soil.

You may must rinse the roots in a stream of lukewarm water, or it would simply brush away if it isn’t oversaturated.

For those who occur to catch a whiff of one thing disagreeable, type of just like the previous water in a vase holding a bouquet of flowers, that’s indication of root rot.

When you will have all of the roots uncovered, look them over fastidiously. For those who discover any which can be black, soggy or damaged, lower these off with a clear pair of scissors or clippers only a bit above the place the injury ends. You need nothing left however clear, wholesome roots.

Wipe the previous container out with a ten p.c bleach answer.

Spray the roots with a fungicide formulated for root rot or a broad-spectrum fungicide. There are plenty of choices in the marketplace, however you don’t must search for something fancy. A basic alternative is copper fungicide.

An alternative choice is Actinovate AG, which comprises the useful microbe Streptomyces lydicus WYEC 108.

A close up of a package of Actinovate AG isolated on a white background.

Actinovate AG

This highly effective fungicide is accessible at Arbico Organics in an 18-ounce bag.

That’s sufficient to deal with plenty of vegetation repeatedly, so it’s best for those who’re coping with a number of specimens or simply need to be certain you will have one thing available.

After you will have trimmed off all of the rotten tissue and handled the roots, repot the specimen with recent, clear potting soil. Proceed to soak the soil with a fungicide in response to the producer’s instructions till wholesome new development emerges.

Going ahead, use a soil moisture meter and be particularly cautious to not overwater.

Resistant Species

For those who actually can’t cease overwatering your houseplants, both get an epiphytic species and mount it on wooden or wire, or follow rising air vegetation (Tillsandia spp.). It’s nearly unimaginable to overwater a mounted specimen!

As well as, there are a variety of species that aren’t vulnerable to this situation. These are some good selections:

Forged-Iron Plant

As their frequent title suggests, cast-iron vegetation (Aspidistra spp.) are powerful. Actually powerful.

You’d have to completely drown this houseplant for a sustained interval to kill a cast-iron plant.

The strap-like leaves are available numerous shades of inexperienced and might have lovely variegation within the type of spots and or strains.

A close up square image cast-iron plant growing in a pot indoors in a formal living room.

Forged-Iron Plant

You’ll find cast-iron vegetation in one- and three-gallon containers accessible at Quick Rising Timber.

Study extra about cast-iron vegetation in our information.


Cyperus species like umbrella sedge or papyrus plant (C. alternifolius) are extraordinarily tolerant of moist ft.

They develop in swampy areas within the wild, so that ought to come as no shock. For those who’re a convicted overwaterer (raises hand), take into account this palm-like species.

A close up square image of papyrus plant growing in a pot outdoors.

Papyrus Plant

Quick Rising Timber carries this lovely species for those who’d wish to carry one (or extra) house.


For those who develop fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.) as houseplants, you’ll not solely be handled to the attractive blossoms, however a specimen that may tolerate soggy circumstances as nicely.

A close up horizontal image of red and white fuchsia flowers growing indoors pictured on a soft focus background.

Whereas they will technically undergo from root rot, you’d actually need to make an effort.


Many Ficus species are immune to root rot, each from overwatering and from pathogens, however not all. Fiddle-leaf figs, for one, appear to be extra inclined than others within the genus.

A close up horizontal image of a gardener setting a potted creeping fig in a wooden stand.

My first expertise with this illness was a fiddle-leaf fig that I overwatered for months earlier than I spotted what I’d completed mistaken.

It misplaced half of its leaves and wanted some severe rehab, but it surely’s nonetheless with me and lovelier than ever in spite of everything these years.

However creeping figs (F. pumila), for instance, received’t flinch at an excessive amount of water.

Study extra about rising ficus vegetation in our information.


Ivy (Hedera helix) isn’t the best houseplant to develop, which is ironic given how prolific it’s outdoor.

A close up horizontal image of variegated ivy growing in a pot indoors pictured on a soft focus background.

However of all of the issues which may make your ivy sad indoors, root rot in all probability received’t be one in every of them.

For those who’d wish to know extra about find out how to develop ivy indoors, try our information.

There’s No Motive to Endure With Root Rot

Root rot is without doubt one of the extra frequent issues when rising houseplants, however that doesn’t imply it has to trigger bother in your indoor backyard.

A close up horizontal image of rotten roots on a houseplant.

As I mentioned, you possibly can largely keep away from root rot for those who take a number of precautions. Even when it this illness does grow to be a difficulty, you possibly can deal with it for those who catch it early sufficient and save your vegetation from sure doom.

Are you battling root rot? What signs are you seeing? Tell us within the feedback part beneath.

And for extra details about rising houseplants, try these guides subsequent:

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