Updated at: 13-05-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

Some gardening issues are easy to spot and obvious in a short period of time. During the night, a groundhog may have come to your garden and munched on some of your tomatoes, so you’ll want to inspect them the next morning to see if they’ve been eaten. It’s important to know what to look for while looking for indicators of root rot because it’s a condition that often sneaks up on you, even after the symptoms become apparent.

What Is Root Rot?

It’s a disease that affects plants, but the key is to understand what causes it. Soil that is too wet or fungus that thrive in it might cause the disease.

How To Identify, Fix And Prevent Root Rot - Smart Garden Guide

Waterlogged soil can occur for a variety of causes, including a lack of drainage, excessive rainfall, and overwatering.

Overwatering may be the most upsetting of the bunch.. There is no doubt in your mind that watering your plants is an act of conscientiousness. “Too much of a good thing” is the problem here.

Overwatering or an exceptionally wet time alone, on the other hand, may not be sufficient to create waterlogging of your soil. Poor drainage is a major factor in their success. Sandy soil drains water like a sieve, thus it’s uncommon for it to become waterlogged. For a long time, however, moist clayey soil is preferred. As a result, waterlogging is most often caused by a mix of poor drainage and an abundance of moisture.

Roots require oxygen, even if you don’t conceive of them as breathing. Waterlogged soil is an issue for them since they decay, perish, and become useless to the vegetation they support, which finally results in their demise if you don’t fix the situation quickly enough. To the plant’s dismay, water cannot get to the rotting roots since they’ve been sitting in too much water.

Root rot can have more complicated causes than just wet soil. A fungus, like Phytophthora, may be the direct culprit. Waterlogged soil, on the other hand, encourages the spread of Phytophthora because of inadequate drainage. There are more fungi in moist conditions, and there are less Phytophthora cases in soil that drains efficiently.

How to Identify Root Rot

Root rot is difficult to detect because it develops beneath the surface, where it cannot be seen. However, gardeners are more likely to find disease symptoms in a plant’s leaves than its roots, despite the moniker “root rot.” The damage has already been done by the time you get to this point.

Root rot can cause yellowing foliage, and the leaves may fall off. In addition, the leaves may deform as well (smaller than usual, twisted, etc.). The roots may appear to be darker, reddish-brown, or otherwise rotten when you investigate them, and they may also smell of decay. Another symptom of root rot is that the plant always looks wilted, no matter how much water it receives.

How do I fix root rot?

You may be able to save a plant with root rot if you catch it early enough. Root rot in the most common houseplants can be remedied by following these procedures.

Root rot may be to blame if your plant has been losing leaves, turning yellow, or developing soft, mushy leaves. Examine the roots of the plant by removing it from the pot. Take a look at the roots and treat them if they’re mushy, damp, brown, or squishy.

To remove dirt from the roots, use shears or scissors to cut the afflicted roots off of the plant once it has been removed from its pot. Gently wash the remaining roots under running water to remove any soil.

Your plant should be replanted in a new pot with sufficient drainage, and if you’re using the same pot, make sure to properly clean it before repotting. It’s possible to prune the top of the plant a bit if you eliminated a lot of roots and the plant has a lot of leaves to distribute its energy to.

Placing it in a well-lit area will make it more noticeable. Only water until the soil’s surface is completely dry. If all goes well, in a few weeks, your plant should be back to its former self.

Remember that the closer you are near your plants, the more likely they are to succeed. Keep an eye on them, give them enough of water, and reap the various health advantages they provide!

How To Identify, Fix And Prevent Root Rot - Smart Garden Guide

How to Prevent or Treat Root Rot?

When it comes to root rot, preventing it is far easier than dealing with it once it’s already there. Preventative measures include ensuring that your yard has enough drainage and avoiding overwatering.

An accurate assessment of how much water is too much is difficult to come by. Digging just outside the root zone will reveal whether or not a plant has been properly hydrated (close enough to see what is going on there but not so close that you damage the roots). Most plants prefer a uniformly moist soil in their root zones. So, if the soil in that area appears to be dry, you need to increase your watering efforts. If it’s soggy, however, you’ve overwatered it.

Drainage in a yard can be improved in a variety of ways:

  • Additives, such as compost, can be incorporated into the soil.
  • Adding French drains to your property
  • Using raised beds to grow your plants

To be on the safe side, if root rot does occur because of poor preventative measures, the plant in question must be small enough (for example, a perennial rather than an enormous tree or shrub) and the problem must have been discovered in time. Even though root rot is a common problem with houseplants, the fact that they are often grown in containers means that you have easy access to the roots. Root rot can be treated in mild cases by digging up the plant, cleaning the roots, and removing the diseased areas (with a sterilized cutting tool).

Planting it again can be done either in the same location or in a new location that has been improved by adding compost to the soil. Root rot is an issue that can be avoided if you provide your plants a soil that is easily pulverized.

Preventing Root Rot With Smart Plant Selection

The importance of selecting the right plants cannot be overstated. If you know your soil stays wetter than is optimum for most plants, grow plants that are tolerant of poor drainage and/or plants that thrive in water. Exhibits include

  • The Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
  • A pussy willow, for example (Salix discolor)

Root rot can be prevented by avoiding the following plants:

  • Laurel of the Alps (Kalmia latifolia)
  • Plants of the genus Rhododendron
  • The constellation Andromeda (Pieris japonica)
  • The yews (Taxus spp.)
  • Her name is Heather (Calluna)
  • English lavender and other mediterranean flora (Lavandula angustifolia)


The first step in reviving a root-rotted plant is to identify whether or not it can be rescued. If the plant’s entire root system is mushy, there is little you can do. However, if the plant has healthy, white, solid roots, transplanting it in fresh soil with good drainage will help it recover.

All About Root Rot - Bring Nature Inside

Roots should be cleaned gently under running water and any discolored, mushy roots removed with a pair of scissors before replanting. Just above the injured area, cut the healthy root. Replant within a few hours if you can. Using a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water4 will help prevent the spread of fungus spores to other plants or the soil after all the roots have been cut.

Even though root rot is a major concern for gardeners, the chances of rescuing afflicted plants are greatly increased when the problem is treated as soon as symptoms appear. Fungus thrives in wet soil; therefore, provide your plants a well-drained and healthy environment in which they can grow.

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