Pothos Root Rot: What Causes It and How To Prevent It?

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We commonly know Epipremnum aureum as pothos. You might’ve also seen the different pothos plant varieties referred to as golden pothos, devil’s ivy, and money plant. This indoor shade plant is a prominent member of the arum family.

Pothos is easy to grow, and it looks fantastic. So it’s not surprising to see it in various homes, workspaces, and commercial areas. It’s often non-problematic, except for the occasional spell of root rot. 

Pothos root rotPin

When infected with root rot, they often look flaccid, and the Pothos leaves start yellowing. A previously healthy plant may suddenly seem to stop growing and wilt. Luckily, early signs of root rot can help us in treating it and reviving the pothos.

This article will explore in detail what causes pothos root rot and how to prevent it.

What is Pothos Root Rot?

Root rot is an abnormal growth of specific pathogens on the roots of the pothos. It often shows as dark spots on the extremities of the root.

Then, after a few days, the roots become mushy, and it proceeds upwards to the rest of the plant.

In the early stages, the plant looks tired. Then yellow leaves start to turn brown, and finally, the whole plant wilts.

There are three types of parasitic bad actors that can cause this damage:

  • Rhizoctonia spp. is a fungus that inhabits the soil around the healthy roots, then attacks the plant itself.
  • Phytophthora is a water mold, and it quickly spreads through the stems and leaves.
  • Pythium is a pathogenic fungus often found in an infected potting mix.

Root rot is often associated with waterlogging. Excess water together with inefficient draining can complicate the roots’ condition.

Related: What is the Best Potting Soil Mix for Pothos?

Pothos has a dense and quick growth, which could also be a facilitating factor for transmitting pathogens from one spot to the next.

What Damage Does Pothos Root Rot Cause?

The tricky aspect of root rot is that it’s hidden under the soil. That’s why it could cause plenty of damage before we can spot it. It’s not like bugs or pests, which we can often notice early on.

There are some signs, though, that point to possible infection with root rot. Once you notice stunted growth and yellowing in the leaves of a previously thriving plant, check the condition of the roots.

The pathogenic fungus or mold that attacks the root system often leaves it dark, mushy, and smelly. This dysfunctional state of the root system blocks the transport of nutrients and water to the rest of the plant. Thus, the plant loses its vigor, deprived of its sustenance.

Root rot progresses quickly throughout the plant, so in about two weeks, it could stifle the root system completely. In about three weeks, the whole pothos plant could be beyond reviving.

It’s worth noting that the potting soil and the pot used are also infected by fungus or mold. Thus, carefully discard the soil, and disinfect the pot with a suitable fungicidal solution before reuse.

The pathogens causing root rot travel through the waterlogged soil, water, or any convenient carrier. So there’s a risk that they could pass on to another plant and infect it.    

How To Control the Pothos Root Rot

If your pothos plant has root rot that’s still in its initial stages, then there’s a good chance you can cure it completely.

  • Start with removing the potting soil, and wash off the roots
  • If the rot is only in the distal ends, cut off these damaged roots
  • You can use mild soap and water to disinfect the plant
  • Soak the enture plant in a fungicidal solution, then rinse it
  • Remove the wilted leaves
  • Repot the pothos in a new soil
  • Make sure it has proper ventilation and drainage
  • Plan the watering schedule of the plant
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • Limit the amount of fertilizer and the frequency of application
  • Inspect the roots of the pothos regularly

Learn more about How To Water Your Pothos Plant

In case the root rot has spread throughout the whole root system but hasn’t wilted the whole plant yet, work on propagating the pathos.

The plant in its current structure might not be viable, but cutting off the leaves above the nodes could save the pothos. Replanting these individual leaves would give the plant a new chance for survival. 

Prevention is the best approach. And a large part of that is only using potting soil from trusted sources.

There are many online vendors of gardening supplies. Unfortunately, not all sell pathogen-free products.

If you’re planting your pothos hydroponically, change the water regularly. Sitting water encourages that type of fungus. Or, you could use an air pump to keep the oxygen flowing into the water.

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