Root Rot: How To Care For Plants With Rotting Roots

and root rot symptoms

If you grow plants, ornamental trees, shrubs, vegetables and houseplants, sometime you’ll experience root rot. This condition can cause a lot of damage and spread to other plants. It’s best to know what conditions cause a problem, let’s learn the causes and what to look for.

What Is Root Rot?

This condition causes a lot of the stem and root base decay problems in shrubs, trees, bedding plants  and houseplants. A lot of Phytophthora species (the disease) exist and they each cause a similar set of symptoms. Rot can spread to bulbs, woody plants, herbaceous perennials, and bedding plants. You’ll find these fungus-like and microscopic Phytophthora species throughout the soil and can live for a long time even without host plants.

You’ll find root rot on St Augustine Grass called “Take-All Root Rot” with a reddish brown look. Even cannabis plants experience RhizoctoniaPhytophthora, Pythium root rot.

What Conditions Cause Root Rot?

Usually, the spores spread through the air. You can also lay dormant in the soil for a long time before infecting new plants in the area. The above ground symptoms of root decay show up only after the  disease is fairly advanced. Plants appear weak and diseased since the condition makes the plant unable to get water or nutrients from its roots.

The foliage will exhibit symptoms of yellowing or becoming more sparse. In many cases branches dieback and these issues get worse as time goes on until it dies. The color from the foliage of a conifer can fade from it being green but dull to gray and then brown.

Looking below-ground by checking the roots for Phytophthora root rot. Check the stem base and collar of the plant to see if the root system is poor. The roots of a plant helping with feeding will start to rot away. These microscopic Phytophthora organisms you cannot see. In other words, you cannot look at the roots and see the fungus growing, you only see the effects of it.

How Can You Control It?

One way to control Phytophthora root rot is to improve your soil’s drainage and soil moisture. If you notice diseased plants early, destroy the affected plants and replace the soil with new soil. Do not introduce plants such as Buxus, Lavandula, and Rhododendron as they are very susceptible to the root rot disease.

Are Any Natural Remedies Available?

There are actually no chemical treatments for this condition. You must work with properly draining the soil and often. A raised planting location or site helps with draining. You don’t want water pooled up around your plant’s collar or roots in general.

Separate all your plants so their location when watered drains well. When growing in a hydroponic garden the water needs proper aeration.

If you’re buying plants from someone else, check them carefully before putting them into your garden. Look for any symptoms as it can strike quickly and cause you a lot of issues trying to keep plants in shape. Do not use any plants that find themselves frequently overwatered until you know they are clear of this issue.

Why Does The Root Rot Problem Stick Around?

One day everything seems fine and then the next day you see one area of your garden has Phytophthora, you’re hoping it does spread elsewhere. In this instance, you need to get everything out of that area, soil included before it spreads further. Look at your situation and react quickly. If not you may lose a lot of plants quickly that can easily save by neutralizing the threat before it overtakes the area.

Weather issues are difficult to deal with and predict. Make sure you have something in place to get rid of excess rain water. Your irrigation system has to be robust while draining well enough to keep water from pooling. The spores can travel from the air to water, or from one puddle to another depending on where it originates. That’s why it’s best to just never let your garden get too drenched and know what to do if it ends up having this issue.

Filed Under: LG, Pests-Diseases, z-003

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