Root rot: How to treat and prevent this common houseplant killer

Most houseplant ailments are easy to recover from with the right balance of food, water, sunlight, and maybe a new pot, but unfortunately, root rot is tough to overcome for most plants. This condition is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection that develops when roots are oversaturated. If you’ve lost a plant or two to root rot, you’re definitely not alone, but here’s how to diagnose, treat, and prevent it in the future.

First things first, diagnosing your plant with root rot early vastly increases its chance of survival. Root rot has some telltale symptoms including yellow, black, or shriveled leaves, the presence of gnats around your plant, or a sour odor emanating from your plant. If you’re noticing these signs, it’s time to take your plant out of its pot and look at the roots. If they’re mushy or black, it’s time to take action. 

To treat root rot, take sterilized pruners and remove all infected roots. Dip the pruners in a 1:3 bleach to water solution in between prunes to prevent the spread of the disease. Once all infected roots have been removed, rinse the remaining roots under water, remove any dead leaves, and replant in a sterilized container with proper drainage. 

If you’ve dealt with root rot, or even if you haven’t, there are a few simple steps to help prevent this plant-killer from striking your roots. Proper drainage is the biggest factor, so make sure all your pots have drainage holes and you’re following the recommended watering guidelines for your specific plant variety. If you struggle with over or under-watering, consider investing in a small soil gauge that measures the moisture of your plants. 

Root rot is tough, but diagnosing and treating it promptly can help you save your plants before it’s too late. Follow these prevention guidelines and hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with root rot again!

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