Plant Care – root rot

Note: These are my opinions and experiences, I am no expert and I have not been paid or incentivised to share my thoughts and reviews of any sellers, products or people mentioned in this post.

Oh wow, we are a week into the new year and despite me having 2 weeks off, I haven’t actually done much writing. But the holiday period was a much needed break, despite the fact that the pandemic is still getting worse and Brexit being official. Can you tell that my mood is dampened by the topic of root rot!? I have had to learn a lot about it in a short period of time as I managed to have several cuttings in my care that got root rot. So far only one has died though. A lovely variegated amydrium medium. *cries*

What is root rot?

Root rot is primarily caused by poor drainage of damp soil, overwatering or a poorly functioning root system. Prolonged exposure to excess water causes waterlogging, which interferes with aeration of the roots, leading to low oxygenation and decay.


As this excerpt from wikipedia shows, root rot is basically the roots decaying, meaning your plant cannot get any nutrients or water anymore. I have also found that stress from shipping can cause root rot to manifest. Obviously there are a lot of variables at play, but poor drainage and over watering seem to be the main cause for me.

How does root rot manifest in plants?

Root rot can look different depending on the plant. Unless you use clear pots and a medium which lets you see the roots, such as water or maybe leca, you won’t be able to see your roots going dark brown/black and mush.

What you might see, is your leaves drooping and yellowing. Now sometimes, especially of the plant only droops, you may think it is thirsty, and water it some more. Keep a very close eye if you do, because if the plant does not recover from drooping after the watering, I would definitely suggest checking the roots.

You find root rot, what now?

If you find lots of dark brown roots that are all swuicky and mushy, the best thing to do is get some scissors and sterilise them with some rubbing alcohol, and cutting all the roots off that are bad. IF you are left with a good rest of the root system you could just re-pot the plant. Or you may want to re root it in water or your medium of choice. I found that I like to keep the cuttings in water for a while, changing the water daily.

Once you have cut off the roots, you can also spray the cutting with diluted hydrogen peroxide, to kill any leftover bacteria.

cutting where I had to remove all the roots.

Hopefully you still have some roots or sections of nodes left, from which roots can regrow. With a wet stick like this above, I would suggest either water propagation, or damp sphagnum moss. Keep checking on your plant every 2 days and remove any more rot as needed. Sometimes you will just lose a plant unfortunately.

If you are using moss to propagate, you need to really wring it out and add heat via a heat mat or warm environment to the mix as well as humidity to encourage root growth.

I decided to create a rehab box, using a clear storage box. I added just less than an inch of damp moss and placed the box onto a heat mat. I then placed the cuttings either in the moss or if they just need to regrow some roots I placed then on the moss in their pots. By adding the lid onto the box I can increase the humidity. That with the heat, seems to really help with rooting in general.

As you can see below I have also added a light nearby. It actually got too hot with the light on too, so I don’t keep it on the whole time. Just a bit in the morning and evening.

I have collated the items I used to create this on my idea list on Amazon. There are other plant care essentials on their too.

Hopefully you have not had to deal with root rot, but if you have, what are your tips?

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