How To Get Rid Of Root Rot

Root Rot: How to Spot, Treat, and Prevent the Fungal Disease in Plants

As a plant parent, it can be heartbreaking to see your beloved indoor or outdoor plant wither away and eventually die. One of the most common culprits of plant death is root rot, a fungal disease that can go undetected until it’s too late. In this article, we’ll delve into what root rot is, how to spot it, ways to treat it, and most importantly, how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

What is Root Rot?

Root rot is a fungal disease that primarily affects the root system of plants. It is caused by several species of fungi that thrive in wet, poorly drained soil. The fungus attacks the plant’s roots, causing decay and inhibiting the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. Without access to these essential components, the plant will slowly wither away and eventually die.

How to Spot Root Rot?

In the early stages of root rot, the symptoms can be subtle and easily mistaken for other plant problems. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more apparent. Here are some of the most common signs of root rot:

1. Yellowing leaves: One of the first signs of root rot is yellowing leaves, which can indicate a lack of sufficient nutrients and water.

2. Wilting: As the roots become more damaged, the plant will begin to wilt even when adequately watered.

3. Black, mushy roots: If you gently tug on the plant and notice the roots are black, slimy, and mushy, it’s a clear sign of root rot.

4. Foul smelling soil: The bacterial breakdown of the roots leads to the production of chemicals that give off an unpleasant smell.

5. Stunted growth: Root rot can lead to stunted growth and overall plant decline.

How to Treat Root Rot?

Treatment for root rot depends on the severity of the disease. In the early stages, removing the affected soil and cutting away the diseased roots may be enough to stop the disease from spreading. However, if the rot has progressed too far, more aggressive treatment may be necessary. Here are some ways to treat root rot:

1. Remove affected soil: Removing the affected soil and replacing it with fresh, well-draining soil can help prevent the disease from spreading.

2. Trim affected roots: Carefully cut away the affected roots with sterilized garden shears or a knife. Make sure to dispose of the diseased roots.

3. Treat with a fungicide: In more severe cases, a fungicide may be necessary to kill the fungus causing the root rot.

4. Repot the plant: Repotting the plant in fresh, well-draining soil can help ensure the plant’s healthy growth.

5. Improve drainage: Address the underlying cause of poor drainage by adding sand or perlite to the soil mix or repotting the plant in a pot with drainage holes.

How to Prevent Root Rot?

Prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to root rot. Proper plant care and creating the right environmental conditions can go a long way in preventing root rot from taking hold. Here are some ways to prevent root rot:

1. Use well-draining soil: Plants should be potted in a well-draining soil mix that allows water to flow freely out of the pot.

2. Ensure proper drainage: Make sure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the root level.

3. Don’t overwater: Only water plants when the soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to water accumulation and soggy soil, which is ideal for fungal growth.

4. Reduce humidity: Fungi thrive in humid conditions, so it’s essential to reduce indoor humidity levels by using a dehumidifier or placing a humidity tray under the plant.

5. Avoid plant stress: Stressed plants are more susceptible to disease, so avoid sudden changes in light, temperature, or watering routines.


1. Can root rot affect all types of plants?
Yes, root rot can affect any plant type, but some plants are more susceptible than others. Plants that require a lot of water and those grown in poorly drained soil are more at risk.

2. Can root rot be treated naturally?
Yes, some natural remedies can be effective against root rot, such as using hydrogen peroxide or cinnamon powder as a fungicidal treatment. However, natural remedies may not be as potent as chemical fungicides.

3. Can roots affected by root rot recover?
Unfortunately, once the roots are affected, they won’t recover. Cutting away the diseased roots and repotting the plant in fresh soil allows the plant to establish new, healthy roots.

4. Can root rot spread to other plants?
Yes, root rot can easily spread to other plants in close proximity. It’s important to monitor the affected plant and take preventative measures to avoid the spread of disease.

Table: Common Plant Types Susceptible to Root Rot

| Plant Type | Susceptibility to Root Rot |
| — | — |
| Tropical plants | High |
| Succulents | Low |
| Herbs | Medium |
| Fruits and Vegetables | Low to Medium |
| Ornamentals | High |


Root rot is a preventable and treatable disease that can lead to a plant’s ultimate demise. By knowing the signs of root rot and taking proactive steps to prevent it, you can ensure healthy plant growth and a thriving indoor or outdoor garden. Remember to use well-draining soil, monitor watering routines, address drainage issues, and create a healthy environment conducive to plant growth. By taking these steps, you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful plant parent and growing a flourishing garden.