Root rot treatment

Treating Root Rot and Soft Rot in Houseplants

Knowing the signs of a plant infection is so crucial for keeping your plants alive. Sometimes you can avoid an issue before it’s too late! Fungal and bacterial infections both need different treatment, but some symptoms are similar to each other. This blog post will break down these symptoms in detail with suggestions on how to treat them!

Table of Contents

What Is Plant Disease?

Plant disease refers to any condition that affects the health or appearance of a plant. It could be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects, nematodes, mites, weeds, drought stress, nutrient deficiencies, overwatering, improper fertilization, poor air circulation, temperature extremes, pests, diseases, or even genetic defects. The good news is that most problems can be treated if they’re caught early enough. If you see one of these symptoms, don’t panic – just follow our tips below!

Symptoms Of A Plant Infection:

signs of root rot
  1. Yellow Leaves & Stems
    If leaves turn yellow, then there may be something wrong with your plant. There are many reasons why your plant might have yellowed leaves, including nutritional deficiency, insect infestation, fungal attack, waterlogging, lack of sunlight, or over-watering. You should check all those possibilities first because treating only one problem won’t help your plant recover from another.
  2. Brown Spots On Leaf Surfaces
    Brown spots on leaf surfaces usually indicate a fungus or mildew. Mildews tend to appear as small brown dots while black spots appear as large dark areas. Both types of spots can cause severe damage to your houseplant. To prevent this type of damage, make sure you keep your plants well-watered and clean up their soil regularly. Also, try not to let excess moisture collect around your plants’ roots.
  3. Blackened Roots
    Blackening of root systems indicates either a fungal or bacterial infection. These conditions often occur when the plant has been stressed due to inadequate watering or fertilizer levels. In addition, certain species of bacteria such as Pythium spp., Rhizoctonia solani, Phytophthora cinnamomi, and Sclerotinia rolfsii can also infect roots, causing discoloration.
  4.  Drooping Or Curling Leaves
    Leaves droop or curl downward at the edges, indicating a weak stem. Weak stems are standard among older plants which means they’ve had less time to grow strong roots. As a result, they require more nutrients than younger plants do. When you notice droopy or curled leaves, give your plant extra nutrition through frequent feeding.
  5.  Stunted Growth
    Stunting occurs when a plant grows slowly compared to its peers. Plants affected by stunting tend to look smaller than usual. They may also exhibit reduced growth rates, fewer flowers, lower yields, and slower development.

Different Types Of Rot

signs of root rot

Root Rot
Root Rot thrives in wet soil, so over watering and poor drainage are harmful to your healthy plant. But you can catch a fungal infection before it’s too late.

Fungal growth comes from spores naturally occurring in the soil and in commercial potting mixes.

Fusarium Root Rot:
Fusarium is a common soil fungus that manifests on plants through symptoms of rotting roots or stems, especially at injury points. Fungi in the genus cause rot by taking over dead plant tissues, and this can happen if you overwater your plants or saturate their root systems with water for too long during one time period.

Pythium Root Rot:
Pythium is a parasitic, bacterial organism that eats decaying plant matter. It’s likely to turn overwatering into root rot, and fungus gnats can transmit it from their feet as they move between plants.Fusarium or Pythium are both possible causes of fiddle leaf fig root rot, especially in an inactive climate with overwatering:

  • Fungi like pythium eat decaying organic material
  • Root Rot usually occurs because bacteria live on the roots and feed off them when there’s too much water for proper drainage.

Symptoms of Root Rot:

The outside signal that something is wrong with your plant’s roots will be wilting and discolored leaves.

You can look at the root to see if it appears soft/spongy or dark brown or black, or if the white roots start looking limp instead of crisp, as signs of Root Rot.

root rot

Treatment for Root Rot:

how to fix root rot

You need to move quickly when you notice root rot signs. You will need sterilized scissors/shears, new potting soil, bleach, and a fungicide from your local nursery or garden center.

  1. Break off the soil from the root ball when you remove the plant. Under running water, wash the plant roots.
  2. You can trim rotting & diseased roots with scissors.
  3. The foliage of your plant should be Prune back. Less foliage means the new root system doesn’t have to work as hard and will have time to grow. Trim back the foliage at about the same rate as you had to remove roots (if you trimmed back ⅓ of the roots, trim back ⅓ of the foliage).
  4. The rest of the original soil needs to be thrown away.
  5. Use a bleach-water solution to wash the pot.
  6. To prevent re-infection, the roots should be dipped in a fungicide solution.
  7. Make sure that your drainage system is adequate.Waterlogged soil was more than likely the cause of the root rot.
  8. Re-pot in new, fresh potting soil to encourage healthy roots. The type of soil you use is vital. Commercial/ Garden soil can produce fungal spores.

To ensure the plant has proper drainage, make sure to dump excess water after watering and remove plants from their grower pots for a more thorough clean.

Soft Rot

Succulents are susceptible to a specific type of infection called Erwinia Soft Rot, which is the same kind that would affect a tomato or other fruits and vegetables. This rot liquefies the inside so that bacteria can digest plant material. Gross!

Succulents are prone to Infection in plants caused by “Erwinia” – The exact cause of soft rot on tomatoes; it liquefies them until they die from infections.

When a plant falls over, and the bark gets torn, this can create an opening for bacteria to enter. Bacteria can also get into plants using scissors or shears that haven’t been sterilized after use on other plants. To avoid introducing harmful bacteria to your prized roses, you must wash all tools before pruning them!

Root rot treatment
Root rot treatment

The Soft Rot disease usually starts at the point of a wound, making it look like an oozing scab. If you’re lucky enough to spot this early on, clear signs that something’s wrong include discoloration in surrounding areas and soggy leaves, which may seep liquid.

signs of root rot

There is no cure once the Erwinia bacteria has infected a succulent, but you can work to prevent Soft Rot by immediately treating any wounds on it with a fungicide.
Allow your plant’s soil to completely dry between waterings and keep them out of high humidity conditions.
Only water when the top of the soil is dry.


Can hydrogen peroxide treat root rot?

Yes, you can use Hydrogen Peroxide to treat root rot. Method – Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) Mix 2 parts water, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, soak your soil with this mixture.

What does root rot smell like?

Dark, Mushy Roots are a sign of root rot. A bad smell in the soil means that you may have some rotten roots to deal with.

How do you prevent root rot in pots without drainage holes?

A layer of pebbles can be used as a drainage method for those pots without holes to allow excess water to flow away from the roots.