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Root Rot CPR : How To Save Your Dying Plant

Root Rot CPR : How To Save Your Dying Plant

The biggest killer of houseplants is overwatering which seems at odds with everything we’re taught about health like ‘drink more water’ doesn’t it?

It’s because plants need enough water to move nutrients around their roots, stem, and foliage, but they also need oxygen on the roots. That means if its roots are always wet, the oxygen can’t reach there and oops the plant drowns.

What Does Root Rot Look Like?

If a plant has root rot it’ll look really unwell.  The first give away is wet potting mix. If it’s always wet or there’s pooled water on the topsoil or in the container’s base the plant is in trouble.

Chances are it’ll turn a pale colour or develop brown leaves that go mushy and fall off. It might even dramatically collapse in a heap.

Remember you only need to water your houseplants when the potting mix is dry down to one to two inches, and never leave them sitting in water for days on end.

But let’s say it’s too late for that advice and you’re looking at a sick plant.

Have you overwatered the poor creature or left it in a pot with no drainage holes so it’s been waterlogged?

If so, the roots are probably rotting and fungus may have taken hold. Eek!

Root Rot CPR

It is possible to save plants with root rot but you’ve got to move quickly. It’s all about how fast you can get rid of any rot and dry the roots.

Step 1. Take the plant from the pot and wash off the soil. The roots should look fresh, white and clean. If they are grey, slimy, or there’s barely anything there then it’s rotting. If the entire root system is mushy we’re afraid that’s not coming back.  Say ‘Au Revoir, we’ll meet again.’

If there are some healthy roots left, you’re in with a chance.

Step 2. Cut off the mushy rotten bits

Step 3. Put the plant in a new pot with lots of drainage holes. If you want to use the old pot, wash it thoroughly in case fungal spores are clinging on.

Step 4. Fill the pot with fresh, good quality organic potting mix. Good quality potting mix drains well so it’s totally worth the investment.

Step 5 Don’t water it for a few days

Step 5 You should avoid using any fertiliser for now as this will stress the plant out.

 

Fix Your Over Enthusiastic Watering

We get that you love your plants and want them to grow, but water is only one of several aspects a plant needs to live its best life.

Water, chemicals, oxygen, and light are all needed in equal measure. Water cuts out the oxygen element and once you have an imbalance it’s gonna be game over.

If you’re a chronic waterer and therefore a plant killer then invest in a sustee. This little aqua meter tells you when to water – obey it!

How To Water Well and Avoid Root Rot

Your plant needs water only when the potting mix is dry down to one or two inches. The top will look and feel dry to the touch. If it’s damp, leave well alone.

If it’s dry or your sustee says it’s time to water, pop your plant in a bowl and let it soak up what it needs across a few hours. Then let it drain in the shower or sink before putting back it into the display pot. Make sure it’s not sat in pooled water the following day.

Root Rot Troubleshooting

Is The Pot Too Small?

If you haven’t repotted for a year or two consider whether the pot is too small for the root system as this creates drainage issues that lead to root rot.

Or Is It Over Fertilising?

If you swear blind you haven’t overwatered or left your plants sitting in a pool of fetid water have you been overfeeding? Too much fertilizer can cause symptoms similar to root rot. The correction process is the same though. Remove the plant, wash the roots and re-pot in fresh new potting mix.

Is It Too Dark?

You plant may show signs of stress if it isn’t receiving enough light. Yellowing leaves and falling foliage are signs of too little light. 

So that’s root rot for you. It’s a sure-fire plant killer and a really common issue because in general plants prefer to be a bit too dry than too wet. Watering once a week should be enough, maybe less in winter, but always check the potting mix first either by touch or with a sustee.

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