Root rot on Alocasia polly plant. Source: Nearli. [@houseplantias]. Special thanks. [Photograph]. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cbc6YtxsTAl/

Common Plant Problems: Root Rot

dimitri • April 04, 2022 • 2 min read

Too much of a good thing can actually be fatal for your houseplants.

Growing up, we’re taught that plants need three things to thrive: soil, sunlight and water. So, when you bring home your first houseplant, it’s easy to water it a little too much trying to make sure it stays healthy. However, too much water can cause root rot, when funguses that thrive in overly wet soil attack a plant’s roots.

What You’ll Notice

If your favorite pothos or fiddle leaf fig tree seems to be heading downhill fast, here’s what to look for to see if you’ve given it a little too much H2O lately:

  • Wilting leaves, even though the soil is moist
  • Yellowing leaves
  • Roots that appear brown, mushy, or that have a bad smell

Treat Your Plant

Bad news: not all plants with root rot make it. Good news: they stand a fighting chance with the right help.

  • Take your plant out of its pot. Remove as much soil as possible by tapping it off gently, then rinsing the roots under water.
  • Using sharp scissors, trim away any rotted roots. If you have to trim a lot, consider pruning some stems and leaves off as well so the roots don’t have so much to support while they recover.
  • Toss out the plant’s old soil and disinfect its pot before repotting it in clean soil.

Practice Prevention

Sometimes, when a plant shows signs of root rot, there’s not much you can do to save it. Instead, take a few proactive steps to ensure your green babes never get too far gone.

  • Research your plant’s specific watering preferences and needs. Need an easy rule of thumb? Only water your plants when the top of the soil feels dry.
  • Opt for pots with proper drainage and a well-draining soil blend.
  • Use new, sterile potting soil from a reputable store so you know your new plant’s environment is fungus-free.
  • Don’t allow your plants in pots with drainage holes and trays to sit in water.
  • Root rot can sound like a scary plant babe prognosis, but if you spot it soon enough and act quickly, you should be able to rehabilitate your houseplant and restore it to its former glory.

Root rot can sound like a scary plant babe prognosis, but if you spot it soon enough and act quickly, you should be able to rehabilitate your houseplant and restore it to its former glory.

Caring for Your Plant

Caring for your plant will keep it happy and strong. Find out how to avoid the most common issues.

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