Getting to the root of the problem
Plant roots are like what the heart is to humans and if there is a problem that spells BIG trouble. A plant root system consists of fibrous roots or feeder roots an also tap roots, each plays a major role in the health and life of garden plants and then there are roots which are known as adventitious roots these roots grow above ground from leaves and stems. No matter the plant species, how big or small all of them have one thing in common and that is the root system which they produce and depend on to survive.
One of the key factors in having success with garden plants is having knowledge of the root system in relation to the plant species and their individual water requirements. While some plants thrive on a great amount of moisture there are others that require less water ( Cactuses, Bromeliads, ZZ plants). There is another factor that affects a plant’s root system and it is a must that we have some knowledge in this area to have success with our gardens.
This is so true soil does matter because depending on the soil type or structure will determine its water holding capacity along with how well it drains.
Clay soils are soils that have great water holding capacity. These soils are not well-drain soils and can hold moisture for long periods of time especially during heavy rain downpours. Clay soils may be of benefit in the case of helping to condition soils that have poor quality when it comes to retaining moisture.
Sandy soils, on the other hand, are well-drain soils that may need the help of clay soils because of their ability to hold moisture but these soils ( sandy soils ) are usually mixed with compost or organics because of the microbial activity that is involved which is of great benefit to a plant’s life.
Container gardening is a great way to garden and it has so many benefits, but what is interesting to note is that it seems to be a common thing for container-grown plants to suffer root rot vs plants that are not grown in containers and the reasons for this are the container does not have any drain holes to allow the water to escape also the soil type may have poor drainage which also compounds or add the problem.
Even where a plant may have good garden soil without the container having drain holes the plant still suffers root rot so let’s give our container grown plants the best of both worlds by providing them with soils that drain well along with a container that has drain holes. Our plants will thanks us for this not so much in words because that would be strange but by them growing both healthy and beautiful.
What is plant root rot?
What causes plant root rot? that’s a good question.
Plant root rot has two occurrences or factors. These occurrences are encouraged by one the soil may not be healthy meaning the presence of fungus is laying wait for the right condition ( moisture ) which causes them to become active targeting the plant’s root system. When this happens the infections spread and if quick action is not taken the roots will eventually die when this happens the plant will be lost also.
This is what we touched on a bit earlier when a plant gets more than the required water the soil is saturated, oxygen is then removed from the soil. Which will encourage rot root to set in spreading and infecting the entire root system which will also lead to the death of that plant.
Signs that your plant has root rot
Many beginner gardeners face this issue which is identifying the signs of root rot. For example, the plant’s leaves may be dropping or may have and of color and yet again the plant may be experiencing leaf drop so what happens is that the inexperienced gardener diagnosis this problem as a lack of water when this is not the case it is far from this although these are some of the signs of root rot.
Water is given to that plant and I main lot’s of it, what do you think will happen? you are right the problem has just gotten more server that’s why it is so important to know your soil type which is required for that plant along with the amount of water your garden plant needs to survive.
Look for these signs
1. The leaves of your plant’s leave turning yellow or have an off-color.
2. The plant’s growth is stunted.
3. The plant shows signs of wilting.
4. The plant experience leaf drop.
5. The plant’s structure is weak and far from healthy-looking.
6. The roots are soft and brown.
7. In some garden plants like the mother in laws, tongue the leaves become soft and mushy.
8. There is an odor that is not pleasant.
9. Trees will produce saps that are black to reddish in color.
10. The plant’s roots are mushy.
11. There may also be signs of mushrooms ( fungus ) and molds.
How to treat plant root rot
Many years ago as an interior plantscape designer of a 5-star resort, I had the awesome task of designing and maintaining the interiorscape gardens. There was an arrangement of crotons that was placed under my care. This arrangement was growing so nicely and then I notice one day when servicing that arrangement that the leaves started to drop.
What I did was check the soil which was saturated with water because the decorative container did not have any drain holes. I simply changed the soil into fresh soil and withhold watering for about a week and guess what that arrangement of crotons bounced back to good health. Why did only changing the soil made a big difference? I caught this issue in time but in many cases, this is not the case and other measures must be taken for the survival of plant life.
Other measures that must be taken
More server measures may need to be taken depending on the severity of the root rot. In the case of container gardening where the infection is so server, the infected plant should be removed from the container to expose the root system so you can have a better view of which roots are infected.
With a hand pruner or scissors remove the infected roots, the remaining roots should be dipped in a fungicide to ensure that the disease is totally eradicated. The container should be washed thoroughly with bleach and water. Add fresh soil to the container and repot your plant. Monitor your plant and give it the right amount of water especially during the hot weather.
Plants that are installed in a garden area should be treated by decreasing the amount of water they are getting, also drenching the soil with a fungicide will offer help. Read and follow the manufacturer’s label because the label is the law. Monitor plant and water according to the plant’s watering needs
The final word
Plant rot root does not mean the death of your plant if you identify and treat the problem in time. There are many people that are so attached to their plant that it may be hard to say goodbye but this does not have to be you because we have discussed signs to look for and how to treat plant root rot. I hope you implement what we have discussed so that your plant can continue to grow healthy and happy as you enjoy your plant for years to come.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.