Root rot is the decay and rot of plant roots caused by a lack of oxygen in the growing substrate. After infection, the roots begin to perish, unable to take in oxygen, water, and nutrients needed for growth and the plant quickly dies. Since the disease spreads through the soil, the only root rot remedy for garden plants is often to remove and destroy the plant.
Many symptoms of root rot mirror the signs of a pest infestation, which makes properly diagnosing it more difficult. The symptoms of root rot are obviously easier to spot above ground.
- Gradual or quick decline without an obvious reason.
- Stunted or poor growth.
- Small, pale leaves.
- Wilted, yellowed, or browned leaves.
- Branch dieback.
- Thinning of the canopy.
- On some species, the fungus grows up from the roots in the inner bark and causes cankers, or sunken dead areas.
The most accurate way to diagnose this decaying disease is to dig below ground to see if decaying is taking place.
How to prevent:
- Good drainage is key to preventing root rot, maintaining an appropriate ratio of water and oxygen in the root zone.
- Use the appropriate growing media for your plant type.
- Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of your containers.
- Forego the old recommendation to line the bottom of your container with rocks or pebbles to create a drainage layer.
-If you have a saucer or other catch basin under the container to collect excess water as it drains out, make sure to empty it every time you water your plants. Never let your plant sit in this standing water.
- Lastly, the most important aspect of prevention is to water your plants appropriately. For many plants, this means letting the top of the growing media dry out before you water the plant again. This is especially important during the cooler winter months when the plant is dormant and its growth has slowed.
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