Home Houseplants Root Rot in Houseplants (How to Indentify and Treat)

Root Rot in Houseplants (How to Indentify and Treat) – GIY Plants

Snake plant dying from root rot and over watering.

As plant enthusiasts, we know how frustrating it can be to see our houseplants wilt or decay. One common condition causing this is root rot, a disease that can plague indoor and outdoor plants. However, we can prevent and treat root rot in our cherished plants with proper care and early intervention.

What is Root Rot?

Root rot is a condition that affects a plant’s root system, caused primarily by poor drainage and overwatering. It’s a condition that can lead to the death of the plant if not promptly addressed. Root rot is hard to treat because it attacks the roots, is essential for the plant’s healthy growth, and can spread to healthier roots, causing widespread damage.

Identifying Root Rot

Houseplant removed from pot to examine for root rot.

Recognizing the signs of root rot is the first step in rescuing our plants. The most common root rot symptoms include yellowing leaves, wilting, and a general lack of vigor. Remove the plant from the pot and inspect the roots if you suspect root rot. Healthy roots are typically firm and white, while rotting roots appear brown or black and feel mushy.

Causes of Root Rot

The main cause of root rot is overwatering, which leads to wet soil conditions. This creates an environment for soil fungi to thrive, causing the roots to rot and die. Moreover, poor drainage exacerbates the issue, allowing water to stagnate around the roots, leading to decay. It’s important to note that some indoor plants are more susceptible to root rot than others due to their specific water needs.

Preventing Root Rot

Prevention is always better than cure. To avoid root rot, it’s vital to provide good drainage for your plants. Ensure your pot has a drainage hole, and consider using a well-draining soil mix to allow excess water to drain quickly. Furthermore, avoid overwatering your plants and adjust your watering schedule based on the specific plant needs.

Treating Root Rot

Gardener repotting a houseplant and treating it for root rot by removing dead roots.

If you discover your plant has root rot, don’t despair; there are steps you can take to help it recover. First, remove the plant from the soil and prune the affected roots. Then, repot the plant in fresh soil, ensuring good drainage. In severe cases, you might need to treat the remaining healthy roots with a fungicide to prevent further rot. After repotting, give your plant extra care to encourage new growth.


Root rot in houseplants can be a challenging issue to address. However, by knowing the signs and understanding the causes, we can take appropriate measures to prevent and treat root rot. Remember, your plant’s health starts with the roots, and a well-draining soil paired with a mindful watering schedule can go a long way in keeping your houseplants happy and healthy.

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