Anyone with a garden in New Orleans knows that humidity is what Southerners do best. And though many plants are made to take the heat, excessive dampness is not always what they do best. Many times, dampness in plants can lead to root rot and though it can happen to any plant, root rot can be fixed and avoided with prevention.
What is Root Rot?
Root rot is a plant disease that can be caused by overwatering, poor drainage, or by soil fungi. Like many plant diseases, root rot is hard to treat and prevention is the best way to avoid it.
What are the Signs of Root Rot?
Root rot is often hard to detect until a lot of damage has been done. Signs of root rot are slow growth, mushy stems, and wilting, yellow, distorted leaves (especially when the plant has been well watered, as wilting leaves can also be a sign of a dry plant). Usually the soil will smell rotten and the roots will appear to be reddish brown.
Once the symptoms of root rot are identified, the best thing one can do is remove the plant and replace it. Many times, the plant cannot correct course.
How to Fix and Prevent Root Rot
In order to fix and prevent root rot in plants, the roots must stay healthy. One should avoid overwatering, allow good drainage, replace the soil if needed, and select healthy plants.
Plants should be watered on a regular schedule that meets their watering needs. Gardeners should pay attention to whether or not the soil is already thoroughly wet due to rain, cooler weather, or shade.
Allow for Good Soil Drainage
Plant soil can’t be too heavy or hold water. For container plants, potting soil should be used and pots must have drainage holes. Any saucers below houseplants should be emptied regularly and plants need to be potted in appropriately sized, not oversized, containers to avoid an excess of moisture in the soil.
Replace Used Soil
If replacing a previously rotted plant with a new plant, but in the same spot of the garden, replace the soil with new soil.
Select Plants with Healthy Root Systems
At the garden center, gardeners should inspect plants to ensure the roots are healthy. The root ball of a plant can be carefully slid out of its grow pot in order to inspect the roots. Soil should not smell rotten and the roots will be green or white on a healthy plant.
Prevention is the best way to avoid root rot in houseplants and outdoor shrubs. A healthy plant and a great start will allow gardeners to enjoy and plant successfully!
Featured Photo: gpnmag.com; 2nd photo: plantdoctor.co.nz