Houseplants: recognizing, preventing and combating root rot

Zimmerpflanzen: Wurzelfäule erkennen, vorbeugen und bekämpfen - FARBIO® - Nachhaltige Bio-Flüssigdünger aus Hamburg

Root rot is one of the most common diseases in houseplants and is often the death knell for your plant if no action is taken in time or at all. It is a serious fungal disease that causes your plant's root system to rot. Timely detection and appropriate prevention and treatment measures are crucial to stopping the spread of the disease and maintaining the health of your plant. You can find out everything you need to know in this article!

What is root rot?

Root rot, also known as Rhizoctonia solani, is a plant pathogenic fungal disease that affects the roots of plants. It commonly occurs in humid environments and can occur both outdoors and in houseplants. The fungus infects the plant roots and causes root tissue to rot. The infection often begins on the young, tender roots and then spreads to the older roots. The fungus invades and destroys root tissue, resulting in impaired plant ability to absorb water and nutrients.

Causes of root rot

Conditions that lead to the development of root rot include excessive soil moisture, also called waterlogging, and poor drainage. A plant substrate that is too dense and a high soil temperature also causes root rot. These factors create a moist, oxygen-poor environment that promotes the activity of fungal pathogens and weakens the root tissue. Eventually, rotten roots occur.

Root system of Monstera

Recognize root rot

Recognizing in good time that your plant is diseased plays a major role in the success of the fight. Root rot symptoms vary depending on the type of plant and the severity of the infection.

The initial and most recognizable symptoms include yellow or wilted leaves: due to rot on the roots, the plant cannot supply its leaves with sufficient water and nutrients.

A loose or unstable root ball is also easy to recognize: When you touch or move the plant, it is no longer stable in the pot and you may even be able to easily pull the plant out of the ground. This indicates a rotting root ball!

With advanced root rot, the roots may appear brown, mushy and dead. Healthy roots are usually white or cream colored. Unfortunately, you can only detect rotting roots when you repot your houseplant or if you look because you suspect them - unfortunately you won't notice this above ground. That's why it's essential to routinely check the roots every time you repot.

Root rot is manifested by mushy roots


Root rot also causes delayed growth of your plant and can be a symptom of an infestation: it may have difficulty producing new leaves or shoots because its roots are damaged and cannot absorb sufficient main nutrients and trace elements.

Another possible sign of root rot is an unpleasant, putrid odor coming from the plant's substrate or roots.

Treatment of the plant: combat root rot

If you already notice signs of root rot, it is important to act quickly to stop the disease from progressing.

Remove the plant from the substrate: Carefully remove the plant from the pot and remove the substrate from the roots.

Prune roots: Use a clean and disinfected knife to trim off any rotten or brown roots. Pruning helps control the spread of the disease and allows healthy roots to regenerate.

Disinfect the planter: To combat root rot, clean and disinfect the pot thoroughly - this will kill bacteria and fungi.

Use new substrate: Dispose of the old soil and plant your plant in fresh, high-quality substrate. This should have a loose structure - for this you can mix perlite into your potting soil.

Apply foliar fertilizer: The plant does not die due to root rot itself, but because it results in a lack of nutrients and water. That's why weekly spraying of the leaves with nutrients is essential to treat your infected plant!

The FARBIO® Nitrogen Bio-Boost supports and strengthens your plants with nitrogen and other important nutrients - for intensive leaf green, fewer yellow leaves and pronounced growth. Fast absorption and high efficiency through foliar fertilization. Simply mix with water and spray onto the leaf surface!

Foliar fertilizer with spray bottle

Prevent root rot on your houseplants

In the best case scenario, combating and preventing root rot always belongs together - every plant lover should find out how to protect their houseplants from root rot.

Root rot often occurs when the roots are in soil that is too wet for an extended period of time. Avoid overwatering as this can cause moisture to build up in the root zone. It's better to water your plants thoroughly, but less frequently, to ensure the soil can dry well between waterings. This way you can prevent the pot from becoming waterlogged.

Healthy plants are less susceptible to root rot. Therefore, make sure you have a sufficient supply of macro and micronutrients to strengthen your immune system. Over-fertilization with mineral fertilizers should also be avoided, as this can lead to a build-up of salts in the soil that can damage the roots.

You can find the right organic liquid fertilizer for your houseplants in our shop.