Dracaena Root Rot: A Guide To Symptoms, Causes & Fixes

Dracaenas are susceptible to root rot just like many other houseplants, and after keeping Dracaenas for several years I’ve figured out how to deal with root rot effectively.

The secret is to use well-draining soil and drainage holes, as well as make sure you don’t overwater your Dracaena as root rot is favored in these conditions. You can usually spot root rot quickly in Dracaenas as the soil will be saturated with mushy roots, and the leaves will start to turn yellow or brown and curl.

Keep reading to learn all about Dracanea root rot, including the most common symptoms, what to do if your Dracaena gets root rot, and more.

What Is Root Rot?

Root rot is a common disease that affects the roots of many plants, including Dracaena and also other plants like the Areca Palm or Calathea.

It is caused by one of two things – either suffocated roots that die due to overwatered conditions, or fungi that becomes active in overwatered conditions,

In my experience, the onset of root rot in Dracaenas is quite swift, and it can quickly turn healthy roots into mushy, brown, and decaying ones.

This decay impairs the plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients from the soil, eventually leading to wilting, yellowing, and browning leaves, and stunted growth.

To determine whether your Dracaena is affected by root rot, it’s important to take a look at the roots.

Here’s an easy way to check the health of your Dracaena roots:

Healthy RootsRoot Rot Affected Roots
Firm and white or light tanSoft, brown, and mushy
Strong, earthy smellFoul, rotting smell

You don’t have to check the roots during repotting either, although it is easier to do it then.

You can simply wear some gloves and gently remove the surface soil with your fingers until you find the roots.

How Do Dracaenas Get Root Rot?

From my experience, one common cause of root rot in dracaenas is overwatering.

When I water my dracaena too frequently or with too much water, the soil tends to remain moist for extended periods, especially in the winter.

This creates the perfect environment for the roots to suffocate and any dormant fungi to become active, leading to root rot.

A dracaena marginata plant
My Dracaena Marginata

Another factor contributing to root rot in dracaenas is poor drainage.

I always make sure to choose a pot with appropriate drainage holes and a well-draining soil mix to avoid this issue.

If the water cannot be drained away from the roots effectively, the plant’s roots may suffocate and rot due to a lack of oxygen.

What Can You Do About It? (6 Steps)

When I notice signs of root rot in my Dracaena, I follow these steps to help my plant recover and prevent further damage:

1. Catch It Early

Pay attention to any yellowing/browning leaves, slow growth, or wilting leaves, as these can be indications of root rot.

2. Assess The Roots:

Gently remove the Dracaena from its pot to check for black and mushy roots, stem rot, or brown leaves. These are clear signs of root rot.

3. Trim And Treat Infected Roots

Using clean and sharp scissors, I trim away the mushy stems and roots, being careful to remove all the infected parts.

I then wash the remaining healthy roots in a fungicide solution. It doesn’t really matter what brand you use, as long as it says that it deals with root rot somewhere on the label.

4. Repot The Plant

Repot into a new pot with fresh, well-draining soil, ensuring there’s enough sunlight and proper moisture levels.

I’ve had a lot of success with succulent soil for my Dracaenas recently, but any well-draining soil mix should work well.

5. Monitor The Moisture

Overwatering is a common cause of root rot, so I always make sure not to overwater my Dracaena.

I maintain a consistent watering schedule and check that the soil is not too moist.

6. Provide The Right Environment

Dracaena marginata, for example, is sensitive to fluoride in water, so I make sure to use filtered or distilled water when watering my plant. This helps prevent discolored leaves and other issues.

By following these steps, you can treat and recover a Dracaena from root rot and create an environment that promotes healthy growth.

How To Prevent Root Rot In The Future

It’s much easier to prevent root rot in the first place than have to deal with the consequences.

Luckily, once you’ve got the conditions right, your Dracaena shouldn’t suffer from root rot frequently, if at all.

Here are the best tips for keeping root rot away.

Well-Draining Soil

Well-draining soil is probably the most important factor for preventing root rot.

I’ve found that Succulent soil mixes tend to work well with Dracaenas, or you can simply add draining boosters to your current soil mix like perlite or sand – be careful not to add too much though or it will drain too much.

The ideal consistency is a soil mix that drains excess water quickly but also holds onto some moisture as well.

Drainage Holes

Another crucial factor for my Dracaena’s health is proper drainage holes in the pot.

Without drainage holes, excess water will not be able to escape, leading to a buildup of moisture in the soil that may contribute to root rot.

Always use a pot that has drainage holes, with a tray underneath to catch any excess water.

Avoid Overwatering

It’s incredibly easy to overwater a Dracaena, and this can quickly lead to root rot especially if you don’t have any drainage holes or are using the wrong soil mix.

These are my top tips for avoiding overwatering:

  • Let the top one to two inches of soil dry out before the next watering
  • Water slowly – this way, it’s much easier to tell when the soil has had enough
  • Water less in the winter and more in the summer

In Summary

Dracaena root rot can be quite tricky to deal with. Luckily, it’s much easier to prevent it than deal with the consequences.

The main symptoms include yellowing leaves, wilting, and stunted growth.

It’s usually caused by overwatering, which can become more likely if your soil mix is not draining well or if there aren’t any drainage holes in the bottom.

Photo of author

About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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