Philodendron root rot is a serious issue and something that you’ll need to address quickly to save your plant.
Root rot affects the roots and causes them to rot. It is favored in overwatered conditions and quickly kills roots, leading to wilting and discolored leaves and slow overall growth.
I’ve dealt with root rot in several of my houseplants, and in this guide, I’ll share exactly what root rot is, how to deal with it and tips for preventing it in the first place.
- What Is Root Rot?
- Identifying Philodendron Root Rot
- Causes And Contributing Factors
- Preventing Root Rot In Philodendrons
- Treating Root Rot In Philodendrons
- In Summary
What Is Root Rot?
Root rot is a common issue that affects many types of plants, including the Philodendron.
It can be caused by inadequate drainage, overwatering, and the presence of harmful fungi in the soil that is favored in overwatered conditions.
When the roots become constantly wet and deprived of oxygen, they begin to rot and lose their ability to take up essential nutrients and water.
This can lead to a weakened plant and, in severe cases, the death of the plant.
Is It Serious?
As a plant owner who has experienced root rot in several plants, I can attest that root rot is a serious problem. If not treated promptly and effectively, it can lead to the decline and eventual death of the affected plant.
When the roots are damaged, they lose their ability to absorb water and nutrients, causing the plant to weaken, become more susceptible to diseases, and display symptoms such as yellowing leaves, wilting, and stunted growth.
In the case of philodendrons, early detection and intervention are crucial to prevent root rot from spreading and causing irreparable damage. Some techniques for treating and preventing root rot in philodendrons include:
- Improving drainage: Ensure that the container has drainage holes, and use a well-draining soil mix to prevent excess moisture buildup.
- Watering properly: Allowing the soil to dry out between waterings helps prevent overwatering, which may lead to root rot development.
- Removing infected roots: If root rot is detected, it is necessary to remove the affected roots to prevent the disease from spreading. You’ll also need to treat the remaining roots with a fungicide and repot in fresh soil.
Identifying Philodendron Root Rot
It’s important to know how to spot the signs of root rot so you can treat it before it kills your entire Philodendron.
In my experience dealing with Philodendron root rot, I have learned that the key to addressing it is identifying the issue early.
One sure sign of root rot is when the roots are mushy, discolored, or black.
Healthy roots should be white or light-colored and firm to the touch, and if they are not like this, then there’s a good chance they have started to rot.
Stunted growth can be another symptom of root rot in philodendrons.
When the roots are compromised by rot, they are unable to properly absorb nutrients causing the plant’s growth rate to slow down.
If you notice a significant decrease in the growth rate of your Philodendron outside of seasonal variation, then root rot could be to blame.
Yellow leaves are a noticeable and common symptom of root rot in philodendrons.
When the roots are rotting, they cannot efficiently transport water and nutrients to the leaves, which leads to yellowing as individual leaves start to die.
Brown spots on the leaves are another sign that your philodendron may be experiencing root rot.
These spots can be an indication of various other issues like sun scorch or lead spot diseases as well, but it’s still important to rule out root rot.
Wilting is another symptom that can point to root rot in your philodendron.
When a plant’s roots struggle to take water from the soil due to rot, the plant will begin to wilt as the overall growth slows down drastically.
Causes And Contributing Factors
In this section, I will discuss the common factors that contribute to Philodendron root rot.
These factors include – but are not limited to – overwatering, poor drainage, low temperature, fungi, and bacteria.
One of the primary causes of root rot in Philodendrons, and pretty much every other houseplant, is overwatering.
The excess water saturates the soil, making it difficult for the plant’s roots to access oxygen, which is essential for their growth and development. Suffocated roots will start to rot, or root rot will develop if your soil contains the specific fungi for it.
To prevent overwatering, I recommend only watering when the top one to two inches of soil are dry. You also need to make sure that you are using the right type of soil to allow for good drainage.
Poor drainage is another significant factor that contributes to Philodendron root rot.
If the potting soil that I use for my Philodendron is too compact or lacks proper drainage, it will retain too much water, which, in turn, leads to root rot.
To avoid this issue, I follow the watering rule as before, use a well-draining soil mix and make sure my pot has lots of drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out.
The development of fungi in the soil can lead to Philodendron root rot. These microorganisms may be present in contaminated soil and become active in overwatered conditions.
There isn’t much you can do to figure out if your soil contains this type of fungi. All you can really do is try not to overwater where possible and hope that it doesn’t grow.
Preventing Root Rot In Philodendrons
Preventing root rot is a lot easier than dealing with it, trust me.
Here are some easy things you can do that make root rot much less likely to affect your Philodendron.
To prevent root rot in my Philodendron plants, I make sure to water them properly. It’s crucial to avoid over-watering, as this can lead to waterlogged roots and, eventually, root rot.
I always ensure the soil is almost dry before watering my plants again. If the top few inches of soil are dry, then it’s time to water.
I’d also avoid misting your Philodendron as well, as this can contribute towards overwatering if you are misting excessively.
Soil And Drainage Management
Philodendrons thrive in well-draining soil, so I make sure to use an appropriate soil mix. You can find my exact recipe here if you’re interested.
Aside from that, make sure your pot has lots of drainage holes in the bottom as well and that they actually work and aren’t blocked.
Treating Root Rot In Philodendrons
If you suspect that your Philodendron has root rot, here are the five steps I usually follow to deal with it quickly:
- Unpot the plant: Carefully remove it from its pot and inspect the root system. If the roots look mushy and brown and have a foul smell, this indicates root rot.
- Trim off infected roots: Using a clean, sharp pair of scissors or another pruning tool, I trim away all the affected mushy roots, leaving only the healthy, white, firm roots behind.
- Treat the remaining roots: To prevent any remaining fungicide or rot from infecting the healthy roots, I treat them with a fungicide.
- Repot the plant: Once the roots are treated, I plant the Philodendron in fresh, well-draining soil and place it in a clean pot to promote proper root growth and minimize the risk of root rot.
- Monitor and adjust care: After repotting, I closely monitor the plant’s progress, making adjustments to its care as necessary, such as modifying the watering schedule and ensuring adequate light exposure.
If you follow these steps and act quickly, there’s a good chance that your Philodendron will survive. It all depends on how many healthy roots are remaining.
Philodendron root rot needs to be dealt with quickly; otherwise, your Philodendron is at risk of dying completely.
It’s much easier to prevent root rot in the first place, so I highly recommend using the tips above to make sure your plant is not at risk of root rot in the first place.