How to Spot Root Rot

Let's start this one off by acknowledging that everybody kills a plant or two in the wonderful journey of being a plant parent. Even the pros! Whether it be from overwatering, too much sun, or simply forgetting about the plant in general! It happens to the best of us. 

Something lots of new plant parents struggle with is root rot. But did you know there is a simple solution to help avoid it? Bottom Watering! Most likely you have heard this term thrown around out there in the plant community. Today we will teach you everything you need to know about bottom watering and avoiding root rot!

Understanding Root Rot:

Root rot can come from two main sources. One is prolonged exposure to overwatered conditions that can cause some of the roots to die back due to lack of oxygen. As they die they can start to decay or rot away. The rot can then spread to healthier roots and  kill them as well. 

The other source can come from fungus in the soil. The fungus may lie dormant in the soil indefinitely and then suddenly flourish when exposed to overwatering. The root rot fungus attacks the healthy roots and causes them to die and rot away. 

Signs Of Root Rot:

  • Significant yellow leaves
  • Significant leaf drop
  • Smaller than usual pale leaves
  • Brown splotches on leaves
  • Significant wilting
  • Stunted growth
  • Rapid decline of overall health in your plant
  • Unhealthy black or brown mushy roots (instead of healthy white, firm roots) that might fall off to the touch. 

Keeping an eye out and routinely checking your houseplants for these signs can help you catch root rot early and stop it in its tracks before it's too late!

Root Rot: How to Avoid it, and How to Fix It — Plant Care Tips and More ·  La Résidence

What To Do If Your Plant Has Root Rot:

You can start by taking your plant out of its pot and gently expose and clean the roots. This can be done with either a soft dry paintbrush or rinsing in the sink until the roots are clean.

Once that is done, cut as much as the affected roots off with clean shears or scissors as needed. If you are repotting into the same vessel, make sure to thoroughly clean it, getting rid of any old soil to make sure there is no leftover fungus to affect your new soil. Use fresh soil to repot and we recommend using a vessel with good drainage. In serious cases where you have removed a large amount of roots, you can trim the top of your plant down a little so your plant has less leaves to send its energy to while re-growing healthy new roots.  Place your plant in a bright spot and wait to water until all the soil is completely dry. After a few weeks of TLC your plant should take root and be good as new!

Bottom Watering:

So now that we have gone over root rot, let's talk about bottom watering. 

Bottom watering is such a beneficial skill to add to your plant parent tool box and only takes 15-20 minutes out of your day. 

The term simply means placing your plant in a bowl of water, allowing the soil to be pulled up through drainage holes in the bottom. One of the reasons this method is so effective is because sometimes when top watering your plant, the gravity just pulls the water straight to the bottom with little time for the soil to soak up what it needs. Or the opposite, and you are overwatering and the soil is too saturated. When bottom watering the soil pulls up the exact amount that the plant needs to thrive, not too much or too little! Just make sure you give your plant 15-20 minutes to finish this process before putting it back in its place. 

Bottom watering is one of the best ways to avoid root rot because the plant decides how much water it needs without you having to think twice about it! Just make sure you do research on your specific plant to know how moist they like to be, so you know how often to water and how long to wait in between!

So what is your go-to? Top watering or bottom watering?


Read more

The Psychological Benefits of House Plants

How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats

How to Care for Succulents!