Houseplants forum→Preventive measures for root rot?

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Name: piegirl
Mid
piegirl25
Jun 5, 2020 12:41 PM CST
Does anyone have any preventive measures for root rot? I use miracle grow soil for all of my houseplants but it is way too water retentive. Unfortunately it's the only commercial available soil brand I can find were I live. Any tips?

Short note- random but I found this worm in my peace lilies soil when trying to fix some small root rot issues. Are these worms harmful?
Thanks

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Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jun 5, 2020 2:59 PM CST
Regarding root rot issues: You have a couple of options to prevent root rot, 1. Allow the soil to dry longer between watering or, 2. Add a lot of perlite and/or orchid bark mix to the soil, which makes for a lighter, faster draining medium.

Regarding the worm: If you had your plant outside, it likely entered the pot via the drainage holes and it might be an earth worm which eats decaying matter.
~ I'm an old gal who still loves playing in the dirt!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot!


Name: piegirl
Mid
piegirl25
Jun 5, 2020 3:32 PM CST
@plantladylin Thank you for the advice! I've tried letting my plants dry or longer than normal (luckily most of them are drought tolerant) but the soil still stays wet even with direct or bright indirect light. Do you think there's a problem with the soil itself?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Jun 5, 2020 3:34 PM CST
Root rot is really root suffocation that occurs when the soil pores are allowed to stay filled with water for too long. That deprives the roots of the oxygen they need so they suffocate and die. Letting soil dry put properly allows oxygen to penetrate into the root zone.

The single most important way to prevent root suffocation is to keep your plants tightly potted, such as they are in their nursery pots. When plants are kept moderately potbound, there is much less soil surrounding the roots so the soil dries out much sooner.

Of course, a porous potting mix and a pot with drain holes are also very important, as is not watering before the soil has dried out sufficiently.

If the soil is staying too wet for too long there is a good chance there is too much of it because the pot is too big.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
[Last edited by WillC - Jun 5, 2020 3:36 PM (+)]
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Name: piegirl
Mid
piegirl25
Jun 5, 2020 6:43 PM CST
I'm honestly devastated. I didn't realize so many of my plants had root rot! I've removed the dead roots and cleaned the healthy ones with water and decided to let the propagate in water for the time being. @WillC is root rot in some way contagious? It's like after one plant got it all the other ones did too. Or maybe it had something to do with pots not being disinfected properly?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Jun 6, 2020 7:20 AM CST
Root rot is not a disease and it is not contagious. However, if you are making a common basic mistake in the care of your plants then it may affect most or all of them.

Just to review what was previously posted, the causes to examine are unnecessary repotting, poor quality potting mix, oversized pots, and watering too frequently.

Keep in mind that roots/plants can also die for other reasons such as dehydration, temperature extremes, and improper light.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
plantladylin
Jun 6, 2020 10:41 AM CST
Piegirl, the only photo you've posted appears to be a close up of pieces of perlite, bits of bark or soil and what appears to be a dead worm. Along with descriptions of the issue you are having with your plant(s), photos of the entire plant and the container it's growing in can also be of help in determining possible issues.
~ I'm an old gal who still loves playing in the dirt!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot!


Name: piegirl
Mid
piegirl25
Jun 6, 2020 2:53 PM CST
All of the plants that were suffering from root rot have already had their roots washed and the dead parts trimmed. I also cleaned and my currently disinfecting the pot. Here's some photos of what they look like now.

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Marble queen



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Golden pothos and scindapsus that are propping in water till the roots get long enough to pot in soil


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Aloe

Name: piegirl
Mid
piegirl25
Jun 6, 2020 3:04 PM CST

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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
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sallyg
Jun 6, 2020 5:12 PM CST
Hi, poor distraught plant mom Smiling

Let them root a while then pot them in good quality potting mix in small pots, put them in decent light and then be very patient and keep just moist. I have faith! Just be patient and give them time to recover. THey won't grow overnight.

i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Jun 24, 2020 3:23 PM CST
Hi, PG - Root rot IS a progressive disease, and it's caused by any of several fungal pathogens - Phytophthora, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Armillaria genera all have species that cause infections commonly called root rot. The best way to avoid it is by making sure your planting is able to hold little to no water in the spaces between soil particles. This can be best achieved by using/making substrates from a high % of coarse material like pine or fir bark and coarse mineral products, and/or by any of several other 'tricks' which limits the amount of perched (excess) water a substrate can hold.
For example, if you have a manageable planting, water over the sink so the substrate is fully saturated and at least 25% of the water applied exits the drain hole(s). Then, hold the pot and start moving it up and down. You'll immediately notice on the reversal from downward to upward movement, the water in the pot keeps on moving downward and out the drain hole. The more sharply the reversal of direction, the more perched water you can remove. This is Newton's First Law of Motion at work, and it allows you to remove all excess water from the planting and use substrates most experienced gardeners would avoid. It can be a real game changer for those saddled with water-retentive container substrates. Correct use of ballast (not a drainage layer) can also be put in place when a planting is established and will work passively for the life of the planting by displace substrate which would otherwise be 100% saturated.
Keeping plants tightly potted is a limitation in itself, so if you're into jumping onto the other horn of a dilemma, go for it. Better would be to repot and root prune on a regular basis (eliminates limitations caused by tight roots) and use a medium you don't have to fight for control of your plants' vitality, thereby avoiding trading one limitation for another.
If you have a moment, do a quick net search using tapla soil as your search words to get a sense of the number of people who have benefited from learning how water behaves in container substrates.
Al


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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
Image
sallyg
Jun 24, 2020 3:40 PM CST
@tapla, so glad to hear from you. I learned a lot from you on another site..
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Jun 24, 2020 4:59 PM CST
Thanks so much, Sally. Good to see you here, too.
Al
Name: piegirl
Mid
piegirl25
Jul 3, 2020 7:04 PM CST
@tapla thank you for the in depth advice. It was very informative. Hopefully I can implement some of the methods you discussed earlier to prevent getting root rot again!

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