Ask a Question forum: Avocado Plant - root rot? salt burn?

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Name: Leslie
Southern Maine (Zone 5b)
Image
stellbug
Nov 26, 2017 9:01 PM CST
Hello, I'm hoping someone will be able to help me with a major issue. I've grown this avocado plant from the pit since 2013. It was doing wonderfully until this summer. The leaves began to get brown at the edges. I first thought it was sun burn. But once I moved it away from the direct sun in the window (I keep it inside all the time) it did not get better, and the leaves got worse until all old ones fell off.

I flushed the plant with water in the tub, since I read that it could be salt burn and it would need a water flush. That initially seemed to help since I got new leaf growth after, and some of those are still on the tree. But, some of those began to also get brown, then shrivel, and fall off.

And now the bare ends of branches are turning black and shriveling. I'm quite sad since this plant was my pride and joy and was very beautiful. Can someone tell me what is wrong with it? Is there anything I can do to save it?! Thank you so much! Here are some photos to help in diagnosis.
Thumb of 2017-11-27/stellbug/4c0730


Thumb of 2017-11-27/stellbug/ba683b


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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Nov 27, 2017 6:14 AM CST
Unless your local tap water is unusually hard or you have overused fertilizer, then salt burn is not an issue. It is hard to give an indoor Avocado too much light, so I don't think the excess sun was a problem, although the reduced light it is in now may be a problem.

That leaves watering as the likely source of the problem. You haven't provided any details on your watering routine, so it is hard to know what the exact problem is. With such a large pot, it is much easier to keep the soil too moist than too dry. But I am just speculating about that.

Unnecessary or improper repotting might also be a cause. When and how did you last repot your avocado?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Leslie
Southern Maine (Zone 5b)
Image
stellbug
Nov 27, 2017 6:29 AM CST
Well, I was watering quite regularly because I thought it was salt burn. I've never fertilized it. I have no idea what our water is like.
But I have not watered in the last couple weeks, at least. The soil is still moist as of today so I've continued to hold off on watering. Maybe now that it is winter, I should move it closer to the window for sunlight - that's a good idea.

I repotted to this large pot probably in the late spring, early summer of this year since it was growing rapidly and I thought it was getting a little pot bound. Maybe I rushed it? I used new soil when I did that. It does not seem to drain as well since I moved it to this pot...I can't believe the soil is still moist. My watering routine used to be often, more than once a week, because it would get dry faster and would droop - but that hasn't happened for some time...Does this info help? Are the blackened branch tips rot?
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Nov 27, 2017 8:15 AM CST
Hi there S.Bug
😟 You said new soil didn't drain as fast. And soil is still wet after ____??? That's it. They don't like wet feet. And are susceptible to root rot, I suspect that's happening.
OPERATION TIME !
Pull out of pot, check for root rot, and remove. Get into well draining soil. There shallow rooted. Like/need watering twice a week. Yes, adult trees in ground also. Shallow watering. In ground, there feeder roots are in the top 6-8 inches of ground .
Hopefully Will @WillC will get back to you, with some tips, on how to care for her in a pot .
Come on back Will. Your needed back.🕵️🕵️🕵️👍👍👍
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Leslie
Southern Maine (Zone 5b)
Image
stellbug
Nov 27, 2017 8:41 AM CST
The soil is still moist after I'd say weeks! I can't remember exactly, but I think I watered it deeply at least 2 - 3 weeks ago.

I've never done root rot operation! What does it look like? Do I cut off the rotted roots?? Do I put something on the roots to heal the rot? What kind of soil is best for her? Do you think a smaller pot is best, or is there a kind of pot that is best?

Sorry for all these questions - I'm a novice! Thank you so much for all this help, I am so eager to save my precious avocado tree.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Nov 27, 2017 10:59 AM CST
Howdy there Leslie I tip my hat to you.
Good questions 👍
Will's the pot expert, and he thought pot was to big, so a size or two smaller Shrug! . Use a clay pot, they breathe and dry out faster.
Cut rotten roots off, to healthy roots , then apply cinnamon to cut roots .
Cinnamon is fungacide.

Soil ! Equal parts Catus soil and perlite.
You want soil to drain good.
Then, WELL ! Of course, you know , when and how to water her.
I mean !!! You got her to size she is ! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Last thing, when her roots are all happy 😀, In new pot .... Give her outside a make-over ? Cut those dead tips off. Then, she won't mind a little mascara treatment to her branch owies . ( Cuts , that is ! ) A touch of cinnamon . Ohh 👧 ! Make baby feel , mores betters Angel !!!
👍💃. OK !!! Let's go dancing.
Bye 😎😎😎







Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Nov 27, 2017 4:31 PM CST
When a plant takes weeks for the soil to dry out that means the roots are being deprived of oxygen and are starting to suffocate, commonly called root rot. It is hard to know just how extensive the root damage is at this point. It could already be too late.

You have two options. One is to improve the light and wait for the soil to dry out on its own and then water it very lightly thereafter.

The other option is to carefully remove the plant from the pot. Allow the loose soil outside of the original rootball to fall away without more than a gentle shake. You don' t want to remove all of the soil because that will damage many of the roothairs that may have survived. Healthy roots will have a lightish color and will be firm, not soft and mushy. If you cannot see any healthy looking roots, then I'm afraid all is lost. If there are some healthy roots, put the plant back into a pot that is just large enough for the roots and a small amount of porous soil to fit into snugly. Use a standard peat-based potting mix with added perlite and a pot with a drain hole. A small pot and porous soil will allow the soil to dry out sooner and allow oxygen in around the roots.

Good luck - I think you will need it!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Leslie
Southern Maine (Zone 5b)
Image
stellbug
Dec 1, 2017 2:36 PM CST
Thank you Philip and Will,

I did the operation today...I've used a smaller clay pot and removed what I could see (I hope) were rotted roots and cut off the black ends on the branches. I also put cinnamon on her wounds. I used a cactus and perlite soil as well. Do I wait to water? I've always been told to water a repotted plant right away, but since there's root rot, I'm not sure if I should.
Gosh, fingers crossed...though I have a bad feeling that it's too late too...it's a painful lesson to learn!

Thank you so much, both of you.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Dec 1, 2017 2:42 PM CST
Yes, water it lightly to barely dampen the soil. If you moved it to a smaller pot and used a porous potting mix, it should dry out again in a few days.

Anyone who has had success with plants has also had to learn the hard way from some mistakes along the way. Thumbs up
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Dec 1, 2017 8:38 PM CST
Yes, I agree with Will.
That's your best luck !
.😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.

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