What Does Root Rot Look Like?

Is there anything sadder than witnessing your favorite cactus plant die? It’s a warning that your cactus is no longer healthy if the roots begin to rot. You can preserve your prized plant by figuring out what’s wrong.

Every gardener’s biggest fear is to see the plants they’ve spent so much time and effort on deteriorating. Root rot is one of the leading causes of plant mortality. Root rot may sneak up on you so slowly that you don’t notice it until it’s too late. Before root rot spreads to the whole root system, you must diagnose and treat the root rot in order to preserve the plants. However, what exactly is root rot?

Rot targets the plant’s roots, although its effects may be seen on the plant’s top sections. Plants may have withering stems or fading foliage; soft stems; or moist potting soil. You don’t have to remove your plant from the ground to examine it for rotting since these indications are clearly obvious. Consider unpotting the plant and doing a root check if you see any of these symptoms.

This article will show you what decaying roots look like after you’ve unpotted your plant. In order to understand root rot, let’s examine its symptoms. All of your queries about root rot will be answered here.

What is root rot?

In the absence of treatment, root rot may cause plants to degenerate and finally die. Root rot may be caused by a fungus infection or a lack of oxygen in the soil. A plant’s suffocation is most often the result of soil that has become soggy.

When anything goes wrong with a plant’s roots, the whole plant suffers. Oxygen is necessary for photosynthesis in all plants. Root cells are unable to produce a critical chemical that conserves and transmits energy in cells when they lack oxygen. Eventually, the roots will begin to die and stop absorbing vital nutrients.

What Does It Look Like When You Have Root Rot?

What Does Root Rot Look Like?

Root rot may not always be visible on the stems or leaves, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. You may need to examine the roots of your plant to see whether it is suffering from root rot. When confronted with a decaying root, you may find the following items.

  • Smell of Decay

Even though root rot isn’t evident, a bad smell is a sure clue that something is wrong with the roots. The aroma of a healthy plant is generally earthy. Root rot, on the other hand, is a scent you can’t abide by when you remove your plant from its container. It’s possible that a decaying eggy smell is coming from your dead plant.

  • Mushy or Soft Roots

The roots of a healthy plant are creamy-white and extremely solid. To rule out root rot, check the roots for signs of softness and mushy consistency. Excessively wet soil causes the roots to become mushy and mushily. Infected roots become dark and mushy because of the fast growth of fungus spores on the healthy parts.

  • The Plant’s Roots Have Been Cut Off

Even if you don’t touch them, the roots of certain plants become so weak that they just fall out. Anguish sets in as you see the parent plant’s roots wilt away. This might be a warning that the rot has progressed to the point that the plant is no longer salvageable.

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Root rot’s other visible signs include;

  • Leaves with a yellow hue
  • The plant’s leaves begin to fall off.
  • Leaves with brown splotches
  • stem or leaf wilting
  • Plants that are unhealthy or undernourished
  • Roots that are either black or brown in color
  • Growth is stifled

What is Root Rot Mistaken for?

Root decay and withering plants are often mistaken for not getting enough water or nutrients, although this isn’t always the case. Root rot may be mistaken for the following two things.

  • Underwatering

When the plant turns yellow or doesn’t develop as expected, many people assume that the plant doesn’t have enough water. As a result of overwatering, your plant may seem submerged to you. Underwatered and overwatered plants seem to have almost identical visual characteristics. Wilting leaves are a common illustration of this.

When you think your plant is withering because it doesn’t have enough water, you’ll probably start watering it. You’ll exacerbate the plant’s decay by overwatering it, therefore you should avoid doing so. Suffocation will set in when the plant becomes wet. It will ultimately die as a result of this.

  • Lack of Nutrient

Root rot might be mistaken for nutritional insufficiency by others. A lack of nutrients is the first thing that springs to mind if the plant’s soil is always damp, even though there is plenty of sunshine and no symptoms of pests.

Mistaking root rot for nutrient deficiency causes a far more serious condition. Most likely, you’ll select to feed the plant a fertilizer that is easily dissolved in water. And you’ll wind up overdosing on the plant by mixing water, soil, and fertilizers. Because the earth is already saturated, you’ll have to add even more water. As a result, the soil will get even damper, which will exacerbate the rotting issue.

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Root Rot is Caused by a Variety of Factors.

If you don’t know what’s wrong with your plant, you won’t be able to rescue it. Root rot may be caused by a variety of factors.

  • Overwatering

Too much water is a typical cause of root rot. Plants have varying water requirements, and it’s possible to misinterpret this as a watering issue when it isn’t. Unlike many other plants, cacti only need a little amount of water to thrive. There are occasions when watering a plant might really be harmful to it.

Bacteria and fungus thrive in too wet soil, so be sure to keep an eye on it. In order to avoid root rot, you must not allow the growth of fungus and bacteria.

  • Underwatering

Is overwatering the only problem? You’d be wrong if you thought so. If you don’t give your plant adequate water, it may get root rot. The roots of your plant will begin to wilt and shrink when you stop watering it. In order to save them from rot, you’ll have to flood them with water after realizing that their roots are very dry.

  • Land Is Not Draining Well

Poor soil drainage occurs when the water you provide to your plant is only absorbed by the top layer of the soil. If there are no drainage holes in your pot, water will pool and your soil will get soggy. As a result, your plant will die from a lack of oxygen, resulting in rotted roots. The bottom of the pot should be filled with rocks and pebbles to improve drainage. Pots with no holes should also be avoided.

  • The Larger Pots

In your mind, your plant requires ample space if you’re a gardener. To use an excessively large pot, on the other hand, would be the gravest error one could possibly make. Root rot may occur as a result of a large pot. Having too much dirt around your plant is the most common cause of issues for your plants. The voids between the soils may lead to waterlogging, which in turn invites bacteria to flourish.

  • Excessive Depth of Planting

Planting them too deep is frowned upon by a slew of plant species. Plants prefer to develop their own roots rather than rely on others to do it for them. When you bury other plants deep in the earth, you’ll be interfering with their development since they need to root along the stems. Avoid lowering your plant’s depth too much by checking its growth specs beforehand.

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6 Warning Signs For Cactus Root Rot

Root Rot: How to Prevent and Treat

It’s heartbreaking to see the decay and ultimate death of the plants you’ve worked so hard to care for. However, you should be aware that not all root rot is fatal. Root rot may be prevented if it is discovered early and the reason is discovered.

There is a possibility you may salvage your plant if you can still see some white and solid roots. It is possible to revive a dying plant by transplanting it into the new soil. Your plant can only be saved by replanting part of it and not the whole thing. The plant will be beyond repair if it becomes mushy in its whole.

The procedure of replanting must be done carefully in order to preserve the plant. Get rid of all the mushy and brown bits of the root that you can. This may be done using a pair of scissors that are sharp. Replant the plant as soon as the damaged portions have been removed. To prevent the spread of the fungus, dispose of the bad portions and sanitize the scissors after the operation.


Root rot is a common condition that attacks plants from the roots causing them to decay and eventually die if not solved. Root rot mostly attacks the roots, but its effects are usually noticeable on the plant’s upper parts. Identifying the problem can help you save your precious plant. What Do People Mistake Root Rot For?

Mistaking root rot for lack of nutrients gives rise to another bigger problem altogether. You’ll probably decide to give the plant a water-soluble fertilizer. This means you’ll add extra water to the soil that’s already waterlogged. When you stop watering your plant, the roots will begin to shrink and shrivel. Identifying root rot is the first step towards treating root rot.

If you can identify root rot early and treat it, chances are you’ll be able to save your plant. Don’t plant too deep in the soil, as other plants need to root along the stems.

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