Succulent root rot can be devastating to succulents, but it’s easy to prevent if you catch it early enough.
Succulent plants are some of the most fun to grow in your home, but they do tend to be a little more susceptible to certain pests and diseases than their indoor cousins. If you notice that your beloved plant seems to be drying out and shriveling up even though it receives plenty of water, it might have succulent root rot (also known as Kalanchoe Root Rot).
When the roots of your succulent turn black and slimy, it’s likely suffering from a disease called succulent root rot. In fact, succulent root rot is one of the most common succulent diseases around, affecting both indoor and outdoor plants alike.
If you suspect that your plant has succulent root rot, there are several things you can do to prevent or treat it.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent succulent root rot and how to get rid of it once it does happen.
What is succulent root rot?
Succulent root rot is a disease in which some type of fungus or bacteria infects your succulent roots. Infection occurs when moisture from rain, irrigation, or dew seeps into open wounds on your plant’s roots.
The pathogen attacks and rots its way through your succulent’s root system, killing off portions of it while it spreads.
Although there are many different types of pathogens that can cause root rot, the most common ones are Pythium spp., Phytophthora spp., Rhizoctonia spp., and Fusarium spp.
Why do succulents rot?
Succulents are by nature a very brittle plant, so even when proper care is taken, they may still fall victim to rot. Most of these succulents come from hot, dry climates and do not do well in environments that have too much moisture.
In fact, many types of succulents only thrive in very specific regions and soil conditions that can be hard to replicate in a home environment. This means that you should always try your best to replicate their natural conditions as closely as possible.
When planting your succulents, you want to make sure that the root ball is at ground level or below the surface of the potting soil and it should never sit on top. If the roots are exposed for any length of time (even just one day), then this could lead to rot.
To prevent root rot, remember to water sparingly – only enough to keep them wet until water comes out of the bottom hole in the pot. The best thing to do is leave the container open with a dish underneath to catch any excess water.
Another option would be to use moss balls or other fake rocks which will allow some drainage but not let the roots get wet all of the time. You also want to avoid overwatering because that will create an environment where root rot thrives.
What does root rot look like?
Succulents are great plants for indoor and outdoor environments. They’re easy to care for, and they look beautiful. However, there is a common problem with succulents called root rot. The symptoms of root rot can be confused with many other issues, so it’s important to understand what causes them before you try any home remedies or cures.
If the roots start to turn brown and die, that’s an indication that the plant has been affected by root rot. Sometimes the cause is from too much water or fertilizer on the surface of the soil, but in most cases, it’s because the plant was exposed to cold temperatures too quickly after being outside.
Other causes include planting the succulents too deep, placing heavy objects on top of the potting soil, overwatering, under-watering, and improper drainage.
Regardless of what caused your plant to get root rot, these steps will help make sure your succulent stays healthy. First, remove all dead roots. Next, cut back on watering.
Let the soil dry out between watering sessions and don’t fertilize. Then replace old soil with fresh potting mix to prevent compaction at the bottom of the container.
Finally, wait until springtime when things have warmed up to take your succulent outside again – this will ensure less chance of getting root rot next time around!
Treating root rot?
To treat succulent root rot, you first need to figure out what’s causing it. A few common culprits include overwatering and under-fertilizing. If your plant’s roots are dark brown or black in color, the issue may be too much water or too little water.
On the other hand, if the roots are white or light brown in color, then there is a chance that you’re not providing enough nutrients to your plants. If this is the case, adding more fertilizer will help remedy the problem.
The easiest way to diagnose a nutrient deficiency would be by using a soil test kit to see how well your soil is absorbing nutrients.
However, you can also tell from leaf symptoms such as yellowing of leaves or new leaves with undersized growth. You can also take a look at the bottom of your pot; any dark patches could indicate a lack of nutrients due to excess water.
Succulents require a bit of extra TLC if you want them to live long and healthy lives. The easiest way to keep your succulents healthy is to keep them out of water for several days, allowing their excess moisture (and possible rot) to dry out.
After they’ve dried, place them in a well-ventilated area that gets plenty of sun but not too much wind, so they can recover. Watch the leaves carefully – when they’re plump again, it’s time to give them some water. If any are still wilted or shriveled after a few weeks or months, then it may be time to replace them.
It is especially important to clean off any of your succulents’ roots that are peeking out from your pot with a sharp pair of scissors. If there are small roots visible, these need to be trimmed. If you have more than one type of succulent in your pot, trimming becomes even more important because there will be roots coming from various plants and creating an almost tangled mess in your container.
If you are growing succulents from cuttings, it is also important to remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem before planting. These leaves will rot and create more problems for the plant.
The best way to handle this issue is by holding onto the leaves on the top part of the stem (the place where it would be sticking out of the soil) while slicing through the bottom part with a sharp pair of scissors. Make sure not to cut into any new roots at this point!
If you have a succulent with root rot, don’t panic. It may seem drastic, but for many types of succulents (like cacti), cutting off part of your plant is actually an easy way to treat disease and speed up recovery.
The first step is to identify which type of succulent you’re dealing with, cutting away an Aloe vera leaf at its base will look different than slicing off a Yucca rostrata leaf, for example.
Once you’ve done that, grab a sharp knife or scissors and cut off the affected area. Make sure not to leave any leaves attached to the roots that could be pulling water away from the healthy roots. Afterward, repot the healthy portion of your plant in fresh soil and enjoy watching it grow back!
Many succulents get root rot because of a deficiency in sulfur, but there are some things you can do to increase your succulents’ chance of survival. Because sulfur isn’t readily available in many soils, it’s a good idea to add sulfur during planting.
Mixing small amounts into potting soil or adding high-quality organic fertilizer can help get nutrients to your plants more quickly. Additionally, misting plants on hot days will promote better growth while helping them conserve water at the same time.
Pinching off any dead leaves that show signs of damage is also recommended for most succulents. Lastly, be sure to keep your plants away from areas with poor air circulation and any other factors that might lead to higher humidity levels.
Succulent root rot is difficult to prevent but easy enough to treat once symptoms have shown up!
How to fix root rot?
The first line of defense in preventing root rot is to avoid overwatering your succulents. This can seem like a difficult task, especially when you see that succulents need little water compared to other plants. If you’re unsure about how much water your plant needs, consider investing in a moisture meter to measure soil moisture.
These are easy to use and can help prevent overwatering and underwatering of soil. Once you know the moisture level of the soil, simply water accordingly. In addition to keeping the amount of water consistent with what it takes for your succulents to thrive, it’s important to take care not over-fertilize them as well. Be sure to only fertilize the top layer of soil, if at all.
Too much fertilizer will cause fertilizer salts which kill off good bacteria needed by succulents to stay healthy.