Succulent Root Rot

What is Root Rot and What Causes It?

Root rot refers to a broad range of diseases that affect plant roots. It is a condition in which plants rot or decay, which causes the entire plant to die if the root rot is not treated. What causes root rot? Well, the most common cause of root rot is overwatering. Succulents are incredibly hardy plants that can thrive on neglect, but the one thing that can often cause their demise is overwatering.

Succulents need well-draining, loose soil so their roots can breathe. If the soil is too dense, constantly moist and soggy, the roots will begin to decay and become mushy. Another potential cause is a succulent container that doesn’t drain or using a soil that is not well-draining. You could be watering your succulents in the right amounts, but it could be your soil type or pot’s drainage capacity that is causing the root rot.

What Does Root Rot Look Like?

What are the common signs that your succulent has root rot? If while repotting your succulent you notice the roots are dark brown or black, your succulent most likely has developed root rot, or has infected roots. If the roots are slimy, wet to the touch, or have a foul, rotting smell, then it is definitely root rot. Healthy succulent roots are usually white or yellow.

Obvious signs of root rot that appear closer to the surface of your succulent include stems or leaves becoming pale, translucent, or yellow. If you notice that your leaves or stem have become mushy and lost their original plump firmness, this could be another indicator you may be overwatering or starting to cause root rot. is If you’re first noticing root rot at the stems and leaves, your succulent is likely in the advanced stages of root rot and may die.

How to Treat Root Rot

If the root rot has not yet spread to your succulent’s stem or leaves, then the drying technique may be for you. Allowing your succulent roots to dry out may be the cure if you catch the root rot early. Simply leave your unspotted succulent out to air dry for a few days and check back on the root’s progress.

Another potential cure is trimming off the rotted portions of your succulent’s roots to stop the spread. Trim the affected area of the roots and be sure to even cut a few centimeters above the infected area to ensure any internal areas affected do not stay. Look for any other remaining black spots and make sure your succulent stem is clean. After cutting off the rotted portions, allow your succulent to sit for a few days before repotting. This allows the cut to form a “scab” over the open wound, which will increase its chances of survival.

Some gardeners try sprinkling powdered sulfur on rotted succulent roots to treat and prevent root rot as well. A final measure is to simply cut your succulent from the stem and propagate it if the root rot has spread too far for the succulent to be salvageable.

How to Prevent Root Rot

Root rot can be prevented by making sure not to overwater your succulent, by using a well-draining succulent soil, and by using a succulent pot that has drainage holes. These preventative measures make sure the soil is well aerated and can dry quickly. In addition, rather than watering in short amounts frequently, try watering in large doses in longer intervals using the Drench and Dry Method. This gives succulents the time they need to dry out.

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