Why Do Succulents Rot: How To Stop Succulent Rot In Your Plants


Succulents are among some of the easiest plants to grow. They are often recommended for novice gardeners and thrive during lengthy vacations with no intervention. However, one of the most common causes of plant illness (and even death) is rotting succulent roots.

Succulents native to arid regions must have adequate drainage and moderate watering for good root rot control.

Why Do Succulents Rot?

Limp, shriveled, and yellow leaves are an indicator thatsucculent roots are rotting. Why do succulents rot? The answer can be culturalor fungal. In most cases, it is an issue brought upon by poordraining soil and toomuch moisture. Learning how to stop succulent rot is important to save yourplant.

Many succulents are native to arid desert regions, althougha few, such as the holidaycacti, are suited to warm, tropical areas. Any plant that is potted and haslittle drainage along with being in heavy soil can fall prey to root rot. Containerplants are a special risk, as they must have all their needs met in a smallarea.

The most common signs outside of leaf problems are a soft,overly flexible stem where the plant has trouble supporting itself. The plantor the soil may also have an odor. Soil will smell like mildew or the plantwill simply smell like rot. Plants begin caving in at the main body. Thecollapse of plant tissue is a later and dangerous sign that a succulent’s rootsare rotting.

Preventing Rotting Succulent Roots

Succulent root rot control starts with early planting andcare. Use a well-draining succulent soil or makeyour own with a mixture of potting soil, sand, and peat. It may be best tofumigate or sterilizethe soil prior to planting to kill any existing insect larvae, fungus, orbacteria.

Water only when the bottom of the soil at the drainage holesfeels dry. Reduce watering by half in winter. If you see any signs of rot,certain succulents can be saved with an application of copperfungicide, either as a soil drench or as a foliar application.

How to Stop Succulent Root Rot

If you are a very vigilant grower and notice signs early,there are steps you can take to save your plant if the succulent roots arerotting. Many succulents produce offsets that can be divided away from a parentplant, allowed to callus, and replanted.

If the base of the main plant is strong and the roots appearto be disease free, you can still save the entire plant. Remove it from thediseased soil and cut off any rotted roots or leaves with sterile, sharpinstruments.

Next, sterilize the container and use fresh soil. Mix a bowlof water with a drop of anti-bacterial dish soap. Using fresh cotton swabs,wipe the roots of the succulent very carefully. You could also dunk the rootsinto a diluted anti-fungal preparation. Let the roots dry completely beforerepotting. Allow the plant to stay dry for 2 weeks and observe it closely.

Even if you can’t preserve the whole plant, leaves, stems,or offsets may be taken to start a new one.


Root rot refers to a range of diseases that affect plant roots. Most of them simply cause the root to rot and die, which starts a chain reaction that kills other roots and, eventually, the whole plant.

Most root rot is caused by overwatering. Many people don’t realize it, but plants do most of their “breathing” through their roots – that’s why loose, aerated soil is important. They also use oxygen, not just carbon dioxide, to do photosynthesis. When roots stay wet for a long time, either because you water too frequently or the soil doesn’t dry out fast enough, the roots don’t get enough air and so they “drown”. This process starts slow but spreads pretty quickly, rotting all of the roots and soon the whole plant.

Some root rot is pathological in origin, meaning it’s caused by some aspect of nature. In this instance, by a harmful fungus or bacteria. This is pretty rare for succulents, especially since most are grown in pots or in the ground far from their native habitat. Root rot caused by disease is functionally the same, but requires different treatment.


Signs Your Succulent Has Root Rot

When you succulent has root rot, it will not look healthy, or happy. It will look like it needs help, and it needs help asap. Some common signs of root rot will be rotting, loss of color, leaves falling off, mushy leaves, basically any sign that looks like your succulent is rotting.

To 100% make sure your succulent has root rot, there’s one exact way. That is to basically dig your succulent out from its pot or planter, and check your succulents roots. If the roots are black or brown then your succulent has root rot, and this must be treated very soon.


How to deal with succulent root rot

There are two main ways of dealing with succulent root rot: the first is prevention and the second is treatment.

If you are planting succulents, then you should put all your efforts into preventing this disease. However, if you buy them in pots or you are looking after a garden where the succulents have already been planted, maybe by someone else, then your best option is to keep an eye out for any signs of this condition and act very swiftly.


Cactus and Succulents forum→Root rot?

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However, I recently noticed that it felt really loose in its soil, so I pulled on it gently and it came right out. It barely has any roots, which explains why the soil isn't drying out. Is this because of root rot? From what I've read, white or yellow roots are fine, but brown or black ones that feel wet and slimy are rotting. These roots are fairly brown but feel completely dry so I can't figure out if it is root rot or not.

Can anyone help me identify the issue, and hopefully also how to save the plant?





Then either go to the sticky entry in the main C&S list of subjects about creating soils and see if you can create yourself a fast draining soil from what is locally easily available. Then get a pot with at least one big drainage hole, and after about 5 or so days once the roots have dried out and you can inspect them to see if any mushy parts remain (if yes, cut those away and let the plant sit for a further few days), if no plant the plant in the new soil/pot and let it sit for at least a week (depending on your current conditions maybe two weeks) before lightly watering, then do not water until the soil is dried out almost completely (ie. not just at the top but also deeper down in the pot).

I suspect you will be able to get this plant to recover but you probably want to be very careful with the watering frequency for a while.


The only other thing would encourage you to do is to try to understand what got you to this point in the first place.

As recommended look at the thread on soils and the one on watering. I had one hybrid throw its roots like this and unlike erics experience mine took months to re root. I was sure it was going to die and it looked very bad for a very long time (this was probably because of my relatively northern location here in the UK which did not encourage the plant to root and grow )

The main factors you have to get in the right band are watering methods , soil and sufficient heat and light exposure.
Good luck and let us know how you go on with it

Steve

Mediums for growing most plants IN CONTAINERS should drain very quickly. Water should pour out of the drainage holes. If the medium you are using looks like a wet swamp, your plants will fail, especially your succulents. Containerized plants need special growing mediums because roots are restricted and roots cannot wander, the roots can't grow deeper, roots can't search out for cooler areas, roots can cook in hot containers when grown under full-sun conditions, roots easily become stressed and roots will rot and die. The grower (that's you) must provide what the plant needs. Duplicate/approximate the environment where the plant evolved and you're 90% there. CONTAINERIZED SUCCULENTS usually require as much sun as possible, quick-draining mediums, infrequent watering + temps in the high 70s to mid 80s. and warmish root zones at night. No cold/wet root zones, warmish-dryish root zones. especially if the plants are slowing down or are dormant. Overwater containerized succulents when they're dormant . is just asking for rot and plant failures. However, many other containerized plants will fail if roots remain waterlogged. Use quick-draining, gritty mediums for containerized plants. not peat loaded, bagged potting mixes.

Make your own gritty mixes that drain quickly. Search this forum for the ingredients. Start with googling for: "Al Tapla's quick draining gritty mix". Your succulents will reward you. and you'll not be showing us too many pics of your plants with rotted, wet roots.

Containerized plants require special mediums and attention to culture conditions. Pros and successful hobbyist-growers know and understand these requirements.

We all have failures. It happens. Don't worry, and move on. But learn why the plant failed. The grower most likely was/is at fault. Make changes.

Have fun, and happy growing. Quick-draining gritty-mix. try it.


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