One moment, your Pothos is climbing high up towards the sun, and the next, it’s all limp and smelly. This sounds like a case of root rot. Is it possible to still save your Pothos?
Rotting roots caught at its early stage increases the chance of Pothos’ recovery from the problem. Rot is often caused by overwatering and/or contaminated potting soil. Preventive measures include checking the soil before watering and only using a quality potting soil mix.
Keep reading to find out more about root rot in Pothos with helpful tips to spot the signs:
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How To Tell If My Pothos Has Root Rot?
The following are some symptoms you should look out for if you suspect root rot in your pothos:
- Yellow, dark brown, or black leaves
- Black, dead spots on the leaves
- A foul stench coming from the plant
- Fungus gnats hanging around the plant and soil
- Soft, black stems that break off at the touch
It’s usually tricky to determine if your pothos has root rot based on just the overall appearance. The same signs you’re seeing could be indicating problems other than root rot. The only way to confirm it is root rot is by checking the roots themselves. Healthy roots should be firm and white or slightly brown due to the soil. Rotting roots will be smelly, mushy, darkened brown, or black and fall apart quickly in your hands.
A good rule of thumb for diagnosing root rot is to observe whether the plant shows signs of dehydration like soft brown or yellow leaves, but the soil is overly wet. This means the plant is not receiving water and nutrients to its leaves because there are not enough healthy roots absorbing it from the soil. Typically, if 2/3 of the plants look really bad, this may mean the disease has progressed extensively. It may be too late to save your plant.
How To Fix Root Rot Problems in Pothos Caused By Overwatering?
Depending on the severity of the rot, you can determine whether a plant can be saved or not. Luckily, the general procedure for fixing root rot problems for Pothos is similar to most indoor plants.
You can read more about fixing root rot in this article here. There’s nothing notably different with Pothos so just stick to this procedure as close as you can.
Why Does My Pothos Get Root Rot Repeatedly?
If you’ve adjusted your watering practice and always check the soil before watering, maybe overwatering is not the problem. It is likely the soil mix you’re using. There could be two reasons why this is the case:
- The soil is contaminated with dormant pathogens. Once the environment becomes suitably wet, they come to life and start feasting on the roots for nutrients.
- The quality of the soil is poor and too compacted, retaining moisture for longer than necessary.
Whichever the case, here’s what you can do to help your Pothos:
- Remove the plant from its pot and wash the roots thoroughly under running water to get rid of the old soil as much as possible. You don’t want any hitchhikers to come aboard and infect the new soil later.
- Discard the bag of old potting soil mix you’ve been using and buy a new, fresh one. Better not chance it – who knows what else lurks in that bag.
- Repot your Pothos in a new similar-sized pot with fresh soil.
- Wash and sterilize the old pots and any tools used during the repotting process to eliminate any pathogens. This precaution will help you prevent accidental transmission to your other plants when you use the same tools.
Rhizoctonia is a particular fungal pathogen that contaminates potting soil, waiting to infect and feed on any available nutrients like a plant’s roots. You can apply a fungicide to get rid of it, but usually, just discarding and changing the soil into a brand new one is enough.
It’s also worth noting your plant may be too stressed out from the disease already; over-spraying them with chemicals may only make things worse. But if you still want to use it as an extra precaution, follow the product label’s instructions and monitor the plant for a few weeks to months.
Can My Pothos Recover from Root Rot?
Yes! Most of the time, the plant is still salvageable despite the dire situation it was previously in, provided it was only mild root rot. However, plants that suffered severe root rot have a lower chance of recovery.
This is dependent on the extent of the damage to the plant. If it’s affected most of the main stem (if the stem at ground level is mushy) and top foliage is all dead, the plant is good as dead too. You can look at the roots to be sure but, chances are there aren’t any healthy ones remaining.
In this case, the best thing to do is propagate the remaining healthy leaves and stems if you can. You can learn more about leaf and stem cuttings propagation in this article here.
Don’t feel discouraged if this happens to you because we all have been there before. At least now you know, and you can do better with your Pothos and future plants. If it’s any consolation, the propagated ones you managed to save will serve as a good reminder that no matter how many times you fail, you can still try again 🙂