Written By Ellie Jonas

Philodendron Root Rot: Identification and Treatment

Healthy roots of a philodendron is being shown after removing the root rot.

Philodendrons are low-maintenance plants that can be grown as both indoor and outdoor plants. Although it is quite easy to take care of a philodendron, some problems like root rot can be fatal for this plant.

Roots can be caused by different reasons which may also make the plant get infected by fungal diseases. Your plant will show different signs if it has been affected by root rot. If you identify the signs then, it can be easier for you to prevent diseases.

Rotting the roots not only causes severe damage to the plant’s health but also makes it look unattractive.

Here, I have shared detailed information about the causes of root rot and ways to treat them so that you can prevent it before it’s too late.

What Are the Signs of Root Rot in a Philodendron?

As mentioned above your plant will show off some signs if its roots are rotten. Here are some of them you should be aware of.

a woman carefully inspecting the roots of a philodendron plant to check for root rot.

Brown Roots

If a philodendron has root rot its root will become brown and soft. As the roots are below the soil so, this sign can be difficult to identify.

Foul Smell From the Soil

A foul smell can be smelled out from the soil if the root is rotten. In this case, you need to pull out the roots slightly to check for the same. If you notice the roots are breaking easily then, be sure the plant has been affected by root rot.

Yellowing of Leaves

Whenever there is something wrong with the plant the first sign will always be changes in the color of leaves. Yellowing of leaves is the most common sign of root rot.

Droopy Leaves

Due to root rot your plant may not get enough nutrients. This can lead to droopy and wilting leaves.

Foul Odor From Roots

A healthy root may have an earthy smell or no smell at all. However, if there is a root rot foul smell can come out from the roots and soil.

Slow Growth Rate

Due to root rot, the plant becomes weak and does not get proper support from its roots. This may lead to a slow growth rate.

Parts of the Plant Can Be Affected

Root rot can affect the overall health of a philodendron. Due to root rot, the stems grow thin, roots fail to absorb nutrients and water, and leaves start growing smaller in size.

Tips to follow

If you suspect that your philodendron has root rot, it is important to act quickly. The longer you wait, the damage caused by the fungus will be more, and it will be difficult to save the plant.

What Are the Causes of Root Rot in a Philodendron?

There are several causes that can lead to root rot in a philodendron. Here are some of them you should know to prevent them.

the root rot is being removed to make the philodendron survive.

Excess Watering

Over-watering the plant is the most common cause of root rot. Using too much water on the plant can also make its leaves wilted and droopy. When a philodendron is over-watered then, there is a huge change in water logging.

Improper drainage of excess water and waterlogging can easily make the roots rotten. A plant with root rot also gets affected by fungal and bacterial diseases.

Over-watering can also stop an adequate supply of oxygen to different parts of the plant from the roots as the air pores are filled with too much water.

Although wilted leaves can also be a sign of an under-watered plant, the wilted leaves will be limp and soft if it is over-watered.

Too Much Fertilization

Philodendrons do not need to be fed frequently. Using too much fertilizer can make the plant stressed out. There is a chance of root rot, and the soil becomes leggy due to excess salt build-up if over-fertilized.

Some people think over-fertilization can make their plants grow faster. However, this is not true. Over-fertilization can only cause root rot and other diseases.

Not Using the Right Potting Soil

Well-draining and aerated soil is best for growing a philodendron. So, if you use heavy soil that does not drain well then, there can be a problem of waterlogging. Excessive damp and moist soil can lead to root rot.

Avoid Compact Soil

The soil can become soggy if the water does not drain out properly. Soggy soil can easily cause root rot and make it difficult for the plant to absorb enough nutrients.

A philodendron with soggy, compact soil cannot grow fast. So, it is important to use only airy and light soil to make the plant grow faster and stay healthy.

Say No to the Heavy Soil Mix

A heavy soil mix holds water for a long and does not let the water drain out fast. Due to this reason, the root of the plant stays wet for a longer period.

The root also cannot breathe properly due to which there is a chance of fungal and bacterial growth and root rot.

Here is some additional information on soil mix that you might find helpful: The Best Soil Mix for Philodendrons of All Varieties.

Cold Weather Conditions

As a philodendron loves warm, humid weather conditions, a low temperature can cause different side effects. Although cold temperatures do lead to root rot directly, the plant may get affected by fungal diseases.

In low temperatures, the plant will start growing slowly and will not need much water to survive.

Did You Know

To ensure your philodendron stays healthy, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of root rot. These include stunted growth, droopy leaves, yellow or brown spots on leaves, and soft brown roots. Take immediate action if you notice any of these signs.

Ways to Fix Root Rot in a Philodendron

Once the plant gets affected by root rot it is not very easy to fix the issue. So, preventing root rot is always best for your plant. Here are some tips that you should follow to fix a philodendron with root rot.

Take Out the Plant From the Pot

Keeping the plant in a pot with root rot will ultimately kill it. So, use your fingers and gently slide and take out the affected plant from the pot. Avoid pulling it out as it can damage the parts of the plant.

Remove All the Soil From the Root

The soil should be completely removed from the roots of the plant that is affected by root rot.

You should never reuse the soil from the rotten roots as the disease can be spread to the fresh soil. Always use new and fresh soil when transplanting or repotting the plant.

Remove Unhealthy Roots

You need to cut off the roots that are affected by diseases, damage, or dead using pruning shears.

Discard the damaged roots immediately and never compost them.

Clean the Pot

If you want to reuse the pot where the plant was growing earlier then, make sure you wash it properly and sanitize it. If you are using a new container then it should also be cleaned and sanitized before placing the plant in it.

Remove Unhealthy Leaves

To make the plant stay healthy you need to clip off any dead or damaged leaves using sanitized pruning shears. Only ¼ of the plant foliage should be removed and not more than that.

Use Fresh Soil

Even if you are reusing the pot or using a new container always use well-draining, fresh, light, and airy soil. Put some soil at the bottom of the pot and place the root ball.

Now fill the pot with the rest of the soil. Press the soil gently and add some more soil if needed.

Avoid Over-watering

Do water the plant just after replanting it in the new soil. Wait for a few days and then check out the moisture level of the soil. If the top 2 inches of the soil becomes dry then, only water the philodendron. Always avoid using too much water.

Follow a Proper Watering Schedule

Watering the plant should only be done when the soil dries out. Put your fingers in the soil to check out the moisture level.

It is enough to water the plant once a week during its growing period.

Place the Plant in an Indirect Light

A philodendron always prefers indirect bright light to grow and thrive. However, keeping the plant under direct scorching sunlight can cause damage to the leaves and other parts of the plant.

You can place the plant near a window from which it can get enough indirect bright light. If the plant does not get the required amount of light, then, its leaves can start becoming yellow.

How Much Water Should Be Used on a Philodendron to Prevent Root Rot?

The amount of water to be used on a philodendron depends on its size, growth rate, and age of the plant. As overwatering is the most common reason that leads to root rot so, maintaining a proper watering schedule is very important.

A chart showing the optimum watering frequency and, the amount required for philodendrons.

Root rot can also cause diseases and the plant may die before time. The location, seasons, and temperature of the place where a philodendron is kept also determine the amount of water you should be using.

Deeply watering the plant once a week is enough during summer and spring as it is the growing period of a philodendron. However, during winter months less watering the plant can be better.

Water your philodendron once every 10 days during winter and fall. It is, always important to check the moisture level of the soil before watering. If the soil feels too moist or damp then, avoid using water until the soil dries out.

How to Save a Philodendron With Root Rot?

Although it is not very easy to save a philodendron with root rot. Repotting the plant in a new container with fresh soil can sometimes save it.

Take off the plant gently from the pot and remove the rotten soil from its roots. Also, cut off the damaged, dead, and disease-affected parts of the roots.

Take a new container or if you are using the old one then, make sure to clean and sanitize it properly before reusing it. Fill the bottom of the pot with new well-draining and aerated soil. Now, place the root ball in the center and fill the remaining pot with fresh soil. 

Wrapping Up

Philodendrons prefer moist and warm weather conditions to grow and thrive. However, if the weather around the plant is too wet then, it may cause root rot.

When kept indoors following the right watering schedule is necessary. Over watering the plant may lead to water logging which causes root rot and other fungal, bacterial diseases.

Make sure the soil used should be well-draining, light, and aerated. The pot where the plant is placed should have enough holes to drain away excess water.

Your beloved philodendron can live for years if root rot is prevented. And I hope this post will help you with the same.

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My name is Ellie Jonas, and I’m a writer, editor, and lifelong plant lover. With over 12 years of experience in growing different varieties of philodendrons and other indoor plants, I inspire and educate new gardeners with a focus on planet-friendly gardening practices.

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