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What Causes Root Rot? - Varnish + Vine

What Causes Root Rot?

Root rot is a terrible disease that can affect most plants and flowers. In fact, root rot is the number one killer of plants. But what exactly is root rot? What causes it? And most importantly, how can you prevent it? In this article, we will answer these questions and explain how you can avoid this nasty problem and keep your plants and flowers healthy, happy, and thriving year-round.

What is root rot?

Root rot is a condition that affects both indoor and outdoor plants. As the name implies, it's a disease that causes the roots of the plant to rot and die, which in turn kills the plant entirely. Root rot is almost always lethal to plants, and once the condition sets in, there is no known cure or effective treatment.

What causes root rot?

The number one cause of root rot is overwatering. When you provide your plants with too much water, the root system becomes unable to absorb oxygen which causes the roots to rot. When people talk about their plants drowning, what they really mean is that the plants have root rot resulting from too much water and not enough oxygen.

Outdoor plants can also get root rot when excess rainfall causes certain bacteria or fungi to grow on the roots, which has the same effect. The bacteria essentially suffocates the root system so that the plant is unable to absorb oxygen, which causes root rot in the same way as overwatering them.

How to prevent root rot?

The number one way to prevent root rot is by not overwatering your indoor plants. Remember, while it’s true that plants require water to live, too much water is just as bad or even worse than no water at all. Many plants, such as the Monstrose Cactus, Peruvian Apple Cactus, and other succulents, can live for long periods of time with no water, but too much water is a sure-fire way to give your plants root rot, killing them almost instantly.

Another way to help prevent root rot is by ensuring your plants have adequate drainage. As long as the water can drain, it's unlikely that the plants will attract root rot, but when there is insufficient drainage, then the water can build up, essentially drowning your plants. A good rule of thumb is to check your plants about ten minutes after watering them and if there is still water in the tray, then simply dump the excess water out so that your plants can breathe.


Root rot is a nasty disease that can suffocate the root systems of plants, causing them to wither and die. When plants have too much water, they are unable to breathe. In other words, they cannot absorb oxygen because of all the water; as such, the roots rot and die.

Fortunately, you can prevent root rot by not overwatering your plants. So, always ensure that there is adequate drainage and dump out any excess water about ten minutes after watering your plants.

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