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Philodendron Root Rot: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Cutting off the mushy stem and decayed leaves might be inadequate for a Philodendron suffering from root rot due to overwatering or cold temperatures.

Generally, Philodendron gives huge, glossy, and waxy leaves with low care. But inappropriate growing conditions like overwatering, compact soil, low temperature, and pathogenic infection cause root rot leading to wilting and decaying of plants.

Take it easy, as you can treat the root rot before it takes a severe form. Look through the article for insight into Philodendron root rot symptoms and prevention.

What Does Root Rot Look Like?

Shaking off an entire Philodendron plant from a pot and checking the roots might be the most appropriate way to conclude whether it is root rot.

Healthy Philodendron roots are white and dry to the touch. While the one with rot looks brown to black, giving off a mushy feel and a rotten smell.
Root of Philodendron over a paper towel
Take root out without hurting or disturbing it.

However, removing a large potted plant might be unsafe since it can disturb the root and stress the plant.

So alternately, you can look for signs of root rot in the Philodendron by noticing leaf colors and stems.

The plant suffering from root rot has yellow leaves that droop and falls off, water blisters appear, and stems turn brown and mushy.

Causes Of Philodendron Root Rot

Root rot might result from fungal infection, but various factors ignite the situation in Philodendrons.

Some of the significant causes responsible for root rotting in Philodendrons are as follows.

1. Overwatering Issue

Philodendron demands an interval between watering schedules as it is a semi-drought tolerant plant.

So it should be kept weekly, but watering without checking 2-inch deep moisture can choke the roots.

The initial symptom includes wilted leaves that turn brown and soft over time.

Next are brown spots on the leaf surface, giving a squashy feel. Lastly, stem rot at the part near the soil.

2. Compact Soil

The Philodendron has always loved the light and well-draining soil.

However, soil can lose its quality and porosity as it ages, leaving no gaps between particles.

And once it compacts, the soil exhibits poor drainage leading to the slowed growth of the Philodendron.

Ultimately the growth stunts with an extended poor drainage system. Also, roots will start to decay due to sogginess and give off a rotten smell.

3. Cold Temperature

As a tropical plant, Philodendron can withstand temperatures between 65ºF and 85ºF. The lowest it can tolerate is 55ºF.

So when the temperature drops below, your Philodendron will undoubtedly suffer from frost and start to slow growth.

Also, during cold days the Philodendron has less demand for water and fertilizer. So your plant can easily become overwatered and overfertilized and house rotting bacteria.

Due to this condition, your Philodendron root start to become sensitive and starts to rot.

4. Pathogenic Infection

Philodendrons are adaptable plants resistant to certain pests and diseases.

However, soggy and damp soil can invite fungal and bacterial infection.

The most common are fungal root rot like Pythium rot, Rhizoctonia blight, and Phytophthora rot caused by contaminated soil and infected cuttings.

You can identify pathogenic root rot by looking at yellow or black to brown leaves and dark spots of irregular shape.

The Philodendron root rot symptoms appear on the visible part, like leaves, only after the condition has worsened.

5. Wrong Pot and Size

Planting the Philodendron in a suitable container that is neither too large nor too small is ideal.

Generally, the pot should be only one to two inches wider than the rootball.

However, some misinterpret that a larger pot means a bigger plant. But that is only leading to problems for Philodendron.

A larger pot misleads the watering requirement and potting mix ratio, ultimately making survival harder for plants.
A pot with a Philodendron on it
Too large pots can lead to soggy conditions and invite root rot.

Also, a container without enough drainage is a big NO, as Philodendron cannot tolerate stagnant water.

This will make the root and stem turn mushy and overloaded with fertilizer and soil, making absorption difficult.

How To Treat Root Rot In A Philodendron?

Philodendrons showing rotting symptoms from leaves and stems already signal the situation has worsened.

So save the Philodendron by taking immediate treatment actions.

A. Overwatering Issues

  • Cut back on watering the Philodendron. Take the plant out and place it over a newspaper to soak the excess water.
  • You can also place the overwatered Philodendron pot under direct sunlight for a day.
  • If the situation is beyond recovery, repotting the plant into a new pot and potting mix is the only option.

B. Poor Drainage

  • Loosen the soil with a trowel or sharp object to allow spacing between the soil.
  • If it has enough nutrients, you can add pebbles and sand particles to the mix.
  • If not, change the potting mix with well-draining soil. Combining peat moss, perlite, and compost in a 1:1:1 ratio works fine.

C. Low Temperature

  • Reduce watering frequency to bi-weekly during winter to maintain the soil temperature.
  • Place the plant in tepid water and dry it under the sun for an hour.
  • Alternatively, you can use a heating mat under the pot.

D. Fungal and Bacterial Infections

  • Isolate the plant as soon as you notice pathogenic infection to minimize spread.
  • Remove the plant from the pot and trim the damaged root with sterilized pruners.
  • You might also need to trim off damaged leaves and stems, as the remaining roots might not be able to sustain the giant plant.
  • And if the plant is beyond recovery, take the stem cutting and propagate the Philodendron.
  • Change the soil mix as it still holds the bacteria and fungus.

E. Pot Problem

  • Drill holes in the existing pot in the absence.
  • Replace the container with a terracotta pot of the recommended size.

How To Prevent Root Rot In A Philodendron?

Why face the root rot problem in Philodendron at all if there are ways that you can use to prevent it?

The problem of root rot is all because of wrong care practices. So try to keep the Philodendron healthy by following the given tips.

  • Provide the Philodendron with at least 4 to 6 hours of bright, indirect light.
  • Maintain a watering schedule once a week during the active season and once bi-weekly during winter.
  • You can also use a bottom-watering approach to allow the plant uptake the required moisture slowly.
  • Keep the humidity within the range of 60 to 70%, and do not let it drop below 50%.
  • Use a porous container instead of a plastic and ceramic pot with enough drainage holes.
  • Meanwhile, apply a balanced (20-20-20) fertilizer monthly during spring and summer and minimize it during fall.
  • Also, for the best, do not fertilize the Philodendron during winter.

From Editorial Team

Extra Tips!

Save yourself from all the trouble by buying healthy Philodendrons, as all problems start from the already infected cuttings.

After taking appropriate steps, you can save any plants suffering from root rot. Ensure to identify the signs as early as possible for the best recovery.