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How to Revive and Prevent Snake Plant Root Rot?

Are you worried about your Snake Plant’s unusual stalled growth and drooping leaves? Your plant is probably giving a hint that it’s facing root rot.

Generally, you can treat root rot in Snake Plant by inspecting for root damage, then pruning the infected parts immediately. Next, sterilize the plant roots and repot them in healthy fresh soil.

Reviving Snake Plant from root rot is possible, but you must catch the problems early.

Signs of Root Rot in Snake Plant

Catching the signs of root rot may help to take early action to prevent further damage.

However, identifying root rot conditions from a single symptom may be difficult. Most growers do not realize the problem until it is too late.

Therefore, check for multiple signs exhibited by your Snake Plant before applying the treatment.

Yellowing or browning leavesYellowing or browning leaves is the early sign of Chlorosis caused by root rot
Stalled growthRoot rot may prevent the plant from getting the oxygen and nutrients required for the growth
Droopy leavesDroopy leaves may begin a bit later when the plant is stressed
Foul smell from the soilRotting root emits a foul stench from the soil, which smells like a swamp
Brown tipsBrown tips are more familiar with root rot caused by overfertilizing
Dark and mushy rootThe roots will start turning brownish and mushy in texture after a significant decay.

Have a look at the signs of root rot in detail to analyze the situation.

1. Foul Smell from the Soil

When your Snake Plant’s potting soil emits a foul smell after a few early signs, you can be sure about the root rot problem.

The decaying root is a prolonged root rot condition caused by increasing anaerobic bacteria that grow without oxygen.
Snake Plant Root rot due to soil.
Fungal invasion into the soil may cause Root-Rot in Snake Plant, and hence foul smell occurs.

When the root system starts decomposing, the infected soil emits a foul odor that may smell like a swamp or slightly sulphuric or ammonia.

2. Stalled Growth

Stalled growth is another early sign of root rot problems in Snake Plants, but do not confuse it with dormancy or root-bound condition.

Dormancy is common in winter, but the plant regains speed again during spring and summer.

However, it may be a sign of root if the plant is facing stalled growth even after dormancy.

Moreover, if you force to speed the plant growth by overfertilizing or overwatering, your Snake Plant may be the victim of root rot.

The decaying root becomes weak and may struggle to absorb soil oxygen and nutrients.

3. Droopy Leaves

Droopy and wilted leaves are common signs of a dying plant caused by root decay.

The leaves start drooping primarily because of stress caused by pathogens consuming the root system.

You may confuse drooping leaves with the problems of cold drafts and changing environments.

However, in the case of root rot, the drooping of leaves is often accompanied by yellowing foliage and a foul smell from the soil.

4. Yellowing or Browning Leaves

One of the earliest signs of root rot problem is changing leaf color.

Yellowing starts when fungus and soil pathogen feed on feeder roots without touching the entire root system.

The outer bottom leaves may start turning yellow, with a few brownish patches throughout the leaf surface.

Over time, the yellowing will spread to the rest of the foliage.

However, a yellowing leaf could be a sign of many different problems.

Start with ruling out other possibilities, such as pests, underwatering, overwatering, and high temperature, before deciding on root rot.

5. Dark and Mushy Root

The only effective way to inspect root rot is by sliding the plant out to check the root condition.

  • The decaying root will look dark or light brown.
  • Healthy roots give an earthy scent, but decayed roots will stench like decomposing plant material.
  • The roots starting to decay will look limp and dead, whereas severely rotten roots will look mushy.
  • If the root has blackened with or without smell, it could signify root rot from fungus infestation.

6. Brown Tips

A Snake Plant may develop brown tips on the foliage for many reasons, like excessive sunlight, fertilizer, and underwatering.

Overfertilizing stresses the plant’s root system, and that weakened root stops getting oxygen and nutrient from the soil.

Therefore, brown tips on the leaves should make you aware of possible root rot conditions with your plant.

Carefully slide out the plant and check for visible signs of decay on the roots to diagnose better.

Causes of Root Rot in Snake Plants

The most likely cause of root rot problems in Snake Plant is overwatering. However, root rot may not only be a byproduct of excess watering.

The plant grown in the wrong conditions could easily invite root rot problems. Here is the list of some critical contributors to it.

  • The soggy soil deprives plant roots of oxygen and nutrients and invite pathogens, further causing yellowing, drooping, and curling leaves.
  • A potting medium with too much moisture or lacking drainage holes will encourage soggy soil, causing root rot problems.
  • The pot size larger than needed also requires excessive soil and water, and gradually, Root Rot occurs.
  • Dense soil encourages the growth of harmful pathogens, whereas stale soil causes salt stress causing reverse osmosis.
Snake plant with delayed growth
Root Rot can be caused by many reasons, such as overwatering, poor drainage, or pathogens.
  • Overfertilized plant fails to retrieve water and oxygen from the soil, causing gradual root decay.
  • The plant roots may start rotting in the propagation process when you fail to replace the water every 3-4 days.
  • Pathogens in the contaminated soil feed, multiply, and quickly decay the entire root system.

How to Revive Snake Plant from Root Rot?

Remember, you can save and revive your Snake Plant from Root Rot only during the early progression of the disease.

Once the root becomes severely decayed and mushy, there is no going back.

Snake Plant on a pot
You can make your Snake Plant healthy again if you identify it early.

Your only option is to salvage the healthy rhizome for repotting in a fresh potting mix or discard the entire plant.

If the rhizomes are severely rotten, you can always discard them and propagate a new Snake Plant, choosing some healthy leaves.

A. Treatment For the Rot

The amount of time, tools, and materials required for treating root rot will depend on the severity of the disease.

You can treat the root rot using pruning shears, Disinfectants, and bleach.

Here are the step-by-step instructions.

  • Sterilize the equipment by wiping them with disinfectant or rubbing alcohol.
  • Gently remove the plant from the pot and flush it with distilled water.
  • Prune the infected mushy roots and old yellowed leaves, including flower stalks, to reduce plant stress.
  • Dip the plant root in a diluted solution of Hydrogen Peroxide to sterilize it before repotting.
  • Fill half the disinfected pot with fresh potting mix and gently place the plant before adding the remaining soil.
  • Press the soil gently and only water after drying up to 2 inches.

B. Fungus Treatment

Removing the fungus infestation from the Snake plant requires treating the root with a suitable fungicide.

Alternatively, you can use your regular kitchen items to treat the fungus.

Here is a list of a few options.

Neem OilPrepare a mixed spray of 1tb neem oil and 1-liter warm water with ½ mild liquid soap.

Spray the solution just over the infected part before repotting the plant.
1. Contains triglycerides, campesterol, and triterpenoids that act as a natural bug repellant and fungus remover.

2. Effective against fungi, sooty mold, mildew, and nematodes.
Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)Dilute 1tb of 3% H2O2 in one-liter water in a large mug. Then, dip the roots and other affected parts in the solution before repotting.
1. Effective in removing fungus and bacteria.

2. Helps control fungus gnats by providing oxygen to plant roots.
Commercial FungicideMake a diluted solution by adding 1tb of fungicide in 1 liter of water and spray on the infected parts.

Alternatively, you can spray it over the soil without repotting the plant.
1. Effectively kill all kinds of germs, fungus, and bacteria.

2. Contains inorganic ingredients like Sulfur, copper, Feram, metiram, and more.

Post-Treatment Tips

  • It is essential to provide enough care to your plant after treatment and to repot to prevent plant stress.
  • After repotting, let the plant sit idle for a few days without water.
  • Resume the watering schedule but do it sparingly to help the roots recover and start producing feeder roots.
  • Place the plant in indirect sunlight and avoid using fertilizer for a month. Read more about Propagating Snake Plant at Home

How to Prevent Root Rot in Snake Plants?

Firstly, start scheduling the watering with the right amount at the right time, as overwatering is the most common problem.

  • Bottom water your snake plants with distilled or rainwater and deepwater once a week for two weeks.
  • Instead of plastic pots, choose right sized Terracotta and Clay pots and choose 2 times larger pots while repotting.
  • Use Miracle-Gro Fast-Draining Formula or Hoffman Organic Cactus Mix.
  • Homemade potting mix made from cactus mix, perlite, pumice, and coco peat also works well.
  • Fertilize your snake plant every two or three months in the growing season with balanced liquid fertilizer. 
  • Sterilizing the pruning and propagating tools with disinfectant or rubbing alcohol prevents root rot.

Watch this video to save your Snake Plant from Root Rot.

From Editorial Team

Budget-Friendly Options to Treat Snake Plant Root Rot!

If your snake plant faces Root Rot, simply apply an equal mixture of wood ash and chalk to the roots and see them heal.

Also, replace the whole soil with a new potting mix. You can disinfect the soil with boiling water too.

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