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How to Spot and Save a Boston Fern from Root Rot

How to Spot and Save a Boston Fern from Root Rot

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Are you looking for an easy to care for plant? A plant that doesn’t need much watering to suit your busy lifestyle?

Then, Boston fern will be an excellent choice.

This plant grows beautiful deep green arching fronds that fill your space with beauty. It also purifies the air and improves its quality.

However, root rot can harm the way your plant looks and will eventually kill it.

So, what is the reason behind Boston fern root rot? How can you fix this problem?

Keep reading to learn how to save your plant.

What Signs Show that Your Boston Fern is Suffering from Root Rot?

You don’t have to take the plant out of the soil to examine the root system, although you can do this if you’re skeptical.

There are several signs that show that your plant is suffering from root rot that should be handled and taken care of.

  • Your Boston fern fronds are drooping despite providing the plant with water and nutrients.
  • The plant is experiencing stunted growth. Boston fern is indeed a slow grower, but if it’s not growing at all, then it’s probably not receiving the needed water and nutrients because of root rot.
  • The fronds are turning yellow, especially the ones located closer to the roots.
  • The leaves’ tips are turning brown.
  • The plant looks unhealthy.
  • The soil smells bad.
  • If you think about repotting the plant, the root ball looks mushy and black. They also smell bad.

What Causes Boston Fern Root Rot?

Root rot happens when the roots become unable to absorb the nutrients and water from the soil. Without finding a solution to the problem, your Boston fern will eventually die.

But in order to find a solution for this problem, you need to know why root rot happens in the first place. So here are some reasons why your Boston fern might suffer from root rot.

  • Inadequate irrigation is usually the main culprit if your plant is suffering from root rot. Boston fern thrives when the soil is moist but not soggy, as soggy soil usually leads to root rot.
  • Unhealthy soil that carries pests might infect your Boston fern with root rot. If you’re growing your Boston fern with another infected plant, the signs of root rot will spread to the healthy plant.
  • You chose slow-draining soil to grow your Boston fern.
  • There are no draining holes in the pot of your Boston fern.
  • The plant is growing in a big pot. When the root ball is too small for the pot, the soil takes too much time to grow, and these soggy conditions lead to root rot.
  • The plant is growing in a small pot. A small pot carries a small amount of soil, which limits the amount of oxygen and nutrients available for the plant to grow.
  • You don’t empty the drip tray after watering your Boston fern, and the roots remain wet most of the time.
  • You’re keeping your Boston fern in low light conditions all the time. It’s true that this plant doesn’t need to be exposed to direct sunlight, but it thrives in bright indirect sunlight.
  • The weather is very cold. The low temperature means that the soil will take longer to dry, and the soggy conditions can cause root rot.
  • You water your plant according to the same schedule in summer and winter. Boston fern experiences the highest growth rates in spring and summer and stops growing in fall and winter.
  • You’re planting your Boston fern in a closed room with too many plants. This will lead to poor ventilation and will prevent the soil from drying, which eventually leads to root rot.
  • Fungal infections can affect the root system and cause root rot.

How to Fix the Boston Fern Root Rot

It’s possible to save your Boston fern if you address the problem quickly. However, ignoring the plant for too long will eventually kill it.

As soon as you notice any of the previous symptoms, you should try some or all of the following solutions to protect the plant from getting worse.

  • Remove the plant from the pot and use a sterilized pair of shears to prune the infected roots. If you have to remove a lot of the roots, you have to prune the leaves so the remaining roots are able to support the plant.
  • Wash the root ball without being too rough. Let the water rinse the infected roots and remove the pathogens that caused the root rot in the first place.
  • Pick an adequate pot to plant your Boston fern. It shouldn’t be too small as this can make the plant root bound, and it shouldn’t be too big to allow the soil to dry properly.
  • Make sure that you’re keeping your Boston fern in a well-ventilated area. This will allow the soil to dry faster and will protect the plant from root rot.
  • Add rocks and gravel at the bottom of the pot to improve drainage.
  • Apply a well-draining potting mix to support the growth of your Boston fern. If you’re using soil, add compost to improve drainage.
  • Water your Boston fern when the soil feels dry to touch. This should be once a week or more often as necessary in summer.
  • Place your Boston fern in bright indirect sunlight to allow the plant to grow and the soil to dry.
  • Avoid watering your Boston fern frequently in winter.
  • Always empty the drip tray after watering the plant to avoid leaving your plant in soggy conditions.

Final Thoughts

Root rot is one of the most common problems that might affect your Boston fern. This condition usually happens when the soil is too soggy for long periods, eventually turning the root ball black and mushy.

You can solve this problem by cutting off the rotten roots and then rinsing the root ball. After that, you should transform the plant into a new pot with good draining soil and make sure that you don’t overwater it to keep the roots healthy.

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