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Got Brown, Mushy Roots? How To Revive Your Pothos From Root Rot

Got Brown, Mushy Roots? How To Revive Your Pothos From Root Rot

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Root rot is one of the most dangerous diseases that can affect houseplants. Despite how resilient pothos are, they’re still susceptible to root rot.

Sadly, root rot can be the end of your lovely pothos if you don’t act quickly.

So, you’re probably thinking, what are the causes of pothos root rot? And is there a way to save your plant if it’s infected?

Don’t fret! You can still save your plant.

In today’s article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about pothos root rot and how to prevent it. Let’s get right into it.

Identifying Pothos Root Rot

Before we tell you how to identify root rot, first you need to understand what root rot is. When there’s too much water in the soil for prolonged periods, it can prevent the roots from getting air.

Therefore, the roots might start to rot. Some soil fungi can cause root rot too.

Root rot can spread quickly, and soon enough the plant won’t be able to take in water, oxygen, and nutrients that it needs to survive. So, you’ll need to act as fast as possible once you spot root rot signs.

Here’s a list of the most common pothos root rot signs:

Discoloration of the Leaves

The condition and color of the leaves say a lot about the health of your pothos. One of the most common signs of root rot is the yellowing of the leaves.

Some leaves can also turn brown. In both cases, the plant isn’t producing enough chlorophyll, which is crucial for photosynthesis.

Soggy Soil

Ideally, the soil of your pothos needs to be moist to the touch. You can check the moisture level of the soil by simply inserting your finger into the first two inches of the soil.

If the soil is damp and soggy, that means you have a problem with drainage, or you overwatered your plant. In both cases, your buddy is at risk of having root rot.

Mold and Foul Smell

In severe cases, you can see mold and fungus growing on top of the soil. Mold can also grow on the leaves and stems of the pothos, it usually looks like a white powder.

Additionally, the soil might have a foul smell due to the decaying roots.

Soft and Discolored Roots

If you suspect your plant might have root rot, you can pull it off the pot to examine the roots.

Ideally, healthy roots look white and firm. However, in the case of root rot, they can become mushy and slimy.

Additionally, they can look brownish and almost black-colored. In more severe cases, the roots can fall off easily if you pull them.

Stunted and Delayed Growth

In some cases, the pothos can seem like it stopped growing. You might notice that there are no new leaves growing and there are no signs of size development, even though you’re providing the plant with all its needs.

Some pothos can still develop leaves while having root rot, but the leaves tend to be much smaller in size than usual. These leaves can also look paler in color.

Saving Your Pothos From Root Rot

If you notice that your devil’s vine has root rot signs, you need to act as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Root rot spreads fast, and it can be the end of your lovely plant.

Here’s how to save your pothos:

1 – Stop Watering the Plant

Overwatering is the most common cause of pothos root rot. So, the first thing you should do is to stop giving the plant any more water, as it can make the situation worse.

You might also think that placing the devil’s ivy in sunlight can help dry the soil, but in fact, it can harm your plant even more.

2 – Assess the Roots

You’ll need to remove the pothos from its pot to assess the situation.

First, cover your working surface with an old newspaper or a towel. Then, grab the plant firmly by the base and start yanking it with a little pressure.

Once your plant is out of the pot, check the condition of the roots and assess the damage.

3 – Remove Diseased and Damaged Roots

To save the pothos, we need to get rid of the infected and decaying roots. So, you’ll need sharp scissors or gardening shears.

Lay the plant on your working surface and get rid of the excess soil. Then, grab the scissors and examine root by root.

You need to cut any root that looks black or brown and feels soft. After cutting any dead roots, disinfect the scissors with bleach or isopropyl alcohol, as the fungi can spread to healthy roots.

4 – Disinfect the Healthy Roots

Cutting the decaying roots sometimes isn’t enough to stop root rot. There may still be some fungi that can spread to the healthy roots.

Therefore, we need to treat the healthy roots with a mild solution of one part 3% hydrogen peroxide to four parts water.

Then, in a shallow container, soak the roots of the plant in the solution for around half an hour. This should get rid of any remaining fungus.

5 – Repot the Pothos

While you can clean and disinfect the old pot, I highly recommend buying a new one just to be safe.

The old soil also must go away. If you weren’t overwatering your plant, you might want to consider better draining soil.

Grab your new pot and add a layer of soil to it. Then, place your pothos in the center and fill the pot up to the soil line.

Next, gently tap on the surface of the soil to secure your plant in place and get rid of any air pockets.

Causes of Pothos Root Rot

The best way to prevent root rot is by understanding its causes and avoiding them.

Here’s a list of the most common causes of pothos root rot:


Providing your plant with more water than it needs can lead to various problems, including root rot.

Typically, pothos is okay with getting water once a week, but this varies from one region to the other, depending on the weather condition.

Overall, you only need to water the devil’s ivy when the first inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. It’s essential to let the soil dry out before watering your pothos again.

Clogged Drainage Holes

Usually, excess water seeps out of the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. When these holes are clogged, water will have no place to go.

You need to make sure that the drainage holes always remain unclogged.

If the roots of the plant are growing out of the drainage holes, this means your plant needs to be repotted in a bigger container.

Poor-draining Soil

To prevent root rot, you need to pick soil with good draining properties. You can also add items to help improve the drainage of the soil, like perlite and vermiculite.

Additionally, it’s best if you avoid any low-quality soil.

Wrong-sized Pot

Using an extra large pot for your devil’s ivy might eventually lead to root rot. To simplify things, a bigger pot can take up a large amount of soil.

In turn, the soil will retain more water than the pothos needs.

Similarly, picking a tiny pot means there’s a high risk the drainage holes will get clogged. Therefore, it’s essential to pick a pot that suits the size of your plant.

Final Thoughts

The most common signs of pothos root rot include discoloration of the leaves, soggy soil, mold on the soil, foul smell, discolored roots, and stunted growth.

If you spot these signs on your plant, you need to act quickly.

The first thing you should do is to get rid of the decaying roots and disinfect the healthy ones. Then, you need to repot your pothos.

Pothos root rot can happen due to many reasons, including clogged drainage holes, poor-draining soil, and wrong-sized pot. However, the primary reason for root rot is overwatering.

The best way to prevent root rot is by avoiding these causes.

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