One of the most commonly seen problems in an anthurium plant is root rot.
Even though it is commonly seen in beginner plant owners, sometimes a small carelessness by experienced gardeners also makes their anthurium susceptible to root rot.
And, if you suspect your anthurium is having root rot, then it’s time to assess the conditions and take action immediately. If not, you may lose your lovely plant.
In this article, I will be sharing everything you need to know regarding anthurium root rot so that you can save your plant quickly.
The topic includes,
Let’s get started.
Signs Of Anthurium Root Rot
If your anthurium plant has root rot, then the most obvious symptom is the dark and mushy roots. If you cannot see the roots, then other plant issues like yellow or curly leaves, rotten smell, presence of mold, etc also indicate that your anthurium’s root is rotting inside.
Let’s have a detailed overview of how each of these symptoms looks and the science behind them.
1. Dark Brown/Grey Mushy Roots
The only way to be certain that your anthurium plant has root rot is to slowly remove the plant from the soil and inspect the roots.
The root of a healthy anthurium plant will be light brown. On the other hand, if the root feels mushy, weak, and has a dark brown or black color, your anthurium plant is most likely suffering from root rot.
When you see a lot of these dark roots, try to pull them a little. If those roots break very easily even without any force, then you can be 100% sure that those roots are rotten.
Also, make sure that you are not stressing your plant by pulling it out from the pot by applying too much pressure. If your anthurium has root rot, then it’s already stressed and you should not add more stress.
2. Rotten Smell
Anthurium root rot is nothing but, the roots of your anthurium plant decaying under stress.
It is a known fact that whenever something decays, there will be a bad smell. Even before pulling your plant out of the container to inspect the roots, just smell the base of your plant.
If the root rot is severe, most probably you will experience a rotten egg smell coming out of the base.
The rotten egg smell is not a piece of conclusive evidence for anthurium root rot because it may happen if you use organic fertilizers. So, it’s just a preliminary test before inspecting the roots.
3. Curling/Discoloration in Leaves
Leaves are like the faces of plants. When a plant is happy, leaves will be happy and if the plant is in distress, then leaves will reflect the stress in some way or another.
The most commonly seen leaf problems are discoloration and curling.
When your anthurium plant’s root starts decaying, the leaves start curling. After a couple of weeks if the issue is not fixed, then it will start to turn yellow and then brown. Finally, at some point, the leaf will wilt and dry.
But, just like the rotten smell discoloration of leaves is not something that happens only due to root rot. A lot of plant problems including sunburn, climate changes can also be a reason.
So, if you are seeing a lot of yellow and curly leaves lately, then it’s time to slowly pull your plant from the pot and inspect the roots.
Causes Of Anthurium Root Rot
Now you know the signs of anthurium root rot. But, to treat the problem, you need to understand the cause right? Here it is.
The main cause for anthurium root rot is overwatering. When you overwater your plant, it will be a breeding ground for fungus, bacteria and viruses which enables root rot. Along with overwatering, poor drainage, over-fertilization, temperature stress, infections, etc can also cause anthurium root rot.
Let’s discuss each one of these causes in detail.
Overwatering is by far the most important culprit for anthurium root rot. All other causes that we discuss below involve overwatering.
When you overwater your anthurium plants, the wet soil will become a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and other diseases causing pathogens. These microbial start attacking the plant root and as a result, the root starts to decay.
Even if there are no pathogens, too much water makes the soil damp and hard. As a result, the roots of the anthurium becomes stressed and starts to decay.
As a rule of thumb, before watering your plant just dip your finger in the soil. Water only if the top two inches of the soil are dry. If it’s still somewhat moist, then wait for a couple more days before watering.
For more accurate measurements, you can invest in a couple of stick moisture meters.
2. Poor Drainage
As I already said, all other causes of anthurium root rot are related to overwatering.
In an ideal condition, when you water your anthurium plant, the potting mix will store enough moisture and discard the rest through drainage holes.
But if your container does not have enough drainage holes, then the extra water will be stored inside the container and it gives an impression that you’ve overwatered your plant.
So, always make sure that your anthurium plant’s pot has enough drainage holes so that excess water is removed.
3. Temperature Stress
The optimal temperature range for the anthurium plant is 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 29 degrees Celsius).
Anthurium plants have been scientifically proven to live in temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C). However, in that case, the potting media had a very high moisture content, which can cause root rot in the long term.
If you reside in an area where the temperature frequently falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you may need to employ an artificial heating system like a room heater to keep the temperature in the ideal range for anthurium.
4. Bacterial / Fungal Infections
As I already said, overwatered soil is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus.
These microbial suck the nutrients from your anthurium roots and as a result, the root loses the ability to breathe and starts decaying.
For bacterial infection to happen, you don’t necessarily need to overwater your anthurium. Sometimes watering your plant with infected water is all it takes.
Pythophthpora, a watery mould, is the most frequent disease that attacks anthurium and other commonly seen houseplants. If your anthurium leaves are becoming dark and black, phytophthora is likely wreaking havoc on your plant.
So, always make sure that the water you use for your plants is properly disinfected.
Fertilizers are used to supplement the growth of plants. But what happens is most of the beginners tend to over-fertilize the plants thinking they can grow them faster.
But, that’s not how plant growth happens. In fact, by overfeeding, you are inviting a lot of plant problems like root rot.
Applying too much fertilizer to your anthurium will make the soil inside the container too salty. The too salty environment is stressful for anthurium’s root and as a result, it starts rotting.
If you want to accelerate your plant’s growth without killing it, then add a well diluted balanced fertilizer once every month in the growing season depending on the size of the plant.
How To Fix Anthurium Root Rot?
The easiest way to cure root rot on an anthurium plant is to repot it in a new pot with a well-drained potting mix. To prevent infection from spreading to other locations, use a well-sterilized tool to cut and remove all of the affected roots.
To prevent the risk of rot in the near future, it is recommended to treat the healthy roots with hydrogen peroxide before planting them in the new pot.
Here is the step by step actions you need to follow.
Step 1: Prepare a new pot
You are not sure whether your anthurium has root rot or not. But, once your plant is taken outside you cannot leave it there for a long time.
So, it is better to prepare a new potting set-up so that if root rot is confirmed, you can treat it and repot it immediately.
Remember when did you repot your anthurium last? If it’s been more than 1 to 2 years, then purchase a new pot with the next size of the old container. On the other hand, if it’s just less than a year or a couple of months, then use the same sized pot.
For the potting media, use a very light loosely packed soil medium. There are a couple of ready-made anthurium potting mixes that you can buy at your local nursery store.
Step 2: Assess the roots
As I already said, to make 100% sure that your anthurium plant has root rot you need to uproot the plant from its current container and assess the root.
For that, turn your plant sideways by holding the stem of your anthurium plant. Then rotate the pot and tap the pot at the same time to loosen the soil along the edges.
If the soil is not getting loosened, insert a sterilized knife along the edges. After a couple of taps, the soil will be loosened and you can easily pull out the plants.
Then using a soft brush, remove the soil and assess the roots. If they are dark and mushy, then your suspicion was correct and you did the right thing.
Step 3: Treat the plant
If you find that your anthurium has root rot, then it’s time to treat the plant for the good.
Using a sterilized knife cut and remove all the rotten roots.
Also, it is advised to wash your plant’s roots with running water. Running tap water is good because the water pressure from tap water will easily remove existing dirt and fungus.
Take a small bowl full of diluted hydrogen peroxide solution. Then dip your anthurium plant healthy roots so that the leftover root is bacteria-free.
You can keep your plant in this state for a couple of minutes.
Step 3: Repot the plant
Once you have removed all the rotten roots and treated the healthy roots with hydrogen peroxide, it’s time to give your anthurium a new base.
Since you’ve already had the new potting media setup, just put your plant inside the container, fill the remaining potting media.
It is recommended not to water your plant after repotting due to root rot since water may invite additional pathogens to the wounded roots. If you feel like the plant needs water, then spray some water to make it happy.
Make sure that you are leaving a lot of space underneath the existing roots so that the new roots will have space to grow and expand.
Step 3: Set right conditions
Repotting is a stressful activity for your anthurium plant. So, it is highly recommended to provide the perfect condition for your plant afterwards.
For the plant to come out of the shock quickly, I would advise you to increase the humidity in the room. If you have the budget, add a humidifier. If not, just put a transparent plastic cover over your plants and spray water a couple of times a day.
When your plant starts growing new leaves, you can remove the cover and put it back where it was previously placed.
Anthurium Varieties To Consider
- Anthurium Forgetii
- Anthurium Villenaorum
- Anthurium Luxurians
- Anthurium Andraeanum
- Anthurium Scherzerianum
- Anthurium Amnicola
- Anthurium Superbum
- Anthurium Hookeri
- Anthurium Crystallinum
Anthurium Root Rot – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In this section, I’m going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to anthurium root rot on the internet.
Can anthurium recover from root rot?
Anthurium can recover from root rot only if timely repotting is done. But the recovery is based on how damaged the original roots are. If you have at least 20% healthy roots, then there is a high chance that your anthurium will recover.
How do I know if my anthurium has root rot?
There are a lot of signs and symptoms that you can watch out for anthurium root rot. The most obvious symptoms include rotten egg smell, dark and mushy roots, yellow curly leaves, mold formation, etc.
Should I water anthurium after repotting root rot?
Experts recommend not to water your anthurium plant after repotting due to root rot. It is because when you repot your treated anthurium it has a lot of open wounds which gets worse if exposed to pathogens in water.
Also, root rot is caused by overwatering and your plant’s root will already have some water stored inside which it will use for the first couple of days after repotting. Once the wounds heal, you can water your plant by following a schedule.
Root rot is a devastating disease for anthurium plants.
If you don’t take timely action, it may be fatal for the plant. So, if you see any of the symptoms like the rotten smell or yellow leaves, just spend some time to find whether your plant has root rot.
If you find root rot in your anthurium, then follow the repotting process and save your plant.
To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.
- Survey of root rot of Anthurium, Harvard University/Vancouver University/Chicago University.
- Cause Of Anthurium Root Rot In Jamaica, Tropical Agriculture Journal.
- Nature of Enhanced Severity of Anthurium Root Rot by Diuron Treatment, Wiley Online Library.