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Pothos Root Rot Causes & How To Fix Them

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This article will share how to identify root rot found in pothos, what causes it, and how to fix it. There are three root rot causes found in Pothos: Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora, and Pythium. Phytophthora is a pathogen and is the most common disease that causes root rot to photos plants.

Reasons Your Pothos Not Growing

Furthermore, Pythium or Rhizoctonia root rot is caused by fungi. Each has its unique symptoms and remedies.

  • Avoid or lessen plant stress, such as open wound entries for the disease, while treating Rhizoctonia root rot. Reusing growth media from diseased plants is not recommended since Rhizoctonia is soilborne. When reusing the same container when potting your plant, it’s best to ensure it is adequately cleaned.
  • You can kill Phytophthora pathogens and illnesses by spraying your soil with a 3% solution of domestic hydrogen peroxide. Allow a solution of 1 part peroxide to 3 parts water to enter the soil before resuming normal watering.
  • When dealing with Pythium root rot, cut the healthy root immediately above the diseased region. Replant within a few hours by working quickly. If you want to avoid spreading fungal spores to other plants or soil, disinfect the scissors after trimming all roots with a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Pythium root rot may spread to other plants and cause harm if left untreated.

With so many identities, pothos must have a criminal history! Devil’s Ivy, commonly known as Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), is a gorgeous trailing houseplant with sturdy oblong green leaves. Pothos is a beautiful and easy-to-grow plant.

As a result, it’s not unexpected to find it in various homes, offices, and commercial locations. However, most houseplants, such as pothos, are susceptible to root rot.

Root rot is a plant disease marked by the browning of the roots as the rotting stage progresses.

The complete decomposition of the plant subsequently follows it. Because it occurs under the surface, it will be difficult to determine the state of the roots until the plant begins to display symptoms.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to identify root rot in pothos, what causes it, and how to fix it.

Pothos Leaves Curling

How To Identify Pothos Root Rot

Over the years of being a passionate and enthusiastic plantsman, I have found that a bacterial or fungal infection causes root rot, a rather common houseplant disease. These infections flourish in moist soil and eventually choke the roots of plants.

When roots are exposed to excessively damp circumstances, they may develop root rot over an extended period.

The roots are similar to a plant’s engine: they keep everything going and fuel all the foliage visible above the surface. As a result, when they die, the rest of the plant follows suit.

To photosynthesize and turn food into energy, plants require oxygen. The root cells cannot create a crucial chemical for conserving and delivering energy in cells if oxygen is not available around the root system.

The roots begin to die, preventing nutrition intake and slowly saps away the life of your pothos plant. Additionally, yellow and black leaves are a sign of possible decay. Despite frequent watering, these discolored leaves may appear dry and withered.

Another red flag is the presence of little fungus gnats surrounding your plant. It shows that the soil is overly wet, and if no action is done soon, the plant may have more root problems. A foul, decaying eggy stench flowing from your plant is the final sign to look for—or rather, sniff for.

When any of these symptoms appear, it’s time to remove your plant from its pot and investigate its roots more closely. Root rot is indicated by dark or black roots that are squishy or mushy rather than a healthy, creamy white. It’s time to take action if root rot has been diagnosed.

As each type of root rot is treated differently, let’s take a closer look into what symptoms to look for, whether it is caused by Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, or Pythium root rot.

Tell If Pothos Is Dying scaled

How To Identify Phytophthora Root Rot In Pothos Plants

Phytophthora root rot is the most frequent disease that affects pothos. The use of imported propagative cuttings usually spreads this disease.

Infection normally begins in the roots and spreads to the leaves and finally the entire plant. Pothos leaves become dark brown to black due to Phytophthora root rot.

Furthermore, root tips become dark brown and become fragile and mushy quickly. Even when the potting material is adequately hydrated, I found that pothos plants frequently wilt as a result. This infection can also cause lower stems to become black, brown, or mushy, resulting in lower leaf yellowing and drop.

How To Identify Rhizoctonia Root Root In Pothos Plants

Rhizoctonia blight is extremely vulnerable to pothos leaves produced by Rhizoctonia solani spores in the soil. During the rooting stage, Rhizoctonia root rot can severely damage pothos cuttings.

Rhizoctonia creates necrotic patches on pothos leaves that are uneven and black. The fungus appears on the surface of infected stems and roots as coarse reddish-brown threads that resemble spider webs.

The fungal strands may be apparent as the leaves mat together. Cuttings will wilt, become dark brown, and die if Rhizoctonia infects roots during propagation.

How To Identify Pythium Root Rot In Pothos Plants

Pythium-induced root rot may show signs similar to Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, or both. They produce spores that live in soil or plant detritus for lengthy periods.

Because it is similar to Phytophthora, the symptoms are usually associated with pathogens such as Rhizoctonia and Phytophthora. In some cases, similar symptoms from other root rot causes will often appear confusing but indicate closer to being a Pythium-induced root rot.

Common pythium root rot symptoms include wilting, stunting, uneven plant development, crown rot, and plant mortality. Roots are discolored, and the cortex may peel away, exposing the vascular cylinder.

What Causes Root Rot In Pothos Plants?

Indoor plants, such as pothos, are prone to root rot. As a result, they are potted plants with limited room to grow.

The root functions are harmed due to this constraint, making them more prone to illness. Knowing which factors are likely to trigger root rot will aid you in preventing it before it occurs.

Overwatering Your Pothos Plant

Pothos plants grow relatively little throughout the winter months, making it difficult to maintain them healthy. Pothos plants sometimes fail to flourish due to poor temperature, humidity, lighting, and watering.

Overwatering causes root rot, one of the most serious problems for pothos houseplants. During the winter months, the most frequent indoor pothos plant disease I’ve encountered among my community of plantsmen is root rot.

Pothos don’t require much water like most indoor plants unless you’re growing them in water. Overwatering is a bad idea if you’re utilizing soil as your medium.

Adding that much water to the soil would reduce the amount of oxygen available to the roots. Roots, like people, will struggle to breathe if their oxygen supply is limited. Plants become stressed as a result of this.

Roots that are drowned will ultimately die and decay. It can cause the death of the entire plant if not stopped. Because root rot symptoms begin with the withering of the lower leaves, they may move upward until the plant collapses completely.

As a result, these symptoms are frequently misdiagnosed as a water shortage; thus, it is critical to inspect the root structure and potting mix moisture level before adding extra water. That said, the following factors contribute towards overwatering your pothos plant:

How Much Light Does Pothos Plant Need

Soil With Poor Drainage Proficiencies

The worst combination for indoor plants is soil with low drainage capability, which results in overwatering. Extremes can hamper plant development in drainage. If the irrigation system isn’t adjusted to supply water often but in tiny amounts to maintain a moist root zone, excessive drainage leads plants to repeated water stress.

Plants with poor drainage have a constantly damp root system, leading to increased root disease, iron deficiency, and other growth issues.

Root rots are caused by various fungal and fungus-like organisms, including Pythium, Phytophthora, and Rhizoctonia. These viruses, in general, flourish in damp, poorly drained soils and potting mix, and they infect the root systems of stressed or weaker plants.

Using Pots That Don’t Offer Appropriate Drainage Capabilities

Pots with drainage holes make it simple to water your plant fully every time without the risk of root rot. Drainage holes not only let excess water escape but also allow you to keep an eye on your plant’s root health.

As the plant grows, roots may begin to sprout through the opening at the bottom of the pot, indicating the need for a larger container. If water rushes through the pot rapidly, it’s a sign that the soil-to-root ratio is too low (meaning there’s not enough potting soil to nourish the roots correctly), and the plant has to be repotted.

However, when I find that the soil is ideal, but the water drains too slowly or clogs often, then I’m aware that I’m either using a pot that does not have enough drainage holes or the holes are too small, causing clogging and buildup of excess water.

As a result, the pothos plant needs to be repotted, or adjustments must be made to the existing pot.

The Size Of The Pot

Aside from improper drainage, the size of the containers you’re using for your pothos might also be a contributing factor in its roots rotting. Overly large pots can store more soil and have a higher water capacity. It is common for the roots to become too damp.

If the pot is too small, the roots will join together if there is too little room to grow. Roots obstruct containers when they become entangled. The ability to drain extra water will be hampered as a result.

Pothos Water Propagation Plant Guide

Temperature Plays An Import Role For Pothos Roots

Pothos can withstand a broad range of climatic conditions, although it thrives best at temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Minimum temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and maximum temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit will substantially stifle development.

It will no longer be suitable for the pothos if the temperature falls below 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Extremely cold temperatures will keep the soil damp. Roots will suffer if the medium becomes too damp for an extended time.

As a result, if you’ve let your pothos be exposed to low temperatures and water too often, you can expect that their roots have likely begun to rot.

Excessive Fertilization May Cause Root Rot For Your Pothos

Overfertilization of pothos plants grown in commercial pots or containers leads to excessive soluble salts in the potting media.

These ions harm roots by decreasing the net flow of water into them and indirectly predisposing plants to root illnesses and damping-off.

Pothos Root Rot In A Greenhouse System: Treatment And Prevention

Root rot is difficult to detect since it occurs beneath the soil’s surface. As a result, it may inflict significant harm before we notice it. It’s not like bugs or pests, which we usually spot right away.

However, you are aware of several symptoms that hint at a probable root rot infection by now. Such as checking the condition of the roots if you detect slowed development and yellowing in the leaves of a once-thriving plant.

When a pathogenic fungus or mold infects the root system, the root system’s malfunctioning status prevents nutrients and water from reaching the remainder of the plant. As a result, the plant loses its vitality due to a lack of nutrition.

Root rot spreads swiftly throughout the plant, and it can entirely suffocate the root system in as little as two weeks.

The entire pothos plant might be beyond reviving in roughly three weeks. The germs that cause root rot can spread through soggy soil, water, or any other suitable carrier.

As a result, there’s a chance that they’ll infect another plant. Since I have mentioned the three major types of root rot symptoms for pothos plants, the steps below will address ways to save your pothos plant and prevent further damage for each pathogen.

How To Treat And Prevent Rhizoctonia Root Rot

If disease-free cuttings are utilized, Rhizoctonia should not be concerned with pothos greenhouse cultivation, and soil mixes do not include native (unsterilized) local soils. You should house pothos plants on raised benches above the soil surface in greenhouse production.

If there are many pothos plants grown in your greenhouse, I recommend that the infected should be identified, packaged, and disposed of as soon as possible. If sanitation fails to control the illness, triflumizole or thiophanate-methyl applications may benefit.

Fungicide drenches are effective instruments for preventing or eliminating Rhizoctonia. Biological microorganisms, such as the bacillus bacteria included in the Pro-mix Biofungicide+Mycorrhizae growth medium, would naturally inhibit and minimize Rhizoctonia occurrence.

However, biological and chemical controls are more successful when used in combination with the following excellent cultural practices:

  1. Reusing growth media from diseased plants is not recommended since Rhizoctonia is soilborne.
  2. Remove sick plants as well as plant wastes from the growing area.
  3. Make use of brand-new containers. If the containers are reused, they must be adequately cleaned; otherwise, the illness will spread to the following crop.
  4. It would be best to avoid contact with dirt since it is a common source of Rhizoctonia.
  5. It would be best to water in the morning to dry the leaves and stems before the sun goes down.
  6. Increase the flow of air through the plant pot.
  7. Increase plant spacing to allow humidity to exit the plant canopy and keep humidity below 93%.
  8. It would be best to avoid plant stress and damage, resulting in open wounds that serve as entrance routes for Rhizoctonia.
  9. Plants should be grown at 70°F (12°C) or cooler. Keep in mind that this creates ideal circumstances for additional root disease species.
  10. Keep hose ends off the floor and away from containers, plants, and equipment.

How To Treat And Prevent Phytophthora Root Rot

This disease is caused by Phytophthora nicotianae, a type of water mold. Phytophthora develops zoospores when it is irrigated. The illness is carried by zoospores, which can swim. The zoospores can remain active for hours to days, depending on the temperature and humidity of the greenhouse.

Contaminated water and water sprayed from affected plants can quickly spread the illness during overhead watering. Exclusion is the most effective strategy for managing this disease in commercial greenhouse cultivation or if shared between many plants in a large garden.

Symptomatic pothos plants should be discarded or placed aside for treatment. Reduced irrigation quantities will help reduce disease transmission since water easily transfers Phytophthora zoospores. The remaining plants should be treated with a suitable fungicide to reduce and prevent further spread successfully.

These fungicides can be found on Amazon, such as Southern Ag’s Copper Fungicide, and Propiconazole Fungicide. Phytophthora pathogens and illnesses can be killed by spraying your soil with a 3 percent fungicide solution.

Allow a solution of 1 part peroxide or fungicide to 3 parts water to enter the soil before resuming normal watering.

Other methods of preventing root rot in greenhouse cultivation:

  • Remove the contaminated plant portions and dispose of them properly.
  • Efficient soil drainage is one of the most effective techniques to avoid Phytophthora. Loam soil, which is made up of clay, sand, and silt, is said to be the “ideal soil” because of its capacity to retain moisture and nutrients while remaining aerated and providing appropriate drainage to prevent disease and pathogen proliferation.
  • Test your soil regularly to discover the pH balance and which fertilizers are required to keep your plants healthy. Your pothos plants will be less prone to opportunistic diseases if they are in good condition.
  • Weeds are well-known for harboring diseases that cause disease. The roots of weeds should be dug out of damp (loose) soil as much as possible. To avoid infecting other plants, dispose of the plucked weeds as soon as possible.
  • After using pruning, cutting, or digging tools, make sure to clean them thoroughly. All equipment should be washed in a bleach and water solution when dealing with unhealthy plant life, around 1 part bleach to 4 parts water. To prevent recontamination of your equipment, wear disposable gloves.
  • Never put any excised section of an infected plantlife to compost piles or mulching systems since this will help the illness spread.

How To Naturally Treat Pythium Root Rot For Pothos Pot Plants

I recommend that it is best to respond swiftly, whether the problem is from persistent overwatering or a single overwatering that causes a root rot fungal flare-up. Treating root rot as soon as possible offers your plant the best chance of survival. The following steps are the best methods to treat root rot found in pothos pot plants.

  1. In order to treat root rot, gently remove the plant from the soil and wash its roots under running water.
  • As much dirt as possible should be washed away while being careful with the plant.
  • Now, it’s time to trim away all of the remaining infected roots with a sharp, clean pair of scissors or shears.

Tip: If the plant is severely affected by root rot, you may need to remove a large portion of its roots. In this case, clean the shears or scissors with rubbing alcohol and trim one-third to one-half of the leaves. Having fewer leaves means the plant will have a better chance of regrowing its roots.

  • Continue treating root rot by removing the dirt from the plant’s container.
  • Using a bleach solution, thoroughly clean the pot.
  • Dip the remaining healthy roots in a fungicide solution if feasible to kill any potential root rot fungus.
  • After treating root rot, repot the plant in a clean potting mix.

Ensure the container has sufficient drainage, and only water the plant when the dirt on top is dry. I would not recommend feeding the plant when regrowing its roots since this may stress it.

You don’t want to have to cure root rot in the plant again. Hopefully, the plant will recover, and you will be able to reclaim your lovely houseplant.


The majority of houseplants, such as pothos, are prone to root rot. Pay close attention to the plant’s behavior and changes to spot any problems.

And, by rapidly implementing the measures mentioned above, your pothos will have a very good chance of surviving this ailment.