Root Rot Treatment With Hydrogen PeroxideFaizan Khan
Ornamental plants are one of the most appealing items to have at your home. However, their management is quite strenuous, and they can become infected if you are not careful.
Root rot is also one of those infections in plants that lead to their untimely death. It is caused by fungi and can quickly spread to other plants as well.
So what are the reasons that lead up to root rot? And how can you manage them (if there is one?)
As we know, hydrogen peroxide is an amazing disinfectant across many articles and researches. But, how effective is it in cleaning and disinfecting root rot infected plants? This is the best way you can utilize your hard-earned money?
Contrary to popular belief, root rot can actually be salvaged. And here is how you can do it too!
What Is Root Rot?
Root rot is one of the most common plant diseases. As the name suggests, in this disease, the roots of plants start to “rot”. Fungi are the primary culprits of causing root rots in plants.
This disease is characterized by the death and rotting away of roots of trees growing in damp soil. As you can guess, this gradual decaying of roots eventually kills a plant or tree.
Roots are the source of nutrition in plants. They have small projections in the form of hair which not only absorb water from the soil but also essential plant nutrients and minerals. So any damage to the roots of the plant is always detrimental to the whole structure. And root rot is a primary example of that.
The symptoms of root rot are very similar to other plant diseases and pest problems. Some of the most commonly seen signs are:
- Poor growth
- Wilted, yellowed, or browned leaves
- Early leaf drop
- Branch dieback
- Death of different plants
The worst part about root rot is that it is a fungal disease. Fungal diseases are notorious for being highly transmissible as well as difficult to treat.
Whenever you suspect root rot, it is important to immediately take action because it can lay waste to the whole garden or yield.
What Causes Root Rot? – Most Frequent Causative Factors
The most common and preventable cause of root rot is overwatering of soil. It can be either due to poor drainage of soil or high amounts of manual watering. Both of these conditions lead to clogging of the soil. When the soil gets too soggy because of water, the stored oxygen is compromised. That is, the water particles fill the pores that otherwise store oxygen.
As the plants have low oxygen available, they start to die. Roots are most affected by this death and decay. Aerial parts of plants such as stems have a passive way of getting air directly from the atmosphere. AS for the roots, they start to die and rot away.
Moreover, while the roots are decaying, they make good fodder for opportunistic fungi. Moisture and decay material are two of the most optimal conditions for fungal growth. Overwatering of the soil provides both!
Another way plants can develop root rot is via weakened roots. The root may be weakened by poor nutrition of the plant or overwatering. And they become more susceptible to soil fungus.
One important thing people forget is that the fungus may be present in the soil for a long time. However, due to well-aerated and strong roots, they remain dormant. Conditions such as overwatering and weakened roots make them active and attack roots, resulting in eventual rot and death.
Some of the most common root rot-causing fungi are:
All of these fungi thrive in moisture and decay, the ideal conditions for root rot!
Treating Root Rot With Hydrogen Peroxide
Deciding what agent is best for treating root rot in plants can be a hassle.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Effective For Treating Root Rot In Plants?
Hydrogen peroxide is a phenomenal oxidizing agent. When you look at its structure, it is basically a water molecule with additional oxygen. This extra oxygen is bound to the water molecule quite loosely. And therefore, whenever hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with external air, it quickly dissociates into water. This process liberates free oxygen.
Root rot is a problem due to a lack of oxygen in soil (maybe due to excessive water). Therefore, by incorporating hydrogen peroxide into soil management therapies, we can effectively save them from root rot.
Moreover, oxygen is an astounding antimicrobial agent. It is able to kill off almost all kinds of bacteria and fungi, including the root rot fungi. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial in the treatment of root rot in plants as well.
Thus, the answer to whether hydrogen peroxide is effective for treating root rot in plants is a resounding yes!
How Does Hydrogen Peroxide Deal With It? – The Research
Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent, while root rot is a fungi problem. So how do they both connect?
While the answer is a two-step mechanism of hydrogen peroxide, the first step lies in preventing root rot by making soil inhabitable for the fungi. The second lies in treating the root cause (no pun intended) of the problem by reacting away the fungi.
Many experts believe that the best way to avoid root rot is to prevent it altogether. You can do this either by choosing plant variants resistant to this disease. However, that is not ideal, as they cost a lot more without much appeal.
The second and best way to prevent root rot is to make sure your soil is properly aerated. Hydrogen peroxide provides the necessary aeration in this scenario and fulfills the oxygen requirements of the plant. Moreover, root rot fungi bloom in low-oxygen and moist environments. This makes hydrogen peroxide reinforcement of the soil an amazing preventive measure.
The treatment process of root rot using hydrogen peroxide lies in the killing of fungi. This is a more delicate process than prevention because we have to make sure all fungi are killed without harming the healthy parts of the root. Hydrogen peroxide shines again in this scenario as well. Not only can it kill fungi using oxidative stress, but it can also save plants from collateral damage.
Hydrogen peroxide has harmless byproducts (oxygen and water). Therefore, both of them are safe (even beneficial) for plants. Secondly, hydrogen peroxide has certain growth-promoting functions in plants (promoting pollen and seed germination).
All of these facts crown hydrogen peroxide as the ONLY disinfectant you should be using on plants, let alone for root rot.
How to Use – Simplified!
Now that we know the basics of how hydrogen peroxide can clean up root rot, we can move on to the nitty-gritty of the process!
Here is how you can free your household plants from the nuisance that is root rot.
That is the easiest part. The beauty of using hydrogen peroxide is that it does not require any additional ingredients except for the basic cups and measurement spoons.
The only ingredients you need in this process are water and hydrogen peroxide! (and a pair of scissors to clean off dead roots).
How to Prepare the Solution
There are many sources and recommendations on what percentage or ratio of hydrogen peroxide is ideal for treating root rot (or any other plant disease) in general.
The most trusted, recommended ratio we found was one cup of water to one cup of hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide used is, of course, the common 3% concentrated.
One important thing to keep in mind is to make the solution fresh and do not store it. Hydrogen peroxide is somewhat fragile when it comes to holding its structure in normal air. So make fresh batches every time you want to apply hydrogen peroxide to your soil and plant.
Applying the Mixture
The first step in treating your plant from root rot is to take it out of the pot and rinse it using tap water. After washing them, you will assess what remains of the roots are healthy and can be saved.
The second step is to cut off the dead part of plant roots. You can determine this if they have started to show symptoms or are patchy and damp. If the root rot has spread to the node (where the root originates), you can cut off the affected node and continue the process. However, this will shorten your plant’s growth, and you may have to wait a while for the roots to grow back (a process known as propagation).
The next step is to move the plant into a clean pot. The previous pot which suffered from the root rot should be discarded, and new, fresh soil should be used in the new pot. Using previous soil may trigger root rot again, as plant roots are weakened.
Now comes our hydrogen peroxide mixture. After placing the plant into a new pot, water it using the water and hydrogen peroxide solution.
Using hydrogen peroxide in the soil helps to keep the plants aerated and promotes the propagation process. Moreover, it kills any remaining fungi present over the plant surface!
Points to Consider While Managing Root Rot With Hydrogen Peroxide
Now that we completely know what is the proper protocol to follow while treating root rot using hydrogen peroxide, we can discuss some ways how this procedure can be enhanced and made more effective!
The first important step to keep in mind is to watch for healthy nodes inside the roots you are treating. That is important because if all of the nodes of a plant are rotted, the plant can’t be saved.
One way you can do that is to look for “yellow, mushy, and soft” nodes. These nodes indicate that the plant has become wasted and it will not be able to recover.
The second important step is determining what parts of your plant are salvageable and should be completely cut off.
The plants that lie in the first group, i.e., salvageable, should have functional plant systems. Now, the whole
How to Deduce If Your Plant Has Root Rot?
Root rot is seen in both indoor as well as outdoor plants. However, it is more common in indoor plants like houseplants.
The dangerous thing about root rot is that it is not typically visible as roots are below the surface. And the symptoms of root rot do not appear until the disease has progressed into advanced stages.
The roots of the plants affected by the root rot appear firm and white to black/brown and soft. Moreover, the affected roots may wither after a slight touch.
The most ideal (and accurate) way to determine if you have a root rot is to dig below the soil and look for any decay action. One way you can do it is by using Pulaski. This dual-functional tool allows you to dig as well as chop. However, you should be careful while looking for root rot. Make sure to wear gloves and do not damage the healthy parts of the plant root.
Root rot is a well-known killer of plants. In severe cases, the plants affected with root rot may die in just ten days. Although root rot is lethal, it can be prevented using the procedures mentioned in the above sections.
Different Types of Root Rot in Plants – Get Rid of ALL of Them With Hydrogen Peroxide!
Now that we have gone through what root rot is and how you can treat it effectively using hydrogen peroxide, we can discuss some of its types. The focus of our discussion will be how hydrogen peroxide is able to treat these as well as other types of root rot!
“White rot” root disease, also known as Armillaria root rot, is a fungal root rot caused by the said fungi. Armillaria is a fungi genus that is known as honey fungi. They usually live on trees and woody shrubs. Moreover, armillaria is regarded as the largest living organism in the world. The largest known organism (who is from this genus) covers more than 3.4 square miles!
Armillaria is a destructive forest pathogen that causes white rot in plants. The symptoms include stunted leaves to dieback of twigs and other classical root rot symptoms.
The most effective way of managing this fungus is limiting the spread. And the use of hydrogen peroxide has also shown efficacy in treating root rot. So if you suspect a white root rot in your plant, order a set of hydrogen peroxide bottles now and treat it using the above-mentioned procedure.
Rhododendron Root Rot
Rhododendron root rot is caused by a genus of plant-like pathogen known as Phytophthora cactorum. Unlike common root rot, this type of root rot is caused by a protist rather than a fungus.
Phytophthora cactorum has an extremely wide range of hosts and effectively infects over 160 genera of trees or 200 species of ornamentals and fruit crops! The symptoms can vary with the host it infects.
In general, this disease occurs in seasons that are wet and warm, ideal for pathogen growth. Furthermore, more infection can lead up to the wounds caused by this pathogen.
The best way to manage P. cactorum is by an integrated management plan. The combination of soil fumigation and proper cultural controls are the best options. Reducing the pH of the soil is also another great way of tackling this problem. And hydrogen peroxide gives an amazing way you can do all of the management procedures!
Texas Root Rot
Texas root rot, otherwise known as cotton root rot, is a disease prevalent in Mexico and the southwestern United States (hence the name Texas). This is characterized by sudden wilt and the death of the affected plants in the summer months.
The likely culprit behind it is a soil-borne fungus known as Phymatotrichopsis omnivora that attacks the roots of weakened plants. It has a broad range of hosts; however, the primary target for these fungi is dichotomous plants. Monocots exhibit immunity against it. Some of the commonly affected targets include peanuts, cotton, alfalfa, apple, pecans, and ornamental trees.
Some symptoms begin with the chlorosis of the leaves, followed by browning and then wilting. The plant dies after two weeks of the appearance of symptoms.
The most effective management strategy for these fungi is to limit the spread and damage via soil manipulation. One way you can do this is by hydrogen peroxide-induced acidity of the soil. Therefore, hydrogen peroxide has established itself effective against all types of root rot causing fungi!
What Concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide is Lethal for Root Rot in Plants?
Hydrogen peroxide comes in many forms. It starts with a humble 0.5% concentration (usually used as inhalers) to a staggering 90% concentration usually used in rocket fuel.
However, when it comes to disinfecting and cleaning organic matter, you should always pick up a 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration. Not only that, but this concentration of hydrogen peroxide is also widely available and easy to use. It provides all the actions expected from hydrogen peroxide without compromising safety measures.
Similarly, while treating a root rot in plants, 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration is ideal. At this concentration, hydrogen peroxide is just strong enough to elevate soil pH harmful to fungi without causing any damage to the plant.
At higher concentrations, such as 10% or even 6%, hydrogen peroxide is prone to cause damage to the plant. This damage can be direct in the form of a strong oxidation response against the plant cell wall. Or it can be indirect by increasing the soil pH to a point where it becomes inhabitable for the plant.
Therefore, choosing the 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration is important and mixing it with water as instructed in the procedure.
The Bottom Line
Root rot is one of the most notorious plant diseases that is known for being stubborn and contagious. Some people may even consider it to be untreatable and unpreventable. However, with the latest research (and common sense), people have started to realize that there is a solution to this menace and an easy one.
Hydrogen peroxide has established itself as one of the most functional chemicals on the market. And treating root rot has become one of its functionality too. We have shown how it cures and prevents root rot in plants. And an easy way you can do it at your homes too.
Therefore, grab a bottle of hydrogen peroxide without further ado and enjoy cleaning!