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Anthurium Root Rot (Signs and Step by Step Solution)

The anthurium’s velvety dark appearance and heart-shaped foliage will leave you breathless.

First, however, you’ll need to set the ideal conditions for these tropical beauties to thrive. Unfortunately, root rot is the most common cause of anthurium death.

This article aims to provide information on how to identify, treat, and avoid anthurium root rot in the future.

Anthurium root rot can be identified by soft leaves that turn yellow or brown, wilted, mushy stems, and smelly soil. If you see these signs, take your anthurium out of its pot, cut off any rotten parts, and treat the healthy roots. Then, move your plant to a new pot with soil that drains well and do not overwater.

Signs of Anthurium Root Rot 

Yellowing Foliage

Anthurium root rot is easy to miss until it’s too late. Unfortunately, the rot disease does its worst work below ground, so visible symptoms may take some time to appear.

Even though it’s called “root rot,” I can usually tell when my anthurium has it by looking at its leaves. The yellowing of anthurium leaves is one of the earliest signs of root rot.

When the leaves turn yellow, the damage has already happened below the soil. It’s not hard to tell from the name that root rot attacks the roots, which are the primary source of nutrients and water absorption.

The leaves turn yellow because waterlogging and a lack of essential nutrients like nitrogen cause chlorophyll to break down.

In addition to turning brown or black, long-term leaf damage can cause the leaves to collapse and drop off the plant.

Yellowing leaves don’t always indicate anthurium root rot. Overexposure to direct sunlight can also cause them to turn yellow, often accompanied by brown or bleached leaf tips.

Move the plant away from the window. Yellowing leaves can also be caused by bacterial wilt. It can change the color of stems and leaves from yellow to bronze.

Brown Leaves and Leaf Tips

After the leaves have turned yellow, you may see irregular brown spots, scars, or patches on them.

Most of the time, they are clear on the undersides of leaves and the leaves closest to the ground.

Excessive leaf moisture causes leaf edema, which damages the margins. As a result, leaf browning usually begins at the tips and edges of the leaves.

As root rot progresses, the entire leaf will become water-soaked, mushy, and brown.

This is because the rot disease underground hurts the roots and makes these things happen.

But don’t think that your anthurium has root rot just because the tips of its leaves are brown.

Instead, they are early signs of many problems that can happen to anthuriums.

Overwatering, poor water quality, fertilizer burn, pest infestations, and even sun-scorch are all possible causes.

Stunted Growth

Root rot may be to blame if your anthurium appears stunted. Maybe the new leaves are smaller, look sickly, or have strange shapes like wrinkles.

It’s common for root rot to cut off the supply of nutrients and resources necessary for new growth.

Discolored, Soft, Mushy, and Curled Stem

A wilted, mushy stem is usually the first sign if your anthurium has root rot. The stems can be remarkably soft, discolored, and distorted.

Because they are rotting or engorged with excess moisture, they can become twisted, wrinkled, or swollen.

Dark Mushy Roots and Smelly Soil

You can tell if your anthurium has root rot by inspecting your plant’s soil and roots.

First, check your plant’s root system by gently removing it from its container.

Root rot most likely appears if the roots are black, brown, darkened, soft, mushy, or spongy.

It is common for affected roots to be slimy and wiggle apart, revealing the rotten tissue within them. Don’t be surprised if you smell something awful.

Causes of Anthurium Root Rot 

Multiple issues cause anthurium root rot. First, soil-borne fungi and wet soil cause the disease.

Factors that cause soil waterlogging and root rot include:

 [1] Prolonged Overwatering

Overwatering is the most common cause of anthurium root rot. As a gardener, I understand the importance of watering. The more frequently I hydrate, the better.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with anthuriums. An excessive amount of watering can lead to long periods of wet or soggy soil around your plant roots.

These are ideal conditions for root rot caused by waterlogging.

When the soil is too wet, the air pockets in the growing medium fill up, and the roots die and decompose because they don’t have enough oxygen.

When you water your anthurium, be sure to keep the frequency in mind. Also, you should let the top 2 or 3 inches of soil dry out between waterings.

[2] Poor Drainage

Overwatering may be the cause of anthurium root rot. If the pot has no drain holes, things will get worse. Poor drainage can be caused by:

  • Potting your anthurium in the wrong size pot – If the pot is too large, the soil will become wet or soggy. If the container is too small, you risk overwatering your plant. A container that is too small or too large for your anthurium can negatively affect drainage.
  • Blocked drainage holes – The absence of drainage holes is not the only factor affecting drainage. Compact soil, rocks, or other objects can also obstruct the holes. This will keep excess water from draining.
  • Wrong potting mix – This type of potting medium is ideal for Anthuriums. Moisture can build up in the combination if it is too heavy and made of clay or organic material. Adding coarse sand, pumice, or vermiculite to half the potting mix volume solves this problem.
  • Failure to drain perched water –After water, it’s critical to allow the plant to drain. The drip tray, cachepot, or saucer will collect the excess liquid. You’re inviting root rot and poor drainage if you don’t remove it.
  • Placing your anthurium in a dark, poorly-lit spot – Your plant’s ability to regulate its moisture use and evaporation is aided by bright light. Moisture can remain in the soil for a long time in low-light conditions.
  • Poor ventilation – Keeping your plant’s humidity and moisture levels in check is just as important as providing it with the right amount of light. Poor drainage will result if you place your anthurium in a stuffy, poorly ventilated area.

[3] Fungal Diseases

Root rot can be caused by both overwatering and fungal diseases. This list includes, but is not limited to:

Fungus NameDescription
Phytophthora/PythiumWater molds Phytophthora and Pythium attack weakened roots. Watering with cold water and sudden temperature changes promote their growth. Stunted growth and soft leaves with dark brown spots are symptoms.
Rhizoctonia solaniAnthurium root rot is favored by waterlogged soil. Yellow foliage, mushy stems, and “damping off” are common symptoms.
Fusarium solaniThe aggressive fungus first attacks the roots before spreading to the stem’s base. It thrives in temperatures ranging from 68 to 86°F (20 to 30°C). Red to reddish-brown lesions are warning signs.

These fungal diseases are usually spread or infect your anthurium in many different ways, including:

  • Infect gardening tools like pruners, scissors, and trowels.
  • Infected soil – This usually spreads to new plants if you work with soiled hands-on foliage.
  • Reusing old, non-sterile pots

[4] Wrong Size Pot

If you plant your anthurium in a container that is either too small or too large for its size, root rot can develop.

If the container is too big, the soil will retain much moisture. That results in hidden waterlogged areas that aren’t visible from the surface.

The root system of your anthurium will suffer if you use a pot that is too small.

Also, the soil will dry out quickly, which could cause it to compact and cause damage to the roots.

Finally, in addition to minerals, harsh chemicals, and heat, roots in a small container are more susceptible to contamination.

[5] Low-Temperature

Anthuriums dislike cold temperatures. This is most evident when the thermometer drops below the 50°F (10°C) mark.

Thinking that winter has arrived, the slowdown in activity and growth is typical.

The survival strategy uses as little energy, water, and other resources as possible.

You are more likely to overwater your anthurium because it uses less water, which can cause root damage.

[6] Continuing to Irrigate During Dormancy Period

As with most tropical plants, anthuriums dormancy in winter; this is most common in the early winter or the late fall/early spring.

This is meant to save energy and protect the plant from cold damage.

Consequently, your anthurium will use less water. If you continue to water your plant regularly, you will almost always have overwatering and root rot.

How to Save Anthurium from Root Rot 

You can try saving the plant if the anthurium root rot disease is still in its early stages. But if the disease has spread too far, you must think about propagation to save the plant.

(1) Stop Watering

Root rot can be caused or made worse by overwatering the soil. This is a significant contributor to the problem.

If you keep watering an anthurium with root rot, the situation will only worsen over time.

The first step is to stop watering your anthurium so it can dry out.

The sooner you stop irrigating, the more likely your anthurium will survive.

In addition, make sure to remove any liquid that has been collected in the cachepot, drip tray, or saucer.

(2) Put Your Anthurium in a Shady Area

Root rot has already wreaked havoc on your anthurium. Do not place the bundle in direct sunlight to avoid sun-scorch or leaf damage.

Soil, roots, and foliage should be thoroughly dried out to prevent the spread of opportunistic diseases in the shady area.

(3) Prune out the Infected Leaves and Other Parts

The next step is to remove any dead, dying, or diseased foliage, stems, or other plant material with care.

Start at the bottom and work your way to the top of the clean-up.

You are removing any vegetation that is no longer green, whether brown, yellow, or black, will help.

Fungi and other disease pathogens can colonize dead or infected tissue. They also have a meager chance of reviving.

Pruning unwanted parts ensures that resources and energy focus on healthy leaves, stems, etc.

When pruning, it’s essential to use a clean-cutting tool.

After each snip, you must clean it with rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution. You should aim to cut your anthurium down to half its size.

(4) Unpot the Plant and Dry Out the Root System

The primary method of treating root rot is repotting. Because of this, you must check for root rot before you begin restoration work.

In addition, repotting your anthurium can be stressful, especially if you do it right before or at the beginning of the growing season.

Remove your anthurium from its pot as soon as you notice any signs of root rot. If the anthurium has root rot, you’ll see slimy roots that are either mushy or darkened.

The root system must be thoroughly cleaned of all old soil. After that, allow the roots to air dry completely before continuing.

Place the root ball on a tarp, cardboard box, or magazine in a shady spot.

If you leave your plant outside overnight, its roots should be sufficiently aired out and dry.

Anthuriums that are smaller and younger might only take 3–5 hours to get there.

(4) Trim off the Infected Roots

You can use a pair of sterilized scissors to cut away the diseased or infected anthurium roots to treat minor disease cases.

(5) Treat Root Rot with Fungicide

If root rot hasn’t destroyed your plant, your anthurium will still have healthy roots. These should retain some firmness, white color, and flexibility.

To be safe, however, it is critical to eliminate any pathogens that may still be present.

For this, I suggested using a fungicide drench or dip.

(6) Repot Using New Soil and Pot

Your anthurium should have been treated for root rot by this point, and all affected roots should have been snipped off. The following step is to repot your plant:

  • To avoid re-infection, use a new well-draining pot and fresh potting mix. Before handling anything, use sterile tools and wash your hands.
  • Choose the proper size pot – I recommend a container with an inch of soil around your plant. It should have enough drainage holes (a minimum of 3)
  • Recheck the soil drainage – Anthuriums prefer well-drained, coarse soil with a slightly acidic pH. If you want to use a premix, I recommend starting with an orchid mix and adding peat moss and sand to improve drainage.
  • Fill the pot halfway with fresh soil, then plant your anthurium. Fill the pot with the remainder of the soil.
  • Water your plant to ensure the pot’s ground is evenly moist. I usually mix one cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with four cups of irrigation water. This serves two functions: hydration and antifungal protection!

(7) Avoid Fertilizer Until New Growth Starts to Appear

Feed your anthurium with fertilizer only when new leaves and other signs of growth appear.

Watering after Repotting

Rewatering your anthurium after it has recovered from the repotting shock can take anywhere from a few days to weeks. Wait for the first signs of new growth to appear.

But you can’t water again until the top layer of soil is dry to the touch. This should be done about once a week while indoors, if possible. This may be reduced to every two to three days in the summer.

Using self-watering pots or irrigating from the bottom is ideal for anthuriums. In addition, you can use rainwater or distilled or filtered water.

Homemade Fungicide for Anthurium Root Rot

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is best used as a powder. It has excellent antifungal properties and also promotes root growth. Before repotting your plant, sprinkle over the healthy roots.

Chamomile

You can use chamomile with irrigation water. It’s a natural antifungal that’s safe for helpful soil microorganisms. 

Activated Charcoal

Not the best of the bunch, but activated charcoal does have decent levels of antifungal properties. Use sparingly because its alkaline nature can affect soil pH.