How to Fix Root Rot in Money Tree (And Preventive Measures)


Money Trees are relatively low-maintenance plants, but it’s common for people to overwater them. Overwatering your plant can lead to root rot, which can be fatal for the plant.

If you suspect that your Money Tree is experiencing root rot, it’s important to work quickly to stop the disease from spreading. 

So, How to fix root rot in Money Tree?

To fix money tree root rot stop watering your money tree right away and cut off infected roots. Treat the remaining healthy roots with a fungicide to disinfect it completely. Now, transfer your Money Tree to a clean pot with a sterile, well-draining soil mix.

The good news: you’re in the right place! Read on to learn how to save your Money Tree from root rot, and prevent future infection.

Root rot is serious, but there are steps that you can take to prevent and treat it. Keep reading to learn how to save your Money Tree from root rot.

What Is Root Rot?

Root rot is a disease that occurs when a plant’s roots are sitting in waterlogged soil for a long period of time. It’s a result of underwatering and poor drainage, and it can be fatal for plants if not properly treated.

When a plant’s roots have rotted, they are unable to take in nutrients and water from the soil. This causes the plant to become malnourished, and can eventually cause it to die.

How To Identify Money Tree Root Rot

Wilting Leaves

Plants experiencing root rot can’t absorb nutrients from the soil, which causes them to look sick and malnourished. Wilting leaves are a common symptom of root rot.

Discolored Leaves

The leaves of your money should be a nice dark green color. If you notice that they’re turning yellow or brown, the most likely cause is overwatering, which can lead to root rot. 

Keep an eye on your plant’s leaves, and make sure to check them frequently for discoloration.

Slowed Growth

Without the nutrients your plant needs from the soil, it won’t be able to grow. If you notice that your money tree isn’t growing as much as it usually does, investigate further for signs of root rot. 

Do keep in mind that plants don’t grow as much in the winter. Cooler temperatures may be the cause of your plant’s stunted growth, which is nothing to worry about.

Mildew-y Smell

Plants with rotten roots often have an unpleasant musty smell. The smell is a result of bacteria that grows in a spot that’s deprived of oxygen, such as a pool of water.

Give your plant a sniff — if you notice that your money tree smells like rotten compost, it’s a sign of waterlogged soil. As you know, soggy soil can lead to root rot, so it’s a good idea to investigate further.

Examine The Roots

If your money tree is showing any of these issues and you suspect that root rot is at play, examine the roots. 

Carefully loosen the soil and take a look at your plant’s roots. You can also wrap the plant in newspaper and carefully tip it out of its container, and then brush the soil away from the roots.

Healthy roots are firm and white, while diseased roots are black or brown. Rotten roots will also feel soggy, and will likely be surrounded by waterlogged soil.

Causes Of Money Tree Root Rot

Overwatering

Overwatering is the main cause of root rot. When you overwater your plant, the water pools up in the soil and the plant’s roots are stuck growing in water. Root rot then attacks the soggy roots.

How To Fix Overwatering

Money trees do not need to be watered very frequently.  Aim to water your plant once a week. Also allow the top two to four inches of soil to dry out completely before watering again.

Watering frequency depends on pot materials, season and placement of the plant within your home. 

Poor Drainage

A combination of overwatering and poor drainage causes root rot. If the excess water doesn’t have anywhere to go, it will collect and pool by the plant’s roots, which leads to root rot.

How To Fix Poor Drainage

Use a pot with drainage holes, and raise the planter up so that the water can pour freely through the drainage holes to a saucer below.

After watering your Money Tree, pour out the excess water from the saucer so that it doesn’t pool up.

You can also add a layer of activated charcoal to the bottom of your pot. Activated charcoal absorbs excess water to help prevent soil from becoming waterlogged.

Soil With Poor Drainage Capacity

If your plant’s soil is tightly compacted, water will not be able to drain through. This will cause the soil to become waterlogged and will prevent nutrients from getting to the plant.

How To Address Soil With Poor Drainage Capacity

If you notice that water is draining extremely slowly through the soil, you may need to switch to a different potting mix. 

Repot your money tree into a potting mix with good drainage, ideally made of peat-moss. You can also mix sand into the soil to help improve drainage. 

Pathogenic Infection

While waterlogged soil is one cause of root rot, pathogens from previously infected soil can also be the cause. 

If you planted your Money Tree into the soil that was already infected, the pathogen will spread to your plant and cause root rot.

Source: University of Maryland Extension

How To Avoid Pathogenic Infections

Make sure to always use clean or new pots for planting, and use new soil every time. When you bring home a new plant, inspect it carefully for signs of disease. 

To be extra careful, separate your new plant from your other ones when you first bring it home.

Too Large of A Pot

A pot that is too large for your plant will collect excess water. The water pools up in the soil, which can lead to root rot.

How To Fix Pot Size

Transfer your Money Tree into a pot that is just large enough to fit the plant. Hold onto the old pot though as the tree grows, you’ll eventually need to transfer it into a larger planter.

Low Temperature

As temperatures drop, plants don’t use as much water. This is because chemical reactions slow down as temperatures decrease. 

The plant won’t need as much water to grow, so giving it the normal amount can cause water to pool up, leading to — you guessed it — root rot.

How To Address Low Temperature

You have two options here. You can move your Money Tree to a warmer spot of the house and maintain your normal watering schedule. 

Alternatively, you can water your plant less frequently and keep the temperature the same.

Keep in mind that Money Trees are happiest in temperatures of 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18 to 27 degrees Celsius.

Watering During Dormant Period

Since there isn’t as much light in the winter, plants don’t grow as quickly. As a result, they don’t need as much water over the winter. 

If you maintain your regular watering schedule, the water will pool up and possibly lead to root rot.

How To Address Watering During Dormant Period

Water less frequently during the winter. The best rule of thumb is to hold off on watering until the top two to four inches of soil are dry. Try waiting an extra two or three days between waterings in the winter.

How To Save Money Tree From Root Rot

If your plant is experiencing root rot, you’ll have to act fast. Root rot prevents the plant from getting water and nutrients, and can be fatal if it progresses too far.

Depending on how far the root rot has progressed, you may still be able to save it.

In order to save your Money Tree, you’ll need to clear away the infected roots, drain out the excess water and transfer your plant to new soil.

Clearing The Damage

Your first step is to clear away diseased plant tissue and soil. Pathogens that lead to root rot can stay in the soil and on the pot. 

And the disease can spread from infected plant tissue. To clear away the damage and stop the infection from spreading further, follow these steps:

  • Drain out as much water from the soil as possible.
  • Dispose of the soil that the plant was in. Pathogens can live in the soil, and they can cause root rot when you go to repot your plant.
  • Use a sharp, clean knife to clear away the rotten roots. Infected roots will be soggy and brown or black in color. Make sure to clear away all of the rotten parts. If any infected roots are left behind, the disease may spread.
  • Use a fungicide on the remaining healthy roots to kill any remaining root rot fungus.
  • Cut off damaged foliage using sterilized scissors.

Repotting

Once you have cleared away the damage, you’ll need to transfer your Money Tree into new, clean soil. Here’s how to repot your plant:

  • Choose an unglazed clay or terracotta pot that’s only a bit bigger than your Money Tree. Make sure that your pot has drainage holes!
  • Soak the planter in a gentle bleach solution for 30 minutes. Rinse it and allow it to dry.
  • If you’re using a drainage layer, place it on the bottom of the pot.
  • Fill the pot halfway with new soil.
  • Gently place the Money Tree in the new soil, being careful not to disturb the roots.
  • Refill the rest of the planter with soil.
  • Make sure that the water has a way to drain out of the planter. Elevate the pot above a saucer, which will catch the excess water that flows out of the drainage holes.

Using The Appropriate Soil Mix

To make sure that water can flow freely through the soil, it’s important to choose a potting mix that has good drainage. 

If your soil is too tightly compacted, water won’t be able to drain through properly, which can lead to root rot.

Look for a well-draining potting mix that contains peat-moss. You can also improve drainage by adding sand to your potting mix.

To improve drainage even more, consider using a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot. The drainage layer will absorb excess water to help prevent it from pooling around the roots.

Activated charcoal is a good choice for a drainage layer — it absorbs water, and has the added benefit of being antibacterial.

Watering After Repotting

Avoid watering immediately after repotting your Money Tree. You want to give the soil a chance to dry out completely so that root rot doesn’t occur again. 

Give it about a week, and then resume your regular watering schedule. Make sure that the top two to four inches of soil are completely dry before you water again.

Care After Repotting

Money Trees are sensitive to change, so expect an adjustment period after repotting. To minimize stress, keep all other conditions the same after you repot your Money Tree. 

Put your plant in the same spot as before, keep the temperature the same, and don’t change the lighting. After your plant has gotten used to its new conditions, you can gradually introduce other changes.

To help your Money Tree recover more quickly, you can trim off some of its top leaves. This will help the plant to save energy and will allow it to use more of its energy recovering from root rot.

Propagation

If the damage level is severe then it may not be possible to save the plant. So, to reduce the risk of losing your money tree you need to go for propagation by cuttings. Here’s how to do it:

For this purpose, take a cutting up to 10 cm/4 inches in size, which has a formed structure with two leaf nodes.

  • Treat lower edges of the cuttings are treated with a rooting hormone, if possible.
  • It is better to root in a soil consisting of a mixture of peat/coconut substrate and perlite / coarse sand in a 1: 1 ratio.
  • Make sure to sterilize the mixture.
  • Use containers and plastic cups with drainage holes to plant the cuttings.
  • Immerse the lower parts of the cuttings in the soil by 30 mm, followed by water.

The rooting period is about 3 weeks. Under favorable conditions such as: diffused light, temperature 20-22°C/68-71°F. Maintain a humidity level of about 80 percent.

You Can also root the cuttings within the water. To do this, place the root hormone-treated cuttings in a container with water.

After the roots appear, they transplant it into the soil mixture. This is a rather stressful moment for the young money tree.

Therefore, during such a period, you must provide optimal conditions for the growth of the plant.

How To Prevent And Control Money Tree Root Rot

Avoid Waterlogging

Waterlogging is the main cause of root rot. To prevent waterlogging, avoid overwatering your plant and make sure that water can drain freely through the soil and out of the pot.

While you may be tempted to water your Money Tree as often as possible, don’t do this! It’s possible to kill your plant with kindness. 

With Money Trees, less is more. Let the top two to four inches of soil dry out before watering your plant. 

You May Also Enjoy: How to Save Overwatered Snake Plant (sansevieria)

You also need to make sure that excess water has a way to escape from the pot. If it can’t get out, the water will pool in the soil and make the plant vulnerable to root rot. 

Make sure that your pot has drainage holes at the bottom, and elevate the pot above a saucer that can catch the excess water that drains out.

The material that your planter is made out of can also help prevent waterlogging. Porous materials like unglazed ceramic and terracotta absorb extra water, which helps prevent the plant from sitting in water.

If you do want to use a decorative metal or plastic pot, you can double pot your plant. Here is how to do so:

  • Use a slightly larger decorative pot on the outside.
  • Place your plant in a clay or terracotta pot inside the decorative pot. 
  • Use a layer of stones between the two planters so that water can drain through.

Watering Schedule

Money trees do well when they are watered deeply but infrequently. Watering deeply means watering until the water flows through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Remember to empty the excess water out of the saucer below so that the plant roots aren’t sitting in water. 

You should aim to water about once a week, but you will likely need to cut back further during the winter. 

Loosen Soil

Loosening, or aerating, the soil can help make it dry out faster and drain more effectively.

Create extra air space near the roots by using a pencil to carefully poke small holes in the top of the soil.

This will help more oxygen get to the plant roots, which will help to dry out the soil.

Plant Rotation

When a plant is placed up against a window, only one side will be exposed to the light. This can lead to uneven growth, and may cause some parts of the soil to stay soggy.

Rotate your Money Tree every couple of months to expose a different side of the plant to sunlight.

Lighting

Try moving your Money Tree to an area of the house that gets more sunlight. The extra light will cause your plant to use water more quickly.

Keep in mind that Money Trees prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Placing your Money Tree by a non south-facing window is ideal. 

If the only spot you have available is next to a south-facing window, create a screen for your plant out of a tissue or other lightweight material. This will diffuse the light and prevent your plant from getting scorched.

How Do You Revive A Dying Money Tree?

To revive a dying Money Tree, stop watering immediately. Clear away the diseased foliage and soil.

Transfer the plant to sterile soil with good drainage, and plant it in a small, porous pot with drainage holes at the bottom. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again.

With proper care, you can save your Money Tree from root rot. What do you do to keep your Money Tree healthy and happy?

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

Recent Content