How To Fix Alocasia Root Rot

Alocasia (also known as elephant ears) is a tropical plant native to tropical and subtropical Asia and eastern Australia. They thrive in warm weather and require little maintenance. This makes them great indoor houseplants that don’t need much care, allowing gardeners to enjoy their beauty year-round.

Unfortunately, however, Alocasia has a major issue: its roots rot easily in poorly drained or overwatered soils. This makes growing Alocasias very challenging at times.

Alocasia root rot occurs when the roots are unable to absorb enough oxygen, causing severe damage to the plant. The rotting starts at the roots and spreads upward. Eventually, the entire plant turns black, and the plant dies.

If you suspect Alocasia root rot, first, remove the plant from its pot and check its roots to see if they are mushy and foul-smelling. Cut away any decayed and rotting parts. After pruning, use a fungicide like Carbendazim on the healthy roots and don’t damage them. Next, repot it with fresh potting soil in a new pot. Refrain from watering for about a week and give the plant plenty of indirect sunlight. After you’ve watered the plant thoroughly for the first time, only water it when the top inch of soil feels dry.

alocasia root rot

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What Does Alocasia Root Rot Look Like?

If you’re not sure whether your Alocasia has root rot, you might wonder what exactly it looks like. You can tell if your Alocasia has root rot by feeling the roots. Roots that are infected with rot will often be soft and mushy. They may also be discolored and smelly. Healthy roots should be hard and pliable.

Below are other signs of Alocasia root rot. If you notice any of these signs on your plant, take immediate action to prevent it from spreading further. Root rot is a serious disease, and it can be fatal to your plants if not dealt with right away.

1. Stunted Or Poor Growth

If an Alocasia plant suffers from root rot, its growth will be slowed down or stopped. Root rot occurs when your Alocasia’s roots do not get enough oxygen. As a result, the roots are unable to function as they should, allowing the plant to get water and nutrients. This results in the entire Alocasia plant becoming weak and ceasing to grow.

2. Yellowing Or Browning Leaves

Healthy Alocasias will have distinctive dark, green foliage. Root rots may cause their beautiful green foliage to become yellowish or brown. Yellowing of the foliage indicates an initial stage of infection, whereas browning suggests advanced disease.

When root rot is in its early stages, your plant’s leaves will develop small yellow or brown spots. When the root rot progresses, the leaves may turn completely brown or black. It is a good idea to check the roots if you notice such yellow or brown spots.

3. Wilting Leaves

If the plant is suffering from root rot, its roots cannot perform their functions. A plant with rotted roots will lose nutrients and water, so the leaves will wilt to conserve what is left. As root rot advances, you’ll notice wilted leaves.

4. Mushy Roots

Healthy alocasia roots will have a white, firm texture. A plant suffering from root rot, on the other hand, will have roots that decay and turn brown and mushy. The slightest tug can easily break decayed roots.

5. Foul Smell from Soil

A foul smell will emanate from your plant’s roots once they begin to decay from root rot. In soil that has excess moisture, air cannot be supplied to the roots, resulting in decay and a foul odor from the roots. If the soil smells bad or rotten, take the plant out of the container and examine its roots.

Causes of Alocasia Root Rot

Alocasia root rot can happen for a number of reasons, including overwatering, poor soil drainage, and the wrong soil mix, among many others. Let’s now examine each cause in more detail.

1. Overwatering

overwatering alocasia

Overwatering is the number one cause of alocasia root rot. As long as the soil stays damp, there is no problem. However, if the soil becomes wet and soggy, the roots will not receive enough air. The roots will start to rot and die off.

To prevent overwatering, keep your indoor plants watered only when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. You should never let the soil sit completely saturated. If you notice any signs of root rot from overwatering, remove the affected parts and discard them.

You may find yourself wondering whether you’ve overwatered your alocasia. There are several ways to tell if you have overwatered your plant:

  1. Look at the leaves. If they are yellowing, then you probably have overwatered your plant.
  2. Feel the soil. If it is always wet to the touch, then you’ve overwatered it.
  3. Lightly squeeze the base of the stem. If it’s soft and squishy, then you’ve overwatered your plant.
  4. Check for pests like fungus gnats. If the soil is attracting fungus gnats, the soil is probably too damp too often.

2. No Drainage Holes

Alocasia plants require well-draining soil to grow healthy roots. Well-drained soil means that there are no puddles of standing water left behind after watering. Roots cannot grow if they stay damp for long periods of time.

To avoid root rot disease, plant alocasias in pots with drainage holes. These pots should never sit directly on the ground without any kind of covering. A layer of gravel or pebbles placed under the pot will provide enough space for excess water to drain away.

Make sure that the soil drains properly by checking the bottom of the pot when you water. If your pot has a saucer, do not allow excess water to accumulate in the saucer. Instead, empty it after every watering.

3. Wrong Soil Mix

Alocasia is a tropical plant that likes to grow in well-aerated, well-drained and slightly acidic potting soil. However, if you use a soil mix that doesn’t drain well, then your alocasias won’t thrive.

A heavy soil mix with more clays will hold onto moisture for a long time, causing waterlogged conditions in the soil. Roots cannot breathe properly under those conditions, and it further gives room for pests and diseases to grow, resulting in root rot disease.

To avoid this problem, try using a light soil mix that allows air to circulate freely through the soil. You can add organic matter to the soil mix to give it nutrients and keep it healthy.

You can also buy a soil mix specifically made for growing alocasias. These mixes usually include peat moss, perlite, coco coir, and sand.

4. Incorrect Pot Size

alocasia root rot problem

Alocasias like plenty of room to grow, and they thrive well in pots that are at slightly larger than their root system. However, if you use a small pot, then the pot may lack adequate air circulation in the soil, causing the roots to rot.

On the other hand, if you use a big pot, you run the risk of overwatering. There’s more soil to hold water, so you might end up overwatering your plant. Overwatering causes root rot, so it’s important to keep track of how much water your alocasia needs.

Choose an appropriate size for your plant and repot it every year or two into a bigger pot. As long as you give your alocasia plant ample room to grow, it will be able to reach its full potential.

5. Poor Ventilation

Proper ventilation around the plant is very important for its healthy growth. If the surrounding area doesn’t have adequate ventilation, then the soil won’t dry out as fast, which means it will stay moist for a long period of time. This puts the roots at risk of suffering from root rot.

You can prevent alocasia root rot by keeping your plants well-ventilated. Make sure that the surrounding area has good airflow so that the water evaporates quickly from the soil. If you live in a humid climate, you can place the plant near windows or fans.

6. Low Light

alocasia root rot causes

Alocasias prefer to grow in bright, indirect sunlight. However, if you keep them in low light conditions for too long, they may develop root rot. Low light conditions mean that the soil remains damp for a longer period of time, making it easier for pests and pathogens to infect your alocasia.

Proper lighting is not just about evaporating water from the soil. When the plant receives enough light, it can use up the soil moisture before root rot can take hold.

Keep your alocasias in bright light conditions whenever possible. Alternatively, you can place them under grow lights if you don’t receive enough natural light in your home.

7. Low Temperatures

If you live somewhere where the temperature is cold during the winter months, you may notice that your alocasias start showing signs of root rot. This happens when the temperature dips below the plants’ tolerance level.

You can prevent root rot by keeping your alocasias in a room where the temperature stays above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celcius).

During the winter season, when the temperature is low, watering the plant using the same pattern will cause overwatering and a problem with root rot.

To prevent this, you should water your alocasias less frequently and only when the soil is dry.

8. Diseases

alocasia root rot disease

Alocasia plants are susceptible to diseases caused by bacteria and fungi. These diseases can lead to the rotting of the roots, stems, and leaves, causing the plant to wilt and die.

Pythium, botrytis, and phytophthora are the most common fungi that attack alocasias. All three types of fungi produce spores that infect the roots of the plant. Once infected, the fungus spreads quickly through the entire plant, causing the roots to become soft and mushy. As the disease progresses, the plant becomes weak and eventually dies.

Soggy soil conditions are ideal for the growth of pathogens, especially fungi. Fungi require moisture to grow, and if there isn’t enough water available, they won’t survive.

Pathogens expand rapidly, and once they start spreading throughout the plant, they’ll continue to spread until every part of the plant is affected.

You should also inspect any alocasias that you purchase from nurseries before bringing them home. Inspect the leaves, stems, and (if possible) roots carefully for signs of infection.

Whenever you bring a new plant home, keep it away from other plants for some time and observe for any signs of infection to prevent the spread of diseases.

9. Unsterile Tools

Unsterile gardening tools can spread diseases to your plants. Make sure that your tools are clean and free of dirt before using them on your plants. Also, sterilize your tools between uses. You can use bleach diluted in water, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol or rubbing alcohol.

How To Fix Alocasia Root Rot

Once the Alocasia roots rot, there isn’t much you can do to save them. However, if you catch the problem early enough, you can still save the plant.

Remove the plant from its original container and wash the roots under running water until no dirt remains. Then, cut away all of the damaged roots using sharp, clean shears or scissors. Clean the shears or scissors after every use with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spreading of the rot disease.

Next, dispose of the old soil in the pot that your plant came in. Wash the pot with a bleach solution. Dip the remaining healthy roots in an anti-fungal solution to kill off any root rot fungi. Finally, repot the plant into a new pot containing fresh potting soil.

How To Prevent Alocasia Root Rot

prevent alocasia root rot

Make sure to keep your alocasia healthy by following these simple steps:

  • Use proper soil and check in periodically to make sure it is properly draining water.
  • Ensure that your pots have holes for drainage.
  • Make sure you do not let the pot’s bottom dish accumulate excess water.
  • As stated above, the plant roots need access to some air in which to live. Allow the soil to slightly dry (just the top layer), and then water again when the top layer is mostly dried out.
  • You may also want to consider switching up the amount of water that your plant receives depending on the season. During cold, dry times, you might only need to water once every two weeks. During warmer, sunny periods, you might need to water twice per week.
  • Pay attention to your plant. Stay present will help you figure out when the plant needs less water or more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Alocasia root rot look like?

Alocasia root rot looks black, soft and mushy. They may also be foul-smelling. Alocasia plants that suffer from root rot may also display slow growth, mushy stems, and wilting, yellowish, distorted leaves.

Should I water after repotting root rot?

When plants are repotted after root rot, they tend to undergo a period of shock. This is perfectly normal – don’t worry! In order to ensure that any roots damaged during repotting have fully healed, do not water the plants immediately after they have been repotted.

Can you reuse soil with root rot?

Yes, you can reuse soil with root rot, but only after it has been sterilized. By sterilizing the soil, the pathogens that grew in the soil when the roots rotted will be killed. After sterilizing the soil, mix it with equal parts of fresh potting soil before use.

Soil sterilization plays a key role in the process. If you skip it, this problem is more likely to return. A fungus can be difficult to remove once it has taken hold.

How do you sterilize soil after root rot?

There are three ways of sterilizing the soil to get rid of root rot at home. These are hydrogen peroxide, boiling water or steam, and solarization. Make sure to remove the plant from the soil before sterilizing it.

Hydrogen peroxide is a strong disinfectant that kills all types of microorganisms, including root rot. To sterilize the soil, mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water to form a solution. Pour the solution onto the infected soil and let it sit there for about an hour

Boiling water or steam is another great way to sterilize the soil and eliminate root rot. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Then pour the boiling water over the infected soil. If you have a steam cleaner, steam is more effective than boiling water.

Finally, solarization is another way to sterilize the soil after root rot. This is the process of using the sun’s heat to kill root rot fungi in the soil. It involves watering the soil and covering it with a clear plastic sheet before placing it under a full day’s sun every day for 6 to 8 weeks. The sunlight heats the soil underneath the plastic, killing the root rot fungus and other microorganisms.