How to Prevent Root Rot of Bedding Plants


Be they annuals or perennials, bedding plants add vibrant color to a flower bed, patio pot or hanging container. With proper care, many bedding plants will bloom all summer long. Although root rot is a common problem with these plants, it isn't inevitable. You can nearly always prevent root rot by providing an environment that's not hospitable to the moisture-loving fungus that causes it.

Step 1

Buy healthy, compact bedding plants with dark green leaves and tight buds. Avoid spindly plants or plants with dead or yellowing leaves. Healthy bedding plants are more resistant to root rot.

Step 2

Cultivate and amend soil to allow good drainage. Use a tiller or a shovel to work the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Add 4 to 6 inches of peat moss, decomposed manure, compost or any combination of these materials.

Step 3

Leave ample space between each bedding plant. Crowded plants have limited air circulation, which can promote excessive moisture and root rot. Eight to 10 inches will allow plenty of growing room for most bedding plants, depending on their size.

Step 4

Read the plant's tag carefully and make sure it gets adequate sunlight. Many bedding plants, such as ageratums, asters and marigolds, require a minimum of eight hours of sunlight every day. Others, such as coleus or impatiens, need at least six hours of bright morning sunlight. Tuberous begonias need only an hour or two of sunlight each day.

Step 5

Irrigate only when the top of the soil is dry, and never water more than necessary. Water early in the day so that excess moisture has time to evaporate before evening. Water by hand at the base of the plant and avoid wetting the foliage.

Step 6

Remove flowers as they fade. Pick off dead and yellow leaves, and keep the planting area clear of weeds and debris, which can foster dampness.

Things You'll Need

  • Tiller or shovel
  • Peat moss, decomposed manure or compost


  • LSU Ag Center: Tips Offered for Best Bedding Plant Performance
  • University of Florida: Bedding Plants: Selection, Establishment and Maintenance
Keywords: bedding plants, root rot, prevent root rot

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.