How to Doctor a Plant With Root Rot


Root rot generally is caused by poor drainage, fungal growth or a combination of the two. Treatment differs depending on whether you are treating plants that are part of a garden/yard or treating houseplants. In both cases, there are remedies to try to bring the plants back to their previous vigor. It is not always possible to do this, however. Be aware of the possibility that the affected plants will have to be replaced if they cannot be saved.

For potted plants:

Step 1

Expose the root ball by using a hand trowel to dig the plant out of the pot. Examine the damaged areas, which will be brown and mushy. Healthy areas will be white and firm.

Step 2

Sterilize your pruning sheers with a quick dunk in rubbing alcohol. Trim away all dead and decaying root matter and discard.

Step 3

Discard the old potting soil. Wash the pot with bleach.

Step 4

Dip the root ball of the plant into a fungicide that is made for plants. Follow the fungicide manufacturer's instructions for application details.

Step 5

Fill a pot with new potting soil and repot the plant. Water until the soil is moist not soggy.

For Plants in a Garden or Yard:

Step 1

Dig up and trim the rotted roots away, as in the procedure for potted plants.

Step 2

Amend the surrounding soil with coir and compost to improve drainage. Dig up the soil and mix in these amendments with a shovel.

Step 3

Replant the affected plants, just barely covering the roots with soil. Do not bury them deep, as this will encourage another bout of root rot.

Tips and Warnings

  • All outdoor plants, whether in gardens or containers, should not be fertilized when it is very hot and dry. Fertilizing during this time increases stress on the plants and could create the sort of weakness that invites root rot to occur.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand trowel
  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bleach
  • Plant-specific fungicide
  • Potting soil
  • Shovel
  • Coir
  • Compost


  • Ohio State University Extension: Root Problems
  • Gardening Know How: Treating Root Rot
Keywords: fixing root rot, helping rotted plants, healing root rot

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.