Cotton Root Rot in Plants


Cotton root rot is a problem causing immediate destruction of your home garden plants. From cotton to a bevy of other hosts, this root rot is a controllable problem. Familiarize yourself with what to look for as well as prevention and diagnostic care to keep your home landscape in healthy condition.

Fungal Infection

Cotton root rot is caused by the soil-borne fungus Phymatotrichopsis omnivora, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. This fungus lives deep within soil and attacks the root systems of susceptible plants by penetrating through plant tissue. Cotton root rot is a prevalent problem in low altitude desert settings but is also found in areas with higher elevations in a vast array of soil types.

Symptoms and Damage

Particularly in hot temperatures, cotton root rot causes fast destruction of plants. When temperatures rise, plants with damaged root systems cannot absorb the water they need, so injury and death is imminent. A more steady decline also occurs at lower temperatures, even if plants are in good health, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. The roots of the host plant rot, plant parts wilt and the plant dies.

Host Plants

Avoid planting susceptible plants if you live in an area with widespread cotton root rot disease. These vulnerable host plants include, but are not limited to, fruit trees, cottonwood trees, elms and sycamores. Mexican bird of paradise plants, roses and oleanders are also in danger of infection, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.

Immune Plants

If you live in a highly affected area, verify that the plants you are growing are immune. Immune plants will not become infected by cotton root rot so you eliminate the guesswork that occurs with vulnerable, resistant or tolerant plants that may experience infection or death. Immune options include, but are not limited to, aloe, pampas grass, irises, tulips, golden bamboo and garden hyacinth plants, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.


Have a licensed professional determine whether or not cotton root rot fungi are present in your soil through analysis of a soil sample. If you lose a plant to cotton root rot, plant an immune plant in its place. There are no chemical options for home application, but if you are experiencing a cotton root rot problem, there are chemical controls that may be applied by a professional. For effective control, set up a management program in which a professional performs a treatment on an annual or bi-annual basis, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.

Keywords: cotton root rot, cotton rot plant, cotton rot fungi

About this Author

Tarah Damask's writing career, beginning in 2003, includes experience as a fashion writer/editor for Neiman Marcus, short fiction publications in "North Texas Review," a self-published novel, band biographies, charter school curriculum, and articles for eHow. She has a love for words and is an avid observer. Damask holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Texas.