Root rot disease on violet plants can lead to the destruction of your prized home garden flowers. Destruction of root systems due to fungal infections leads to problems with nutrient and water absorption, causing not only cosmetic damage, but also severe decline and plant death. Get to know what to look for and how to respond with appropriate management methods for continued health of your violets.
The most widely grown violet flowers in the home garden are African violets (Saintpaulia species), according to Clemson University Extension. Root rot disease is easily avoided through proper care; vigorous violets are more likely to avoid and heal from diseases than weakened or stressed plants. Grow your African violets in bright, indirect sunlight for best growth. Violets thrive in extremely well-drained soil as waterlogged roots and standing water attract the germination of fungi responsible for root rot.
Root rot diseases of violets are caused by the fungal pathogens Phytophthora nicotianae, P. cryptogea, referred to as phytophthora root rot, as well as fungi from the Pythium species, resulting in pythium root rot, according to the Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension. Both fungi are soil-borne and attack the root systems of violet plants. Soil-borne pathogens inhabit soil but often spread in infected water and on contaminated pruning tools.
In both cases of root rot, look for areas at the base of the plant near the soil line to become soft while leaves lose vigor and appear limp, according to Clemson University Extension. Phytophthora root rot of violets results in the darkening of roots that appear saturated with water. As the root system becomes soft from fluid and collapses, the infection has spread to other plants parts, including leaves that remain on the violet plant. With pythium root rot, the roots also decay to a dark brown hue, but the above-ground damage is slightly different, with leaves yellowing and stems and flowers experiencing wilt, according to the Pennyslvania State University Cooperative Extension.
For natural control of root rot on violets, maintain extremely well-drained soil at all times. Purchase and plant disease-free violets. If growing plants in containers, always sterilize plant pots and use new, pasteurized potting media for new plants. Additionally, sanitize any type of pruning shears or other equipment between each cut and from use on one plant to the next to prevent the spread of fungal pathogens.
For chemical control of root rot on violets, apply the appropriate fungicides. For phytophthora root rot as well as pythium root rot, use a chemical with the active ingredient etridiazole or mefenoxam as a preventive method to keep violets from becoming infected. For plants that are already in severe decline, destroy the entire plant because a fungicide will not cure the disease.