Looking to fix peperomia root rot? If so, make sure to read this article thoroughly.
I’ll go through everything you need to know about root rot in peperomia plants, including the symptoms to watch out for, the causes and step by step treatment.
How do you save peperomia from root rot?
- Prune the rotten roots
- Repot the plant in fresh, dry, well-draining soil.
- Remove any affected leaves and stems.
- Make sure to use potting mix with sufficient drainage along with a pot with holes at the bottom.
- Adjust your watering schedule to ensure that it does not happen again.
What is Peperomia Root Rot?
Peperomia root rot is when the roots of the plant die then rot. As such, they cease functioning.
This is why it is such a deadly problem for plants.
When a plant experiences root rot, only a handful of roots will die and rot initially.
But if the cause of the root rot is not treated, you’ll see more and more roots start dying then rotting.
The problem here is that when too many of the roots or majority of the root system has rotted, the plant will be beyond saving.
The reason is that rotten roots stop functioning.
And they will never recover or heal.
Since roots absorb water and nutrients from the soil, root rot will prevent the plant from getting enough moisture and nutrients.
As a result, it will get weak, experience yellow and brown leaves, wilt and possibly die later on if the problem is not fixed.
In most cases, root rot is caused by oxygen deprivation.
This happens when the roots suffocate because there’s too much water.
But there are times when root rot is a result of fungal disease.
Either way, peperomia root rot will put the plant’s health at risk. And it can eventually kill the plant.
Peperomia Root Rot Symptoms
Knowing the different peperomia root rot symptoms is very important because it gives you the opportunity to detect the problem as early as possible.
Since root rot occurs underneath the soil, it is difficult to see.
Thus, in most cases, you’ll end up noticing the symptoms of peperomia root rot above the soil first.
However, the condition will affect the parts of the plant above and below the soil.
Among the first symptoms most gardeners will notice with peperomia root rot is leaf discoloration.
This is trickly because changes in leaf color can have many different causes.
But you always want to put root rot at the top of the list since it can destroy your beloved peperomia.
In many cases, you’ll see yellow or brown leaves. But often, you’ll see a combination of both yellow and brown foliage.
Additionally, the plant won’t look good as well.
The peperomia will look weak, droop and wilt.
Of course, whenever I see leaf discoloration, I will always check the soil.
This is a harsh lesson I had to learn early on. So, I always play safe since I don’t want to feel sorry later.
When you touch the surface of the soil of a plant with peperomia root rot, the potting mix will feel soggy, mucky and wet.
If the soil is wet, immediately unpot the plant and check the soil.
Peperomia root rot will have a foul odor. That’s because of the rotten roots.
The roots that have rotten will also look brown or black and they will feel soft and mushy. Additionally, if fungal disease caused the root rot, you’ll see fungal growth or mold in the roots.
On the other hand, healthy roots are white, firm to the touch but very pliable.
The hope is that there are many more healthy roots left compared to the number of rotten roots.
If all the roots or almost all the roots are already rotten, there’s very little chance you’ll be able to save the plant no matter what you do.
Causes Of Peperomia Root Rot
In addition to knowing the symptoms of peperomia root rot, understanding the cause and why it happened is the step.
It is important to know why something is happening because it will help you figure out how to treat that specific problem and fix it.
Here are the main reasons why peperomia root rot occurs.
The most common reason for peperomia root rot is excess watering.
Overwatering usually occurs when you water the plant too often. More specifically, you add water when the soil is still moist or wet.
As a result, more and more liquid will eventually keep the soil wet.
Additionally, the water will keep pushing out the oxygen in these air pockets and fill their place.
Since rots need both oxygen to breathe and water to drink, there has to be a balance for the plant to stay healthy.
When there’s too much water, the roots eventually start suffocating because they cannot get oxygen while they drown in water.
If this persists, the roots eventually die from suffocation and then rot.
Similarly, fungal root rot can likewise happen.
In this case, it is not suffocation that kills the roots. Instead, it is fungal infection. And the fungi develop because of the wet, damp conditions.
Once the fungi eat and destroy enough of the roots, the plant will eventually deteriorate and possibly die if you don’t fix the problem soon enough.
Poor drainage is another reason for peperomia root rot.
This is very closely related to overwatering because lack of drainage causes excess water.
But this time, it isn’t because the plant is being watered too frequently.
Instead, it is the soil and/or the pot that may not be draining enough moisture to keep the roots dry.
When it comes to drainage, there are two components here.
- Soil drainage – this refers to how fast the soil drains the water. For the peperomia it needs well-draining soil because it is prone to overwatering and root rot.
- Pot drainage – refers to the ability of the pot to let water drip out. Thus, you want to choose a container with holes at the bottom.
Make sure you use well-draining soil to keep the roots from sitting in too much water.
Similarly, pick a container with enough holes to let any moisture that drains from the soil drip out.
One hidden danger that can cause root rot in peperomia plants is overpotting.
Pot size is important because you want to choose a container that is just right for the plant.
Avoid very small pots since these will keep the roots very crowded.
In doing so, the plant will grow slowly and get stressed.
However, don’t use an oversized pot.
Peperomia plants are not huge plants. So, they will never need very large pots.
Using a pot that is too large increases the risk of overwatering since there’s excess soil. When you water, this means there will be lots of excess moisture that the roots need to deal with.
Thus, choose a pot that is 2 inches wider than the plant’s root ball
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How to Save Peperomia from Root Rot
Now we finally get to the most important part of the article, how to save peperomia from root rot.
Treating peperomia root rot depends a lot of how early you spot the problem.
Ideally, you avoid it altogether.
This is the best case scenario.
The next best option is if you detect the problem early. The early to diagnose peperomia root rot, the better the chance you have a saving the plant.
As such, it is very important to regularly monitor the leaves of the plant for discoloration. And to check the soil for overwatering.
Below, I’ll go through the different steps in saving a peperomia with root rot.
Prune the Rotten Roots
Once you’ve unpotted your peperomia plant and confirmed that some of the roots have rotted. It is important to start treatment immediately.
Root rot will keep spreading if you do not solve the problem.
The first step after verifying that there is root rot is to prune the rotten roots.
Sterilize a pair or scissors or pruning shears. You can use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
Then cut off the brown, mushy roots.
Here, there are two things to watch out for.
- Don’t prune any healthy roots. These are the white roots.
- Keep track of how much you’ve pruned. For example, if you’ve needed to cut off a quarter of the roots, take note of that.
It is also a good idea to wash off all the soil.
There will be soil stuck to the root system. And watering the soil off is the easiest way.
You can do this is the sink or use a shower head.
But be careful that you don’t wash the soil and let them touch other healthy plants. If fungal disease was the cause of root rot, the soil will have these pathogens.
Throw Away the Soil
Properly dispose of the soil. This includes the soil from the roots as well as the rest of the soil from the pot.
Throw everything away.
Don’t store it. And don’t think of planning to use it again.
If you do want to use it again, make sure to disinfect then dry the soil before doing so. Otherwise, if a pathogen is what cause the peperomia root rot, it will contaminate the next plant you put in that soil.
Disinfect the Roots and Pot
Now that you’ve gotten rid of the soil, it is time to disinfect the plant and the pot.
Again, this is a precaution.
If you’re 100% sure that the root rot was caused by overwatering and not a fungal disease, then you don’t need to do this.
But if you’re wrong, the next plant that goes into that pot will suffer the same fate.
Similarly, after you repot your peperomia, it will eventually experience the same root rot issue again.
This is why disinfecting the plant’s root system and the pot are necessary.
For the root system, you can dunk it into fungicide or a hydrogen peroxide solution. Make sure all the roots are soaked to disinfect them.
Then let the roots dry.
To disinfect the pot, you can use the same hydrogen peroxide solution or a bleach solution.
Again, clean the pot thoroughly. Then let it dry.
Remove Affected Leaves and Stems
While waiting for the roots to dry, you can start removing any discolored or damaged leaves. This includes any stems or leaves that were affected or have any symptoms of the root rot.
If you pruned more than 1/3 of the root system in the first step, you’ll need to prune the same amount of leaves.
This will reduce the size of the plant so the remaining roots can easily support the smaller plant.
By doing this, it gives your peperomia a shot to being saved and recovery.
Repot the Plant
Once the roots have dried, it is time to repot the plant.
In all likelihood, you’ll be using a smaller pot than the previous one. That’s because you’ve pruned the roots.
Make sure you have enough fresh dry soil to fill the new pot.
Use well-draining soil to avoid waterlogging.
Then plant the peperomia into the new pot and fill it with fresh, dry potting mix.
Don’t water the plant. You want to give it at least a week or so to allow the new plant to recover from all the excess water.
How to Water After Repotting
Make sure to adjust your watering schedule.
Cut back on watering if overwatering was the cause.
If waterlogging was the issue, switch to a well-draining potting mix.
If All Else Fails, Propagate Your Peperomia
If you notice that almost all the roots are rotten, then the best course of action is to propagate your peperomia plant.
This is your back up plan since there’s high likelihood the plant won’t survive despite your best efforts to save it.
Prune a cutting and plant it to grow a new plant.
Ideally, make several cuttings just to make sure. But only choose stems that are healthy.
You can still try to save the plant and repot it.
However, by propagating it first, you’ll guarantee that whatever happens, you’ll end up with the same plant eventually.