Majesty Palm Root Rot (Signs, Causes and Solutions)

Majesty palm root rot is a serious problem that can take down this beautiful indoor plant.

And it all begins with overwatering.

Unfortunately, once root rot starts, it will keep spreading.

By then, your best defense is to detect the problem as early as possible and treat it.

Majesty palm root rot is often caused by overwatering or waterlogging. This damages the roots via suffocation or allows fungal disease to develop.

As a result, healthy, white roots turn brown and mushy. And the only way to save a majesty palm with root rot is to prune the rotten roots, treat it with fungicide and repot the plant.

Signs of Majesty Palm Root Rot

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves are a common sign of overwatering which happens to be the main cause of root rot.

Note that just because your majesty palm has yellow leaves does not mean it has root rot. However, a majesty palm with root rot will have yellow leaves.

In fact, yellow leaves can occur a few other majesty palm problems.

So, you’ll need to combine it with other symptoms to confirm the presence of root rot.

That said, yellow leaves happen as the plant struggles to get enough water and nutrients from the soil. As a result, the leaves turn yellow.

 

Brown Leaves

Brown leaves will come after yellow leaves. When browning occurs, it tells you that you have a more serious problem in your hands.

That’s because brown leaves are a sign of lack of water.

And since overwatering is usually the cause of root rot, the only explanation here is that roots are now dying such that there’s fewer healthy roots able to absorb water from the soil.

As a result, the leaves are not getting enough moisture as they normally did and need.

After a while, more and more leaves turn brown as the lack of moisture increases. And they brown leaves will die.

 

Stunted Growth

Due to the lack of water and nutrients caused by rotting roots, your majesty palm’s growth will be affected.

This means growth will slow as it won’t be able to get enough sustenance to maintain proper development.

As more roots die then rot, growth will stop altogether.

 

Bad Smell from the Soil Surface

Unfortunately, if you smell stench coming from the surface of the soil, this is a bad sign.

After roots die, they rot. And the decaying root matter will stink just as all rotting things do.

While the stronger smell will come once you’ve unpotted the plant, you’ll likely get a whiff of the foul odor from the surface of the soil as well.

The worse the root rot is, the stronger the bad smell will be.

 

Dark, Mushy Roots

Majesty palm root rot is confirmed by how the roots look.

Healthy roots are white in color and have an earthy smell to them. On the other hand, rotten roots stink and they are brown or black in color.

Roots that have rotted are also mushy and soft to the touch.

As such, when you see the darker roots, it is confirmation that your majesty palm has root rot.

 

Soft, Weak Trunk

A later stage sign of root rot is a soft, weak trunk.

This is a really bad sign and even worse than just seeing some rotten roots.

Why?

It means the root rot is already serious and it is spreading upwards. In this case, it is now affecting the trunk which causes the trunk to become soggy and mushy.

 

How to Save Majesty Palm from Root Rot

Majesty palm root rot is a serious problem that requires immediate attention.

And once you’ve confirmed the presence of root rot, the next step is to treat the plant and try to save it.

Root rot will spread. And it does so at a fast rate.

So, therefore, the ability to save the plant and revive it all depends on how early you spot the problem and how soon you can address it.

Below, I’ll take you through the steps on how to save a majesty palm with root rot.

 

Stop Watering

The first thing you need to do is stop watering the plant.

In almost all cases, root rot is a result of overwatering. Therefore, the plant at its current state already has had too much moisture for a while now.

While not watering temporarily will not save it from root rot, it does help it from worsening the situation.

A drier majesty palm also has a better chance of recovering.

 

Unpot the Plant

If you have not done so, it is time to take the plant out of the pot.

This will allow you to see all the roots clearly. And in doing so, get a better assessment of the root system’s condition.

In general, the more rotten roots there are, the harder saving the plant will be.

The worst case scenario is if all the roots are rotten or almost all of them have rotted.

On the other hand, if there is root rot, the best case scenario is that only a few strands of roots have rotten.

The less rotten roots there are, the better your chances of saving your majesty palm.

 

Remove the Soil from the Root System

In most cases, you’ll see quite a few particles or chunks of soil stick to the root system.

Part of your goal is to rinse all the wet soil from the roots. This will give them some reprieve from the condition they’ve been in.

Additionally, it lets you clearly see all the roots.

Since you do not want to damage, tear or break any of the healthy roots, rinse them with water to make it easier to remove the soil.

Don’t worry if you break the rotten roots. Those are useless at this point anyway.

You can place the roots in a sink, tub, container, basin or gently spray with a garden hose to make it easier to remove the particles or chunks of soil.

 

Prune the Rotten Roots

Once you’ve taken out all the soil and can see all the roots, it is time to definitively differentiate healthy and rotten roots.

Healthy roots are colored white. They are firm when you touch them yet very pliable.

On the other hand, rotten roots are brown or black in color. They’ll stick and feel mushy as well. This makes them easy to break or tear. Again, that’s okay if they do because they don’t work anymore.

Keep in mind that rotten roots will never heal or recover. And they will keep spreading.

So, the best thing to do is prune them.

Sterilize a pair of pruning shears or scissors.

Then start cutting the rotten roots. Avoid snipping off the healthy roots. You want to preserve as many healthy roots as possible.

In contrast, you want to remove all the roots that have rotted.

 

Treat the Healthy Roots

After pruning the damaged and rotten roots, the next step is to treat the healthy roots with fungicide solution or hydrogen peroxide solution.

This is a very important step unless you’re very sure that the root rot was not caused by pathogens.

While overwatering is the main cause of root rot.

The excess water kills the roots in one of two ways.

One is by suffocation when there’s too much liquid. This will push out all the oxygen from the air pockets between the soil particles.

As a result, the roots will suffocate.

If this persists and excess liquid does not drain or dry soon enough, the roots eventually die from suffocation. After a while, they’ll rot.

The other way is when the roots do not die from suffocation.

Instead, the wet conditions promote microorganism growth. Among them are different kinds of fungi. And some varieties of fungal infection will eat through the roots killing them.

This also leads to root rot.

In the case of the latter, it is essential to sterilize the root system to ensure no remnants of the fungal root rot is left before you repot your majesty palm.

Otherwise, the fungal disease will resurface later on and you’ll end up with the same problem. By then, you’re dealing with a smaller, weaker majesty palm that will be harder to save.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to treat the remaining healthy roots with fungicide solution. You can use hydrogen peroxide solution as well.

Be thorough to make sure all the nooks and crannies are covered.

After that, let the roots dry on top of several newspapers. This will take a few hours.

 

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Disinfect the Root System and Pot

Besides sterilizing the root system, you also need to do the same for the pot.

Again, the fear here is that the pot may still be harboring some of the pathogens.

If this is the case, any new plant you put in that pot will also suffer the same fate later on as the fungal root rot will resurface.

So, it is important to sterilize the pot.

You can do so using the hydrogen peroxide solution or a light bleach solution.

I like to just submerge the pot in the solution for 5-10 minutes. Then let it dry under the sun.

Some gardeners will scrub the pot with soap and water then apply the solution. This works just as well. Although, it does require more effort on your part.

 

Discard the Soil

The last part in the sterilization process is the soil.

Because soil takes a bit more effort to sterilize, it is often better and more practical to just throw the used potting mix away.

Never reuse the soil unless you’ve sterilized it. Otherwise, it can infect the next plant and cause root rot there as well.

 

Repot the Majesty Palm

The last part in saving a majesty palm with root rot is repotting.

Once the roots have dried from soaking in the solution, it is ready to be repotting.

Before you do, select the right kind of pot.

Make sure you use a right sized pot. This will avoid overcrowding and overwatering.

The simplest way is to choose a container that is 2-3 inches wider than the root system of the majesty palm.

Since you’ve pruned part of the roots, you’ll likely need a smaller pot compared to the previous one.

Make sure the new pot has drainage holes at the bottom as well.

Besides the container, you’ll also need to prepare freshy, dry potting mix.

Choose one that is well-draining and loose. This will allow excess moisture to drain to avoid waterlogging and overwatering.

Then repot the plant in the new pot with fresh, dry, well-draining soil.

 

Adjust Your Watering Schedule

Since overwatering is the most common reason for majesty palm root rot, make sure to modify your watering routine.

The best way to avoid overwatering your majesty palm is to always check the soil before adding water.

Only water the plant if the top 3 inches of soil has dried. Never water before then.

Following this simple guideline while using well-draining soil and a pot with sufficient drainage will let you avoid waterlogging and overwatering.

In doing so, you avoid root rot as well.

 

Propagate Your Majesty Palm

Sadly, the steps above do not always guarantee that you’ll save your majesty palm from root rot. Sometimes, after repotting, the plant will keep deteriorating.

Other times, if too many of the roots have rotted, the remaining healthy roots just won’t be enough to support and save the plant.

As such, in these situations, the best course of action is to propagate your majesty palm.

This way, even if you lose the mother plant, you’ll have a new, smaller palm that will grow into a clone of the parent.

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