Water is absolutely essential to all plant life. It’s the main liquid that’s also used in hydroponics, the art of growing plants without soil. However, when it comes to the common problem of root rot, too much of a good thing quickly becomes a bad thing leading to the question: How to get rid of root rot from hydroponics?
If you don’t treat root rot, it will kill your hydroponic crop of plants. When root rot normally occurs in soil, gardeners are unaware of it until it has advanced much too far.
As a hydroponic gardener, you have the advantage of being able to see your plants’ roots much easier in the water containers. That way, you can catch it early enough to treat it and save the life of your plants.
Identifying Root Rot
So, what does root rot look like? This is a condition where pathogens attack the plant’s root system. These pathogens start at the end of the root and work their way up into the plant itself. Root rot can also come from air pumps that aren’t able to force enough air. High temperatures play a factor, too.
Normal roots in hydroponic plants are a white creamy color, soft in texture, and have a hairy-looking appearance. When afflicted with root rot, these same plant roots start to turn slimy, with a mushy texture. Their color will become either a yellowish or brown. You can also notice a very distinctive rotting odor coming from the roots, which normally have a healthier smell.
The rest of the plant will start to look sick with leaves that turn yellow. The plant will also stunt its growth and not be anywhere near as full and lush as it should be. That’s because the root rot prevents your plant from taking in oxygen or other nutrients through the roots.
When it’s worth it to save your plants, then you should definitely try to put in the effort to do so.
How to Get Rid of Root Rot
Now that you know how to identify root rot and have hopefully caught it early, there are steps you can take the fix the problem. Set aside some time to make sure you complete all the steps thoroughly.
The first step is to completely and fully shut down your entire hydroponic system. Take the plant entirely out of the system. Check nearby plants around it to make sure this is the only one with root rot.
Carefully clean the roots under clean, clear running water. With a clean pair of scissors, cut away any dead roots and those infected with the rot. You can tell because of the slimy texture and odor. If it’s a large plant, try pruning it to remove some extra leaves and not tax the plant as much with having to support all of its parts. Carefully dry the roots with a paper towel and set the plant aside for the moment.
Return to your reservoir and completely drain the nutrient solution. Is your hydroponic system a single- or a multi-plant system? If it is the former, you would probably want to take the whole thing apart and sterilize each part. That will help get rid of the pathogens. For multi plant systems, just apply a cleaning solution that won’t affect the rest of the garden.
Time to put the entire hydroponic system back together, along with the freshly washed and trimmed plant. Add a fresh batch of your nutrient solution; some good bacteria to help provide extra nutrients to the roots and clean the water can be added.
Check back on the newly trimmed plant each day to make sure the roots are growing back strong and healthy. If so, then you have successfully fixed the root rot on this plant. If not, then remove the plant completely from the hydroponic system. Try to clean it again.
Keeping Root Rot from Your Plants
Preventing root rot is something you, as the hydroponic gardener can do. Check your plants’ roots frequently. You can do other things, like providing fresh nutrient solution, having beneficial bacteria in the solution, and making sure there’s both plenty of air flow and the proper temperatures that your garden needs.
When the problem goes on too long, you probably won’t be able to save the plant. But catch it in time, take the necessary steps to fix it, and you can restore your hydroponic garden plants back to life.