How Do You Treat Peace Lily Root Rot?

Root rot is a disease affecting the roots of a plant. Peace lilies are quite dramatic when it comes to water requirements and if you don’t get that right, the plant can easily get root rot. But how can you identify peace lily root rot and treat it successfully?

To treat peace lily root rot, trim off the affected roots, and wash away all the soil from the roots. Get rid of the fungus-infected soil and sterilize the planter. Repot the peace lily and water it lightly to avoid waterlogging. You can also use hydrogen peroxide sprays on the soil to kill the root rot fungus.

The peace lily plant is also known as the closet plant, snow flower or the white sails, is an evergreen perennial plant that belongs to the Spathiphyllum genus, Araceae family.

About Peace Lily Root Rot

Naturally, peace lilies grow and thrive in well-drained rainforest soils with sufficient nutrients from decayed matter. As a houseplant, it flourishes under the same conditions provided there’s indirect sunlight and regular watering.

However, Spathiphyllums are also quite prone to root rot disease if not well taken care of. As the name suggests, root rot disease is the decay of plant roots growing in wet and damp areas. If not treated early enough, root rot can cause drying up and death of a plant.

What causes root rot in peace lilies?

How to treat peace lily root rot

There are two significant causes of root rot disease:

  • Overwatered, poorly drained soils: Waterlogged soil makes it impossible for your peace lily to absorb enough oxygen, leading to the death of some roots.
  • The presence of fungus in the soil: Mostly, the fungus is usually present in the soil but remains dormant only to thrive in wet and damp soil. The fungus comes to life in waterlogged soil, thus affecting the roots and causing them to them to decay and die.

Some of the fungi species that flourish in damp soils and cause root rot in plants such as peace lilies are Fusarium, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and Phytophthora.

Note that when the infected roots start to decay, the disease spreads to the healthier roots and soon after, you’ll start seeing signs and symptoms on the plant’s foliage and general health.

Signs your peace lily has root rot

Before concluding that your Spathiphyllum is dying from root rot disease, you might want to remove it from the pot and examine the roots first to determine if they’re the cause of leaf discoloration and the constant droopiness.

Here are the signs of root rot in a peace lily plant:

Weak and mushy roots

The first sign of root rot you’ll notice is that the roots will become weak, poorly developed, and mushy. But how do you identify this problem in the first place?

Remove the peace lily from the potting mix in order to examine the roots. Observe for unusual color changes as well as strength.

Pro tip: A plant suffering from root rot will have mushy roots that are evidently weakened. Some may fall off or peel when you hold them with your hand.

The affected roots may look like their normal color (black) just like healthy ones, but if you check closely, they will start to look as though they’re turning grey and frail.

Wilting and drooping

If the soil is moist, the plant is green, well-watered, and still appears wilted or droopy all the time, then this is the earliest sign of root rot caused by overwatering.

If your peace lily is droopy and the soil is dry, then it is highly likely the problem is under-watering and not root rot. In this case, proper watering can revive the peace lily.

Yellow falling leaves

Yellowing, in most cases, can be as a result of exposure to direct sunlight. However, if the plant gets indirect sunlight, then yellowing and falling of leaves could most likely be caused by root rot.

Stunted growth

If your peace lily is unable to absorb the nutrients it needs due to root decay, then deficiency of the plant’s foliage becomes evident. Slow growth in indoor plants may be caused by only  few healthy roots being functional.

Brown leaves

Browning of leaves in peace lilies indicates that there is a possibility of overwatering. Check for improper water levels. If the soil is dry, especially near the base of the roots, then water the plant. If the soil is wet, then that is a sign of root rot disease.

You might want to drain the planter and even consider repotting to treat the problem.

Can a peace lily plant recover from root rot?

Your peace lily plant has high chances of recovering from root rot you identify the signs early enough.With proper treatment such as cutting off the affected roots, and treating with a fungicide, you’ll be able to revive the plant and get rid of root rot disease and its possible causes.

Although it is possible for the plant to recover, the signs of a healthy peace lily may take a few days or even weeks to show. This happens because the treatment procedure may end up shocking the plant as well.

How to Treat Peace Lily Root Rot

There are three ways to treat a peace lily plant from root rot disease. One is to remove all the damaged roots and sterilize the remaining healthy roots, then replanting . The second way is using hydrogen peroxide to water the base of the plant to kill the fungus. The third one is repotting with fresh potting soil.

Repotting peace lily plant

Treating root rot as soon as the signs flare up when there are still healthy, firm, and white roots give it the best chance to survive. Replanting is one of the most effective methods of treating root rot in peace lily plants.

Here’s how to repot your peace lily and get rid of root rot:

  1. Remove the plant from the soil.
  2. Wash away soil and the affected roots under running water.
  3. Trim the remaining part of the affected brown roots using scissors or shears.
  4. Sterilize the shears or the scissors using an alcohol-based solution
  5. Prune 1/3 of the leaves to quicken the regrowth of roots as they will not have to support many leaves.
  6. Dispose of the soil in the plant’s pot.
  7. Wash the pot in a bleaching solution.
  8. Dip the remaining healthy roots in a fungicide solution to kill off the remaining root rot fungus.
  9. Add the potting mix and repot the peace lily plant.  

Do not use fertilizers immediately after repotting, as this will stress the already strained roots. Also, ensure you always water the plant when the topsoil dries to the touch. This process will stop the spread of root rot and revive the dying peace lily.

Hydrogen peroxide treatment

Hydrogen peroxide is  a good treatment for root rot in many plants. It works by killing unwanted fungi or bacteria. The extra oxygen molecule in hydrogen peroxide boosts the growth of healthy roots.

Here’s how to use hydrogen peroxide to get rid of peace lily root rot:

  1. Prepare a mixture using the 3% solution in a ratio of one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to one cup of water in a spray bottle.
  2. Water at the base of the plants using a watering can and avoid wetting the leaves.
  3. If covering a larger area, the 35% hydrogen peroxide will be more economical to use in a ratio of one part hydrogen peroxide to ten parts of water.

Prevention

The best and the most effective root rot remedy for peace lily houseplant is prevention. Prevent root rot by planting peace lily houseplants in loamy, well-drained soil or potting mixture rich in organic matter.

If you’ve grown your peace lily in a garden, enrich the soil with decayed organic matter to facilitate adequate drainage. If the drainage cannot be improved, consider using raised beds with well-draining soil.

If you’re growing your houseplants in a pot, use a potting mixture that’s rich in organic matter. Use a mix of peat-based soil containing sand that will retain moisture and nutrients while the roots have access to plenty of oxygen.

Make sure the peace lily’s pot has holes at the base to facilitate drainage. Above all, observe a proper watering routine.

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