Peace Lily Root Rot – All You Need To Know

If the leaves of your peace lily start to yellow and wilt, you might suspect root rot. To make sure, you can check the roots to see if they are rotting. If they are, you will need to clean them off and repot your plant in fresh soil.

Keep reading to learn what root rot is, how to treat a peace lily with root rot, and how to avoid your peace lily getting root rot in the future.

What Is Root Rot?

Root rot is what the name implies: a fungus that targets the roots of a plant and causes them to rot. Since the roots are under the soil, you won’t be aware that it’s there until it has advanced to the point of showing symptoms such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, or even an unpleasant smell.

Root rot happens when the soil is too dense for water to drain correctly or the pot doesn’t have sufficient drainage. Lack of drainage doesn’t apply only to potted plants, though. Overwatering a garden creates the perfect environment for fungus to grow and attack your plant’s roots.

Are Peace Lilies Susceptible To Root Rot?

Peace lilies are susceptible to root rot, so it’s important to let them dry out between watering and picking a container and soil that allows for proper drainage. A peace lily will let you know if you need to water it from the noticeable droop in its leaves and blooms. Unless you are sure your peace lily needs water, you should refrain from watering.

How Can You Tell If Your Peace Lily Suffers From Root Rot

It can be challenging to tell if a peace lily has root rot because most of the damage is under the soil at the roots.

Early signs of root rot include:

  • Soft stems near the base
  • Wilting and drooping
  • Yellowing of the leaves near the base

As the disease progresses, you might notice:

  • Unpleasent odor from rotting plant material
  • Besides yellowing, the leaves develop brown spots
  • Affected leaves will spread from the bottom to the top of the plant

To finally determine for sure whether your plant suffers from root rot, remove it from its pot. If you find weak, mushy, and dark roots, you will know for sure.

If you have determined your peace lily suffers from root rot, you will need to work fast to save your plant.

How To Treat Your Peace Lily If It Suffers From Root Rot

There is a chance that you will be able to repot your peace lily and save it from further damage from root rot. Remember that the fungus causing root rot can spread rapidly, so you will need to isolate the plant with the infection to prevent your other plants from catching the disease.

To repot a peace lily with root rot:

  1. Gently remove the peace lily from the pot.
  2. Clean the roots under running water. Ensure that you are being gentle since the roots will be weak from the fungus.
  3. Remove any roots that have root rot. You should be able to identify which roots have root rot because they will be brown and mushy to the touch. Some may fall off while washing the roots. Use shears or garden scissors for any of the rotting roots that are more difficult to remove.
  4. Consider whether you should remove some of the leaves. Depending on how many roots you need to remove, your peace lily may not be able to bring enough nutrients to the plant at its current size now that some of its roots are gone.
  5. Plunge the leftover roots in an antifungal solution. You will want to make sure none of the other roots will get infected.
  6. Get the pot ready. If you want to use the same pot as before, make sure you wash it thoroughly and disinfect it with bleach and water. Any fungi or bacteria still on the pot could cause infection in your peace lily again.
  7. Choose the right soil for drainage. Your peace lily might have gotten root rot because there wasn’t enough drainage, so picking the right soil could be the best way to prevent root rot from coming back.
  8. Place the root ball in the pot. Try to place the roots around the same depth as before so the plant can regrow its root system to what it had before the root rot.
  9. Add the potting soil around the peace lily and gently tap the soil with your fingers to settle it. Be sure not to pack the soil in too much, or there won’t be enough space to let water drain or get air to the roots.
  10. Give your peace lily a little water to help the soil settle around the roots. Be very careful not to overwater your peace lily from the very beginning. Only give it enough water to dampen the soil.

Your peace lily will need some time to recover and adjust from the repotting. It may wilt a bit for the first few days but have patience, and it should recover.

How To Avoid Root Rot In The Future

The best way to deal with root rot is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you’re already dealing with a peace lily with root rot, you will probably want to do everything you can to keep it from happening again.

Avoid Overwatering

Overwatering and waterlogging the soil is usually the cause of root rot. It creates the moist environment that the fungi thrive in.

The best way to keep root rot from getting at your peace lily is to avoid waterlogging by:

  • Always check before you water. Stick your finger into the soil down to your second knuckle. If the soil is moist, then you don’t need to water it.
  • Get soil with better drainage. Changing your soil to something light with coarse particles to leave gaps will help the excess water drain.
  • Get a pot with holes in the bottom. Changing your pot to one with holes and a drainage plate will allow water to drain properly.

Loosen Up The Soil

You may find that your soil isn’t draining the way it should because the soil isn’t loose enough. Getting air to the roots is essential for preventing root rot and keeping your peace lily healthy. Try grabbing some chopsticks and poking holes in the soil to let in some air. Just make sure to disinfect them first, so you don’t contaminate your soil.

Turn The Planter

If you have your peace lily next to a window to get sunlight, they will only get light from one side, which could cause part of the soil to dry out quickly while the opposite side takes much longer to dry. Rotating your planter once in a while allows the entire plant to get sunlight and grow evenly.

More On Root Rot

Kaylee Ellen made a great and thorough video on root rot. I recommend you check it out!

Final Words

Root rot is a complex disease to treat once it infects a plant because you only see symptoms of it once the roots have already rotted. Therefore, it’s essential to act fast when you first notice the telltale signs.

Wash the roots and replant the peace lily in fresh soil to save the plant from the fungus.

Unfortunately, there will be times when the peace lily’s root system is too damaged for you to save it, and you will need to get rid of the plant entirely and the soil it was in.

But, hopefully, you acted in time. Otherwise, get yourself a new peace lily, and follow the tips outlined above to avoid root rot going forward.

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Alexander Verdes
Just a stay-at-home dad who loves taking care of my home, my kids, and my plants. Actually, I kind of consider my plants to be my babies too, so I could just say that I love to take care of my home and my kids :-)

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