How To Prevent Root Rot In Hydroponics

by RightFit Gardens | Last Updated: July 29, 2021

As our plants ceased to grow, drooped, and shriveled, we wondered what causes root rot in hydroponics. “Why do our hydroponic plants die?” Overnutrition, too much light, or bad seeds were all thought to be the problem. There was, however, a deeper problem at hand. Making sure that there is plenty of air and monitoring your water levels will not be enough since, at this stage, something else will likely be happening.

Despite the simplicity of hydroponics, if you’re not aware of the problems that can arise, you may experience problems. Today, we’ll talk about root rot, how it affects your plants, and how to detect and prevent it.

Root Rot in Hydroponics: What Does It Look Like?

root rot prevention in hydroponicsSoft, slimy and brown roots are the most common symptoms of root rot. If you notice a small number of roots compared to the entire plant, root rot is also preventing growth with the infected roots. You’ll notice that your plant’s foliage is discolored, wilted or stunted at the top.

Firm and white roots indicate good healthy roots. There should be many branches, and it should look full and dense.

Common Causes of Root Rot in Hydroponics

Three things are necessary for healthy plants roots to survive – nutrients, oxygen, and water. If you are not careful in a hydroponic system, your plants can easily drown in the hydroponic nutrient solution. To avoid completely submerging plants, hydro growers use growing mediums. Pythium infection has also been linked to low dissolved oxygen levels in hydroponics.

The Kratky Method requires a pocket of air to allow roots to breathe out of the water in your container. Plants with plotted roots will become droopy and die quickly if they are overwatered and exposed to extreme temperatures. This is a common practice and often the number one reason for the death of a potted plant. Stay away from the watering bucket if you have an indoor setup!

Pathogens and Disease in Plants

As an oxygen-rich environment, hydroponics provides a favorable breeding ground for pests. An ecosystem can be protected from pests by predators or changing conditions in a natural environment. Despite the diverse conditions in which they can survive, all of these germs flourish in humid, warm, stagnant environments.

The most damaging one is phytophthora, which is Greek for “plant destroyer.” The mold can be airborne or carried in by bugs that come into the house by touching the water on the outside. Mold will eventually coat your plants’ roots as it incubates in your solution, preventing them from absorbing any nutrients or water resulting in nutrient deficiency. There will be a quick death for your plants afterward.

That can be a major issue for hydroponic growers. Kratky’s passive method allows the roots of plants to sit in stagnant, warm reservoir water, creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Regularly clean and sanitize your hydroponic system. Floors, shelves, and general areas are included here as well. Your growing area will stay cleaner if you keep it clean. Bacteria, bugs, mold, and fungus cannot live there. Most people eat the plants they grow, so you don’t want to eat those things.

Ensure that your nutrient solution is replaced regularly. Use hydrogen peroxide, bleach, a root treatment, or PHYSAN 20 to sanitize the nutrient reservoir during the replacement. Besides serving as a root protector, beneficial root bacteria also inhibit the growth of fungi.

A simple resolving method is to drain the container, fill it up with enough 3% hydrogen peroxide so that most, but not all, of the plant roots are covered. The peroxide must be discarded after 24 hours, and you must add the nutrient solution.

When handling hydrogen peroxide, wear gloves. This will cause light chemical burns. We recommend washing with plenty of soap and cool water if you manage to get it on yourself like us.

You can sterilize hydroponic systems by using PHYSAN 20, another type of disinfectant that is effective against harmful bacteria, fungus, mold, and algae. You can use it to clean tools, benches, planters trays, fresh soil, organic matter and contaminated pots. The chemical kills the bad bacteria but not the plants, so it is excellent for controlling the growth of bacteria and fungi on seeds and seedlings. If you have algae problems, this is the best preventative measure.

Using the Kratky method, however, you should be able to get two to three full-grown heads of lettuce per batch of nutrients. When lettuce is ready to be planted, it’s usually timed after it has germinated in a separate tray for several weeks.

A Tupperware container works well for us. We used the cracked lid to germinate instead of throwing it away. Most people like to keep their lettuce container closed to increase humidity, but lettuce germinates easily, and we like keeping air flowing around it to prevent mold, mildew, and fungus.

Root rot: Does the plant recover?

Plants that show visible injury to roots are often beyond repair. It is unlikely that the foliage will ever grow back even after the plant survives. To replace the discolored, brown leaves, your plant must grow new and healthy leaves. You should generally trash a diseased plant to prevent the disease development from spreading to other healthy plants. It is possible to cure root rot if you notice it early, even if the damage has already been done.

Firstly, carry out an inspection of plant roots. If they’re all mushy and brown, you probably have dead roots. It is possible to resurrect the plant if it has white and healthier roots.

The roots are often affected by root rot, beginning at the extremities and moving upwards, so you may see some brown and some white in the roots. The roots of the plant should be able to handle a gentle rinsing after you remove the slime. As a result of root rot, the discolored roots become very weak, and many may fall off. You should not do this procedure unless you can see healthy, white roots that can handle the rinse.

Drain nutrient hydroponic solutions showing signs of root rot and replace them with 3% hydrogen peroxide. To disinfect the container, soak the roots for 12-24 hours. Root systems can tolerate a sterile environment, but unwanted pathogens cannot.

Physan 20 Concentrate is another treatment for root rot you can use. As a fungicide, virucide, and disinfectant, PHYSAN 20 neutralizes most forms of bacteria from a solution or plant surface. It acts as a disinfectant. This is available online and at hydroponics stores nearby.

If you have a hydroponic setup, root rot can ruin it. When it comes to root rot, the right preventive measures, careful attention and knowledge can make it manageable. You will improve your hydroponic system a lot by adding an air bubbler that will oxygenate your system. They can be used with all kinds of systems, including Kratky, under certain circumstances.

Related FAQs

What are the potential risks?

Transplants that are infected with pests, diseases and pathogens are being brought into the garden.

What is the ideal water temperature for hydroponics systems?

Keep your hydroponic reservoir under 75 degrees to help prevent root rot in your garden.

What are the best methods to prevent pathogens from getting into your garden?

Keep dead plant matter like dead leaves and debris cleaned up around your garden.

What are the symptoms of root rot?

You will see symptoms such as curling leaves, slow growth, or there is yellowing in the leaves. The most common causes of root rot are poor circulation and lack of water movement.

Why is root rot hard to detect?

One of the reasons that make root rotting hard to detect is because it can affect a lot of plants at the same time. The main cause for root rot is insufficient oxygen levels that can affect root system development.

What are the risks of Pythium and Phytophthora?

Nutrient solutions which are too warm provide the best conditions for molds to grow, and they will rapidly infect all your system.

What are the benefits of inoculants?

One other type of compound that can be added is microbial inoculant mixtures. These help with new growth in the rooting system and aid in eradicating diseases.