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Hydroponics Root Rot: What You Should Know

Hydroponics Root Rot

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Maintaining a hydroponics garden, while rewarding, comes with a few challenges. This includes the occurrence of hydroponics root rot that could eventually lead to plant death. If you are a grower, it is likely you will encounter this at least once in your life, so it’s important to understand how to prevent this condition at the onset. At the same time, it’s also practical to learn treatments for hydroponics root rot after it has begun affecting your plants. And while many people will recommend plant disposal right away, the case isn’t always the same. So the question now is, how can we treat hydroponics root rot? Is it even possible to salvage your plants?  

Hydroponics root rot is not always the end of your crops. In fact, there are still simple ways to cure your infected plants. But as always, preventive measures should be in place. This is crucial to understand its causes so that you can avoid this phenomenon from happening. 

In this article, we will share with you what hydroponics root rot is, how to diagnose if your crops are infected, and the tips on how to prevent and cure your plants. Also, we will provide additional tips on how to maintain a healthy hydroponics garden. 

What is Hydroponics Root Rot

When we talk about hydroponics root rot, it refers to a major threat to crops grown hydroponically. It generally speaks about the condition wherein the roots of your plants are damaged because of water overexposure. 

Mold, fungi, and bacteria could infect roots, especially in slightly wet conditions. These plants that are infected will have a hard time uptaking water and nutrients. Hence, leading to further damages and even death. This disease occurs mostly in indoor hydroponics gardens due to poor circulation. However, an outdoor setup is not 100% safe as well.

How to Diagnose Root Rot in Hydroponics 

Diagnosing root rot in hydroponics entails careful observation of your plants – from its leaves down to its roots. There are tell-tale signs that can help you identify if your crops are suffering from the disease, and you should be aware of these. Remember, time is significant when it comes to treating root rot. The earlier you diagnosed this, the better. 

First, see if the leaves are starting to turn yellow or are drying up. Unhealthy leaves generally indicate that the roots could be suffering from a disease. When you notice these, immediately check your roots. Infected roots are usually slimy, tangled, and are already turning dark brown.

Smelling the roots can also help you determine a root rot. If it produces a strange odor while showing the signs we mentioned above, then your plants could be suffering from the disease. 

Just a quick note. Roots may have slight discoloration due to nutrients, and it is considered natural. Thus, concluding that your plants are suffering from root rot because of discoloration alone should not be absolute.  

What Causes Hydroponic Root Rot

Generally, the common cause of root rot is poor circulation and lack of water movement. This decreases the oxygen level in your hydroponics system and could lead to plant death. Remember, like all living things; plants need to breathe as well. 

However, this is not the only cause of hydroponics root rot. In some cases, contaminated nutrient solutions or equipment, infected transplants, and pests could be contributing factors as well. And so before the disease becomes severe, we must put preventive measures in place. We will explain these measures further in the next section. 

How to Prevent Hydroponic Root Rot

Root rot care in hydroponics

As a generic rule of thumb, you have to maintain a healthy and clean hydroponics system. This promotes the proper flow of nutrients and oxygen for your roots. Just by doing so, you can prevent hydroponic root rot from infecting your plants. 

What we have below could serve as your checklist so that you can minimize or avoid the occurrence of root rot. 

Maintain a Clean Hydroponics System 

The importance of cleanliness in a hydroponics system couldn’t be stressed enough. It’s more than just organizing your tools and equipment or removing dead plants. You should also be able to decontaminate your system, sterilize your equipment, and ensure that there will be no breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Also, keep your nutrient solution secured as it should be free from toxic substances. 

Regularly Cut Your Roots  

Cut your roots regularly to allow oxygen and nutrient solutions to pass through the system smoothly. In some cases, large roots could block these essential requirements, and could negatively affect some of your crops.  

Avoid Warm Temperature 

Harmful bacteria can thrive in warmer conditions. It is where they could reproduce quickly. Having said that, it is crucial that you maintain the right temperature for your hydroponics system. Experts suggest keeping your temperature under 75 degrees Fahrenheit or around 24 degrees Celsius. 

If you live in warmer regions, ensure that you have proper ventilation. And for those who have outdoor hydroponics set up, place your reservoir in a shaded area. 

Choose the Right Pump 

Aeration is essential to a hydroponics system as this could increase oxygen levels which are beneficial to the roots. The easiest way to promote aeration is by using a reliable pump and adding air stones. 

Use Thick Materials For the Grow Bed 

Since bacteria love light, your roots must be protected from it. A simple solution is to use dark and thick materials for your grow bed. This could minimize the amount of light that reaches your roots. 

Maximize Beneficial Bacteria 

Simply add beneficial bacteria to the system to keep your plants healthy. This should make them less vulnerable to having diseases. The principle is synonymous with humans taking vitamins and necessary supplements. 

How to Cure Root Rot in Hydroponics

Disposing of your infected plant isn’t always the solution. Gauge first if your crops are worth saving. If there is only a small portion that is infected, then you can probably still save it. Generally, you can do the following to treat root rot in its early phase:

Stop Your Hydroponics System 

When you notice that your plants are suffering from root rot, you should turn off your hydroponics system immediately. As mentioned, contaminated water supply could also cause the disease. If you only remove the infected plants without stopping the source, other healthy crops might be infected sooner or later. So the best approach is to pause your system in the meantime. 

Wash and Trim the Roots 

There are two steps to cleaning your roots. The first one is that you have to wash it thoroughly with water to remove debris and other unnecessary substances. After this, you may gently cut the infected roots from the plant. 

Clean the Entire Hydroponics System 

Every corner of your hydroponics system should be cleaned. You can start with your reservoir by draining all the nutrient solution. The grow bed should be checked and cleaned as well. Make sure that no dead plants are lying around as this could also be the source of root rot. 

And once you have completed the steps above, you may now set up the hydroponics system once again. Don’t forget to follow the preventive measures shared in the previous section to avoid the disease. For plants that couldn’t be saved, we recommend using it as a compost instead of just throwing it away.


Hydroponics root rot could be prevented if you know the right techniques. And for crops that are already infected, there is no need to worry as there are solutions that could save them. 

Banking on the right knowledge about a hydroponics garden can substantially improve the quality of your system. And that is why we are leaving you with a couple of tips to wrap up this article. 

  • Since hydroponics rely on water supply, make sure that your pump is strong enough and is the perfect size for your system. Investing in a backup power station is also recommended just in case there will be power outages
  • If you have a large hydroponics system, it is better to use different nutrient reservoirs so that it will be easier to manage and treat your plants. With this approach, you do not have to stop the entire system in case of root rot

The Campbells love finding sustainable and fun ways to increase their independence from traditional brick and motor supermarkets. Aquaponics provides a full lifecycle food source for families and a great hobby. #aquaponicslifestyle

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