How To Tell If Your Tree Has Root Rot

The trees in your garden or house can suddenly appear unhealthy, without any physical sign of damage or disease infection. If you have carefully evaluated your plant and you can’t seem to identify any cause of the sudden change in appearance, the problem may be underground.

What is Root Rot?

Root rot is the decay of the root system of any plant. Root rot can, therefore, affect both indoor and outdoor plants and trees. When discovered early, the disease will not have adverse effects on your tree. However, because the disease is mostly underground, discovering it early may be problematic.

What is the Cause of Root Rot?

Root rot is caused by two main factors, poor soil drainage, which causes dampness in soil and fungal infections. Roots in a dump soil become extremely saturated, hence can no longer uptake oxygen from the soil. Poor drainage may result from highly compacted soil, which doesn’t permit water to seep through, away from your tree’s root system.

Fungi is naturally present in the soil in the form of fungal spores. When soil is dry, it keeps these spores dormant. However, in soil with enough nutrients and water, the previously dormant fungal spores begin to reproduce. The plant roots also provide extra nutrients for the spores to multiply.

Some of the fungi responsible for root rot include Phytophthora, Pythium, Armillaria and Rhizoctonia.

Symptoms of Root Rot

Trees with root rot are unable to absorb water, minerals and oxygen from the soil adequately. Thus, they will wilt and eventually die, especially during the drought season.

Other symptoms include:

  • Stunted growth
  • Brown and shrinking leaves
  • Smaller sized leaves
  • Decaying branches
  • Smaller canopy
  • Dark lines or bands on the trunk and branches
  • Darker sap

The fungal infections will initially develop at the extremities before spreading to other root parts. If the condition is ideal for reproduction of the fungal spores, the infection can spread and kill the tree within ten days.

Diagnosing Root Rot

Looking for root rot may prove daunting, especially if you are unaware of what to look out for. When you suspect that your trees are infested with root rot, the first step is to contact professional help for a more accurate diagnosis. A tree disease professional must dig out the soil around the root system, locating sections of the root that have been affected.

Can Your Tree Survive Root Rot?

Yes! A cure for root rot is possible, mostly if the infection is at its initial stages, and the decay is still minimal. On the other hand, curing root in large trees is impossible, because it will require uprooting a tree whose roots have undergone years of development and expansion. In this sense, it is easier to cure smaller trees compared to older and larger trees.

Treating Root Rot

Carefully dig around the smaller tree roots, removing as much soil from the intact root as possible. Pull out the tree from the soil and rinse off the root system with slow running water. Identify the affected parts and cut off those sections. You can treat the rest of the system with a fungicide to prevent any future root rot infections.

Re-plant the tree in a different area, where the soil is loose and has proper drainage. If you are unsure of the most appropriate location, tree services within your area will help you locate an ideal area in your garden.

It is also crucial that professionals handle the treatment process of your tree. Using the wrong type of chemicals will cause more severe damage to your tree. The specialist will identify the type of fungus, and use appropriate target fungicide to treat it.

In the case of larger trees, when the root rot is identified at its early stages, the specialist can make adjustments within the soil by digging around the root system, enhancing drainage in the area. However, if the damage is extensive, the tree will be cut down, and you will require to invest in a tree stump removal process.

Removing the tree completely using the tree stump removal process will prevent the infection from spreading to other trees in your garden.

The good news is that root rot is preventable. Always plant your trees in areas with a good soil structure and avoid over-watering your trees. When you suspect that your trees have an infection, contact a specialist to get the proper care for your trees.