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Root Root: How to fix/prevent it


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#1
Original Past

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A very common setback in growing is root rot. Luckily, this is very easy to fix/prevent, and can be done so for nearly free, or very inexpensively. This is something you can fix on your own without any fancy products that your local hydro store will try to sell you. Knowledge is the key here, not a magical product. If you take 10 minutes to read this, you'll know how to prevent root rot for the rest of your life.

You can defeat/prevent root rot with one single nutrient, oxygen. Here's how:

How to identify root rot
Root rot can be easily identified by the dark looking and slimy feeling root system. Because most of us see the plant are above the root zone, you'll notice an overall unhealthy look about your plant, first. The leaves will start wilting (soggy looking), and start developing dry, brown blotchy spots. The overall look of your plant is looking unhealthy, it's a good idea to look at your roots. If your roots look brown/slimy, then you have root rot. Left untreated, your plant will eventually die. Although it can happen in any medium or soil, it's quite common in hydroponic systems.

It's very common for new growers to experience root rot, until they learn how to properly configure their root zone, so don't feel bad. If you catch it in the early stages, it's an easy warning from your plant that it isn't getting all it's needs met. Luckily, it's easy to fix.

What is root rot?
Pythium, AKA root rot, is a living organism (generally considered a parasite) that will thrive in a moist, low oxygen area, where there's plenty of food. Pythium will feed off the micro/macro nutrients that your plant uses, and the necrotic material of dead roots. An improperly configured plant root zone is ideal for them, because it provides everything Pythium needs to thrive.

Prevention
Since we know what Pythium need to thrive, it's as simple as neglecting it, to prevent it. Since Pythium and our plants both need moisture and food to survive, we can't really deny wither of these requirements or we'll kill both the Pythium and our plants. The key nutrient here is oxygen. Out plants can't get enough, and it's toxic to Pythium. All you need to do is provide ample amounts of oxygen to the root zone, and root rot will be a thing of the past!

It's simple in theory, and practice.

How to maximize the oxygen in your root zone:
This sounds scientific, and it is. Luckily, we can control it in a non scientific manner.

Water (H2O) is made of two hydrogen, and one oxygen molecule. In between these particles are all kinds of other things that get trapped (mixed) into the water. Nutrients and gasses for instance. Like everything in the universe, water is full of energy and vibrate at a higher rate when warm, and a slower rate when cold.

Why is this important? The warmer the water, the faster the molecules vibrate, and the trapped gas particles are freed from the water. The colder the water, the slower the molecules move, and the more gas is trapped in the water. This is easily demonstrated by opening a cold soda and a warm soda. Which one will "go flat" first? The warm one will go flat first because it quickly releases the CO2 from the solution. The colder soda will take longer to go flat because the CO2 gas is "trapped" in the solution of water. It hasn't worked its way out into the atmosphere yet.

Based on this theory, the colder the water, the more oxygen it can hold. The warmer the water, the less oxygen it can hold. Note: The more dissolved oxygen your water can hold, the higher the pH!

The first two tips apply mainly to Deep Water Culture systems (DWC)

Pro Tip #1: Water temperature is key! 65-70 degrees F is the best range for our plants. 68 is ideal.

In a DWC hydroponic system, where roots are submerged in the water 24/7, maintaining proper temperature is necessary. If you grow in soil, Hempy buckets, or flood/drain systems, nutrient temperature isn't as critical, because the roots will get oxygen from the atmosphere when the root zone dries out. If you can't control your DWC nutrient temps., DWC isn't for you. Flood and drain systems will work even when nuts get warm!

Pro Tip #2: Agitate your water, and break up the surface tension so it can absorb more dissolved oxygen. Air pumps and airstones are a great way to do this. You want at least 1 watt of air pump power per gallon of nutrient solution. 2 watts per gallon is better! Adding more airstones isn't helpful, adding more watts (bigger pump) is the key. Waterfalls are a great way to mix oxygen into the water. If you can design a system that allows water to fall into the reservoir, it will be beneficial. Blowing a fan over the surface of a reservoir will cause ripples and increase surface area to increase oxygen absorption.

Pro Tip #3: Let your medium dry out between feedings. I can't state this enough. Regardless of your medium, let it dry out before watering/feeding again. This will expose the roots to oxygen it needs. Ideally, you should only water your medium enough that it will be dry within 24 hours. Coco coir may stay moist for longer, which is fine, but let it dry out between feedings. If you're using a flood/drain system with hydroton, you'll need to water every couple hours or so, but LET YOUR MEDIUM DRY OUT between feedings.

Pro Tip #4: Only water with the lights on. Because photosynthesis only happens during the day, the roots aren't using up the water in the root zone like it does at night. This will cause any moisture to remain, and become stagnant.

Pro Tip 5: Keep your roots dark. Algae will grow in the same conditions as Pythium, however some types will thrive in the oxygenated water, too. Algae could coat your roots and prevent them from absorbing nutrients, much like root rot. Because of this, be sure to keep your root zone dark. Even small light leaks could provide enough light for photosynthesis to occur in algae. So keep the light out, too. People will argue that roots can grow in light, which is true, but algae does too.

If you already have Pythium, and need to fix it:
If you already have root rot, you simply follow all the above tips. In addition, you can remove the slimy roots, let your roots air out for 15-20 minutes, drain and clean your reservoir, fill with fresh nutrients. Repeat this every day, dor a couple days until new root growth has begun, and the old slimy stuff is gone! If you had brown leaves, they won't get better, but your new growth should look healthy.

That's all. No fancy products are required. No hydrogen peroxide, or bottles of magic solutions. The nutrient manufacturers would love to sell you hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to supplement 24/7, but all you need is an air pump, or to water less frequently.

If you have any questions, I'd be glad to answer.
  • GrowDiver likes this

#2
Not Sure

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Thanks for this, I grow in soil but you just convinced me to go back to aerating my tap water before using it, instead of just letting it sit out. I get stem rot on my clones (root riot cubes, dry out daily) and I can't figure out why, maybe this will help.

#3
mjmama25

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I use camo pots/smart pots and never ever have a problem with root rot. There're no more expensive than a regular plastic pot and it saves me a lot of time worrying about all this shit you just mentioned. No fancy products or time consuming methods needed.

#4
Original Past

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Thanks for this, I grow in soil but you just convinced me to go back to aerating my tap water before using it, instead of just letting it sit out. I get stem rot on my clones (root riot cubes, dry out daily) and I can't figure out why, maybe this will help.


Perhaps if you let it stay dry longer, the roots will have more time to breathe. What are your temps like?

I use camo pots/smart pots and never ever have a problem with root rot. There're no more expensive than a regular plastic pot and it saves me a lot of time worrying about all this shit you just mentioned. No fancy products or time consuming methods needed.


Camo pots/smartpots/rootpots, in my experience, have always worked great for me. Simple is better. What medium are you using?

#5
Picks

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Great thread. I'm the same as the previous poster. Fox farm+smart pots = no worries

#6
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Perhaps if you let it stay dry longer, the roots will have more time to breathe. What are your temps like?


76-80f in my veg closet. I stuck properly cut, skinned, and dipped shoots in root riot cubes, starter trays on top of my CFL array because it was warm, and they would dry out in a day (cubes were dry when pulled out). So I watered them once per day, leaving no standing water. After 3 weeks the shoots pulled right out of the cubes, brown shit covering the bottom 1/4" that I skinned.

I'm perplexed because I've gotten 100% with this method and this strain in the past.

I will try aerating my water, I already use Clonex gel, and I might give superthrive another shot. I also added a few cfls to my clone shelf so maybe that will help them develop roots before rot sets in? I used to clone with ambient veg light because I noticed that the more ight they get, the faster they die so I gave them nothing extra.

I feel that I'm out of balance with my plants :( I think that I need to deliver the right amount of heat and light to my trays, maybe I just need to play a bit... :bongin:

#7
mjmama25

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Camo pots/smartpots/rootpots, in my experience, have always worked great for me. Simple is better. What medium are you using?

I use Masters Pride organic soil. Love the stuff. $30 for 4 big bags and it performed better than Fox Farms for me last year.

#8
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76-80f in my veg closet. I stuck properly cut, skinned, and dipped shoots in root riot cubes, starter trays on top of my CFL array because it was warm, and they would dry out in a day (cubes were dry when pulled out). So I watered them once per day, leaving no standing water. After 3 weeks the shoots pulled right out of the cubes, brown shit covering the bottom 1/4" that I skinned.

I'm perplexed because I've gotten 100% with this method and this strain in the past.

I will try aerating my water, I already use Clonex gel, and I might give superthrive another shot. I also added a few cfls to my clone shelf so maybe that will help them develop roots before rot sets in? I used to clone with ambient veg light because I noticed that the more ight they get, the faster they die so I gave them nothing extra.

I feel that I'm out of balance with my plants :( I think that I need to deliver the right amount of heat and light to my trays, maybe I just need to play a bit... :bongin:


Hey brother, sounds to me like you're trying to do too much for your clones! Over the years, the very best method I've used is also one of the most simple. I built a bubble cloner, which is nothing more than a bucket with holes in the lid, and an airpump. You can use Clonex if you have it. I use some cheap cloning hormone from the local garden shop, but I've had equal success with nothing but bubbly water. You can use tap water, or pH your clean water to 5.8-6. Technically, pH is that important until your plants get roots, and have to uptake nutrients. I would stay away from adding things, because then you don't know which is the culprit, if it fails.

I've had nearly 100% success since I started using a bubble cloner. The few failed clones were my fault, or cut bad. Since I have a 15 plant limit, I cut 6, start rooting them, and pick the 4 strongest to flower. So if one or two ever fail, I'm still good to go.

Try a bubble cloner, let me know how it works for you. You'll know it's working if your new cuttings aren't too droopy within the first hour of placing them in the bucket.

#9
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I use Masters Pride organic soil. Love the stuff. $30 for 4 big bags and it performed better than Fox Farms for me last year.


I haven't used Master's Pride yet. I'll give it a try next time I buy a pre-built soil. I've been pretty stoked on hydro for a while now. No pests is pretty hard to give up!

#10
BlueOregon

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Great tips Original! Come back to me CGE thread!! ;) I'm experiencing yellowing in my CGE. I suspected it may be root rot, but I checked and my roots are white and crisp. I don't want to hijack this thread and would like to continue the conversation on the CGE thread. Much appreciated!

#11
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Hey BlueOregon!

I don't get notifications from this forum, like I should.. So sorry I've missed out! I've been busy building my CGE! I'll go look for it and help you troubleshoot there!

#12
WhiteRooster

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Sensizym!!!!

#13
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Hydrozyme! I've had bad batches of Sensizym and the shelf life doesn't seem very long.

#14
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I think it's better to prevent the problem in the first place, by growing correctly.

#15
LucidMobbins

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Great post. I am setting up a water farm 8 pack right now. I have added a disk air stone under each of the 8 plant sites. Do you feel this will do enough for me? Should I think about a res cooler as well? I really don't have a option but to have my res in the tent. The tent has a temp of 76F with lights on and 66F with lights off. I am a little worried about the res sitting in a 76F tent for 18 hours during veg, but much less worried when the lights switch to 12/12 as I think it would take a while for the water temp to rise after sitting at 66F all night. I don't know how to suggest this really, but I feel this should be a sticky! Thanks for the great post. It was very informative.

#16
dawill1967

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Tag so I can find this...

#17
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Great post. I am setting up a water farm 8 pack right now. I have added a disk air stone under each of the 8 plant sites. Do you feel this will do enough for me? Should I think about a res cooler as well? I really don't have a option but to have my res in the tent. The tent has a temp of 76F with lights on and 66F with lights off. I am a little worried about the res sitting in a 76F tent for 18 hours during veg, but much less worried when the lights switch to 12/12 as I think it would take a while for the water temp to rise after sitting at 66F all night. I don't know how to suggest this really, but I feel this should be a sticky! Thanks for the great post. It was very informative.


Sorry for the late reply on this, I've been busy, and haven't had any activity on the forums in some time.

I'm glad you like the post. If you have an airstone in each plant site, that's great. You still want about 1-2 watts of air pump power per gallon of nutrients at the plant site (1 min., 2 is better!).

Those temps should work well for you. If you keep your res covered, it should stay pretty cool. You can insulate it, if you need to. That might help, but you'll have to experiment with that.

#18
BigbudGbud2ubud

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I have been growing in DWC for a quite a few years and for some reason, I am having awful trouble with pythium root rot.

I grow in individual 20 gallon totes & 15 gallon buckets per plant. I don't circulate from bucket to bucket.

I have had good success over the years but have ran into a stumbling block with many plants just getting this disease all of the sudden.

I have air pumps up the ying yang & use them bubbling the water to the point that the roots grow like crazy, but now all the sudden it seems I'm growing slime too no matter how much I clean & flush many plants won't shake this pyth.

Maybe I'm psycho all the sudden because I'm over paranoid but I doubt it. I'm gonna wash & disinfect everything you can shake a stick at & scrap about 15 plants some of which are in the 3rd week of flowering.

I know, sounds expensive and a dissaster because IT IS! I have about 15 nice big plants in veg with nice white roots & I'm gonna start over with healthy plants.

Thanks for the tips & I too don't really think I need to go out & buy 50 bucks worth of H2o2 or 200 bucks worth of Hygrozyme!

I think I can grow big & healthy plant with the preventative measure prescribed in this thread & get back to normal healthy roots.

I watch water temps like a hawk,,change the water real regular. Keep PH at proper levels, I like to keep things real clean but man,,this pythium is a killer strain or something and I'm not gonna wait around and roll dice with diseased plants if I don't have to.

peace

#19
mowjoe

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those camo pots sound really great, where do you get them in usa? How do you give someone + rep? thanks

#20
matty5931

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130613_228.jpg 130613_228.jpg so that was some really good info. i love it!!! one thing i'm confused about, do you suggest not watering/feeding at night even in an ebb & flow system? because i had figured that it was my nute temp. causing the rot but now i'm guessing i don't have enough air going in and need to maybe stop feeding at night. i water every 4 hours for 12 min i've got a 30 gallon res with 25 gallon of nute solution in it feeding 8 flowering pl130613_228_001.jpg 130618_239_001.jpg ants band the other feeding 18 veg plants, only 1 4-port air pump w/ 2 air stones per res. i'll try and put a pic or 2 here also. oh ya i'm also using hydro peroxide too. my nutes are botanicare's grow and bloom w/cal/mag plus, and liquid karma additives. any other suggestions would be welcome and thank you ahead of time for your help. 

 




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