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Root Rot: How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Root Rot in Sage Plants

Sage showing the first possible signs of root rot

Root rot typically happens when sage plants become waterlogged. Caused by a fungus, root rot is a common problem with sage plants. If it looks like your sage plant is dying, root rot is likely the cause.

What does root rot look like?

One of the first signs of root rot is wilting leaves. The leaves will often droop, curl, and turn yellow or a paler shade of green. As the roots succumb to the disease, the plants start to die and the leaves are unable to get enough nitrogen, causing them to wilt. If you suspect root rot, carefully dig up a small section of dirt to expose the roots and take a look. Roots affected by root rot will turn dark brown as they die.

What causes root rot?

Overwatering, or leaving standing water under the plant—especially in warm weather—is usually the culprit. Weeks of heavy rain without time for the soil to dry out can also cause root rot. In either case, the water weakens the plant and allows the fungus to develop.

How can you control and treat root rot?

Root rot can kill a plant in less than two weeks. The rot can also spread to neighboring plants. So, it’s a good idea to check on your plants frequently so you can spot trouble early and step in before it’s too late.

  • If your plant shows signs of root rot but some roots are still white and healthy, try removing the affected roots, snipping them off with sharp, sterilized scissors just above the affected area and replanting the remaining healthy plant in a different location (or a clean pot with new soil and drainage). Be sure to re-sterilize the scissors afterward.
  • Some gardeners also have success treating the roots with hydrogen peroxide or fungicide.
  • If all the roots have been affected with root rot, your only recourse is to remove the plant and affected soil and start over with a new sage plant.

How can you prevent root rot?

Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can take measures to prevent root rot in the first place:

  • Plant in an area with good drainage and plenty of sunshine.
  • Avoid overwatering. Do not let water pool beneath the plant.
  • Work plenty of compost and organic matter into your soil before planting so that the plant’s root system has a better chance to grow strong and deep.

Do your sage plants suffer root rot? Do you have any great tips about how to avoid root rot? Please tell us how you deal with root rot in your garden.


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