Most gardeners have seen, at some point in their journey, root rot. What is it, what causes it, and what can be done?
Roots Require a few things to be healthy and to function properly. They require moisture, nutrients, and air. Proper aeration of the soil is essential to prevent waterlogging and suffocation. If roots remain stuck in heavy, wet soil for too long they can lose essential access to oxygen and begin to decay. This decay is what is commonly called root rot.
Prevention is the most effective way to combat root rot, although we will also cover measures that can be taken to try to save a plant with rot. The best way to prevent rot is the choose or create a soil mixture with proper aeration. Good houseplant soils will include a healthy amount of perlite, bark, coconut husk, horticultural charcoal, or pumice. It is ideal the choose a soil with more than one of these amendments. You can also add these elements to existing soil in order to improve aeration and drainage. Be sure to also place your plant in a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom.
If your plant does develop rot, the best thing to do is to first remove your plant from its pot and compost the soil, do not reuse it as the rot can spread to another plant. On the affected plant trim any rotted root. Roots that are soft, dark, or falling off should be removed.
If after this pruning you still have a significant root system, the plant can be re-potted in fresh soil. If the plant no longer has roots, or has very few, it can be placed into damp sphagnum moss, or in a glass of water, in order to regrow its roots.
Many of us know about terracotta pots. Whether we have many plants of out own or have never cared for a single houseplant, we have seen terracotta pots in homes, businesses, every garden centre, and even the dollar store. But why is terracotta so popular?
For many the answer may be as simple as accessibility. In addition to being easily found, terracotta is an incredibly affordable option. Many ceramic and decorative pots can cost anywhere from 10 to 50 dollars for a standard 8-inch pot; basic terracotta is usually just a few dollars.
Terracotta also affords your plants a happy home. I have rarely seen a terracotta pot without drainage and a matching saucer. In addition, the unglazed clay pots help to quick moisture away from the soil, allowing for good aeration and helping to prevent overwatering. Terracotta is naturally occurring, sustainable, and a perfect choice for indoor gardening.
While we often view terracotta as an orange-brown, simply pot, the material can actually vary in colour. The amount of iron in the clay, as well as the method used to fire the pottery can affect the final colour. Humans have been using terracotta, also known as earthenware, for numerous used since pre-history. From sculpture to architecture the clay was valued for its light-weight durability and availability. In terms of pottery, there are extensive traditions, across many cultures, including French Anduze Pottery, Italian Galestro Terra Cotta, and Greek Terra Cotta. The material’s widespread use as a planting medium demonstrates both its beauty and its practicality.