How to Save Your Haworthia From Root Rot (#5 is a MUST-DO)

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You love your Haworthia succulents, but something is wrong. They’re not looking as good as they used to. Their leaves are turning brown and falling off the plant.

Sound familiar?

It’s root rot! Your Haworthia has been infected with a fungus that causes its roots to decay and die, eventually killing the entire houseplant if left untreated. This fungal infection happens when there is too much water on the roots of your plants or if you keep them in too humid an environment for too long. I’ll show you how to save your succulent from this deadly condition using our tried-and-true methods in this article…

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How to save your haworthia from root rot with these seven easy steps!

  1. Watering – Let the soil be moist and allow it to dry out between watering sessions.
  2. Lighting – Use bright indirect lighting.
  3. Fertilizing – Feed them every month or when new shoots appear
  4. Temperature – Keep this within a range of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12 C).
  5. Well draining soil – make sure the soil has good drainage and aeration
  6. Watch for pests like aphids.
  7. Humidity – keep it low. 

How to save your haworthia from root rot

Can you save a plant from root rot?

Even though root rot is the worst to deal with, yes it is possible to save a plant from root rot, depending on how early you caught the rot.

Once your plants start to wilt, you’ll feel like you’ll have no choice but to throw them out, which makes for a lot of waste and heartache. But if there’s any chance they’re still salvageable – you’ll need to take action NOW.

PLANT TIP: I find that the best way to tell if plant roots are dead is to check the soil every time I water the plants as well as look for signs of a problem. 

How do you prevent root rot?

Haworthias are succulent plants native to the deserts of South Africa. They grow in clumps on rocky hillsides and require little care to thrive. But as these plants age, it becomes more difficult for them to retain water and nutrients. Eventually, this leads to death by root rot if not addressed quickly enough.

Related: Do House Plants Attract Bugs?

a close up picture of a healthy succulent from following directions written in the how to save your haworthia from root rot

Root rot is an insidious disease that starts from the roots and travels up into the trunk of your plant until it finally kills off all living tissue above ground level. The good news is there are ways you can prevent root rot before it happens! Follow these steps below to keep your Haworthia plant healthy.

  • Choose a pot with drainage holes in the bottom and use a thin layer of small pebbles as a bedding material beneath the soil that will help retain moisture.
  • Water sparingly, only when both the leaves are dry and no condensation is visible on the inside of the container or under its lid.
  • Use this secret tool to help water succulents #gamechanger
  • Move pots frequently if they become crowded or need more room (at least every other month).
  • Don’t let it become waterlogged by placing it in humid conditions on a windowsill or near an air conditioner vent.

How do I know if my succulent has root rot?

Your Haworthias are showing signs of succulent root rot – a condition in which the roots become waterlogged and cannot access enough moisture.

Signs on the leaves to look for include:

  • wilting leaves
  • leaves falling off
  • stunted growth
  • soggy soil
  • discolored foliage that turns from green to yellowish-brown. These plants can easily show dehydration symptoms because they don’t have access to adequate amounts of water due to poor drainage around them (or deep potting).

Related: Does Misting Plants Actually Help them {it’s not what you think}

To identify if your plant has been infected with root rot, take a look at the roots. You will likely find that they are either yellowish or brown and slimy in appearance. Brown spots on the soil surface can also indicate root rot as well as “corkscrew” shaped roots which is something to watch out for when growing Haworthias indoors, where there’s not much space to grow their roots.

To further inspect the roots, follow these steps.

  1. Dig down around the plant and remove it from its roots with a trowel or shovel.
  2. Shake off any dirt you see, then make note of what condition it is in
  3. Add a few drops of this fertilizer into the water to help revive your succulents

If any of these signs appear, chances are good that you have some form of root-rot issue present and should act quickly before it gets worse!

What are the causes of root rot?

Root rot is a deadly disease that can be caused by

  • Poor drainage of wet/damp soil (damages the “growing medium” (the space in the soil where the roots and stem grow).
  • Excess sitting water for an extended period of time
  • Other causes can also be insects such as the mealybug, eating at the roots, though this is much rarer to see.

Over exposure to excess water will cause the root cells to die and decay which then interferes with the aeration in the roots leading to low oxygen levels.

2 zebra succulents in one pot
Zebra Haworthia pot in the nursery house waiting for planting in the garden

Watering your plant with chlorinated or hard water will also lead to an outbreak as the chlorine and minerals in these types of waters can create a hostile environment for plants. Instead, I  recommend using distilled or filtered water.

To promote better drainage and discourage root rot, try changing the potting mix to this one. A high-quality potting soil with plenty of sand or perlite mixed into it is best for our plants as this will make sure they thrive in their new environment! But don’t worry if you want to keep things simple: a good old-fashioned mixture of peat moss and vermiculite works well too.

What happens if root rot is untreated?

If left untreated, a root rot will kill the rest of your haworthia plant. This infection starts from the roots and moves to stems and leaves; if it reaches your leaves they turn yellow in color! As time goes on this mushy leaf turns an unsalvageable pale or yellowish hue.

If you see any lower part of these plants that is turning white, then leave them alone-you’re just overwatering (though don’t over do it). However, if upper parts are changing hues to a darker shade like orange or red: beware! These could be symptoms of nutrient deficiency.

haworthia succulent wrapped in paper preparing to be gifted

Save your plants from further rot with these techniques! Depending on the signs, there are different steps to take. Knowing what stage of rot you’re dealing with is crucial for successful saving.

Related: Schultz Plant Food Plus Review (my secret to a thriving plant)

Steps to save your Haworthia from root rot

If your plant is exhibiting signs of root rot, the following steps can be taken:

  • You can give plants extra light by putting them near a window.
  • You should not water the plant when the soil is wet to touch.
  • If there are holes on the bottom of the pot, then you can drain water out of it.
    • This will help prevent root rot from happening in the future.
  • When planting new plants, remove old pots.
  • When you water the plant, make sure to use cold or room temperature water– not hot!
  • If the soil is dry and dusty then it needs more moisture.
  • Also, do not put your plants in an area where there’s a lot of sun exposure.
    • Plants need some shade as well for them to be healthy.
  • Fertilize the Haworthia with a diluted liquid fertilizer once a month in spring and summer, once every two months in the fall and winter, according to the instructions on the package.
    • Avoid fertilizing during periods of drought or stress – this may increase susceptibility to root rot!
  • When planting an Haworthia plant (or if it has already developed symptoms), do not place it into moist soil that is too damp; rather, allow for some drying time before placing them back into their pots so they are less likely to be exposed to fungal pathogens.
  • Clean the leaves with a gentle soap solution (I use diluted dishwashing liquid) then rinse off excess dirt with running water.
    • This will keep any fungal spores from spreading on leaf surfaces while also allowing time for plant wounds to heal before exposing them again.
  • Remove damaged or dead roots using clean sterilized pruning shears so as not to spread the infection further into healthy root zones.
    • Dry out the root ball after removing these rotten bits.
  • Reduce the humidity in your home by using fans or other appliances.
    • This will help discourage fungal growth, as well as promote faster healing of damaged roots and leaves.

Don’t ever plant an Haworti near another one that has been diagnosed as having root rot! In other words, if you have an Haworthia that has root rot symptoms and a new plant is going to be planted near it – don’t!

Can I save my Haworthia from root rot in the stems?

Yes, it’s possible to save Haworthias from root rot in the stems, but the chances are slim. Several steps can be taken at this stage. Urgency is important, however. Once root rot has affected the stem, the infection is advanced and much more difficult to treat. While difficult to treat, it is not impossible to save.

a close up of haworthia succulents with brown tips

Some techniques include:

  • Cutting the infected stem off with sterilized pruning shears
  • Allow the rest of the plant to dry for a few hours (avoiding sunlight)
  • Repot the plant without using any material from the contaminated soil
  • Place the Haworthia in a dry well-lit location
  • Water plant lightly one week after repotting with this watering bottle

What happens if the Haworthia stem rot continues?

  • If stem root continues to grow, the Haworthia succulent may need some help – use sterilized pruning shears and make an incision in the root area of your plant.
  • Try not to let any water pool on top of the leaf as it can lead to moldy succulent growth.
  • If the plant has a lot of stem root rot, it is better to discard or give away the plant and start over with new succulents because there are usually not enough roots left on the stems for them to grow back properly.

Final thoughts on how to save your haworthia from root rot

Haworthia are beautiful succulents and it’s important to take care of them. If you notice signs that your hawthorn may have root rot, there is a way to save them!

The first step would be taking the affected plant out of its pot or container and checking for any discoloration in the roots around the soil line.

succulents placed in a glass terrarium

You should also check for other symptoms including wilting leaves on one side of the leaf stem (on top), yellowing foliage, dead plants with no new growth emerging from their center, shriveled stems or spindly limbs.

After identifying what type of root rot infection your plant has, follow these steps:

  • Remove the soil from around the roots and give them a thorough rinse with cool water.
  • Plant your Haworthia in a clean potting mix or new pebbles, making sure to use fresh potting soil instead of using topsoil from where it was growing previously.
  • If you are planting back into an old container, dump out any aged material that’s inside so there is no chance of transferring root rot spores back to your plant
  • Be careful not to overwater plants by providing adequate drainage holes in containers and make sure they have sufficient air circulation– moisture can lead to fungal growth which will only worsen root rot symptoms

Be aware also of other factors like over-fertilizing (too much nitrogen in the form of nitrates or ammonia can lead to root rot).

Related: How to Clean Water Spots off Plant Leaves {my secret weapon}