Pilea Peperomioides, fondly known as the Chinese money plant is one of the easiest to maintain houseplants, which explains why it’s preferred so much by gardeners all across the world. While it’s quite easy to care for plants, they can sometimes get root rot, which if left untreated, can kill them in no time. In this article, we will share the causes of root rot in pilea plants and what you can do to fix and prevent it in the future.
What Is Root Rot?
Root rot is a condition that attacks the root of plants growing in damp, wet, or soggy soil. Since it’s a decaying disease, it reduces the life span of a plant and can kill it within 10 days.
Causes Of Root Rot In Pilea Or Chinese Money Plant:
Overwatering is the main cause of root rot in trees and plants. Let’s give you a brief about the effects of overwatering on plants first. Plants do not just absorb water but also take in nutrients and oxygen from the roots. So when you overwater your plant, be it pilea or any other houseplant, you drown the roots, which makes them unable to absorb nutrients and oxygen. Due to the lack of oxygen, the roots decay and die and even spread their rot to the healthier roots.
Weak roots are way more susceptible to root rot than stronger roots. Soil fungus can be present in the soil for a long time, but they become active only when the soil becomes waterlogged. The dormant fungus or spores come back to life and start attacking the roots, which eventually leads to their death.
Signs Of Root Rot In Pilea Peperomioides Or Chinese Money Plant:
Since root rot occurs beneath the soil, it becomes difficult for plant parents to gauge the problem until it has advanced. Also, the signs and symptoms of root rots are quite similar to other problems faced by houseplants, such as pest infestation and branch dieback. So it can be quite tricky to ascertain the actual signs of root rot. Below we’ve listed a few signs that can help you diagnose the problem.
Yellow Or Droopy Leaves:
When the root dies, it becomes impossible for the plants to absorb the required nutrients. The nutrient deficiency is quite visible in foliage. The leaves start wiling and turning yellow. The blooming of new leaves is delayed and the leaves also start falling off prematurely. If the leaves have just started turning yellow and are showing no signs of wilting, you can fix the issue by adjusting the watering routine. Check for a few days how your pilea plant responds to it. However, if the wilting has started, you may have to take a few more steps to save your pilea plant.
Darks Spots And Mushy Stem:
Root rot also causes brown spots on the plants. Apart from the dark spots, root rot gives a mushy texture to the stem and form algae or mold on the surface of the soil. This happens when the roots are overly wet, which leads the soil to get inhabited by fungus. If not treated in time, root rot can destroy your plant in less than 10 days.
Pull out the plant from the pot and take a close look at the roots. If the roots look crumbly and mushy and give out a bad odor, it’s probably root rot. Healthy roots should be nice white in color and firm. But when the soil becomes soggy, the fungus that’s present in it multiplies and starts spreading. This turns the healthy roots brown and mushy, and eventually, they die.
When you are growing a plant, you need to monitor its growth as well. If your pilea isn’t growing as fast as it used to, you need to examine the roots of the plant. There could be some problem with the roots, or probably root rot.
How To Treat Root Rot In Pilea Peperomioides Or Chinese Money Plant?
If the reason behind the droopy and tired look of your pilea is indeed root rot, you need to fix the condition as soon as you can. Below mentioned are a few tips to save an overwatered pilea.
Examine The Roots:
This is the first step to fix root rot in your pilea plant. Loosen the soil using a shovel and remove the plant from the soil. Shake or remove the soil gently from the roots and inspect them closely. If the roots are indeed damaged and mushy, it’s root rot.
If the entire root system is badly affected, you can do nothing to save the plant. But if there are some healthy ones left, there’s still some hope. You can fix the plant by replanting it in well-drained soil and in a pot with drainage holes. We personally like this potting mix for pilea.
Put the roots of your plant under running water. This will wash away the roots and soil affected. You need to be very careful and gentle here as one mistake can cost you your whole plant.
Prune Or Discard The Damaged Roots:
Snipping is highly required because if you don’t remove the unhealthy ones, the fungus will spread to the healthy roots and will kill them, even if you change the soil. Cut off all the roots that look brown or black and are soft to touch. Note: always sterilize the tools before pruning the roots. You can sterilize the scissor with a solution of 3 parts water and 1-part bleach.
If your plant is heavily affected, you may have to cut off a huge chunk of the roots. After you’ve pruned the roots, dip the remaining healthy portion in a fungicide solution. This will kill all the remaining root-killing fungus.
Water The Plant Well:
Water your plant well enough from the top until you see water running out from the drainage hole. You need to do this 4 times to remove the excess salt present in the soil. If you notice the soil being soggy for more than a couple of minutes, you might have to repot your pilea. Dispose of the current soil and wash the pot thoroughly. We would suggest you sanitize it with a bleach solution for safety.
Repot Your Plant:
Now that you’ve sanitized the pot, it’s time to repot your pilea in a clean potting mix. Fill one-third of the plant with soil potting mix formulated for pilea. Any all-purpose potting mix or tropical soil mix would work well for your plant. Alternatively, you can make your own pilea potting mix using coco peat fiber or peat moss, soil, and a small portion of perlite. The ideal measurement should be 9 parts of soil and one part of perlite. This particular soil mix is excellent for drainage and soil aeration. You can even add 1 percent hydrogen peroxide to the soil to oxygenate the plant. Place the entire pilea plant in this pot and press the soil well around the pot so that no space is left.
Move Your Plant In The Shade:
This may sound a bit absurd since we have just asked you to water your plant. But moving to a darker spot will be a lot less stressful for your pilea plant. Yes, the plant won’t dry as fast as you would want, but that won’t have much effect on it. Just remember, do not overwater your plant.
How To Maintain Your Pilea Plant Or Chinese Money Plant To Prevent Root Rot?
Buy Pots With Drainage Hole:
This is an extremely important point, which many people, especially beginners tend to forget. If a pot doesn’t have drainage holes, there’s a cent perfect chance that it will suffer from waterlogging. When there’s no drainage hole, the excess water just sits inside, drowning the roots in the process. So pick pots with drainage holes for each and every houseplant, not just pilea.
2, Water Only When Your Plant Is Dry:
Pay attention to the watering routine and do not go overboard with it. Overwatering is as bad as under-watering. So water your plant only when the soil has dried completely. We would advise you to test the soil before watering your place. You can do this with a soil moisture meter. This device will tell you the exact level of moisture present in the soil. And never leave pilea standing in water. It will undo everything you’ve done for it.
You can consider watering your pilea with a lukewarm chamomile tree. Chamomile tea contains antibacterial and antifungal properties that will keep infections at bay.
Do Not Over-Fertilize Pilea Plant:
If you’ve repotted your pilea, do not fertilize it. Feed your plant only when it shows signs that it needs it and for that, you need to wait until it has completely recovered. if the leaves are turning lighter in color, it’s time to fertilize your pilea.
Root rot is one of the most serious things to happen to a plant, but it can be easily avoided by taking a few simple steps and by monitoring your plant closely. You can also treat it and save your plant if you act at the right time. Overwatering is one the most common causes of root rot in pilea plants. Once you’re able to fix that, you’ll be able to handle all other issues that are common with pilea peperomioides.
Aiza Siddiqui is one of the content providers in Gardener’s Toolbox. From a very young age, Aiza has been passionate about gardening, which explains her choice of major in studies. She holds a BSc Degree in Botany from the University of Calcutta. Aiza is a green thumb through and through and owns more than 100 different types of plants. Every article that she contributes to Gardener’s Toolbox is written by doing extensive research and from her own experience with planting and gardening. Hoping that you will find her articles on different houseplants helpful.