What Are The Symptoms Of Root Rot In Trees?

May 30, 2024

Root rot is a disease that affects trees in wet soil, causing their roots to decay. This disease can kill almost any tree or plant. So, what are the symptoms of root rot in trees? They are similar to any other plant issues.

Therefore, it can be hard to determine whether your trees have root rot. For a thorough diagnosis, you can seek professional tree health assessment services.

What Causes Root Rot in Trees?

Root rot is mainly the result of poorly drained or overwatered soils. These soggy conditions prevent roots from getting the oxygen they need, causing them to die and decay. Even if the soil dries out, the rot can spread to healthy roots.

Weakened roots are also more vulnerable to soil fungi, which is another cause of root rot. These fungi can lie dormant in the soil for a long time and become active when the soil gets waterlogged, attacking and killing the roots.

Common fungi that cause root rot in wet conditions include Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, and Fusarium. Another damaging fungus is Armillaria, or shoestring rot, which harms hardwoods and conifers.

Signs of Root Rot in Trees

Root rot symptoms can look like pest problems, making it hard to diagnose. The symptoms are easier to notice above ground:

  • Gradual or sudden decline without a clear reason
  • Stunted or poor growth
  • Small, pale leaves
  • Wilted, yellow, or brown leaves
  • Branch dieback
  • Thinning canopy
  • In some species, the fungus spreads from the roots to the inner bark, causing sunken dead areas called cankers.

Root Rot Symptoms on Leaves

Yellow leaves and slow growth are early signs of root rot in indoor plants. When the roots are unhealthy, the plant can’t absorb enough nutrients and water. As a result, the leaves turn yellow and wilt, and the plant’s growth slows down.

Can a Tree with Root Rot be Saved?

Treating root rot usually involves removing the entire tree, including the stump and roots. Sometimes, if only a small part of the root system is affected, you might be able to remove just the damaged area. This is more likely to work for younger trees than for older, established ones.

Prevention is very important. Don’t pile too much soil or mulch against the tree trunk, as this can trap moisture and encourage the growth of fungi. Sometimes, changing the landscape to improve drainage can help prevent root rot. Avoid injuring the roots and be careful when mowing, as damaged roots are more prone to infection.

Root Rot Disease Control

Preventing tree root diseases is the best approach. When planting new trees, choose disease-resistant types, plant in well-drained soil, and avoid overwatering. Creating irrigation moats can help keep water from collecting around tree trunks.
Using chemicals like chloropicrin or methyl bromide can help reduce the infection but won’t cure it completely. These fumigants are applied around the base of the infected trees or in holes left after the trees have been removed.

Final Thoughts

Root rot will eventually kill a tree and can quickly spread to nearby trees and shrubs. Therefore, learning “What are the symptoms of root rot in trees?” can help you catch the disease early on. So, you can call an arborist on time.

Wish to learn more about tree diseases, prevention, and treatment? Contact our certified arborists at ArborCraft Tree Service. Our skilled team has the right training, tools, and know-how to tackle any tree problem. Dial (480) 999-0575 to reach out.

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