Root and Stem Rot Identification, Management, and Prevention


What Is Root and Stem Rot?

Identification. Root and stem rot are caused by fungi species including  Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Pythium.

How Do I Know If I Have Root and Stem Rot?

Damage.  There are several telltale signs that Root and Stem Rot may be infecting your plants.  Here’s what to look for.

Spots of various sizes and colors appearing on the stem near the soil and on the roots.

Decayed root tips.

Wilting and poor plant vigor.

How to Get Rid of Root and Stem Rot

Control. A commercial fungicide can be used as a preventative measure or as an eradicant depending on the product.  There are several chemical fungicides registered for controlling the fungi that cause some root and stem rot such as Subdue Maxx, which contains Mefenoxam, or Terrazole L Fungicide, which contains etridiazole.

Can I Get Rid of Root and Stem Rot Naturally?


Biological Agents. There are natural products on the market that contain biological agents that work to enhance a plant’s health to help resist infection.  These biological agents are also used to compete with plant pathogens. For example, Serenade contains a strain of bacillus subtilis, which is beneficial bacteria.



The following organisms are considered biological control agents for Pythium a common cause of root rot.

Organism: Bacillus subtilis

Product: , Serenade

Organism: Streptomyces griseovirdis

Product: Mycostop Biofungicide

Organism: Trichoderma harziamum

Product: Plantshield

Organism: Trichoderma virens

Product: Plantshield

Can I Prevent Root and Stem Rot?

Prevention. Using cultivars that are resistant to root and stem rot is probably the most effective management strategy.

Purchase only certified seed.  Don’t plant chipped, cracked, or discolored seed.

Poorly drained, clay, and compacted soils can predispose plants to root and stem rot.  Plant is well-drained, fertile soil or work to improve soil drainage and structure through tilling and introduction of organic compost.

Poorly drained soil can predispose plants to root and stem rot so make sure your soil is well-drained.

Space plants adequately to allow for good air circulation.

Do not overwater as this also predisposes plants to root and stem rot.

Take a soil test and add nutrients as necessary to discourage root and stem rot.

Disinfect garden tools.

Rotate crops every year.

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