Spider Plant Root Rot (Signs and How To Fix It)

  • By: Carl Adams
  • Time to read: 11 min.

For anyone that loves gardening and plants, it can be troubling when your plant starts showing signs of distress but you can not see anything wrong with it. The answer might be just below the surface, of the potting soil. Your plant may be experiencing root rot.

Root rot is a disease that spider plants can experience and it is typically caused by overwatering, poor drainage, or fungi. However, the good news is you might be able to save your plant. Let’s take a look.

Can a spider plant recover from root rot? Yes. It’s possible for a spider plant to recover from root rot. But this means that you should act quickly and remove the diseased roots, repotting your plant, avoid overwatering it, and provide the right growing environment for the plant to recover.

Signs Your Spider Plant Has Root Rot

How can you tell if your potted plant has root rot? Well, there are a few signs that you can watch out for and they include:

  • Foul order emanating from the roots. Once you move close to the plant’s pot, you might experience foul order that’s more likely to be coming from the roots. The best thing about this is that you will sense the smell before the leaves are affected.
  • Brown, mushy roots. It’s the biggest indicator that your spider plant has root rot. First, you will notice that your plant is generally weak and when you uproot it, you will find that its rooting system is brown and mushy.
  • Wilted leaves. This normally occurs due to inadequate water and nutrient supply.
  • Stagnant growth. If you have missed the other signs, go ahead and check why your plant isn’t growing and thriving. Root rot usually results in stunted growth as the plant isn’t receiving sufficient nutrients and water supply.
  • Blackspots. your plant’s leaves can have blackspots due to underlying diseases or overwatering.

Causes of Spider Plant Root Rot

There are multiple causes of spider plant root rot and they include:


It’s one of the major causes of root rot in most indoor plants. Overwatering normally prevents the whole plant from absorbing the essential nutrients. In case you don’t stop overwatering your plant, then it will eventually die.

Poor drainage system

If the plant’s pot has a poor drainage system, then this will result in clogging that will affect the soil’s composition and lead to rotting.

Poor growing medium

Root rot can also occur when the soil medium used is bad. Spider plants need quality and nutrient-rich soil that’s free of fungus and bacteria. Using garden soil, for instance, will create the perfect breeding grow for fungus, bugs, and mildew.

Watering during the dormant period

The dormant period is mainly the cold winter season where there’s usually minimal or no growth at all. At this point, your plant will still thrive if you don’t water it or supply it with vital minerals. Due to the minimal possibility of growth, watering your plant at this time will create a moist environment that’s the perfect breeding ground for fungus that causes root rot.

Infectious pathogens

Pathogenic infections can also result in this condition. This is because pathogens mostly develop when the soil is soggy and overwatered, creating the most ideal environment for fungal growth.

Extreme temperature

Extremely low or high temperatures will make this plant vulnerable. You should place your spider plant in a place with direct sunlight. Besides that, you shouldn’t place it in a place that’s completely shaded. Spider plants usually thrive in temperatures ranging between 15 and 25 degrees celsius. Check your plant’s position to ensure that it’s not close to sources of heat and vents.

Wrong pot size

This isn’t a pot-bound plant hence it’s impossible for it to thrive in just any type of pot. If the pot is too small or extremely large, then you are inviting root rot. A smaller pot, for instance, will limit the growth of the plant’s roots. On the other hand, a larger pot will mean that the roots will spread far away, leading to more water requirements. Note that this plant only needs a moderate water supply and excess supply will therefore lead to rotting.

Poor Ventilation

The spider plant, just like other plants, needs a good ventilation system. A poor ventilation system leaves the plant moist and susceptible to fungal infections. Your pot plant may end up suffering from suffocation.


Spider plant needs nutrients from fertilizer but overfertilizing it is dangerous since this is a type of plant that’s a light feeder. The excess nutrients will quickly lead to the accumulation of unwanted salts in the soil that will directly affect the roots of your plants. The roots will eventually end up becoming weaker, creating the perfect condition for root decay.

How to Treat Spider Plant Root Rot

If the root rot isn’t extensive, then you still have a chance to save your plant. there are various techniques that you can apply and the most common treatment options include:

Use a Good Soil Quality

One of the main causes of root rot is poor soil quality that doesn’t drain water effectively. Therefore, one of the top considerations that you should make after assessing the health of your plant is using the appropriate mix of soil. This will help your plant to quickly recover and start thriving again.

It’s always ideal to buy your soil from your local stores. This is because garden soil isn’t a great choice for growing indoor plants. This type of potting mix is usually susceptible to mildew and bugs.


This is the second most effective alternative that you should try out. If you are going to change the soil then it’s probably right if you consider repotting your plant as well. At this point, you should use a fresh potting mix that can help your plant thrive.

But what’s the best way to go about repot the plant?

  • Ensure that you have the right container, soil, and other essential equipment. The new growing medium for holding the soil should have enough drainage holes.
  • Remove the plant from its initial container by holding it from the leaves and stem.
  • Prune dead and healthy leaves as well as roots. These should be weaker and smaller roots otherwise you should leave thicker and healthy roots.
  • Ensure that the new container is clean and pour in a substantial amount of the potting mix. You can also make use of the old and new soil to create the perfect growing medium. The soil should be at least 7 inches deep in the new pot.
  • Firmly place your spider plant at the center and then secure it with more soil.
  • Don’t make the soil compact because the plant needs to breathe and take in nutrients.
  • Go ahead and moderately water the plan and watch it start to ooze with life again.

Wash the soil Off

If you detect the root rot earlier on, then you should consider washing off the soil. To do this, you have to uproot the plant and place it in a sink. Use water to remove some of the root sections that have been significantly damaged by the root rot. But when washing your plant with tap water, exercise caution. This is because an extremely high level of pressure might lead to more physical damage, especially on parts of the root that are still healthy.

Prune the Infected Roots

If after washing there will still be some rotten parts, then you can remove them yourself. Use a clean pair of shears to remove these damaged sections. Ensure that you only leave healthy roots since if there are still affected roots, then the whole plant will end up getting affected.

Treat the Root

Of course, you can use an organic fungicide solution to treat the root rot. This will help to disinfect the plant’s root section. If you don’t want to use a commercial product for fear of creating an environmental hazard, then you can still home-based products such as a solution containing activated charcoal and cinnamon.

Trim the Plant’s Foliage

In order to take into account, the spider plant’s root loss, go ahead and trim the foliage. This is because the remaining roots may not be capable of supporting the current state of plants with their foliage. The removal of excess foliage helps to reduce dependence.

How to Prevent Root Rot from Happening

Repeating the same initial mistakes will definitely lead to the reoccurrence of the problem. it’s important that you learn how to prevent root rot from happening if you want to remain with your plant. the best preventive techniques include:

Avoid Waterlogging

If you are going to water your plant frequently, then you will create soggy soil that will lead to the development of root rot. Soggy soil usually creates a frosty environment that encourages the growth of damaging fungus.

For effectiveness, create a watering schedule for your plant. this means that you only water your plant at specific times and only when necessary. Generally, you will water your plant more during the first few weeks after planting but the frequency should reduce as the plant grows. Besides that, you should avoid watering your spider plant during the dormant season. It’s not growing and so it doesn’t need water.

Know When to Water Your Plant

Like its stated above, the best time to water your plant regularly is during the summer season. The rate of evaporation is usually high and you, therefore, have to replenish the lost water regularly to minimize the chances of dehydration. However, you should not water your plant during the cold winter and dormant periods.

Regulate Humidity Levels

Growing spider plant indoor that you effectively manage its environment. To prevent the development of root rot, you must regulate the humidity levels. Take note that low humidity levels will inhibit the growth of this plant. it won’t sprout and neither will it flourish. Besides that, you ensure that you regularly water your plant during the hot summer months.

Moderate the Indoor Temperatures

While you are regulating the levels of humidity, you should consider monitoring the temperature as well. Spider plant doesn’t do well in extremely hot or cold conditions. The best temperature range is usually between 15 and 25 degrees celsius.

Consider the Lighting Conditions

If your plant can’t thrive due to poor lighting, then it might end developing conditions such as root rot. Lighting is a crucial aspect of all spider plant species. Direct sunlight is harmful and will burn the leaves. The perfect lighting condition is usually bright and indirect.

Consider the Type of Soil

You can do everything correctly but if the growing medium is still wrong, then your plant will still end up with root rot. Use the appropriate soil, especially that which is designed for potted plants. If you can’t get this, then prepare loose loamy soil from your garden.

Avoid Excess Application of Fertilizer

Spider plant doesn’t thrive when you apply excess fertilizer. In fact, the application of excess fertilizer can kill it. This is because the presence of excess nutrients creates a toxic environment. If you think that you have applied excess fertilizer then:

  • Use running water to flush the soil
  • Replace the potting mix with a new one
  • Don’t fertilize your plants if you suspect that they have root rot
  • Only fertilize the plants using a diluted solution
  • Always used organic fertilizers

Note: you should fertilizer your spider plant at most three times a year.

Prune Your Plant

Pruning is an important management technique that usually facilitates healthy growth. You don’t have to wait until you have over-fertilized your plant or over-watered it. Make it your goal to remove any foliage that’s damaged or has brown tips. When pruning:

  • Always use a sharp and sterilized pair of scissors
  • Snip at the tips and ensure that it’s at an angle
  • You can trim those plantlets that you are going to replant

Pests and diseases are some of the biggest contributors to root rot in addition to bacteria and fungi. So, if you want to prevent this condition, you should ensure that it is protected against any form of bacterial or fungal attack.

Protect Your Plant from Pests and Diseases

Constantly check the leaves and stems of your plants. If you notice that a leaf or stem is affected, you should remove it as soon as possible. you can use home-based techniques to protect your plant. for instance, neem oil is usually an effective remedy in deterring some pests. Besides that, there are also great insecticidal soaps that you can use.

spider plant roots

How to Protect Spider Plants from Root Rot

Spider plants are not susceptible to many diseases. So, root rot usually happens as a result of too much watering of the plants. Besides that, it could be as a result of growing the plant in soil that has poor drainage. So, the best course of action is to ensure that you grow them in well-draining soil and water them moderately.

Tips for Maintaining Health Spider Plant Roots

The best way to maintain healthy spider plant roots is by creating a sustainable environment. Some of the most effective tips include:

  • Avoid overwatering the plant
  • Ensure that you grow the spider plant in a pot with a good drainage system
  • Treat fungal and bacterial infections as soon as possible
  • Always remove the affected stems and branches
  • Prune your plant when necessary
  • Avoid overfertilizing your plant

Tips for Reviving a Dying Spider Plant

A spider plant could be dying not only as a result of root rot but other factors. Remember that this plant needs an optimal growing environment for it to thrive. If you notice that your plant is dying due to root rot and other related issues, then here are some of the tips that you can use to revive it:

  • If the cause of slow death is due to overwatering, then you must first remove it from the pot.
  • Analyze the condition of the roots. Healthy spider plants usually have white roots. So, if you notice that the roots are mushy and brown, then your plant definitely has root rot. In case the roots are still healthy and not discolored, then you just have to scale down on how you frequently water your plant.
  • However, if the damage is extensive, then you have to use a disinfectant to treat the roots. First, you must remove the rotten leaves. Thereafter, you can use a piece of cloth that’s soaked in alcoholic disinfectant to treat the cuts in order to prevent the risk of further infections. This will kill all the remaining pathogens that may affect the remaining healthy roots.
  • The remaining healthy roots should be washed with clean tap water in order to remove the lodged soil. The plant should then be repotted in a container with a fresh potting mix. It’s important that you avoid using the old soil since it might still contain the fungal infection that’s making your plant die a slow death,
  • Once you have successfully repotted it, keep the soil moist for the next one month or so. only water the plant moderately and when you feel that the soil is dry. Supply the leaves with mist to facilitate their recovery due to the shock that normally comes with translocation.
  • Avoid using fertilizer if you think that this is a contributing factor. You need to wait a couple of weeks until the plant fully recovers.
  • Meanwhile, you should monitor other aspects such as the soil’s drainage, humidity, and temperature. Besides that, you should also consider the lighting. All these are important aspects in ensuring that your plant comes back to life.


In conclusion, you must keep an eye on your plant and watch for signs of stress because when a spider plant has root rot you may not see any obvious signs on the surface.

You will need to remove your plant, cut away any damaged roots, wash them and shake or rinse away any remaining soil.

Give the plant’s roots some time to slightly dry and then place the plant in a new container with fresh, moist, potting soil. Do not water the plant straight away, give it a little time to adapt to its new container.

Ultimately your spider plant should pull through and be fine.

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