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I just found out my plant has no Roots, now what?

OK, Don't Panic!

This is how to handle the root loss:

Go to your favorite greenhouse, to Home Depot, Lowes, etc and buy some Rooting Hormone. We have found that what brand you purchase hardly matters. Cut off all the "Bad" soft root material, leave any "Good" turbid (Stiff, not mushy) root material.

If you happen to follow our seed growing instructions, you should have some Captan around. If not any mild general fungicide will do.

Mix the fungicide and rooting hormone 50/50. Now wet the mix and make a paste. Smear the paste on the base of the plant.We personally apply with our hands so the entire root becomes covered.


Now that you have found the problem, we need to consider that this could be an issue in your whole collection. Let's sit down together and systemically look through the different issues that could have caused your problem.

1: take a look at the soil around where the plant base was. A magnifying glass might help here.

Your looking for these. Check out that picture then come back.

These are root mealy bugs. If you find these, you need to Follow Part A of these instructions. No organics, its this or the trash can. You must do this for all plants anywhere near the affected plant and preferably to the whole collection.

Not the issue?

2: Take a look at the potting mix itself. Do you use any bark? Has the bark started to decompose? Is the mix very heavy and compacted?

If so, you simply need to repot your plants! Get yourself a nice potting mix  and pot away. Go down to the last section of these instructions for how to handle any plants that have lost roots.


3: check the mix again, this time check the water content. When was the last time you watered? If it was a while ago is the mix still heavily water logged? If so you are overwatering. Clivia roots will burst like a baloon if given to much water. The answer to this is either to repot into a lighter potting mix or water less.

Not it?

4: Look carefully at the root loss. Is it the whole root ball that is gone or just the central roots. In a case of bad aeration the central roots will go and that points to #2 or #3. If its the whole root ball...That can be a fungal infection. Here is how to deal with one:


There are a few nasty fungi that can get into your mix. If you are using our growing method, then the Captan you have been using will have shielded your seedlings from some of them already. The 2 that are usually responsible for the biggest problem in clivia are:

  • Fusarium
  • Pythium

Both of these are handled in the same manner. And I am gioing to give you a few different methods to handle them. The first is how we handle them, however the substance we use isnt available in normal stores, you will need to find a nursery supply store to purchase it.

Choice A: Zerotol

Zerotol is basically Hydrogen Peroxide. It is mixed with other chemicals to make a safer, stronger, longer lasting agent. It is extremely broad based in its action and kills everything from the above to algaes and mildews. Since changing to this fungicide, we have had plants such as our Streptocarpus grow in leaps and bounds. Once mixed it has an EPA value of 0 meaning that it is just about the only chemical on the market that requires NO wait time after spraying to re-enter the garden. We love it.

Heres the issues with it. It cannot be shipped because its an oxidizer. Its a concentrate of 27% hydrogen Peroxide, so you have to be VERY CAREFUL when mixing it, wearing rubber gloves so you dont get skin burns. Its not overly cheap. Otherwise its awesome stuff.

Mix it per the instructions (Curative is 1 oz. per gallon, preventative is .5 oz. per gallon) put it in a sprayer and spray ALL your plants with it with the possible exception of your just sprouted seedlings. now spray through the soil mix making sure to go all around the pot, and continue until you see water dripping through. You may also prepare a soil drench or use a watering can, this is just how we tend to do it.

If you do this 2 weeks in a row, you should kill off all the real baddies in your soil and on your plants. Fusarium, Pythium, Rihzoctonia, Rust, you name it.

Choice B: OK, This is another chemical that will work on Fusarium and Pythium. We do NOT use this ourselves but they are known to work on these soil fungi:

Mancozeb (Protect T/O, Other brand names). If We had not found Zerotol this would have been my next choice for a wide spectrum fungicide. This has been around a long time. Dad has some negative feelings about mancozeb from the past, perhaps it stains plants, he cant remember. Its cheap, it does the job.

Choice C: Organic Choice

Trichoderma, AKA Rootshield

We did a 6 month trial with Rootshield and did not find it to be overly useful to us, however we are NOT growing just a few plants. Trichoderma has the coolness factor going for it. Here is what it is and how it works:

Trichoderma is another fungus like Pythium and Fusarium. It actually fills the same ecological niche as those 2 fungi! And its bigger, stronger, and faster growing (Mostly because when you dose it, your putting in a tremendous amount of spores into the ground, billions probably).

Its completely safe to humans, pets, and plants. Supposedly it even grows ON the roots protecting them from harm. Sounds great!

Heres my problem with it...once you use this biological method you cannot utilize ANY fungicide that kills the fusarium or pythium, so if you get another issue, say rust, you have to be extremely careful in what you pick to handle it. Supposedly even some insectcides can knock it out.

We could not afford to have our hands tied like that. Perhaps you will find the organic method to your choosing though