The fungus-like organism called Pythium, or better known to growers as “Root Rot,” is one of the most common problems faced by hydroponic growers. If left unchecked for long enough, Pythium can be disastrous for any garden. Here's what you need to know to avoid and cure Root Rot.

Types of Pythium:
  • Pythium Irregulare
  • Pythium Aphanidermatum
  • Pythium Ultimum (More common in soil)

Pythium Irregulare and Aphanidermatum are most common in hydroponic systems and can cause serious damage, particularly in ebb and flow systems. Pythium Ultimum, which is more commonly seen in soil plants, is generally not an issue for hydroponic growers using soil-less mediums.

Symptoms of Pythium:
  • Yellowing of plants
  • Plant’s growth has stunted
  • Root tips have turned brown or gray
  • “Sliming off,” roots lose rigidity and can fall off

How to Prevent Pythium:
  • If you use untreated water or well water, have it tested for microbes.
  • Make sure you are keeping your system clean: remove dead plant matter from your system and clean out your nutrient reservoir.
  • Thoroughly clean your systems in-between crops using a cleaning agent or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Keep plant matter out of your reservoir. Use drain screens.
  • Make sure your reservoirs are covered.
  • Try to avoid transplanting from soil into a hydroponic system. Any dirt within the roots can be a haven for pathogens. Try soil-less mediums for seed starting or even using a cloning machine!
  • If necessary, use an enzyme product to assist in the elimination of dead matter in your reservoir.

What to do to cure Pythium:
If  you're in the middle of a grow and you notice root rot, brace yourself. It's very tough to cure. Best results have been achieved by adding hydrogen peroxide and/or beneficial enzymes to your feeding program.

If that does not work, you will need to remove and dispose of all affected plants. Do not compost these plants, as the Pythium microbes will continue to live in the roots of the now-dead plants. After removing the infected plants,
 treat your entire grow system with a cleaning agent or hydrogen peroxide and dispose of all contaminated water.

Want to learn more? Check out the other topics in the GYOstuff Learning Center.

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