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Root Rots

This summer many trees have been coming into the Plant Clinic with what is most likely an underlying root rot problem. Typically, trees or shrubs seem to decline and/or die in a very short period of time. Plants are infected with a root rotting organism often the previous summer or in the concurrent spring. The plant looks fine until an environmental problem causes a crisis for the plant and it quickly collapses. One characteristic that typlifies root rots is that all of the plant is affected, not just a branch or two. When a plant’s roots are compromised, there is little if anything a gardener can do other than remove the plant from the landscape. Depending on which fungi are involved, there may be few chemical options available for homeowners. If the plant in question still has green under the bark when it is scratched, there is always hope but if the plant is brown under the bark, it might be time to plan for a replacement.

Written by Ken Wells, New Hanover County Consumer Horticulture Agent