Prevent Root Rot in Deep Water Culture Hydroponic Systems

Healthy Plants Need Healthy Roots

Picture above supplied by Southside Garden Supply (SGS).

In an earlier blog, Parts of a Plant - Plant Roots, we learned that roots are one of the three major organs of plants and to have a healthy plant, you must have healthy roots.

Root rot can occur in any type of growing substrate: soil, coco, rockwool, etc., and in hydroponic systems, including Deep Water Culture (DWC) systems.

Root rot is caused by creating an environment around your roots that is conducive to bacteria, mold and fungus.  In soil and soilless substrates, over watering and poor drainage create this unfavorable environment around the roots. "Over watering" doesn't make sense in DWC systems, so in DWC systems, the unfavorable environment is often from poor aeration and water temperature that's too warm.

"..Root rot will occur when the plant has been continually over watered... when roots are cut off from their oxygen source the root suffocates and dies." said SGS on the matter. 

Fortunately, it's easy to confirm a root rot prognosis in DWC since you can simply lift your bucket lid and check out the roots.  If the roots are pearly white, you're good to grow!  If they are brown, slimy or gross looking, then you have root rot.

Root Rot in DWC

Roots are consistently submerged in water in a DWC system, but you don't want them to drown.  The parts of your DWC system that keeps them from drowning are the air pump, air lines and air stones.  Make sure you have adequate air pumps, air stones and air lines.  The more bubbles, the better!

Bacteria thrive in warm water.  Water temperature should be between 62-70 °F.  If your water is too warm, you won't be able to control root rot.  Keep an eye on your water temperature and consider a water chiller, although they can get pricey.

Preventing Root Rot in DWC

Maintain an attitude of prevention.  Although root rot can appear despite your best efforts, being mindful of preventing root rot will help dictate actions that will exponentially decrease the chances of it starting.

  • Always keep a clean environment.  Clean your grow room, grow tent or grow facility between each crop.  Products such as Selectrocide Chlorine Dioxide are safe and extremely effective at disinfecting and sanitizing your environment and is even certified for organic use by OMRI.
  • Use quality, hydroponic nutrients such as those from Hurricane Hydroponics and continuously monitor pH levels.
  • Use a hydroponics water treatment product such as White Squall, that will prevent and protect against algae, bacteria and other pathogens.
  • Periodically visually inspect your roots.
  • Do not let light penetrate to your roots - if your plant is supported by clay pebbles, make sure you have enough in the net pot to keep light out.
  • As previously mentioned, maintain correct water temperatures and plenty of air pumping in to your reservoir.
  • Regularly, about every two weeks, do a full reservoir water change.  Clean out any debris, including plant debris, that may fall into your reservoir while doing a water change.

Healthy Roots for a Healthy Plant

DWC is a great hydroponic system for beginners and experts.  As with most things, care and effort must be taken to get the results you want.

Healthy roots are critical to a healthy plant and if you want your plant to produce, careful attention must be paid to this vital organ.

MJ Richards Grow Supply is an online hydroponics and indoor grow supply store out of Tampa, Florida.  We have a great selection of products for your DWC system and many items ship free!

  • Aug 27, 2017
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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