Root Rot Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Root rot is a disease that attacks the roots of trees growing in wet or damp soil.  It is a decaying disease that spreads through soil and will lead to the eventual death of a tree.

Causes of Root Rot in Trees

The most common cause of root rot is wet soil, usually from poor drainage.  Such soggy conditions actually prevent the roots from absorbing the necessary amount of oxygen and the roots begin to decay and die.  Root rot is particularly problematic because it can spread to healthy roots even if the soggy conditions have been corrected or are no longer present.

Soil fungus is also a common cause of root rot.  Fungus can be present in the soil but dormant for a long time and may only appear once there is too much moisture.  Fungus thrives in such moist conditions and spores will sprout and attack the roots.  Weakened roots are more susceptible to fungus.

This Ash had root rot that caused it to come crashing down during a storm.

Symptoms of Root Rot in Trees

Symptoms include a quick decline in health, discolored or wilted leaves, browning or blackening at the base of the trunk, branch dieback, and a thinning canopy.  Many symptoms of root rot mirror the symptoms of a pest infestation so it is a good idea to have a Certified Arborist make a proper diagnosis.  Certified Arborists are specifically trained in tree biology and can easily identify and diagnose problems that can compromise the health and safety of a tree.

Treating Root Rot in Trees

Unfortunately, treatment of root rot is usually limited to removal of the entire tree, though in some cases, it may be possible to remove only the affected area.  Prevention is key.  Avoid piling up too much soil or mulch against a trunk as doing so can trap moisture and encourage fungal spread.  You should also avoid wounds to the roots and be cautious when mowing as weakened roots are more susceptible to root rot.

Tips for Preventing Root Rot in Trees

If you are planting a new tree, it is best to plant it in well-drained soil and avoid overwatering.  In some cases, an irrigation moat can help keep water from pooling up over the roots and against the trunk.  The location of the tree is also important in helping to prevent root rot and trees should not be planted next to or near sprinkler heads where the soil will receive an excess amount of water.


If your tree is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to contact a Tulsa Certified Arborist.  Root rot should be addressed as soon as possible.  Depending on the extent of the rot, the tree may be structurally unsound and at risk of falling.  Jake at TREES BY JAKE is an ISA Certified Arborist and has extensive experience in identifying and diagnosing all types of tree disease, including root rot.  Call or text us today at 918-500-9955.

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This Hackberry was suffering from root rot and fell onto multiple fences.

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TREES BY JAKE has been providing tree removal services in Tulsa for over a decade. Jake is a Tulsa Certified Arborist and we have a variety of equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees. Call or text us today for your free estimate at 918-500-9955 and don’t forget to check us out on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!

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