Pythium (or “root rot”) is a destructive root-parasitic pathogen that directly attacks the root system of the plant, causing normally healthy white roots to turn brown and mushy. When the infection is severe, the lower portion of the stem can become slimy and black. In recirculating systems, this infected root mass will also contaminate the other plants that reside in that system.
Pythium often attacks when the plant has already started to be damaged or when growing conditions are not at their best. Pythium is known to take advantage of sick or wounded tissues to colonize the root and create what is known as “damping off” or “root rot.” There are moments too when your plant is particularly vulnerable, and when it is important to watch them closely. Use these simple gardening tips to keep Pythium out of your garden.
5 Tips to Prevent Pythium:
#1) Keep a close watch on your seedlings and cuttings, as it is often at that stage that your plant will be infected. Choose your germination substrate very carefully and keep your germination area as clean as possible. When preparing your cuttings for propagation, use clean utensils, and take good care of both cutting and mother plant, as the cuts inflicted during the operation are a wonderful opportunity for pathogen penetration.
#2) Transplanting is a key operation, as a wounded root is a perfect ground for infection. When you transplant, use a clean spot and be gentle with the young roots.
#3) Pythium can develop quickly in conditions with high moisture and low oxygen levels. Avoid keeping the growing media over-saturated or improperly oxygenated.
#4) Water temperature is another important factor in preventing Pythium. High water temperatures are unable to hold much oxygen, which produces favorable conditions for Pythium. The addition of air stones may be necessary to keep the nutrient solution richly oxygenated. The ideal water temperature in a hydroponic environment is 68°-70°F.
#5) Avoid overfeeding and overcrowding of plants and keep good ventilation. Clean, sterilize, and disinfect all tools and equipment used during the growing cycle with Mad Farmer’s Oxygenator solution (10:1 water), including TDS and PH testers, gardening tools, and hoods.