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Thread: Why do i get brown roots on my plants?

  1. #1
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    Default Why do i get brown roots on my plants?

    Hi!

    I'm a hydro beginner with my homemade Ebb and Flow system. I've recently noticed that the roots on one of my plants are completely brown. The plant itself doesnt really seem to suffer much from it though. No yellow or brown leaves and it's still growing. Also which you might be able to see on my picture, the roots "inside" the net pots and the clay pellets seem to be doing fine. They are still white.

    I've experimented with different feeding cycles, thinking the problem might be related to under/overwatering. But i'm not sure how often they should be fed. I grow in clay pellets and currently feeding them 4 times a day for 15 minutes each. Also got double airstones for 10 litres of water. The reservoir temp. is 25 degrees C.

    What can be the cause of the brown roots and is there any point in trying to fix it if the plants are doing OK?

    Im posting a picture for you to diagnose

    Thanks!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Those roots look like they are dying/dead. I had this problem with my homegrown aero system that was in full sunlight. What would happen is that something would affect the ph significantly to the point where the roots would die off. I had to check the ph almost every day on that system.

    Overwatering could also affect the roots. In ebb and flow systems the roots growing out of the medium like that tend to languish in pools of water and can die off. I would try a 2x or 3x watering per day and make sure the medium and tray are drying out between cycles. Adjust as needed.

  3. #3
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    Ah ok, i will check the Ph just to make sure.

    Do you think root rot look something like that?

    Are the roots in an ebb and flow system supposed to even exit the net pots or are they supposed to stay within the clay pellets? How hardy are the roots? I mean can they stay dry for longer periods of time?

    How can you tell it's overwatering and not underwatering? Just curious

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylvestris View Post
    Ah ok, i will check the Ph just to make sure.

    Do you think root rot look something like that?

    Are the roots in an ebb and flow system supposed to even exit the net pots or are they supposed to stay within the clay pellets? How hardy are the roots? I mean can they stay dry for longer periods of time?

    How can you tell it's overwatering and not underwatering? Just curious
    Yes, the roots should be healthy, robust and white. Do a google image search and you will see what root rot looks like.

    It's pretty much unavoidable that the roots will exit the pot at some point. This can present a slight issue in ebb and flow systems. The hydroton in the pot will retain moisture longer than the exposed root. I'm sure some people might trim the roots, but I have no experience with that and might be reluctant to do so. Others just fill the entire tray with hydroton. And others just let the roots go where they want outside the pot. Experiment and do what works for you.

    Roots can be fairly hardy as long as they aren't directly exposed to harsh environments. That's why my aero system roots died in one day, they were outdoors under summer heat. Starting off your hydroton isn't going to dry out that fast. As the plant grows you can increase watering cycles as needed. Just do a touch test, you can easily feel if the hydroton is still retaining moisture.

    Only you can judge over vs underwatering, but I suspect over based on how many times a day you are doing it and the fact that the roots looks slimy. Underwatering is pretty hard to do in an indoor ebb and flow system. This is indoors right?

  5. #5
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    Yep I'm growing indoors. And the plant on the picture is a basil plant. I will try to water them only 3 times a day now.

    So basically when the hydroton is completely dry i need to water again, and that's the way you figure out how often to water the plants?

    Would there be a point to totally shield the roots from light? I have sort of a styrofoam frame now that protects the roots from direct light, they still get indirect light though.

    I have another question. If my ebb and flow system creates an environment too wet for the roots, wouldn't a DWC system make it even worse? I mean, I've seen DWC systems with plants just like mine who sport white crisp healthy roots. I'm using double airstones in the reservoir btw.

    Thanks a lot for your informative reply!
    Last edited by sylvestris; 08-27-2010 at 03:25 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylvestris View Post
    Yep I'm growing indoors. And the plant on the picture is a basil plant. I will try to water them only 3 times a day now.

    So basically when the hydroton is completely dry i need to water again, and that's the way you figure out how often to water the plants?

    Would there be a point to totally shield the roots from light? I have sort of a styrofoam frame now that protects the roots from direct light, they still get indirect light though.

    I have another question. If my ebb and flow system creates an environment too wet for the roots, wouldn't a DWC system make it even worse? I mean, I've seen DWC systems with plants just like mine who sport white crisp healthy roots. I'm using double airstones in the reservoir btw.

    Thanks a lot for your informative reply!
    Don't fret, basil is easy to grow. I've seen people clone stems without rooting hormone.

    From all the information I've seen over the years the wet/dry cycle is instrumental in effective plant growth. This is the principal that the autopot systems work on. Now I wouldn't say it has to be bone dry, but it should dry out enough so that root rot doesn't take place. DWC systems are constantly aerating the water, so that's why you don't get root rot. However, in your system you can get stagnating water in the bottom of your basin which isn't going to be aerated for long. In fact, I don't know if there is any evidence that aerating an ebb and flow system is going to show any plant improvement. There may be secondary benefits, but I can't say conclusively as I haven't used an ebb and flow for years.

    I wouldn't worry about exposing the roots to light. As I mentioned in another thread they grow mediumless plants at EPCOT with the roots fully exposed to light all day.

    Check this out, Second post
    http://www.rollitup.org/hydroponics-...ervoirs-2.html
    You also have debris that collects in nooks and crannies and oxygen free bacteria develop in thi ose areas. Water that moves slowly through roots is stripped of DO and therefore supplies a site for oxygen free bacteria to develop. This quickly leads to root rot...

    Many ebb and flow sytems have buckets and pots where water stagnates under the pots and buckets and in the corners of the tables and where drain entrances are higher than the table top. A darin made with a bulkhead that has a 1/4" tall lip means a 1/4" of water sitting there that will give up its DO to roots and leave the roots sitting in in that 1/4" of zero ppm water until the next flood. Staganated water is zero DO water quickly. Root rot will start there if any roots reach those areas.
    Last edited by brbubba; 08-27-2010 at 04:10 PM.

  7. #7
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    Hi again!
    s
    I tried a 2x and 3x watering cycle. But now it seems the roots dry out. Roots that were healthy and white 12hours ago are now dry and brown/black.
    Guess I should increase the watering?

    If I've got root rot in my system, is there anything I can easily do about it? Without throwing away and sterilizing the whole system?
    Last edited by sylvestris; 08-28-2010 at 08:51 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylvestris View Post
    Hi again!
    s
    I tried a 2x and 3x watering cycle. But now it seems the roots dry out. Roots that were healthy and white 12hours ago are now dry and brown/black.
    Guess I should increase the watering?

    If I've got root rot in my system, is there anything I can easily do about it? Without throwing away and sterilizing the whole system?
    Is the Hydroton drying out or was the hydroton drying out before? Are these the roots in the hydroton or outside the pots? Your roots were already brown, are we talking about existing roots or new roots? When tweaking water cycles you have to check it every hour, did you just set it and forget it? Figure out how long that hydroton takes to dry up while in your system.

    Other than that you can check obvious things such as water temperature, temperature from the lights if applicable, etc. If you still can't pinpoint the culprit then you will have to disinfect the system and start fresh. Good luck man, I'm sorry you aren't having an easy go of it.

  9. #9
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    Ok

    I've now officially killed my system. I discovered small worms, (nematodes?) in my system. So i opened the reservoir up and found more worms and also loads of funky green/yellowish goo which smelled like aquarium.

    Is there any way to restart and save the gear i use, pump, hoses and fittings etc? I'm thinking of boiling them for 5 minutes or so, i figure it should kill off any pathogens.

    I'm also thinking of using my two airstones to start up a DWC system instead. It seems like an easier system to manage, less parameters to tweak. But I'll post questions on that system in the beginners forum
    Last edited by sylvestris; 08-29-2010 at 04:21 AM.

  10. #10
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    Clean your system with 1000 ppm of hydrogen peroxide in water.
    Put the H2O2 in the reservoir and run the system as you would normally.

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