Rotting Base

Rotting Base

Want to learn more about Symptoms: Base starts to rot (Overwatered)

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Why is the base rotting?

Stem rot or a rotting base is a serious condition that can be potentially fatal to your plant. Stem and base rot usually starts at the roots, which eventually progresses up to the body of your plant.


  • Browning at the base (which seems to spread over time)

  • Weakening of the plant (such as squishy rather than firm leaves in succulent-type plants)

  • Yellowing leaves

  • Wilting

  • Mushy / discolored roots

  • Soggy soil

stem rot

Common causes

This is often the result of overwatering or other watering related issues. While overwatering is the most common factor, it can also be caused by injuries on the stem, your plant being exposed to cold growing conditions or if you’ve planted your plant too deep into the soil.

Base and stem rot is especially common among cacti. This is often caused by overwatering but the main issue is related to the cacti being planted in a unsuitable soil type. Cacti is often sold in a peat-based soil which retains too much water but is also prone to becoming hydrophobic. This causes imbalanced water distribution and leads to roots dying back and starting to rot. Repotting your cacti into a gritty and well draining substrate is key to maintain a healthy and thriving cactus.

rotting base stem rot

What to think about

Catching rot early is the only way to give your plant the best chance of recovery. Keep an eye out for signs of overwatering as these may appear before you see the base or stem begin to rot. Don't forget to look into what caused the rot in the first place. In some cases the plant won’t be able to recover from a stem or base rot. Root rot can also sadly be fatal for plants, particularly if it's a severe case.

The best course of action is to prune off and remove all the tissue on your plant that’s been affected by the rot. When pruning affected parts of the plant be sure to remove all discolored parts. Keep pruning until only healthy tissue is left. Using clean, sharp tools and disinfection is important when performing removal of infected parts of the plant. 

Always check the soil before watering your plant. Exact watering needs differ from plant to plant - some like their soil to dry out entirely in between waterings, and others prefer to stay a little moist (but never excessively wet) at all times.

It's super important to ensure that your plant's pot and soil has good drainage. Ideally, every plant should be potted in a planter with drainage holes. Choosing pots made out of porous materials such as clay and terracotta will also help with draining out excess water from the soil. If your plant's soil doesn't seem to be draining well, you may want to consider using a different type of soil with better drainage. It may also be a sign that the soil is old or your plant is pot bound and is due a repotting.

Rotting Base 2