are brown roots bad?

luv_figsFebruary 17, 2010

I have a baby fig plant that has 8 leaves and is in a plastic soda bottle. I can see the roots through the clear plastic, and 80% of the roots are brown. However, little white side roots come out of the brown roots. What does that mean? Are brown roots bad?

Thanks,

Jenny

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

As part of natural senescence (aging process), roots will have increasing amounts of suberin and lignin in them, and they develop a brown corky covering (epidermis). OTOH, young roots that are not 'plump' (dark & slimy) and are turning brown can signal trouble - usually a medium that is too wet and rot organisms causing decay under anaerobic conditions, a decidedly bad sign. You can normally detect a sour or rotting smell associated with decaying roots.

Al

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:53AM
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bjs496

to summarize:

light-brown, plump roots with white tips = good

dark-brown, shriveled roots with dark tips = bad

Hi Al,

~james

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 10:06AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hey man! Good to see you. ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:21AM
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gorgi(z7a_NJ)

Hi James!
Welcome back from a rather long fig hibernation...

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:28AM
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ottawan_z5a

Is there a way to reverse the trend on the bad brown roots going more bad towards death (such as repoting in fresh 'just moist' soil? Many here will love to know a solution to this frequently occurring problem.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 12:28PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Trimming the rotting sections of roots back to sound tissue & resticking in a more appropriate medium is about all I can think of. It's pretty clearly a case of being watchful/careful and avoiding unsterile and/or soggy media conditions that favor multiplying populations of the rot organisms as a priority - sort of like remembering to close the barn door after the horse is out. ;o)

These organisms compromise cell walls, and there is only one degree of 'dead' when it comes to plant cells. Unlike animals, which are regenerating systems, trees are generating systems and cannot replace dead cells in the same spatial position.

Al

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:16PM
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luv_figs

Thanks everyone for your feedback! I will have to be more careful with my watering.

One thing that concerns me is that my fig plant is in a soda bottle container. If you look at the bottom of the bottle, you'll notice that there are 5 legs for the bottle to stand on. On those legs I have holes for drainage. It happens that the roots go all the way down there, where there doesn't happen to be any potting medium there because they fall out. So the roots are exposed to air and dry out. Because of that, I stick a paper towel into the drainage hole, and every two days moisten the towel from the bottom so that the roots don't dry up.

Is that a good idea? Should i just repot to a bigger pot, or just repot to a better pot?

Thanks,
Jenny

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:50AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Don't bother with the paper towel. Just let the roots air-prune themselves.

And re: brown roots.... does this look like what you're seeing? Picture is worth a thousand words =) These are very healthy roots on a Sal (Gene's)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 1:05AM
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luv_figs

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/lpTCnymFYnkaGGB_x-O6lw?feat=directlink

That's a great picture! Unfortunately, my camera sucks, but I posted two pictures anyway. There's a lot of glare, but you can see the brown roots. There are thin white side roots coming out from the brown root, but it just doesn't look as good as satellitehead's picture.

Should i repot or is it dead? The leaves look super healthy though. But interestingly enough, for the past 3 weeks the fig stopped growing. Is it being dormant now? I'm in SoCal, and the last couple of weeks were a bit cooler than before.

Thanks!
Jenny

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 2:30AM
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luv_figs

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/_Uh6jUd6sCynoG2eAW9aBg?feat=directlink

sorry, here is the link to the second picture.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 2:32AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

From what I can see, it looks fine, other than the medium looks wetter than it needs to be/should be. Here's what I would do:

Make sure there is a hole in the bottom of each of the legs on the container. Push a little wicking material into the holes. The holes should be large enough that the wicking material goes in easily w/o compressing against the sides of the holes. After you've watered and the container stops draining, set it on a paper towel. The wicks will pull (almost all of) the perched water from the media. It will be absorbed by the paper towel & evaporate. A more favorable environment for root function/metabolism will result.

Al

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:27AM
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cath41(6a)

Last Spring when the rooted cuttings were in the clear plastic cups I thought that the cups were too wet so I poked holes in the sides of the cups with a knife. Before that they only had one 1/4" hole in the bottom. Then I put the cup up to my lips and blew into the side holes. Quite a bit of water came out the bottom hole. I had tried the wicking but, for whatever reason, it didn't seem to remove enough water. Just guessing on that though because I'm still a newbie.

Cath

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 2:42PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Jason - I tried to reply to your email, but it keeps getting bounced back to me. I got into your GW user page and sent it to your G-mail account, hoping it would find you. Don't know what else I can do.

Luv_figs - I really hope you'll be patient with me and forgive the off topic post on your dime - I'm trying to reply to a personal email from JD.

Al

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 1:42PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Al - I have been having a few problems getting email from almost everyone using the system here at GW.

Please contact me through my profile on Figs4Fun. I would *love* it if I could get my hands on one of those bounceback messages.

Please note: I am not JD - he is GW user 'turndav'. Just making sure you're not getting he and I confused.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 2:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lolol - Oh no! Whoever JD is - it looks like his mail went to James. Duh! (shaking head)

I'll see if I can work it out, THANKS for the heads-up, too! Now I need to leave poor Jenny's thread alone before she clobbers me! I feel so bad.

Al

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 2:57PM
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luv_figs

oh you guys are so funny. sorry for the late response, but i don't mind at all that you guys are catching up on this thread!

you given me such great tips, i really appreciate, keep on chatting!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 6:54PM
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turndav(8B)

Al,

The person who signed as James in this thread has username 'bjs496'. He may also have the initials 'JD'. I sign all emails as JD and my username is 'turndav', and I didn't send you a message. Most likely, it was James.

JD

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 10:24PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Ah, it's like my childhood all over again. 4 other jasons lived in the neighborhood, and every other boy's name started with J. ah, dancin' days are here again ;)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 11:14PM
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wildforager(5b-WI)

Jason,

Thats why I'm Little John. I know exactly what you're talking about.

-LJ

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 2:00AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - I haven't looked at my email yet today - so maybe it's worked itself out. Oh my - what confusion. I tip my hat to Jenny again - a peach for her patience. (hey! That was a double entendre ...... of sorts!)

Al

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 10:22AM
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