Pioneering Hydroponics

Since 1976

How to Treat Pythium in Hydroponics

Also known as damping-off, root rot, or water mould, Pythium can completely destroy hydroponics crops. The spores are extremely well-adapted to surviving in water and often disinfection and sanitation processes aren’t enough to keep Pythium at bay.

Previously classified as fungi, Pythium are parasitic oomycotes. Simply put, they’re fungus-like microorganisms that produce zoospores and oospores and grow mycelium from cellulose.


What is Pythium Root Rot?

Pythium root rot in hydroponics will result in plant roots dissolving into the nutrient solution and infecting the entire grow system. With zoospore reproduction, these plant spores can move independently through water. They can hide and stay viable for a long time underwater until the environmental conditions are perfect.

After killing off the plants’ root system, Pythium can also consume the leftover dead organic matter. These microorganisms are one of the most common reasons for root rot, seed rot, and damping-off in hydroponics.


How Does Pythium Enter the Grow Room?

Plants can catch an illness that floats around in the environment, and Pythium is no different. These diseases can enter the grow room through the growing media, airborne dust, water, other infected plants, old equipment, or your clothes.

The spore’s tube will enter the plant tissue directly, with mycelia from growing Pythium outside of the root also capable of spreading infection. Inside the plant tissue, enzymes are produced to break down the pectins that hold plant cells together. Roots will then become mushy after losing their integrity.

With rooted cuttings or newly-germinated seedlings, you’ll notice them dying off fairly young. Well-developed plants often have a good immune response and can keep the infection localised.


What are the Symptoms of a Pythium Infection?

  • Root discolouration from white to either yellow, beige, or brown.

  • There is a gradual change to a soft a mushy consistency.

  • Nutrient solution with a sulphurous, rotten egg-like smell.

  • pH level of the solution suffers a drop.

  • Stunted plant growth and wilting.

  • Leaves start yellowing before dropping.


How to Treat Pythium in the Grow Room

High nutrient solution or root zone temperatures are ideal to support Pythium growth and development. These high temperatures lead to the nutrient solution having low levels of dissolved oxygen, which causes poor root growth and root function. This increases the risk of infection.

Overwatering plants can often lead to the root zone being saturated and having low levels of oxygen. With these anaerobic conditions, Pythium thrives but roots don’t. High levels of nitrogen can also lead to a Pythium infection, as plants start seeing weak growth with higher disease susceptibility.

To prevent a Pythium infection, it’s always best to ensure nutrient solutions always have a balanced temperature of between 18°C-20°C. You should also change reservoirs frequently so that zoospores can’t build up and change the nutrient solution weekly.

You should also maintain a clean and tidy grow room with a stress-free environment to that plants can grow healthy and strong.

Plant Magic Granules consist of Mycorrhizal fungi, bio-stimulants, and more than 20 strains of other microorganisms. These form a symbiotic relationship with the roots, in soil or coco coir. They help speed up development and increase plants’ nutrient uptake.

These microorganisms create a barrier against Pythium, with the bio-stimulants helping to coordinate and balance biological activity.

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