How to clean slimy roots in hydroponics

Written by rachel turner
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How to clean slimy roots in hydroponics
Harmful pathogens will cause root slime if not properly controlled. (garlic plant image by bluefern from

The roots of plants bring oxygen, nutrients, minerals, and water to the plant above. Slimy roots in hydroponic gardening are the result of bacterial pathogens, which release harmful toxins that prevent the beneficial microbes from bringing oxygen to the roots. This slimy condition is also known as pythium. There are several simple ways to clean the slime from the plants' roots in your hydroponic gardening system.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Sharp cuticle scissors
  • Enzyme additive
  • Liquid mycorrhizal fungi inoculant
  • Two bowls

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  1. 1

    Examine the plant's root system. Healthy roots are white and thick, with small fuzzy tips at the end. Roots that appear brown and slimy may have bacterial pathogens feeding off them, causing a slimy build-up.

  2. 2

    Check the hydroponic garden water. If the water smells bad, has a cloudy appearance, foamy reservoir build-up, or slimy walls, your hydroponic system may have the pathogens causing the root slime.

  3. 3

    Fill a bowl 3/4 full with 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide. Remove each plant from the hydroponic gardening system, then dip them into the hydrogen peroxide solution. Cut away brown, black, or grey roots with a sharp pair of cuticle scissors.

  4. 4

    Turn off the gardening system. Use bleach to wipe down all surface areas of the hydroponic gardening system, including the nutrient solution tubing and pump.

  5. 5

    Pour clean water into a deep bowl. Dip each plant into the water to rinse off any remaining hydrogen peroxide. Hold all hydroponic gardening system parts under clean running water to rinse off any bleach residue. Use a faucet spray nozzle to spray down the entire hydroponic system, including walls and all surface areas. Return all equipment, hoses, pumps, and nutrient solutions back to the garden system. Set the plants back into their original positions, and restart the hydroponic system. Use a lower concentration of nutrient solution for all plants with damaged root systems due to slime.

  6. 6

    Maintain temperatures in the nutrient reservoir in the range of 20 to 22.2 degrees Celsius. This constant, controlled temperature range will help prevent further pythium damage.

  7. 7

    Increase growth of beneficial microbes by using an enzymatic additive and liquid mycorrhizal fungi inoculant, available online or at many gardening centres. These additives eat through any dead protein that attracts harmful slime-causing pathogens. Refer to each package instruction as to the quantity to add to the nutrient reservoir.

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