Plants And Root Rot

Casket_Case

Avid Member
So it’s often recommended to put rocks in your plant pots to keep our chameleons from digging, but today I found that was killing some of my plants.
I have four smaller plants in my cage, two are filed with rocks and the others have screen tucked around them. The ones with rocks haven’t been doing so hot, and today as I did a close inspection theres root rot.
These rocks will stop air from moving into the soil. No air flow plus retained water will quickly lead to mold and fungus. This will kill your plant and produce bacteria that could spread to other plants or it could make your chameleon sick.
I just wanted to give a heads up to anyone using rocks in their pots. It’ll be worth it to switch to screen :D
For my case, I made sure to keep the rocks off the soil, so there’s ‘tunnels’ per se between the rocks and soil. This is temporary so I can get more screen. I’m also not going to water for around two weeks to help the soil really dry out and get rid of any rot.
Rocks aren’t bad for all plants… just some. For instance my Majesty Palm loves the rocks and it’s current watering schedule. However my Canna Lillies who are also water lovers, did not.
But, ya live ya learn! Hope someone could get something from this :)
 

Mountain Dragon

Chameleon Enthusiast
You probably have but just checking to help with root rot have you repotted with fresh soil and also cut away and trimmed the bad thin roots with sterilized scissors or prunes. Also Prune back the foliage of your plant less foliage means the new smaller root system doesn’t have to work as hard and will have time to grow Prune back the foliage at about the same rate as you had to remove roots (if you trimmed back ⅓ of the roots, trim back ⅓ of the foliage). Also wash the pot with a bleach water mixture but I don’t know if the last part is Cham safe
 

Mendez

Chameleon Enthusiast
How's the drainage on your pots? I usually put a few good-sized rocks at the bottom of the pot to act as a drainage layer of sorts. Plus, if the pot is plastic, I'll usually drill/poke a few extra holes in the bottom to help the water drain.

Also, putting the rocks or screen on top of the soil is kind of unnecessary, but it's also completely up to you if you do it. The whole idea behind putting stuff on top of the soil, in the past, was to make sure that the chameleon wouldn't pick up any soil if they shot a feeder that was on the soil. But for many years now, more and more keepers are understanding the risk of impaction is small. Plus, more and more people are using feeder cups instead of free-ranging. But even if you did free-range, covering the soil top really isn't necessary unless you have a serial dirt eater.

I should add that if you are not going to change out the soil from the store, such as that it may have slow release fertilizer, then YES, placing rocks or a net over the soil would be a good idea. But ideally, you should repot it with new soil. Or at the very least, add a layer of clean organic soil or ABG mix over the top layer to ensure your cham won't pick up any fertilizer.

I have never had a problem with root rot--even when I used to put a layer of rocks over the soil and misted probably too much. Not sure if I am lucky or just that having a drainage layer in the pot helps a lot.

I definitely like the idea of placing mesh over the soil. It's a good idea, and you may not have any issues with it. But if your cham climbs down to the plant, will the claws of the chameleon get caught or tangled up in the mesh?
 

Casket_Case

Avid Member
I’m
You probably have but just checking to help with root rot have you repotted with fresh soil and also cut away and trimmed the bad thin roots with sterilized scissors or prunes. Also Prune back the foliage of your plant less foliage means the new smaller root system doesn’t have to work as hard and will have time to grow Prune back the foliage at about the same rate as you had to remove roots (if you trimmed back ⅓ of the roots, trim back ⅓ of the foliage). Also wash the pot with a bleach water mixture but I don’t know if the last part is Cham safe
I’ve got it taken care of lol I took lots of botany related classes, I was on path to becoming a botanist before I found my current job :)
 

Casket_Case

Avid Member
How's the drainage on your pots? I usually put a few good-sized rocks at the bottom of the pot to act as a drainage layer of sorts. Plus, if the pot is plastic, I'll usually drill/poke a few extra holes in the bottom to help the water drain.

Also, putting the rocks or screen on top of the soil is kind of unnecessary, but it's also completely up to you if you do it. The whole idea behind putting stuff on top of the soil, in the past, was to make sure that the chameleon wouldn't pick up any soil if they shot a feeder that was on the soil. But for many years now, more and more keepers are understanding the risk of impaction is small. Plus, more and more people are using feeder cups instead of free-ranging. But even if you did free-range, covering the soil top really isn't necessary unless you have a serial dirt eater.

I should add that if you are not going to change out the soil from the store, such as that it may have slow release fertilizer, then YES, placing rocks or a net over the soil would be a good idea. But ideally, you should repot it with new soil. Or at the very least, add a layer of clean organic soil or ABG mix over the top layer to ensure your cham won't pick up any fertilizer.

I have never had a problem with root rot--even when I used to put a layer of rocks over the soil and misted probably too much. Not sure if I am lucky or just that having a drainage layer in the pot helps a lot.

I definitely like the idea of placing mesh over the soil. It's a good idea, and you may not have any issues with it. But if your cham climbs down to the plant, will the claws of the chameleon get caught or tangled up in the mesh?
I haven’t replaced store medium and that’s why I have rocks and screen. I will, just a matter of finding time, even then I’ll keep it covered just cause I don’t want him attempting to eat dirt lolol
And yeah I’ve got great drainage :)
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
How's the drainage on your pots? I usually put a few good-sized rocks at the bottom of the pot to act as a drainage layer of sorts. Plus, if the pot is plastic, I'll usually drill/poke a few extra holes in the bottom to help the water drain.
+1.

The only time we've had any problems with river pebbles on top is if the layer is too thick; it only needs to be (in theory) thick enough to keep the cham from ingesting the soil. For some plants this is only one pebble thick.

I haven’t replaced store medium and that’s why I have rocks and screen. I will, just a matter of finding time, even then I’ll keep it covered just cause I don’t want him attempting to eat dirt lolol
And yeah I’ve got great drainage :)
Then I don't understand how you got root rot. :unsure:
 

Mountain Dragon

Chameleon Enthusiast
+1.

The only time we've had any problems with river pebbles on top is if the layer is too thick; it only needs to be (in theory) thick enough to keep the cham from ingesting the soil. For some plants this is only one pebble thick.


Then I don't understand how you got root rot. :unsure:
Because there was little air flow

These are Al reasons that could of happened


  • Inactive Climate: Too little air movement
  • Improper Lighting: Light conditions either too high or low
  • Water Stress: Over or under-watering
  • High Humidity: Too much humidity for a plant that needs a drier environment
 

Casket_Case

Avid Member
+1.

The only time we've had any problems with river pebbles on top is if the layer is too thick; it only needs to be (in theory) thick enough to keep the cham from ingesting the soil. For some plants this is only one pebble thick.


Then I don't understand how you got root rot. :unsure:
Because the watering schedule they were on was good before the rocks were put on top. They used to dry between waterings, now they aren’t. Plus the air flow. Air flow is what made the watering a problem.
 
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