A few days later, your favorite potted plant blooms with fuzzy, white mold. So, you search for “moldy potting soil” on Google. The link will take you here. I also have the answers, so that’s a good thing!
Your houseplant is probably infected with a harmless saprophytic fungus. You can see white, fuzzy growths at the base of your plant seemingly overnight. Save your plants by carefully managing the soil. Your houseplant soil might have mold after being brought inside over the winter, or it might grow indoors year-round in containers, or it may pop up on newly planted cultivars in your urban garden. A number of factors can cause mold to grow in soil. Understanding what causes it and removing it will keep your garden and house healthy.
Shelby DeVore, a gardening expert and founder of Farminence with a master’s degree in agriculture, explains that plants have natural microorganisms in their surroundings just as our bodies do within us. “Several of these microorganisms are essential to the health of plants.”
Living soil results from this interdependent relationship, which is why many gardeners try to attract worms, which aerate the soil and stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms. However, improper planting practices or processes can disrupt this delicate ecosystem.
How bad is moldy soil for plants?
The white stuff in your potted plants probably is not going to hurt them. Molds and fungi are always present in the soil, even when you can’t see them. Growing organically is not just sustainable, it’s essential. So it’s an indication of life, although it might not be one you want to look at, because it’s not exactly pretty.
In the other hand, a saprophytic fungus may also suggest that the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight, air circulation, or moisture. The mold might also be stealing nutrients from your plant, so it’s also something to pay attention to.
What Causes Mold Growth on Houseplant Soil?
Mold, fungus, and other fungal diseases thrive in moist, dark, stuffy environments. Unfortunately, it’s easy to create those conditions, especially when you’re gardening, especially around the house. Avoid all of the following:
Fungus will consume any extra water lingering in a potted plant, and too much water can cause roots to rot. Houseplants usually require less water than their outdoor counterparts. While direct sunlight and wide-open spaces allow outdoor plants to dry out quickly, indirect sunlight and enclosed rooms within a home let plants retain water longer.
Incorrect pot size, inadequate drainage and dense soil all contribute to poor drainage, which can also lead to excess moisture.
In an oversized pot, plants that are unable to utilize enough water will rot. “With roots exposed, you can expect more root rot as the plant cannot use the amount of water the larger pot can hold,” says Andrew Levi, founder and CEO of PlantTAGG. If you can, bring your plant with you to the garden store to see if it fits in the container. Some plants prefer containers.
Many decorative pots have no drainage system, which makes it possible for excess water to leak out of the pot. Without them, all that moisture is trapped around the roots, where mold and fungus can take advantage of it. DeVore recommends containers with drain holes 1/4- to 1/2-in. in diameter.
A heavy soil will prevent water from escaping. Potting mix contains lightweight peat moss and perlite, which assists in evaporation and drainage. If your soil is too dense, repot your plant in a potting mix made for container gardening.
Poor Air Circulation
Plants that are kept on narrow shelves or in dark corners don’t always get enough air circulation, particularly in winter when windows are closed. This can result in excessive moisture buildup, which can make plants more susceptible to disease and fungus outbreaks.
You can inadvertently cause mold problems in your potting mix. While soil should have some microorganisms, it could be contaminated before it even gets into the pot.
The expert at Gardening Services London, Desiree Thompson, explains to always toss “any poorly stored compost and always store leftover soil securely in a dry, airtight container with holes securely sealed”. She stresses that even well-packed soil can absorb moisture when punctured.
Decomposing leaves on the surface
The decay of leaves encourages the growth of mold, which in turn increases the quantity of soil engulfed by mold. Remove dead leaves before they pile at the base of the plant, or mulch the garden’s perimeter with fallen leaves to reduce yard waste.
Will Moldy Soil Harm My Plant?
It depends on the type of mold you are dealing with whether it will harm or not damage your plants.
“White mold is relatively harmless to the overall health of a plant,” says Andrew Gaumond, horticulturist, botanist and Petal Republic’s director of content. However, mushrooms can cause difficulties. It probably won’t hurt your houseplant but the conditions that allowed fuzzy, white mold to grow on its soil might. And there are fungi and molds that do cause plant diseases.
In addition to being toxic to humans, mold in the home can irritate those with asthma or allergies, so removing it as soon as you see it is crucial for your plant’s health.
How Do I Get Rid of the Mold on My Plant Soil?
Some gardeners swear cinnamon works as a natural antifungal. Just throw some cinnamon in your spice drawer to get rid of that mold.
Gaumond suggests you try a homemade baking soda and water mixture or a houseplant fungicide spray if cinnamon does not help. Your solution may be too strong, so test it on a small part of your plant first. Once the mold has been removed and you have treated it, it is time to figure out why it grew in the first place. Once you find the root cause, your plant care should be adjusted accordingly.
How Can I Prevent New Mold from Growing?
You need sunlight, air, soil, and water to maintain the natural balance within your soil. Water only as much as you need. Some houseplants come with care instructions, however Levi says the instructions should not be followed. “Most plant tags that come with plants give specific care instructions specific to their source, so don’t follow them,” he says.
Checking moisture levels with your finger instead of on a rigid schedule can be more efficient than using thermometers. Hydrospikes can also be helpful for forgetful owners.
Whenever possible, select pots that have drainage holes. If you must have one with no drainage holes, some people add rocks below the potting soil so that water can pool. However, ceramic or clay pots might break if you drill holes in them. In some cases, these solutions are not guaranteed, causing plants to be repotted due to mold in the soil.
The last thing to remember is to make sure your houseplant gets enough sunlight and air circulation. This means that tight spaces and forgotten corners might need fake plants. If it is not possible to open a window, try using a fan to mimic natural breezes.
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