Anything kept in an environment with moisture and limited ventilation is susceptible to mold. And, unfortunately, that includes your houseplants. Mold on indoor plants is more common than you might think, and there are ways to get rid of it and prevent future recurrences. If you have a plant with a little mold, don’t give up just yet! Read on to find out what to do.
- Why does mold grow on leaves and soil?
- Identifying the plant mold
- How to remove powdery mildew from your plants
- How to remove gray mold from your plants
- How to remove sooty mold from your plants
- How to remove white mold from your plants
- How mold affects those with allergies
What You Need
Scissors or shears
To understand how mold develops, we need to look at why mold occurs on the leaves and soil in the first place.
The most common type of plant mold is a white mold in potted soil that develops on the surface due to things like inadequate drainage, constantly wet soil, and poor ventilation. This mold is relatively harmless most of the time; however, white soil mold does indicate that there is a larger issue with your plant’s environment that needs to be solved.
Another common mold that can affect your indoor plants is powdery mildew, which often shows up on the top sides of leaves. This mold is made up of spores that give the greenery a dusty appearance. Luckily, these spores are most often transferred in the wind when found outside. That means that unless you have an incredibly drafty space, the mold is less likely to go from one plant to another; however, keep in mind that it is still possible. So, you’ll want to remove this mold as quickly as possible once you identify it.
Mold on indoor plants will present differently depending on the type it is. There are kinds that affect the soil, kinds that affect the foliage, and kinds that affect a mixture of both. Luckily, none of them are particularly difficult to identify so long as you’ve been monitoring your plant regularly. Otherwise, they could easily fly under the radar until it’s too late. Here is how to identify the most common molds:
Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew appears as small white spores, often giving the leaves of your plant a dusty look. It will often start on the tops and bottoms of leaves; however, powdery mildew can eventually spread to the stems and fruits/flowers of the plant as well, causing long-term damage like twisted and disfigured foliage.
Gray mold: Gray mold also has spores that are dusty in appearance; but unlike powdery mildew, gray mold will initially affect the parts of the plants that are near the surface of the soil. It often infects plants that are already suffering from damage and have dead tissue that the spores can land in and thrive. Infected areas have the potential to grow very quickly.
Sooty mold: Sooty mold can be identified by dark green to black sooty-looking patches that appear around the base of the plant and on the surface of the soil. This kind of mold often presents when a plant is infested with sap-feeding insects, and the patches could have a negative impact on your plant’s process of photosynthesis.
White mold: White mold is fuzzy in appearance, similar to the kind of mold you might find on food that goes bad, and grows on the surface of the soil. This kind of mold lets you know that the conditions of the soil are too damp for your plant, but it’s relatively harmless overall.
How you remove the mold from your plants will vary depending on the kind of mold you’re looking to tackle. Although each of them affects plants, they’re caused by different things and as such require unique approaches to manage the situation. Some have more simple solutions while others will need a bit more patience.
Step 1: If your plant is suffering from powdery mildew growth, you may need to move it to a brighter location in your home. This type of mold grows well in shade, so increasing the amount of natural light (or artificial light via grow lights) will help prevent the mold from spreading while you work to clear it up.
Step 2: If it’s a small amount of powdery mildew, you can attempt to try watering from above so that the water helps clean the leaves. Keep in mind, though, that this may not resolve the problem fully and shouldn’t be heavily relied on, as too much water on the leaves can have adverse effects.
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Step 3: An approved fungicide should be able to clear it up nicely.
Gray mold is a bit more complex, since the plant it infects will likely already be diseased or have some damaged/dead tissue.
Step 1: Plants suffering from gray mold should be immediately isolated once you realize there’s a problem.
Step 2: You should begin to remove any damaged or dead tissue from the plant with a pair of sterilized shears or scissors.
Step 3: Once removed, apply an approved fungicide to the plant while following the directions on the bottle. Depending on the specific fungicide used, you should reapply every one to three weeks until the mold is gone.
The process you follow to remove sooty mold will be determined by the size of the infestations.
Step 1: If there aren’t a lot of sap-feeding insects, you can simply remove them either with your hand or a pair of sterilized tweezers.
Step 2: If there are a lot of them, though, you’ll need to apply an insecticidal soap, making sure to follow the directions carefully.
Step 3: Once the insects have been taken care of, you can use a clean cloth, dampened with either water or a diluted soap solution, to clean off the sooty patches and rinse the leaves.
Fuzzy white soil mold, since it’s relatively harmless to your plant, has the easiest solution. Simply scrape off the infected part of the soil (if there isn’t a lot of white mold) and you’re good to go!
With a larger amount of white mold, it would be best to repot your plant in fresh soil. Unfortunately, since mold spores exist naturally in the potting soil, there isn’t any way to fully remove the presence of white mold.
Mold on indoor plants has the potential to cause the same allergy symptoms as other molds: itching, sneezing, congestion, dry skin, etc. Here's what you need to know:
- Because these molds are indoors, the symptoms can be experienced any time of the year as long as the disease is around.
- Like other types of molds, powdery mildew and white molds can trigger asthma if they reach the lungs or breed for a lengthy period of time.
- As such, you never want to take a chance when it comes to mold on indoor plants. If you have a mold allergy, take all the precautions you need to clear it up, even if that means throwing away the entire plant.
- Molds can be cleared up and treated, but not even a plant is worth risking a severe allergic reaction.
Whether you’ve experienced mold on indoor plants or not, it can be beneficial to know how to prevent mold in plant soil and on foliage. Mold often thrives when the plant has received improper care or isn’t in the best condition. Keep an eye on your plants, checking them every day or two to make sure they’re doing okay. Maintaining proper care is key to preventing future mold on your indoor plants.
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Fuzzy white soil mold, since it's relatively harmless to your plant, has the easiest solution. Simply scrape off the infected part of the soil (if there isn't a lot of white mold) and you're good to go! With a larger amount of white mold, it would be best to repot your plant in fresh soil.Should I throw away my plant if it has mold? ›
Fuzzy white soil mold, since it's relatively harmless to your plant, has the easiest solution. Simply scrape off the infected part of the soil (if there isn't a lot of white mold) and you're good to go! With a larger amount of white mold, it would be best to repot your plant in fresh soil.What does house plant mold look like? ›
It is not uncommon to notice mold growing on your soil from time to time. It usually appears as small to large patches of white fuzzy mold on the surface of the soil. Moldy soil is almost always accompanied by moist or wet soil conditions.How do you get rid of mold in plant soil? ›
How Do I Get Rid of the Mold on My Plant Soil? Some gardeners swear by cinnamon as a natural anti-fungal. Simply wipe off the mold and sprinkle the spot with some cinnamon from your spice drawer. If cinnamon doesn't work, Gaumond says to try a houseplant fungicide spray or a homemade baking soda and water mixture.Why do all my indoor plants have mold? ›
Overwatering. If you find mold on the soil in a potted plant, that typically means you're watering the plant too often and the soil is persistently moist. Keep in mind that most indoor plants require less water than outdoor plants, in part because they receive less sunlight to evaporate excess moisture.How do I keep my indoor plants mold free? ›
Put your plants in areas that have good ventilation. Remove dead leaves, blossoms, and other material from planters. Sprinkle some baking soda, cinnamon, or apple cider vinegar on the soil for natural mold prevention.Does cinnamon get rid of mold? ›
So how does it work in a mold contaminated property? Cinnamon oil is among a handful of essential oils that are harmless to humans, and extremely effective at killing mold. In fact, it's one of the strongest mold killing oils, and it also has antibacterial properties.What does cinnamon do for plants? ›
Like sulphur, cinnamon is a natural fungicide that helps most plants root, while inhibiting the spores that cause rot in stem cuttings.Can mold in houseplants make you sick? ›
Not everyone is affected by these uninvited guests, but those who are know the fungi that can live in and around houseplants can trigger allergies, cause infections, and may even be poisonous to pets and curious toddlers.Is mold a plant if not what is it? ›
Molds are organisms that may be found indoors and outdoors. They are part of the natural environment and play an important role in the environment by breaking down and digesting organic material, such as dead leaves. Also called fungi or mildew, molds are neither plants nor animals; they are part of the kingdom Fungi.
Neem oil is a naturally occurring substance that works as an effective insecticide, helping defeat white mold and ward off other unwanted pests. Mix two teaspoons of organic neem oil with a half-gallon of water into a sprayer, and apply liberally on the infected plant every few days until the mold is gone.Is Cinnamon a fungicide? ›
Yes, laboratory studies show that cinnamon can act as a fungicide in certain conditions. It's not the most effective fungicide but it has been repeatedly demonstrated that it can kill fungi.Can you save a plant with moldy soil? ›
First, get rid of the existing mold.
If the mold is relatively new, that should do the trick. "If the mold is deeper than an inch or returns after a few weeks, you need to repot the plant entirely using an organic soil made for potted plants," says Dubow.
Did you know that a build-up of dirt on the leaves of your plants can affect growth and photosynthesis? Try mixing a small amount of ACV with water and gently applying it to the leaves with a soft cloth. Not only will this clean the leaves but the smell of the ACV is likely to prevent pests from eating them.Does cinnamon get rid of mold on plants? ›
However, it is the anti-fungal property that is the most important, making cinnamon effective for combating a variety of plant problems, from mold and root rot to the dampening off of seedlings.What is a natural remedy for mold on plants? ›
Baking soda solution: Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon liquid soap such as Castile soap (not detergent) in 1 gallon of water. Spray liberally, getting top and bottom leaf surfaces and any affected areas.Does vinegar stop mold on plants? ›
Vinegar is a proven method for destroying mold and eliminating pesky white spots from your plants. Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a quart of water, and spray onto your infected leaves and stems. Repeat every few days until all traces of mold are gone.