How do you get rid of mold growing on the surface of your houseplant soil?
I gotta admit, I’m one of those smothering plant parents that gives a little too much TLC (that is, I have a bad habit of over watering).
This morning I got up to do my usual weekly watering routine, only to find a layer of white mold on the soil of my calathea orbifolia!
Heart broken and distraught (well, for the first 6 seconds), I did some research and found the answer.
So what’s happening?
The white fluffy layer of mold that sits on top of the soil is saprophytic fungus. It’s harmless to both you and your plants, but it’s an indication that your plant needs help with moisture, sunlight and air circulation.
“Only a very small proportion of the thousands of species of fungi in the world can cause disease in plants or animals – these are the pathogenic fungi. The vast majority of fungi are saprophytic, feeding on dead organic material, and as such are harmless and often beneficial. Just occasionally, however, the growth of saprophytic fungi can be a nuisance to the gardener.” – The Royal Horticultural Society
Over watering is usually the culprit for mold on potting soil. When it’s too moist and struggles to dry out quickly enough, the mold will form. It can also appear if your plant isn’t positioned to get enough sunlight and air circulation.
At this point you’re probably asking yourself: is it too late? Am I the worst plant parent ever?
And the answer is, no of course not!
How do I fix it?
Simply grab a spoon and scrape the top of the soil off, and throw it straight into the trash.
Stick your finger an inch or two into the soil to see if it’s still damp. If it is, you might want to check for root rot. Treat rotted roots immediately and repot your plant.
If there’s no root rot but the soil is a bit damp, move your plant to an area where it can dry out – preferably outside in bright and indirect sunlight with air circulation.
And we don’t stop there:
When you bring back inside, there are a couple more things you can do to prevent mold from coming back.
I mixed some apple cider vinegar with water and lightly sprayed the top of the soil. The acetic acid content is what makes vinegar an effective mold killer, however too much can kill your plant.
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of water is a good ratio.
Be sure to only spray the soil – don’t get any on the leaves!
You can also sprinkle ground cinnamon or baking soda on the top of the soil as a natural anti-fungal treatment.
How do you deal with mold? Leave a comment if you have a different method, or if you tried the solutions above and got some clear results!