How to Get Rid of White Mold on Plant Soil

By Mary Smith. June 16, 2021
How to Get Rid of White Mold on Plant Soil

Even expert gardeners who take very good care of their plants can see white mold grow on plant soil from time to time. Outdoor plants are especially susceptible to this phenomenon. Some more amateur gardeners might not think it is something to worry about and let it lie on the soil. However, it is something which can harm the health of the plant, so we need to remove it when we see it. The mold can affect the plants in various ways, but it can sometimes lead to the death of the plant.

oneHOWTO shows you how to get rid of white mold on plant soil with these effective tips and tricks. We also show you why it appears in the first place and how you can best preserve the health of the plants.

You may also be interested in: How to Properly Water Your Plants in the Spring

What causes white mold on plant soil?

The white spots which we can see appearing on the top of plant substrate is a fungus. It is possible to have some small spots of white mold on the soil which won't do any damage to the plant itself. The same can be said if we see a little mold on dead leave sor insects in the soil. However, even a small amount can spread easily, so once the white mold starts to cover the topsoil, we should it it can be dangerous.

There are several factors which can contribute to white mold growing on plant soil. All are related to humidity and high ambient temperatures. Poor ventilation, especially for indoor plants, can also be a contributing factor as it causes the ambient temperature to rise. This is why white mold on indoor plants often happens in winter when central heating in the home is on more. The heat, oxygen and moisture is the perfect breeding ground for fungi.

Removing the white mold from topsoil as soon as possible is beneficial to the individual plant. However, it is also very helpful for any other plants you may have in the home as the fungus can spread. Mold on plants can also affect people who have respiratory problems and sensitivity to mold.

Below show you the best ways to get rid of white mold on plants so you can better protect them. If you want to know more about protecting horticulture, check out our article on keeping pests away from pumpkins.

Remove the soil affected by white mold

If you detect a superficial layer of mold on the top soil of a plant pot, you can remove the affected areas. We can do this with a trowel, i.e. the little spade commonly used in gardening.

  1. Punch the trowel between 1 and 2 centimeters deep into the soil (depending on the size of the pot) and remove that first layer affected by fungi.
  2. Once removed, scoop out the rest of the soil with the shovel. Do so carefully so as not to damage the roots. This way you will be able to aerate the substrate and help it to get rid of excess retained moisture.
  3. Let the plant air out for at least a day and fill your pot with a new layer of clean soil.

For some plants, it might be best to move the plant altogether. We detail how to do this in our article on repotting cacti.

How to Get Rid of White Mold on Plant Soil - Remove the soil affected by white mold

Disinfect the pot to remove white mold

Sometimes, mold takes over the plant pot to such a degree, a more drastic solution is required. This can involve transplanting your plant to a new pot by filling it with new soil. You can also simply remove the soil and use the same pot again, but only if you thoroughly disinfect it to avoid its return. For disinfecting plant pots, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Take out the plant and throw away the moldy soil.
  2. Wash the pot with lukewarm water to which you can add a few drops of neutral soap and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a natural disinfectant.
  3. Scrub both the inside and the outside of the pot with a scouring pad or brush.
  4. Let the soap and vinegar work for a few minutes.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with plenty of water.
  6. Let the pot dry completely (ideally in the sun) and you will have it ready to place the plant in again.

If you have white mold from the soil which has really stuck onto the side of the pot, you may want to mix a bicarbonate of soda paste. This will help remove tough dirt and mold. Our article on how to use baking soda for stains will help to explain further.

How to Get Rid of White Mold on Plant Soil - Disinfect the pot to remove white mold

Clean the white mold from the leaves

Plant leaves can also be affected by fungus and it is important to remove the white fluff that can cover them. You can clean plant leaves in two ways:

  • Simply remove the mold with a soft cloth that is completely dry.
  • Uses specific antifungal products for this purpose that eliminate fungi without damaging the plant. They can be bought at the garden store and are usually in spray form.

Sometimes we can see white fluff on the stems and leaves of plants which isn't mold. These are actually parasitical bugs. Find out more with our article on how to remove mealybugs from outdoor plants.

How to prevent white mold in plant soil

Considering the circumstances that favor the proliferation of white mold in the soil of plants, a series of simple tips can prevent its appearance. Take them into account when caring for the plants that brighten up your home.

  • Frequently ventilate the rooms where you have plants, especially if they are indoor plants. Take advantage of good weather and take them outdoors for a while. The sun is a good ally against mold.
  • Don't over-water the plants. It is important to know the water needs of a plant to prevent excess moisture retained in the soil. This can cause fungi to proliferate, as well as cause various other problems. Do not abuse the fertilizers either.
  • Be careful of the plant drainage. Sometimes the problem is not in the irrigation, but in faulty drainage of the plant pot. If the water in the soil isn't able to leach away, excess moisture builds up. Buy a new plant pot with suitable drainage if this keeps happening to your plants. For flowerbeds, you may need to put in a new substrate or add gravel to the topsoil to prevent mold appearing.
  • Keep the first outer layer of soil clean. A few fallen leaves or small remains of insects are beneficial organic matter, but too many leaves and branches can create a blanket that prevents good aeration of the soil, causing mold.
  • Do not forget to keep leaves and stems in good condition by wiping them with a dry cloth to remove dust and possible harmful microorganisms.

If you keep having problems with outdoor plants and want something more manageable, check out our article on easy-to-care-for outdoor plants.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Get Rid of White Mold on Plant Soil, we recommend you visit our Gardening & plants category.

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