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How to Eliminate Moldy Potting Soil

Updated on April 4, 2016

Moldy Soil -

All is fine and dandy until you wake up one morning to discover that your favorite potted plant has a fuzzy white mold on the soil. Worried, you run to the Google machine and dash in mold on potting soil. Somehow, with a bit of luck you've managed to end up here. That's a good thing too, because I've got the answers to your moldy potting soil issue! In the following text, you'll find information on the safe and natural removal of mold on plant soil, as well as a few proactive steps you can take to ensure that it doesn't return. The process is quick and painless, for both you and your plants!

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Potted plants are more prone to mold. The impermeable container holds more moisture in the soil. Photo By: Niko Paix

Removal of Mold on Soil -

If you have a fuzzy white mold on the soil of houseplants, or any other container plant for that matter, the first step to elimination is physical removal. Leaving mold be, not only robs your plants of nutrition, the spores released can spark allergic reactions and breathing issues with sensitive persons. After the physical removal, ground cinnamon is applied to the soil. The active component, Cinnamaldehyde acts as the perfect natural fungicide and eliminates any remaining mold growth.

  1. Wearing a breathing mask, scrape off the infected areas of soil. Discard it.
  2. Lightly dust the soil with ground cinnamon. Try to get an even distribution and remember that it only takes a thin layer.
  3. Do not water until the top two inches of soil are dry. For smaller containers, wait until the top quarter of the soil has dried before returning to a water regimen.

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Also Remember to -

  • Never let containers sit in saucers for more than 5 minutes. Drain off excess water.
  • Place in sunlight or strong artificial light to help dry the soil.

Photo By: Thomas Pix

Prevention of Mold on Soil -

To be quite frank, mold can never be totally eliminated. The truth is that mold spores are a regular thing in soil, and normally are of no harm. The problems arise when hot, humid and low ventilation conditions are present. Under these conditions, mold spores grow into their adult fungi form and release even more spores. Indoor planters and container gardens are typically more common hosts to mold as they hold in more moisture. To prevent an outbreak of mold growth in plant soil, follow the simple steps below:

  1. Don't Over Water - Over watering is the main cause of mold growth in container plants. Soil that is constantly moist is much more likely to harbor mold growth. To prevent over watering, only water once the top two inches or 1/4 of the total soil volume has dried out. For most indoor plants, watering once a week should be sufficient.
  2. Reduce Humidity & Increase Ventilation - The other two factors that promote mold growth are high humidity and low ventilation. Together, they create the stale environment in which mold thrives. By already not over watering, you're also reducing the humidity at the soil level. To reduce the humidity and moisture levels even further, place planters in a well ventilated room or use a small fan to constantly push new air around the soil.

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Final Word -

Overall, mold in potting soil is very easy to treat for. The cinnamon treatment will eliminate existing spores while proactive steps such as reducing humidity and increasing ventilation will keep the mold from returning. My one word of advice is to avoid moldy potting soil treatments that call for the use of vinegar. Though many use vinegar to treat potting soil mold, I for one feel it is ineffective. Mold can easily live through the acidic vinegar, but your plant roots may not! Cinnamon is a much safer and effective option. Thank you for reading my gardening article on the removal of potting soil mold. Comments, questions and suggestions are always appreciated!

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    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      I must try cinnamon! I've been plagued with a little white 'film' on my potted plants' soil for months, which quickly grew back when the surface was scraped off. Thank you!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      You hubs are well timed as my mind is turning to a bit of gardening this weekend. I'm wondering if you might have any tips as to moss growing on top of the soil. Have shared this on Twitter and FB.

    • Lissie Loomes profile image

      Lissie Loomes 5 years ago from Tasmania, Australia

      Thanks Joe for the cinnamon tip - hadn't heard it before but will certainly try it on my indoor garden when necessary.

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      nifwlseirff - That you must! Cinnamon works great and can also be used in other areas of the garden too! If your plants show foliage signs of powdery mildew, cinnamon can be used as a spray to control it. I wish you the best of luck.

      phoenix2327 - Hello again! The gardening bug is definitely running wild. As far as I can remember, Moss grows on soil because of moist and acidic conditions. I would recommend physically removing the moss and then sprinkling a little wood ash over the treated areas. The ash will make the pH swing up just enough to discourage future moss growth. Hope it helps you out.

      Lissie Loomes - Glad I could show you something new! You'll be amazed at how well it works.

    • profile image

      Elke 5 years ago

      I'll try the cinnamon approach. I have a "Money Tree" plant. The new growth reaches a certain point, then withers and dies. The mature leaves seem unaffected so far, but I blame the white moldy film on top of the soil for the stunted growth of the baby leaves. Am I right?

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      @Elke - I'm not very familiar with Money Tree plants, nor is it easy to make a diagnosis without seeing the actual plant, but it seems to me you are correct. The white mold on the soil will most definitely affect new growth before the older established leaves. Along with the cinnamon, try to get a light/heat source that will dry the top layer of soil out a little quicker

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I have this problem and ironically found your Hub via Google! I scraped the mold off, sprinkled a generous amount of cinnamon, and am waiting to see if it did the trick!

    • profile image

      Amanda 4 years ago

      Hello,

      I've got furry white mold growing in my potted green onion's soil. Is it safe to still eat the onions after the mold is removed?? Thanks.

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 4 years ago from Colorado

      Since the mold typically only affects the soil, the green onions should be just fine to eat.

    • rbm profile image

      rbm 4 years ago

      Great tip, will definitely give this a try. Who knew that cinnamon could be used to get rid of mold! Pretty interesting.

      Good hub, voted up and useful.

    • profile image

      anne arsenault 4 years ago

      most of my plants have mold thanks I will try cinnamon hope it works

      I never new what caused the mold thanks hope it works.

    • profile image

      Virginia 4 years ago

      I will be trying the cinnamon! I also want to know can you still sprinkle it even if you have already wartered your plants?

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 4 years ago from Colorado

      Virginia - Yes, you can sprinkle the cinnamon over the soil even if your plants have already been watered. Just plan on letting the soil dry out a bit before you water again.

    • profile image

      Jaimie G. 3 years ago

      I had heard that using a splash of sprite in your house plants helped with the growth, because of the sugars and such! Well, since I have done this, I now have white furry mold growing on the plants and they are looking VERY unhealthy!!! HELP!!!!

    • profile image

      Sharinhall@yahoo.com 2 years ago

      What if you have brownish orange mold in your soil? It turns to powder wen u touch it. Will cinnamon work on this too?

    • profile image

      Kathy 9 months ago

      Comment...I would like to know the cause of a powdery substance (from Flowers)

      on my peace lily houseplant.mmIt also has a grayish film around the plant at base of potted

      Plant. Are the two symptoms connected to the same problem? Also the lilies have brown

      colored spots on them that have worsened and turned a darker brown with larger spots.

      I have cut these flowers off along with the long stem. SOS here..I hate to lose this plant!!

      I will try the Cinnamon treatment you have suggested andTHANKYOU!!

    • profile image

      9 months ago

      Would irradiated cinnamon work?

    • profile image

      Clara 8 months ago

      I put a fair amount of cinnamon on the earth of my large leaf plant was give to me when I lost my husband so don't know what it is called but it did have large cup size white flowers but I have transplanted it with the best earth and I watered it every two weeks now I am wondering if I can water over top of the Cimmon and how often should I water this plant ?

    • profile image

      David O 7 months ago

      Cinnamon did NOT work for me

    • profile image

      Ella 6 months ago

      This was very helpful! I am going to try the cinnamon trick, but another problem I am having is the mold is growing on the actual pot. Would this also be due to ventilation/lack of light? What kind of artificial light would be helpful?

    • profile image

      Susan Johnson 5 months ago

      Thank you so much I also knew this trip and my plants are growing beautifully now!!!! keep sharing!!!!

    • profile image

      Susan Johnson 5 months ago

      I love different ideas on how to take care of life with household products that are all natural I do have a question how often should we put the cinnamon in our plants once a month?

    • profile image

      constance 5 months ago

      i keep my organic potting soil in a tub with a lid and now everytime i open it the whole top is covered in white fuzzy mold. this has never happened to me before. will the cinnamon work in this condition and should i dispose of soil or remove mold and keep?

    • profile image

      Betsy Bowen 5 months ago

      Our house cleaner told us that there was white mold on our orchid plant, so we took it out side and threw all the old dirt and mold away. Gave it a good new supply of Miracle Grow, cleaned the pot, washed the roots of the plant and repotted it adding the ground cinammon. My housecleaner saw it today and suggested I ask Google what to do. What did we do wrong that made the mold show up again. We water it from the cold water at the kitchen sink as we do the other plants and they do not have the white mold. This plant was given to me by my best friend who passed away in June and I do so want to keep it safe and flowering. Thanks for your info.

      Betsy Bowen at betsybow77@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Patricia Branagan Cannock staffs 4 months ago

      I had a new plant last week for a Christmas present( a Poinsettia) within days all the leaves dropped off, and the soil is already mouldy, does this mean than it was stored in the wrong conditions in the store. I will try your remedy. Thanks

    • profile image

      Michele 2 months ago

      Thanks for the tip about Cinnamon, I'll definitely try this. I have several Anthurium potted plants side by side and only one displayed wispy white strings on the soil, which I figured were spiders, so sprinkled heavily with Orange and Lemon peel (Spice World). 1 week later, the entire top is looking more like mold. The are in bright light but not sun which will burn the plant, I have a TheraPure increasing ventilation and they look extremely healthy with lots of blooms. Does this sound like mold? What else can I do?

    • profile image

      Ryan 7 weeks ago

      My soil isnt moldy, but it has some kind of slimy substance on it. Any idea what it might be?

    • profile image

      Li 5 weeks ago

      Will try this

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Linda Matz 2 weeks ago

      I think I am going to really like this site!

    • profile image

      Sabrina 2 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for all the information!

      I got a whole planter with spinach full of furry white mold, I'm trying this!

    • profile image

      Rusti 13 days ago

      Thank you! Easy to read and understand information, fast service. Loved this site!

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