How to Eliminate Moldy Potting Soil

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!


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.


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.


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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Comments 18 comments

nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Leipzig, 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

phoenix2327 4 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 4 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

Joe Macho 4 years ago from Colorado Author

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.

Elke 4 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

Joe Macho 4 years ago from Colorado Author

@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

livelonger 4 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!

Amanda 4 years ago


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

Joe Macho 4 years ago from Colorado Author

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.

anne arsenault 3 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.

Virginia 3 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

Joe Macho 3 years ago from Colorado Author

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.

Jaimie G. 2 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!!!! 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?

Kathy 3 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!!

3 months ago

Would irradiated cinnamon work?

Clara 2 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 ?

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