Taking care of succulents is one thing, but removing mold is another. How do you go about doing that?
To get rid of mold on succulents, you can use a variety of DIY fungicides, or you can purchase a commercial fungicide. DIY fungicides can include a baking soda mixture, milk spray, neem oil, or mouthwash. If the DIY methods do not work, it will be best to purchase a commercial spray.
Succulents can provide your home with some fantastic color and decor. However, some of that beauty may be tainted with bits of mold on the green leaves. If you are having this problem, this article will describe how mold occurs in the first place, how to treat it, and how to prevent mold for a lasting and healthy succulent.
How Do Succulents Get Mold in the First Place?
Mold growing on your succulents can be a common occurrence. Before we discuss how to treat the mold, it will help to know how it grows on your plant.
Mold can grow anywhere where there is moisture in the air. Mold grows from spores that can float in the air and land on surfaces where they eventually grow into mold. In actuality, there are mold spores all around us. The spores just need the perfect environment to start growing. Over-watering your plant adds to the moisture that is available to spores.
Over-watering can be damaging to your plants and is a frequent reason that house plants die. When there is too much water in the soil, the plant cannot absorb enough oxygen.
Watering succulents will be a bit different than watering regular houseplants in a few ways. Succulents have larger roots and stems, as well as thicker leaves. This allows them to hold more water and lasts for longer without fresh water. This is why they are very similar to cacti and are great indoor plants for busy people.
During the summer and warmer temperatures, you will be safe with watering your plant only once a week. You will have to use your discretion, of course, but your succulent will survive just fine with weekly water. When watering, fill the pot up so the water is overflowing. That way, the succulent will absorb all the water it needs. If your succulent is in the growing stages, you can also mix fertilizer with water.
During the colder months, you will be able to water your succulent less frequently than in warmer climates. The plant will be able to survive a bit of dry soil as well, so don’t worry if that happens.
If you follow the proper watering recommendations for your succulent, it will be more difficult for mold to grow. However, mold can still appear even if you water once a week. Let’s look at some other reasons you could be experiencing fungus.
Not Enough Sunlight
Another common reason that can cause mold is not having enough sunlight. Succulents need a lot of light. When outdoors, they can be exposed to up to 6 hours of sunlight. If you have an indoor succulent, you will have to place it in the most well-lit spot of your home to ensure it gets enough light. If the plant does not get its fill, mold is more likely to start forming.
Mold will grow if you do not properly take care of your plant. Succulents are fairly easy to care for since they do not require too much maintenance, but you do have to put some time and effort into it. When you neglect your plant, it will create the perfect environment for fungus to grow. This includes improper watering, poor lighting, and lack of cleaning.
Different Types of Mold
Before you start asking how to get rid of mold on your plants, it is good to know the different types of mold. There are multiple kinds of fungus that can grow both on your soil and succulents. Let’s take a look:
- Green mold: This particular type of mold is the most common fungus you will find in your house. Green mold can grow on various foods, appear on walls, and grow on your plants.
- White mold: This mold is not actually one specific type of mold. Many molds can appear to be white and can grow on a variety of surfaces in your home, such as wood, plant soil, or paper.
- Red mold: Red mold can appear on surfaces in your house, such as walls, floors, ceilings, and carpets.
- Black mold: Many people hear black mold and immediately panic. In reality, not all black mold is dangerous. This type of fungus typically grows outdoors in moist areas or indoors in plant soil.
Not only can you usually distinguish types of fungus by color, but you can also sort them into different categories based on their health risks. Any molds that are hazardous to your health can be sorted into three different categories: allergenic, pathogenic, and toxigenic.
- Allergenic: Allergenic mold can cause allergic reactions to those with existing allergies or conditions such as asthma.
- Pathogenic: This kind of mold can be dangerous to those with existing illnesses or weak immune systems. Pathogenic fungi can cause illness or health conditions.
- Toxigenic: Toxigenic mold can be dangerous to anyone. It can cause serious health problems that can eventually lead to death.
It is also worth noting that if you spot a large amount of mold on your plant or in your house and are unsure what kind it is, make sure to investigate. You can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about the safety risks of different fungi.
How Do I Identify the Different Types of Mold?
Knowing how to distinguish between different types of mold can help when researching what the best treatment is. Even though it may not be possible to know for sure what type of fungus is infecting your succulent, there are a few general things you can look for:
- White mold: This kind of mold is probably the easiest to spot. It will look fuzzy or like cotton and will be white. This type of fungi can be anywhere on the plant. As mentioned above, white mold is usually harmless.
- Grey mold: Grey mold will look like powder and will be a grey color. You will usually find this kind of fungi near the roots in the soil, on the stem of the plant, or where the plant is most full. Grey mold can eventually kill the plant if left untreated.
- Black sooty mold: Some black mold can appear to be a sooty sort of texture and can look either black or dark green. You can find this type of mold near the stem or base of your plant and on the soil.
As previously stated, it can be difficult to know what type of mold is on your plant. If you do your research and are still unsure what is wrong with your plant, take a picture and talk to your local gardener or plant expert.
Use Water, Baking Soda, and Dish Soap
A great way to remove mold from your succulent is to mix water, baking soda, and dish soap together. Since succulent leaves are more sturdy than normal plants, you will be able to use a cloth to wipe the mold off with this mixture. If you don’t want to directly wipe it off, buy a small spray bottle. You can then put the mixture in the bottle and spray the leaves of your succulent.
Refer to the video below if you want to make your own organic fungicide. The video is only four minutes long and shows you the exact steps to make your own baking soda spray at home.
Use a Milk Spray
This method is very simple. All you have to do is grab your small spray bottle and pour some milk into the bottle. You can also add water to dilute the mixture a bit. While you can use the spray to neutralize the mold, this is more of a preventative measure. The mixture is used most effectively by spraying your succulents when the weather starts getting a bit warmer.
There are a few different suggestions for the ratio of milk to water, but the one size fits all answer is 40/60. However, you can experiment with different amounts to find what the best mixture is for your succulents. When you figure out the perfect milk spray, spray the entirety of the plant every ten days for the best results.
Use a Mouthwash Solution
This will probably surprise you the most. Mouthwash can indeed help treat and prevent black spots and powdery mildew on your succulents. To do this, mix some mouthwash and water in a spray bottle. Spray your succulents once a week to prevent fungus and other diseases.
Use Neem Oil and Other Oils
Another great solution is neem oil. However, you will have to be careful when applying this solution since it can be dangerous to plants. When you first apply the oil, make sure to test it on one leaf. If your succulent is fine after 24 hours, you can then spray the entire plant. Make sure to spray only in the evening or when the plant is not sitting in direct sunlight. This could damage the leaves.
Furthermore, when you spray, be sure to only spray lightly. Do not douse the plant with neem oil. That will cause damage to your succulent. Another small tip is that you can use cooking oils to mix with any other solutions to prevent or treat mold. The oil will help the mixture to stick to the succulent leaves. This will make the treatment more effective.
Purchase a Commercial Spray
DIY sprays and mixtures sometimes will just not do the trick. If you have a lot of plants with a mold problem, or if you simply want to purchase a product that will be guaranteed to work, it will be worth investing in a commercial fungicide.
When buying a commercial spray, there are a few things to remember:
- Research the disease your plant has before purchasing a fungicide. It can be difficult knowing exactly what is wrong with your plant since many different molds can look the same. So do as much research as you can before purchasing so you can treat your succulent properly.
- Read all of the safety precautions. Especially if you have an indoor succulent, it is important to know if it is safe to use indoors. You should also make sure it is safe for pets as well if you own some furry friends.
- Read the mixing instructions. Not all fungicides require further mixing before applying to the plant, but it would be a good thing to know before purchasing. You should also know what amount of treatment you will need for the size of the plant.
Monterey LG6140 70% Neem Oil is a great choice from Amazon.
What Do I Do if There Is Mold in My Soil?
Removing mold from your soil can be a bit different than removing it from the leaves. Take a look below for a few suggestions.
- Put protective gear on. Since many different molds can be the same color, it will be difficult to know if it is dangerous or not. This is why you should always wear protective gear like a facemask to prevent the inhalation of harmful bacteria.
- Use a spoon to scrape off the mold from the dirt. After scraping the fungus off, put the mold or moldy dirt into a plastic bag and into the garbage.
- Brush cinnamon onto the soil. This may sound odd, but cinnamon is actually one of the best ways to prevent mold. It will kill the fungus and prevent the spores from growing. Brush a thin layer onto the soil every few weeks.
How to Prevent Mold on Succulents
There are a few easy ways to prevent mold on your succulents.
- Use healthy soil when potting and repotting your plants. If your plants are not getting enough nutrients, this could speed up the growth of fungus. Succulents need a lot of drainage, so be sure to get a coarse soil to plant your succulents in. You can add some coarse sand potting soil to your normal soil to get the best results, or simply fill the pot with sand. With any soil you choose, make sure that it is lightweight.
- Make sure the succulent is getting lots of sunlight or light. Sunlight is a known natural mold-repeller.
- Provide a source of ventilation. Some ventilation like a fan or open window will prevent harmful dust particles from landing on your succulent.
- Do not water your succulent too much. You should only be watering your plant when the top two inches of your soil is dry. Moisture is the main ingredient for mold, so it is very easy for an overwatered plant to produce fungi.
- Wipe off excess dust and debris. It is easy for household dust and debris to start building upon the soil and leaves of your succulent. Frequently and lightly wipe off the leaves and soil, and pick up the excess leaves that have fallen. Don’t wipe off all of the debris though, make sure to leave any natural debris in the soil. This is healthy for the plant.
- Periodically brush cinnamon on the soil of your succulents.
Can Mold Damage My Plants?
If you are a new plant owner, a bit of mold might not seem like a big deal. If you think that, then you are partially correct. Your succulents will be fine for a while, even if they have mold on them. However, that mold will eventually start to grow.
As the fungi grow, it will begin to damage your succulent. The leaves could start to decrease in size and shrivel, and some may even fall off. Furthermore, the color can start to change into a faded green or yellow. As the mold travels to the plant’s roots, there is a chance of the entire plant dying. If you have other plants nearby, another dangerous effect is that the mold infection can spread to other plants.
As rust is cancer to boats, mold can be cancer for succulents. There are a few different ways to get rid of mold on succulents. Some DIY treatments include baking soda, water, and dish soap mixtures, milk spray, mouthwash, and neem oil. You can also use a variety of household cooking oils to add to the treatments to make them stick to your succulent better.
If you do not want to go with the DIY route, you can purchase a commercial fungicide. Some things to check before purchasing a fungicide are knowing what kind of infection your plant has and reading all of the safety precautions of the product.
You can prevent mold with milk spray and cinnamon. However, the best way to prevent infection is to take proper care of your plant.