Why is My Potted House Plant Moldy? [Reasons & What to do]

Taking care of a potted house plant is never easy, especially when you are new to it. Many people get excited and coerced into buying different potted house plants, only to have them die in a few weeks.

As a matter of fact, the majority of the Americans who call themselves plant parents have admitted to having most of their potted house plants die in under a month.

In general, most species of indoor potted plants are more sensitive to extreme conditions than outdoor plants. However, the process can be very therapeutic and relaxing once you get the hang of caring for them.

One common reason that leads to a house plant’s premature death is the growth of mold around the soil, the leaves, and the stem.

The mold can be dark green, yellow, or white in color, and can be dangerous not only for the potted house plant but also for the people living around the mold-infested house plant.

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Continue reading to learn about what mold is, what causes it to grow in a potted house plant, and how it can affect the health of the plant and the people living in your home.

Moreover, the article lists some top tips to help you prevent and remove mold growing in your potted house plants.

Let’s get started!

What is Mold?

Mold is the green, yellow, or white fluffy kind of growth you probably have seen on old stale bread, walls that are frequently moist as the result of seepage, in the corners of the kitchen, etc.

If you are an invested house plant parent who has been caring for multiple house plant species, chances are you have also come across a case of mold growing inside the plant’s soil and on its body.

Most of the time, people have no idea how to treat a moldy potted house plant, and they usually tend to get rid of such plants in order to prevent the infestation from spreading elsewhere.

But what is mold?

Mold is a kind fungus that grows and forms on damp, decaying, rotten, and unclean surfaces. Different color of molds indicates different species of fungus.

Moreover, mold can be found growing on indoor as well as outdoor potted plants. It usually only takes a few days for the mold to completely grow inside and over a potted house plant’s soil and body.

If the situation is not addressed on time, the mold can completely take over a plant’s body and soil, to the point that the plant or soil itself will no longer be visible. At this point, it is usually hard to save the potted house plant, and disposal becomes the only option.

Furthermore, mold has the ability to reproduce by producing and releasing tiny fungal spores into the air, that can move to another potted house plant, to another part of the house, or become a part of a person’s breathable air by remaining airborne.

All mold requires is the appropriate conditions and temperature to harbor its survival and encourage its growth.

Continue reading to learn why mold is growing in your potted house plants.

Read How to Remove Mold from House Plant Soil?

What Causes Mold to Grow in Your Potted House Plants?

Mold growing inside a potted house plant is not a rare situation to come across. As a matter of fact, if you have indoor or outdoor plants, either in your home or in your yard, you might have already dealt with a similar situation.

Fortunately, the good news about mold is that you can prevent its growth. If it has grown on your plants, you can get rid of it quite easily.

If a person has sufficient knowledge of the unique needs of their specific potted house plant species and knows what is causing the mold to grow in the first place, they can prevent the situation from worsening.

However, it is surprising to see how little knowledge most Americans who are interested in buying potted house plants have. 

Luckily, this article sheds light on all possible factors that may lead to mold growth in your potted house plant. The top reasons are as follows:

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The House Plant You Bought Was Already Infested with Mold

Ever since the Covid’19 global pandemic, the sales of potted house plants have gone up all over the world.

Social media bloggers are one of the main reasons behind this global spike in sales and interest. As a result, to benefit from the growing sales, several new nurseries and plant shops have emerged both physically and online.

Although this makes purchasing a potted house plant accessible and convenient for everyone, it does lead to a drop in standards and quality.

Many young people, especially millennials, have reportedly been tricked into buying potted house plants that are already diseases, have pests, or dealing with mold infestations.

If such a potted house plant is brought into a home, it automatically becomes a threat to all your other plants. As the mold reproduces and releases spores into the air, the spores may settle on other plants in your home.

As a result, the fungal spore can begin using up whatever water is available and will start growing onto all your other potted house plants. 

You Are Overwatering Your Potted House Plant

A lack of information is the main reason most plant owners end up killing their house plants. They may have the best intentions, but they don’t know how to take care of their plants, leading to the plants’ premature death.

Initially, when potted house plants first became popular, people assumed that all house plant species can survive and thrive on barely any water. Although this information is true for some species, it cannot be applied to all.

As a result, many house plants died due to insufficient watering. Eventually, this led to people once again wrongly assuming that all indoor plants need the same amount of water as outdoor plants.

While this information is once again true for a few house plant species, overwatering is a whole problem in itself. Overwatering a house plant can cause it to suffer from diseases and die.

Read What houseplants clean the air

How Does Overwatering Kill a House Plant?

The main problem that arises from overwatering a house plant species that is genetically designed to survive on little water is the growth of mold.

When you overwater a plant, more than its capacity, its roots refuse to absorb any more water into their cells. As a result, the excess water accumulates inside the pot and the soil.

The damp and wet soil conditions are excellent for the growth of fungus and mold. As long as the soil remains damp, the fungal mold will continue to grow and thrive.

Once the mold grows all the way to the middle of the pot, it begins spreading over the plant’s roots and begins to starve the plant of vital resources.

As a result, the roots begin to rot and decay, and are hence unable to absorb any more water and nutrients needed by the plant.

Moreover, the decaying plant roots serve as excellent nutrition for the mold, further aiding its growth and reproduction.

When the plant no longer is able to get any nutrients or water from the roots, it begins to turn brown, wilts, and eventually dies.

If the dead moldy potted house plant is not immediately disposed of, the fungal spores will not take too long before spreading to the other plants in the room. 

Your Potted House Plants Are Not Getting Sufficient Sunlight

Another common generalization that should be limited to only a few indoor plant species is that house plants do not need any sunlight.

While some houseplants do thrive with minimal sunlight, many need hours of daily sunlight exposure to carry out photosynthesis and make plant food.

Two problems occur when a potted house plant is deprived of sun exposure. Firstly, the lack of photosynthesis and insufficient plant food causes the roots to stop performing their function.

When the root is no longer absorbing the required water, the water begins to accumulate inside the soil and pot of the house plant.

As a result, the damp and wet conditions create an ideal environment for mold formation and growth.

Moreover, the second problem that occurs is that the excess water remains in the soil and doesn’t evaporate.

Usually, when a watered house plant is left under the sun, any excess water evaporates from the soil and transpires out of the leaves of the plant.

As a result, no water accumulates inside the house plant’s pot and mold formation is not encouraged.

On the contrary, when there is no sunlight to heat up and evaporate the extra water, it begins to accumulate inside the pot, causing mold to grow and spread.

Read Can You Be Allergic to Houseplants?

The Room Housing the Potted House Plants Lacks Proper Ventilation

Mold formation and growth is further amplified if the conditions of the room or space housing the potted house plants lack proper ventilation.

Such conditions usually prevail in the rainy season, when the air has a lot of moisture. Moreover, if you live close to the sea, you will also face such problems.

If there is no proper exhaust or ventilation system in your house, the excess moisture in the air will dampen the potted house plant’s soil.

As a result, mold will begin to form inside the soil and over the house plant’s body, leading it to its slow but certain death.

Water is Not Being Drained Properly from the House Plant’s Pot

At times, the overwatering itself is not that big of a problem; instead, improper drainage is. If you have found a way to drain the extra water, overwatering will not cause the soil to remain wet.

Draining the water means that it won’t sit in the pot or on the soil. This will stop mold from growing. However, if the water is not properly drained, you’re looking at ideal conditions for mold growth.

Bonus Hack to Improve Your House Plant Pot’s Drainage

If, despite doing your research, you are still unsure of how much water is good for your particular potted house plant’s species, you can try another hack to control the moisture in your house plant’s soil.

Simply puncture tiny holes into the bottom of your house plant’s pot and tie a sponge under the holes. Every time you will overwater your house plant, the sponge will automatically absorb the excess water.

This way you will not have to invest in new pots. What’s more, your plant will not develop mold, which means you’ll probably have a healthy plant for a long time to come.

There is a Mold Growing on an Object Near the Potted House Plants

Mold does not only grow on potted house plants. Instead, it can grow in any place that harbors its ideal living conditions.

If you have mistakenly placed a moldy piece of bread next to the plants, or you have placed the plants against a moldy wall, the fungal spores from the mold will soon flow over to your plant, initiating an infestation.

Read How Much Oxygen Does a House Plant Produce?

Why is it Important to Prevent and Remove Mold from Your Potted House Plants?

  • A mold infestation may kill all your potted house plants if you do not control the situation.
  • If the infested potted house plant species is rare and expensive, its death will ruin your investment.
  • Airborne fungal spores can land on your belongings, causing them to get infested too.
  • Breathing in airborne spores, or consuming infested food can cause severe medical complications such as loss of memory, chronic fatigue syndrome, tremors, nausea, etc.
Why is My Potted House Plant Moldy?
Why is My Potted House Plant Moldy?

Final Thoughts on Mold Growing in the Potted House Plants

You know your potted house plant needs help when you spot mold growing on its soil and leaves. Ignoring the situation cannot only cause the house plant’s early death but can also affect your health while infesting other house plants.

Hence, if you live in the United States, is it important to identify the main cause behind the moldy potted house plants so that you can take preventative and curative measures to help the plant and protect your health.

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