Is Mold in Plant Soil Harmful to Humans?

Mold is everywhere! At My Pure Environment, we know that mold can grow on just about any surface if the conditions are right—even on plant soil. But how do you know if mold in plant soil is harmful to humans?

Every day, you breathe in microscopic mold spores that are floating around in the air. In small quantities, these spores are not harmful to your health. In large quantities, however, mold can affect your health, especially if you are allergic or sensitive to it.

Types of Plant Mold

Indoor plant molds are most likely a saprophytic fungus and are not harmful. However, some phytopathogenic species can affect plants, animals, and humans, so it’s important to know what kind of mold you have.

The most common plant mold, white mold, appears as a cottony or fuzzy growth, and is found on the surface of the plant’s soil. This fungus seeks damp conditions with limited air circulation and ventilation.

Other common plant fungi or mildews can appear as sooty, dark green, or grey growth on the leaves and stalks or at the base of the plants. These molds often indicate the presence of tiny insects or dust. If left untreated, these molds can inhibit photosynthesis, cause tissue damage, and kill the plant.

How to Get Rid of Mold on Plant Soil

To be safe, you should always remove mold on houseplants immediately. The first step is to take the plant out of your house while you work on it. You do not want to take the chance of spreading more mold spores around indoors. Wear a mask and gloves to protect yourself.

If the mold is white, use a spoon to scrape the mold from the soil and dispose of it. If there is a large amount of mold, repot the plant in a clean pot with sterile soil.

If there is mold on the plant, take a damp paper towel and gently wipe both sides of the leaves. Remember to use a clean paper towel after cleaning each leaf. If there is still mold on the leaves after cleaning them, remove and dispose of those leaves.

Once the mold has been removed from your plants, consider adding an antifungal agent, such as baking soda or cinnamon to the soil. In small amounts, these antifungals are safe for your plants and help to discourage mold growth.

An Ounce of Prevention

Here are a few tips to help keep your houseplants healthy and free from mold.

  • Water your houseplants only when needed. When you overwater, it creates a damp environment that can lead to mold growth. It’s more difficult for mold to grow when the foliage is dry. Let the surface soil dry out a bit before each watering, and only water when the top one or two inches of soil gets dry. Make sure the pots have good drainage, and do not let your plants sit in a saucer of water.
  • Let there be light! Houseplants need sunlight. You can even take your potted plants outdoors during temperate weather. Watch them carefully so that they do not burn or freeze. Natural light is best, but artificial light can be a great substitute. Remember to allow for good air circulation around your plants to help inhibit mold growth.
  • Prune your plants to remove debris. Organic debris on the soil creates an environment conducive to mold spore growth. Check your plants regularly for rotted stems and dead leaves, and remove them by clipping or pinching. Remember to keep your instruments clean so that you do not introduce mold or disease to your other houseplants.
  • Be sure to inspect any new plants you are bringing into your home for signs of disease or mold. And, when transplanting houseplants or potting new ones, always use healthy, sterile soil.

Don’t Let Mold Affect Your Home

If you have plants that are growing mold, it could indicate a bigger problem that might put you and your family at risk. Contact the professionals at My Pure Environment in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho area for a free inspection today. We can perform air quality tests to find out exactly what’s going on in your home. Call (509) 213-1915 to schedule your free consultation.

Photo by Spencer Gu on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 12/15/2021.

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