7 Smart Ways to Banish Mold Living in Your Kitchen Houseplants, According to a Plant Expert

published Oct 27, 2022
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Houseplants in the kitchen are always a yes. Seeing mold in your beloved houseplants? As it turns out, only sometimes a no. While it feels gross to have mold openly growing in your kitchen and, normally, mold indicates that something is rotting, when it comes to your houseplants, seeing mold isn’t necessarily bad.

To a certain degree, mold and fungi spores exist in every organic soil mix and are a normal and healthy part of soil biology. The white fuzzy mold that you are seeing on top of your plant’s soil is probably just a saprophytic fungus, which is harmless to your plant.

That being said, if mold is noticeably growing on the top of the soil it is usually an indication that your houseplant is not getting what it needs in terms of water, sunlight, or drainage, which can lead to bigger problems (like root rot) down the line. Before you chuck your moldy plant into the garbage, here are seven ways you can banish gross mold from your houseplant’s soil. 

1. Scoop out the mold.

If the mold is confined to a small area of your plant’s soil, the easiest way to deal with it is just to remove it! Simply scoop out the moldy soil, throw it away, and top up your plant’s pot with some fresh, dry soil. This option is a good short-term, cosmetic solution, but if you notice mold growing back you may need to take more aggressive action. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Repot the plant.

If the mold is spread over most of the soil or you suspect that the soil itself is contaminated with excess mold spores and causing the mold issues, it is best to repot the plant entirely. Make sure that you remove as much of the soil from the plant’s roots as possible without breaking them, and dispose of the soil afterwards.

3. Use a fungicide.

Sometimes it’s hard to repot a plant — especially if it’s a larger plant in a particularly heavy potting container. If this is the case, you can try applying a commercially available houseplant fungicide to the soil to help deal with the mold problem. Fungicides are sold at most garden centers, greenhouses, and even online!

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani/Kitchn

4. Try natural anti-fungals.

There are a few ingredients you can find in almost any kitchen that will help to combat mold in your houseplant’s soil. These natural anti-fungals include cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda. Cinnamon can be lightly sprinkled on your plant’s soil once a week until the mold growth has stopped. To use baking soda, mix a tablespoon with a gallon of water and a teaspoon of insecticidal soap for an anti-fungal spray that can be applied to the soil and leaves of your plants as necessary. Lastly, apple cider vinegar and water can be mixed (one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a gallon of water) and applied to the soil once a week until the mold is gone. 

5. Don’t overwater.

The best way to banish mold from living in your houseplants is to prevent it from growing in the first place. Soil that is consistently wet and waterlogged provides an ideal environment for mold to flourish and can lead to root rot, which will eventually kill your plant. Make sure you are familiar with your plant’s specific watering needs and cut back on watering if necessary to prevent overwatering.

Credit: Sandra Rojo

6. Provide adequate drainage.

Ensuring that your plant has adequate drainage goes hand-in-hand with preventing overwatering. When it comes to indoor plants, drainage is provided by using the proper potting container as well as the proper soil. Ensure that whatever pot you use for your plant has drainage holes at the bottom. These holes allow excess water to escape the pot so that the plant’s roots can breathe. 

7. Provide your plant with more light.

If your plant is in a low-light location, providing it with more sunlight increases photosynthesis and can help it use water more efficiently. In turn, the soil will dry out more thoroughly between waterings which will prevent further mold growth.