Houseplants: 3 key reasons your soil has turned mouldy – how to save your plant

Monty Don provides advice on watering houseplants

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Houseplant owners may have found themselves face-to-face with a fine layer of white, almost fluffy looking mould. Though mould can begin to form on indoor plants for a number of reasons, some can be to do with the love and attention you have been giving them.

What is the mould on your houseplant’s soil?

White mould on your plants is a saprophytic fungus, also known as powdery mildew.

This type of mould is a fungal disease which affects various plants and vegetation.

While some white powder is generally harmless, it can become a bigger problem, the more it spreads.

Why is my houseplant’s soil growing mould?


One reason your plant’s soil may be growing mould is due to overwatering.

According to Den Garden, this is one of the “main causes” of mould growth in container plants.

In order to avoid mould growth, be sure only to water your plant when a quarter of the pot’s total soil volume has dried out.

You can check how damp the soil is by feeling the top couple of layers before watering.

In many cases, houseplants only need watering once a week, but in the colder months, this can drop to once every two weeks.

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Not enough drainage

In a similar vein to overwatering, not having enough drainage can also result in mould.

Poor water draining can mean excess moisture collecting in the soil.

This can occur due to an incorrectly sized pot, a lack of drainage holes in your pot or having too dense soil.

Ensuring you buy the right pot with plenty of drainage holes can allow excess water to escape.

You can amend dense soil with plant peat moss, or by repotting your houseplant.

Decomposing leaves

Mould and other forms of fungus can grow simply due to decomposing plant matter, such as old leaves.

Be sure to get rid of any dead pieces of your plant and don’t allow them to collect on the soil.

Old plant matter can be used as mulch in your garden.

How to get rid of white mould from houseplants

Though there are a number of conflicting anecdotes online, vinegar has been proven to destroy mould on plants and can help to get rid of any white spots.

According to experts from, apple cider vinegar is the best solution.

They state: “Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a quart of water and spray onto your infected leaves and stems.

“Repeat every few days until all traces of mould are gone.”

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