Mold in orchid potting mix is a worrying matter that you would see and have concerns, but they are caused by neglect and the improper care. The reasons are many; some evitable and some inevitable.
Our team of gardeners is here to help you determine which of these reasons apply to your orchid. Please read this article to see more of these reasons as we inspect them in detail and help you find a quick-fix solution to resolve the problem.
- What Reasons Cause Mold in Orchid Potting Mix?
- What are Easy Solutions to Prevent and Treat Mold in Your Orchid Potting Mix?
What Reasons Cause Mold in Orchid Potting Mix?
The reasons for mold in orchid potting mix are excessive humidity, poor ventilation, various orchid fungal infections, watering your orchid beyond their need, not removing laying of dead organic matter around, especially the one sitting on the orchid, and contaminated soil.
– Excessive Humidity
Molds thrive in high humidity levels, and since orchids perform best in humidity, it is only apparent to find mold growth in the potting mix. The moisture accumulated in and on the porous orchid mix encourages mold growth, and don’t forget that this is the right medium where they will have the ability to grow in a strong way. Most orchid growers in humid regions complain about mold growth in the growing medium.
– Poor Ventilation
Poor ventilation is a cause of increased humidity levels, creating space for mold growth in your orchid mix. It is common to have less ventilation indoors, especially is you place it in a room that has very high humidity, and no air circulation. You can look at the discoloration on the orchid leaves to confirm that the mold growth is because of poor ventilation.
– Orchid Fungus
It is standard for orchids to suffer from a fungal infection because of similar growing conditions. If you notice a white fuzz on orchid stems, know that your orchid is likely under attack by fungi. For this, do not assume the orchid white fungus on leaves is mold; it is powdery mildew.
You must also remember that the fungal spores travel down the orchid stem to the roots, entering the potting medium. Black mold on orchid roots is another indication of fungal infection. The fungus covers the entire root system, meaning your orchid cannot absorb water, often leading to root rot and plant death.
– Excessive Watering
Orchid owners, especially beginners, tend to overwater them, thinking they are doing them good, which is not the case. Orchids detest standing in water and prefer to be watered less than to be overwatering.
When you water the plant in an excessive amount, it begins to accumulate moisture in the soil, creating favorable growing conditions for the mold. In simple words, soggy soil is a breeding ground for mold spores. Poor draining soils worsen the case as you can easily overwater them.
– Dead Organic Matter
Orchids grow near dead organic matter or have them resting on their soil and are prone to mold suppression, where they thrive as this is the right growing media. It is a frequent human error not to pay attention to minor mistakes like leaving the leaves on the growing medium without knowing that the dead leaves are a source of nutrients that promote mold growth.
– Contaminated Soil
Another of the common reasons for mold formation in the potting medium is the contaminated soil. The potting mediums are often left uncovered, capturing moisture from the surrounding air.
Growing mixes seem fine but have already begun to grow mold, and this may also mean that the soil you may have bought was already damaged, or it got moldy in the long run. Also, bringing a new orchid home bought from a local store is more home to mold growth; you never know if the orchid mix is already contaminated.
What are Easy Solutions to Prevent and Treat Mold in Your Orchid Potting Mix?
The solutions to mold in orchid potting mix include controlling the surrounding humidity levels, creating ways to promote airflow, or you can try treating the fungus. In addition, begin watering the orchid only when necessary, removing the dead organic matter, and preventing and treating soil contamination.
– Control the Surrounding Humidity Level
It would help not to step down the surrounding humidity level as your orchids will not be able to survive; instead, controlling it is the best option. You should install a dehumidifier or multiple fans to maintain the humidity and make it difficult for the mold to survive.
Similarly, heating the floor also helps to regulate moisture, and as you do so, it will prevent condensation from forming in the orchid mix. The two methods are effective for indoor orchids. Still, if your outdoor orchids have molds growing in their soil, bringing them inside and implementing the discussed strategies is recommended.
– Create Ways for Easy Airflow
You must ventilate your home for at least 30 minutes daily, preferably in the early morning and late at night. Open the interior doors and the opposing window to promote airflow, allowing your orchids to breathe. Keep the indoors less humid, if you have placed the plant as such, and if you have any exhaust fans, now is the optimal time to turn them on so that the soil wouldn’t stay excessively humid.
Furthermore, if the potting medium is damaged due to mold and is beyond repair, it would be best to replace it so the orchid, especially the roots, can have a fresh start. Also, placing the orchids outside for a few hours of the day is an effortless way to promote airflow.
– Treat the Fungus
Orchid growers recommend using tea tree oil for most fungal infections, as this is not toxic for the plant. Remember that the oil has anti-bacterial properties that can cure many infections-including fungal.
For a more readily option available at home, you can use cinnamon. Spraying a mixture of ground cinnamon solution on the affected orchids can help avoid and control orchid mold on roots.
If you have ever come across some snow mold orchid hydrogen peroxide solution to remove the mold, you can use its solution to treat the fungal infection. Like tea tree oil, it has anti-bacterial properties, making it fit for various fungal infections. Utilize the watering sessions to add the solution to the orchid’s soil.
Mix approximately one-fourth cup of hydrogen peroxide with a strength of three percent with four cups of water and flush your orchid’s soil. Water the orchid heavily until water starts dripping out of the pot’s drainage holes. Tilt the pot side by side so all the areas of the potting soil are covered.
– Use Fungicides
Many orchid owners suggest using a rubbing alcohol solution for the same purpose. Some of the commonly used fungicides for preventing and controlling mold growth are like Bonide copper fungicide, you can also try to use garden safe fungicide 3.
For this, you should know that the right source of fungicide for the mold that you have is important because you would tackle them in the right way. Some may have chemicals, but they would be the right source to use if you wish to free from them. You may use Avelyo fungicide, or some Daconil fungicide
– Making Homemade Solutions
You can also try homemade solutions so that you can control the mold around the potting soil. Mix one teaspoon of ground cinnamon with five liters of warm water and let the mixture rest for a few hours. Moreover, pouring cooled-down boiled water directly into the soil is common; this way, with the right material that can be commonly found, you are tackling the issue.
Allow the soil to dry, and then repeat until you are sure that the fungal growth is under control. Remember, the fungal spores might be hiding on the leaves, so it would be best if you prune the heavily infected leaves. Isolate the infected plant, so your healthy plants are not affected. Treat the isolated orchid with a fungicide.
– Water Your Orchids Only When Necessary
Unlike most plants, orchids do not need regular watering; you must water them according to natural orchid care, which is twice a week when the surrounding temperature is high and dry and weekly during the colder months.
The optimum way to water orchids is to check the soil; if the top inches feel dry, it is time to water them, or else you can also make sure to schedule them. You can also avoid overwatering your orchid by giving it a weekly plunge and letting the water drain from the drainage holes.
– Remove the Dead Organic Matter
If not regularly, please do a weekly cleanup around your orchids to minimize the chances of mold growth. You can hand-pink the dead and dry leaves or the fallen flowers.
Alternatively, you can use a miniature rake to gather the dead matter, add it to a bag, and discard it. Remember to wear protective gloves while handling the dead organic matter, so keeping the soil tidy will help you in the long run to avoid such a hazard.
– Prevent and Treat Soil Contamination
When you try to cover the orchid-potting mixes until you use them in orchid repotting. The covering will ensure the orchid mix does not absorb moisture from the air, lessening mold development and chances to see them grow.
It would be best to buy an orchid from a nursery as the gardeners are familiar with which growing mix best suits the orchids, and they do not reuse the soil as they are aware of the contamination chances.
However, repotting your orchids immediately after bringing them home would be best. Repotting to a fresh growing mix will stop mold from contaminating the neighboring plants and will halt the extent of contamination in your orchid.
It is common for mold to reach the orchid roots, so how to get rid of white fungus on orchid roots? It would be best to repot your orchid and water it less than usual. Change the potting material and move the orchid outside.
Trim the diseased and damaged parts to promote air circulation around the roots, and you may also sprinkle ground cinnamon on the roots to control the fungus spread.
Understanding why your potting mix has mold is easy now that you have read our article and even learned how to solve the issue. Let’s go through the main points we mentioned, so you are fully ready to help out your orchid:
- Do not water your orchids more than their need; once a week in winter and twice a week in summer is sufficient to minimize the chances for mold growth and prevent root rot.
- Open your windows early morning or late at night to promote airflow around your house. It will ensure that your orchids are not moist, meaning no mold growth.
- Make it a habit to pick the dead organic matter, especially sitting on top of the orchid mix, as it is a food source for mold.
- Use remedies like using rubbing alcohol solution or tea tree oil as effective orchid white fungus treatments.
- Repot your newly bought orchids immediately to a fresh growing medium to treat orchids suffering from soil contamination and prevent mold growth; if you do not know for sure if the soil is contaminated, it is wise to repot your orchid.
After reading our advice here, you can certainly go a long way in keeping your orchids healthy and keeping mold away from your orchid potting mixes.
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