White fungus balls in the soil might signal alarm bells inside your head. Don’t worry; not all of them are dangerous.
You still need to educate yourself on what they are, why they form, and how to get rid of white fungus in the soil.
This expert guide is your one-stop stop for all this information.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- What Are the White Fungus Balls in Soil?
- Why Are There Balls of Fungi in Your Soil?
- How To Remove Them
What Are the White Fungus Balls in Soil?
The white fungus balls in your soil are, in fact, large colonies of fungi. These balls might come in various shapes, sizes and forms. The type of fungal balls you might be experiencing depends on the type of fungus that causes them.
Some fungus balls might be harmful, while others are completely benign. Still, you must know what type of fungus you are dealing with in order to know how to prevent them from coming back to your soil. The three main types of fungal balls have been discussed in detail below.
If the ball of fungi in your potting soil is a round mass of fuzzy matter, then we call it a puffball. Puffballs are colonies formed by over 20 different types of fungi.
Depending on the particular type of fungus responsible, they may vary in size, form, and color. Most puffballs you find will be the size of golfballs. They are a bit deviant from your regularly-shaped fungi as they don’t have any stalks or stems.
Fortunately, puffballs are not harmful to plants by nature. However, their presence indicates excessive organic matter in the soil that could ultimately become problematic for the plant.
The stinkhorn ball of fungi is caused by just one type of fungal species called Phallaceae. This fungus produces fluffy round white balls, like puffball fungi, when it is immature.
However, you will be able to identify them immediately due to two main distinguishing features. As its name suggests, this fungus has the strongest and most stinky smell. The spores from this ball are also quite sticky.
Again, stinkhorn balls, too, aren’t inherently harmful to your plant. You still might want to get rid of it, though, due to its bad odor and excess organic content in the soil.
– Cluster of Eggs
Often, the white fungus balls on plants and the soil are tiny white eggs of fungi. They are not exactly fungal colonies, just immature fungal molds.
They look like insect eggs, but if you open them up, you will find them full of spores inside. It is most commonly seen when you add too much mulch such as lawn clippings.
Why Are There Balls of Fungi in Your Soil?
There are balls of fungus in your soil probably because of its large organic content, hot and humid conditions within the soil, overwtering, or a combination of any of these.
You can learn more about these causes by carrying on ahead.
– Large Quantity of Organic Content
If there is a large amount of organic content in your plant soil, you need to worry about balls of fungi. This matter breaks up over time and serves as a breeding ground for fungi.
If you habitually add too much compost and mulch to your soil, your plant will likely suffer recurrent fungal attacks. The composition of composite matters a lot too.
If your composting bin contains more greens than browns, it will be more susceptible to developing balls of fungi.
– Particular Seasons of the Year
Some times of the year are more conducive to the growth of hard white fungus in a garden or potting soil. In most cases, we have seen that our soil sprouts many such balls during late summer and early fall.
This can be partly because of differences in daylight, changing temperatures, and increasing humidity levels. All these factors are conducive to the growth of fungal molds and balls.
– Using Too Many Grass Clippings
Do you add a lot of grass clippings to your soil? Too many grass clippings also create the right type of environment for white mold growth. Especially grass that has not been composted and is used simply as mulch.
It decays over time and allows the local fungal species to create puffballs and other similar balls when watering the soil.
– Lots of Humidity
Your potting mix is like a melting pot for all sorts of bacteria and fungi. These micro-organisms normally do not cause disease but perform certain useful functions for the plant.
However, when the humidity of the soil increases more than it should, this causes an exponential increase in the number of these fungi. Naturally, colonies of fungus form, manifesting as white-colored balls.
High humidity occurs when the soil is being watered too much. It also occurs when the soil you use is too compact with terrible drainage and airflow.
– Overwatering the Soil
If the soil has poor drainage, the water will not be able to evaporate on time. Instead, it will accumulate in the soil, making it wet and muddy. Fungi love to grow in such soil.
Overwatering will also occur if you keep on watering the soil without allowing at least the top soil to dry out first. Remember, fungus love to attack anything wet and hot.
How To Remove Them
You can remove fungal balls by picking them off by hand, replacing the topsoil, and removing all extra organic stuff from it. As a last resort, spray the soil with fungicides and don’t forget to improve the moisture status of your soil.
Find out a detailed account of all these steps here.
– Remove the Balls Individually
Put on your rubber gardening gloves and remove the fuzzy white balls by hand. The balls over the surface are easy to pick up and remove. Not all balls will be on the surface, though. To take a deeper look, you will have to use a rake.
Carefully move the upper layers of the soil around. Keep on removing any ball that comes to the surface, just take care not to damage the plant’s roots. Discard the collected balls properly, and don’t just throw them into a dust bin.
– Remove the Infected Soil
While you are at it with a rake, note how deep these balls of fungi are spread. You can only risk replacing the infected soil if they are near the surface. This will ensure that most tiny microscopic fungal spores will also be eliminated. All you have to do is get rid of the old soil and replace it with a newly mixed one.
Another advantage of soil shuffling is that you might come across roots of the picked-off fungi. Collect these too, and then discard them along with the balls.
– Let the Soil Dry
Fungi thrive in moist and wet living conditions. Naturally, to get rid of them, you must dry out the soil first. You cannot stop watering the plant altogether, or the plant potted in the soil will also suffer. We suggest you start watering conscientiously.
This means you should use only water when the topsoil dries up and in the morning. Ensure the light needs are fulfilled so that this water evaporates on time.
– Remove All Organic Matter
We have already established that high levels of organic substances promote the growth of fungi. That is why all of it must be gotten rid of.
You must also remove all mulch and compost while removing infected soil. Try a commercial fertilizer if you feel like your plant cannot live without additional nutrients.
– Try Bottom Watering
This watering method for potted plants has significantly decreased fungus and mold growth. To do this, allow your soil to dry according to the plant’s needs, then add water to the saucer placed at the bottom of the pan. This water will be absorbed into the soil from the bottom.
After some time, touch the surface of your soil. If it feels moist, your soil has been watered from the bottom, and you can now drain the saucer.
– Apply a Fungicide
If the fungal problem in your potting or garden soil is recurrent and doesn’t seem to go away, it’s time to go for a fungicide. We don’t recommend using fungicides from the get-go because of their chemical nature.
Liquid copper fertilizers are the best these days, and you can easily order them anywhere. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label down to the last word.
It would be best to protect yourself from exposure to these chemical fertilizers. It is very common to get rashes or allergic reactions ranging from mild to severe.
– Treat Soil Fungus Naturally
You can treat fungus in the soil by natural methods using neem oil or baking soda. These are two common household items and are also easy to procure. Plus, they are not as harsh on the plants as commercial fungicides.
- Neem oil will get rid of the fungus in no time. Simply add one to two teaspoons of this magic ingredient to a gallon of water. You can also add a teaspoon of dishwashing soap to the mixture.
- Pour this water into the affected soil every week without fail. It is best to do this during the morning or mid-day hours.
- You need to take about a teaspoon of baking soda and dishwashing soap. Add both of them to one whole gallon of water and mix thoroughly.
What Are the Small White Balls in Soil?
The round balls in your soil might be fungal colonies, perlite balls, or eggs of certain animals. Sometimes they might be fertilizer white balls of the slow-release type added to the soil.
How do I rid my soil of white fungus balls?
To eliminate white fungus balls, improve drainage, reduce moisture levels, increase airflow, and consider using fungicides if necessary. Regularly remove any decaying organic matter as well.
Are white fungus balls caused by soil mites?
White fungus balls are not directly caused by soil mites. However, soil mites can contribute to the growth and proliferation of fungal organisms, including the formation of white fungus balls. Proper soil management and reducing mite populations can help prevent their occurrence.
We went into some detail regarding fungal balls in soil.
The key take-home points are given as follows:
- White fungal balls are usually puffballs, stinkhorns, or immature fungal eggs.
- They are not, as such, harmful to the plants.
- These fungal balls increase in number because of a large amount of organic stuff in the soil and an overwatered, damp and humid soil.
- You can pick these balls off by hand. You can also try either natural or chemical means of fungicides.
After reading this complete guide, you now know that fungi balls are nothing to worry about. They are easy to get rid of, and you can do it in under an hour at most.