If you’re diligent about keeping your home mold free, you may want to give your indoor plants a second look—they, too, can harbor mold. But can they be saved?

How Do Houseplants Attract Mold?

Houseplants can be like children; they give us great joy as we nurture them and watch them grow, but they can get sick, and mold is just one of the ways a plant can take ill. Overwatering, poor drainage, old potting soil, and decaying matter can encourage fungi in any plant. Some molds can be relatively harmless, but others can kill a plant and make you sick in the process.

What Can You Do If You Plant Has Been Attacked By Mold?

It’s relatively easy to save a houseplant that has mold issues if the fungus hasn’t overtaken it. In most cases, you can simply scrape the mold from the plant’s leaves (or remove the leaves entirely) and the soil surrounding it before putting it in a well-ventilated place to dry. If it returns, repot your plant using sterile, fresh soil, and soak the pot in a solution of 1 part household bleach and 9 parts water for 10 minutes and scrub with dish detergent and water. Tea tree oil is also an excellent natural fungicide that will not harm you or plants. Mix two tablespoons of tea tree oil in two cups of water in a glass spray bottle and spray plants every three to seven days to kill any remaining fungi.

How Can You Prevent Mold From Attacking Your Plants?

To keep mold from attaching itself to your plants, engage in these proper maintenance techniques.

  • Only water a plant when it needs it.
    • A good rule of thumb to follow: plants that are housed in 6” pots should be watered when the soil is dry at 2” inches, and anything smaller should be watered when the soil is dry at a depth of 1”. Water should be added until it runs out of the holes in the bottom of the pot, with any excess that drains from the pot removed immediately.
  • Your pots should have holes for proper drainage and should sit on a removable saucer that will catch the water as it drains.
    • Small pebbles in the bottom of the pot will improve drainage and prevent soil from blocking the holes—check them from time to time to make sure they aren’t blocked.
  • A quality potting soil is essential to the health of your plant.
    • Seal potting soil tightly before storing the unused portion, as moist soil is a breeding ground for mold. Repot your plants every 2-3 years to keep to mold at bay.