The Q&A Archives: Growth On Mulch

Question: My husband laid red cyprus mulch down under and around the shrubs (spireas, burning bush, viburnum, junipers, and a crab apple tree) about 2 weeks ago. This morning (at 91 degrees and relatively high humidity) I noticed a neon yellowish spot on the mulch (which I never saw before). I assumed it was my dog's vomit. A few hours later I went out again and this spot's appearance had changed to a large, fluffy whitish/off whitish merangue-like "stuff" with small spots of a dark red or brown substance oozing out. (It looks similar to dark blood) It also is spreading under the burning bush.

My husband picked at it with a piece of bark and it felt gummy and appeared black underneath. He sprayed wasp/hornet killer on the growth and it has disintegrated somewhat. It is now black and appears like soot or charcoal.

I have absolutely no idea what this could be. Might it be a fungus or a bug problem? What is the solution to curing this problem? I really appreciate your help with this enigma!! Thank you!! :)

Answer: Welcome to the wonderful world of slime molds! These goopy fungi (Myxomycetes) live on dead organic matter and thrive in moist conditions. You can rake it out and dump it in the trash; especially in the early stages before it spreads its spores. Increasing the air circulation and allowing the soil to dry out will help eliminate the stuff. To help stop the growth of slime mold, just rake any mulch on the soil surface to expose it to air and sunlight. It's perfectly harmless - just revolting to look at!

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