The Q&A Archives: Rust Colored 'gunk' From Drainage Holes

Question: Tried searching your library, but don't even know what to look for. I have a Ming Aralia that I got from the interior landscape company I work for. It is about 6 ft. tall, somewhat old, I guess. It is in a 12 inch plastic grow pot.

Today while watering I noticed a crusty looking substance seeping out of the drainage holes. It is a rust/brown/yellow color. When I touched it, it was not crusty, but a creamy consistancy.

I doubt this plant was ever fertilized, aside from what the grower used before shipping. Do you have any idea what this is? The plant is relatively happy.

Answer: Based on your description I would suspect a root rot problem or possibly some sort of slime mold developing in the potting soil or possibly a slow release fertilizer in a state of deteriorating. You might want to consult with your local county extension to see if they can identify it with more certainty. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful.

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