The Q&A Archives: White Fungus Under Houseplant

Question: I recently noticed that there was some gray mold growing on top of my Dracaena's soil, and decided that it could be 'cause I water it too much. So, after watering I picked up the pot to empty the standing water in tray underneath it. When I lifted it, to my surprise I found a white growth all over bottom of pot and in the tray! Looks like little balls of fungus. Smells like fungus too and it didn't move, so I knew it couldn't be a pest. So, I quickly took the plant out of the pot, got rid of much of soil and washed pot with hot water to hopefully kill the fungus. And repotted with fresh soil. What could this be, will it harm my plant, and do you think it will come back?

Answer: It isn't unusual for fungal growth to suddenly appear on houseplant soil. The moist soil surface (and water in the tray beneath) provide the perfect conditions for fungi to grow. This is especially true during winter months when fresh air doesn't enter a home. You've done the right thing in removing the soil and repotting your plant. Try not to overcrowd plants, or put them in a corner where air doesn't freely move around. To discourage fungal growth, empty water from the tray a few hours after watering your plant, and allow the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings.

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