Ask a Question forum: what's growing in the dirt of my dumb cane

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Name: Deborah M Watts
Millville, New Jersey
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deborahmwatts7
Sep 7, 2013 9:37 PM CST
I have a dumb cane plant that is only 1 1/2 years old. it grew fast. Now this summer it grew a flower, but in the dirt is a white spongy thing in the soil...can you tell me what this might be and can it hurt the plant? Thanks you
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 7, 2013 10:04 PM CST
Hello @deborahmwatts7 and welcome,
Can you share a photo of this? It could be a mold or fungus, but a picture would sure be a help.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - Sep 7, 2013 10:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Sep 7, 2013 10:08 PM CST
Warm welcome from the Pacific Northwest - waay across the country from you. Yes, please post a photo if you can and some wise soul will chime in.
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Sep 8, 2013 1:21 PM CST
Is it a house plant or outside? If it's inside, you should remove the white spongy thing, as it's probably mold. You may be over watering the pot. Take about an inch or two of soil off the top of the pot and replace it with fresh soil. Try sprinkling a little cinnamon powder on top of the new soil. It may inhibit the growth of new mold.

When you said the plant grew quickly, could it be it has outgrown its present pot?
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 8, 2013 1:51 PM CST
Would it be advisable to dunk the entire root ball in a vinegar/water solution and start with all new potting soil?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Ginger
Fountain, Florida (Zone 8b)
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gingin
Sep 9, 2013 2:28 PM CST
Welcome! from the Florida panhandle. If it's outside might it be a stinkhorn?
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Oct 2, 2013 3:13 PM CST
Puffball mushroom?
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Oct 2, 2013 3:25 PM CST
Hey @deborahmwatts7 in New Jersey,
how is your dumb cane doing?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Oct 2, 2013 5:58 PM CST

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greene said:Would it be advisable to dunk the entire root ball in a vinegar/water solution and start with all new potting soil?


Wouldn't vinegar kill the plant?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Oct 2, 2013 7:35 PM CST
Welcome! Deborah!

You might be able to ID exactly which Dieffenbachia it is, if I'm guessing right about what Dumb cane is.

http://garden.org/plants/search/text.php?q=dumb+cane
Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia 'Tropic Marianne')

I think it's hard to know how harmful the thing is, unless someone recognizes exactly what it is. The consensus seems to be "maybe a fungus, mold or mushroom". I think that many would not bother most plants, but is soil that encourages mushrooms really the best kind of soil for a potted plant?

If it is any kind of mold, fungus or mushroom, it can't hurt to remove as much of it as you can without hurting many roots. In my yard, burying wood chips under the soil caused a lot of fungus. But the Pacific Northwest and NJ are two very different climates, so you might have some different cause. What do you fertilize with? If you do a lot of spot composting, and that mushroom (or whatever) is growing right out of some buried compost, maybe you should compost scraps in a separate pile before burying them near the plants.

I hope you write back to let us know what it is, or with more details.

My guess is that, if it is any kind of mold, fungus or mushroom, it showed up because it had lots of organic matter to eat and favorable conditions. If you starve it, and maybe water it less, it will get hungry and at least the above-ground part will disappear on its own.

Can the Dumb Cane survive a frost? If not, I guess it's an indoor plant.

One possible alternative to dunking the whole rootball would be to eplace as much soil as convenient, like re-potting.

Another, easier alternative is to water with rather dilute Hydrogen Peroxide for a while. Dilute enough, it won't hurt the roots. You can also spray leaves with it, if they seem to have a fungus infection

Start with "drugstore peroxide" which is 3%.
Then dilute it either 1/32 or 1/16 to get 0.1% or 0.2%.
Many people use it stronger, so these are very safe concentrations.

For 0.1% H2O2:
1 ounce of peroxide per Quart of water
or
1/2 cup of peroxide per Gallon


For 0.2% H2O2:
2 ounces of peroxide per Quart of water
or
1 cup of peroxide per Gallon
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 2, 2013 8:35 PM CST
For the vinegar suggestion, I didn't intend that vinegar be applied to the leaves of the plant - which would be harmful especially out in the hot sun.! Only that after scraping off the mold (or whatever it is?) give the root ball a soaking in a very dilute vinegar/water bath before re-potting and topping with fresh soil.

Since we don't have a photo of the plant or the stuff growing on the soil, and since the OP has not checked back in to read/comment, I figure we could all just keep throwing out various ideas hoping that one will hit the mark. Seems to me each of the ideas have some merit.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Oct 3, 2013 9:12 AM CST
The fact that this plant recently made a flower indicates it is healthy enough and in conditions appropriate enough to do so. Deborah didn't mention any issues with the plant, just the soil.

Vinegar has a very low PH. I wouldn't use it as a treatment of this type for soil or roots, especially on something that likely has no relationship to the plant. If there is organic matter in the pot, it will decompose. There may be too much for optimal conditions but unless the plant is suffering from chlorosis or has some other foliage issue, I wouldn't treat it for anything. It might be happier if repotted if it's been in the same pot/soil for 18 months but I would think that would be because of root congestion, not the unknown product of decomposition being discussed in the soil. After 18 months, any organic matter has likely reached its' final stages of decomposition. The presence of some type of fungus/mushroom is evidence of that. People don't take medications without having something wrong with them, or knowing what's wrong with them, this kind of treatment seems similar to doing that, IMVHO. Like if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 3, 2013 11:25 AM CST
>> The fact that this plant recently made a flower indicates it is healthy enough and in conditions appropriate enough to do so.

>> After 18 months, any organic matter has likely reached its' final stages of decomposition.

Those are good points. Even so, if I had mushrooms popping up in an indoor pot, I would be inclined to re-pot, maybe just out of squeamishness.

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