How To Get Rid Of Sooty Mold

How To Get Rid Of Sooty Mold

By: Heather Rhoades

If your plant has started to look like it has been spending time sitting next to a fire and is now covered in a black soot, chances are, your plant is suffering from sooty mold. How to get rid of sooty mold can be a perplexing question as it may seem that it appears out of nowhere, but it is a fixable problem.

What is Sooty Mold?

Sooty mold is a type of plant mold. It is a type of mold that grows in the honeydew or secretion of many common plant pests, such as aphids or scale. The pests cover the leaves of your plant in honeydew and the sooty mold spore lands on the honeydew and begins to reproduce.

Symptoms of Sooty Plant Mold Growth

Sooty mold looks a lot like the name implies. Your plant’s twigs, branches or leaves will be covered in a grimy, black soot. Many people believe that someone may have dumped ashes or may have even caught the plant on fire when they first see this plant mold.

Most plants affected by this plant mold growth will also have some sort of pest problem. Some plants, like gardenias and roses, which are prone to pest problems, will be more susceptible to this plant mold growth.

How to Get Rid of Sooty Mold

Treating plant mold like sooty mold is best done by treating the source of the problem. This would be the pests that excrete the honeydew the mold needs to live.

First, determine which pest you have and then eliminate it from your plant. Once the pest problem has been solved, the sooty plant mold growth can be easily washed off the leaves, stems and branches.

Neem oil is an effective treatment for both the pest problem and fungus.

Will Sooty Mold Kill My Plant?

This plant mold growth is generally not lethal to plants, but the pests that it needs to grow can kill a plant. At the first sign of sooty mold, find the pest that is producing the honeydew and eliminate it.

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Sooty Mold on Plants: What It Is and How to Get Rid of It

Bethany Hayes

Bethany is a suburban homesteader who grows over 30 types of vegetables in her garden every year to provide the vegetables needed to feed her family of six for the entire year. She practices organic gardening without the use of any pesticide and chemical.

If your plants look like they were too close to a bonfire, all covered in black soot, you more than likely have sooty mold problems.

It’s easy to identify from its unique look, but it can appear out of nowhere, before you even have a chance to spot it, leaving you wondering if you can fix it before it hurts your plant.

Luckily, you can stop sooty mold, but the pests that attract it can also damage your plants. Controlling pests is key in controlling this disease.

Sooty mold symptoms, black powder on leaves

The main reason sooty mold develops is the presence of insects and parasites like aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects.

These parasites produce honeydew, which is a sweet and sticky substance. Air-born sooty mold fungus attaches to this honeydew and develops quickly into a black layer that covers leaves.

Although this doesn’t kill the plant, sooty mold does nonetheless reduce photosynthesis when it covers all leaves with a thick black layer. That is when it suffocates leaves that wither and die.

When sooty mold only spots a few leaves, damage is very limited.

Dilute 1 tsp. of detergent with 1 gallon of water. Spray the tree with the solution. The detergent is able to dry out many types of insects that have a waxy covering.

If insects still exist on your magnolia tree, apply a pesticide that is chemically formulated to kill the insects. Follow the pesticide directions and spray the entire tree. Repeat the process in a couple of weeks.

  • of detergent with 1 gallon of water.
  • Follow the pesticide directions and spray the entire tree.

What Is Sooty Mold and How Do I Get Rid of It?

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Sooty mold sounds like a problem that might afflict a fireplace, furnace or chimney, but it is actually a common fungus on trees, shrubs and flowers. This black or dark gray coating does little harm to the plant but it is unsightly and distracting, dampening the beauty of your landscape. Fortunately, it is easy to get rid of.

Sooty mold is a dark gray or blackish powdery coating on plant foliage, fruits or even nearby structures such as fences, sheds, furniture, stones and decorative items. Several types of fungus are part of the sooty mold family, including ascomycete, capnodium and saprophytic fungi, but the fungus itself is not the culprit behind sooty mold. Instead, this mold and fungus grows where there are heavy deposits of sugary waste products, the sweetly-named "honeydew" excreted by insects such as aphids, scales, whiteflies and mealybugs. Sooty mold can also develop on injured plants that are exuding large quantities of sap from wounds and punctures.

Plants Affected by Sooty Mold

A wide range of plants can be affected by sooty mold. While this fungus doesn't dramatically affect plants – because it is feeding on a waste product on the plants, not harming the plants themselves – it can dampen photosynthesis and slow or stunt plant growth. The dull covering can make ornamental plants less attractive, and sooty mold can also trigger outdoor allergies.

A wide range of trees, shrubs and flowers can be subject to sooty mold, including…

  • Azalea
  • Camellia
  • Citrus trees
  • Crape myrtle
  • Elm
  • Fig
  • Gardenia
  • Laurel
  • Linden
  • Oleander
  • Pecan
  • Pine
  • Rose

In addition to these susceptible plants, any plants arranged underneath or close to vulnerable plants may also show signs of sooty mold as the honeydew from insects drips onto adjacent plants and the fungus grows.

To effectively get rid of sooty mold, the insects that leave behind the honeydew waste that fosters the mold must be treated. Sprays of horticultural oil, neem oil or insecticidal soap can be helpful, but the infected plants must be thoroughly covered to prevent the insects from recurring – be sure to spray the undersides of leaves and to treat all the foliage to be effective. Washing structures or rinsing off plants can also help remove the mold as well as dilute the sugary wastes that foster the mold's growth. A weak dish soap solution can remove the mold from structures, furniture, patio umbrellas and other gear and will also help inhibit more insects.

Patience is essential when treating sooty mold. It can take significant time for the mold to grow noticeable, meaning that insect infestations may be quite significant by the time the mold is strongly visible. It may take several treatments to thoroughly inhibit insect populations and remove the sooty mold, restoring plants to their former beauty. Preventative treatments should then be initiated to be sure the insects don't return and the mold doesn't regrow.

In time, despite how unattractive sooty mold can be, it's easy to remove this fungus and keep your plants protected so they always look their best.

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