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Mold Growing On Fertilizers: The Causes and Solutions

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Fertilizers are a great way to grow plants. However, the nutrients in fertilizers can lead to unwanted mold growth.

Mold growing on fertilizers is a common problem, especially when you use organic fertilizer.

Mold growth can occur if there is too much moisture in the organic fertilizer.  This can happen if you use too much fertilizer at once or water your plants too much after adding fertilizer. The moisture promotes moldy bacteria in the fertilizer to thrive and spread.

Lack of sunlight and air can also cause mold growth on fertilizers. This article will explain everything you need about mold growing on fertilizers. 

What Causes Mold to Grow On Fertilizer?

Mold on Fertilizer

Mold can form on fertilizer for several reasons and mostly depends on the type of fertilizer you use. Organic fertilizer will have microorganisms, including fungi spores which can proliferate in moist conditions.

Although not very common with inorganic fertilizers, if left open, it can change state or color because of the decomposition of minerals when exposed to air.

Factors Affecting Mold Growing On Fertilizer:

  • Firstly, the type is the primary cause of mold growing on your fertilizer. As discussed, Organic fertilizers and those with organic material tend to get moldy over time because of spore growth.
  • Secondly, excess of anything is not good. An unnecessary amount of fertilizer is also good at inviting mold.

    It also turns the soil into acidic soil. So, this state of soil breeds mold as it becomes a pool of nitrogen and phosphorus. So, add fertilizer according to the needs of your plants. 
  • Thirdly, there might be something wrong with your watering method. Maybe you are overwatering your plants.

    This habit causes waterlogging and high moisture retention in the soil and the fertilizer. The spores of the mold are known to germinate only when there is too much moisture in the potting mix. 
  • Used soil from your backyard or garden for planting can also cause the growth of mold in your pots as it contains clay.

    Mold growth occurs undoubtedly due to the high concentration of clay in the soil. It is prone to holding excessive amounts of water that gives birth to mold. So, it is better to use new soil for planting.
  • Again, there must be a lack of sunlight where you have located your plant. This hinders the nutrient take-up of plants. Furthermore, it causes a damp and dark environment that is a favorite of mold. So, try growing plants in an area with adequate sunlight.
  • Your plants are surely not getting enough air either because of their thick foliage or due to the compact growth of plants. Mold loves this state. Proper ventilation can erase the possibility of mold due to insufficient air.
  • Also, the inappropriate use of fertilizer can also cause mold.

    If you use fertilizer on the soil before planting your saplings, it might feed the hungry mold. 

Is The Fertilizer Still Useful With Mold On It?

Yes, fertilizer with mold can still be used for planting. Fertilizers with mold can be more beneficial for plants than regular fertilizers.

The mold growth indicates that the soil’s non-living matter is gradually decomposing. It also says that there is compost in the soil. 

Moreover, mold is beneficial for plant growth as it devours the chemical components in the soil. 

Some molds prevent the growth of bacteria in the fertilizer and the soil. Those even boost the growth of plants. 

Using fertilizer with mold might seem nasty and useless to many people. But it is not as bad as they might think. It can boost the growth of some plants and make them stronger. 

So, there’s no need to throw away the soil or the fertilizer that has grown mold. 

How To Identify The Type Of Mold On Fertilizer And on Topsoil?

Molds generally grow on soggy topsoil or fertilizer. Saprophytic Fungus is the type of mold that grows on fertilizer and topsoil. It helps to break down the organic matter in the soil. 

As it is white in color, it is called White Mold. This type of mold has a fluffy and furry texture. It seems to be cottony. It lives in a colony in the soil. 

Unlike other molds, it has little effect on plants. But sometimes, certain signs indicate its harmful effects. Seeing these symptoms, you can quickly identify that the white mold may have affected your plants.

  • Wilting of plant leaves and leaves falling off
  • Wilting of the stem
  • Cottony growth on the blossoms and the leaves
  • Discoloration of the stem

Although it does not harm plants, it has an allergic effect on humans and animals. It causes the disease Mucormycosis. Hence, it is crucial to identify it as soon as possible and get rid of it.

How To Prevent Fertilizer From Getting Mold?

Not all molds are harmful, but some molds can have harmful effects on plants and other organisms consuming the affected plants. 

As prevention is better than cure, it is advisable to avoid getting mold on your fertilizer in the first place. Here are a few ways you can prevent the growth of mold on your fertilizer: 

Water scheduling

Make a proper schedule for watering your plants. Don’t water them too frequently. Check if the first two layers of the topsoil are running dry before watering. 

Water the soil only when it is running dry. Avoid misting daily as well, as it can produce mold.

Drainage system

Make holes at the bottom of your pots if there are not any. This allows the excess water to run down the holes. It will reduce the possibility of overwatering. 

You can even use stone gravel or stone at the bottom of your potting soil. This also ensures good drainage.

Well draining soil

Use soil that contains peat moss, perlite, and sand. The higher quantities of clay particles in the soil are liable to keep more water than needed. Hence, contributing to the growth of mold.

Removal of debris

Residues of old leaves and other plant portions may remain in the soil. It is better to remove them before planting a new plant. 

Otherwise, the debris might rot up and feed the mold to make a favorable environment for them.

Omit the affected plant parts

If any parts of your plant are affected, we recommend cutting them off. This step might prevent the mold from spreading onto other foliage of the plant. 

Leave plants in Sunlight

Plants don’t thrive in dark corners. Let them sit in the sunlight as much as they crave. This will help to fight out dampness in the fertilizer. 

It also helps the water in the soil to dry out before you arrive with your tumbler again. 

Use new soil

Previously used soil may have microorganisms and various other impurities in it. Mold spores often stay in the soil for a long and cause further contamination. 

Sterilize the used soil in the heat of the sun or the microwave before using it. Try repotting your plant in fresh soil. You can consider using the previous pot only if you sterilize it.

In case the mold has already grown and spread to many parts, start by wiping the mold using a cloth soaked in a mixture of water and bleach. 

You may cut off some plants to improve air circulation. Remember to spray fungicide on the affected parts. Cinnamon may also help in this regard.

How Long Does Fertilizer Last?

Now, there are certain variations on how long does fertilizer last. There is no standard and certain period for which all types of fertilizers last. It depends on how well you store the fertilizer to last longer. 

Here are the most ideal conditions for storing fertilizer: 

  • Putting it in a cool, dry, and shaded place
  • Storing it in a container or plastic bag by closing its open end securely
  • Store it away from moisture 

All these steps will allow you to use the fertilizer to its fullest. On the other hand, the type of fertilizer might also play a role in its shelf life. 

In most cases, granular and crystallized fertilizers last for an indefinite period. They take more time to decompose. 

Moreover, organic fertilizers may last up to 10 years. They need time to turn into nutrients that are easy for the roots to obtain. 

The Takeaway:

There are many reasons why you are finding mold on your fertilizer. It may be due to the type (organic), too much moisture, poor maintenance, inadequate drainage, and many other causes. 

In most cases, mold can serve as a blessing. It can stop harmful bacteria from growing in the soil and increase the growth of plants.

Although it is rare, mold can be toxic too. So, it is better to prevent it from growing as it can cause harm to some plants. 

If the mold has already spread, you can take effective measures to eliminate it. 

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