; White Balls in Soil: The Likely Culprits – Flourishing Plants

White Balls in Soil: The Likely Culprits


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Apart from different chemicals found in soil, you may see noticeable white balls. Oftentimes, people mistake these white balls as pieces of white styrofoam. 

The white balls found in soil are most likely perlite balls used as a soil amendment for better drainage and aeration. However, in some cases, those balls could be the eggs of lizards, slugs, snails, and other insects. Perlite balls do not break down over time while eggs take between 1 week to a month to hatch.

These white balls can also be white fungus clumped together creating a fungal colony.

In this article, we will share all you need to know regarding perlite, white fungus balls, and white eggs. What are the sources of fungus balls and white eggs and how to get rid of them?

Perlite as White Soil Amendment Balls: 

perlite in soil

Perlite is naturally occurring volcanic glass that can significantly improve the aeration, structure, and drainage of growing mediums. 

Perlite is a non-organic lightweight additive that appears to be white. Perlite commonly occurs in gray color but may be available in brown, blue, green color before expansion. 

It changes its color into white when heated. It originated from the hydration of obsidian. 

As a raw material, perlite possesses a high amount of water. It is different from other volcanic gases because of its unique properties. 

Interestingly, on heating it at 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, perlite expands 4 to 20 times its original size. 

Perlite is used worldwide for different purposes. It is formed when molten rock is emitted out of a volcano and then cooled uniquely. 

Approximately, 700 million tons of perlite are present on earth. Reservoirs of perlite are located in Greece, Italy, the United States of America, and china. 

In 2001, the USA alone was producing 375,000 tons of perlite.

Due to its properties, it is widely used in the horticulture side as well.

Properties of Perlite:

  1. Lightweight granular material
  2. Easy to handle and sterile
  3. Long-lasting rock
  4. Neither acidic nor alkaline
  5. Become porous when heated
  6. Low density

You can find a cost-effective mix of perlite and vermiculite for all your potting needs on Amazon. Find it by clicking here.

perlite and vermiculite from amazon

How Does Perlite (white balls) Benefit The Soil?

Perlite benefits the soil in many ways. Due to its enormous benefits, the USA  alone was consuming about 14% of perlite in horticulture. Some of the major benefits of perlite on soil are given below:

Improve Drainage: 

Plants including succulents need a good drainage system to grow well. Perlite helps maintain a good drainage system. The perlite helps in trapping air from the soil and improves drainage by balancing soil moisture. 

Upgrade Soil Structure:

It acts as a soil amendment not for balancing nutrient deficiency but used to upgrade the soil structure. The expanded perlite is useful in grabbing moisture and nutrients.

Aid in Plant Propagation: 

Perlite is helpful in the propagation of plants, including the sowing of seeds and cuttings.

Great For Root Cutting: 

Because of its neutral pH and sterile nature, it is useful for root cutting. Furthermore, it also helps in improving root formation. 

Sowing Seeds: 

It serves importantly in improving seedling growth and boosts the process of germination. Add 1 part of perlite into 2 parts of instant potting compost for well sowing of seeds.

Suitable Addition For Better Growth: 

Supports plant growth and development by improving the drainage and aeration system.

Optimum Moisture: 

Perlite is effective in maintaining optimum temperature for your plant, which will also not attract moisture-loving pests. 

According to studies, the perlite hydroponic system is responsible for achieving great yields.

Improve Aeration: 

Because of its porous surface which helps in holding water and nutrients (also water drains quickly though), perlite also effectively improves the drainage of the growing medium.  

Perlite is extremely helpful in preventing root rot as well. It prevents the waterlogging of soil which in turn prevents root rot. Thus, proving itself extremely effective in preventing root rot diseases. 

No Effect on pH: 

Perlite does not alter the pH of soil. It is pH neutral. Although categorized as a low pH buffer.

Vermiculite also provides some of the benefits that perlite provides with a little extra moisture retention, see our detailed post on Perlite Vs Vermiculite to learn more.

White Fungus Balls:

Fuzzy White Balls in Soil

Not all white balls present in the soil are always perlite. Sometimes, these white balls can be white fungus. 

White fungus balls are referred to as fungal colonies. They may present in different forms and sizes, commonly including puffballs. 

When you use uncomposted lawn clipping as a mulch by mistake, you may experience seeing numerous white balls on the soil.

White fungus balls are not dangerous to your plants but quick action should be taken to get rid of them as soon as possible.

In addition, sometimes you may also find balls which are green or yellow balls in soil that may not always be associated with insects.

Where Did The Fungus Come From?

White fungus balls including puffballs are found by the decomposition of organic matter. They are also highly attractive to moist environments and can grow rapidly in them.

Remember, where there is moisture and organic matter available, the white fungus will land there. They originated from Canada, Central, and Eastern USA. 

How To Get Rid of White Fungus?

Getting rid of fungus is an easy task. 

Most of the fungi die automatically after a specific time or when they don’t find anything to feed upon.

Dried soil: 

When there is not enough moisture in the soil, due to an unfavorable environment, in due course fungi will die away.

Be cautious when attempting to dry soil as it will also affect your plant.

Get rid of organic matter: 

When there is not enough organic matter available, the fungi will find nothing to feed on. As a result, fungi will ultimately die.

Bottom watering: 

One of the most effective strategies to prevent fungus around your houseplants is by allowing the growing medium to dry up completely between watering, especially the topsoil. 

The dry topsoil will minimize the survival of fungus. Bottom watering can significantly reduce the growth of fungus. 

In bottom watering, plants only soak up the required amount of water through capillary movements. Unlike top watering, where gardeners drench the topsoil with water.

You can see our complete guide to bottom watering plants.

Fungicide: 

Treating fungi with fungicide helps you to get rid of unwanted fungi.

You can also use some home remedies to get rid of white fungus from the soil as well as from your plants. 

Down below, we have prepared a few home remedies for you to use against white fungus balls:

Murphy’s Oil Solution

Mix two tablespoons of Murphy’s oil and four tablespoons of baking soda in one gallon of water. After preparation, spray it on plants and soil.

I use this Miracle-Gro Potting Mix from amazon, which ensures my plants stay healthy long after repotting. You can find it by clicking here.

Baking Soda and Dish Soap

Mix a spoonful of baking soda with one teaspoon dish soap along with one teaspoon vegetable oil in one gallon of water.

Vinegar Solution

Mix two to three spoons of vinegar into one gallon of water. We would suggest that you use this method as the last option because vinegar may burn your plant.

White Eggs

If your soil is damp, well moisturized, and aerated then it can be a haven for many insects for laying their eggs. 

Many insects lay their eggs in garden soil which can also look like yellow balls. The eggs may differ in size and may vary from organism to organism.

The Possible Culprits:

Snail eggs in soil

Some of the possible culprits that lay their eggs in soil include:

Lizards: 

Many lizards feel pleasure to lay their eggs in the soil.

Snakes: 

Snakes continuously move from place to place. When this organism finds some safe and well-moisturized place, it may lay eggs.

Ants and flies:

Their eggs look like clusters of rice grains. Their eggs hatched more early than other organisms’ eggs.

Slug and Snail eggs: 

If you see eggs with a gelatinous covering, they may be the eggs of snails and slugs. If we talk about their size, they are nearly half a centimeter in diameter and appear oval in appearance. 

They are really harmful to plants. Because they can feed on an entire plant including roots, stem, flower, leaves.

Other organisms which love to lay their eggs in soil include mollusks, ladybugs, fungi (slime mold or other), and many more.

How To Get Rid of White Eggs?

  • You can get rid of these eggs by simply squashing them.
  • Some eggs are often purchased by restaurants like the eggs of slug and snail. You can get rid of slug and snail eggs by selling them.

    Make soil dry, don’t water the plant until it is needed. This will cause the outer layer of eggs to become dry.
  • By use of hydrogen peroxide, mix about 3 percent of this chemical in 4 parts of water and spray it on eggs and soil.

How to Prevent Insects from Laying Eggs in Potting Soil:

Different ways can be used to prevent insects from laying eggs in potting soil. For instance:

  • Before introducing the potting soil into the pot make sure the soil is completely dry.
  • You can use a clove of garlic to keep the insects away from plants (organic hack).
  • If you suspect any insect on the plant, re-pot that infected plant. 
  • Insecticides can be an exceptional way to kill the egg-laying insects in your potting soil. 

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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