Mold on Sans. soil; should I replant it?

jasper(4b Canada)January 20, 2014

Hi everyone,

I bought this Sansevieria plant about 2 weeks ago; the tallest leaves are about 3ft tall.

I haven't watered it yet. About 1 week ago, the soil started growing some fuzzy mold, so I thought maybe the conditions had been too moist from before so I scrapped the mold off. Now, a little over 2 weeks from buying it, I still haven't watered it but more of the mold has appeared.

All of the leaves seem to be fine except for one, which is turning yellow and feels soft at the top. A lot of people seem to replant their Sansevieria plants when they get them, and I was wondering if I need to do so as well? Should I just wait to water it and see if the mold dies out?

Any help is appreciated (:

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jasper(4b Canada)

This is a picture of the yellowing leaf in the same plant. Should I cut it off right away?

Thanks (:

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Stush2049(Pitts., Pa. 6)

The mold is well entrenched in in your soil. Best to replant it using MG cactus mix and buy a bag of MG perlite. Mix about 1/2 and 1/2 and repot with this mix. Wash the roots off and let dry a full day before repotting. Throw the old soil away as you would cat litter. Start to water after a few days. Make sure there are holes in your pot for drainage.
As far as the yellow leaf, I would leave i along. You could always cut it out later.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 3:57PM
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I agree with Stush. It looks like your Sans was grown in a pure peat mixture, which can be very water retentive. Sans enjoy being more on the dry side, especially in winter, so its current mix is not the best for the long-term health of your plant. Use the mix advised by Stush, as you will find it more fast draining (needed for growing Sans successfully).


    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 9:23PM
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jasper(4b Canada)

Thanks for the help! I will try to re-pot it as soon as possible.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I've never seen anything exactly like this in any pot, compost pile, or mulched bed, and I've had a lot of each.

I agree, this soil looks way too dense, airless. The yellow leaf looks brown at the bottom, is it mushy?

Decomposing organic matter is just that, and does not involve living plants, though the process happening that vigorously/obviously in a pot could be the result of, or create, conditions that are not ideal for the plant.

If you can add a pic of it when you take it out of the pot, we could know better what's going. Anything mushy connected to the plant(s) should be removed.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 3:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I'd recommend a potting mix even more porous than those already suggested. If you have access to coarse perlite, pumice, lava rock (scoria), or other grit, make use of it. A fine-grade Orchid Mix would be a good place to start. The key is excellent aeration and drainage, and a mix that holds some moisture without retaining excess water in the root-zone....this is especially important during the Winter.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 7:38PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

My experience with mold in potting soil has been a little different than this, but maybe is relevant. I've seen multiple times with multiple high-end potting soils, that after first potting a plant up, mold, somewhat like what you have, appeared on top of the soil. This could be because the soil was too wet, but I don't feel I watered any more initially than I do after that. Every time I have seen it, I just re-fluffed the top of the soil and let the pot dry out a bit. After that, I had no more problem with mold in the pot and the plant did harm whatsoever.

I do agree with some of the above posts, that the soil doesn't look ideal. I don't know if that is partly an issue with the photograph though. I have taken pictures of plants before and had the soil look unrecognizable in the picture. I've even went back and looked to compare the picture with the actual view, wondering if I was loosing it. Nope, sometimes pictures of soil just come out weird. I don't know if that is the case for your Sans or not.

Anyway, if the picture is accurate, I'd probably be more worried about the soil being the wrong soil than I would be about the mold. I'm sure some mold would be bad for plants, but I doubt (just based on my experience) that yours is a problem.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:07PM
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jasper(4b Canada)

Hey everyone,

Thanks for all the tips. Based on all the information I received, I decided to go with a mix of cactus mix and sand. I also added some larger rocks at the very bottom of the pot to aid in drainage.

When I re-potted the plant, there was only one of me so unfortunately I didn't get any pictures. The roots seemed fine though; no mush, they smelled fine, they were orange and white in color. Even the bottom of the yellowing leaf was firm and green.

Should I cut the yellowing leaf as close to the bottom as possible?

The picture was taken an hour or so after I re-potted it.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:34PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry, but most of us think sand is a bad thing to use, will only compact & get all stuck in the roots, unless it's COARSE sand.

Also, from all I've read & seen here over 10 yrs. it seems that rocks in the bottom don't help drainage.

I would have gone w/ just C&S mix & 50% perlite.

Mightg as well cut off the yellowing leaf at the soil line as it will not recover. Why waste the plant's energy holding on to dying leaf?

Good to hear you felt the roots were fine. Shame you couldn't set the plant on its side & take a pic of the roots.

If it were mine I would change the mix again, sorry.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:09PM
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jasper(4b Canada)

Ah, that's alright. This is my first Sans. plant and maybe I will try to repot it again closer to the summer. I'll see how it does until then, I'll try to make an updated post of how it'd doing in the next couple weeks. Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 1:33AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Glad to hear there was nothing mushy going on. I would cut the yellow leaf off (any yellow leaf on any plant) just because I don't like the looks of it. It's your call.

I agree about the inappropriateness of sand in a pot, but the attached drain saucer (an assumption) is more concerning. It can hold about 1/2 inch of water, no plant likes that, but especially Sans. If it will snap off, you can water without it on, then sit the pot back on it. I usually leave these unsnapped when using them inside. If outside, I would put the drain saucer in storage.

Sending good vibes to your plant!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:48AM
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You can repot again as early as Spring (end of March). Just keep in mind with the current mix you have, you will have to be more careful about watering than with a more faster draining mix. It might appear dry on top, but the bottom half may still be moist (for example). Sans like to dry out between waterings (not necessarily completely in Spring and Summer as you would during the winter... most let their Sans go bone dry before watering again in winter as they're more susceptible to rot during this time), but you may need to water even less during the warmer months with your mix. You'll just have to "play it by ear."


This post was edited by plantomaniac08 on Thu, Jan 30, 14 at 10:38

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Stush2049(Pitts., Pa. 6)

Sans can grow in any soil, even clay but it depends on you for the difference. Loose airy soil and any one can do ok. The more compacted, the harder it is on the sans grower. I have seen plain hahnii growing in a stream being wet all the time. Was in Australia at an abandon house. It was very hot out. Sans are weeds down there. During summer here, I let my sans sit in water. Winter is another mater just as Planto said. Best to under water if unsure. They can and do go long times between watering.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:56AM
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