Alphabetical Plant Listing

Sooty Mold

How to Identify, Prevent, and Treat Sooty Mold

What is Sooty Mold?

Sooty mold is a type of fungal disease that appears on the leaves and stems of plants as a black, powdery coating. Sooty mold does not directly harm the plant, but it can block sunlight and reduce the plant's ability to photosynthesize. It can also make the plant less attractive and reduce its aesthetic value.

What causes Sooty Mold?

Sooty mold is caused by the growth of certain fungi that live on the honeydew excreted by insects like aphids, mealybugs, and scales. These insects feed on the sap of plants and excrete a sticky, sugary substance known as honeydew. The sooty mold fungi then grow on the honeydew, covering the leaves and stems of plants with a black, powdery coating.

Sooty mold can also be caused by other factors, such as excessive fertilization or irrigation or poor growing conditions that stress plants and make them more susceptible to infestations of honeydew-excreting insects.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Black or dark-colored, powdery or sooty-looking mold on the surface of leaves, stems, fruits, and other plant parts
  • Coating is generally superficial and doesn't penetrate into the plant tissue
  • Often accompanied by sticky honeydew secretions on the plant's surface
  • Leaves or branches may yellow, curl, or drop due to the blockage of sunlight by the mold layer
  • Fungal growth may develop in the presence of insect infestations or high levels of sap-sucking insect activity, such as aphids, whiteflies, scales, or mealybugs.

How to Control and Prevent Sooty Mold?

Eliminate the source of honeydew: Sooty mold grows on the honeydew excreted by insects such as aphids, mealybugs, and scales. Control these insects with insecticidal soaps or oils.

Remove infected plant parts: Prune and remove any branches, twigs, or leaves that are infected with sooty mold.

Improve air circulation: Proper air circulation is important for preventing sooty mold. Prune plants regularly to allow air to circulate freely.

Maintain good plant health: Healthy plants are less susceptible to sooty mold. Provide adequate water, fertilizer, and sunlight to your plants.

Clean foliage: Regularly clean the leaves of plants to remove any dust, debris, or residue that may promote fungal growth.

Apply fungicides: In severe cases, you can use a fungicide to control sooty mold. Consult with a local garden center or professional to determine the most effective fungicide for your particular situation.

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Kazakov Maksim, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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