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Slime mold may look gross, but it is part of a natural process, say Florida tree experts.

What is Slime Mold and Is It Hazardous?

After carefully applying mulch and watering your garden, you may be alarmed to find a suspicious white powdery substance growing on the mulch. What is this stuff? Is it going to harm your trees and plants? Here’s the lowdown on slime mold and why you shouldn’t be concerned.

What Is Slime Mold and What Causes It?

Also called “dog’s vomit” mold due to its slimy, chunky appearance in early growth, slime mold is actually a collection of single-celled organisms that typically appear white, yellow, or orange in color. It feeds on the decaying matter that is present in the mulch and actually returns this highly nourishing compost to the soil. 

This natural breakdown process actually helps the surrounding soil. The fungal spores do need certain things to grow, so below is a list of the conditions that are favorable to the growth of slime mold.

  • Growth medium (such as decaying mulch)
  • Moisture
  • Shade

This is all it takes to grow a good crop of slime mold or any fungus that has spores present.

What To Do About Slime Mold

Slime mold is harmless to plants and trees and after the initial ugly growth, it will dry to a white powder that eventually darkens to brown.  This fungus can be left alone to do what it does, nourishing the soil. If a person feels that it is  too unsightly, however, there are several options available for dealing with slime mold:

  • Stir the Mulch: Simply taking a garden tool and flipping the slimy section over may satisfy aesthetic concerns. Make sure the mulch isn’t piled too high in one spot and ensure coverage for the entire space.
  • Removal: Scooping the slime mold out of the mulch and throwing it into the compost is another option.
  • Adding More Mulch:  Give the ground a fresh layer of mulch on top of the slime mold. Make sure that the mulch is not too deep (more than 4 inches)
  • Replacing Mulch: If you are concerned that it is a more harmful mold, or just really want to rid yourself of the mold, bag up the old mulch and replace it. 

Mold and Fungus Prevention

While slime mold is harmless and assists in the natural decaying process, there are other molds and fungi that can actually infect your trees and cause problems for your plants. If mushrooms or toadstools are actually growing in the mulch, consulting an arborist about plant and tree health care would be a good move. 

If you are at all concerned about your trees or feel the need for a tree risk assessment, consult with a reputable tree service company. Here are a few pieces of advice regarding mold and fungus prevention:

  • Don’t overwater.
  • Don’t pile mulch too high, between 1 and 4 inches is sufficient.
  • Don’t heap mulch around the base of your trees, leave the root flare exposed.

About Any Town Tree

Call Any Town Tree today for a free estimate on tree removal, tree trimming, or emergency tree services. We are proud to serve Naples, FL with quality work at reasonable prices. Our certified arborists are ready to answer your questions.