Diagnosing The Cause of Black Mold Spots In “Lucky Bamboo”

img 0366 300x225 Diagnosing The Cause of Black Mold Spots In “Lucky Bamboo”

Unfortunately even our home or office plants can become prone to diseases, no matter how great a life we try and provide for them.  Often a disease can be an indicator of another problem altogether in a plant.

This mold spot developed on the leaves of a friends Lucky Bamboo, after weeks of yellowing leaves on the previously healthy plant. My friend was at a loss as to what to do with it, and set the bamboo outside on her patio for the last months of the summer in the hopes that the yellowing leaves on the plant were due to a curable lack of sunlight.  Unfortunately, the yellowing leaves quickly gave bloom to black mold spots, a condition that seemed peculiar in the plants dry location. Not knowing what was wrong with her Lucky Bamboo, or if it was salvageble, she was prepared to throw the plant out and start over fresh, so I looked the plant over from top to bottom to find the problem.

Mold spores are one of many living organisms that are always present in the air, and that thrive in outdoor gardens, regardless of whether you ever see any signs of them on other plants.  They are also a opportunistic, and will take advantage of a plant that is suffering under other issues, as was the case with this particular plant. Here is one of the problems, many Lucky Bamboo plants are advertised as being a no-maintenance home or office plant, capable of living in a small container with no food source needed other than tap water.  Over time however, many of these plants begin to develop yellowing leaves, and mold spots like this, due to a lack of several things. Lucky Bamboo, like all plants needs water, and a reliable source of nutrients.  Mere tap water cannot meet their needs over time, and the plant actually need a reliable source of nutrition, whether they live in a glass of water, and recieve bi-monthly liquid fertilizers, or they are potted, and a give granular, or time release fertilizer.  The second problem with this plant was that after several years, this plant had outgrown its pot, and was what is known as “pot bound.”  A pot bound plant has a root system that has outgrown it’s container.  The roots of this Bamboo plant continued to grow naturally, as the plant seeks out more water and nutrients to feed the stems and leaves of the plant, but in a small container, the root system wraps around itself repeatedly with no where to go, and can kill itself if left alone.

img 0369 225x300 Diagnosing The Cause of Black Mold Spots In “Lucky Bamboo”In this case, the root bound plant was under stress in these cramped quarters, and responded by displaying limp and light yellow leaves.  When a plant is unable to take care of all of it’s foliage, it often begins to slowly shut down, letting leaves die, and fall off.  The yellowing leaves, and the weakened plant are then susceptible to other diseases, which in this case led to the plants current issue with black mold spots.

What To Look For In Cases Of Black Mold Spots In Home And Office Plants:

  • Over watered plants and wet soil
  • Poor drainage in the potting container
  • Overcrowded plant life
  • Pot-bound root systems
  • Poor fertilization, or a lack of fertilization
  • A home or office environment prone to high humidity and warm temperatures

What To Do With Plants Displaying Moldy Leaves:

  • Trim off any branches that are infected, and discard.

Almost any plant can be saved from mold if you catch the problem before most of the foliage is gone, discover the source of the problem, and find a remedy.  In the case of a root bound pot, the root system will be loosened and trimmed, and the plant will be repotted in a larger container with fertilizer.  The moldy foliage will be trimmed off, and the plant will rebound over a few months, and send out new growth.