In nature, there is a natural cycle of life between plants, animals, and other micro-organisms, and mother nature has it all planned out for all organisms to thrive. Growing plants indoors or in your garden is a different story.
It is no longer nature’s responsibility to provide your plants with all they need to thrive, but it is yours. Along with watering, light, fertilizing, and potting, plant owners also need to keep an eye out for anything that might harm your plants—for example, fungi.
White Fungus Balls in Soil?
White fungus balls in the soil are most often fungal colonies. You might find these white balls in a range of sizes and textures, such as large puffy balls or clusters of white eggs. The difference in the appearance of fungal balls is due to the different fungi and their respective living conditions. More often than not, fungus balls being present in the soil is not a cause of concern.
When Are White Fungus Balls a Cause of Concern?
Although mostly they are nothing to worry about, you should not lay back and relax until you are completely sure that those white fungus balls will not grow large and engulf your plants.
Fungi, puffballs, molds, and even bacterial colonies can grow vigorously given the right temperature and moisture and might prove to be a grave problem for you and your plants.
Here are some of the reasons you might spot white fungus balls in your garden soil or pots.
1.Decomposition of Organic Matter
Just like fungi start growing on a piece of bread, fungi can also grow on any organic matter present in or on the soil.
If you drop a piece of bread or any edible on the soil, a fluffy white growth will emerge over that piece of food and start to decompose it. This is a natural process and seldom does any harm to your plants.
The white fungi grow vigorously in moist soil and will die out if you allow the soil to dry out. You shouldn’t be alarmed as long as the fungi growth is not too close to your plants.
Let the fungi break down the organic matter, and they will eventually die out once their job is done.
If you don’t want the fungus to spread, make sure there is no plant debris or other organic matter in its vicinity.
2.White Golfball-Like Fungus Balls
If you find solid white balls below the surface of the soil, this might hint towards a bigger problem. These are bigger fungal growths, as the sizes can range from the size of a sparrow’s egg to as big as a golfball.
These balls might have root-like structures protruding out of their spherical body and are identified as immature fruiting bodies of the stinkhorn fungus. They will easily dry out if they are taken out of the soil and kept in the open air.
The stinkhorn fungus feeds on decomposed organic matter beneath the soil and is most likely to be found in soil that is kept consistently moist.
Although they cannot harm humans or plants, slimy stalks can grow upwards from the fruiting bodies and spread a putrid odor around your plants. This odor attracts flies and other unwanted insects to your garden.
If you identify a smelly, slimy stalk or encounter these white balls while digging through your garden, you can rake out those balls from the vicinity and get rid of them.
Using any other methods to eliminate stinkhorns such as fungicides or bleach treatment is really not worth it because stinkhorns are nearly impossible to eradicate from a mulched area.
A better strategy would be just raking out the moist mulched areas in your garden frequently, so the stinkhorn balls are kept disturbed, not allowing them to grow those smelly stalks.
3.Clusters of Small White Eggs
If you notice clusters of hundreds of tiny white balls on the soil surface, chances are you made the mistake of using uncomposted lawn clippings as a mulch.
These white balls look much like heaps of white NPK fertilizer or insect eggs. They are not a fungal colony but harmless slime mold.
These white eggs are immature fruiting bodies, just like the stinkhorn fungus. If one of these balls is dissected, we will find spores inside.
Although they are not harmful to your plants, you might want to keep seedlings and new growth away from the fungal growth.
Slime mold carries out the natural decomposing process on the grass clippings. It will naturally climb or grow higher so as to produce more fruiting bodies.
Fungal growths in the form of white balls are mostly not a threat to your plants, but we still would prefer to have our gardens and pots free of any micro-organisms for hygiene purposes.
Furthermore, any white fungus balls lying around your garden are poisonous to pets. Hence, it’s better to prevent their growth in the first place.
Fungi thrive in dim-lighted, warm, and moist places. It would be better if you watered your plants in the bright hours, so there is no excess moisture sitting around longer in the dark hours.
Similarly, rake the mulched areas in your garden frequently to prevent stinkhorns from taking root.
FAQ About Fungus Balls in Soil
Should I use a fungicide to deal with white fungus balls?
Treatment with fungicide is not needed as it is unnecessary as long as the fungal infection is not damaging your plants. Most white fungus balls carry out the decomposition of organic matter, which is actually good for your plants. If you have to, manually removing fungal growths is a better option than using a fungicide.
How long do white fungus balls live for?
Fungal growth will survive and grow for as long as there is something it can feed on. In the case of organic matter, the white fungal growth will wither out in a matter of weeks.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.