With approximately 20% of South Africa’s households affected by indoor smoke pollution, an increasing number of people are turning to plants to improve their indoor air quality, and consequently, their health. However, if indoor plants develop mould, their effect in cleaning the air is reduced, and they present additional health concerns. Luckily, managing mould on indoor plants is a straightforward task, particularly when they’re hydroponic, as mould is less likely to develop. Check the conditions in your home Because of the lack of soil, the risk of mould developing on a hydroponic plant is lower than on a plant grown using traditional methods. However, it is possible for mildew to develop on the leaves of hydroponic plants, particularly if they are kept in warm, damp conditions. Excess moisture or water vapour can cause mould growth in the home, which can sometimes go undetected. If your hydroponic plants develop mildew growth, it could be a sign that your home should be inspected and treated for underlying mould problems. Seeking to remedy this will help to improve your indoor air quality in itself, and will also reduce the chance of your plants developing further growth. Ventilation and humidity Once household mould has been removed, the leaves of the plant can be treated with good ventilation. Fungal spores colonise when air stagnates, and keeping the air around the plant moving will stop the spores from germinating. An open window or a fan placed near the plant will allow the air to circulate, keeping the leaves dry and discouraging the spores from reproducing. Good ventilation will also help to reduce the humidity. The ideal humidity levels for an indoor plant is 45-50%: under these conditions, most fungi will not survive. If you suspect your humidity levels to be higher than this, invest in a dehumidifier, which will also prevent mould growth in the home. Dehumidifiers can be costly, however, so rock salt or baking soda can be a good alternative. Clean and protect While spilled water and dead leaves may seem insignificant, they can be problematic when you’re trying to protect plants from mould growth. Spores can germinate on these quite quickly, so be careful to clear up spillages straight away, and regularly inspect your plants for dead leaves. An organic fungicide can then be used to wipe down surfaces where spores may have settled. An additional source of fungal growth can come from outside: if you’re working amongst outdoor plants, change your clothes before you make contact with your hydroponic plants indoors, and use separate tools for your houseplants. Indoor plants can make a huge difference to air quality, but you can maximise the effects by ensuring that they are kept healthy and mould free. Hydroponic plants make this easier, as there is no soil for mould to infect, but there is still a risk. If you notice mould developing on your house plants, take this as a sign that you may need to have your home checked: your plants could be telling you something.
A Breath Of Fresh Air: Managing Mould Growth In Hydroponic Plants
Updated: Nov 6, 2019