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I have my very first plant in my cube and it seems to be doing just fine.

However, there is an orange mold-like substance growing on the top of the soil, and I can see a few tiny white bugs crawling around in the soil.

Did I do something wrong? Should I be worried? Is there anything I can do to fix my potential issue?

Here is some additional info, unfortunately I do not have answers to most of your questions as this plant was just given to my by a friend with no details provided.

  • I do not know the type of plant. (See pic) It will not bloom, and sometimes grows extentions of itself which can be cut off and replanted elsewhere. (That's how I got mine.)
  • The pot is just the cheapest plastic pot I could find at the local store. I's essentially a glorified tupperware container with holes in the bottom.
  • It's planted in potting soil that my roommate had sitting in the apartment. It seems like simple black dirt with those little white balls in it.

Here are some photos of the mold and the plant. The white bugs are too small to photograph with my camera. They are only about 2mm long and .5mm wide. They look like tiny white larva of some sort perhaps.

(Click all photos for full-size)

Photo of plant and mold

Photo of mold (Inlined to make post shorter)

Another photo of mold Photo of plant and mold Photo of plant and mold

I'd like to apologize for my ignorance. Please help me provide you with more info if needed.

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@jjnguy, personally I can't tell you what pest is on your plant from those photos, but have a browse through the following and see if that helps you identify the insect: Houseplant Insect Control from University of Minnesota Extension –  Mike Perry Aug 3 '11 at 14:31
    
@jjnguy: How often do you water your plant? –  Mancuniensis Aug 3 '11 at 14:38
    
@Man, I water it a little bit every day. If the soil begins to look a little dry, I water it. –  jjnguy Aug 3 '11 at 15:19
3  
@jjnguy, sounds to me if you're watering too much, for starters take a look at the following couple of answers by "Mancuniensis": Answer 1 & Answer 2 & this question here –  Mike Perry Aug 3 '11 at 16:08
1  
@Kasey I stopped over-watering my plant and the mold (and bugs) went away. –  jjnguy May 15 '12 at 16:10

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The appearance of the soil surface in your photos leads me to think that over-watering may be the cause of the mold/fungus; a constantly wet growing medium provides ideal conditions for mold to develop. The soil needs to dry out a little between waterings, so that it is only slightly damp to the touch, and never wet. The slight browning of the stems where they meet the soil also suggests that, unless they get drier conditions, they could develop collar rot. While some plants prefer moister conditions than others, very few will survive long if their feet are constantly wet.

Unfortunately, I can't identify either the plant or the pest from the photos you have posted, but I would suggest that you:

  • carefully remove the top 2 inches of soil and replace it with fresh potting compost (preferably a peat-based one, as this will dry out better between waterings);

  • try to ensure that the plant gets a few hours of bright natural light every day, to encourage it to bloom if it proves to be a flowering house plant;

  • water thoroughly (until water comes out of the drainage holes - superficial watering leads to surface rooting, stress and disease), but only when the soil is dryish;

  • spray the soil surface and the whole plant once a week with a solution of soapy water, if the insects persist / reappear; if this doesn't do the trick, try to identify the pest using the link Mike Perry has suggested and spray the plant and soil surface with a suitable insecticide;

  • apply a liquid fertilizer - see here - every two or three weeks, but only during the growing season.

Provided your soil is free-draining, the mold/fungus should disappear without the use of a fungicide, once you have replaced the topsoil and created drier growing conditions.

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There are a lot of good non-chemical home remedies for plants and insects at: http://www.firstrays.com/remedies.htm. He likes the use of cinnamon and citrus sprays, which might go over well with your cube neighbors in an office.

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3  
OP has not added a photo and we cannot be sure what bug it is. From your answer, it is also not clear if it will even work on this unknown white bug. Please don't provide such blanket answers. Instead wait to get more info from the OP and and then answer the question to the point. I understand that you cannot comment until you've earned 50 rep, but you should wait to see if OP responds to the two commenters above... So please don't forget to improve your answer when the OP provides more info. –  Lorem Ipsum Aug 3 '11 at 13:34
    
Thanks for the general info. –  jjnguy Aug 3 '11 at 14:12
    
@yoda, I have added more info now. –  jjnguy Aug 3 '11 at 14:12

The issue you are having is from the type of soil you are using. Try Miracle-Gro planting soil for indoor plants and less watering. You can water your plant with 2 - 3 ice cubes every 4 days. There is no need to soak the soil; you just need to get water to the roots. Over watering will cause root rot and mold.

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Thanks for chiming in with some advice on how to solve my problem! –  jjnguy Sep 30 '13 at 15:42

I can't help you with your soil problem, but that plant is a type of spider plant. It comes in many different shades. I have two a solid green one like yours and a green one with a white stripe down the center. That one is a curly spider plant. I'm not sure of the solid green types name though. I got my cuttings from my moms plants. I hope this helps!

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