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House Plants/Philodendron soil


I have a philodendron that seems to be going slowly downhill. The leaves are dull and listless, though not browning. The soil looks to have some type of white fungi growing in it. I have heard that you could wash the plant and rinse the soil with distilled white vinegar, but I don't want to further stress the plant. What can I do to bring it back to health?


What you describe is frequently caused by overwatering or poorly draining soil. It must be in a pot with a large drainage hole and a draintray under it. To get rid of the white mold spray the surface of the soil with Lysol spray ever 3 days for 2 weeks. It would also help if you picked up some perlite at your garden center or Walmart and when the plant is dry carefully remove it from the pot and mix some perlite with the soil lower in the pot. This will improve the drainage.

The drain tray must never have standing water in it. It should always be emptied an hour after watering. Use a turkey baster if you can't lift the plant. Do not water the plant unless it has been dry for 3 days. Sitting in too much water causes the  lackluster look you have noticed. Once it is dried out a dose of fertilizer would help also. Always let it get dry between waterings. Good luck!


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Darlene K. Kittle


I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.


I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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