White mold is a fungal infection that can damage entire fields of crops. An extensively broad list of host plants are highly susceptible to this problem. To prevent infection in your home landscape, familiarize yourself with the habits associated with disease spread and know what to look for in case infection occurs.
White mold is caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. This soil-borne pathogen surfaces as fruiting bodies in a light brown color measuring up to 3/4 inch in diameter. These mushroom-like displays have cupped tops which produce and release spores, according to the Purdue University Extension. The released spores spread to host plants on the wind.
Symptoms and Damage
Infected plants suffer from rot on any part of the plant, whether above or below ground. Lesions appear as marks that look saturated with water in deep green to white hues. In periods of high moisture, a white mold develops on plants, as the name reflects, according to the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service. Plants eventually wilt and die, and infection often spreads to nearby plants.
Extremely susceptible plants include sunflowers, dry beans and cabbages, according to the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service. Other susceptible plants include, but are not limited to, anise, artichokes, Chinese hibiscus, cucumbers, pansies, milkweed, peaches, peanuts, snapdragons, marigolds, freesia, camellias as well as both garden and wild radishes. Avoid susceptible plants when possible. However, since plant susceptibility is so widespread, determine proper treatment if planting is unavoidable.
For natural treatment, keep weeds at bay in your garden to prevent attracting white mold that often claims weeds as host plants. Maintain well-drained soil to prevent creating ideally wet environments for fungal germination. Additionally, water in the morning to prevent standing water on plant surfaces. Remove and destroy infected plants; if allowed in your region, choose to burn the plants as a destruction method, according to the South Dakota University Cooperative Extension Service.
Preventive fungicides are available for use as a chemical treatment method. Benomyl has been proven an effective chemical control, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. Fungicides cannot, however, address an existing infection in your plants. Contact a licensed professional for thorough application of appropriate chemicals, according to the South Dakota University Cooperative Extension Service.