Controlling Sooty Mold

How to Control Sooty Mold in Your Garden

Are you a sooty mold detective?

Holly Plant

One of the surest ways to ensure that your plants are healthy at all times is to do a garden inspection or scouting and what that means is putting on those comfortable shoes and with a hand lens, pen, and notepad walking about in your garden and recording any findings that may be a threat to plant life.

In other words, you become a plant detective which is great because this is a sure way to notice and control any plant issues in the early stages.

As a groundsman, this was one of my duties and I was amazed at what I found in the garden. There are so many issues you will come across at times that will mean the difference between the life or death of that plant.

In this article, however, we will be looking at how to identify sooty mold and how to control or eradicate them keeping your plants healthy and happy.

Sooty mold identification

Sooty mold on plant leaves-controlling-sooty-mold
Sooty mold on garden plant

Have you ever taken a walk in your garden and notice the foliage or leaves of your plants covered with a black substance? this is known as sooty mold. In severe cases, this mold may spread to the stems and fruits of your plant.

To the inexperienced, this looks like dirt as in this photo. Trying to give your plant a shower with a garden hose may remove some of the molds but the amount that is removed is small, other measures must be taken to bring these molds under control.

Another way to know if your garden plants are being attacked by sooty mold is to look for ants. If there is a heavy population of ants then this just may be a sign that your plant has sooty mold.

The reason why ants appear is that the ants are attracted to and feed on this sugary secretion that is known as honeydew. This sugar substance if you make contact with it is very sticky.

How does sooty mold affect plant life?

Sooty mold takes away from the beauty of garden plants, giving them a sickly appearance that becomes an eyesore. Sooty mold also interferes with plants being able to produce their food.

Plants use water, carbon dioxide, and the sunlight, convert these to sugar and then take them up through their roots, the mold covering plant leaves makes it very difficult for plants by acting as a barrier to plant leaves being able to absorb sunlight.

 Who or what causes sooty mold?

I am so happy that you asked that question. Sooty mold is produced by insects sucking the plant juice injecting their piercing-sucking mouthparts in the plant leaves.

When these insects secrets they secrete a sugary substance stated earlier known as honeydew from honeydew dew molds are formed.

How does all of this work?

Plants that are stressed become victims of these garden pest, it is very important that we choose the right plant for the right location, know their water requirements, fertilize them according to their needs, proper pruning methods and so on can help to keep garden plants healthy

but when we neglect to follow these garden rules which are laws of the garden plants will become sickly and attacked by these garden pest.

while it is true that the best-kept garden may also come under attack by these garden insect pests the truth is your garden plants stand a better chance of surviving when they are healthy.

Controlling sooty mold using natural methods

Sooty mold on ixoras-controlling-sooty-mold
Sooty mold on ixoras

As we have discussed earlier one way to control sooty mold is to keep plants as healthy as possible by meeting their requirements. Also by controlling or eliminating pests will bring sooty mold under control.

Controlling sooty mold with chemicals

Controlling sooty molds with chemicals has proven to be very effective but a word of caution here, chemicals are dangerous and miss use or overuse of these chemicals can do more harm than good

therefore this job should only be undertaken by a certified chemical applicator. Some chemicals that may be used are as followed.

1. Insecticidal soaps.

2. Systemics.

3. Biological insecticides.

4. Organic insecticides.

An environmentally safe method

Includes the use of dish liquid combined with water.

1 tsp of dish liquid to 1 gal of water mixed well, add to a spray bottle. Apply when temperatures are cool, cover entire leaves both the top and the underside with this mixture, after about 2-3 hours rinse leaves thoroughly with fresh water once a week. Several treatments may be needed over a longer period because this method takes a while in some cases depending on the severity of the issue at hand.

Biological control

Controlling garden pests with this method may be slow but this is a safe method that can bring good results depending on the severity of the problem.

Mechanical Control

Mechanical control involves using tools such as hand pruners, shares, and so on to remove infected parts.


The goal of seeking to get rid of sooty mold is so that the molds would not affect new plant growth as younger leaves emerge.

The final word

Our garden plants are depending on us to help them perform at their best so let’s do our part to keep our plants happy and healthy as we reap the rewards of what they have to offer.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.