Basil Getting Moldy Under Lights
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Suzy Ragona
Posted on: December 17, 2005

I live in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, USA and have purchased plants, herbs and seeds from your company for several years now, with usual success. This past summer, I created a raised herb bed and grew your sweet basil and Genovese basil seeds. I had TREMENDOUS plants all summer. I took some of the smaller and a few of the very large plants indoors when the autumn weather began. I have a growing area in my basement with multiple grow lights and levels of shelves. The plants are in clay pots purchased from Home Depot. They are beginning to get what appears to be mold and the once vibrant plants are dropping leaves daily. I water them a couple of times per week, depending on when the soil is moderately damp to slightly dry. I was told to make sure to not over water plants that are indoors. Is this white mold-like substance harming the plants? Should I get rid of it? If so, how? I don’t have a great deal of money to spend on changing too much in my indoor plant area, but we enjoy the fresh herbs very much.

Your plant symptoms sound very much like an attack of some fungus. The lower light levels, less difference between day and night temperatures and probably less air movement shocked the by now already old plants and made them susceptible to something like powdery mildew. The plant is trying to fight it by dropping the diseased and poorly adapted leaves and will probably grow more leaves -- this time suited to the new conditions. Swish the plants upside down in soapy water -after taping some newspaper strips over the soil to stop it from falling out. Increase air movement with a small second hand computer fan so that spores cannot land on the plants in the first place and the surfaces are drier and less likely to allow spores to germinate on them.

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