After spending time and money on creating the landscape you want, it can be frustrating to find molds and fungus in your mulched beds. Don’t worry, though. It’s perfectly normal to find them in your mulch, as they grow on decaying wood and most are actually beneficial to the decomposition process. You can find them most of the year starting in early spring to mid fall, and often emerge after a period of rainy weather.
Here’s a look at a few of the organisms you might find.
MUSHROOMS & TOADSTOOLS: Mushrooms may look strange but they’re beneficial to your beds. Their size, shape and life span vary quite a bit depending on the type. Nothing needs to be done to get rid of them unless you don't like the look. They are easily removed by lifting them out of the bed and moving the mulch around to allow the area to dry out.
SLIME MOLD: This one is more unsightly than your average mushroom, however, it is still beneficial. People often refer to it as “dog vomit fungus” and is actually not a mold or fungus at all. It starts out looking like a yellowy-orange slimy mass that can be over a foot across that will eventually turn brown with white and become powdery. Usually you’ll see this in spring, but sometimes also in summer in shady places. Slime mold is not harmful to humans or animals and can be left alone or removed. To get rid of the mass reduce water to that area as it likes moisture. You can break it up so it will dry out, or you can remove it altogether.
WHITE POWDERY STUFF IN THE MULCH: If you’re prepping your beds to have a fresh layer of mulch added and find that last year’s mulch is compacted and has white powdery stuff in it don’t worry! It’s just another harmless fungus that can be easily removed by breaking up the clumping area and allowing it to lay in the sun before adding fresh mulch.
ARTILLERY FUNGUS: Artillery Fungus is not from our area, in northern Illinois, but it may be able to hitch a ride in mulch that doesn’t originate locally. It has tiny orange-brown cups with one black seed in it, and can be a real nuisance. The spores are shot out toward bright surfaces and can stick to the sides of your house or car and can be difficult to remove without damaging the surface. If you find artillery fungus in your beds, try applying mushroom compost to the area. It contains microbes that can destroy nuisance fungi.
For more information on molds and fungus in your mulched beds visit these links.