Garden Q&A: Artillery fungus hard to battle
Q uestion: We've got a problem with artillery fungus shooting spores on our white siding and cars. What can we do about it that won't cost us a fortune?
Answer: Artillery fungus is an organism that breaks down wood and is commonly found across the United States, including in landscape mulch. The mature fungi are very small, measuring a mere one-tenth of an inch. Because they are so small, they are difficult to see. The spore clusters, however, are not.
The organism spreads via spores that are shot out of the fungus for several feet, appropriately earning the name artillery fungus. They are troublesome because, as you have discovered, the spore clusters are extremely difficult to remove from the surfaces where they land. They are nearly impossible to get off cars, house siding, garage doors and anywhere else they land. Artillery fungus naturally shoots its spores toward sunlight and reflective surfaces, so it's often more problematic on light-colored homes and cars.
As with all fungus, artillery fungus prefer moist, shady conditions, so it's likely that your problem is more pronounced in shady areas and on the north side of your home. Years with wet springs often bring more of a problem with this fungus.
To help manage your problem, use mulches made from bark rather than shredded wood, as this organism tends to prefer wood products. Large pine bark nuggets are a good option, as are cocoa hulls.
Remove as much of the infested mulch as possible, bag it, and throw it away before adding any new mulch. Many gardeners report less of a problem when the beds are mulched with a fresh layer of product every season.
You also might consider using river rock, pea gravel or mushroom soil as an alternative mulch. Or plant a ground cover. None of these supports artillery fungus.
The spore cases will not harm your house or car, and other than the marks they leave behind, they aren't destructive. It is nearly impossible to remove the spores from siding, though sometimes power washing and/or scraping them with steel wool will work to some extent. This is a lot of time and effort and isn't worth it for most people. There is little you can do if artillery fungus spores land on your car other than gently picking them off with your fingernail.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Jobs on state website include ‘private party dancing,’ ‘car dates’
- Point State Park honored as top-notch public space
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin bringing officials to practice
- Rossi: Pirates plan to carry Hurdle deep into playoffs
- Port Authority police discuss bus crash with county prosecutors
- Steelers’ Tomlin does not like his coaching style to be characterized
- Melocchi pleads guilty to leading McKeesport gambling ring
- Penguins notebook: Malkin picture muddy
- Pets rescued from Westmoreland house fire
- Pittsburgh rises up for a 2nd year of Pirates magic
- Consol Energy Center cashes in again on payments from Rivers Casino