What is the Yucky Stuff in my mulch?
Mulched beds, lots of moisture and hot humid weather are the perfect ingredients for this yucky, sticky looking nasty stuff to appear on mulched beds. These piles of stuff that look like vomit (sorry for being so graphic) are fungi that grow from spores in the wood mulch you are using around your house.
For the most part these Fungi are harmless. But, but, but . . .
Beware of the One that is known as “Shotgun Fungus or Artillery Fungus”!
Those babies are nasty because the actually boil from the inside out and eventually silently explode. They can’t hurt you that I am aware of because the explosion is nothing more than a big splatter, but the gooey stuff inside will splatter all of your house and if you have a light colored siding it will make a mess that is next to impossible to get off your house.
Watch the movie for more about “Shotgun or Artillery Fungus” and right below the video there is a link to photos of what this stuff actually looks like.
These fungi come in all different kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. They are all nasty and yucky, but they are different. Because they are a product of wet mulch, warm temperatures and high humidity they can and will go away on their own in a relatively short period of time. Sometimes I just take a shovel and flip them over to disrupt their ability to keep spreading.
When you apply hardwood bark mulch to your landscape, immediately the landscape has a sharp, crisp look to it. The mulch also helps to maintain a uniform soil temperature and holds in moisture. But sometimes mulch can create an unsuspected problem that many people don’t even realize they have. During the hot, humid weeks in the dog days of summer it’s not unusual for fungi to grow in the mulch around your home. Most of these fungi are harmless to you and your plants. But there is one fungus that can literally splatter your house with little tiny brown spots!
Shotgun fungus (AKA Artillery fungus) is best know for the way in which it spreads. It forms tiny pin-head size bulbs that collect water and other matter. These bulbs are sensitive to light and once the bulbs have fully formed, they explode in the direction of the light spreading the fungus in many different directions.
In a good wind these bulbs can explode and reach as far as twenty feet! The picture above shows the fungus on the side of a house.
This type of fungus is very hard to remove from the objects it adheres to. Sometimes soap, water and a little elbow grease does the trick but it’s very difficult to completely remove it.
The fungus typically grows and forms in wood mulch which is generally why it ends up on your house. At this time there isn’t any fungicide to apply to the mulch to prevent shotgun fungus from forming. What I do to control fungi in the mulch around my house is to simply disturb the fungus as soon as I see it appear. Sometimes I flip it over so the air can get to the underside of it, or if I suspect it’s shotgun fungus I’ll just place a layer of mulch over top of it to prevent the explosive action.
Granted fungi grow quickly in mulch and before I see them the damage might already be done. I wish I could give you better news.
Try to clean the fungus from your house as soon as you notice it to prevent any further damage.
How to remove Shotgun, also known as Artillery Fungus from your house.
By the way, the donkeys are having a great summer!
Questions and comments are welcome, post them below and I’ll do my best to answer for you.