Funny looking mold on my mulch

Dear Master Gardener: I have two questions. My first questions deals with this funny looking mold (I think) that is appearing on my landscape mulch. Could you give me some more information about this mold? Here is a photo.

mulch mold
 My second question deals with my Veronica plant. As the plant grew this spring, it started to have the bottom leaves turn brown and die. I did not treat it any differently than the year before so I am a bit confused as what approach I should use for my plant. I have also added a photo of this plant.

brown veronica plant

Thanks for your help!

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1 Comment

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    August 8, 2008 at 11:03 am

    This is what I affectionately like to call barf mold. The first time I saw it I thought someone had gotten sick in my flower bed! This is just a fungus inherent in the decomposition of the mulch; it happens on most hardwood and cypress mulches, usually in late July and into August. It isn’t harmful; it’s mainly just unsightly and you can either ignore it or carefully scoop it up and discard it into your compost pile or trash.

    There is no relevance to the thickness of the mulch. I’ve seen it develop in areas with only a thin layer of mulch. In your images the mulch appears fairly thick so you might want to cultivate or loosen up the mulch as it tends to compact over the summer months and will not allow a lot of air movement. It can also become so compacted that it will not allow water to penetrate easily (creating nice set-ups for molds).

    The problem with the Veronica is most likely fungal. Most areas have received a lot of water this spring and summer and Veronica likes it on the drier side. You will want to carefully remove all the dead leaves and discard into your trash. It would also be helpful to pull the mulch away from the base of the plants to allow the soil to dry out. If the plant needs a little water, because it’s been hot and dry for at least a week, be sure to water directly at the ground level and don’t get the foliage wet. This will help to keep the fungus from spreading. You can treat with a fungicide if it continues.

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