If you’ve woken up to find mushrooms growing around your prized houseplant, you’re not alone. Mushrooms are a common problem in potting soil, and they may be more than just unsightly. It’s always wise to be cautious as some fungi may be dangerous for curious children or pets who want to try a taste.
Read on to find out why you might see a yellow or brown mushroom growing in potted plants and how to get rid of them.
Why Are There Mushrooms In My Potted Plant?
Seeing mushrooms in your potted plants isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. It’s perfectly normal to see mushrooms popping up in potting soil for a variety of different reasons, even in healthy, well-tended plants. Read on to find out what may be causing mushrooms to sprout up in the soil of your house plants.
How Do Mushrooms Spread?
Instead of seeds, mushrooms grow from microscopic spores that settle in the ground. Spores grow into fungi that then produce fruiting bodies, which are reproductive structures. In an outdoor environment, mushrooms can spread quickly and efficiently through airborne spores.
In most cases of houseplant mushrooms, however, spores aren’t spread through the air. Only rarely do lawn mushrooms venture indoors through open windows or ventilation systems. In most cases, houses are too warm for outdoor mushroom varieties to thrive.
Instead, most mushrooms found in houseplants come from the soil. Spores can enter potting soil sitting out in your garden or may even be present from purchase. Some fungal spores can lie dormant for years before sprouting under favorable conditions.
Mushroom spores may also enter your home through other means and settle on plants.
You can transport spores in hair and clothing, while pets may bring spores inside on their fur. All it takes is one healthy mushroom spore to sprout, and you may find yourself with an entire pot full of fungi.
Mushroom Growing Conditions
Houseplant mushrooms, unlike lawn mushrooms, prefer the warm conditions that an indoor home has to offer. They also prefer a moist environment such as the soil of a well-watered houseplant.
You’re most likely to see mushrooms growing in rooms that experience warm conditions and high levels of humidity regularly. Many people find mushrooms growing in potted plants left in the bathroom or kitchen, though spores can sprout in any hospitable area of the house.
Mushrooms need plenty of decaying organic matter to survive. They grow best in pots with nutritious, fertile soil containing materials such as mulch, wood chips, or compost. Some fertilizers can also encourage the growth of houseplant mushrooms.
Are Houseplant Mushrooms Harmful?
Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms are actually a sign of a healthy, well-maintained plant. Mushrooms pop up when there’s plenty of moisture and organic matter present in potting soil, both of which also help houseplants to survive.
Mushrooms can even improve the health of potted plants. As they break down decaying matter, they reintroduce essential nutrients into the soil. This symbiotic relationship can help to enhance plant growth and longevity.
While mushrooms may not be harmful to houseplants, they may pose a danger to others in your household. Some mushrooms can cause mild irritation or an allergic reaction, while others may be harmful when consumed.
Before houseplant mushrooms tempt hungry children or pets, it’s best to remove them as quickly as possible. You should also remember to schedule follow-up treatments to ensure that you don’t have any future fungal infestations.
What Are There Mushrooms In My House Plant?
Before tackling any mushroom problem, it’s a good idea to identify the fungus at hand. The most common types of mushrooms that homeowners see on houseplants tend to be either brown or yellow varieties.
Brown Mushroom Growing In Potted Plant
If you see small brown mushrooms growing around your potted plant, they could belong to various species.
Mushrooms from the Coprinus genus are easily identifiable thanks to their long, conical caps and are commonly found in potting soil.
Those from the Conocybe genus tend to have darker, slightly flatter caps and are also a common indoor mushroom variety.
Other species of brown mushrooms may be found in houseplants as well. In most cases, brown mushrooms growing in potted plants are harmless and non-toxic, though it’s still a good practice to remove them as quickly as possible.
Yellow Mushroom Growing In Potted Plant
In the majority of cases, the mushrooms that people find growing in their potted plant are yellow or orange mushrooms.
One of the most common houseplant mushrooms is Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, which boasts a light yellow cap, that can either be flat or balled in shape.
While it’s not lethal, this mushroom can cause an allergic reaction in some people and may lead to digestive discomfort if eaten. You should take care to remove any yellow mushrooms quickly and completely and take steps to prevent them from returning.
Getting Rid Of Brown Mushrooms In Houseplants
If you notice mushrooms in one of your potted plants, it’s a good idea to act fast and eradicate the slightly unsightly-looking growth. Let’s face it, they won’t disappear straight away on their own. They have a tendency to grow bigger rapidly and increase in numbers before conditions turn unfavorable.
Fortunately, there are several ways to effectively and efficiently get rid of a brown mushroom growing in potted plants.
Remove Mushrooms By Hand
With a small mushroom infestation, you may be able to remove the problem by hand. You can pick out fruiting bodies as you see them in order to keep the soil free of fungus. It’s best to pluck from the stem rather than the cap to ensure that you remove the entire mushroom.
Keep in mind that even if you remove all visible mushrooms, they still leave behind a network of root-like hyphae underground. You may notice mushrooms continuing to sprout despite your best efforts at removal.
Removing the top half-inch of soil can help you remove any remaining live matter such as hyphae that may result in a future outbreak of mushrooms. You may even want to add some lime to raise the pH of the soil, making it more inhospitable to acid-loving fungi.
When handling mushrooms, always make sure to cover exposed skin with protective equipment. You should wear long sleeves and gardening gloves to prevent any accidental contact.
If you have respiratory sensitivities, it may be a good idea to wear a mask and eye goggles to protect yourself from spores.
Use A Fungicide
Fungicides are solutions specially designed to target and eliminate fungal infestations. You can find both chemical and store-bought organic fungicides designed to tackle different types of mushrooms.
When choosing a fungicide, it’s best to opt for an organic option with safe, all-natural ingredients. Some chemical fungicides can leach into the air and soil, causing more harm than good. They may also contain harsh compounds that can stunt the growth of your potted plant.
No matter what type of fungicide you choose, always use it according to the directions on the package. You should take any necessary precautions to protect yourself and your home before spraying.
Make sure that you wear some skin, eye, and respiratory protection as you work. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have a well-ventilated workspace.
You may even want to move your plant outside as you spray. Otherwise, you should make sure to cover any nearby upholstery, carpeting, or furniture as well as the houseplant that is already planted in the soil to protect it from chemical residue.
If you’re looking for a safe and cost-effective solution, you can try using a homemade fungicide to tackle your mushroom problem.
While DIY fungicides can be effective, keep in mind that they may be weaker than lab-produced solutions. It can sometimes take several applications to eliminate a fungus outbreak.
One of the best homemade fungicides to use against mushrooms is baking soda. Most fungi prefer acidic soil, so raising the pH with a basic substance such as baking soda creates a sterile environment.
Simply mix one to two teaspoons of baking soda with one gallon of water and spray or drizzle over your potting soil. With a couple of applications, you should see mushrooms start to vanish. What’s more, your soil will remain too basic for new spouts to form.
Cornmeal is another effective homemade solution, as it contains natural antifungal components. Mix one cup of cornmeal in one gallon of water, and then spread the slurry over mushroom growth.
Change The Soil
When all else fails, changing your plant’s potting soil ensures that you remove all mushroom spores from the mix. Carefully swap your plant into a fresh, clean pot, cleaning all equipment and clothing as you work to avoid cross-contamination.
Move Your Houseplant
In some cases, you may be seeing mushrooms in your potted plants because spores are blowing in from outside. Though this is rare, it may be worth moving problem plants away from windows, doorways, and high-traffic walkways to see if it helps resolve the issue.
Conclusion: Mushrooms In House Plants
A yellow or brown mushroom growing in potted plants is a common complaint amongst homeowners with a green thumb.
Not only are rogue mushrooms unsightly, but they may be dangerous if swallowed by children or pets. Be assured, however, that by using one of the methods I’ve described above, it is completely possible to get rid of mushrooms safely and permanently and to keep your houseplants free of unwanted fungus.