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Why are Mushrooms Growing on Your Houseplants?

It’s not unusual to find mushrooms growing in the soil of potted plants. It can happen as a result of various reasons, why aren’t all bad. So, don’t panic or throw your houseplant out.

While mushrooms can be a sign of a healthy ecosystem, it also depends on the type of mushroom growing next to your plant.

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Some mushrooms will compete for resources, others won’t and in fact they may be even beneficial to the soil.

Let’s see which is which and how to manage mushrooms poking their head up in the soil of your houseplants.

How Did Mushrooms Get on My Houseplants?

Mushrooms spread through spores, which makes it easy for them to get literally anywhere, including the pots of your houseplants. This also makes it difficult to prevent them.

Here are some of the ways in which mushroom spores can get into the potting medium of your houseplants:

– Spores present in potting medium

The potting medium that you got for your houseplants could have already been “contaminated” with mushroom spores.

If your potting medium was fertile and the environment was optimal for mushrooms to develop, it could explain why your houseplant is now sharing its pot with several tiny mushrooms.

A fertile soil coupled with regular or even excess watering can explain why mushrooms may be growing in the same pot as your houseplants.

– Transfer from tools/other plants

Spores can easily transfer from other plants nearby or from the tools that you use for trimming or pruning your plants.

Tools should be sanitized before handling your plant, because they can be vectors of transmission for fungi, diseases and even pests.

Even if you keep plants at a distance from each other, spores can spread because of drafts or wind, which brings us to the next potential reason why your houseplants are sharing a pot with mushrooms.

– Wind

If your plants were kept outdoors, then moved indoors, and mushrooms appeared, the spores of the mushrooms could have easily been carried there by something as simple as the wind.

Now that you have some possible scenarios on how mushrooms got on your houseplants, let’s see if these are dangerous to your plants in any way.

Are Mushrooms Dangerous to Your Plants?

If the mushrooms growing alongside your houseplants are small, pale yellow with gills on the underside of the cap, you’re very likely looking at a Leucocoprinus birnbaumii mushroom.

The mushroom is not dangerous to your houseplants, however, because it reproduces by sending out spores, chances are you’re going to end up with a lot of them, unless you get rid of them.

Leucocoprinus birnbaumii enjoy tropical climates and reproduce in warm temperatures. If you don’t live in an area where this would be a problem, you probably won’t see a proliferation of this mushroom on your houseplants, but it’s still best to remove it.

Are Mushrooms Dangerous to You?

Leucocoprinus birnbaumii is toxic if ingested. On their own, the spores of this mushroom aren’t toxic, so you needn’t worry about toxicity coming from spores.

That said, it’s still best to remove the mushrooms in case you have children or pets that could ingest them. So, as long as no-one in your household ingests these mushrooms, you’re going to be fine.

But because these mushrooms thrive in an environment that’s favorable to mold, it’s a good idea to check for mold, which can be dangerous to you and your houseplants.

Overwatering your houseplants can also be a reason why mushroom spores and fungi can thrive in that environment.

Also, where there’s mold, there could be rotting too, so make sure that the roots of your houseplants aren’t rotting from excess watering.

How to Get Rid of Mushrooms on Your Plants?

While you could simply just plush out mushrooms from the soil, the measure is unlikely to produce lasting effects. If there are already spores in the soil, new mushrooms will likely emerge.

Therefore, you must target the spores in the soil, not only the mushrooms.

Here’s how to get rid of mushrooms on your houseplants:

  • Change the potting medium on your houseplant by repotting it.
  • If you’re reusing the same pot, make sure to wash it in warm soapy water or you can use a little bleach on it just to make sure you destroy any spores still hanging around.
  • If your plant would be damaged by a full repotting, then replace ½ of the potting medium with fresh potting medium and soak the remaining soil with a fungicide.

It’s important to mention that none of these will permanently get rid of mushrooms on your houseplants.

Spores can be carried indoors by drafts, they can be blown indoors by winds, or brought inside by pets, so they’ll likely return and grow again if the soil is fertile. You can even bring them home in the potting medium for your plants.

Therefore, if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of repotting your houseplants, washing the pots, and buying a new potting medium, simply pluck out the mushrooms and let your plants be.

If there is no risk of pests or children ingesting the mushrooms, there’s no reason to repot your houseplants before they’re due for a repot.

The Leucocoprinus birnbaumii is not a mushroom that will cause damage to your plants, so you should not worry about it taking away resources from your plant. If anything, mushrooms can be a signal of a healthy ecosystem in the soil.

Wrap Up

Mushrooms growing in the soil of your houseplants is not uncommon or something you should actively worry about.

Depending on how you want to deal with the occasional mushroom jumping up in potted plants, you can pluck them out or repot the plants.

Either way, don’t ingest or allow your kids or pets to ingest these mushrooms as they can be toxic if eaten.

Mushrooms are very difficult to prevent because they spread through spores which can easily get in your home through a number of ways.

So, it’s best to make peace with the fact that occasionally, you may need to pluck out a few mushrooms growing next to your potted plants.

Posted in Houseplants - Updated: April 15, 2021

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