Image by Vik Nanda
By Heather Rhoades
Most of the time when people are growing houseplants, they are doing so to bring some of the outdoors indoors. But normally people want green plants, not little mushrooms. Mushrooms growing in houseplant soil is a common problem.
What Causes Mushrooms Growing in Houseplant Soil?
Mushrooms growing in houseplants are caused by a fungus. The mushrooms are the fruit of that fungus. One of the most common mushrooms found growing in houseplants is the Leucocoprinus birnbaumii. This is a light yellow mushroom with either a balled or flat cap depending on how mature they are.
The spores that are the cause of mushrooms growing in houseplant soil is normally introduced by contaminated soilless mix. But occasionally, they can be introduced through other means such as airborne movement or spores brushing off clothing.
Most frequently, mushrooms will appear in houseplants in the summer when conditions are right for them. Unlike lawn mushrooms (which prefer cool, moist conditions), mushrooms in houseplants prefer that air be warm, moist and humid.
Getting Rid of Mushrooms in Houseplants
Unfortunately, this is no easy task. Once soil becomes infected, it is very difficult to remove the spores and fungus that causes the mushrooms. But there are a few things you can try:
- Remove the caps – By removing the caps as soon as possible, you are removing the source of the spores which result in mushrooms growing in houseplant soil. This will also help keep mushrooms out of your other houseplants.
- Scrape the soil – Scraping the top two inches of soil off the houseplants pot and replacing it may help. But the fungus may regrow and the mushrooms will return.
- Change the soil – Changing the soil may possibly help in getting rid of mushrooms. One of the problems is that it is not healthy to remove all of the soil from a plant’s roots (through washing or rinsing) and the fungus may still be present and regrow from the soil left on the roots of the houseplant.
- Drench the soil with fungicide – Drenching the houseplant’s soil with fungicide may help with eliminating mushrooms in houseplants, but again, if not all of the fungus is killed, the mushrooms will return. You may need to try this treatment several times before the fungus is killed completely.
- Change the conditions – If the air is less humid, the soil less moist or the temperature less warm, this will reduce the number of mushrooms that appear. Unfortunately, the conditions that are ideal for mushrooms are also ideal for most houseplants, so by changing the conditions you may harm the houseplant itself.
Getting rid of mushrooms in houseplants is hard. But mushrooms growing in houseplant soil will not harm your plant nor will they harm you unless you eat them. You may want to consider just letting them grow. If you want to get whimsical, you could add a few animal or fairy figurines near them and create a little forest garden right inside your house.