An uncommon problem that many houseplant owners complain of is mushrooms growing on their indoor plant soil. The growth of a few mushrooms might not be a problem. But if the mushrooms are growing day by day, it will become a problem.
But, why is your indoor plant growing mushrooms? And how can you get rid of them?
Leucocoprinus birnbaumii is the most common type of mushroom growing in indoor plants. The spores that cause the mushroom to grow can also be introduced through contaminated soil or airborne movement. To eliminate it, you need to repot the plant or pick the mushroom out by the stem.
Mushrooms appearing in your houseplants can signify that you have overwatered your plant, the soil is heavy, or there are some spores present in your plant beforehand.
Warm, moist, and humid conditions promote the growth of mushrooms in houseplants.
If you are worried about the mushroom growth in your indoor plant, read this article to understand the reasons behind their appearance and how to remove them from your plant naturally.
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What are houseplant mushrooms?
Before you deal with mushrooms, you must do your research. The most common mushrooms seen in the potted plants are the Leucocoprinus birnbaumii that belongs to the Agaricaceae family. They also go by the names of Plantpot Dapperling and Flowerpot Parasol.
These are the gilled species mushrooms having white or yellow outer caps. The reason behind the color is birnbaumins, a type of alkaloid.
They have been given such nicknames because they are seen in almost all potted plants, whether the foliage plants or flowering plants, the indoors or in the greenhouses.
This species reproduces pretty fast by releasing the spores in the air, due to which it spreads quickly in other surrounding plants.
They feed on the organic matter in the potting soil, the decaying potting mix, the dead roots, ants, etc. Then they will release those, which further the plant uses them as food.
Mushrooms are not much harmful. But as it is a food to fungi and a sign that something is wrong in the plant, you need to remove them from your potting soil and correct its problems.
What causes mushrooms in the indoor plant soil?
Below I have listed some possible reasons behind mushroom growth in your indoor plant soil.
Even after taking good care of your plant, they can have mushroom growth in the soil. The reason may be that your potting soil already has spores.
There are various circumstances under which the spores can get into your plant’s potting soil.
- The manufacturing soil or where it comes from
- The transportation of the plant from their original place to market
- The transportation of the plant from market to your house
- Infected from other plants
- Contaminated soil
The spores flying and spreading in such circumstances is very easy. This is the reason, even after proper care, the soil will have mushrooms popping out.
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Rich potting mix
Mushrooms love to feed on the decaying organic matter in the indoor plant medium. If your indoor plant has rich fertile soil, there are possibilities of mushroom growth in the soil.
More or less, all potting soils contain components like peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, coco coir, barks, sand, etc. Some even use recycled mushroom compost, which the dapperlings love to feed on. All these ingredients are their kind of food.
Miracle-Gro soil is one of the most popular potting soils used for indoor plants. The mushrooms mostly love to feed on the soil of this company. They do consist of such decaying ingredients.
Most indoor plants belong to tropical regions that demand high humidity. But in the process of increasing humidity for the plants with water, we end up overwatering them.
Root rot results from prolonged overwatering, another thing that you should be worried about. Excessive water tends to block all the air pockets and suffocates the roots.
Thus they fail to absorb all the nutrients and water from the soil. Due to an extended stay in the water, the roots become soft and mushy and eventually rot.
However, you can treat root rot if you see the initial signs like yellow leaves or brown tips and edges. You can take out the plant, prune the soft, mushy, black, and dark brown roots, repot the plant, and correct the watering routines.
If the root rot is severe, you might not be able to save your plant.
As the mushrooms are foods for fungus, along with mushrooms, your plant will also be affected by fungus.
You should keep checking the soil’s moisture level before the next watering. Allow the half-inch of the topsoil to dry out completely before you water your houseplants. To check the soil’s moisture, poke your finger inside the potting soil.
If the environment around your indoor plant is ideal for the mushrooms, like the air around is warm, humid, and moist, do not get shocked when you see the mushrooms.
When you keep the houseplants near the window or under direct sun or overwatering them, the situation is ideal for the mushrooms growing in your indoor plant soil.
Most indoor plants belong to tropical regions and thus would enjoy high humidity. The growth of mushrooms also depends on this.
If your area has both intense cold and warm conditions, the possibilities of mushroom growth are during the summers, which will slow down with the arrival of autumn.
Most tropical houseplants requiring high humidity are prone to mushroom growth, for example, Peace Lily, Bromeliads, Orchids, Golden Pothos, Snake Plant, Monstera Plant, Calathea, Heart-leafed Philodendron, etc.
You should not stop giving them high humidity as that keeps them healthy, along with other requirements. But just be extra careful and closely observe your plant’s health frequently and not miss any signs of these mushrooms.
Are mushrooms bad for indoor plants?
Once they find an ideal environment for their stay, mushrooms will grow more and more over time. And they won’t go away themselves. So, you should remove them before they infest the soil entirely from all sides.
But, yes, they are not harmful to your plants. They only feed on the organic matter in the soil, that is, the dead roots, the decays, etc. They neither take away the nutrients nor feed on the plants or leaves, nor do they affect any good stems, roots, or flowers.
How to get rid of mushrooms?
Even if mushrooms are not harmful, it does not mean you would not remove them and let them stay. They are food to fungus. If not removed, the fungus may attack your plants. Moreover, they are a nuisance, and the houseplants shouldn’t have them.
Below we have mentioned some of the ways to get rid of mushrooms from your indoor plant soil.
Removing the caps
The caps of the mushrooms are the spores. This might not be much effective, but it will work to some extent.
When these spores are removed, the mushroom will die soon. They are generally yellow or white, so it won’t be challenging to see and remove them.
Removing the spores will stop the spreading of the mushrooms to any other place or any other plant.
Replace the top two inches of the soil
If you do not want to repot your plant, you can try removing the topsoil. Replace it with fresh soil mix.
However, there can still be the risk of mushroom reappearance if the spores have reached the plant’s root system, but this method works in some cases.
You can try it once to see if the mushrooms grow back or not. Frequent repotting stresses the plant. So it is good to avoid repotting in minor cases and try using other alternatives.
Change the soil
Even after taking the previous steps, if the mushrooms reappear, you will have to change the soil by repotting.
This process would be time-consuming, and you have to be extra careful. You will have to remove the whole plant from the pot and wash the roots very well to remove all the leftover spores.
Some plants tend to have symbolic fungi, which are suitable for plants. Be careful not to wash those off.
If you want to use your old pot, make sure to wash and scrub it very well with soap water to free it from all sorts of spores, fungus, or bacteria. You can also soak them in bleach water for better results.
Dry them up entirely and use fresh soil mix for planting. To avoid further mushroom growth, avoid potting mixes which can contain decaying materials. Also, avoid frequent watering to keep the plant healthy.
To confirm that the indoor plant soil is free from spores, using a fungicide to drench the soil is best. Using fungicide will kill the mushrooms, and you will remain stress-free about any further mushroom growth.
You can also apply some more to ensure that the mushrooms are killed, and there is no further chance of their growth.
But you should be careful while applying commercial fungicides as they have many chemicals that can be harmful to the plants.
You can opt for a natural fungicide by using organic ingredients like baking soda, neem oil, or calcium bicarbonate.
One recipe recommendation would be to mix 1-2 tablespoons of neem oil, 1-1/4 tablespoon of baking soda, and ½ teaspoon of dish soap with 1-gallon water and pour them in a big spray bottle, shake well and apply it all over the affected areas, top and bottom of leaves and the soil. Keep shaking from time to time to keep the mixture effective.
Change the environment
I have mentioned before that mushrooms prefer growing and staying in warm, humid, and moist conditions.
To stop the further growth of the mushrooms, reduce the temperature in the room where you have kept your houseplants. Or you can reduce the humidity. Make sure you don’t overdo anything and end up harming your plant.
Stop overwatering your plants. Moist conditions are ideal for both fungus and mushrooms. Water enough to keep the soil evenly moist to help your indoor plants survive.
Also, ensure that the soil supports drainage and the pot has drainage holes. Altogether, you can prevent your plant from having fungus and mushrooms.
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After applying all these methods, let your plant be for some weeks. If everything is correct, your plant won’t have any more mushrooms.
If your plant is not cured with any of the above methods and starts having the mushrooms again, you have to remove the plant.
However, rarely, the plant doesn’t get a cure. But, if this happens and your plant still grows mushrooms, you will have to get rid of the plant to stop spreading the spores to other plants.
How can you prevent the mushrooms from reappearance?
There are not many preventive measures to stop the further arrival of mushrooms. Most houseplants like high humidity and moist conditions, so it is sure that mushrooms can appear anytime.
However, there are some tips, which can help you prevent mushrooms to some extent:
- Avoid overwatering. Constantly keep the soil’s moisture in check by poking a finger into the soil. If the top half-inch feels dry, you can water your plant.
- Keep removing decayed materials like dead leaves, spent flowers, and stems from the soil surface.
- Consider adding perlite to the soil mix. It makes the soil light.
- Avoid using garden soil. If you want to use it, sterilize and then use it.
Mushrooms are not dangerous for your indoor plant, but it is not a beautiful sight and can bring other problems with them. So you can remove the mushrooms whenever you see them.
Try all the alternative methods if any method doesn’t work for your indoor plant. But while doing it, ensure that you do not compromise with any of your plant’s requirements. You must research what works better for your particular houseplant before trying any methods.
You do not need to panic if you notice mushrooms on your indoor plant soil. Remain calm and try the removal methods. Also, take care of your plant for no further mushroom appearance and avoid making the situation ideal for them.
Source: University of Illinois, Growing Indoor Plants with Success, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, University of California, Missouri Botanical Garden.
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