So You've Spotted Mushrooms...Should You Worry?
Have you noticed a couple extra growing buddies joining your plants in the soil? Most potting soils are treated to kill harmful diseases and weed seeds, but mushroom spores are so small that they are unaffected during these treatments. Mushrooms are extremely common in the houseplant world, and they're actually very helpful!
Mushrooms are a good indicator that your soil is rich in nutrients. In order to grow, fungus spores need a nutrient-rich soil, high humidity, consistently warm temperatures, and damp or wet soil. If these conditions are met, it's likely that you'll soon find a mushroom colony in your planter. However, with consistently moist soil, this environment is also great for root rot. Meaning mushrooms are extremely helpful in spotting root rot before it irrevocably impacts the plant.
Why Do I have Mushrooms?
Most don't realize how helpful mushrooms are! Fungus aids in the exchange of nutrients and water from the soil to the plant. They also help the plants better communicate with their root systems, helping the plant when fighting off disease or pests. Fungus growth is also a good way to tell that your potting mix doesn't have the best drainage, or that you may be starting to develop root rot. So, if you see that mushrooms are growing, chances are your soil is holding onto a little too much water, and repotting with new soil and into a pot with at least two (2) drainage holes is recommended.
What do i do now?
When you see some mushrooms, you definitely don't need to worry. Fungi eat decaying material in the soil (like dead leaves) so as long as your plant is healthy, the mushrooms will leave your plant alone. You can technically leave them in the soil, and they are non-toxic so long as the mushrooms haven't been eaten. That being said, if you have any children or pets who like to munch on things, you should gently remove the mushrooms.
how to remove mushrooms from your potting soil
Unfortuntely, we cannot just pick the mushrooms and toss them in the trash. If we do that, the mushroom's root system - aka the mycelium - will still be in the soil. Because the root systems are so miniscule, the best way to completely get rid of mushrooms is to repot the plant. It’s important to get rid of as much of the original soil as possible to avoiding also transpotting the mycelium into the new planter. When repotting, hold the root ball under a steady stream of water. This will rinse the roots and loosen the rootball enough to get new soil into as much empty space as possible. You can put fungicide in the soil as a preventative measure, to kill any possible spores.
Preventing futher fungus growth
The best way to prevent mushrooms is to create an unfavorable environment for them. This starts with making sure that the soil of your plant is never extremely damp, or wet. Not only will too much moisture aid in the harmless growth of mushrooms, overwatering is a killer to your plants. Soil that is too damp promotes harmful bacteria and fungus in the soil, so be sure to check your soil consistently before watering!If your soil is high in nutrients, then mushrooms are more inclined to start growing. Most potting mix is composed of perlite, peat moss, and other organic matter like mushroom compost. If there are high amounts of organic matter the mushrooms will proliferate, but if you want to prevent mushrooms from growing, hold off on adding organic matter such as compost. Lastly, if there is high humidity it can trigger the growth of mushroom spores. Sometimes your plants really need the humidity, so there is no way around it, but if your plant can tolerate lower humidity and still thrive, lowering the humidity will also prevent the growth of mushrooms.
We know you love your plants and just want the best for them! If you want to triple check and make sure that you are doing the right thing, or if you just have a general plant question, send us a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our Plant Experts will help confirm what you're looking at and the best methods of treatment!