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Why Are Mushrooms Growing In My Houseplant Soil?

Have you ever noticed a yellow fungus spreading from the soil of a potted plant? Golden mushrooms are surprisingly common, which may come as a shock to some people. But don’t worry–– they won’t harm your plant and probably won’t hurt you either. They’re a tiny element of the ecology working in your houseplant’s soil.

Mushroom growth in your potting mix or organic matter is a relatively common result of giving your indoor plants too much water. However, poisonous mushrooms are pretty rare–– though I wouldn’t suggest eating any type of mushroom found in your houseplant pots! Other common mushroom causes are humid conditions, warmer climates, generally rich soil, or particularly damp conditions.

What Kind Of Mushroom Is It?

The yellow houseplant mushroom (Leucocoprinus Birnbaum) is a yellow-to-white fungus that grows in houseplant potting soil. It begins as a light or pale yellow patch on the soil’s surface and grows into giant umbrella-shaped mushrooms. The fungus most likely got in with the potting soil you bought at the store. It’s not hazardous to you (unless you eat it) but can be tough to remove from the dirt.

The Plantpot Dapperling (sometimes spaced, Plant Pot Dapperling) is the most common of the types and mushrooms that may sprout up in the soil of your houseplants. These little yellow mushrooms (Lepiota Lutea) are more likely to grow in a potting medium without good drainage, primarily if found in an area with warmer temperatures. In fact, mushroom caps popping up on the soil surface might indicate a deeper issue like root rot. 

Root rot is a disease caused by unchecked high humidity or overly wet soil, regardless of the kind of soil or quality of soil. Your houseplant’s soil needs to be well-watered and drained adequately to fend off several issues not limited to small yellow mushrooms–– spider mites and fungus gnats can also infect your fertile soil due to excessive moisture.

Plantpot Dapperling in houseplant soil

Where Did The Mushrooms Come From?

The yellow houseplant mushroom (Leucocoprinus Birnbaum) most likely arrived with the potting soil you purchased for your plant. Mushrooms produce spores, microscopic “seeds” that can grow into new fungi.

Before developing, these spores can survive in the soil or on the surface for long periods. As a result, the spores of this mushroom, also known as the ‘Flowerpot Parasol’ or ‘Yellow Parasol,’ may have been in the soil for a long time before they created mushrooms or grew into mycelia (the root-like or thread-like components of a fungus found below the soil’s surface).

It’s also possible, though far less likely, that a mushroom spore was in the air near your houseplant and fell into its pot. Or maybe you brought the spores back inside on your clothing, where they eventually made their way into your houseplant.

What Even Is A Mushroom?

Mushrooms are not plants; they are members of the fungus kingdom. They do not reproduce through seeds; instead, they reproduce by releasing spores that float through the air and go unnoticed by humans. A mushroom can develop from a subterranean spore settled under the right circumstances.

The majority of a mushroom’s life is spent underground in a thread-like structure known as a mycelium. As a result, mushroom mycelium may be present in your houseplant container for a long time before it produces a visible mushroom.

Most often, a mushroom growing in your houseplant’s container is due to spores or mycelium already present in the pre-mixed potting soil you bought. Miracle-Gro and other mixes with a high organic content are infamous for harboring mushrooms.

You may initially observe a bright yellow fuzzy area on top of the potting soil, which develops little knobby bumps within only a couple of hours and rises an inch or so above the earth. After a few hours, these small bumps can grow into full-fledged mushrooms.

The mushrooms may begin bright yellow and gradually fade to a pale yellow or white. However, the mushrooms degrade quickly and will be a sticky mass on the soil by the end of the day. The mushroom bloom takes roughly one to two days to finish. To catch everything, you must be quick. Once one mushroom dies, it’s only created the opportunity for many more.

What To Do When Your Houseplant Gets A Yellow Mushroom

Mushrooms can be an eyesore for those of us with indoor plants, though fortunately, they pose no significant threat to our prized houseplants in most situations. In reality, the presence of mushrooms frequently aids in the development of healthy soil and environment, especially for plants like the Money Tree.

If you don’t mind the sight of mushrooms in your plant, you could leave them alone and allow them to form a symbiotic relationship with your plant. However, if you can’t tolerate their sight, plucking them out as they appear is usually the best option.

To prevent mushrooms from invading your planters in the future, make sure your soil is not excessively damp. Many houseplants do not require overly moist soil and should be left to dry between waterings. Remove any dead or decaying leaves or roots as soon as you notice them. Mushrooms are unlikely to settle in your planters if there is no decomposing organic material to feed on.

But what if you can’t prevent the common houseplant mushroom? What if they’re already here? What should you do if you come upon one of these tiny mushrooms? Unfortunately, simply picking out the little round balls visible atop the soil likely won’t remedy the deeper issue. The fungal spores run deep and may even be invisible. If you see yellow or brown mushrooms, the tiny spores have likely already infested the plant parent. By the time the mature mushroom’s spores are visible, this particular fungus has already made its home in your home garden.

During the summer months in tropical areas, you could simply open a window as a first step toward regulating your plants’ humidity levels. Adding wood chips to the soil can also offset some deep-set moisture. A natural fungicide might work as well (available online or at your local garden center), though this risks damaging the plant. Your best bet is to replace the contaminated ingredient (the soil) entirely with new dirt. Something simple like Miracle-Gro soil will do just fine. However, don’t be surprised if the ‘shrooms come back. You may need to accept them as a hippie flair to your garden aesthetic.

Miracle-Gro Potting Mix for your Houseplant available on Amazon

Are Mushrooms Bad For Potted Plants?

If you have a yellow houseplant mushroom, you don’t have to worry about harming your live plants since it eats decaying organic waste in the soil. This fungus will not harm your plant as long as it is alive.

While these visitors to your houseplant pot may be startling at first, mushrooms are rarely a problem. Mushrooms and houseplants, in fact, share a symbiotic relationship.

Because mushrooms lack chlorophyll, they must feed on other organic substances. Mushrooms obtain their sustenance by decomposing decaying debris, such as old roots or leaves, and hence do not compete with your plant for the same nutrients. In exchange, mushrooms decompose rotting waste and return it to the soil in a form that your plant can absorb. It’s truly a win-win situation.

While the mushroom is not hazardous in and of itself, it may indicate a more significant problem. Mushrooms prefer moist, humid environments, and their presence in your planter could suggest that you are overwatering your plant.

Houseplants generally don’t do well with excessive moisture and should only be watered when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil are dry. If mushrooms appear in your pot or container, your watering plan may need to be adjusted.

Otherwise, as long as you don’t overwater your houseplant, mushrooms might be welcome visitors. Many mushrooms benefit from the symbiotic relationship between the plant and the fungus.

Are Mushrooms Good For Houseplants?

Mushrooms are not harmful to container plants. Mushrooms aid in the composting of soil, converting organic waste into usable compost for your container plants. Mushrooms improve the quality of potting soil and are genuinely healthy for plants. They should not be harmful to humans unless a toxic type is consumed.

In fact, you can grow mushrooms as houseplants. Mushrooms can be a visually appealing addition to any indoor gardening collection. One of the reasons is that they have such adorable characteristics, and they’re also low-maintenance and easy to look after.

Is The Mushroom Harmful To People? 

I understand that mushrooms make some people nervous–– they are terrified that they will become ill or die if they even just touch them. However, as with other toxic substances, you must consume them to become unwell. And, for the most part, mushrooms are a natural element of the ecology.

Tom Volk, a well-known mycologist from the University of Wisconsin, noted in his essay that handling or touching a mushroom will not poison you or make you sick–– only consuming (eating) it will.

Volk strongly advises against eating this mushroom (or anything that you haven’t positively identified) because certain studies have indicated that it causes stomach distress.

As a result, touching this mushroom shouldn’t hurt you. Handling a mushroom might irritate the skin of those who are sensitive to a specific fungus. So, if you’re concerned, put on some plastic gloves.

Thin brown mushrooms growing in plant soil. Photo from Hobby Plants

Is The Mushroom Harmful To Pets? 

The mushroom-infested plant should be removed from your house if you have pets that prefer to eat things they shouldn’t. You never know what a dog or cat will eat, and their reactions differ from peoples’.

How Do You Get Rid Of Mushrooms In Houseplants?

While it is possible to physically pick out the mushrooms, this is merely the most noticeable aspect of this fungus. The spores and mycelium that may produce other mushrooms in the future are very hard to remove from the soil.

So, until you throw out your entire plant, soil, and pot, you won’t be able to get rid of the mushroom(s). Maintaining a regular watering cycle that doesn’t keep the soil too wet will limit the likelihood of the fungus growing mushrooms.

Pick Out The Mushrooms

When mushrooms emerge in houseplants, most people simply pluck away the fungus as soon as they notice it. While this will not prevent them from returning, removing the mushroom should prevent it from releasing additional spores into the air and reproducing.

When picking out mushrooms, there are two things you can do to get the most of your time and effort. Pull the mushroom up by the stem first. If you take it by the cap, the cap will come off, and you will only have removed half of the mushroom.

Second, place a plastic bag or paper towel over your hand and the mushroom and pull it up. As you remove the fungus from the earth, this will prevent it from releasing new spores into the air.

Removing mushrooms in this manner also keeps them out of reach of pets and small children who may consume them. Keep in mind that many mushrooms, like the Flowerpot Parasol, can make sensitive immune systems sick.

Change Your Watering Schedule

To prevent mushrooms from growing on your plant, you may want to water it less often. To keep mushrooms at bay, you may only need to alter your watering practices.

Allow your plant’s soil to dry between waterings. Before adding more water, I always wait until the top one to two inches of soil is absolutely dry. Simply press your finger into the dirt and feel for wetness to test. Allowing the plant to dry out between waterings may prevent it from becoming a perfect setting for mushrooms.

You might also think about watering your plant from the bottom for a period. This will protect the top inch or two of your soil from being too damp, which may discourage mushrooms. Soak the plant for 20-30 minutes in a dish of water, using the drainage hole on the planter’s bottom.

Remove The Top Layer Of Soil

You may be able to get rid of mushrooms by removing the top inch or two of soil from the plant and discarding it. Because this is where the mushrooms are growing, removing the top layer of dirt may be sufficient.

To remove a layer of dirt, I use a clean spoon to gently scrape off the topsoil and place it in a plastic bag that I tie off before discarding it. Remember that mushrooms multiply via spores, so do everything you can to keep those spores out of your home.

After removing the top, you’ll need to replace it with fresh potting soil. If you suspect that potting soil is what started the mushroom problem in the first place, toss out the old bag and buy a new one before reintroducing it to your plant.

Repot Your Houseplant

Your best bet for removing mushrooms is simply repotting the entire plant and discarding as much of the old soil as possible. This can be accomplished by taking your houseplant from its container, cleaning the roots under your faucet, and gently removing extra dirt with your fingertips.

You should clean your pot after you’ve removed all of the old soil. I rinse old containers with a moderate bleach solution of one part bleach to nine parts water before repotting them.

Again, if you think the mushrooms came from the potting soil you initially put your plant in, discard it entirely and replace it with a new bag of dirt.

Try A Fungicide

Fungicide should be used only as a last option. If you decide to go this route, ‘Bonide Fung-onil’ Fungicide is an excellent choice, and it’s available on Amazon.

And yet, even fungicide will not totally eliminate the problem with some mushroom problems. Once the mushroom spores have infiltrated your plant, they can be exceedingly tough to eradicate.

Final Thoughts

If no one in your household is inclined to play with or eat them, you can just let the mushrooms coexist with your Pilea plant, Philodendron, or whatever other variety you’ve got growing. The ‘shroom will dry out, wither, and die eventually… though it may reappear if the conditions are right.

If you have a problem with mushrooms, try reducing your watering schedule. Fungi thrive in moist soil, so you should allow the plant to dry completely between waterings. Before you begin watering, wait for the top two inches of earth to completely dry up. Here’s a more detailed guide about watering your Pilea.

Make sure your plant gets enough airflow, even if it’s in a corner.

Pick out the mushrooms before the cap flattens if you opt to remove them from the pot. The spores are less likely to spread when the mushroom cap is closed into a cone. Pluck the mushroom’s stem gently from the ground.

But remember: Your houseplant doesn’t require repotting just because it has a mushroom in it, and no potting soil is guaranteed to be fungi-free. In fact, you wouldn’t want that anyway!

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