One day, you are watering your houseplants and you notice some little round balls sticking out of the soil. 

What are they?  How did they get there?  Is there something wrong with the soil?  Will it kill my houseplant?   All of these questions and more will be answered in this article.

Why are Mushrooms and Fungi Growing in my Houseplants

Mushrooms are fungi and they grow in healthy soil.  There could be several reasons why they are growing there.  Generally, they will appear in the summer means as that is when the conditions are right.

1. Contaminated soil

This just means that the pre-packaged potting soil mixture you used had mushroom spores in it.  These types of potting soil can have a lot of random ingredients inside.

2. Right environment

The mushrooms that are found in houseplants like air that is humid, warm, and moist.  When the houseplants is put on a windowsill or in good light and you are watering your plant more than necessary, it makes the perfect enviornment to grow mushrooms.

3. Over-watering

Mushrooms and fungi thrive in damp areas so if you are over-watering your plants, there is a chance you will see mushrooms and other fungi growing there.

Fungus:  The mushrooms are the fruit of that fungus.

What Type of Mushroom are They?

The most common type of mushroom that you will find growing in a houseplant is called the Leucocoprinus birnbaumii.  This is a light yellow mushroom and will have either a flat or balled cap.  It depends on how mature they are. They reproduce by sending out spores so that is how other houseplants in the area could become infected. They start out as small bright yellow balls and as the caps expand it releases little white spores. The caps of these mushrooms when mature are one to two inches.

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How to get rid of Them

It is no easy task to rid of them because once the soil becomes infected it is difficult to remove the fungus and sports.

Remove the caps of the mushrooms:  The reason that you do this is that these caps are known to be the source of the spores.  When you remove them it will help to kill off the mushroom immediately.  This will also help to stop the spread of mushrooms to any other houseplants that are nearby.

mushroom pot

Replace the top two inches of soil: If you cannot repot the plant at this time you could try scraping off the first two inches of soil.  Throw it away and replace it with fresh soil.  There is still a risk that there are spores that are closer to the roots and the mushrooms will grow back.  The scraping of the soil does work in many instances but it does not hurt to try it.

Change the soil:  If the mushrooms reemerge after scraping off the soil, then you will have to repot the plant with all new soil.  This can be a little dangerous and unhealthy for the plant.  The reason is that in order to make sure that there are no spores leftover you will have to wash off the roots of the plant.  Some plants have symbolic fungi at their roots that are beneficial.  You do not want to scrape this off.  This can damage your houseplant.  If you are using the same pot to re-pot them, make sure that you wash the pot in soapy hot water to get rid of the spores.  You can also add a drop of bleach to the water to be doubly sure the spores are gone.

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Add fungicide:  This is the best way to make sure that your soil is free of the spores and mushrooms are to drench it with fungicide.  This will kill the spores and the mushrooms so you should not have to worry about them growing there again.  You may have to apply fungicide a few more times to make sure that all of the spores are killed.  This is because some soil contains more spores that are ready to regrow at any time.

Change the environment:  Mushrooms thrive in warm, humid temperatures and so do plants.  Try to lessen the humidity in the area where the houseplant is located.  Lower the temperature in the room just a little.  Just make sure that you are not compromising your houseplants.

Do not drench your houseplant:  When you water your plants, sometimes without realizing it you are creating fungi and mushrooms because of too much water.  This does not mean that you do not water your plant but you should only water it enough so that it survives. Make sure that there is also proper drainage to make sure that it does not sit in the water for too long.

Are They Dangerous?

The mushrooms are not dangerous unless you eat them because then they become toxic.  This why you should remove them, especially if you have the houseplant where children or pets are around.

How you can Help Prevent Mushrooms and Fungi in Your Houseplants

  • The main thing that you can do is to make sure that you do not over-water your plant.  
  • You should also remove any decaying matter from the surface of the soil like dead leaves to deter fungus gnats
  • Add some perlite to your potting soil that it is not quite as rich.
  • Do not use garden compost unless you sterilize it.
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Conclusion

The mushrooms that are growing in your houseplants are nothing to worry about unless you try to eat them.  They are toxic if you eat them. Make sure that children and pets cannot get hold of these mushrooms.  If they are something you do not want to see growing there just get rid of them.  The one thing that these mushrooms do for the plants is break down the big bits in the potting mix, turning them into something that will benefit the plant.  They feed on many insects, decaying potting material, etc

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