So, you’re watering your plants and
Is that a MUSHROOM? IN MY SOIL? Oh no, this can’t be good.
Well, let me tell you, there is no reason to be worried! Actually, you should be quite happy! This is actually a sign of good luck in certain places around the world! Mushrooms are not a bad sign for your soil, it is actually the opposite, it is a sign of healthy soil and a thriving ecosystem.
Mushrooms are very important decomposers, and the most common mushroom we find in houseplant soil; yellow mushrooms, are no different.
Mushrooms will grow in your soil if the conditions are suitable for their spores to start proliferating. These conditions are as follows;
If these conditions are met in your soil, more often than not you will soon find a mushroom colony starting. These conditions also have relevance with one thing - root rot. Mushrooms will not cause root rot or make it worse, it’s growth is actually a sign that root rot may be occurring. So, if you see a mushroom, remember to check what's going on within the soil.
BUT, WHAT DO THE MUSHROOMS DO?
Mushrooms actually help out your plant more than you think.
Mushrooms aid in the exchange of nutrients and water from the soil to the plant. Phosphates, an organic compound vital to plants, are traded for sugars for the mushrooms, the symbiotic relationship we never knew we needed. They also aid in communication between root systems of plants, helping the defenses of the plant when fighting off disease/pests.
Next, mushrooms are actually a good indication that your potting mix doesn't have the best drainage, or that you may have root rot starting. This makes it seem like mushrooms are in fact bad, but they are doing absolutely no harm! They are indicators of these two things due to the similar preferred environmental conditions. As stated before, mushrooms love a moist/wet environment, which is also the ideal conditions for root rot to start inside the soil, and a good indication that the water isn't draining well. 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 is recommended!
Lastly, their decomposer nature creates more compost in the soil, meaning more nutrients for the plants!
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.
GETTING RID OF MUSHROOMS
Now you may think that you can just pick the mushrooms, toss them in the trash and forget that it ever happened, but the mycelium will still be in the soil! Meaning, you’ll have new mushroom friends before you know it. If that is fine with you, then consistently take them out before you have a whole colony of mushrooms, but if you want to get rid of them for good, you must do something else.
The best way to get rid of mushrooms is to repot the plant. It’s important to get rid of as much of the original soil as possible so you have less chance of mycelium still existing and regrowing later. When repotting, gently loosen the root ball to get the soil out of the roots, wash down the roots if you want, and the old pot, then add the new soil. After repotting, you can put fungicide in the soil as a preventative measure, and to kill any possible spores. The fungicide can be used to get rid of the mushrooms instead of repotting, but may not be as effective.
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