Sep 2, 2010
The Yellow Houseplant Mushroom...Eww!
Let me mention this important fact at the beginning: Yellow mushrooms will NOT harm your houseplants in any way. Nor will they poison you through your fingers if you touch them. These are a few misconceptions people have about houseplant mushrooms.
Note: One thing NOT to do is eat the mushroom; these certainly aren’t of the culinary kind!
Here’s what happens: Yellow mushrooms can spontaneously pop up, literally over night, in your houseplant pots (see photo of my bamboo plant, above). There are a number of conditions that have to be met in order for these mushrooms to grow. If you’ve never seen one, that’s a good thing! Chances are, you won’t want one growing anywhere near your plants! I’ll just tell you what sort of environment they thrive in, so you’ll know how to avoid them.
For a yellow mushroom to grow, you need:
1) Lots of constant moisture – overwatering!
2) Old soil, or soil unchanged for several years
3) ‘Bad’ or cheap soil
4) Lack of good pot drainage
Mushrooms can’t develop in the soil unless your plants meet more than one of the above conditions. If you’re just a chronic overwaterer, don’t worry! Mushrooms likely won’t bother you. But in case your plants meet many of these conditions, keep reading:
Condition 1 only happens if you consistently overwater your plant AND you also meet Condition 4 – a lack of good drainage. If the pot stays very wet all the time without drying out, the conditions are ripe for mushroom development! Ever had mushrooms pop up in the garden and/or your grass after it rains for days? The reason this occurs is because mushrooms grow wherever there’s a ton of moisture. To a lesser degree, fungus also thrives in shaded areas. If your plant is largely shaded, often damp, and lacks efficient drainability, the chances are very good you might see mushrooms soon!
Refreshing the soil is a good idea even if you aren’t experiencing mushrooms, especially if your plant’s growth has slowed down significantly. Also, older pants need to have their soil changed every 3 years or so (sometimes more) since the nutrients will be used up over time. Think of potting soil as a plant’s vitamins; eventually, you’re going to run out and need to buy another bottle. In the same way, your plants will need new soil to keep reaping the benefits of their own ‘vitamins!’ Sorry if that sounded corny, but it seemed to fit!
If your soil is cheap (you bought a lot of soil for only a little money) there’s a chance mushrooms might be present in the soil BEFORE you even buy it! But soil cost aside, the fact is, ALL potting soil contains bacteria necessary for mushroom development and therefore can’t be avoided (unless you follow the steps at the end of this post). The mushrooms need to develop roots and grow, just like any plant you might care for. If you give them the optimum growing conditions [listed above] (even unknowingly) they will appear!
Of course, you really are looking to avoid these conditions altogether – Then, you don’t have to suffer a mushroom invasion! However, if it happens to you (like it did to me) and DO see a mushroom, here’s what to do:
3) Clean out the original pot, if using again, with soap and water
4) Using brand new potting soil, repot the plant, removing all the old soil from the roots. This ensures all the mold has been cleaned away, and can’t produce any more mushrooms
5) Make sure your plant has better drainage than before
6) Finally, do your best to not overwater!
In case of mushroom attack, follow the above 5 steps, and your plants won’t have to develop the icky, gross, fleshy yellow mushrooms like mine did!
If anyone has experienced this, or needs help getting rid of described mushroom producing conditions, please let me know.
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