The first time you see yellow-colored mushrooms suddenly sprouting on your favorite houseplant you got worried. Perhaps you are thinking of getting rid of the plant. There is absolutely nothing to worry about because this is a fairly common experience.
The most common mushroom growing on houseplant pots is called Leucocoprinus birnbaumii. They can be removed by 1) first isolating the plant, 2) discarding the mushroom with up to 2 in (5 cm) depth of soil, 3) adding new soil and leveling it, and 4) aerating the soil until it is dry.
Mushrooms growing on your houseplant is not necessarily a bad thing. It could mean you have very healthy soil or encouraging their growth by unknowingly providing the right conditions for growth. I will talk about it in the next section.
You can do this at any time in the lifecycle of the mushrooms. The best time though is before the caps have opened if you are concerned about spores spreading.
Before I start going through the steps, here are the things you will need:
- Rubber gloves
- Fresh potting soil
- Garbage can
Prevent the spread of spores to other plants by placing the plant with mushrooms in another part of your house.
How many mushrooms are there? A few mushrooms here and there or are the mushrooms taking over the plant?
|What to do
|There are a few mushrooms (1 to 3 pcs)
|With your gloved hand, dig into the soil up to 2 inches (5 cm) around each mushroom then gently scoop out both soil and mushroom, and then discard.
|There are clusters of growth
|While wearing gloves, scoop out and remove the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil and mushrooms then discard all of it.
Replace the soil that was discarded earlier with a fresh layer needed and level it. The new soil should be dry to prevent the introduction of a new source of moisture.
Aerate the soil. Poke the soil with a chopstick and gently fluff it. Do this once a week until the soil is dry. When The soil is dry, you can resume watering the plant.
It is unnecessary because as already discussed, it does good to the plant and is indicative of healthy soil. If you watched the video above, you will notice that if you just leave those mushrooms alone, they eventually wilt and return to the soil.
Unless you have a mushroom allergy, touching it doesn’t result in skin rashes. Lastly, it isn’t poisonous unless ingested.
In my opinion, that decision is totally up to you.
Nonetheless, my points of consideration would be:
- Can children and pets gain access and accidentally eat the mushroom?
- Can the spores spread to other houseplants and potentially grow all over the house?
Given the right conditions, those mushrooms will sprout on your houseplants. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of certain fungi. Fungi are ever-present in the soil. While some fungi are surely destructive to plant life, some are deemed beneficial and play an important role in a healthy soil ecosystem.
Leucocoprinus birnbaumii is the scientific name of the mushroom that typically sprouts on indoor plants. Because of this tendency, it is commonly referred to as flowerpot parasol, plantpot dapperling, yellow houseplant, yellow pleated parasol, and lemon-yellow lepiota.
Size: Small, 1 to 3 inches tall (2.54 to 5.08 cm)
Color: Pale yellow to bright lemon yellow
Occurrence: Can grow alone or in clusters
Stalk: Thin but slightly swollen at its base and coated with a powdery substance
Cap: The top part is 1 to 2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) in diameter when fully open.
Growth: At the start, you will see small yellow balls on the soil. When young, the cap is oval or egg-shaped; as it matures, it gradually opens into an umbrella or bell-like shape (hence “parasol” as part of its common name). When the cap expands, it is also the time when spores are released.
Understanding how those mushrooms happen to grow on indoor plant soil in the first place is key to successfully controlling their growth.
Many possibilities are pointing at how those got to your houseplants.
- It could have come from the commercial soil mix you recently bought.
- The plant might have already been contaminated at the nursery before you bought it.
- Mushroom spores can stay in the air. It might have stuck to your clothes from a recent visit to the nursery.
The bottom line is, the spores were already lying in the soil waiting for the right conditions to pop out:
- There is enough moisture level in the soil i.e. the soil is wetter than what the plant needs.
- The soil mix contains a lot of dead organic matter. For example, potting soil can contain wood chips which decomposer fungi love.
- The soil temperature is over 70 deg Fah (21 deg Cel).
Yellow mushrooms on houseplants’ soil are not dangerous to the plant.
The flowerpot parasol mushroom is one of the species of fungus that form a symbiotic relationship with plants at the root level. This relationship is called “mycorrhizal association.” Current estimates state that only 2% of fungi species enter into this association. Meanwhile, 90% of plant species (including edibles) have a specific mycorrhizal fungi network between and within the root system.
In biology, mutualism is a symbiotic relationship between two different life species that coexist and benefit each other. The mycorrhizal association is a good example of this.
In this case, the Leucocoprinus birnbaumii being a saprotroph (decomposer fungus) breaks down the dead organic matter present in the soil releasing nutrients that the plant uses for life. Conversely, the plant hosts the fungus and provides the sugar and lipids it requires for survival. During the nutrient exchange, the plant swaps 15% carbon for water and 80% nitrogen from the fungus.
Here are a few more reasons that make fungi beneficial to plants. Knowing these things can reduce the concerns one might have for this type of mushroom.
- Improved soil structure
- Larger flowers, more pollinators
- Pest control
- Reduce pH level of soil
Improved soil structure: The fungi filaments hold the soil together to form soil aggregates which result in a) an increase in water infiltration and b) an increase in soil’s capacity to hold water.
Larger flowers, more pollinators: 80% of crops require pollination. Increased nutrition in the soil results in a higher nutrient uptake especially of minerals vital to the flowering stage. Larger flowers attract more pollinators. More pollinator visits produce a better and higher amount of yield.
Pest control: Mycorrhiza can excrete chemicals that are toxic to soil pathogens such as nematodes.
Reduce pH level of soil: The mycorrhiza fungi wrap the roots with a sheath; inside the wrapping, the pH level is conducive for the plant.
Yellow mushrooms growing on houseplant soil are not meant for consumption. Indeed, the Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, known to be a toxic toadstool, is highly harmful to humans and pets when eaten.
There are approximately up to 80 mushrooms that are toxic to humans. Though there are not enough studies of this specific species to definitively conclude that it can cause serious harm , always assume that it does.
The mushroom does not make the plant that is hosting it poisonous. Therefore, it is totally fine to consume parts of the plant. If you are concerned with spores, just give it a thorough washing before using or eating. This applies to all edibles you are growing indoors.
General symptoms of mushroom poisoning in humans: When accidentally ingested you could suffer from any or a combination of the following:
- mild to severe diarrhea,
- gastrointestinal upset,
- excessive salivation,
- laborious breathing,
- confusion, and
- dilated pupils.
The onset of illness in humans: Symptoms will typically manifest a few hours after eating. It takes up to 12 hours for the body to recover.
General symptoms of poisoning in pets include:
- mild vomiting,
- possibly vomiting undigested mushroom parts,
- abdominal pain,
- excess salivation,
- seizure, and
- muscle tremors.
Note: When you suspect your pet has eaten mushrooms, bring them to the veterinarian immediately. If it’s possible, bring a sample of the mushroom for identification.
Many indoor gardeners do not recommend using fungicide on indoor plants (if it’s difficult to bring them outside) as the chemical could have undesirable effects on the entire household.
Be that as it may, when you understand how and why mushrooms form, you can prevent the fruiting part from developing.
- Remove the mushrooms using the steps discussed above as soon as you see them appear.
- After removing those unwanted mushrooms, stop watering the plants for some days until the soil has dried up.
- Try to lower the humidity around the indoor plants if you can.
- If you place your potted plants closely together, there might not be enough air circulation between them. If that is so, try rearranging the plants with consideration to distance from each other.
- If you suspect your commercial soil mix is contaminated, sterilize your soil before use.
- Make your own soil and compost mix. Knowing what is in your soil allows you greater control at preventing unwanted mushroom growth.
- Adjust your indoor plant watering schedule. Instead of doing it in the evening, do it early in the morning to give the water time to evaporate.
- Before watering, check soil moisture. If you don’t have a moisture meter, poke the soil up to 2 inches (5.08 cm) deep. If it is moist, do not water.
- If you find that mushrooms are still growing on your houseplant, you have to repot the plant using entirely fresh and sterilized soil and a pot that has better water drainage.
- There is no need to fear the Leucocoprinus birnbaumii as it does not affect plants negatively and does not make edible plants poisonous nor unhealthy.
- The flowerpot parasol does not make the household sick from spores, unlike its mold cousins.
- Plants and some fungi can have a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Beneficial mushrooms are vital to a healthy soil ecosystem.
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“Leucocoprinus birnbaumii: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide” by n.a. in Ultimate Mushroom
“One of my houseplants has several small, yellow mushrooms on the surface of the potting soil. Will the mushrooms harm the plant?” by n.a. in Iowa State University
“Introduction To The World Of Fungi” by n.a. in Mycological Society of Japan
“State of the World’s Fungi 2018, Ch 5 – Positive Plant-Fungal Interactions” by n.a. in Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
“21st Century Guidebook to Fungi SECOND EDITION, Chapter 3.11” by David Moore et al in David Moore
“Soil Fungi” by Elaine R. Ingham in United States Department of Agriculture
“Mutualism: Symbiotic Relationships” by Regina Bailey in ThoughtCo
“Why is Pollination Important?” by n.a. in United States Department of Agriculture
“Mushroom poisoning” by The Editors in Encyclopaedia Britannica
“Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs and Cats,” by Stephanie Cruz-Rincon in Veterinary Partner