Mushrooms in Your Houseplants?

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Yellow houseplant mushroom (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii): one of the more common houseplant mushrooms.

Sometimes mushrooms pop up in the pots of our houseplants. These are almost always harmless to the plant, living instead on decomposing potting soil. Besides, if you thought that the soil of your houseplants was sterile, think again: it is a living microcosm containing all sorts of fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms. And that’s actually a good thing, because most of those living things are beneficial to your plants: they help decompose the soil, releasing the minerals your plants need for their growth.

Of course, finding mushrooms in your houseplants can be a bit of a shock. If they disturb you, you just have to pull them out and aerate the surface of the potting mix with a fork to try to eliminate the mushroom’s hyphae (roots). If they grow back, try again. In some cases, it may be wise to repot the plant and change the potting mix, as mushrooms generally prefer older soils that are already fairly decomposed to fresh ones.

Remember that the mushrooms found in our houseplants are almost never edible and some may be toxic. You can handle them, but should never eat them.

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