If you have noticed mushrooms growing in your potted plants, you are not alone. Due to some factors, mushrooms can grow even in indoor pots. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi. Fungi are decomposers. What are the reasons mushrooms are growing in potted veggies? Do they harm your plants? How can you remove them or prevent them from growing in the pots? Read this article.
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5 Reasons Mushrooms Are Growing in Your Potted Veggies and How to Prevent Them
Could mushrooms be growing in your plant pots because of the reasons below?
1. You Are Using Garden Soil
The first rule of container gardening is that you should not use garden soil. With garden soil comes nematodes, earthworms, friendly and harmful microbes, and so much more. If you used garden soil in your pots, there is a chance that there are fungi in the soil.
Before using garden soil in container gardening, there are certain steps that you should follow. Aside from mixing the soil with other ingredients that will aerate it (and boost its water drainage ability), you must sterilize the soil. Baking the soil at 180°F for 30 minutes can kill every organism in it.
Using potting mix instead of garden soil will eliminate the need for this step. Most potting soil is already sterilized and ready for use inside (or outside) of the house.
2. You Are Using Fresh Organic Manure
Whether you are using animal droppings, organic fertilizer, or other sources of organic nutrients for your plants, fungi could be present in them if they are fresh and undecomposed. If you mixed compost in the pot, it could be that it is an unfinished compost.
In container gardening, it is better to use inorganic fertilizer. If you must use organic materials as the source of plant nutrients, however, they should be completely rotted or fully decomposed.
3. Your Potted Veggies Are Exposed to Mushrooms Spores
Mushroom spores are like plant seeds. Mushrooms spread their spores by air, water, and other means of transport. If your potted veggies are in an exposed location, mushrooms spores can easily enter your pots and start to grow in them.
If you do not like mushrooms growing in your pots, you should not place the pots in a windy location or close to a place that you have seen mushrooms grow on before. You can also follow the suggestion in the next reason.
4. You Did Not Mulch
When you do not mulch your potted veggies, the potting mix (or sterilized soil) will be exposed to all kinds of air-borne microbes and organisms. If you mulch your potted veggies, however, you are protecting the soil from many plant pests and mushroom spores.
You should mulch your potted veggies with 2 inches of straw, hay, wood chips, or other materials. Remember that the higher the height of the mulch, the less likely that unwanted organisms can reach the soil.
5. You Overwater the Plants
Fungi thrive better in a damp medium. A damp medium aids the fungi cells to spread well. Vegetables do not need to be overwatered.
Most vegetables require a moist (but not damp) potting mix. If you overwater the vegetables, they might get root rot, and the dampness of the potting mix can promote the growth of mushrooms.
You should not overwater your vegetables. Also, make sure that the pot has holes to permit water to flow out of the pot.
I am pretty sure that you are guilty of one of the above points if there are mushrooms in your potted vegetables. Make sure that you follow the suggestions after each reason. Do mushrooms harm your plants? Do they harm you? Keep reading.
Do Mushrooms Harm Your Plants?
Will mushrooms harm your potted veggies? No. Fungi are decomposers that consume dead and decaying material. Fungi and some bacteria are what makes a material to decay. If your plants are healthy (i.e. they are not dying), fungi will not decompose them.
If you notice that mushrooms are popping on your plants and your plants are dying, you should know that something else is killing your plants.
Fungi in your pots is an indication that the soil or potting mix in your pot is full of microorganisms (both friendly and harmful). Fungi do not harm plants but other microorganisms do harm plants.
As a matter of fact, fungi in your pots can benefit your plants. Plants cannot absorb the nutrients in an undecomposed organic material. Plants can only absorb those nutrients when the organic material has been decomposed by fungi.
Do Mushrooms in Your Potted Veggies Harm You?
As long as you don’t eat the mushrooms, you are safe. Mushrooms in potted veggies will not harm you. Even if the fungi produce poisonous mushrooms (or mushrooms with toxins), they will not transfer their toxins to your vegetables, so you can consume your vegetables.
To be safe, make sure that you know the kind of mushrooms in your potted veggies. The most popular fungi that grow in pots are Plantpot dapperling (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii) and Brown mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus).
Now that you know that mushrooms cannot harm you unless you eat poisonous ones, let us discuss how to remove the mushrooms growing in your potted plants (i.e. if you do not like them and you want to remove them).
How to Remove Mushrooms from Your Potted Vegetables
You should know that it is quite difficult to permanently remove fungi except you repot the plants. You should try to follow the suggestions below:
1. Change the Potting Mix or Soil
You should remove the potting mix or soil in the pot entirely. Before using a new potting mix, make sure that you rinse the roots of your vegetable with flowing water. You should also rinse the pot before reusing it.
Make sure that you bake the soil (i.e. if you are using garden soil).
2. Remove the Top 3-4 Inches of the Soil
This option is not as effective as the suggestion above, but it is worth a try if you want to save time and effort. While scraping off the top layers of the soil, you will see some whitish strands. Those strands are called mycelia cells.
Mycelia cells (singular is mycelium) are what produce the fruiting bodies called mushrooms. You should dig pass the layer of these cells until you see no whitish strands in the soil anymore.
3. Apply Fungicide
Fungicides are products that kill fungi or inhibit their growth. You can buy them at a local gardening shop or in an online store. Make sure that you read the instructions. Also, ask whether the brand you are purchasing is suitable for the vegetables in your pot.
4. Remove Mushrooms as You See Them
This suggestion does not stop the fungi from producing mushroom, it only prevents more fungi from growing elsewhere. When you pull out the mushrooms, fungi cannot disperse their spores, therefore they cannot grow at another place.
I hope that the few suggestions above help you control the mushrooms in your potted veggies.
Mushrooms grow in potted plants for various reasons. If you overwater your plants, used unbaked garden soil, or you applied an undecomposed organic material, fungi can grow in your pots. You should follow the suggestions in this article to prevent and eliminate mushrooms from your potted vegetables.
Have you seen mushrooms in your pots before? What did you do to control them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.