Why Soil Grows Mushrooms and How to Get Rid of Them


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Mushrooms in Soil

When individuals who are new to gardening start to see a few mushrooms make an appearance in the garden, it can be quite shocking. They may wonder if it means something is wrong with the soil. Whether this gardener is planting in pots for a lovely indoor decoration or growing a magnificent flower garden in the backyard, mushrooms can arrive – and the good news is, they aren’t something to fear.

So, why does soil grow mushrooms, and how can gardeners get rid of them? Mushrooms are fungi that are not harmful to plants. Most of the time, they grow in healthy soil. However, they could be growing because the soil contained spores, the environment is allowing for their growth or the plants are being overwatered.

To get rid of the mushrooms in the garden (and lawn), try the following tips.

Removal from Indoor PlantsRemoval from Outdoor Plants
Remove the caps of the mushrooms immediately.

Replace the top two inches of soil.

Change the soil completely.

Add fungicide to the soil.

Change the environment where the plants are growing.

Water plants less.
Pick the mushrooms directly from the soil.

Dispose of them properly.

Add a nitrogen fertilizer to soil.

Use soap and water.

Make homemade soil and compost.

Ensure there is proper drainage.

Keep the area clear of decomposing materials.

While seeing a mushroom in the garden may seem like a cause for alarm, take joy in the fact that they aren’t much to worry about. However, since they can be quite unsightly, most gardeners want to get rid of them. This article will discuss why mushrooms are growing in the garden and what can be done to stop them.

What Are Mushrooms and How do They Grow?

When most people hear the word mushroom, they likely think of some poisonous, hideous fungus that they don’t want to touch. For new gardeners who have not dealt with mushrooms before, they may seem like an indicator that something has gone wrong in their garden. Luckily, it is quite the opposite!

Mushrooms are a sign of a very healthy garden. But how can that be? They are, after all, a fungus, right? However, mushrooms are not the type of fungi that will cause plants to suffer. Fungi that are detrimental to plants are considered mold, and mushrooms are not a type of mold.

The reason why mushrooms will only thrive in a healthy garden is that they rely on a nutrient source to grow. Unlike a regular plant, mushrooms rely on their spores to attach to a nutrient source rather than planting a seed in the ground and waiting for the germination process. A healthy garden will provide plenty of nutrients for a spore to find life.

Once the spore has attached to its nutrient source, it will begin to rely on the source for all of its needs. But don’t worry – as explained in “Mushrooms: Why They’re a Sign of Healthy Soil” by Devin Martinez – mushrooms and plants have a symbiotic relationship, which means they help each other grow.

How Mushrooms Can Benefit a Garden

This symbiotic relationship suggests that mushrooms are beneficial to plants in a variety of ways. In “Mushrooms – Friends or Foes to Lawn and Garden” by Ken Lain, it is explained that four significant benefits of mushrooms growing in a garden exist.

These four helpful benefits are:

  • Mushrooms increase the number of nutrients plants absorb.

Remember that the mushroom is feeding off of the plant, to an extent. The mushroom allows the roots to be more susceptible to absorbing nutrients in the soil. This leads to a more robust, healthy, and overall nutritious plant that is sure to thrive.

  • They enhance disease-resistance.

All of those added nutrients are going to help plants become healthy and strong, which will also lessen the chances of plants becoming diseased. Mushrooms are also great for killing off unwanted moldy bacteria, so it’s not necessary to worry as much about powdery or gray molds growing in the garden.

  • They allow for better water absorption.

Mushrooms can also help plants to absorb much-needed water at a more steady rate. This is a major benefit since plants need water to thrive.

  • They accelerate plants’ growth rate.

Who doesn’t want that? If mushrooms are present in the garden, especially when they are new, then plants will have an accelerated growth rate thanks to the appearance of mushrooms in the garden.

Another benefit of mushrooms is that they can perform what is known as saprophytism. When this occurs, a single mushroom or a group of mushrooms work to decompose something – such as dead plants or animals – and place it back into the soil, adding more nutrient content. This means that if mushrooms find anything dead in a yard, they can add countless nutrients without the gardener having ever to do a thing.

As you can see, mushrooms are nothing to be worried about. They are a sign of a healthy garden, which means you are doing your job as a gardener exquisitely. Unfortunately, knowing that the garden is healthy is only half the information. There are still other reasons why mushrooms are beginning to sprout in the soil.

Why Soil is Growing Mushrooms

Mushrooms in Garden

Knowing that mushrooms equate to healthy soil is undoubtedly a relief for any gardener, but that is not the only reason why mushrooms might be making an appearance. Sometimes, mushrooms are the sign of the balance being disturbed within the soil.

1. The Soil is Contaminated

Do not jump to extreme conclusions when seeing the word contaminated. If the soil is contaminated, in this instance, it means that the soil itself had mushroom spores inside of it whenever it was placed in the garden.

This can happen with both indoor and outdoor plants. It is most common when someone opts for pre-bought soil combinations or tries to grow their garden using a soilless mix. Pre-bought soil mixes have a lot of random ingredients inside, and it is never really clear exactly what is inside the soil mix or where it came from. It could easily have spores somewhere inside.

Furthermore, using a soilless mix such as perlite, vermiculite, or coarse sand can also leave gardeners susceptible to contamination. While there won’t be any actual soil present to bring about a variety of soil-driven diseases, there is still a chance that mushroom spores have contaminated the medium being used.

2. The Environment is Right

The environment mushrooms thrive in differs for indoor and outdoor plants. So, it is crucial to pay close attention to make sure the stage is not being set for mushrooms in the indoor or outdoor garden.

  • Mushrooms found in indoor gardens prefer air that is warm, moist and humid.

If a plant is located on a windowsill that contains plenty of light and the houseplant is watered more than necessary, the way is likely being paved for mushrooms to grow. They prefer their environment to be nice and warm with the right amount of moisture to keep them satisfied.

  • Mushrooms found in outdoor gardens prefer air that is cool and moist.

It’s not uncommon to find mushrooms outside when the temperature drops a little bit. However, outdoor mushrooms may also fancy a more humid temperature as well. A double whammy is being risked with mushrooms when plants are planted outside because temperatures don’t have too much of an influence on mushroom growth.

Getting Rid of Mushrooms Growing in Houseplant Soil” by Heather Rhoades explains that the environment is probably the most significant factor when it comes to mushrooms growing in a garden. Gardeners should take great care when choosing where to plant or place their gardens to help reduce the chances of spores growing.

3. Plants are Being Overwatered

For the most part, everyone knows that fungi love damp areas. This is true for both mushrooms and other types of fungus that can be found in a garden. Thankfully, mushrooms are not a mold that can harm a garden in any way. However, that does not change the fact that they can still grow when the watering is too excessive.

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

Genesis 9:3

Getting Rid of Mushrooms

Mushrooms in dirt

Just because mushrooms are not harmful to plants and are incredibly beneficial doesn’t mean that they are wanted. Unfortunately, just because they are helpful to the soil and plants doesn’t mean that they are appealing to everyone. A group of mushrooms can completely change the look of the garden from fab to drab.

There is also the risk of a pet eating the mushrooms and becoming ill. While the fungi can act as a natural pesticide that rids unwanted insects from the garden, they can also cause some severe health problems if ingested by your beloved dog or cat. This is one incredibly important reason why mushrooms should be removed from the garden as soon as possible.

When getting rid of mushrooms, there are different steps to take for those who are dealing with an outdoor garden or an indoor houseplant. Read on for a breakdown of the two separate methods for removing mushrooms in indoor and outdoor environments.

Getting Rid of Mushrooms in Houseplants

If your favorite houseplant is beginning to spawn mushrooms, you probably aren’t too happy. Now, the colorful, beautiful flower you once loved in the windowsill has become an unsightly mess. Well, lucky for you and your houseplants, here are a few simple steps to help get rid of those pesky mushrooms:

  1. Start by removing the caps of the mushrooms.

The first thing to do when mushrooms are growing in a houseplant is to take the caps off right away. The caps are known to be the source of spores, and removing them essentially helps to kill off the mushroom immediately. This will help to stop the spread of mushrooms to any nearby houseplants, as well.

  1. Try replacing the top two inches of soil.

If repotting the plant is out of the questions completely, it may be possible to get by with merely scraping off the first two inches of soil from the pot. Discard the soil and replace it with fresh, healthy soil. While this can work in many instances, there is still a risk that there are spores closer to the roots, and mushrooms may spawn again.

  1. Change the soil completely.

If mushrooms beginning to appear after changing the top two inches of soil, or a fool-proof removal method from the start is desired, then consider changing the soil entirely. However, keep in mind that this can be a little bit dangerous and unhealthy for the plant. It is pertinent to wash off the roots of the plant to ensure there are no leftover spores, which can damage the plant.

  1. Add fungicide to the soil.

Perhaps the best way to make sure that soil is free of mushrooms is to drench it thoroughly with fungicide. The fungicide will kill the mushrooms and their spores, so mushrooms growing in the future should not be a worry. It may be necessary to apply fungicide a few times before all of the spores are killed, as some soil may contain plenty of spores ready to regrow at any time.

  1. Consider changing the houseplant’s environment.

Remember – mushrooms thrive in humid, warm temperatures. Unfortunately, so do plants. Try to lessen the humidity of the area in which the houseplant is seated and lower the temperature just a bit. If the plant is noticeably beginning to fail from lack of heat, then consider placing a fan by the plant to lessen humidity levels and increase air circulation.

  1. Don’t drench the houseplant in water.

Mushrooms are lovers of moist conditions. When plants are watered too often, a breeding ground for fungi is being created. This doesn’t mean gardeners shouldn’t water plants, but they should only water it enough for it to survive. There should also be proper drainage in the pot to ensure that the water doesn’t sit around for too long.

All in all, preventing mushroom growth comes down to having healthy, spore-free soil. This can be challenging when dealing with houseplants, and it seems that adding fungicide is the best removal and prevention method.

The Best Fungicides for Plants

One excellent fungicide that can be used is Captan 50. It comes in a powder form that readily mixes with water to become an efficient, fungi-killing product that will help your plants in no time.

Some of the advantages of Captan 50 are:

  • It is a 5-pound bag of wettable, fungicidal powder that provides more than enough fungicide to take care of the garden and lawn.
  • It can be used to destroy all types of fungi and plant-related diseases, not just mushrooms.
  • It can even treat seed rot.
  • It can be combined with other fungicides for more effective removal of severe mushroom infestations.
  • It is safe for use around pets.

Captan 50 allows any gardener to feel confident that their mushroom issue is resolved. Spray the fungicide on the garden liberally and sit back and watch the mushrooms disappear. What more could a gardener want?

Another highly rated fungicide is Bonide Mancozeb Flowable with Zinc. This fungicide comes in a concentrated formula that can simply be mixed with water and sprayed onto plants.

Some of the benefits of Bonide include:

  • It provides terrific fungus and disease control and works as a preventative for plants when sprayed regularly.
  • The inclusion of zinc supplies plants with a specific enzyme activation that is vital for the production of plant proteins.
  • It can be used on a variety of different vegetables, fruits and ornamental crops.

This fungicide is perfect for gardeners who love to grow their own produce. Since it serves as fungus removal spray and a preventative, gardeners can be confident that they won’t be bothered with mushrooms any time soon!

Getting Rid of Mushrooms in Outdoor Spaces

Seeing mushrooms in an outdoor garden or lawn can be just as agonizing as finding them in houseplants! Even if they are beneficial, there is something so rude about them sprouting next to beautiful plants. The following tips can help gardeners remove the mushrooms for good.

Remove the Mushrooms Entirely

The first step in ridding the garden of backyard mushrooms is to remove the mushrooms entirely. Follow these easy steps to ensure the garden becomes mushroom and spore-free in no time.

  1. Pick the mushrooms out from the ground.

Whenever a mushroom appears, remove it from the ground immediately – just like with a houseplant. This lessens the chance of the mushroom releasing more spores into the soil, which will only create a more challenging problem.

However, it is essential not to try and rake or mow the mushrooms to destroy them. Doing so will only make the mushrooms release more spores into the soil, which is the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. Stick to pulling them out by hand.

  1. Dispose of the mushrooms properly.

As explained in “How to Kill Your Mushrooms” by Andrew Carberry, MPH, disposing of mushrooms correctly is extremely important. Always place the mushrooms into a bag as they are removed from the soil. When picking is complete, tie the bag tightly and toss it directly into the trash bin.

Note: Do not try to add mushrooms to compost. While it may seem like anything can be beneficial to compost, from dead leaves to eggshells, leave the mushrooms out of it. Adding mushrooms will only add spores to compost, which will eventually turn into mushrooms.

  1. Consider adding nitrogen fertilizer to the area.

Adding nitrogen fertilizer to the area will act as a mushroom repellent. As the nitrogen fertilizer works to decompose organic matter at a fast rate, the mushrooms won’t have the time to find something to feed on. Just remember that the nitrogen fertilizer chosen should not be slow-release or water-soluble.

When it comes to nitrogen fertilizers, Blood Meal 13-0-0 Nitrogen Fertilizer is an excellent choice. This easy-to-use nitrogen fertilizer has a whopping 13% of nitrogen to get the job done quickly. It’s safe for use on all flowers, fruits, and vegetables and is entirely organic.

  1. Consider killing the mushrooms with soap and water.

Did you know that a handy mix of soap and water can destroy mushrooms? All that is needed is to mix three tablespoons of dish soap with two gallons of water. Once thoroughly mixed, poke holes into the soil where the mushrooms are growing, pour the mixture inside, and watch the mushrooms disappear.

  1. Make homemade compost and soil.

When buying premade soil and compost from the store, we never know what we are getting. Most of the time, these premixes have unwanted mushroom spores in them. Once they reach a garden, they can find a food source and grow.

Therefore, it’s recommended to make soil and compost at home. That way, gardeners know exactly what is going into them, and there will be less of a chance of spores finding their way into the soil.

Those who are interested in making soil at home should watch this video for some great how-to instructions. It’s much easier than it seems and will save money in the long-run. 

Change the Environment

The next most important thing to do when it comes to getting rid of mushrooms in the lawn and garden is to change the environment. After all, the environment is one of the most notable reasons that mushrooms grow in soil, so altering it will have a substantial impact.

  1. Always make sure there is enough drainage.

All fungi love damp, wet areas. If the garden and lawn don’t have proper drainage, it can result in a moist breeding ground for mushrooms and potentially other more severe and harmful fungi in the process. If more drainage needs to be added to the yard, then build a creek bed that brings water away from the garden and lawn. One drainage solution can be as simple as extending the home’s downspouts.

  1. Add some drainage to the soil.

Did you know that some types of soil don’t drain well, such as clay-based soils? Those who are dealing with soil that doesn’t allow for proper drainage needn’t worry – just mix some sand into the soil and the drainage problem will lessen.

  1. Water the yard and garden in the morning.

When gardeners water first thing in the morning, the water will evaporate throughout the day. This means less water will be sitting stagnantly in the yard, just waiting for mushrooms to come and breed. Try to water the yard and garden as early as possible to allow for optimal evaporation.

  1. Trim trees and plants regularly.

Trees that are too long can cause shady areas, which makes for an excellent spot for fungus like mushrooms to start growing. Furthermore, dead tree branches and tree leaves can fall off and provide a tasty, nutritious treat for a spore.

It is essential always to make sure that trees and plants are being trimmed regularly. This is done to remove shady areas, get rid of dead leaves and branches, and make sure that all foliage is in tip-top shape in general.

  1. Rake the lawn regularly.

Leaving any decomposing materials on your lawn will make it easier for mushrooms to pop up. Remember, mushrooms don’t only use living things to get their nutrients. They can also thrive off of dead, decomposing things, and they work to rejuvenate the soil with these dead products.

Raking the lawn regularly will free the area from the types of materials that mushrooms love. As a bonus, the yard will look fantastic and all eyes will be directed to the beautiful, green lawn that’s free of debris. Also, consider using an aerator regularly to keep the lawn well-ventilated and free of buildup.

Those who do not have an aerator should consider purchasing this Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator to make aerating the yard incredibly easy. It’s made with a foot bar to help simplify the process and is highly recommended for small yards, and it can even be used for outdoor gardens! Additionally, it is easy to be sure that that investment doesn’t go to waste because of this aerator’s durable steel construction.

Conclusion

Mushrooms are not harmful to a garden. They are highly beneficial to plants and the lawn. However, they can be unsightly and are dangerous for pets. Remember that the first thing to do when mushrooms are growing in the lawn or garden is to check the environment.

Reduce the chances of mushrooms growing by ensuring the area is not humid or damp and removing the first sign of mushrooms immediately. Also, consider adding nitrogen fertilizer to outdoor spaces and fungicide to indoor houseplants.

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Corey Leichty

Hi, I’m Corey and I love using gardening as a way to provide food for my family, learn life lessons alongside my wife, Andrea, and teach life lessons to my two sons. Do you have gardening questions? Not finding what you are looking for? Please feel free to Ask a Question (Click Here!) and I will get back with you as soon as I can!

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