Why is My House Plant’s Soil Growing Mushrooms? [Top Reasons]

Do you love having a couple of potted house plants placed around your living space or office in the United States? You are not alone, as 66% of the American population has invested in at least one potted house plant.

People nowadays go as far as to call potted house plants the new pets of our time. While this statement is more a harmless remark than a fact, there is a reason why people like to make the comparison.

This is because, while potted house plants look refreshing, calming, and aesthetically pleasing, caring for them is no easy task. As a matter of fact, caring for a potted house plant can be just as stressful as it is relaxing.

While many house plant parents like to refer to this hobby as their best form of at-home therapy, some complaint about being devastated by constantly struggling to keep the house plant alive.

Hence, while a lot of people in the United States are proud to call themselves plant parents, a vast majority of these people have also lost a fair few plants before they understood how to take care of their plants.

The only way to avoid premature plant death is to keep an eye on the signs and symptoms that indicate that the plant is sick and might be close to death.

Mushrooms growing in a potted house plant’s soil is one of the most common indicators of a poorly managed or sick house plant.

Fortunately, mushrooms are easy to spot and do not pose a direct threat to caretakers unless they are poisonous.

Continue reading to learn about fungal mushrooms, what the presence of mushrooms indicates, and why mushrooms grow in the soil of a potted house plant.

Let’s get started!

What Are the Fungal Mushrooms Growing in a Potted House Plant’s Soil?

Ever noticed the yellow-white fungus growing in your house plant’s soil? If you look closely, they are brown and golden mushrooms.

Mushrooms are a type of fungus that grows in certain suitable conditions and reproduces by releasing airborne fungal mushroom spores.

Chances are that the fungal mushroom spores of ‘seeds’ have been a part of the house plant’s soil from the time you purchased it. However, the spores can remain undeveloped in the soil for long periods till the proper living conditions are created.

Unlike fungal gnats or mold, spotting mushrooms in the soil of your potted house plant is relatively easier. However, one only usually spots the mushrooms when they have fully grown and formed clusters.

This happens because it takes only a few hours for the fuzzy fungus to grow knobs and fully grow into a mature mushroom.

The most common mushrooms that grow inside most potted house plants are usually brown and golden mushrooms, which are generally harmless.

However, if the caretaker does not intervene on time, the clusters of mushrooms will only take a few days to fully populate the soil of all your potted house plants.

Moreover, you will never spot any green mushrooms in your potted house plant’s soil because mushrooms do not contain any chlorophyll.

Hence, mushrooms cannot trap sunlight or perform photosynthesis to process their plant food.

Instead, most mushrooms that grow in a potted house plant’s soil are called saprophytes, and they get their nutrition by metabolizing non-living organic matter, such as dead plant roots and leaves.

Eventually, when the mushrooms are left in the soil for too long, they cause the house plant’s premature death. They do this by depriving the plant of the nutrients it needs to grow.

Eventually, the plant starves, which leads to its eventual death. Hence, it is essential to understand what causes the fungal mushrooms to grow inside a potted house plant’s soil in the first place.

Read How to Trim a Houseplant

What Does the Growth of Mushrooms in a Potted House Plant’s Soil Indicate?

Before we get to discussing what causes fungal mushrooms to grow inside a potted house plant’s soil, let us first look at what the prevalence and growth of the mushrooms indicate.

The first thing that a committed house plant parent understands when they spot mushrooms growing inside their plant’s soil is that they have been unsuccessful at catering to the house plant’s needs.

Like all living organisms, different houseplants require different settings and conditions to survive. If the caretaker messes up these conditions due to insufficient plant knowledge, the potted house plant will die from a mushroom infestation.

Hence, the infestation indicates that the plant parent lacks the essential knowledge needed to keep the house plant alive, and the situation will keep repeating if the person does not learn about the house plant’s unique needs.

Moreover, even when the house plant parent has spent time learning about the plant specie’s specific needs, the external conditions of the living space end up creating the optimal environment for the fungal mushrooms’ growth.

Furthermore, if the house plant parent has invested in controlling the internal atmospheric conditions of the house, the chances of mushrooms growing inside the house plant’s soil still exist.

This indicates that the infested house plant species is perhaps not suited to the regional conditions where the plant is kept. 

Read Leaf Spot Disease on Houseplants

Why Do Mushrooms Grow in Your Potted House Plant’s Soil?

If you have identified clusters of brown or golden mushrooms growing inside your potted house plant, you need to know that this did not occur randomly.

Instead, certain prevailing conditions and the repetition of some uninformed or deliberate mistakes have resulted in the mushroom infestation.

Some possible reasons why mushrooms are growing inside your potted house plant’s soil are as follows:

You Have Overwatered Your Potted House Plant

The most common reason behind a potted house plant’s premature death is a lack of proper information and inaccurate generalized assumptions.

People who have just started with their new house plant hobby usually generalize certain assumptions about all kinds of indoor plant species.

One such assumption that perhaps every inexperienced house plant parent has is that indoor plants survive on very little water. While this information is accurate for some plant species, it must not be generalized to all indoor plants.

Consequently, some species of house plants begin to die due to insufficient watering. As a result, this causes the plant parent to ‘correct’ their mistake by overwatering all the house plant species.

It’s safe to say, this leads to more problems.

If you overwater a house plant that grows and thrives on very little water, its roots begin to stop any further water absorption once their cells are fully saturated with water molecules.

Consequently, the excess water begins to accumulate inside the soil of the potted house plant. As a result, the damp soil conditions create the ideal conditions for a fungal infestation.

If no fungicide is added to the soil to remove the fungus, it can push through the soil and grow all the way to the plant’s roots. Eventually, the fungal growth leads to the rotting and decaying of the roots.

If any undeveloped fungal mushroom spores are present in the plant’s soil, the nutrition from the dead plant matter causes the mushrooms to grow, form clusters, and reproduce.

Eventually, when the dead plant roots fail to push any water up the stem, the entire house plant dies and falls into the soil.

The growing mushrooms quickly consume the dead plant, and in just a matter of days, the entire pot gets populated by nothing but clusters of brown and golden mushrooms.

If the infested pot is not removed on time, the airborne fungal spores will land on the soil of another house plant. As a result, the plant parent will have no choice but to reinvest in newly potted house plants.

Read How To Get Rid of Ants in a Houseplant

Your Potted House Plant is Not Getting the Required Amount of Sunlight

Like water, people also wrongly assume that all potted house plant species need very little sunlight to grow. While this is true for certain species, generalizing the information to all other plant species can be problematic.

When an overwatered house plant is deprived of any necessary sunlight, the excess water cannot transpire out of the plant’s leaves nor evaporate out of the plant’s soil.

As a result, the excess water dampens the soil, creating the perfect ground for the mushroom population to grow and reproduce.

Moreover, when a plant that is dependent on sunlight to make its food is deprived of an adequate amount of sunlight, photosynthesis slows down or comes to a stop.

Consequently, the plant begins to die when the house plant can no longer make any plant food. As a result, the dead plant matter provides nutrients to the soil that further accelerates mushroom growth.

Your Living Space Lacks Proper Ventilation

Even if you have learned how to water your potted house plants correctly, poor ventilation can still make the house plant’s soil moist and keep it that way.

The humid air and the lack of proper ventilation cause the moisture to settle in the house plant’s soil, resulting in unwanted dampness.

As a result, fungus and mushroom growth is amplified, and the infestation eventually leads to the house plant’s premature death.  

You Live in Regions of High Humidity

Sometimes, even a good ventilation system cannot keep the humidity at bay. This is especially common in regions near bodies of water or where it rains frequently.

In such areas, a simple exhaust fan is not enough to keep out the humidity, and the chances of fungal mushrooms growing into the house plant’s soil can almost never be avoided.

You Fail to Treat Fungus-Infested Soil on Time

Usually, mushrooms are not the first to arrive in an overwater house plant. Instead, the problem begins with the growth of simple fungus or mold.

If the situation remains unnoticed and the house plant parent fails to treat the fungus on time, mushroom growth usually follows right after.

You Purchased an Infested Potted House Plant

At times, chances of mushroom infestation are increased when one purchases an already-infested plant pot.

Since the spores cannot be spotted easily, you may never be able to tell which plant at the shop can be prone to a fungal infestation.

Any moisture will accelerate the mushroom development process when such a house plant is introduced to a living space or an office where other potted indoor plants exist.

Eventually, the fully developed mushrooms will reproduce to form more spores which will then cause the same to happen in all your other potted house plants.

Read How to Keep a Cat Away from a Potted House Plant?

Why Should Mushrooms be Removed from a Potted House Plant’s Soil?

While most brown and golden mushrooms that grow inside a potted house plant’s soil are harmless, they still need to be removed.

Some reasons for removing the mushrooms from your house plant’s soil are as follows:

  • A mushroom infestation will eventually lead to the premature death of a potted house plant.
  • House plants are expensive. If your house plant dies before it’s meant to, it becomes a financial loss for the owner.
  • Mushrooms will only take a few hours to form clusters of mature, reproducing mushrooms. For some people, a mushroom-populated plant pot is not aesthetically pleasing.
  • Although the mushrooms may not directly harm you, their spores can trigger allergies in some people.
  • Moreover, if a toddler or a pet unknowingly consumes a mushroom, they might get sick.
  • Some fungal mushrooms can release toxic spores that can cause allergies, breathing problems, nausea, and mental distress.
Why is My House Plant's Soil Growing Mushrooms?
Mushrooms growing in a potted house plants soil

Final Thoughts

Do not make the mistake of buying a dozen different houseplants after seeing your favorite online blogger do the same.

While the house plants may immediately improve the aesthetics of your home, keeping them alive will be no easy task, especially if you have invested in different house plant species.

If you ignore an individual house plant species’ needs, mushrooms might start growing in its soil in no time.

Not only will the mushrooms ruin the visual appeal of your house plants, but they may also threaten a toddler or a pet. Hence, it is imperative that you get well-informed about the needs and requirements of different house plant species to make sure you can prevent mushrooms from populating their soil.

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