If you’ve ever had a vegetable garden, you may have noticed some uninvited guests climbing out of the soil. Mushrooms are common fungi that grow in vegetable gardens, and many gardeners are left wondering why the fungi are appearing in their plants.
Why do mushrooms grow in vegetable pots? Mushrooms will sometimes begin growing in your plant pots because they are feeding on the nutrients in your soil. The presence of mushrooms in your soil means that it contains an abundance of decaying organic matter.
Read on to find out more about why mushrooms appear in vegetable pots, what it means, and what you can do about it.
What Does it Mean When Mushrooms Grow in Vegetable Pots?
Seeing mushrooms growing in your vegetable pots can be quite a surprise for any gardener. Don’t worry, though. Mushrooms are a frequent occurrence in vegetable plant pots, and they bring good news. Mushrooms growing in your garden mean that your soil is healthy.
Mushrooms are fungi. They do not have typical roots. This means that they aren’t able to eat the same way as plants do. For mushrooms to eat, they need to attach themselves to the roots of your vegetables or feed on the nutrients in your soil. Therefore, if mushrooms are growing in your vegetable pots, you know that your soil is full of nutrients.
Do These Mushrooms Have a Purpose?
You know that mushrooms growing in your soil means that the soil is healthy, but do the mushrooms serve another purpose? These fungi help your plants by exchanging nutrients with your soil as they feed, grow, and decompose.
Just because the word fungus has a negative connotation does not mean that it is always bad. Mushrooms are not mold. They will not degrade or harm your plants. Mushrooms grow, feed themselves with your soil, then decompose into your soil, depositing more nutrients. Vegetable plants and mushrooms have a mutually beneficial relationship.
If you don’t like mushrooms in your garden, you don’t have to leave them there. Picking them from your soil won’t harm your plants.
How Do Mushrooms Get into Your Vegetable Pots?
One question that many gardeners have when they see mushrooms in their pots is: How did the mushrooms get there? Mushrooms reproduce with spores instead of seeds. These spores are small cells that they release that contain the genetic code to replicate the mushroom. Spores do not have to be planted – they are released into the air and carried by the wind to find a place to grow.
Mushroom spores are sent out in large numbers to find and attach to a nutrition source. Many spores never reach a nutrition source to grow, which is why there are so many released from healthy mushrooms.
Spores will attach to anything that can give them the nutrients they need – dead plants, roots, dead animals, soil, and more. They float on the wind or hitch a ride on the fur of animals until they find their nutrition source.
When the spores combine with a nutrient source, they form a “spawn.” The spawn supports the growth of the mycelium, which is like the mushroom’s roots. The mycelium then grows until the mushroom is strong enough to push through its nutrient source as a mature fungus.
There are many benefits your plants can enjoy by growing next to mushrooms, such as:
- Your plants will get more water and nutrients.
- Your plants become more tolerant of droughts and disease.
- There is less strain on the plants during bad weather and transplanting.
- There is an increase in the growth of your plants no matter what stage of life they’re in.
All of these benefits can be referred to as Mycorrhizae, which is the term for the relationship between a mushroom and a plant.
Are There Bad Mushrooms?
Some mushrooms are safe, edible, and nutritious. Other mushrooms can be dangerous when consumed. Additionally, certain kinds of mushroom growth can be a warning sign for gardeners.
If you notice your mushrooms are growing straight out of your vegetable plant, this means that your plant is dying. Mushrooms prefer to use decaying material for their nutrients.
It is also important to keep pets away from all mushrooms; even if they are beneficial to your plants, they aren’t safe for your pets to consume.
Telling the difference between safe and unsafe mushrooms is not easy to do unless you are well-trained in the subject of mushrooms. It is recommended not to eat any mushrooms that grow in your plant pots.
How Do I Get Rid of These Mushrooms?
If you decide that you don’t want mushrooms in your plant pots at all, then there are ways to get rid of mushrooms from your garden successfully.
Four ways that you can get rid of the mushrooms in your pots are:
- Change the growing environment.
- Pull the mushrooms out of your pots.
- Make your own soil and compost.
- Use nitrogen fertilizer.
- Use soap and water.
1. Change the Growing Environment.
Mushrooms like to be kept in cool, dark, and moist places. If you don’t want mushrooms to grow in your pots, bring them out into the sunshine. You can also lower the moisture levels in the soil by watering your plant less (quantity and/or frequency), which will cause the soil to become unsuitable for mushroom growth.
2. Pull the Mushrooms Out of Your Pots.
If you spot a mushroom, pull it out! Pulling the mushrooms from the soil is a very easy way to get rid of them because they need those nutrients to survive. This method is not always a permanent fix, though. The mycelium of the mushroom may remain in the soil, so you will have to re-pick them every time they appear.
When you throw the mushrooms out, tie them in a plastic bag and throw the bag into the garbage bin. The reason you don’t want to throw the mushrooms into your compost is that their spores can be released and find their way into your soil, creating more mushrooms.
3. Make Your Own Soil and Compost.
When you purchase premade soil and compost, there can be many things inside of it that you do not know about. One of them can be spores. Mushrooms have been known to burst out the sides of soil and fertilizer bags as well. If you make your own compost and soil, you will know what is inside of it before it even touches your plants.
4. Use Nitrogen Fertilizer.
Another way to get rid of mushrooms is by using a nitrogen fertilizer. This fertilizer will make the decomposing process of organic matter in your soil go faster, which means that mushrooms won’t have time to eat and grow. It’s important not to use a slow-release formula or any mix that is water-soluble because they are not as effective.
5. Use Soap and Water.
An easy way to kill mushrooms uses only soap and water. Mix two or three tablespoons of any brand of dish soap with two gallons of water. Poke holes in the soil around the mushroom and fill the holes with the soap and water solution. This solution is deadly for fungi, and you will see your mushrooms begin to die soon.
So, if you notice mushrooms growing in your vegetable plants, don’t stress. It simply means that your soil is healthy and full of nutrients. As long as the mushrooms are growing from the soil and not your plant itself, you have nothing to worry about.
You also have the option of getting rid of the mushrooms if you are worried about your pets eating them or don’t want them in your plant pots.