Mushrooms popping out of your soil? Don't worry, that's a good sign
Mushrooms: the interesting fungus among us. Recently we've had a few growers ask us why and how mushrooms could end up in their grow. Some growers see these little buggers pop out of the side of their fabric pots, others see them popping up near your plants. If you're not trying to grow mushrooms you might be freaked out to see them growing in your garden- especially if you're growing indoors. Well, the good thing is that mushrooms are pretty harmless to growing plants, and they can even help improve the quality of your soil.

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Here, we'll be going over what mushrooms do, how they grow, and ways to avoid growing them or stopping them when they do. Mushrooms: Fungus With a Purpose When people hear the word mushroom they think of its plant variety: fungi, and when they hear "fungi" they often think of one particular kind of fungi: mold (particularly white powdery mold and yellow/brown downy mold). Those types of fungus are usually parasites, but for the most part, mushrooms either help plants exchange nutrients or help put nutrients back into the earth.
Illustration of a tree with mushrooms growing out of the roots
Mushroom Reproduction and Growth Mushrooms don't grow as plants do. In order to reproduce their spores need to attach to a nutritious source, whether it's a plant's roots, a dead plant, or a dead animal. They don't use seeds as most other plants use, but as long as there's a breeze or some way to get spores on to a nutritious source, that's all they need to reproduce. Because they have no chlorophyll to help make food, they rely on the nutrition of a plant (live or dead) to eat. That doesn't mean mushrooms are sucking the life out of your plants. Quite the opposite: most mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with plants, particularly at the root level. Mushrooms help give your plants the nutrients it needs to help produce the sugars the mushroom feeds off, so they're helping each other to grow and receive the best nutrients they can get. Saprophytism is when a mushroom or group of mushrooms help decompose something and then release it back into the soil. Whether it be dying parts of your lawn, dying roots under the soil, or dead plants and animals (and their waste), mushrooms can take in the remaining nutrients from a dead source and introduce those nutrients back into the soil in a way bacteria or insects cannot. Mushrooms Usually Mean Healthy Soil Like we've mentioned, if you're positive you don't have a mushroom or fungal spores anywhere in your growing area but you still see mushrooms growing you might be alarmed- and we don't blame you. However, unlike mold which can be a sign of stagnation, mushroom growth from your soil can be a sign of pretty healthy soil. How?
Cactus in a flowing bed with mushrooms growing out of them
Remember that mushrooms don't have roots like other plants, so they need to feed themselves by attaching to the roots of your plant or decaying nutrition sources in the soil. If you transplant rooted plants into new soil and eventually see mushrooms come out of the soil, there's a good chance there were mushroom spores in your soil that had a chance to begin feeding with your plants. If you see mushroom growth before your seed(s) sprout there's a chance that there are spores attached to something in your soil (usually a wood chip) and started to grow. Mushrooms like cool, moist, and humid places without lots of light. Growers will find mushrooms popping out of the side of fabric grow bags for that exact reason: bags become moist when you feed your plants, then they sit in a humid space, and temperatures are bound to hit around 50-60°F at some point. If you have the environment for mushroom growth all you need is a spore and something it can attach to and you can see mushrooms popping out of that soil. Ridding Your Garden of Mushrooms While they may be harmless to plants, mushrooms may not be desirable in all gardens for any number of reasons. Some mushrooms can act as pesticides when ingested by insects, but they can cause serious harm if they’re ingested by our pets or by anyone who doesn’t know better.
Mushrooms growing out of a small plant in a pot
If you’re trying to avoid them in the future, you may also want to get rid of them as soon as you see them. Mushrooms send off spores to reproduce and when those spores attach to a source of nutrition (say, a wood chip in your soil or the roots of a growing plant) they’ll begin to grow. To avoid unintentional mushroom growth try these three things: 1) Eliminate the environment. Mushrooms like cool, humid, and moist places, so raise if you raise the temperature of your garden, lower the humidity, and ease off the watering for a bit they’ll dry up and be unable to grow. 2) As soon as you see them, pick them off. Picking mushrooms won’t harm your plants, so if you don’t like them in your soil or around your plants you can simply pick them off and get rid of them. 3) Start making your own compost and soil. Pre-mixed soil has all kinds of things you’re not sure of, and spores are just one of them. If you’re not sure of what’s in your soil, it’s a dice throw whether or not you have the makings for mushrooms. Making your own soil from composted materials is the safest way to know exactly what’s in your soil and to assure you don’t have the ingredients for mushroom production.

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