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Mushrooms Growing in Vegetable Garden: What you Should Know

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Mushrooms are fungi that grow in all environments, from forests and lawns to your backyard. They reproduce by releasing spores that travel through air or water droplets. 

Mushrooms will grow in potted plants and vegetable gardens as a result of spores that have been embedded in the potting soil or the mulch medium that was used. They are beneficial fungi that form a symbiotic relationship with plants by providing them with nutrients to grow. Mushrooms in the soil is a sign of a mini, healthy ecosystem.

In this article, we will explain why mushrooms grow in the garden and in potted plants. Mushrooms can grow anywhere, but there are some things you should look out for when having them around. We have done the research to answer your questions regarding mushrooms growing in vegetable gardens and potted plants. 

mushrooms in potted plants

Why are Mushrooms Growing in the Garden?

Mushrooms grow from spores not seeds as you may usually think and are so tiny that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. 

Mushrooms come in thousands of varieties with each one having its own distinctive characteristics.

Rather than soil, these spores rely on substances like sawdust, straws, or wood chips for nourishment.

Additionally, these spores fall under the fungi category and are beneficial to the soil as they aid in the decomposition process which provides nutrients for plants.

Gardening soil often contains a combination of decomposed organic material which is inclusive of these materials that spores find themselves onto. 

The spores benefit from the nutrient-rich byproducts of the decomposition of organic material.. 

Mushrooms may go undetected for months until the right growing conditions are present for them to sprout. 

This blend of spore and organic nutrients is called spawn. 

Spawn is the living fungal culture, called mycelium, grown onto a substrate. It provides the backbone to any mushroom-growing operation. Think of it as the equivalent of seeds for a garden.

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Are there any Benefits of having Mushrooms in the Garden?

Mushrooms are highly beneficial to a garden. The fungi help decompose complex organic material in the garden, such as dead leaves, wood chips, and mulch, into plant nutrients. The presence of bacteria and fungi is a sign that the soil is healthy.

Mushrooms in the garden are a good thing in terms of soil bacteria and decomposition.  They will not cause harm to your crops.

Mushrooms will carry out their life cycle as normal and die at the end, replacing nutrients back into the soil when they do.

We know there is a concern that the growing fungi may use nutrients from the soil to grow. This is true, however, it is often short-lived and when the mushroom dies, it replaces the nutrients back into the soil.

Plants form a symbiotic relationship with mushrooms in the soil and where they grow, which means that the soil will be rich in nutrients ready for the plants to absorb.

In short, mushrooms make nutrients usable for plants while the plants provide protection for the mushrooms.

In addition, mushrooms can form a communication network between the plants in the soil and provide the framework by which they can communicate distress signals to each other during times of insect attacks so that neighboring plants can increase their defense system when others are being attacked.

Are Mushrooms a Sign of Damp or Wet Soil?

Mushrooms like dark, cool, and humid growing environments. Most mushrooms grow best in temperatures between 55°F and 60°F, away from direct heat and drafts.

Most fungi grow best when there is abundant moisture available, so it is typical to see increased fungal activity during and after wet weather or even during a time when the plant is being watered often.

Mushrooms are not a sign of wet or damp soil, but when the soil moisture is right, the mushrooms will develop. Overwatering and poor soil drainage can cause the soil to become damp for a longer period of time, providing the right conditions for the spores to grow.

However, in some cases, soil conditions during a normal watering schedule may not cause the entire soil structure to become damp or wet. Smaller patches of the soil can hold the right amount of moisture for mushrooms to grow.

See our detailed article on how long should soil stay wet after watering.

For this reason, you may find that mushrooms in your potted plants or garden grow in small patches rather than engulfing the entire garden or plant pot.

So don’t have any fear, if you know that you have soil with the right amendments for drainage and aeration then you should not be worried about overwatering when you see mushrooms in your soil.

Should You Remove Mushrooms from the Garden

From our experience, mushrooms should not be removed from the soil. Apart from their beneficial aspects, they add a beautiful accent to the soil as they grow peacefully under the plant foliage.

Mushrooms in the soil is a sign that the soil is healthy and does not cause harm to garden or potted plants. Mushrooms can be removed by hand. When left in the soil, they will carry out their life cycle, decay and return nutrients to the soil.

Many studies [Google Scholar], through quantitative analysis, show how mushrooms can contain minerals from the soil.

In some cases, the minerals are good, and in other cases, the minerals may be toxic. But this depends entirely on the soil quality where they grow.

Another study [Google Scholar] showed that using Spent mushroom compost (SMC) resulted in increased plant growth and fruit production. The results of these findings were discussed in relation to the usage of SMC as possible organic fertilizer for the improvement of the growth of vegetables.

However, garden soil is healthy and filled with amendments and organic material which will nourish the plants through decomposition.

The same applies to potted plants. 

Healthy plants are indicative of healthy soil, and having mushrooms in the mix is a sign which confirms that you are doing a good job in providing your plant with what it needs to thrive.

The Types of Mushrooms in Potted Plants and the Garden

Mushrooms in vegetable garden and potted plants

Mushrooms in the garden are not an uncommon occurrence and are often a sign of healthy soil. They grow in the garden and potted plant soil when the spores which attach themselves to organic material used as mulch or soil amendment are presented with moist or damp and cool conditions.

The varieties of mushrooms that sprout up can range in color from black, brown, yellow, or white, depending on the species.

Common mushrooms found the Garden and Plant Pots

Mushroom SpeciesCommon in the GardenCommon in Potted Plants
Clitocybe nudacorrect
Coprinus atramentariuscorrect
Leucocoprinus birnbaumiicorrect
Leucoagaricus leucothitescorrect
Pseudocolus fusiformiscorrect
Clitocybe nudacorrect
Macrolepiota americanacorrect

Are Wild Mushrooms Edible?

Wild mushrooms are fungi that grow outside of cultivated areas. Most wild mushroom species have a long history with human cultures and can be found all around the world.

They usually grow on rotting wood or leaves, though some grow directly from living trees or from soil rich in organic matter (such as leaf litter). 

Many types of edible mushrooms are considered “wild,” including porcini, chanterelles, morels, matsutake and truffles. Wild fungi may also possess psychoactive properties like psilocybin and hallucinogenic properties like amanita muscaria

Wild mushrooms can be difficult to identify, it’s worth taking the time to figure out what type of mushroom you’ve found.

Some wild mushrooms are edible while others cannot be consumed without causing serious illness.

List of Wild Edible Mushrooms

  • Giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea)
  • Hedgehog fungus (Hydnum repandum)
  • Wood ears (Auricularia auricula-judae)
  • Scarlet elf cups (Sarcoscypha coccinea)
  • Cauliflower fungus (Sparassis crispa)
  • Field blewits (Lepista personata)
  • Porcini (Boletus edulis)
  • Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

However, caution should be taken because some mushrooms can cause liver toxicity and failure. 

We are going to expand more on poisonous mushrooms in the following section.

Can Garden Mushrooms be poisonous?

Some varieties of mushrooms can be poisonous when ingested. For this reason, you must be very careful when handling these mushrooms found in and around the garden.

Poisonous mushrooms often have an unpleasant, acrid smell, while benign ones smell refreshingly mushroom-like.

Mushroom poisoning refers to harmful effects from ingestion of toxic substances present in a mushroom. These symptoms can vary from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to death in about 10 days. The toxins present are secondary metabolites produced by the fungus. [Wikipedia]

List of poisonous mushrooms

  • Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) death cap mushroom
  • Destroying Angels (Amanita species)
  • Conocybe filaris. Conocybe filaris
  • Webcaps (Cortinarius species) webcap mushroom
  • Autumn Skullcap (Galerina marginata) autumn skullcap mushroom. …
  • Podostroma cornu-damae
  • Deadly Dapperling (Lepiota brunneoincarnata)

How to stop mushrooms from growing in your Garden

Mushrooms are a type of fungus that can grow in gardens and can be difficult to get rid of. When mushrooms start growing, the best thing you can do is try to remove them from your garden before they spread.

The most common way people use to stop mushrooms from growing is by using copper sulfate. Copper sulfate has been shown in studies to kill off 99% of mushroom growths when applied at a rate of 2-3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Another option for stopping the growth is by applying Bordeaux mixture which contains copper sulfates as well as lime and slaked or burnt lime (calcium hydroxide). The mixture should be sprayed on every few weeks during periods where there’s rain.

Additionally, mushrooms love wet environments and so if it’s damp enough outside, mushrooms may start growing without even needing any help from you! 

Mulching your garden is one way to keep moisture levels down but make sure not to use straw as this provides an excellent medium for mushrooms to grow on. 

Another effective way to get rid of the mushroom problem is to repot with new soil.

This Compressed Organic Potting Soil works great for garden plants. It is cost-effective and solves most of my soil-related problems because it supplements the right nutrients.

Compressed Organic Potting Soil for Garden, Plants & Vegetables
mushroom in the garden

How to stop Mushroom from Growing In Potted Plants

Potted plants can contain mushrooms that had their spores embedded in the potting soil or the mulch used in the pot.

There is more good than harm that mushrooms growing in your plant’s pots can cause. 

However, there may be some concerns that curious pets might ingest the mushroom which may cause harmful side effects. This is one valid reason why you should have them removed or even stop growing in the potted plant.

Controlling mushrooms in potted plants can be fairly easy since the growing area is daily small and the methods of control are simple.

Here are some methods of mushroom control in potted plants

1. Mulching

Mulching can smother the mushrooms and also prevent moist conditions on the surface areas where the mushroom sprouts.

2. Removal by Hand

Mushrooms growing in potted plants can be fairly limited and grow in small groups periodically. When they appear, you can simply pull them out and discard in the trash.
You can also bury them back into the soil so they can also replenish the soil with nutrients they have used to grow.

3. Using Copper Sulphate

Copper sulfate is a fungicide that minimizes the proliferation of mushrooms in the soil.

4. Spraying With Vinegar Solution

Controlling mushroom in the garden

You can create your own fungicide by mixing a small amount of vinegar with water

Vinegar’s active ingredient is acetic acid, and it does an amazing job of killing garden mushrooms. 

All you have to do is mix 1 part white vinegar with 4 parts water in a spray bottle.

Spray the solution directly on the mushrooms and they will die off.

Care must be taken when applying fungicides as they can also harm your plant, so you must ensure that they are only applied to the mushrooms.

The Takeaway

When and if you see a mushroom in your plant’s soil, consider it a sign of a happy, healthy mini-ecosystem.

Mushrooms are fungi and they can work together with bacteria in the soil to break down organics material into plant food. Mushrooms can form a network of communication between plants which they can use to signal distress to other plants.

They love moist soil and can sprout anywhere from potted plants to large garden areas. Although some are very beautiful, they can also be poisonous and they should be properly identified if you are thinking of eating them.

The overall effect of having mushrooms around is a sign of healthy soil and where there is healthy soil, there are healthy plants. Keep that in mind!

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