Meet Leu

Being a doting plant mama, I dutifully ferried my babies to safety long before the hurricane hit. When I returned them to their windowsill perches post-storm, I noticed that one of my fuzzy succulents had shacked up with a new friend. His name is Leucocoprinus birnbaumii.

I did some research on my new roommate. These yellow ‘shrooms appear to pop up overnight. They sprout when soil is contaminated with spores. This can happen in soil packaging facilities, or if you introduce a neighboring mushroom-ridden plant. Spores can also travel on clothes, so if you regularly traipse through forests, it’s possible that you’ll bring home some souvenirs. They feed on dead organic matter, like shriveled leaves. Luckily, they’re not dangerous to healthy, living plants. So, pluck dead or dying leaves from stalks or soil, but don’t worry about zombie mushrooms gorging on the rest of the plant.

It’s good that the mushrooms aren’t damaging to the houseplant, because they’re pretty hard to get rid of. These suckers are pretty persistent, and the mycelium are deeply rooted into the soil. If you still want to try to kick them out, there a few things you can do. You can remove all visible mushrooms and scrape off the first few inches of soil. Replace with new soil (preferably from a different bag). Another option is to repot the plant using all new soil. (Note that this might disrupt the plant’s root system.)

The best option might just be to learn to love the mushrooms. Think of the whimsical decorating possibilities: some twee fairy figurines, a tiny gnome dozing under the shade of the bell-shaped cap. I’m going to let nature take its course and make a colorful open-air terrarium full of campy critters. Photos to come!

[Photo from Iowa State University’s Horticulture & Home Pest News