Issue: January 22, 2005

Mushrooms in potted plant | Removing keiki (baby plant) from orchid

Mushrooms in potted plant

Question:

I reviewed your responses to the various questions on garden tips on the Internet regarding mushroom growth in gardens/lawns.

I have the same problem; however, my mushroom growth is not in a garden or lawn. It is in a spider plant in my small apartment. I live in a high rise building, so I wouldn't think that spores would travel from the outside to the 11th floor, but I could be wrong. My plant is rather new, growing beautifully from a "baby" pulled from the mother plant. I am afraid that this is damaging my plant and I don't want it ruined. Also, is this a hazard to my health being exposed to the fungus and its spores? I am very concerned. Please help.

Answer:

Many potting soils are made from composted organic matter. The composting process uses fungi to convert the original waste organic matter into compost. The mushroom you see is the "fruiting structure" of the fungus - it produces the spores that allow the fungus to reproduce.

There may be some live fungi or fungal spores remaining in the compost. This is the source of the mushroom in the potting soil. These fungi are usually not harmful to healthy plants if the compost was produced in a proper manner.

It is possible that the fungal spores have come from another source. They may have come from other potted plants in your home. Since the spores are very light, they can travel in the wind to many thousands of feet in altitude and hundreds of miles from their source.

It is unlikely that your plant will be harmed, but it may benefit from the presence of the fungus. The fungi will release nutrients as they continue the breakdown of organic matter in the potting soil. If you wish to remove the mushroom from the pot, that is okay; however, the fungus in the soil that produced the mushroom will remain.

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Removing keiki (baby plant) from orchid

Question:

I have a dendrobium orchid which has produced a keiki on one of the stems. How does one remove the keiki? It is well attached, and I'm afraid of injuring the main stem. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kathy L.
Taos

Answer:

A dendrobium orchid is one which is likely to produce a keiki (baby plant) from a bud on the stem. Once roots have formed, this new plant may be removed by carefully cutting between the new plant and the stem on which it formed, using a sharp knife. The roots on the keiki will be brittle, so be very careful not to injure them. The old stem on which the keiki was produced may be declining and may not last many more years but, if you are careful as you cut, you can minimize damage to the stem so it may live longer, perhaps producing other keikis or flowers.

If few roots have formed at the base of the keiki, you can help the root development process by wrapping some sphagnum moss around the stem at the base of the keiki and keeping the sphagnum moist. This will encourage root growth. This is not essential if roots are already forming. In that case, you can remove the new plant and pot it in orchid potting "bark" or other potting medium made for orchids. Keep this moist, but don't overwater. If possible, remove the plant and pot it when you see new roots developing from the base of the plant. These new little roots are less likely to be damaged during the removal process and will grow to replace any that were damaged as the keiki was removed.

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