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Help please! Problems with Stinkhorn in my mulch

March 11, 2019
last modified: March 12, 2019

Does anyone know how to get rid of these awful mushrooms? They are the worst! I’ve been turning the mulch over this winter to air it out as much as possible but I’m still seeing the white veins and eggs even though we’ve had some extremely cold weather for long periods of time. I would prefer natural remedies, if there are any. I’ve read that no sprays really work for this type of fungus.

Never had this problem with cedar mulch. The hardwood mulch seems to have more fungus issues. Ive called the mulch company and they said there’s not much I can do except manually remove them when they’re growing and that it’s not a quality issue.

Comments (17)

  • Richard Brennan

    It is the same solution as getting rid of rats and mice - remove the habitat. The species breaks down hardwoods, and you mulch is an ideal environment. Replace the hardwood mulch with an alternative. Even something as simple as shredded fall leaves will do.

  • Jmint
    Richard- Thank you for your response. I think I should clarify that all of the landscaping around my property has mulch. There is about a 1 ft x 3 ft section that I’m having this problem with.
  • Nevermore44 - 6a

    I would think all you could do then is fluff it up some to help dry it out some to slow the process.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Jmint, your mulch company is right. Hand removal of mature mushrooms and the 'eggs' is necessary to get rid of them from hardwood mulch. I don't believe that they will reproduce on conifer bark or pine straw, something that you can try.

  • Jmint
    Thank you everyone for your comments. Do I need to remove just the eggs or any mulch that has the veins? Will adding mushroom compost to the area help? Has anyone done this?
  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    Just to clarify, these fungi are not be detrimental to your garden in any way other than perhaps aesthetically, depending on one's point of view. They're an ephemeral phenomenon so is the effort of removing them worth it to you? Scuffing the area up with a hoe or rake would probably give the best effect to effort ratio.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    There are many species of stinkhorns and they are not at all picky about what they choose as a habitat.......any decomposing organic matter will suffice. There really isn't any way to remove them completely from a mulched surface. Ants and flies that are attracted to the sticky goo of the rapidly growing (and smelly) adult forms spread the spores as they go about their travels. They can pop up anywhere there is a suitable habitat and the growing conditions are right

    Although I wouldn't like to have them pop up by my front door, they - like all other fungi - are fascinating and serve a very useful purpose. If they bother you, just remove them. They only appear for a few short weeks as the temperature and weather conditions are conducive to growth.......and then they vanish until the following season.

    The other option is to avoid any organic mulch product and just use a vegetative groundcover. Or plant densely enough so that the plants cover the surface of the soil and take the place of a mulch.

    IMO, it's a lot of to-do about nothing!

  • Jmint
    Hi Floral. I would probably not mind them so much if they weren’t so near my front door. The smell and the flies are awful. They came up all of fall into December. I’m raking the area and still seeing eggs even though we had temps this winter that were -20.
  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Jmint, I am very sympathetic with you about these fungi residing so near the entry to your home. Many years ago, I was responsible for the landscaping and common outdoor areas of a big resort community near Hilton Head.

    We had our own tree care division and generated lots of mixed wood chips....the fuel of stinkhorns! I soon learned to avoid using those chips in any location where people congregated as the odor was like a dead something, a large dead something. Every year, I would get phone calls about a possible dead deer around the tennis courts or a bike path, lol.

    We used to use pine straw or pine bark in those areas, as I mentioned above. Seemed to solve the problem. And it is a problem outside an entrance to one's home.

    I don't know of mushroom mulch would be something that they would grow on or not. By any chance, is there a tree stump and root system of a dead tree in the location?

  • Jmint

    Hello Rhizo. That’s hillarious, although Im sure you weren’t amused at the time. Especially if theyre phallus shaped like mine. That’s awful that you had that happen to you at work. Thank you for understanding. We had nice cedar mulch for years and when we needed to add mulch because of a change in landscaping, we tried a different company’s brown mulch mostly for budgetary reasons. All kinds of fungi started showing up within months. I’ve never seen anything like it. Lesson learned for the future. I will try mixing some pine into my mulch from my parent’s home. They make their own mulch and the needles from the pines get mixed in. I can’t replace everything because that isn’t feasible. They’re so obnoxious. The mushroom compost is supposed to have certain bacteria that make an inhospitable place for fungi but has to be at least 40% of the mix. I’m really hoping for experienced advice like yours.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    "The mushroom compost is supposed to have certain bacteria that make an inhospitable place for fungi but has to be at least 40% of the mix. "

    Mushroom compost is a mixed material product that is used as a medium in which to grow mushrooms commercially. Having it include a bacteria that discourages the growth of fungi seems incredibly counterproductive and is not something I have ever heard of!!

    Any organic mulch product can support fungal organisms - they are the primary digesters and decomposers of organic matter. But two mulches that seem to have the least occurence of fungal growth are pine bark or pine straw (dried needles).

  • Jmint
    Sorry...not bacteria but microbes. Please read...

    Penn State researchers have discovered that blending 40 percent used mushroom compost with landscape mulch greatly suppresses the artillery fungus. Mushroom compost, or mushroom soil, is the pasteurized material on which mushrooms are grown. After the final crops of mushrooms are picked, the used compost is pastuerized a second time and removed from the mushroom house. This valuable by-product (sometimes called "black gold") is often made available to gardeners and homeowners. Used mushroom compost has physical and chemical characteristics that make it ideal for blending with landscape mulch to enhance growth of horticultural plants. In addition, mushroom compost contains beneficial microbes that compete with, or actually destroy, nuisance fungi such as the artillery fungus and bird's nest fungi.
  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Jmint, I had read that about the bird's nest and artillery fungi but don't think that your stink horns are equally controlled by the addition of the mushroom compost.

    Back in those days, I had to stop using my own wood chips in all of the parking areas because of those blasted artillery fungus and the damage to vehicles that they cause! Again, pine straw to the rescue.

  • Jmint
    Rhizo...I don’t think pine straw is available this far north.
  • toxcrusadr

    The thing about mushroom compost does not make sense to me. If it's pasteurized - twice - how can it have all these beneficial microbes?

    Anyway, if the OP is only dealing with an area one by three FEET...just scrape up all the mulch, buy a bag of something that looks as close as possible, and re-mulch. It may not kill every spore but if they are feeding on the wood chips and growing mycelium (threads) through the mulch, then removing the mulch should knock them down. Especially if you do it right before they are supposed to sprout their fruiting bodies.

    Mushrooms are cool but I sympathize with your odor and fly issues.

  • Jmint
    Thanks Toxcrusadr :)
  • HighColdDesert

    Any wood mulch will grow some kind of fungus that decomposes it, and that's a good thing. But you don't want this stinky ugly stinkhorn fungus. So use the methods people mention above, but also try to introduce other less offensive fungus as well, hoping that some of them will outcompete the stinkhorn.

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