Do you enjoy gardening? Have you ever thought of adding mushrooms to your list of decorative indoor plants? You’re in good company. Many of our readers have been asking: “Can I grow mushrooms as a house plant for decoration?”
Yes, you can grow mushrooms as a houseplant. Mushrooms can make an attractive addition to your indoor gardening collection. One reason is that they have such cute features. They’re also low-maintenance and easy to care for.
If you’re interested in finding out more about growing mushrooms as indoor plants just like us, read on.
Can I Grow Mushrooms as Houseplants?
Yet, it’s important to remember that growing mushrooms isn’t like growing other types of plants. They’re made up of slender fibers that grow in the soil, sometimes even on top of it.
These fibers can appear as delicate and frail. However, they form such an intricate network that’s actually quite resilient and enduring.
Yet, they remain out-of-view for most of their life. They’re so good at hiding that you wouldn’t even know they were there until they begin to fruit mushrooms.
What Are Mushrooms?
The mushroom may seem to be a simple organism to our untrained eye. After all, it’s just a cute little plant, right? Wrong.
Mushrooms are quite different from plants. In fact, they belong to the Kingdom Fungi, which is separate from that of plants.
One difference is that mushrooms are cultivated from spores. They don’t need seeds to grow.
They also don’t rely on light to make their food. This is one reason why mushrooms can grow in dim, even dark, places.
Parts of a Mushroom
Mushrooms are made up of three main parts that work together in perfect harmony. Read on to learn about the complex network that makes up these fungi.
The main part of a mushroom is under the ground in the form of mycelium. These threadlike filaments can be hidden in the soil, on decaying logs, or any other food source.
Mycelium can be as small as a small insect, or large enough to cover several acres. Not only that, but they can grow quickly. The mycelia branches can add more than half a mile of additional fibers daily.
Hyphae are the tiny branches that make up the entire network of mycelium. Each hypha may be small in size, yet it has numerous jobs to do.
Hyphae work together to absorb nutrients from their surrounding environment and are able to carry them across great distances. They’re the main source of water and nutrients to the rest of the plant, mainly the thallus, or the fungus body.
The thallus is the visible part of the mushroom cap. It’s this top part that’s similar to the fruit of a tree. A fully-grown thallus can contain up to 16 billion spores.
Thalli can come in various sizes, shoes, and colors. They take about two weeks to fruit before they’ll start to decay.
How Mushrooms Make Their Food
The main difference between the two is in the way each type of organism obtains its food. Plants contain chlorophyll, which helps them make their own food through a process known as photosynthesis.
Fungi mushrooms, on the other hand, don’t contain any chlorophyll. They get their nutrients by breaking down nonliving organic matter.
These nutrients, along with important essential compounds, are stored in the mycelium. When the amount of nutrients is enough, mushroom fruit will start to appear.
Mushrooms need water to grow. In fact, a mushroom can go from being the size of an ant to being the size of a hefty mushroom in the course of a few hours.
They don’t do this through cell division, unlike plants and animals. They do this through a process called ‘cell enlargement.’
Fun fact: mushrooms have the same number of cells from the beginning of their life cycles all the way to the end.
How to Grow Mushrooms
Let’s get started.
To collect spores, you need to remove the cap, then cut away the stem. The underside of the mushroom cap is where the spores are hidden within the lamellas or gills.
If there are any veils, known as ‘cortinas,’ covering the gills, gently remove them. These coverings act as protective membranes. Their main function is to shield the spores and keep them in place.
Next, place the mushroom cap on a piece of paper with the gills facing down. Lay a glass over the cap for 24 hours.
When it’s time to remove the glass, you’ll notice that the spores have dropped onto the paper and made a print of the grill pattern. It’s called a ‘spore print.’
Now that you have your spore print, it’s time to cultivate your mushrooms. You’ll need a syringe, a glass, and distilled water. They should all be clean and well sterilized.
Use the tip of the syringe needle, gently scrape off the sprite print into a sterilized glass. Fill the syringe with the water. Then, empty half of the syringe water into the glass.
The next step is to draw the spore water from the glass back into the syringe. Get your growing medium ready. Empty the syringe into the growing medium.
Spores don’t need light to grow. Rather, they depend on nonliving organic material to thrive and develop. These materials form a layer called the substrate.
Here are some substrate ideas:
- Wood chips
- Coffee grounds
How to Tell if a Mushroom Is Poisonous
Mushrooms may seem innocent enough. Yet, in spite of their harmless demeanor, some can be quite poisonous.
Experts recommended that you don’t grow these indoors because of their profound impact on your health. Some of these include vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, and kidney failure.
One way to tell if a mushroom is poisonous is by smelling it. They usually give off a noxious, pungent smell that can be irritating.
Here are a few other signs to help you identify poisonous mushrooms.
- Mushrooms in the shape of umbrellas
- Scales, warts, raised patches, or spots on the mushroom cap
- White rings around the stem
- Bulbous sacs near the base of the mushroom
- Thin, white gills
- White spore prints
Here are a few questions and answers to help shed light on growing your own mushrooms.
Q: What are some popular mushroom choices to grow indoors?
A: There are more than 14,000 mushroom types. Out of these, there are several types that make great houseplants. A few examples include:
- White Button
Q: How much water do mushrooms need to grow?
A: Mushrooms are made up of 90% water. This makes them quite hungry for water.
You should water mushrooms at least twice a day. You should also mist the gills several times a day.
The way you apply water is just as important. Too much water at once can kill the mushrooms. Plus, it can lead to mold and bacterial growth, which isn’t healthy for the mushrooms.
Q: When’s the best time to harvest mushrooms?
A: You can grow mushrooms year-round. Yet, the best time to harvest them is when the first ‘flush’ appears.
A flush is a group of blooming mushroom caps. The appearance of these flushes signals the harvesting period for mushrooms.