When I first started growing mushrooms at home I always assumed that I could just grab any old strain and it would flourish indoors on a substrate block with a few sprays of water a day. Then after a few grows and many failures, I started to realise things were not quite that simple and that some mushrooms are easier to grow than others. So, I've decided to compile a list of the 5 easiest mushrooms to grow inside.
Although all kinds of mushrooms grow in the wild, not all of them can thrive in an indoor growing environment, there are a few factors that a beginner may overlook when purchasing strains to grow. For example, the higher CO2 content indoors can not be tolerated by all strains of mushrooms and will cause misshapen or smaller fruits than expected.
I’ve done some research on the subject and created my choices for the 5 easiest mushroom to grow indoors for beginners.
The easiest mushrooms to grow indoors are:
- Lions' mane.
- King Oyster.
- Elm Oyster.
- Yellow Oyster.
This can be put down to a number of different factors which I am going to discuss in further detail throughout this article.
Lions Mane Mushroom
Lions Mane mushroom is one of the more eye-catching strains available. The mushroom grows to resemble a large snowball and has a white appearance although it will brown over time. The actual mushroom is large and can grow to weigh over a pound depending on the size of the substrate block it is grown on.
Lion's Mane is a fairly easy mushroom to grow, it can tolerate high levels of CO2, colonizes fast and will produce fruits in non ideal conditions. Like many mushrooms, it grows best on hardwood sawdust that has been supplemented with wheat bran. To create the greatest yields it is recommended to grow on master's mix as more than a few pounds of the mushroom can be harvested from just a five pound fruiting block.
When growing Lions Mane, the mushrooms can be harvested by cutting off each “pom pom” with a sharp knife. The mushroom's spines are fairly delicate and should be handled with caution to avoid bruising or damage. Store the mushroom in the fridge until ready for use. With delicate handling, the mushroom will last a fairly long time in a cool environment.
This is a popular mushroom to grow due to its nutrition and health benefits. When cooked, the mushroom has a mild taste although the texture is not comparable to other cooked mushrooms. It's texture most closely resembles meat and won't become chewy or rubbery. It can be enjoyed as a side dish as well although it's a common substitute for seafood or white meats.
In addition to its popularity for cooking, the health benefits of lion's mane are highly sought after. It's primary medicinal effect is due to it containing erinacines, a compound that positively effects nerve growth factor. It can be used in a variety of ways and is often used in folk and non-western medicine for these properties.
We have a full tutorial on how to grow Lions Mane in jars at home here.
The Reishi mushroom is another easy choice for home growing. It's best known for its medicinal properties but also one of the most easiest mushrooms to grow. The unique and beautiful appearance of the reishi sets it apart and it can flourish in a home environment. Depending on the amount of fresh air received, the mushroom will grow in either a conk or antler form but this won't affect the size or quality of the mushroom.
The antler formation is more common when grown with a higher CO2 concentration so this is most common for home growers. As the name suggests, the antler formation has a more spiked appearance similar to antlers on a deer. Regardless of the formation, the mushroom comes in a variety of colours with red and orange being common.
Again, the Reishi mushroom is fast colonizing which makes it hardy against contamination and the mycelium can fruit in high CO2 environments without affecting yield. Alongside this, it can be grown on a range of different substrates but will thrive the most on supplemented hardwood sawdust blocks. For indoor cultivation, grow bags and even monotubs can be used to produce Reishi mushrooms, which is a big bonus.
Unfortunately, the mushroom is not good for eating as the taste is woody and bitter. Instead, the Reishi mushroom is commonly made into teas and tinctures for medicinal purposes. Commonly used to enhance immune system function, relieve anxiety and promote sleep.
In the wild, Reishi mushrooms grow on hardwood trees and stumps so they can be grown on supplemented hardwood sawdust. Harvesting the mushrooms can be challenging as it is one of the toughest mushrooms grown, (people have even been known to make furniture from this strain) and a sharp or serrated knife is usually needed to harvest the plant.
Overall, the Reishi mushroom is easy to grow and can be dried for long-term use or stored in a fridge for more immediate use.
But not all of them! There are 3 subspecies of Oyster mushrooms which will tolerate your indoor home environment leading to rewarding grows.
Oyster mushrooms as a whole are one of the easiest mushrooms to grow. They can thrive on a variety of substrates including sawdust, coffee grounds, cardboard, and many others. Due to their primary decomposing nature, oyster mushrooms can feed on almost any substance. Oyster mushrooms also grow rapidly with most strains producing mushrooms within two weeks of spawning to bulk substrate this is a major advantage when growing mushrooms at home as the environment will not be very sterile; the faster colonization times can help prevent contamination's which are present at home killing your fruiting blocks.
While there are several types of Oyster mushrooms available, the ones that are tolerant of high CO2 levels are best for indoor growing. There are three different types of oyster mushrooms that work best with indoor growing.
King Oyster Mushroom
For growers who want to get a high yield and enjoy using their mushrooms in recipes, the King Oyster is a great strain to consider. Although most Oyster strains grow in clusters, the King Oyster is a distinct type. They tend to grow singly and somewhat resemble a button mushroom in appearance. King Oysters are typically grown in high CO2 environments with low light. This changes their appearance into fat stems with tiny caps. This growth is purposeful as the stems contain the most flavor of the mushroom.
Luckily for people wanting to grow King Oyster mushrooms at home it will be easy to duplicate these conditions without much effort, and, as a result the mushrooms will grow to a suitable standard and should not leave the cultivator disappointed.
What sets the King Oyster apart is that they have a thick meaty texture and also a long shelf life. They can last up to two weeks in a fridge. This is why they're a popular choice for growers who want to sell or save their mushrooms. The King Oysters can grow on straw but the quality and yield is improved by growing them on sawdust.
Yellow Oyster Mushroom
The Yellow Oyster mushroom is a great mushroom for home growing. As its name suggests, this Oyster mushroom has a delicate yellow color and produces thin capped mushrooms that smell like a citrus fruit. The Yellow Oyster is fast-growing and very tolerant of high CO2 levels. Again, this means it will colonize well in a non sterile environment. Alongside this, Yellow Oyster mushrooms enjoy warm climates so should be able to thrive in indoor temperatures.
This mushroom has a very short shelf life, lasting only a few days in a refrigerated environment. This means Yellow Oyster mushrooms are a rarity in stores and may be a good choice for home growers to try out.
While this variety of mushroom may not be ideal for anyone who wants a longer-lasting fruit, this variety is an easy one to start growing.
Elm Oyster Mushroom
The Elm Oyster is actually not in the Oyster mushroom family although it's frequently considered to be in the same family. The Elm Oyster mushroom is closely related and most people refer to it as an Oyster strain so I will as well 🙂 . This strain of mushrooms has some unique advantages that make it a great choice for home growing. The mushroom is white-beige and will form large caps. It tends to grow best on hardwood sawdust or a masters mix. As a fast colonizer, it's an easy strain to try when just starting to grow mushrooms.
The Elm Oyster mushroom is well adapted to high CO2 levels and unlike some other varieties of mushrooms that require significant fresh air, the Elm has a lower demand for FAE. This strain also comes with a lower spore load than other mushroom strains.
This makes it a great candidate for indoor growing at home and makes it easier to manage the growing area with less clean-up.
The only disadvantage of the Elm Oyster is that it has a short shelf life. Growers who want to enjoy their mushrooms should plan to use them within a few days. Overall, this mushroom is a forgiving variety that is easy to grow indoors which makes it a great choice for a new mushroom grower.
All five of these strains have similar qualities which make them easy to grow at home.
However my recommendation for the absolute beginner is the Lion Mane mushroom, it has good medicinal properties, can be cooked and eaten as a food and is very easy to grow with. The only thing to be aware of with Lions’ Mane mycelium is it is very thin and wispy, so don't mistake it for cobweb mold and throw out your substrate thinking its contaminated.
I have written a full cultivation guide using only jars which you can find here.