People love morel mushrooms. They love their texture, flavor, and appearance, which makes morels one of the most sought-after mushrooms in the world.
But unfortunately, they are hard to find and expensive. Morels grow only in the Spring, and only in temperate hardwood forests. Because they are so scarce, mushroom growers around the world have tried to master the science of growing morels, for both their culinary pleasure and for profit.
Although techniques for growing morel mushrooms have improved over the years, morel mushrooms are still difficult to grow for a variety of reasons. They are especially finicky about temperature and humidity, as well as the material that they’re grown on.
But don’t worry, we will help you maximize your chances of successfully growing morel mushrooms.
Growing Morel Mushrooms Indoors
When planting vegetables, you must get the seeds or seedlings for the plant.
In the case of mushrooms, the “seeds” are called spores, and the “seedlings” are called spawn.
You must place the spawn in the proper “soil,” also known as substrate. Then you must provide the proper growing conditions – light, temperature, and humidity.
Morel Mushroom Grow Kits
This article will focus on growing morels from scratch. But you can also purchase a prepared morel mushroom grow kit.
A grow kit will make the process much easier, so you may want to try a grow kit first. Then, when you are successful, you can try your hand at growing morels from scratch.
Here are some morel grow kits that we recommend.
Morel Habitat — Morel Mushroom Grow Kit: We had good results with this kit and actually managed to harvest several pounds of delicious morels.
Here are two other options that we haven’t tried, but that are well-rated:
Mushroom Man — Morel Mushroom Grow Kit with Ash Sawdust
Morel Mushroom Grow Kit with Sawdust
How to Grow Morels from Scratch
if you like a challenge and want to start the morel growing process from scratch, you can try growing your own spawn from spores that you’ve collected from wild morels, or that you have bought from a store.
To collect your spores from morels, you will need a canning jar, a petri dish, some agar to put in the petri dish, and a knife or a sharp blade.
You will also need some mature morel mushrooms. Store-bought or foraged morels are both fine.
You will also need a bag of potting soil.
Finally, you will need some grain media, which is the growing medium, or “dirt,” in which you will grow your spores. For the grain media, you can use hemp seeds, annual ryegrass seeds, rapeseeds, or rice.
To prepare your grain media, you will need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Soak the grain for 24 hours, drain out the water, and then mix the grain with potting soil. Make sure you end up with 1 part potting soil, and 5 parts grain.
Step 2: Put the grain media into a canning jar, and then sterilize it by heating it in a pressure cooker at 15psi for 1 hour.
Step 3: Collect the spores of a morel mushroom by holding it upside down over a freshly prepared petri dish with agar and then gently tapping the mushroom. You should see tiny spores falling onto the agar.
Step 4: Cover and seal the petri dish. Then place it in a place where the temperature is from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 to 26 degrees Celsius. Some spores will start to grow their first mycelial strands in the dish.
Step 5: When the petri dish is covered in mycelia, which generally takes from 3 to 5 days, cut out a section approximately 1 inch by 1 inch with a knife or sharp blade, and then insert it into the sterilized grain media. Add in more agar to the remaining section of the petri dish so that the mycelia will continue to grow.
Step 6: Thoroughly shake and mix your canning jar with the grain media and the mycelia. In a few weeks, you will see more mycelium strands growing throughout the grain media. Open the jar in a draft-free room for oxygen. Like you, mushrooms require enough oxygen to stimulate their growth.
Once the jar has mycelium strands throughout the grain media, you can consider this your very own morel mushroom spawn!
Growing Your Morels
The next step is to grow your morels from your cultured or purchased spawn. To grow morels, you will need sand, potting soil, grain media, oven or autoclave bags, a tray with drainage holes, mushroom substrate, and organic matter.
We have found that the best combination of organic matter for growing morels is 10% rice hulls, 5% peat moss, 5% soybean meal, and 80% hardwood chips from either ash, elm, apple, or maple trees. You may also need a little bit of lime to increase the pH of the soil.
Step 1: Gather the ingredients for the mushroom substrate at the following ratio. 30% sand, 20% potting soil, and 50% organic matter from the previous step.
Step 2: Fill a tray with 2 inches of substrate, saturate it thoroughly with water, then allow it to drain completely.
Step 3: Place the substrate tray into an autoclave or oven bag, which has a filtered closure. Sterilize at 15 psi for 1 hour.
Step 4: When cool, open the autoclave bag and evenly mix half a cup of spawn with the substrate using a flame-sterilized spoon. Close the bag and place it in a cool dark place.
After 4 to 6 weeks, you should see sclerotia covering the surface of the substrate. Sclerotia is a hardened fungal mycelium that contains food reserves. It should be hard, dark, and shaped like seeds. This is known as a spawn run.
Step 5: Once you see the sclerotia covering the entire surface of the substrate, refrigerate for two weeks. The ideal fridge temperature is 30 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit or 3.3 to 4.4 degrees Celsius.
Step 6: Remove the substrate tray from the bag and place it in your grow room. Slowly pour distilled water of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 to 21 degrees Celsius at a rate of 1.5 to 2.5 ounces per hour per square foot of the substrate. Allow the substrate to drain for up to 24 hours. Remember to have enough sunlight in the room. The room should also be very humid, upwards of 90% in humidity. If you do not have a humidifier, spray water droplets on the substrate twice daily with a spray bottle.
Step 7. When you see small baby mushroom caps, also known as primordia, lower the moisture level to 60%, and raise the temperature to 70 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 to 22.7 degrees Celsius. 12 hours of grow lights should also be used. While the caps mature, the moisture should be at 50%, while the temperature should be 73 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 22.7 to 25 degrees Celsius.
After the mushrooms mature, you can collect your indoor-grown morel mushrooms by simply cutting them!
Read our post on five ways to cook morels to learn how to cook your produce.
And check out our guide to foraging for morels, if it’s Spring and you’re lucky enough to live near hardwood forests.
And visit our YouTube channel to check out our video on growing morels.
Wrapping It Up
As a new morel grower, you may find the details to be complex. But rest assured, there are plenty of growers who see success with their morels, even if it sometimes takes multiple tries. It’s important to go into the process knowing that the results are a bit like baking bread — partially out of your control. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time. Learn, and keep going!
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