Magic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for their unique psychedelic properties. They have recently gained more popularity for their potential therapeutic effects. With over 200 known species, magic mushrooms offer many different experiences to those interested in their cultivation.
This article provides a comprehensive guide on the materials you need, how to obtain magic mushroom spores, and how to grow them.
Note: Cover image of Psilocybe cubensis is from Wiki user Wowbobwow12 in Wikipedia.
Psilocybin mushrooms are being decriminalized in a growing number of jurisdictions as their therapeutic effects become more apparent. But in many countries and states, it is still illegal to possess mushrooms that contain psilocybin, and penalties for possession are severe. Make sure you know your region’s laws before growing magic mushrooms. What’s legal in one country or even municipality could result in imprisonment just a few miles away. This blog article does not advocate breaking local laws and is for informational purposes only.
If you still have questions, be sure to check with a legal professional for advice that is relevant to where you live.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Magic Mushrooms
Here is a rough timetable:
- Within a week of injection, spores will begin to create mycelium.
- After the mycelium starts to form, it will take two to four weeks to colonize the cake (substrate) fully.
- Fruiting will begin in around four weeks, though you may see some pins (baby mushrooms) earlier.
- The mushrooms will be fully grown and ready for harvest in about 2-4 weeks.
So the entire process, from spore inoculation to the end of fruiting, takes about 6-8 weeks. This timeline can change substantially though, based on temperature and mushroom type.
Growing Your Magic Mushrooms – Where to Start
If you do some research, it may seem like there are an overwhelming number of ways to cultivate mushrooms: every grower will have an opinion on the best method, and that opinion will likely be quite strong.
If you’re just getting started, we outline below a simple, straightforward approach. Just start and, after you’ve grown your first crop, you can experiment and try other methods to perfect your style.
Deciding Which Mushroom to Grow
There are hundreds of species of magic mushrooms, but only a few that are commonly grown in the US. Each species provides a slightly different trip; some are more potent than others. Please see our article Unlocking the Mysteries: Magic Mushroom Effects for the Curious Mind for an overview of the commonly available mushroom types and their effects.
Psilocybe cubensis is a good place to start. Psilocybe cubensis is one of the most well-known and widely cultivated species of magic mushrooms. They are popular among beginners due to their relatively low potency and the insightful, introspective experiences they provide. They are also easy to grow.
Different strains of cubensis are available. Some popular ones are Golden Teachers, B+, Amazonian, and the aptly named Penis Envy strain.
Obtaining Your Mushroom Spores
It all starts with mushroom spores. Spores are to mushrooms, what seeds are to plants. So once you’ve decided which mushrooms to grow, you must get the spores for them.
Once you have decided on the type of mushroom you want to grow, there are two ways to obtain your spores.
Create a Spore Print
If you have a fresh mushroom or can get one from a friend, you can put a piece of paper under it for a day and let the spores fall from under the mushroom’s cap onto the paper. See our detailed guide, The Ultimate Guide to Creating Spore Prints for Mushroom Cultivation, for more information about this process. Once you have your spore print, you can place it into a ziplock bag and store it in a dry place until you are ready to “plant” the spores.
Purchase a Spore Syringe
Creating a spore print is a somewhat complex process. To save time, consider purchasing a pre-made spore syringe.
In the US, psilocybin possession is prohibited in most places. However, the mushroom spores from which magic mushrooms grow initially do not contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is only produced once the mushroom starts growing.
As a result, it’s unclear if it’s legal to export and possess spores that will grow into psychoactive mushrooms. It is what we would call a legal “gray area.”
As of this writing, California, Idaho, and Georgia currently have laws in place that restrict the sale of magic mushroom spores, even though they do not contain psilocybin. However, spore merchants will commonly ship to the other 47 out of the 50 US states. Suppliers frequently restrict the sale of spores to educational uses and refrain from selling cultures to consumers under the age of 18.
As stated above, make sure to review the relevant legislation in your state before purchasing magic mushroom spores.
Where to Purchase a Magic Mushroom Spore Syringe
We do not have any recommended mushroom sources, but if you google “magic mushroom spores” some options will come up. Also, mycotopia.net is a good source of information about magic mushrooms and how to grow them. You will find many mushroom experts there, including some selling mushroom supplies, including magic mushroom spore syringes.
Check for sellers who have been in business for a while and have professional-looking websites and decent customer support. If you have any questions or worries, don’t hesitate to contact a specific vendor via email or phone.
Expect to pay between $15 and $30 for your mushroom spores, plus shipping costs. Vendors typically send your spores domestically via USPS or carriers like UPS inside unmarked cardboard boxes.
Once you have received your spore syringe, put it in a ziplock bag (if it isn’t already in one) and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Again, when placing an order, check your local legislation to ensure that everything you do is legal in your location.
Growing Your Mushrooms: What Will You Need?
Below are the supplies you should have on hand as you grow your mushrooms. We have divided the process into two phases.
Supplies for Phase One — The Injection / Germination Stage
- 10 sterilized inoculation jars. Wide-mouth mason jars are perfect for growing mushrooms. If at all possible, buy ones that already contain sterilized growing substrate. In nature, cubensis grows in cow manure, but indoor growers have had good results with brown rice flour or rye flour.
As mentioned above, the substrate is to spores what dirt is to seeds. It’s your growing medium. If you can’t find inoculation jars with a suitable substrate, you can sterilize your own substrate.
But sterilizing substrate can be difficult, especially for first-time growers. Please see this article on grocycle for more details on sterilizing your substrate.
- Paper towels
- A face mask
- Rubbing alcohol
- Your mushroom spore syringe (see above)
- Hypodermic needles that fit your syringe. (if your syringe didn’t come with them.)
- A lighter
- A candle
- A can of disinfectant spray (like Lysol)
Supplies for Phase Two — (The Fruiting of the Cake Stage)
- A spray bottle
- A container for soaking the mycelium cakes. All the cakes will need to fit in the container, covered with at least an inch of water, and the container will need to fit in your refrigerator for 24 hours.
- A growing chamber with a lid. The easiest solution is to buy a clear plastic tub with a lid. Drill several ½-inch holes into each side of your plastic growing chamber to circulate air.
- A spot that receives plenty of indirect sunlight
- Temperature and humidity gauge
- Vermiculite (Some growers suggest Perlite. There is a difference between the two.)
- 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
Remember that sterilization is the name of the game when it comes to growing mushrooms. Because spores need moisture, bacteria and mold will be your biggest enemies during the growing process. So you will want to be careful not to introduce mold into the process.
So there are four crucial factors to growing mushrooms, and they are:
- Hygiene (Sterilization)
You’ll learn about each of these as we go through the steps. So, here goes:
Phase One — The Injection / Germination Stage
Phase one of the growing process is where you’ll create what’s known as a birthing cake. A birthing cake is when mycelium (or the roots from your mushroom spores) has fully colonized your jar and wound through the substrate. The birthing cake will hold together like a cake and begin to grow fruit (the mushrooms you are familiar with) when you turn it out of the mason jar.
Step 1 — Sterilize
The biggest threat to your mushroom growing process will be harmful bacteria and mold, which can easily contaminate your inoculation jars. So this step is very important.
Choose a small room in your home, such as a bathroom or a spacious closet, to serve as your prep space.
Gather all of the items on phase one of your list. Put on your face mask and enter your prep space. Close the door behind you.
Spray down the room with disinfectant. Then, put your gloves on and, using paper towels and rubbing alcohol, clean the inoculation jars. Pay close attention to the top area and the lid of each jar.
Step 2 — Inoculate the Substrate
Locate your syringe with the mushroom spores.
Light the candle and hold the metal portion of your hypodermic needle in the flame until it glows red. Typically hypodermic needles come pre-sterilized, so this is just a precaution.
After sterilizing the needle, continue to hold the syringe in the air until the needle cools down.
If your mushroom syringe does not have any liquid in it, then add 4 milliliters of sterilized water to your syringe. Shake your syringe to distribute the spores evenly.
Insert the needle into the jar and inject 1 milliliter of the mushroom spore liquid into the substrate that is in the inoculation jar.
Innoculate the remaining jars, sterilizing the needle in the candle flame between each jar.
Remember, these instructions assume you have purchased jars that already contain sterilized substrate.
Step Three — Wait
After injection, place your jars in a cardboard box, close the lid, and put the box in a dark place where the temperature is between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the jars in the dark, undisturbed, for five days.
After five days, a fuzzy, white substance called mycelium should start forming in the jars. Mycelium is similar to the roots of a plant. It will eventually sprout your mushrooms
Let the mycelium continue to grow for at least 15 days until the jars are filled with mycelium. This usually happens within 15 days but can take up to a month. Then, wait one more week then proceed to phase two.
Phase Two – (The Fruiting of the Cake Stage)
In this phase, you remove the birthing cakes from their jars and let them fruit (aka let the mushrooms grow).
Step One — Birth and Soak the Mycelium Cakes
Wash your hands — thoroughly.
Clean the container that will go into the fridge with a mixture of water and bleach to sterilize it. Then rinse the container thoroughly with boiled water so no more bleach remains. Clean the lid too.
Remove the lids of your jars but save them as you need them later.
Knock one of the jars against the counter to loosen and release the mycelium cake. It may take some knocking and shaking to get the cake out of the jar but try not to touch it with anything. Your cake should be pretty thick with mycelium, so it won’t fall apart.
Place the cake into the container and repeat with the other jars.
Fill the container with sterilized water and seal it up. Boiled water is fine, but make sure it has cooled before adding it to the container. The cakes will float on top of the water. Ensure there is at least an inch of surplus water, as the cakes will soak the water up.
Put the container with the cakes in your refrigerator and leave it for 12 to 24 hours so that the cakes absorb much water as possible.
Step Two— Prepare the chamber
Sterilize your growing chamber (the plastic tub with the holes in it) with water and bleach. Rinse the tub thoroughly with plain boiling water.
Fill your spray bottle with 10 parts boiled water to one part hydrogen peroxide or H202.
Sterilize your vermiculite or Pearlite by soaking it in a solution of 90% water and 10% hydrogen peroxide. Then spread a layer of the sterilized vermiculite or Pearlite on the bottom of your growing chamber.
The vermiculite will help the growing chamber maintain a sufficient amount of humidity. You will need to mist it periodically with sterilized water.
Place the mason jar lids on the vermiculite, and then place a cake on each lid.
Spray each cake with the sterilized water in the spray bottle, but use enough to just dampen the cakes. You don’t want excess water sitting on or around the cake.
Leave at least an inch between each cake so there’s plenty of room for mushrooms to sprout without crowding each other. The more room between each cake, the better.
Put the lid on the growing chamber and place it where it will receive indirect sunlight. The room where you place it should be well-ventilated.
Ideally, the room temperature should be in the low to mid 70’s.
Mist the mushroom cakes twice daily with the water and hydrogen peroxide mixture. If the humidity in the room is low, you may need to spray the cakes 3 or 4 times.
You will notice little mushrooms (pins) forming after a few days, but it will take about a month or so for them to grow to full size.
Check to see if there are any strange smells. The mushroom cakes should smell a bit like fresh mushrooms from the store. A foul odor means that your cakes may have been contaminated. If this happens, you must throw them away and start the process over again from the beginning. Be carefull about sanitation so that this doesn’t happen.
When the mushrooms are ready to be harvested, snap them off the birthing cake at the base of their stems and place them in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
Wash your hands well before harvesting so that the cakes aren’t contaminated with mold or bacteria. If you stick it back into the growing chamber and keep it moist, it may grow another flush or batch of mushrooms.
How Many Mushrooms Will I Harvest?
Ten cakes can give you several pounds of fresh mushrooms. The shrooms will be lighter once dried, but a pound or two of dried mushrooms isn’t out of the question.
Remember to save some spores for your next round. The spores will remain usable for up to one year.
How Do I Store My Mushrooms?
Freshly harvested mushrooms will be good in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.
After that, dry them and place them in an airtight container. See our article How to Dry Mushrooms, a Complete Guide for more details.
How Many Mushrooms Should I Eat
See our article called Unlocking the Mysteries: Magic Mushroom Effects for the Curious Mind to help you decide how many mushrooms to eat.