Mushrooms, under the kingdom Fungi, are one unique and interesting plant because they do not have chlorophyll like most plants. It means they cannot produce their own food through photosynthesis. Instead, they obtain nutrients by breaking down organic matter. One important thing to note about mushrooms is that they contribute a crucial role in the ecosystem as decomposers and acts as symbiotic partners with plants.
That’s why we encourage growing this fungus because of its various benefits. However, because of the mushroom’s uniqueness, you must first understand how mushrooms grow. Understanding their growth and development can help you improve your cultivation methods and utilize their benefits.
Stick with us as we provide an overview of the growth and development of mushrooms, including their life cycle, environmental requirements, and cultivation techniques.
How Mushrooms Grow? Understanding Their Lifecycle
Like any other plant, mushrooms also have a lifecycle, and learning how to grow mushrooms also means knowing their lifecycle.
Stage 1. Spore Germination
Mushrooms’ lifecycle begins with what we call spore germination. Spores are the reproductive structures of these fungi and typically come from the gills or pores of a mature mushroom. When the spores land on a suitable substrate like decaying wood or soil, that’s the time when they begin to germinate.
Stage 2. Mycelium Growth.
The next phase is mycelium growth. This is where the spores start to germinate into thread-like structures called hyphae. Then eventually, they will join together to form a mycelium. But what’s mycelium?
The mycelium is the vegetative portion of the mushroom. It is responsible for extracting nutrients from the substrate.
Stage 3. Fruiting Body Formation
When mushrooms have the right environmental conditions, you can expect that the mycelium will produce a fruiting body. This is the reproductive structure of the mushroom, and this part is what most of us see as a mushroom. Likewise, it is also part of the fungus that creates spores.
Stage 4. Spore Release
The fruiting body will soon mature, and once it reaches maturity, it will start to give off spores into the environment. And that’s where the lifecycle begins again, from spore germination back to mycelium growth and fruiting body formation.
Notes that there are different ways spores can be dispersed. It can be through wind, water, or other means, and if they land on the right substrate, they will germinate and start the process again.
Note: Note that the lifecycle we’ve discussed doesn’t apply to all species of mushrooms. Different species means different lifecycle, and there is a unique mushroom with a varying lifecycle.
What are the factors that affect how mushrooms grow?
Since we’re learning how mushrooms grow, it’s worth noting that there are factors crucial to the growth of this fungus. It includes the following.
Temperature is a factor that is worth considering when growing almost all plants. But when learning how to grow mushrooms, the temperature is crucial.
There are varying species of mushrooms, each requiring different temperature requirements for optimal growth.
For example, button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) grow best at temperatures between 20-25°C
Meanwhile, shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) prefer slightly cooler temperatures, around 15-20°C.
The next factor related to temperature is humidity. Like temperature, you need the right humidity for your mushroom to grow, and mushrooms are sensitive when it comes to this factor.
You must note that most species require high humidity levels to thrive, typically between 80-95%. This humidity level helps prevent the mycelium from drying out and promotes the growth of the fruiting body.
In terms of lighting, some mushrooms require light to initiate fruiting, but most do not require direct exposure to light for growth.
In fact, some species, such as oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), prefer low-light conditions. However, light can affect the timing and shape of the fruiting body.
The nutrients that mushrooms need to grow and develop highly depend on the substrate they land on. Most mushrooms require a substrate that is rich in carbohydrates, nitrogen, and minerals. You can use common substrates for mushroom cultivation, like straw, sawdust, and composted manure.
- pH levels
Lastly, the pH levels of the substrate are also a must to consider. Most species prefer a slightly acidic substrate with a pH between 6.0-7.5. However, some species, such as oyster mushrooms, can tolerate a wider pH range.
Monitor all these factors carefully when cultivating mushrooms to ensure optimal growth and yield. Deviations from the optimal ranges can lead to poor growth and yield and susceptibility to disease and contamination.
How mushrooms grow through different ways of cultivation?
In this section, we’ll discuss three proven ways of cultivating mushrooms. These are
- Outdoor cultivation
- Indoor cultivation
- Commercial cultivation
This is the technique of growing mushrooms using a natural or semi-natural environment, such as forests or gardens. Outdoor cultivation is usually utilized for mushroom species naturally found in these environments, such as morel (Morchella spp.) and chanterelle (Cantharellus spp.) mushrooms.
If you want less equipment and input than indoor cultivation, outdoor cultivation is for you. However, this method is more susceptible to environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and pests.
The second technique here includes growing mushrooms in controlled environments like greenhouses, grow rooms, or even home setups.
Indoor cultivation is typically used for those varieties that do not naturally occur in the local environment or for species that require specific environmental conditions. This method can produce consistent yields and quality but requires more equipment and maintenance than outdoor cultivation.
The mushrooms you’ve seen in stores belong to commercial cultivation. It’s ideal for large-scale production of mushrooms for sale, usually for food or medicinal purposes.
This method can be done using outdoor or indoor methods, depending on the species, market demand, and other factors. Additionally, it requires specialized equipment and expertise. It often involves the use of high-tech automation and monitoring systems to maximize yield and quality.
Grow mushrooms today!
Learning how mushrooms grow is just like learning how to grow any plant, but more carefully. This is because mushrooms need to meet very specific growing conditions, such as the right temperature, humidity, lighting, nutrients, and pH levels, to grow and develop.
Likewise, there are different ways to cultivate mushrooms, and choosing one will also determine how you can adjust the growing conditions for your plant to thrive. But once you’ve given the right condition for your mushroom, you can expect to be there in the process.
You’ll soon witness the process of spore germination, mycelium growth, fruiting body formation, and spore release of your mushrooms.
Growing mushrooms at home can be an entertaining and rewarding activity. It demands attention to detail, patience, and a willingness to experiment and learn. With the right materials and knowledge, you can try to grow your own mushrooms, whether for food or medicinal purposes. It’s a nice way to connect with nature and explore the fascinating world of mycology.