Reishi mushrooms are a great choice if you’re looking to grow mushrooms at home. They are among the more popular medicinal mushrooms, touted for their ability to fight fatigue and perform a variety of medicinal benefits. While you can buy them online, those with a green thumb may wish to try their hand at cultivating reishi at home.
Doing so makes it incredibly easy to benefit from their medicinal compounds at home, creating an ample supply of dried specimens that you can use however you want. If you can’t forage reishi in your local area, growing it is a fantastic alternative.
Growing reishi mushrooms is not too difficult if you know how to do it. This article tells you everything you need to know to grow your own reishi mushrooms, no matter your experience level.
Stages of Growing Reishi
There are six primary stages to reishi growing: that’s right, it’s a quick process. The exact stages can vary depending on where you grow them and what supplies you use (more on that later), but the basics are similar.
Here are all the steps for reishi mushroom growing:
Collect your supplies: You will need reishi spawn no matter what growing medium you use. Then, you’ll need other supplies depending on your growing method of choice.
Prepare the growing medium: You’ll need to create a fruiting block using the spawn when growing reishi indoors. Otherwise, place the log in a protected, shady area that receives natural rainfall.
Inoculation: This refers to the process of implanting the growing medium with the spawn. Whether it’s an indoor set-up or a log outside, this step is where things really begin.
Incubation: This step can look different depending on how you grow reishi. Outside, “incubation” is not necessary; you can just let them be. Inside, you need to keep your reishi in a dark, damp environment.
Fruiting: Eventually, the reishi will fruit and produce mushrooms. This is the point where the grower decides whether they want to grow ‘‘antlers’’ or ‘‘conks.’’
Harvesting: It’s time to reap the fruits of your labor by harvesting the mushrooms!
Those are the fundamental steps. Keep reading to learn the specifics of growing reishi.
Specifics of Growing Reishi Mushrooms
Although growing reishi mushrooms is a straightforward process, some of the terminologies can be confusing if you have never attempted mushroom cultivation. In fact, you might have already been dumbfounded by some of the stages above.
Unlike some other mushrooms, reishi can grow in multiple forms—initially, the mushroom sprouts as reishi antlers, long stalks that grow out from the growing medium. The stalk is red-brown, while the tip grows white.
As it matures, reishi flattens into a fan-like shape with which most people are more familiar. This shape is called the conk. Young reishi is shiny and looks lacquered, but more mature mushrooms become duller. Beneath the fan’s cap, some pores release brown spores.
Growers can cultivate reishi both indoors and outdoors using a variety of growing mediums.
Those seeking to grow fresh reishi for use at home can choose whether they want to harvest at the antler stage or the conk stage. The conk offers a higher yield, which is something to bear in mind.
Growers can cultivate reishi both indoors and outdoors using a variety of growing mediums. Outdoors, fallen logs are preferable as they mimic the mushroom’s natural environment. Indoors, you can choose between hardwood sawdust or pellets.
Reishi is pickier than some other mushroom species. It can’t grow on coffee grounds or cardboard and much prefers hardwood mediums – oak is the best if you can find it. Some growers even add oat or wheat bran to the growing medium to help the reishi mycelium (the living part of the fungus beneath the surface) to flourish.
Where Do Reishi Mushrooms Grow?
In the wild, reishi grows on hardwood trees, most often stumps or fallen logs, though they can sometimes be found on living trees. This explains the practice of growing reishi mushrooms on logs.
They are found on trees throughout the Northern hemisphere in China and Europe. Some introduced populations thrive in Utah and California.
In these regions, some mushroom lovers choose to forage wild mushrooms. However, this can be risky for those who don’t know what they are doing. To play it safe, others grow reishi at home.
Home cultivation is also ideal for those living in regions where reishi can’t be found.
How to Grow Reishi Mushrooms at Home Outdoors
Outdoors, budding mushroom growers can cultivate reishi on logs or using bags of sawdust substrate. The latter is quicker than log cultivation, and it can be a little more fun. Both are great options if you want to grow reishi mushrooms at home in your yard, so here’s how to perform each technique.
Growing Reishi Outdoors on Logs
Log growing is one of the easiest methods. The mushrooms will continue to fruit on the logs for several years until the nutrients expire. Using plug spawn is a little easier for this technique, but sawdust spawn also works.
Begin by preparing your logs. If cut from a living tree, leave the log dormant for a minimum of two weeks before starting, so the tree’s defense system dies back. Place the logs in an area of natural rainfall.
Then, you can start growing.
Drill-and-Fill: Drill holes in the log to a 1” depth with a diamond pattern. Plug spawn requires an 8.5mm drill bit, while sawdust spawn prefers 12.5mm.
Inoculate: For plug spawn, gently tap one plug into one hole using a hammer so it is flush with the log’s surface. For sawdust spawn, break it apart and inject it into each hole with an inoculation tool. Wax the holes to prevent the spawn from drying out, ensuring that the holes are sealed. You can use hot wax for fast application over sawdust spawn or use plug wax for plug spawn.
Incubate: Place the log in a shaded area with natural rainfall, as maintaining moisture is critical. The spawn needs about 1 inch of rain per week. Depending on weather conditions, it can take 12 months for the reishi to colonize the log.
Fruiting: In the summer the year after inoculating, the fruiting body will begin to emerge in the form of antlers, eventually flattening into conks.
Harvesting: Feel free to harvest the reishi at any stage, but waiting patiently will lead to higher yields. Simply cut the reishi at the base of the stem with a sharp knife or garden scissors.
Growing Reishi Outdoors on Sawdust Substrate
The difference with sawdust substrate is that you first need to create a colonized fruiting block (see instructions below) and then bury it in the ground.
Make a fruiting block: Follow the instructions in the section below.
Plant the block: Plant the fruiting block in the soil or in a planting box. Cover the top of the block with a thin layer of soil that’s enough to retain moisture. Then, soak the ground with a hose.
Fruiting: One week after planting, new reishi growth could start appearing. At this point, begin misting the reishi daily with a spray bottle because moisture is essential.
Harvesting: It’s time to harvest reishi when the conks appear above ground and are flattened out. It’s best to harvest just before they drop their spores.
How to Grow Reishi Mushrooms Indoors
Growing reishi mushroom indoors is relatively easy, especially if you purchase a mushroom kit online. Those seeking a challenge might wish to grow their own grain spawn from scratch, but this is more difficult and usually requires some experience.
This is how to grow reishi mushrooms indoors.
Gather materials: You will need reishi spawn (you can buy grain spawn online), hardwood pellets, oat or wheat bran, and large grow bags. Of course, you’ll also need space for your mushroom grow, preferably somewhere dark.
Prepare the fruiting block: Combine five cups of hardwood pellets with six cups of warm water in a bucket. Soak for thirty minutes until the pellets break up into sawdust. Then, mix through the bran until evenly distributed. The mixture should be wet enough to stick together when squeezed. Transfer this mixture to the grow bag, removing as much air as possible, and fold the bag. Place the bag in a pressure cooker for 2.5 hours at 15PSI. Allow the bag to cool overnight.
Inoculation: Wash your hands well to avoid contamination. Add the grain spawn at a 5% spawn rate to the wet substrate, mixing together. Load this into the grow bag, sealing the top with an elastic band.
Incubate: Place the bag in a warm, dark area at room temperature and leave it to incubate until the bag is completely colonized. This usually takes about 10-14 days; it’s faster at warmer temperatures.
If you want to grow antlers, ensure they are in a high CO2 environment. For conks, CO2 is not so important.
Fruiting: You now need to provide the right fruiting conditions for your reishi. It grows best at room temperature (roughly 75-85˚F) and high humidity levels of 85-90%. If you want to grow antlers, ensure they are in a high CO2 environment. For conks, the CO2 environment is not so important.
a. Growing antler reishi: Place the colonized grow bag in indirect light with a lower temperature of 65-75˚F. Keep the bag sealed to maintain CO2 levels.
b. Growing reishi conks: First, allow antlers to form inside the closed grow bag. When they reach 2-3 inches, cut open the top of the bag and place it within the fruiting conditions mentioned above. It can take up to 45 days for full conks to form.
Harvesting: Be patient and wait for your conks to reach the desired size. Then, harvest them by cutting them away from the bag with a sharp knife or scissors.
Reishi Growing FAQ
Is Reishi Easy to Grow?
Yes. Reishi is a relatively easy mushroom to grow. It can be easier to grow some other species like oyster mushrooms, but once you have the right materials, cultivating reishi can be a straightforward and rewarding experience.
How Long Does It Take for Reishi to Grow?
The time period depends on the growing technique. Outdoors, it can take reishi up to a year to be ready for harvest, whereas indoors, it can flourish within a couple of months.
How to Grow Reishi Mushrooms from Spores
Growing reishi from spores is more complicated, so it’s advised to purchase a mushroom kit online to try your hand at cultivating. When growing reishi outdoors on a log, new mushrooms will keep growing for years to come without you having to intervene.
How Big Do Reishi Mushrooms Grow?
Cultivated reishi can vary wildly in size. They are typically 4-6 inches wide and 0.5-1 inch thick. However, some lucky growers have cultivated enormous specimens, with one fresh specimen weighing over 50 lbs.
Final Thoughts: How to Grow Reishi Mushrooms
Growing reishi mushrooms can be a pretty straightforward process. After you’ve done it once, it suddenly becomes very simple and easy to do.
Following harvest, you can enjoy all the potential medicinal properties that reishi has to offer by brewing the dried mushrooms into tea or grinding them down into a powder. Remember, to store them long-term, you have to dry them out first.
The drying step is also advised since reishi does not have an appealing taste when consumed fresh. That’s not to say people don’t do it!
Hopefully, this cultivation guide has helped you understand how to grow reishi mushrooms. Have you ever tried it? Let us know how your reishi turned out in the comments below.