When it comes to gardening either in a traditional soil-based or even a hydroponic set-up, it’s safe to say that mushrooms aren’t usually the first crops that people consider growing.
However, mushrooms, despite the fact that they do not have roots, can easily be grown in a standard hydroponic set-up.
There are plenty of benefits to growing mushrooms, too - and just about any kind of mushroom can thrive in a hydroponic environment.
If you’re wondering how to grow hydroponic mushrooms, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll teach you everything you need to know in this helpful guide.
Can You Grow Mushrooms Hydroponically?
Can you grow mushrooms hydroponically? Absolutely. Although mushrooms don’t form roots, like most plants, they can still be grown in this kind of set-up.
Growing mushrooms in a soilless setup will enable you to significantly increase your yields. Plus, you'll enjoy improved flavor profile of your shrooms.
Although most plants need photosynthesis to produce sugars for food, mushrooms do not, feeding instead on organic debris and thriving in low-light environments.
Why Should You Grow Hydroponic Mushrooms?
There are plenty of reasons to consider growing hydroponic mushrooms. One of the biggest and most notable is the fact that mushrooms are fungi, meaning they don’t need lots of light to grow.
In fact, they don’t need any light at all. Unlike plants that use photosynthesis to produce their sugars and form fruits, mushrooms contain no chlorophyll and therefore require no light.
Not only does this mean you can put your hydroponic set-up anywhere you’d like, but you can also get by without having to set up expensive grow lights.
What Type Of Mushrooms Can You Grow In Hydroponics?
Upon learning you can grow mushrooms hydroponically, your next question is likely, what type of mushrooms can you grow in hydroponics?
Some of the most popular ones to grow this way are the same ones you might favor in a traditional growing environment, like oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane, button, enokitake, maitake, nameko, and cinnamon cap.
The most important part of getting started growing your own mushrooms hydroponically is choosing the right setup. Let's cover that now.
What Type Of System Is Best For Growing Hydroponic Mushrooms?
There are so many types of hydro setups on the market, it can get overwhelming. A good starting point is our review of the best hydroponic systems, but which setup is best for mushrooms in particular?
The good news is, the ideal setup for hydroponic mushrooms is pretty simple.
Of course, you'll need some tubing as well to configure everything, along with a timer to set the intervals for flooding and draining the grow tray with nutrients and water. Here are a few great options:
- Active Aqua 2' x 4' Ebb & Flow Hydroponic Flood Table Kit
- Active Aqua 4' x 4' Ebb & Flow Hydroponic Flood Table Kit
- Botanicare 4' X 8' Ebb & Flow Hydroponic Flood Table Kit
What Else Is Needed For Growing Hydroponic Mushrooms?
You'll also need a hydroponic nutrient solution to provide nourishment to your shrooms. The good news is, this fungi tends to have low lighting demands.
This means you can get by with a small T5 grow light, or even just placing these near a window that gets full sunlight if possible.
But, some growers have seen great success using vermiculite as a media. We'll cover this more in a moment.
How To Grow Hydroponic Mushrooms
Now, you came here to learn how to grow hydroponic mushrooms - let's not waste any more time!
We're going to cover everything you need to know about growing mushrooms hydroponically.
1. Start With the Right Solution and Growing Media
As with any other hydroponic system, a system setup for growing mushrooms will require some sort of substrate.
As soon as the substrate or growing media is set up with sports, the mycelium will develop, fuse, and then colonize the substrate.
To do this, they will also need nutrients. Remember, mushrooms differ from plants in that they do not make their own food.
The nutrients that you give to your mushrooms will serve as their primary source of food. At the very least, mushrooms need sugar, fat, lignin, starch, nitrogen, and protein.
There are several options you can pursue for nutrients to grow your hydroponic mushrooms. Good choices include compost or liquid nutrients.
Consider using vermiculite. You can mix it with some brown rice flour and a bit of water to turn it into a cake, which you can then inoculate with your mycelium.
2. Grow Your Mycelium
There are essentially two ways you can grow hydroponic mushrooms - by growing your mycelium first or by using a mushroom kit. After all, these are NOT plants - they're a fungus. Thus, you can't start from seeds or clones, necessarily.
We’ll cover the tips on growing mushrooms with a kit below, but if you’re thinking about working “from scratch,” you’ll need to grow your mycelium before you do anything else. What is mycelium, you might ask?
The basic organic matter of a mushroom is known as chitin. The chitin branches off in various directions and becomes hyphae, with a cluster of hyphae referred to as mycelium.
The mycelium is the fungus from which the actual mushroom will sprout. When you harvest the mushroom, you are actually harvesting the reproductive organ of the mycelium.
Start with a fresh mushroom or a culture. Put it on a petri dish and let the mycelium grow out.
Make sure you do this in a clean environment. After about four weeks, mushrooms will appear. You can then transfer the mushrooms to a packed sterilized grain, like rye, and then let the mushrooms colonize the grain (this will take a few more weeks).
You can then use the spores in your hydroponic set-up or you can harvest the mushrooms once they are mature.
3. Creating The Ideal Environment For Your Mushrooms
Keep your mushrooms at 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during germination and around 80 to 85 degrees when they are actively growing.
You will also need to mind the humidity, making sure your tank is kept around 70 to 90% at all times.
This, combined with the proper nutrients, light, and temperatures, will encourage the mycelium to fruit and form mushrooms.
4. Add Some Grow Lighting
Although mushrooms thrive in darkness, there is one exception.
When you are trying to encourage the development of the mycelium, you should keep your mushrooms under about five or six hours of light per day.
5. Harvest Your Mushrooms
In most cases, mushrooms are ready for harvest in about four or five days. If you want to grow an additional crop, you can let the block sit idle for a few days to a week and then repeat the process (if you purchased a mushroom grow kit, that is).
You can reuse the block multiple times until you no longer get a harvest. When growing mushrooms from mycelium, you will be able to harvest them as soon as they start to grow on the grain.
You can use the grain seeds you already have to grow grain or you can save the grain to use it for your next batch of spores.
Consider Using a Hydroponic Mushroom Kit Instead
Growing mushrooms hydroponically “from scratch” is not for everyone, which is why many people choose to purchase a mushroom kit.
The growing kit is a square-shaped cube of sawdust that has been compressed. Usually, it’s one foot long or larger.
You can then inoculate the block with mushroom spawn or seeds. If you’ve ever grown mushrooms from a log kit outdoors, it’s a similar concept.
You don’t have to purchase a prefabricated block, either - you can also build one with a seed block or sawdust block.
Either way, you’ll soak the block in chilled water for a few hours. Let the block soak until it is thoroughly saturated and make sure it is immersed with a few inches of water covering the entire block.
You can then place the block in a darkened environment, with temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mushrooms grow fastest in cold water so you'll be able to get quite a few mushrooms in a shorter amount of time in this fashion.
Final Thoughts On Growing Hydroponic Mushrooms
If you’ve grown any other kind of vegetable hydroponically before, you might be surprised by the techniques prescribed above for growing hydroponic mushrooms.
True, learning how to grow these is quite a bit different than growing any other kind of plant in a soilless environment.
That’s not to say that it can’t be done! When you take the time to learn how, you’ll be rewarded with fresh mushrooms during any season of the year.