Growing Mushrooms in a Terrarium: Your Easy Guide to Success

Welcome to the exciting world of mushroom cultivation! If you’re interested in growing mushrooms but don’t have access to an outdoor space or are limited by weather, growing mushrooms in a terrarium may be the perfect solution. Not only is it easy and rewarding, but it can also be a great way to add fresh, flavorful mushrooms to your diet.

With this guide, we aim to provide you with all the information you need to successfully cultivate mushrooms in a terrarium. From selecting the right materials and setting up your terrarium to choosing the right mushroom species and troubleshooting common issues, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s get started on your journey to becoming a successful mushroom grower!

Why Choose a Terrarium for Mushroom Cultivation

If you’re interested in growing mushrooms at home, a terrarium can be an excellent choice for providing a controlled and protective environment. In a terrarium, you can create the ideal conditions for your mushrooms to thrive, while minimizing risks of contamination.

Here are some of the benefits of using a terrarium for mushroom cultivation:

Benefit Description
Controlled environment A terrarium allows you to monitor and adjust temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions, creating an optimal growing environment for your mushrooms.
Protection from contaminants A properly set up terrarium can minimize the risks of contamination from bacteria, mold, and pests, which can harm or kill your mushrooms.
Indoor cultivation A terrarium is a perfect choice for indoor mushroom cultivation, especially if you have limited outdoor space or live in an urban area.

Overall, choosing a terrarium for mushroom cultivation can be an easy and rewarding way to grow your own mushrooms at home.

Setting Up Your Terrarium for Mushroom Growing

Before you start growing mushrooms in your terrarium, it’s important to set it up properly to ensure optimal growing conditions. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Choose the Right Terrarium Size and Materials

The size of your terrarium will depend on the number of mushrooms you want to grow and the available space in your home. Make sure it’s large enough to provide proper ventilation and maintain humidity levels. Glass terrariums are ideal because they allow you to see the growing process, but plastic containers can also work well.

Step 2: Create Proper Ventilation

Ventilation is crucial for allowing fresh air to circulate and preventing the buildup of carbon dioxide. You can create ventilation by drilling small holes in the terrarium lid or sides. Be sure to cover the holes with mesh to prevent contamination.

Step 3: Set Up Lighting and Heating Conditions

Mushrooms require specific lighting and heating conditions to grow properly. They need natural or artificial light for around 12 hours a day, but avoid direct sunlight, which can dry out the substrate. You can use a heat mat to maintain the ideal temperature of around 68-75°F.

Step 4: Maintain Humidity Levels

Mushrooms need high humidity levels to grow, but too much moisture can cause mold or bacterial growth. Aim for a humidity level of around 80-90%, which you can measure using a hygrometer. You can increase humidity by misting the substrate with water or placing a damp cloth in the terrarium.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust as Needed

Once your terrarium is set up, monitor it regularly to ensure the conditions remain optimal for mushroom growth. Adjust the ventilation, lighting, heating, or humidity levels as needed to maintain a healthy growing environment.

Selecting the Right Mushroom Species for Your Terrarium

When it comes to selecting the right mushroom species for your terrarium, there are several factors to consider. Some mushrooms require specific temperature, humidity, and light conditions, while others are more adaptable. Additionally, some species may be more suitable for beginners, while others require more advanced cultivation skills.

One popular and beginner-friendly option is the oyster mushroom. These mushrooms have a mild flavor and are versatile in cooking. They also grow relatively quickly, typically taking four to six weeks to be ready for harvest. Another option is the shiitake mushroom, which has a meaty texture and rich flavor. However, shiitakes require lower humidity levels and colder temperatures, making them more challenging to grow than oyster mushrooms.

For those looking for a colorful and unique option, the blue oyster mushroom may be worth considering. These mushrooms have a beautiful blue hue and can add a pop of color to your terrarium. They also have a delicate flavor and texture, making them a great addition to salads and stir-fries.

Other options for terrarium cultivation include the lion’s mane mushroom, which has a unique “shaggy” appearance and a meaty texture, and the enoki mushroom, which has long, thin stems and a mild flavor. It’s essential to research each species thoroughly and determine which one will best suit your cultivation preferences and skill level.

Preparing the Substrate for Mushroom Growth

One of the most critical steps in growing mushrooms in a terrarium is preparing the substrate. The substrate is the material that provides the necessary nutrients for the mushroom to grow. There are several substrate options to choose from, including sawdust, straw, or coffee grounds. Regardless of the substrate you choose, it is essential to sterilize it before you start the cultivation process to avoid contamination.

Substrate Option Pros Cons
Sawdust – Provides a high yield of mushrooms
– Easy to obtain
– More challenging to sterilize
– Requires additional nutrients
Straw – Affordable
– Provides moisture retention
– Lower yield compared to sawdust
Coffee Grounds – Abundant material
– Ideal for oyster mushrooms
– Requires additional supplementation
– Needs to be pasteurized

Once you have selected the substrate, you need to sterilize it by heating it in an oven or using a pressure cooker. Sterilization is vital because it kills any harmful bacteria or fungi that may be present in the substrate. After sterilization, let the substrate cool to room temperature before inoculating it with mushroom spawn.

It is also important to add necessary nutrients to the substrate to promote mushroom growth. Nutrient supplements can range from gypsum to coffee and molasses. These supplements provide necessary nutrients, help maintain proper pH levels and aid in regulation of moisture content. The proper amount of your chosen nutrient supplement can be added to your substrate bag.

Inoculating the Substrate with Mushroom Spawn

Now that you have prepared your substrate, it’s time to inoculate it with mushroom spawn. Mushroom spawn is basically the “seed” of the mushroom. It’s a substrate that has been colonized by mushroom mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus.

You can either purchase mushroom spawn from a reputable supplier or make your own by sterilizing grain or sawdust and inoculating it with mushroom spores or tissue samples.

Once you have your mushroom spawn, you can mix it with your substrate. Make sure that the spawn is distributed evenly throughout the substrate to ensure even growth. You can use a sterile spoon or spatula to do this, or simply shake the substrate bag gently to distribute the spawn.

After inoculation, seal the container with a lid or plastic wrap to maintain a sterile environment. Then, wait for the mycelium to fully colonize the substrate. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the mushroom species and environmental conditions.

It’s important to keep the substrate in a dark, warm place during this time and to avoid disturbing it in any way. Once the mycelium has fully colonized the substrate, you can move on to the next step of the process: fruiting the mushrooms.

Maintaining the Optimal Growing Conditions

Once you have set up your terrarium and inoculated the substrate with mushroom spawn, it’s essential to maintain the proper growing conditions for your mushrooms. Here are some vital tips to ensure optimal growth:

Regulating Temperature

Most mushroom species grow best at a temperature range of 65-75°F. Use a thermometer to regularly monitor the temperature in your terrarium and make adjustments as needed. Consider placing a heating mat under the terrarium if necessary, but avoid direct heat on the substrate or the mushrooms.

Controlling Humidity

Humidity is crucial for mushroom growth and should be maintained at around 90% for most species. Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels and mist the substrate and walls of the terrarium with clean water as needed to maintain proper moisture. Avoid over-saturation and make sure there is proper ventilation to prevent mold growth.

Providing Adequate Lighting

Although mushrooms do not require direct light for growth, they do need some light to form healthy caps. You can use soft fluorescent lighting or LED lights on a 12-hour cycle to provide consistent and adequate lighting for your mushrooms. Avoid placing the lights too close to the substrate or the mushrooms to prevent heat damage.

Watering and Ventilation Techniques

Avoid overwatering the substrate, as this can lead to contamination and mold growth. Instead, mist the substrate and walls of the terrarium regularly to maintain proper moisture levels. Ensure there is adequate ventilation to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent stagnant air from accumulating.

By following these tips and regularly monitoring the growing conditions, you can ensure healthy and successful mushroom growth in your terrarium.

Managing Contamination Risks

Contamination is a common issue in mushroom cultivation that can lead to poor yields or total crop failure. To minimize the risks of contamination, it’s important to maintain a clean and sterile environment throughout the entire cultivation process.

Tools for Sterilization

To sterilize your terrarium and cultivation tools, you can use a variety of methods. Autoclaving, pressure cooking, and chemical sterilization are all effective options. However, these methods require specific equipment and can be time-consuming.

A more accessible option for at-home mushroom growers is to use a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to sterilize surfaces and tools. Be sure to avoid using bleach, which can be harmful to mushroom growth.

Identifying Contamination

Contamination can manifest in a variety of ways, including unusual colors or smells, fuzzy growth, and abnormal mushroom development. If you suspect contamination, it’s important to address the issue immediately to prevent further spread.

You can remove contaminated substrates, sterilize affected surfaces, and implement stricter sanitation measures to prevent future contamination.

Air Flow and Ventilation

Proper ventilation is crucial for preventing contamination in your terrarium. You can use a fan or air pump to circulate air and prevent stagnant pockets where contaminants can thrive. However, it’s important to strike a balance between adequate air flow and humidity levels, which can also affect mushroom growth.

By following these tips and maintaining a clean and sterile environment, you can minimize the risks of contamination and achieve a successful mushroom harvest in your terrarium.

Harvesting and Storing Your Terrarium-Grown Mushrooms

Congratulations on successfully growing your own mushrooms in a terrarium! The next step is to harvest and store your homegrown crop to enjoy their delicious flavor. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your harvest:

When to Harvest

It’s important to wait until your mushrooms are fully grown before harvesting them. You’ll know it’s time when the caps have fully opened and the gills underneath are visible. If you wait too long, the mushrooms may begin to release spores, which can affect their flavor and texture.

How to Harvest

To harvest your mushrooms, gently twist and pull them from the substrate. Avoid using scissors or a knife, as this can damage the mycelium and increase the risk of contamination. Be sure to harvest all mushrooms at once, even if some are smaller than others, to prevent them from rotting and spoiling the rest of the crop.

Cleaning Your Mushrooms

Before storing your harvested mushrooms, it’s important to clean them to remove any debris or dirt. Avoid washing them with water, as this can cause them to become waterlogged and spoil faster. Instead, use a soft-bristled brush or paper towel to gently wipe away any dirt or debris.

Storing Your Mushrooms

Once your mushrooms are cleaned and dried, it’s time to store them. The best way to store mushrooms is in a paper bag or wrapped in paper towels and placed in the refrigerator. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or containers, as this can cause them to become slimy and spoil faster.

Stored properly, your mushrooms should last for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you have a large harvest, consider freezing them for later use.

With these tips, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and savor the delicious flavor of your homegrown mushrooms!

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Terrarium Mushroom Growing

While growing mushrooms in a terrarium can be a straightforward and rewarding process, it is not without its challenges. Common issues can arise during the cultivation process that may hamper the growth and development of your mushrooms. Here are some common problems and their potential solutions:

Slow Growth

If your mushrooms are growing slower than expected, it may be due to low humidity levels or insufficient light. Ensure that your terrarium is adequately humid and consider providing additional lighting. Alternatively, it may be related to the substrate quality or spawn inoculation. Try adjusting the substrate or using fresh spawn.


Contamination from mold can quickly spread and ruin your entire crop. The best way to manage mold is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Maintain a clean and sterile environment throughout the cultivation process. If you notice mold, remove any contaminated materials and increase ventilation to lower humidity levels.


Like any indoor garden, pests can be a problem in a mushroom terrarium. Common pests include mites, gnats, and flies. To prevent pests, maintain a clean environment, and avoid over-watering your terrarium. If pests are present, remove any affected materials and increase ventilation to lower humidity levels. You may also consider using natural pest control methods, such as using neem oil or introducing predator insects.

Abnormal Mushroom Development

If your mushrooms are developing abnormally, it may be due to environmental factors or genetic issues. Ensure that you are maintaining the proper temperature, humidity, and light levels, and consider adjusting your method of substrate preparation or spawn inoculation. Alternatively, it may be related to the genetic makeup of your mushroom species.

By following the tips and guidance provided in this guide, you can troubleshoot any issues that arise during the cultivation process and grow healthy, high-quality mushrooms in your own terrarium.

Expanding Your Mushroom Growing Skills

Congratulations on successfully growing your own mushrooms in a terrarium! Taking your first steps in mushroom cultivation can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, there is always room for growth and exploration in this fascinating hobby.

Further Learning Resources

If you’re looking to expand your mushroom growing skills beyond the terrarium, there are plenty of resources available to help guide you. Consider exploring:

  • Books: There are many informative books available on the subject of mushroom cultivation, ranging from beginner’s guides to in-depth technical manuals.
  • Online communities: Joining online forums and Facebook groups dedicated to mushroom cultivation can provide valuable insights, tips, and support from experienced growers.
  • Workshops: Attending workshops or classes can offer hands-on experience and expert guidance from professionals in the field.

Remember that mushroom cultivation is an endlessly fascinating and diverse field with numerous species to explore, each with their own unique growing requirements. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new techniques.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

So why not take a risk and dive deeper into the world of mushroom cultivation? You never know what amazing discoveries and experiences await you.


Congratulations, you are now equipped with all the knowledge you need to start growing your own delicious mushrooms in a terrarium! Remember, the process may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and techniques, you’ll be a skilled mushroom grower in no time.

We hope this guide has inspired you to embark on your own mushroom-growing journey. Not only is it a fun and rewarding hobby, but it also provides a source of fresh, healthy food.

Share Your Success with Others

If you’ve successfully grown mushrooms in a terrarium using this guide, we would love to hear about it! Share your stories, pictures, and advice with our community of mushroom enthusiasts on social media.

Keep Learning and Experimenting

Remember, mushroom cultivation is a deep and endlessly fascinating subject. There’s always more to learn and explore, so don’t hesitate to try new species, substrates, and techniques. The more you experiment, the more you’ll discover what works best for you.

Thank you for reading, and happy growing!


Q: Why should I choose a terrarium for mushroom cultivation?

A: Terrariums provide a controlled environment, protect mushrooms from contaminants, and allow easy monitoring of moisture levels.

Q: How do I set up a terrarium for mushroom growing?

A: Follow these steps to set up your terrarium: choose the right size and materials, create proper ventilation, set up lighting and heating conditions, and maintain ideal humidity levels.

Q: Which mushroom species are suitable for terrarium cultivation?

A: Different mushroom species have different growing conditions. Select the right species based on temperature, humidity, and light requirements, as well as your preferences and skill level.

Q: What kind of substrate should I use for mushroom growth in a terrarium?

A: Sawdust, straw, and coffee grounds are common substrate options. Prepare and sterilize the substrate to prevent contamination, and add necessary nutrients to promote mushroom growth.

Q: How do I inoculate the substrate with mushroom spawn?

A: Obtain mushroom spawn, distribute it evenly throughout the substrate, and ensure cleanliness to avoid contamination.

Q: How do I maintain optimal growing conditions in my terrarium?

A: Regulate temperature, humidity, and light levels, water and ventilate properly, and troubleshoot common issues that may arise during the cultivation process.

Q: How can I minimize contamination risks in terrarium mushroom growing?

A: Sterilize equipment and the terrarium environment, identify and address signs of contamination, and maintain cleanliness throughout the cultivation process.

Q: When and how should I harvest and store my terrarium-grown mushrooms?

A: Harvest mushrooms at the right time and clean and store them properly to ensure freshness and quality. Explore different ways to enjoy your homegrown mushrooms.

Q: What should I do if I encounter common issues in terrarium mushroom growing?

A: Troubleshoot common problems such as slow growth, mold, pests, and abnormal mushroom development using effective techniques.

Q: How can I expand my mushroom growing skills beyond the terrarium?

A: Explore further learning resources like books, online communities, and workshops. Experiment with different mushroom species and cultivation methods.