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Lion's Mane mushrooms are an interesting choice for home growers, suitable for those with some basic knowledge of mushroom cultivation. These mushrooms are known for their distinctive appearance and potential health benefits, particularly for cognitive health. Growing Lion's Mane at home is practical and offers the benefit of having fresh mushrooms available for both culinary and health purposes.

In this article, you will learn:

  • Necessary conditions to grow Lion's Mane successfully.
  • A clear, step-by-step guide from beginning to harvest.
  • Practical solutions for common growing challenges.

Growing Lion's Mane mushrooms can be a rewarding addition to your gardening projects, offering both a learning experience and a source of nutritious mushrooms.

Background and Characteristics

Lion's Mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are native to North America, Europe, and Asia, typically growing on hardwood trees. These mushrooms are easily recognizable due to their long, white, hair-like spines that hang down like a mane. Beyond their unique look, Lion's Mane is sought after for its meaty texture and flavor, often compared to seafood, making it a favorite in vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Nutritionally, Lion's Mane is a powerhouse, packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It's particularly noted for containing compounds that may stimulate the growth of brain cells and improve cognitive function. This has made Lion's Mane not just a culinary choice but also a subject of interest in medicinal research.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Successful cultivation of Lion's Mane mushrooms requires an understanding of their preferred environment. These mushrooms thrive in cool, moist conditions, typically between 15 to 24 degrees Celsius (60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). High humidity levels, around 85-95%, are crucial for their development. It's important to replicate these conditions as closely as possible when growing them indoors.

Lion's Mane does not require much light, but a location with indirect light or low artificial light can promote healthier growth. They are sensitive to direct sunlight, which can dry them out or hinder their growth. Providing consistent, cool temperatures and high humidity will help ensure a successful growing experience.

Preparing to Grow

Before starting your Lion's Mane cultivation, it's essential to gather the right supplies and prepare your growing area. The most common method of growing Lion's Mane is using a supplemented hardwood sawdust block, which serves as the substrate. You can either prepare this substrate yourself or purchase pre-inoculated blocks.

If you choose to prepare your own substrate, you'll need hardwood sawdust and a supplement like wheat bran. The substrate should be pasteurized to kill any unwanted bacteria or fungi. After pasteurization, it's cooled and then inoculated with Lion's Mane spawn.

Setting up your growing area involves ensuring it's clean to avoid contamination, and that you can control the temperature and humidity. Some growers use a humidity tent or a small greenhouse to maintain the necessary environmental conditions.

Planting and Inoculation

The process of planting and inoculating your substrate with Lion's Mane spawn is a critical step in mushroom cultivation. Here's how to do it:

  1. Inoculation: After preparing and cooling your substrate, it's time to inoculate it with Lion's Mane spawn. This can be done by mixing the spawn thoroughly with the substrate. Ensure even distribution for consistent mushroom growth.
  2. Incubation: Once inoculated, the substrate should be placed in a bag or container with small holes for air exchange. Store this in a dark place at the appropriate temperature (around 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit) for incubation. This is when the mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus, starts to colonize the substrate.
  3. Monitoring: Over the next several weeks, monitor the substrate for signs of mycelial growth. The substrate will gradually become white as the mycelium colonizes it. This stage is crucial, so ensure that the temperature and humidity are consistent and contamination is avoided.

After the substrate is fully colonized and mycelium has established itself, it's ready for the fruiting phase, where the actual mushrooms will start to form.

Care and Maintenance

Once your Lion's Mane substrate is fully colonized, it's time to focus on care and maintenance to ensure healthy mushroom growth:

  1. Initiating Fruiting Conditions: Move the colonized substrate to an environment with slightly cooler temperatures and higher humidity to encourage fruiting. Introducing a small amount of light and ensuring proper air exchange will also signal to the mycelium that it's time to produce mushrooms.
  2. Maintaining Humidity: Lion's Mane mushrooms need high humidity to develop properly. Regular misting or using a humidifier can help maintain the necessary moisture levels. Be careful not to over-saturate the substrate, as this can lead to issues with mold.
  3. Monitoring Growth: Watch for the development of small, icicle-like formations – these are the beginnings of Lion's Mane mushrooms. As they grow, maintain the environment, ensuring it stays cool and humid.
  4. Dealing with Contaminants: Keep an eye out for any signs of mold or unusual coloration on the substrate, which could indicate contamination. Good hygiene practices and a clean growing area are essential to prevent this.

Proper care and maintenance during the fruiting phase are vital for yielding a healthy crop of Lion's Mane mushrooms.


Harvesting Lion's Mane mushrooms at the right time is key to enjoying their best flavor and texture:

  1. Identifying Harvest Time: Lion's Mane mushrooms are ready to harvest when the spines are elongated and the mushroom is still relatively firm. This is typically when they are about the size of a baseball or slightly larger. Waiting too long can result in a mushy texture.
  2. Harvesting Technique: Gently twist and pull the mushrooms from the substrate. Avoid cutting, as this can leave behind parts that may rot. Harvesting by hand helps to ensure the substrate remains intact for potential future flushes.
  3. Post-Harvest Care: After harvesting, check the substrate for any remaining mushroom parts and clean if necessary. You can potentially induce another flush of mushrooms by maintaining the growing conditions.

Post-Harvest Processing and Storage

Proper processing and storage are crucial to preserving the quality of your harvested Lion's Mane mushrooms:

  1. Cleaning: Gently brush off any substrate particles from the mushrooms. Avoid washing them with water if possible, as they can absorb moisture and become soggy.
  2. Processing: If you plan to use them immediately, Lion's Mane mushrooms can be sliced or torn into pieces for cooking. For medicinal uses, they can be dried and ground into a powder.
  3. Drying for Storage: To dry Lion's Mane, slice the mushrooms and place them in a dehydrator or a warm, airy location. Properly dried mushrooms can be stored for several months.
  4. Refrigerating Fresh Mushrooms: If you're not drying them, store fresh Lion's Mane in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Use them within a week for the best quality.

Properly processing and storing Lion's Mane mushrooms ensures you can enjoy their benefits long after the harvest.

Common Problems and Solutions

While growing Lion's Mane mushrooms is generally straightforward, you may encounter some challenges. Here's how to address common issues:

  1. Contamination: One of the most common problems is contamination, visible as mold or off-colors on the substrate. Prevent this by maintaining cleanliness and proper sterilization practices. If contamination occurs, it's best to discard the affected substrate to prevent its spread.
  2. Dry Substrate: If the substrate appears dry or the mushrooms stop growing, increase humidity by misting more frequently. Ensure the growing area isn't too drafty or warm, as this can cause rapid drying.
  3. Poor Fruiting: Inadequate fruiting can result from insufficient humidity, incorrect temperature, or lack of fresh air. Adjust these environmental factors, ensuring that conditions are consistent with the mushroom's natural growing environment.
  4. Mushroom Shape or Color: Unusual shapes or colors can be due to too much light, lack of fresh air, or uneven humidity. Adjust the growing conditions to remedy these issues.


Growing Lion's Mane mushrooms at home can be a rewarding and enriching experience. Not only do you get to enjoy the unique taste and health benefits of these mushrooms, but you also gain valuable skills in mycology. Remember, success in mushroom cultivation lies in replicating their natural environment as closely as possible and maintaining cleanliness throughout the process.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced grower, Lion's Mane offers an exciting challenge with delicious rewards. With the steps outlined in this article, you're well-equipped to start your own Lion's Mane cultivation journey. Enjoy the process and the fruits of your labor!