Best Substrate for Magic Mushrooms

If you are planning to grow your very own magic mushroom then you need to consider some few essential factors first. One of the factors that you need to look into is to find the right substrate. Always remember that growing mushroom is pretty much different from that of growing a regular plant. Substrates can act as a soil for an ordinary plant. You have to know that mushrooms use these substrates differently. This is the reason why you also need to understand how and why they do this one. Once you are able to determine this factors then you are also able to get the best results.

Understanding a Magic Mushroom Substrate

A substrate is a material that magic mushroom mycelium uses to get energy and nutrition. You need to make sure that you have the right substrate so that your mushroom will grow and bear fruit. Some common substrates that you are able to see in the market are straws or hardwood sawdust. Aside from these common materials, there are also some good options that you can choose out there.

You need to see to it that you are able to prepare well your substrate. You can do this by adding water and some additional nutrition. You also need to provide further processes like pasteurization and sterilization. Inoculation is also very important. This is the process of mixing grain spawn back into the mixture of your substrate. Once you will create the right condition then it is the mycelium that will start to grow. It will quickly consume and decompose the organic materials in your substrate and this process is known as colonization. If you have a substrate that is fully colonized then it is your magic mushroom that is ready to fruit. Once this happened then your substrate has been fully accommodated and encompassed by the mycelium.

What is Pasteurization and Sterilization of Substrate

A substrate that is full of nutrition and is moist is the ideal substrate for any magic mushroom. You have to remember though that when these conditions are present, bacteria and molds can also occur. This is the very reason that you also need to give your mushroom an advantage to colonize the substrate first. All of this can be done by using the process of sterilization and pasteurization.


This is the process where the substrate is heated up to 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit. This is done in a matter of 1.5-2 hours. Always remember that this doesn’t remove all the contaminants but it does decrease molds and bacteria to a significant level. This can give your mushrooms a head start for its colonization. Although there might be microorganisms left in the substrate, don’t worry since they can actually help your mushroom grow better in the long run.


This is the process that eliminates all the contaminants in your substrate. There is a heating of the substrate under pressure for a particular period of time. For a typical sterilization protocol, you need to sterilize your substrate at around 15 PSI for around 2.5 hours. This process will bring the substrate temperature to around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. With this temperature that there is an effective eradication of any potential contaminants. You then need to inoculate your substrate under a sterile condition. You should keep your substrate sterile until the time that your mushroom will be able to take hold of the substrate that you have prepared for them.

Importance of Water in Your Substrate

The mushroom fruiting body is made up of almost 90% water. All of these water is being drawn up from the substrate that you have. You have to understand that unlike any other plants, mushrooms don’t need to be watered during their growth cycle. Water is added into the substrate before inoculation. This is the very reason why you also have to see to it that your substrate needs to be hydrated during its preparation. If you are using straw then you can do this while pasteurization since it will be soaked in water. For sawdust fruiting blocks, the right amount of water should be added before the sterilization process begins.

Always remember that when your substrate is dry, your mushrooms will also grow slow. This can also lead to them not being able to overtake the substrate that has been prepared for them. If the substrate is also too wet on the other hand then it will also encourage bacterial growth. This can also inhibit the full growth of your magic mushrooms. You need to make sure that you are able to get the right amount of water into your substrate though it might need some practice to determine the right amount.

Getting to Know the Common Magic Mushroom Substrate

Straw – this is one of the most common magic mushroom substrates that you can have. It is cheap but super effective. Straw substrate is also considered to be less messy.

Hardwood sawdust – you can choose from different hardwood sawdust like maple, oak beech, and many more. They can be a great substrate for your magic mushroom. This can be very effective especially when combined with bran supplement.

Manure– there are also some growers that choose to grow their magic mushroom in composted manure. This one needs to have two preparation and that is composting and sterilization.

Coco coir and vermiculate – you will be able to have an effective substrate once you will see its material. You can purchase them commercially and is available in a mix of ground-up coconut husk and shell.

Other possible substrates – there are also a number of different agricultural waste that magic mushrooms will grow on. They can grow in spent coffee grounds or even banana leaves.

Use What Works for You

You have to understand that the best substrate will depend on your area, your style of growing, and the type of magic mushroom that you want to grow. You need to experiment on the different substrates available and see what works for you well. Once you find it, stick to it, and use it as your staple substrate to grow your beautiful magic mushrooms.