Are you up for a challenge? Because growing Amanita Muscaria (the world's most iconic white-spotted red-capped mushroom) will certainly give you one! Many avid Fly Agaric fans want a quick-and-easy key to cultivating their own mushrooms, but the chances of success are incredibly low (unfortunately).
That said, with bucketloads of patience and the right equipment, you may be victorious. We're divulging everything you need to know about growing Amanita Muscaria right here. So, without wasting any more time, let's jump into the details.
The Typical Amanita Muscaria Habitat
Whether you're an avid forager or just like the occasional hike around the wilderness, you may have seen the tell-tale storybook mushroom growing in seemingly random locations. But truthfully, it isn't so random — the Fly Agaric favors a certain habitat type.
While it's possible to spot it in all parts of the world, Amanita Muscaria typically prefers the northern hemisphere's forest floors or grassy areas. It just can't get enough of the rich soil!
Generally speaking, it grows in tandem with trees, mainly pines. The mycelia live inside the pine's roots, so there aren't any mushrooms without the tree.
How to Grow Amanita Muscaria Outdoors
With the typical habitat in mind, you can do your best to replicate the environment in your own garden, especially if you live in the northern hemisphere.
Anecdotes suggest people have found success when germinating the spore-containing seeds of trees in water before scattering them over pine roots.
Some avid growers suggest scoring the tree's roots to aid the process. But, frankly, it's unclear whether this practice had the desired effect.
Just note that you'll be waiting years (yes, years) to see the results (if any). Mushrooms are known for taking their sweet time to grow, and Amanita Muscaria is no different. However, it may well be worth a go — you can but try.
How to Grow Amanita Muscaria Indoors
If attempting to grow Fly Agaric outdoors isn't your idea of a good time, or you don't have a backyard to experiment in, you can give indoor cultivation a go. Again, this isn't guaranteed but many people like the experimental challenge.
Remember, patience is key when growing this mushroom (or, indeed, any mushroom).
Things You'll Need
You'll need a few things in your gardening arsenal to give your Amanita Muscaria mushrooms the best chance of success.
Make sure you have the following items:
- Potting soil — This is a must for any indoor plant growing. Make sure the type you buy supports great drainage, as the Fly Agaric doesn't tolerate standing water. If you don't find a good mix at your local nursery, make your own mixture of perlite and peat moss instead.
- Water — Despite not tolerating standing water, the fairytale-esque mushroom requires a damp environment for adequate growth. So, you'll need to ensure you have plenty of water to keep your babies hydrated throughout their journey.
- Temperature control — Without proper temperature control, your efforts will be fruitless. Amanita Muscaria mushrooms don't appreciate temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) or higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius). Ideally, you should maintain a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).
- Drainage — As mentioned, standing water is a big no-no. Therefore, good drainage is imperative.
- Terrarium — Since the mushroom is usually grown in wild earth, you'll have the best chance of success if you purchase a terrarium. Make sure it receives an even amount of light and the temperature is set, as explained above.
Once you have everything you need, you can plant the spores and await the results.
While the chances are low, they can grow substantially high indoors when their needs are met, and they aren't competing with other plants for nutrients or moisture.
So, how do you achieve the damp-yet-not-saturated environment adored by the Fly Agaric? Watering them on a bi-weekly basis. While it doesn't have to be exact, sticking to this schedule is best (provided your terrarium and soil mixture allow for great drainage).
Some sources suggest allowing them to soak up natural precipitation from time to time (provided the temperature allows) can work wonders.
Once the caps appear, you should up the humidity levels by regularly misting them (any clean spray bottle filled with water will work). We also recommend more frequent watering at this time to encourage fruiting.
Fertilizing Amanita Muscaria
Want to increase your chances of successful Fly Agaric planting? Try fertilizing the mushrooms with oyster shells. This method has been used for centuries, including in farms that utilize organic soil.
Here's how to do it:
- Find or purchase oyster shells.
- Crush them into tiny pieces.
- Sprinkle over the top of the soil.
- Ensure shells break down into the substrate before planting your mushrooms. This will take about a week.
Once the shells are nicely mixed in, plant your mushrooms and wait!
Those who've tried this method say it works best when combined with other materials like coffee grounds, compost, newspaper scraps, and shredded corn cobs from the previous year.
Just make sure you don't plant Amanita Muscaria on fresh manure. It only clogs up their pores and prevents growth.
How to Harvest Amanita Muscaria
If you are lucky enough to see the fruits of your labors, don gloves and harvest them using tweezers or tongs to avoid contact.
Upon harvesting, scrub them under running water to clean them. But be careful about ingestion — you should only consume correctly processed and strained Amanita Muscaria mushrooms from trusted sources to ensure the risk of toxicity is minimal.
Go Forth and Grow! (But Don't Be Disappointed If It Doesn't Go So Well)
With all this info, you're well on your way to going forth and growing the iconic Fly Agaric. But keep your chin up if nothing happens. Mushrooms are fickle things, and there's only a small chance of prosperous results! All you can do is keep trying, and maybe one day, you'll be a part of the small group who've found success.