Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a mushroom species with a long history of medicinal and culinary use throughout Asia.
This medicinal superfood is well known for its neuroprotective health benefits, reported to improve focus, cognition, memory, and sleep.
Studies also suggest that Lion’s Mane can help protect our brains from age-related damage and dementia and lower the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
With all these incredible benefits, it’s no wonder you’re interested in learning how to grow this mushroom at home.
Stick with us as we explore everything you need to know about growing Lion’s Mane in six easy steps.
What you need to grow Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane is a relatively easy and fast-growing mushroom, making it a popular choice for beginners.
However, it does require patience and the upfront investment to purchase all the necessary equipment and ingredients.
Because Lion’s Mane mushrooms naturally inhabit the dead or decaying hardwood of walnut, beech, sycamore or maple trees you’ll need to find an appropriate alternative for the fruiting body to develop on, there are a few different options to do this.
While you can attempt log inoculation by utilising a dead piece of timber and inoculating with spores, a much easier alternative is using fruiting blocks which are a growing medium made from hardwood pellets or chips and grain mixed together.
Alternatively, some businesses sell pre-prepared grow kits that come with everything you need to get started growing mushrooms.
Cultivating Lion’s Mane mushrooms can be a fun project, but the easiest and fastest way to access is the medicinal benefits of Lion’s Mane in Australia is through a liquid extract which is highly bioavailable meaning the beneficial compounds are readily absorbed.
- Lion’s Mane grain spawn
- Hardwood fuel pellets or hardwood sawdust
- Growing bags (a specialised type of plastic bag)
- Measuring cup
- Bucket or bowl
- Pressure cooker
- Spray bottle
- Scalpel or sharp knife
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Plastic crate
Best Types of Substrate
Lion’s Mane grows well on hardwood fuel chips or pellets that have been supplemented with grain.
The best type of grain to use is either rye, wheat, or soy hulls. Grains act as a superfood for the spawn and helps to rev up the growth of the fruiting body.
However, it’s important to carefully observe the grain spawn to ensure full colonisationg before the the mushroom starts to produce its fruiting body.
Fruiting containers or bags
You can use a large filter patch growing bag and then add in your substrate.
Filter patch bags are great for sterilising the substrate to produce grain spawn or fruiting blocks successfully, and also help to create a moist location for the fruiting body develop in.
Where to purchase materials
The best place to purchase hardwood chips is at your local nursery or hardware store. You can even check your local BBQ retailer as these are commonly used as BBQ fuel as well.
Make sure you don’t purchase softwood chips, as mushrooms won’t grow well on this substrate.
Lion’s Mane spawn, grow bags, and even nitrogen-rich grains can be purchased at online stores that specialise in mushroom cultivation.
How to grow Lion’s Mane mushroom in 6 Steps
Step 1: Prepare your fruiting blocks
Measure your ingredients
For each grow bag, you’ll need:
- 450gm of hardwood pellets
- 450gm of grain of choice, as mentioned above
- 1.4 litres of water
Place your dry ingredients in a large container, ready for mixing. Then add in the correct amount of water and mix well until the pellets and grain have broken down into a loose mixture.
You can use cold or warm water to do this. Sometimes warm water helps to break down the pellets a little faster.
If you would like to add extra nutrition to the mix, you can increase the amount of grain in the mixture.
Pack your grow bags to make a fruiting block
Add the grain and woodchip substrate mixture into your filter patch grow bags, only adding the amount indicated in the above ingredients section.
Once the mixture has been added to the bag, you’ll need to fold it down correctly as per the grow bag instructions. When folded correctly, these bags become self-sealing when under pressure.
The tops of the grow bags are gusseted, and a filter fits in between these gussets. This helps to prevent any contamination during cooldown after removal from the pressure cooker.
Step 2: Sterilise your fruiting block
Sterilising your fruiting block is a crucial step as it eliminates any microbes that may threaten the successful growth of the Lion’s Mane.
While grow bags are designed to withstand high temperatures, it’s still essential to ensure there’s something between the bottom of the pressure cooker and the grow bags to avoid any possibility of the bags burning.
A good option is adding the metal lids from glass jars or even a tea towel.
Then add your grow bags into the pressure cooker and add enough water to sit just below the filter patch on the first bag in the pot.
You can also add a dinner plate to the top of the grow bag to stop it from moving around during the sterilisation process.
The grow bags and substrate should be sterilised on low to medium heat for about 2.5 hours to remove any contaminants. Care should also be taken to avoid excessive temperatures.
After 2.5 hours, turn off the stove and allow the grow bags to cool down for at least eight hours. The bags can then be removed from the pressure cooker and are ready to innoculate.
Step 3: Innoculate with Lion’s Main grain spawn
Grain spawn is made from sterilised grains that have been inoculated with a live Lion’s Mane mycelium culture.
Grain spawn provides a lot of energy and nutrition for the mycelium and assists the growing process.
Add approximately 200gm of Lion’s Mane grain spawn into the fruiting block and then immediately seal the bag with a zip tie or rubber band.
When adding the grain spawn into the fruiting block, it’s important to follow proper sanitation protocols to avoid contamination.
Only items sanitised with either alcohol or a flame should touch the substrate in the fruiting block. Wearing a mask during this process is also recommended.
Step 4: Colonisation of the fruiting block
The fruiting block should be stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 14-21 days to allow for total colonisation of the Lion’s Mane mycelium in the fruiting block.
It can be tricky to tell when Lion’s Mane has fully colonised the fruiting block as its mycelium is very fine compared to other mushrooms.
When the fruiting block has become fully colonised, it will feel slightly firmer, and you may notice a white ‘mouldy’ appearance.
There’s no benefit to shaking the bag during this process. It’s best to leave it alone to do its thing. If the bag looks contaminated, there’s no point opening it to try and rescue it and should be thrown away.
Step 5: Fruiting Lion’s Mane
The first step to encourage your fruiting block to produce fruit is to use a sterilised knife or scissors and make a cut at the top of the bag.
Then you’ll need to squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag and fold it down on itself and wrap tightly around the hard block. This helps to promote fruit growth outside of the bag instead of inside the bag.
The biggest contributors to successful fruiting is a fresh air exchange which reduces the amount of CO2 and an increases fresh air and oxygen.
Once you’ve folded your fruiting block bag tightly, you then need to store it in a fruiting chamber.
You can make your fruiting chamber using a plastic create and drilling holes in the lid to allow oxygen to enter. Additionally, it’s a good idea to mist down the crate’s walls with water twice daily which will create a warm and humid micro-climate within the crate, which are the perfect growing conditions Lion’s Mane.
The alternative option is to purchase a shotgun fruiting chamber from an online supplier.
Step 6: Harvest your Lion’s Mane
All your hard work and patience pays off when it’s time to harvest and enjoy the many medicinal benefits of Lion’s Mane.
The mushroom usually reaches full maturity within 2 – 3 weeks. Still, you can harvest it whenever you’re happy with the size it has grown to, it’s personal preference, but younger Lion’s Mane mushrooms tend to have a firmer texture.
The best way to harvest the Lion’s Mane is to cut the mushroom off at the stem while trying not to damage the fruiting block as it can go on to produce more mushrooms.
Final thoughts on growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms
Growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms can be a fun and rewarding experience, and with the reported medicinal properties can make a great dietary supplement to help achieve optimal health and wellbeing.
The benefits, dosage and side effects of Lion’s Mane have been the subject of rekindled scientific interest, with researchers identifying its positive therapeutic effects for degenerative brain disease symptoms, ability to improve nerve growth in people suffering from nerve damage, potent anti-tumour compounds
What temperature is best for growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms?
Growing Lion’s Mane mushroom requires a temperature between 18° – 21° C and humidity of at least 85%.
Lion’s Mane mushroom does have a wide temperature tolerance but grows best in a humid environment.
Where do Lion’s Mane grow?
Lion’s mane mushrooms can be found growing throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Lion’s manes usually grow towards the end of summer and into autumn, they thrive in a humid and temperate climate.
Lion’s mane mushrooms grow on dead and decaying trees but may also be found on living trees.
Is it hard growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms?
Lion’s Mane isn’t the hardest medicinal mushroom to grow, but it can still pose a few challenges for newbies.
Following all the proper steps and processes to avoid contamination is really important, and ensuring the fruiting blocks are in the right environment is critical to success.
While it may be rewarding to grow your own mushrooms at home, a much easier and more cost-effective option is to consume a tincture to gain the medicinal properties of this fungus.
How do you eat fresh Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s Mane is an extremely versatile fungus that can be eaten as a food, similar to other gourmet mushrooms such as shiitake, enoki and oyster mushrooms.
The fruiting body of the mushroom has a mild flavour and a firm, spongy texture and can be eaten raw, cooked or steeped in hot water to make a tea.
Some people mention that it has a subtle seafood flavour, and makes a great meat alternative in recipes. This gourmet mushroom is a nutritional powerhouse, however, it may be tricky to find at your local grocery store.