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Growing mushrooms in a glass container with miniature plants sound like fun! Here, we show you how to make a mushroom terrarium using an all-in-one mushroom spore kit. Plus tips on how to maintain it for years!
Making a Basic Mushroom Terrarium Using Mushroom Spore Kit
Building a mushroom terrarium doesn’t need to be complicated.
What is a Mushroom Terrarium?
First off, let’s have a background about mushroom terrariums. A terrarium is a type of vivarium (“viva,” which means “alive”) alongside an aquarium, paludarium, and riparium.
Terrarium came from the word “terra” which means “land” and “arium” which indicates a place for or associated with something.
Contrary to the popular aquarium, a terrarium is a non-aquatic enclosure consisting of terrain-like features. This container is usually modeled to look like various natural land types like the forest, jungle, or desert.
Terrariums are usually designed to provide a stable environment for animals, plants, and fungi.
Terrarium as an art form
In Japanese, a mushroom terrarium is called “kinocorium” (きのこリウム), from the word “kinoco” which means “mushroom.” It is also referred to as “mushroomrium,” and is often likened to the art of making bonsai.
One person that popularized this art form is a mysterious Japanese social media channel that goes by the username “Kinocorium.” This channel’s mushroom terrariums project started in the fall of 2015 with the concept of “growing mushrooms in an aquarium.”
Starting in the fall of 2015, the Kinocorium channel has created around 50 stunning mushroom terrariums! This channel’s art form inspired lots of other vivarium and mushroom enthusiasts. They adapted this concept of growing various types of mushrooms together with mosses, succulents, & other tiny plants in a container.
I. Materials You Will Need for a Mushroom Terrarium
A. The Basic Essentials
- Mushroom Spore Kit
- Soil (coir, peat moss, or any sterile potting mix)
- Moss, Succulents, or other tropical plants
B. Other Tools and Materials
- Tweezers (the grabber)
- Spoon or Trowel (the scooper)
- Spray bottle
- Aluminum Foil
- Cotton, Alcohol
II. 7 Steps in Making the Mushroom Terrarium
1. Prepare a mycelium-colonized substrate.
Weeks or a month before designing your terrarium, you need to inoculate your grow bag with mushroom spores. With a mushroom spore syringe of your choice (whether non-edible or edible mushroom), inject 1-2 cc directly into the injection port. It will take around 12 to 21 days before your substrate fully colonize.
Other fun way to grow mushrooms in a terrarium is by incorporating mushroom spores in a tiny piece of log. This will work if the strain you’re growing is a wood-loving type like oyster mushrooms. In this case, you do not need to bury it with layers of soil.
*There are spores intended for microscopy purposes or microscopic research only because it’s illegal to germinate them. This includes magic mushrooms such as psilocybin mushroom spores or the more common golden teacher spores. Also, NOT all mushrooms are safe for human consumption. Further, there are mushrooms considered generally edible, but people tolerate their effects differently.
2. Decide on the type, size & shape of the terrarium.
Choose between an open or a closed terrarium. Plants that prefer a dry environment will thrive in open terrariums. While closed terrariums are suitable for plants that grow in shady, high humidity environments.
A glass vessel, fishbowl, flask, or jar makes an ideal container for a small terrarium. While a larger aquarium-like container can be used for a bigger terrarium.
Then, choose a location for your terrarium. It should be in a spot where there is indirect sunlight, such as near a window. However, during the first 7 days, you need to keep the terrarium in a dark area for the mushrooms to fruit.
3. Gather your materials.
In addition to your chosen container, you will need to prepare your pebbles, potting soil, and plants (real or artificial). You need to clean or sterilize your container and other tools like scissors, tweezers, and spoon using 70% isopropyl alcohol.
Also, cut a block from your mushroom spawn. Then, wrap aluminum foil around it, exposing only the top layer where you plan for the mushrooms to sprout.
4. Create a drainage layer.
Place rocks at the bottom of your container. This will help to prevent waterlogging and keep your plants healthy. The most recommended is pumice but you can use pebbles or charcoal.
5. Put the foiled mycelium block and layer it with the soil.
Place your mycelium block over the drainage layer. Then, level it with a layer of soil. In between gradually adding the soil layer, mist it with water.
Be sure to use potting soil specifically formulated for terrariums, as regular garden soil may contain harmful bacteria or molds. The most recommended for mushroom terrariums is akadama soil. But you can also substitute it with the cheaper and more accessible perlite or vermiculite.
6. Add a peat layer and clean the sides of the container.
The last potting layer you need to add is peat moss. You can also use nutritive alternatives such as coconut coir. Keep the top part of the mycelium block exposed.
7. Arrange moss, succulents, or other decorative elements.
For the last part, add plants to the potting soil with the aid of a tweezer. You can use real or artificial ones depending on your preference. Specifically, mosses and succulents will look good in a terrarium.
The top favorites of terrarium enthusiasts are mosses like Cushion Moss/Bun Moss (Leucobryum glaucum) and Mood Moss (Dicranum scoparium). They may also use Sheet Moss (Hypnum curvifolium); and Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum).
Once all of your plants are in place, mist the inside of your terrarium using a spray bottle. Then, clean again the sides with cotton.
III. Caring for your Mushroom Terrarium
Assuming you have followed the instructions in the article on how to make a mushroom terrarium using a mushroom spore kit, congratulations!
You now have a beautiful and unique terrarium that is home to delicate mushrooms. Here are some tips on how to care for your new terrarium so that your mushrooms can thrive.
1. Lighting and Temperature
Mushrooms need darkness to grow, so make sure your terrarium is in a shady area. They also prefer cooler temperatures, so if possible, keep your terrarium in a spot that stays between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, this depends on the type of mushroom you’re growing. For example, initiation of the fruiting phase of many oyster mushrooms requires a lower temperature of 20°C (68°F) and light.
2. Watering the Mushroom Terrarium
Your mushrooms will need to be misted with water about once a week. Use distilled water as tap water can contain chemicals that can harm the mushrooms. Be sure to mist the sides of the terrarium as well as the soil. Making sure not to soak the soil or leave standing water in the bottom of the terrarium.
The next time you’ll need to mist your terrarium, there will most likely be already mushrooms that have fruited. It takes around seven days for a mushroom spawn to fruit.
How to Make a Mushroom Terrarium | Wrapping Up
Making your basic mushroom terrarium only takes seven easy steps with a mushroom spore kit.
Once your terrarium has fruited its first flush of mushrooms, it can stay around two weeks. Then, it will disintegrate into organic matter that will play a part in the terrarium’s nutrient cycle. Even when the fruiting body dies, the mycelium underneath can still produce more flushes. And your terrarium can fruit around twice a year!
Creating and maintaining a mushroom terrarium is an enjoyable and therapeutic form of art. It’s like having a miniature garden inside your home. A great way to decorate your space! Happy mushroom growing!
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