How Long Does It Take To Grow Mushrooms? All Questions Answered

Before you start growing your own mushrooms, you probably want to know what kind of time commitment they require.

The fastest growing mushrooms are ready to harvest in just 3 or 4 weeks. 

Even the slowest growing mushrooms take just a few months from start to finish.

In this article, you’ll learn how long it takes to grow various types of mushrooms

You’ll also learn factors that influence how fast mushrooms grow. Plus ways you can make them grow even faster.

Phoenix Oyster mushroom growing in a bag of substrate

How Long Does It Take To Grow Mushrooms?

Some mushrooms, like the Pink Oyster, can grow in as little as 4 or 5 days from when the mushroom pins start to form, or around 14 days from when you first inoculate the substrate with mushroom spawn. 

The visible growth that you see from when pins start to form until you have mushrooms ready for harvest is only part of the mushrooms growth process.

Before a mushroom can develop, it has to go through its earlier life stages first. That includes the spawn run and incubation.

Not familiar with the full mushroom life cycle? You can read about the entire process here: A Detailed Explanation of the Mushroom Life Cycle

So how long does it take for mushrooms to grow through their entire life cycle?

Consider how long it takes from when you first inoculate a bag with mushroom spawn. Then the fastest growing mushrooms are ready to pick in around 14 days.

Here are five of the most popular and easiest to grow mushroom varieties and how long it takes to grow each of them:

  1. Oyster mushrooms – As little as 14 days, grown in bags
  2. Shiitake mushrooms – 6 months if grown in logs, between 8 and 12 weeks if grown on sawdust.
  3. Wine cap mushrooms – 4 to 6 weeks in bags, 2 to 8 months in outdoor beds
  4. Pioppino mushrooms – 4 to 6 weeks, grown in bags
  5. Lion’s mane mushrooms – 1 to 2 years if grown on logs, 4 to 6 weeks if grown in bags.

In comparison, consider how long it takes to grow morel mushrooms. It can take 3 to 5 years from when you spread spores in an area until a colony of mushrooms appears.

A selection of edible gourmet mushrooms

Is It Difficult To Grow Mushrooms?

No, growing mushrooms isn’t hard! With a bit of research and following along with instructions, it’s easy to start growing mushrooms, even at home.

Mushrooms are a high yielding crop that can grow in small spaces. This makes them one of the easiest and most profitable crops for beginner growers.

If you’re just learning how to grow mushrooms, some species are easier to grow than others. Oyster mushrooms are among the easiest to grow.

There are also some growing methods that are easier than others, and some require very little expertise or effort at all.

At GroCycle, we focus on teaching you how to create your own Low Tech Mushroom Farm

We’ve found that the techniques we use will minimize the risk of contamination in your mushroom growing operation. Without the need for a cleanroom or expensive equipment.

If you want to start a commercial mushroom farm, you’ll want to read our article How to Grow Mushrooms in a Bag.

Oyster mushrooms growing on a fruiting block.

What Is the Fastest Growing Mushroom?

Pink oyster mushrooms are probably the fastest growing mushrooms that you’ll find. 

How long does it take to grow oyster mushrooms? For pink oyster mushrooms, they’re ready to harvest in just 13 – 15 days, from start to finish.

All oyster mushroom varieties grow very quickly and aggressively and make a great choice for beginners. We’ve just found that the pink ones tend to grow the fastest of all.

In comparison, shiitake mushrooms are probably one of the slowest growing mushrooms that are commonly grown. 

It takes between 8 and 12 weeks for incubation. Then another 1 to 2 weeks of fruiting time before they’re ready to harvest.

Close up of pink oyster mushrooms

How Long Do Mushroom Kits Take To Grow? 

Our GroCycle Mushroom Kit is ready to harvest in just 14 days.

However, that number is an average. The truth is that mushroom kits may grow in 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the mushroom variety and the temperature.

Most mushroom kits will produce two very large crops of mushrooms. Then they may continue to produce several smaller crops until the nutrients of the kit have been completely used up.

Mushroom kits are one of the fastest ways to start growing mushrooms at home. 

Growing mushrooms from kits is relatively foolproof. You only have to spend a couple of minutes per day misting them.

The biggest advantage is that you don’t have to go through the inoculation and incubation stages yourself. Which is where your grow bag has the highest risk of contamination.

When you receive a GroCycle Mushroom Kit, it’s already fully colonized. All you need to do is carefully cut the bag open as per the instructions. Then mushrooms will start to grow.

Our kits also come with a Grow Guarantee. In the unlikely event your kit doesn’t grow, we’ll send you a free replacement.

Oyster Mushrooms growing from coffee grounds - GroCycle Mushroom Kits

Can a Mushroom Grow in 24 Hours? 

Mushrooms can’t go through their full life cycle in just 24 hours.

There’s a lot of work that needs to happen in terms of developing a network of mycelium (basically the roots of the mushroom) before they’re able to grow.

Usually this process happens underground and away from where humans can see it. So it certainly gives the illusion that mushrooms can pop up from nowhere overnight.

Once mushrooms start fruiting, it’s true that they can double in size every 24 hours. It’s a very dramatic transformation once they get going.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that weeks of growth have gone on beneath the surface.

It’s only once mycelium has fully colonized a substrate that mushrooms can start to grow.

Growing mushrooms in coffee grounds

How Do Mushrooms Grow So Fast?

Mushrooms grow so fast because the process for fungi is very different from how plants and animals grow.

The mushroom fruiting process starts off with the growth of pins. These are tiny structures on the mycelium that will eventually become mushrooms.

Plants and animals grow through the process of cell division, which takes a lot of time and energy. 

Mushrooms on the other hand, only grow by cell division at the beginning to first establish pins.

Once pins form, the mushroom has grown all of the cells that it will need for the rest of its growth cycle.

From there, the cells of the pins get flooded with water and nutrients. This causes them to balloon up in size very rapidly.

To see this theory in action, check out the Oyster Mushroom Timelapse Video (& How Mushrooms Grow So Fast) video that we made over on our Youtube channel.

Learn how mushrooms grow so fast

Factors That Influence How Fast Mushrooms Grow

The factors that influence how fast mushrooms grow are numerous. 

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to pick a mushroom species that’s known to grow fast. Oyster mushrooms are a great choice.

Then carefully follow the instructions provided with your grow kit, mushroom spawn or spores. 

The seller should provide the exact conditions that will let your mushrooms thrive and grow quickly.

Spawn vs. Spores

It’s much easier to grow mushrooms if you’re starting with spawn instead of spores. 

The exact time it will take to grow mushrooms from spores vs spawn will depend on the type of mushrooms you’re growing. But spawn will always grow faster.

Another advantage of spawn is that it can be cloned. You know the exact qualities of the mushrooms you’re going to get from spawn. 

In contrast, mushroom spores are genetically distinct. So it’s harder to predict exactly what you will get.

The bottom line is: If you want to grow mushrooms quickly, choose spawn over spores.

How To Grow Your Own DIY Mushroom Spawn explains how to start your own mushroom spawn. You can even use fresh mushrooms from the grocery store to get started.

Mushroom grain spawn

Strain

Even within a single species of mushroom, there can be variation in different strains.

For example, at GroCycle we use a different strain of oyster mushrooms in the summer months than in winter months. 

In the summer we use a strain that prefers warmer temperatures. And in the winter, we grow a strain of oyster mushrooms that’s better at tolerating cooler temperatures.

Harvesting different strains of oyster mushrooms

Temperature

We already alluded to it above, but different species of mushrooms prefer to grow in different temperatures.

Just like in your vegetable garden.  You can grow cool weather crops like lettuce. Or you can grow warm weather crops like tomatoes. But you wouldn’t want to grow tomatoes in early spring or late fall.

Similarly, different types of mushrooms have their preferred temperature range that they’ll grow best in.

Temperature is also a factor in how fast mushrooms grow. Mushrooms will grow faster in warmer temperatures (19 – 35C / 66 – 95F), and slower in cooler temperatures (2 – 16C / 36 – 60F).

Spawn Rate

Spawn rate is the amount of mushroom spawn that you add to your grow bags. Usually this is measured in a ratio to your amount of substrate, and a higher spawn rate will make your mushrooms grow faster.

For example, you could have a bag that’s 10% mushroom spawn and 90% substrate.

If you increase your spawn rate to 20% spawn and 80% substrate, your bags will colonize more quickly.

Substrate or Growing Medium

Some substrates are more nutritious or easier for mycelium to digest. 

Generally growing mushrooms on logs will take the longest. 

Growing on sawdust, wood chips or wood pellets will take slightly less time.

A substrate like straw can provide the fastest growth, as the particles size and structure enables the mycelium to spread very quickly.

You can also grow some mushrooms like Oyster mushrooms on materials like coffee grounds or cardboard, which can be digested quickly.

Read our article How to Grow Mushrooms on Cardboard: the Complete Guide to see how you can start growing mushrooms on supplies that you already have lying around.

Oyster mushrooms growing on cardboard.

Humidity

Mushrooms need a humid environment when they’re fruiting. After all, they’re made of more than 90% water

Increasing humidity can help your mushrooms grow faster and of a better quality. Although it’s a balancing act, as too much humidity increases risk of bacterial infection and mold as well.

If your growing environment is too dry it may stall growth altogether and abort the fruiting cycle.

CO2 Level

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels also affect mushroom growth. 

If you have too much CO2 in your fruiting chamber, it can lead to mushrooms that grow slowly or look deformed. You can manage this with good ventilation.

You’ll need a mushroom fruiting chamber to control variables like CO2 and humidity. Our article How to Build a Mushroom Fruiting Chamber: 7 Steps will help you get one set up.

Fridge panel fruiting chamber

Light

Mycelium doesn’t need any light while it’s colonizing. In fact, it’s best to keep your grow bags in darkness during this stage of the growing process.

However, light can signal to mushroom fruit bodies that it’s time to grow. 

We try to provide our mushrooms with low light levels when fruiting. Similar to what they’d naturally receive when growing on a shady forest floor in autumn.

How To Make Mushrooms Grow Faster

Here are some of our top tips for making your mushrooms grow faster.

  • Choose a fast-growing oyster mushroom strain. We like summer oyster or pink oyster best. They can grow in as little as nine days incubation and four days for fruiting.
  • Increase the spawn rate up to 20%. Like we mentioned above, more spawn means faster growth during the incubation phase. Plus lower risk of contamination.
  • Grow your mushrooms in warmer temperatures. For our oyster mushrooms, we incubate at 24 C (75 F) and fruit at between 20 – 30 C (68 – 86 F) depending on the strain.
Pink oyster mushrooms growing in bags of sawdust.

Final Thoughts

It can be easy to think that mushrooms simply pop up overnight.

One day you might walk through the forest and nothing is there. The next day, the forest floor can be covered with fully grown mushrooms.

While mushrooms fruit quite fast, it still takes a couple of weeks for their mycelium to get established before they can start to grow.

You can speed up the process by managing factors like light, CO2, humidity, temperature, spawn rate and more.