Finishing a minimalistic, and eye-catching terrarium design is one of the most satisfying parts of the building them. And a mushroom terrarium is just that. A few rocks, a log or cork bark, moss floor, a fern, and a few mysterious mushrooms. Like a part of the forest in your own home.
So, here’s how they work, and how to build one.
How do Mushroom Terrariums Work
As fungi, mushrooms play by a few different rules than plants. So making a terrarium with them requires a different approach than a plant terrarium.
For one, mushrooms cannot be planted but grown from mycelium within the terrarium (bought and planted via a grow kit).
- The period during which mushrooms grow is very short and lasts about 1 to 2 weeks. The finished scene is very short-lived, but the shapes created by mushrooms are very beautiful, and mysterious, and they are the things that attract people.
The mushroom part is called the fruiting body and is similar to flowers when speaking about plants.
Even if the fruiting body dies, the mycelium of the mushroom does not.
As long as the mycelium is alive, mushrooms will keep growing more than once. My works actually produce mushrooms 2-3 times a year.
We create mushroom terrariums using mushrooms that grow from autumn to winter. The ideal conditions for a mushroom terrarium are when the temperature can be kept around 10 – 18 C. Summer is generally off-season.
Molds and insects are more likely to occur in the summer, so it is not recommended. In summer, enjoy it as a moss terrarium, and simply plant the mushrooms later. This video shows you how to remake and grow new mushrooms in an old project.
Mushroom terrariums should always be open and supplied with fresh air. Mushrooms will not grow in a closed terrarium.
Mushrooms like it moist and humid, so a few spritzes of water every day is all you have to do to make them happy.
Keep the mushroom terrarium out of direct or bright sunlight. Ideally under artificial light.
Mushrooms don’t need any specific layering, dirt, etc. they don’t grow roots and purely exist on the surface.
So, the only materials needed for a mushroom terrarium are:
- Glass Container (No Lid)
- Akadama Soil
- Log / Cork Bark
- Mushroom Grow Kit
- Moss (Leucobryum neilgherrense, Bartramia pomiformis, Rhizogonium dozyanum, Entodon rubicundus)
Behold The Mushrooms
Considering that the mushrooms will be the spotlight of a mushroom terrarium, you need to pick a mushroom that fits your design and idea for the terrarium.
To keep things simple I’ll list the mushrooms that have very similar growth needs, and that I personally like:
They are a little slimy and become glossy when sprayed.
- Moderate temperature 7 – 15°C
They are thick and firm. Slimy and very cute when young.
- Moderate temperature 6 – 12°C
Easiest to grow in room conditions.
- Moderate temperature 15 – 20°C
Pleurotus Ostreatus [albino]
White oyster mushroom variety. A beautiful pure white mushroom.
- Moderate temperature 10 – 16°C
A mushroom that glows in the dark.
- Moderate temperature 20 – 28°C
The Build - How to
Now that you have all of your materials ready, we can begin putting together the terrarium. As far as the layout of the terrain goes, you can structure the soil any way you’d like.
You can chose between using a combination of pumice and peat, or just akadama soil. It won’t make a difference in terms of growth of the moss and mushrooms, but if you’re also planting a small fern, then using pumice as the bottom layer, followed by peat, and akadama at the top is ideal.
If you’re just using moss, and mushrooms, then you could use Akadama soil entirely.
Planting The Mushrooms
The major part of building a mushroom terrarium is planting the mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruit of the fungi. So what you’ll be planting is mycelium which is the vegetative part of the fungus. Ready to plant mycelium can be easily obtained via a grow kit
You can plant it directly in the soil, but consider that when the mushrooms die off you will have a hard time getting it out and replacing it with new mycelium without trashing the layout of the terrarium.
To avoid this, you can plant the mushrooms in three different ways:
1. Directly In The Soil
Wrap a modest piece of mycelium (~100ml) in aluminum foil, with only the top of the mycelium exposed. Then make a hole in the soil and place it inside. After mushrooms sprout, up to three times per year, simply replace it with new mycelium in the same manner.
2. In a Piece of Cork Bark
Plant the mycelium in cork bark. The mushrooms will grow out of any openings from the piece of cork bark. You can also wrap the mycelium in aluminum foil, but it’s not necessary.
3. Inoculate a Log
Plant the mushrooms on the surface of a log. The mushrooms will grow directly from the log. The only drawback from planting mushrooms this way is that you’ll have to wait 10 months for the mycelium to inoculate the log before it can be ready to grow mushrooms.
Mushroom terrariums are truly one of the kind and give out an aesthetic unlike any other type of terrarium. They’re also harder to cultivate, and when they bloom it’s short and sweet.
While they look spectacular on their own, you can get creative and add a few decorations to bring out a desired theme.
To wrap it up, here are some great examples of such terrariums to give you a few ideas: