Do mushrooms grow in winter? That’s a pretty common question asked by those who aren’t familiar with the world of fungi.
Mushrooms grow during the winter season at a slower pace compared to those that are cultivated during the summer months. Oyster, Brick cap, Velvet foot, and Wood ear mushrooms are well adapted to winter conditions. However, the Flammulina Velutipes (Enoki) mushroom grows faster and performs better compared to other mushrooms during winter.
In order for mushrooms to grow, there has to be an ideal amount of moisture and organic matter for the mushrooms to feed on. In the summer, there is more organic matter and more moisture, but the moisture is usually from rain or a sprinkler. In the winter, it’s usually from snow.
Most fungi grow only when conditions are right. That means moist and warm conditions. Below, I’ll go through some of the common types of mushrooms that grow in winter and answer all your queries related to mushrooms growing in winter.
What Mushrooms Grow in Winter?
Everything slows down during winter. Mushrooms also experience a decrease in growth during winter. On the outside, a mushroom may look healthy, but on the inside, it may have already started to rot.
As the climatic temperature decreases mushroom growth continues to decrease as well much like garden vegetables (which they are not).
While most mushrooms don’t do well in winter, there are some exceptions. An example of such an exception is Flammulina Velutipes. It is also known as the winter mushroom.
Flammulina Velutipes is mainly found near North Carolina. It is edible and used in a variety of tasty dishes.
Although most plants and fungi are inactive during winter, “winter mushrooms” are in their prime growing season and can grow much larger than other cultivars of mushrooms.
How Much Cold Can Mushrooms Withstand?
Mushrooms undergo rapid expansion in certain weather conditions. We need to consider soil temperature, air temperature, and rainfall patterns before growing mushrooms. They mostly prefer humid and wet conditions.
See, our post on how to water mushrooms.
The optimum temperature for mushrooms is between 62-64°F, and the humidity level should range from 75-90%. Mushrooms can cultivate in temperatures ranging from 55-75°F. If the temperature drops further, it is too cold for mushroom growth.
Morels grow ideally in an air temperature of 60-70°F. If the temperature is below this range, it might experience slow growth. It may even die.
If you are interested in growing your own mushrooms, I have found this organic growing kit from amazon to be cost-effective and produce yummy mushrooms with minimal effort. It’s perfect for both beginners and enthusiasts alike.
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Can Mushrooms Survive Frost?
Mushrooms don’t grow in frost. At 32°F (0°C), the mushroom might still be alive, but there will be no growth activity. Any temperature below 32°F (0°C) will cause death in mushrooms instantly.
Mushroom Types That Grow in Winter Season:
Compared to garden vegetables some mushrooms show extraordinary growth in cold climates. Some of these winter mushrooms are:
Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus):
Oysters are one of the simplest to identify mushrooms. You can find this mushroom in all seasons, but it grows mainly during the winter months. Oysters usually have grey to bluish-grey colors. They can be brown too.
They have shell-shaped capes and prefer to live under the decaying and broad-leaved trees. Oysters are not to be confused with olive oysterling. They are similar in appearance, but olive oysterling can be toxic. Hence, olive oysterling should not be consumed.
Brick Cap (Hypholoma sublateritium):
Brick caps are lesser-known mushrooms. However, they have great medicinal importance. They contain clavaric acid, which can prevent lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. They have a bitter taste that improves as time passes.
When cooked, they taste nutty. Brick cap mushrooms have redfish caps having a diameter of 3.5 to 10 cm and purple-brown spores. They are mostly found under decaying trees.
It is best to collect them while they are young because their taste turns more bitter as they grow old. The reason for the increased bitterness can be an insect infestation.
Velvet Foot (Enoki):
Velvet foot, commonly known as Enoki, are thin, long, white mushrooms primarily used in East Asian cuisine. They are known to grow all year long, but they show significantly more growth during the winter months.
Velvet foot mushrooms have a flat yellow cap of 2-5 cm and a velvety stem. They can withstand freezing weather conditions. Primarily found in dense clusters in decaying trees, fallen trees, and tree stumps. Horse Chestnut and elms are known to be their favorable host.
Late Fall Oyster (Panellus serotinus):
Late fall oysters, as the name indicates, are primarily grown in fall and early winter. They are popular in Japanese cuisine and grown in conservatories in Japan.
Late fall oysters have oyster-shaped caps in olive-grey and olive-brown color. They produce a yellow spore print and have dense gills, which can be creamy white, pale yellow, even brown, depending on the age of the mushroom. They have a short, thick stalk and are bitter.
Furthermore, they can easily be identified due to their shelf-like structure.
Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor):
Turkey tail mushrooms are common and beautiful mushrooms usually identified by their vibrant colors. They can be found throughout the U.K. in late autumn and winter. They have fragile caps, no gills, and a whitish spore print.
Although these mushrooms are not edible, they are not toxic either and can be used as a medicine. Turkey tail mushrooms are widely used in the medical field to treat cancer, weak immune system, chest infection, and influenza. They can also fix and prevent bacterial imbalance.
Moreover, they are mostly found under logs, fallen branches, and stumps in woodlands.
Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae):
Wood ear mushrooms grow all year continuously, and they reach their peak in the fall. The cap is mostly dark grayish brown, and the gills and stem are absent.
The mushrooms have an ear-shaped appearance and a reddish-brown color. They appear jelly-like at first and then solidify as they age. They form clusters under damaged wood of living trees and fallen branches. Moreover, they mostly prefer to reside in elder trees.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus):
Chagas grow all year round, but they are easiest to find in the winter. They are irregular and look like burnt charcoal, and they live on trees as parasites.
Chaga mushrooms are a natural remedy for lowering blood sugar levels and are a good cure for arthritis. If taken in high doses, they can cause hypoglycemia. Also, an overdose of Chaga can inhibit blood clotting.
Chaga mushrooms have an earthy flavor with slight bitterness and should not be eaten directly. You can grind Chaga mushroom and put it in smoothies. You can also make tea from it.
Blewit (Clitocybe nuda):
Blewit mushrooms are widely found in Europe and North America. They have a pleasant odor and a bluish cap that turns brown as time passes. The cap has a diameter of 6-15 cm. They produce pinkish spores.
Blewit mushrooms appear when the temperature drops below 18 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily survive freezing weather. They are found under old beech trees, mature deciduous trees, and woodlands.
Edible Mushrooms That Grow in Winter:
Although various mushrooms grow in winter, not all are edible. Some edible winter mushrooms include oysters, wood ear, velvet foot, late fall oysters, brick cap, blewit, etc.
Oyster is an edible mushroom known for its taste and texture. Raw oysters are chewy. When cooked, it can have a creamy, chicken-like taste. It is widely used as a texture booster in pasta.
Apart from being delicious, oysters have a lot of health benefits. They boost the immune system, maintain a healthy blood sugar level, and have anti-inflammatory properties. They have a lot of fiber and are antioxidants.
Another example of edible winter mushrooms is the wood ear. They are a significant part of Chinese cuisine and have a soft, chewy texture.
Wood ear mushrooms are rich in vitamin B-complex and plant-based collagen making them anti-aging. They improve heart function and are known as an immunity boosters. As they are prone to bacteria, they are not eaten raw.
How To Grow Mushrooms In The Winter?
There are many ways to grow mushrooms in cold climates. One of the easiest ways is getting a mushroom growing kit. It is ideal for beginners as you won’t have to begin afresh.
It takes up less room and doesn’t take much effort as everything is already done for you.
Furthermore, it is also less time-consuming. All you need to do is provide light and set up the tent which comes with the kit.
Another method is buying a mushroom spawn. This method is most suited for experienced people. Start by getting a mushroom species you wish to grow. As soon as the spawn of mushroom variety is prepared, provide another accommodation for fruiting.
Lastly, you can inoculate them on tree trunks. This method requires a lot of tolerance. You can start by cultivating mushrooms on a log in any season and then inoculate within four months. Remember to cut the log to an average size. This will save you a lot of effort and time.
See our detailed post on the
6 steps on How to Grow Mushrooms for sure growth And How Do Mushrooms Reproduce.
When Do Mushrooms Grow Best?
Mushroom experiences growth during the whole year. However, the period of fruiting can differ depending on the mushroom species. For most mushrooms, fruiting occurs during fall, summer, and spring, while some mushrooms experience fruiting during winter.
If you intend on growing mushrooms, it is crucial to know the species of mushroom and its fruiting season. For instance, Morels are well-known mushrooms that experience rapid growth during spring.
Another example is Oysters. These mushrooms have many varieties, and their fruiting season varies. All Oyster mushrooms prefer cool and wet weather and undergo fruiting in early spring, late summer, fall, and sometimes during winter.
People often believe that mushrooms cannot thrive in colder climates. While cultivating mushrooms in colder climates can be challenging, it is not impossible.
Agriculturists can use various methods to plant mushrooms during the winter months. By choosing the correct way, you can quickly improve your experience with cultivating mushrooms.
Additionally, some mushrooms are at their best in the winter season and reach their peak growth phase during this time, making it much easier to cultivate them in colder climates than other mushroom varieties.