So you’ve just come out of your most recent mushroom trip with a newfound outlook and purpose in life. However, obtaining more mushrooms to keep the good vibes going with a microdose regimen or occasional cup of mushroom tea is proving to be a hassle.
Your friend of a friend is just too unreliable, while the guy you got some caps and stems from at the Phish show is long gone. Or maybe you just can’t afford to keep buying shrooms for however much they cost in your area.
If you’re ready to take the next step toward fulfilling your interest in magic mushrooms and decide to grow your own, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a breakdown of the very first step in growing your own mushrooms—obtaining spores.
Just as all plants start from seeds, mushrooms begin as spores. Spores contain the genetic material required to create various subspecies of mushrooms.
We aren’t talking about run-of-the-mill shiitake spores for making mushroom bisque soup here—we’re discussing psilocybe cubensis spores, the most common cultivated psychedelic mushroom. Spores for other types of psilocybin mushrooms, like psilocybe cyanescens and others, can also be obtained. For the sake of an easy learning curve, let’s begin with cubensis.
Once a medium is inoculated with spores, or introduced and absorbed into the host substrate or medium, a network of stringy white branching filaments called the mycelium will form.
The mycelium grows best within substrates like brown rice flour, coco coir, manure or other enriched mediums. Once entirely colonized by mycelium in a healthy white concentration, the substrate is then incubated with proper temperature, humidity, and light, to allow mushrooms to start growing, or fruiting.
How to grow psychedelic mushrooms for the first time
Spores develop in the gills of a mushroom and shoot out or fall from a fully mature mushroom that has already fruited. Cultivators can make spore prints from the gills of fresh mushrooms by placing a sheet of plastic, paper, or foil beneath the mushroom cap. Over the course of several hours the residue that constitutes the spore print should be visible.
Prints can then be scraped for powder and put into a spore syringe.
Spore prints are placed in spore syringes to best deliver them into a substrate to achieve their main goals—colonization and germination. These syringes consist of sterilized water and spores of a particular mushroom species. Vendors produce these spore solutions and syringes in a sterilized lab to eliminate any possible contamination.
Syringe sizes are typically 10cc (or 10mL). An average of 2-4cc of spore solution is usually necessary to achieve proper colonization. It’s recommended to not exceed the typical injection amount of 2-4cc, in order to reduce excess moisture within substrate containers, which could lead to irreversible mold formation. Any spore solution left over can be used for additional substrates if properly stored and sterilized.
Spore vendors will also ship a sterile needle attachment that can be affixed to a syringe to introduce or inoculate the spores directly into the substrate. Even though these needles are shipped sterile, as with most mushroom cultivation practices, always re-sterilize them before use.
Possession of psilocybin is illegal in the US. Psilocybin is not present in spores themselves, but it will develop later as the mushroom grows. Because of this, there is a haziness in the legality of shipping and possessing spores that will turn into psychedelic mushrooms.
Spore vendors will typically ship to 47 out of 50 US states—California, Idaho, and Georgia currently have bans in place that restrict the sale of spores, even though they don’t actually contain psilocybin. Be sure to check your state’s specific laws.
Trusted vendors often sell spores only for educational purposes, and often do not sell cultures to customers under 18.
Where are psychedelics legal or decriminalized in the US?
Web forums like mycotopia.net have numerous comment threads from a worldwide community of mushroom growers. We can’t vouch for any company personally, but we do recommend doing research—the most reputable companies have sustained their businesses for a number of years with proven procedures, trusted products, and strong customer service. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a specific vendor with an email or phone call should you have any questions or concerns.
Expect to pay somewhere between $18-25 per spore syringe, not including shipping costs. Many vendors offer bundle discounts for multiple syringes of the same subspecies or offer mix-and-match options for those seeking a wide variety of subspecies to grow.
Spore syringes can easily be purchased online from a trusted vendor via credit or debit card. Some vendors accept digital payments through Cashapp, Applepay, and Bitcoin for discreteness, while others are more old school in their payment procedures and require a phone call or cash (yep, CASH) to place orders.
Spore syringes are usually mailed domestically via USPS or carriers like UPS, in plastic ziplock bags, and inside plain cardboard boxes.
Most spore vendors operate under common sense principles—this means no identifiable info will be visible that indicates what the package contains. Many spore companies also use alternate shipping names for themselves on the label for an added measure of anonymity.
Check your local laws before ordering, and be sure to confirm discretionary shipping practices and the contents of the package with your vendor.
How to forage for magic mushrooms
Keep spore syringes in the refrigerator until ready to use, especially if you choose not to inoculate immediately, or if you have some spores left over from an inoculation. They should remain in a clean and sterile Ziplock bag in the fridge so they can remain viable for the longest amount of time. This practice keeps syringes away from airborne contaminants and any changes in humidity that might affect spores.
There is some back-and-forth as to how long properly stored and clean spore syringes can still be successfully used. Some mycologists believe any spores kept after six months are going to degrade. Others claim to have successfully germinated shrooms with spores several years to several decades old! It’s all about how many mushrooms you plan to grow at once, sterilization and storage methods, and quality of spore genetics involved.
However, the best way to optimize your purchase is to inoculate sooner than later, ideally within six months.
With an ideal temperature and humidity, and a sterile environment, many subspecies of psychedelic mushrooms will practically grow themselves.
For a safe bet, start with a cubensis subspecies like B+, Golden Teachers, Penis Envy, Ecuadorian, Amazonian, or Cambodian spores. All of these grow easily and aggressively, both the mycelium in the substrate, and the fruiting bodies. These subspecies are often more forgiving of minor changes in temperature, humidity, and habitat.
Many experienced cultivators make their own spore prints and syringes. However, if you are new to mushroom cultivation, we recommend that you first master the basics of the mushroom growing process. Once you’ve got the whole process down and have checked your local laws, take it to the next phase by making your own prints and syringes.
The spore print process—much like mushroom cultivation in general—relies heavily on successful sterilization procedures.