Skip to main content

How to grow morel mushrooms at home and save yourself tons of money

A complete care guide to growing your own morel mushrooms

An orange morel mushroom growing in a forest

If you’re a fan of mushrooms, then you’re probably familiar with morel mushrooms. While there are many types of mushrooms you can grow at home, morels are primarily foraged. These mushrooms are elusive and delicious, leaving many gardeners wondering if they can be grown at home.

If you’ve never had one, you may wonder what makes them so special. Not to worry, we’re here to explain everything. We’ll clue you in on how to grow morel mushrooms, why they’re so sought after, and what makes growing them different from growing a vegetable garden.

What are morel mushrooms?

Morel mushrooms, or Morchella, are a species of edible mushroom with caps that resemble honeycombs. They’re prized for their rich, earthy taste, but also because they’re rather difficult to come by. Morels are an unreliable crop, so they aren’t farmed on a large scale like other mushrooms. This means that they need to be found in the wild, a difficult task in and of itself since morels blend into the forest so well. Depending on the exact variety and how far they’re being shipped, morels can cost anywhere from $30 a pound to several hundred dollars.

Naturally, if you’re a fan of morels, you’ll want to skip that price tag by growing or foraging for your own. If you forage for them, be aware that morels have a poisonous look-alike mushroom, called false morels. False morels can look very similar to true morels, but they are typically more red in color.

A reliable way to tell the difference is to cut the mushroom in half. True morels are hollow inside, while false morels are solid. It’s a good idea to go mushroom hunting with an experienced guide, especially the first few times you go foraging. If you have any doubts about what kind of mushroom you have, don’t eat it. No mushroom, no matter how delicious, is worth your life. If you suspect you’ve eaten the wrong kind of mushroom, seek medical help immediately.

Morel mushrooms on a cutting board, one cut in half to show the hollow center
Jaroslav Machacek/Shutterstock

Why are morel mushrooms so difficult to grow?

If morels are so unreliable to grow, though, you may be wondering if it’s even possible to farm them yourself. The answer is yes, sometimes. Morels are fickle mushrooms, and it’s possible to do everything right and still not see results the first time you try. However, there are plenty of gardeners who see success, even if it sometimes takes multiple tries.

Part of the difficulty in growing them is that morels won’t grow indoors like many other mushrooms will. This gives the gardener less control over the growing conditions, which, when combined with the picky nature of morels, means there is a lower success rate. You can raise your chances somewhat with a grow kit, but it’s helpful to go into this with the understanding that farming morels is a long-term process that is partially out of your control. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time — keep at it!

A single black morel mushroom

Starting your morel mushrooms

Start by getting morel mushroom spores or spawn. You can use a grow kit for this, order them online or at a specialty store, or harvest your own spores from a foraged morel. The most reliable way to harvest spores from a morel is to boil water with a tablespoon of molasses and a quarter teaspoon of salt. After the water has boiled and cooled down, add in shredded or chopped morel pieces.

You need at least one full morel, but you can add more for a greater chance of getting spores. Let the water sit for two days, then strain it through cheesecloth to remove the mushroom chunks. The water should have plenty of spores, and you can pour it directly onto the planting site once it’s ready.

After adding your spores, lay a thin layer, only about a quarter inch, of compost over it. If conditions are right, and you’re lucky, you can see mushroom growth in a matter of days. Morels grow very quickly, so keep a close eye on your planting area. Once they begin to show, give them another day or two to grow and mature. You can leave them longer, but keep in mind that they’re outdoors, with the elements and animals. The longer you leave them to grow, the more you risk damaged mushrooms. Harvest them by snapping or cutting them off at the base. Don’t pull them up, as this can damage the mycelium network the mushrooms grow from.

Harvesting a morel mushroom with a knife

What morels need in a planting site

Morels grow on the forest floor, typically among deciduous trees. To increase your chances of success, try to mimic these conditions as best you can. They need filtered, patchy sunlight to grow best. If you have a deciduous tree or trees in your yard, you might try planting the morels under them. Morels also need loamy soil, preferably with decaying wood in it, and consistent moisture with cool temperatures. You can add compost, especially composted wood, or wood ash to the soil before planting your morels. Spring is the typical growing season for morels, as it is mild and wet, but in hotter climates, you might have better results in late fall.

A morel mushroom growing on a tree

Will morels come back every year?

Yes! Keep maintaining your growing site and you should see morels growing there again next year. When morels are harvested, they leave behind spores and their mycelium network. New morels grow from these, as long as the conditions are correct. You can also save a few morels to create another spore slurry, if there is damage at the planting site and you suspect there may no longer be a mycelium network.

Morels are difficult to grow, but they aren’t impossible. Following these tips can help increase your chances, but the most important thing is to keep at it! Your harvests may be small at first, but by repeating the process over time, you can eventually establish a thriving colony of morel mushrooms in your own yard. Enjoy the rich taste of morels, without the steep price tag.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
Why are your cucumber leaves wilting? How to save this salad staple
How to treat wilted cucumber leaves
Person transplanting a cucumber seedling into a garden

If you want a garden-fresh salad with your own cucumbers or some delicious homemade pickles, then you’ll need to add cucumbers to your vegetable garden. Cucumber plants are a pretty simple vegetable to grow, but they can be a touch finicky sometimes. Aside from their pollination issues and cucumber beetles, the most common problem is cucumber leaves wilting. There are several reasons your cucumber leaves may be wilting, some of which you can treat. To determine why your cucumber leaves are wilting and what you should do about it, keep reading.

Bacterial wilt
Bacterial wilt is caused by Erwinia tracheiphila, a bacteria found in cucumber beetles. These beetles feed on cucumber plants, and when they do, it creates small wounds that would otherwise be harmless. However, when the beetle’s dung comes into contact with these wounds, the bacteria passes into the plant. Once the plant is infected, cucumber beetles feeding on it pick up more bacteria that can then transfer to more cucumber plants.

Read more
Growing squash vertically is easy with these simple tips
How to successfully add squash to your vertical garden
White squash growing on trellis

From delicious pumpkin pie to savory grilled zucchini, the squash family has something for everyone. It's no wonder so many gardeners want to add them to their gardens! In addition to being delicious, squash are easy to grow vegetables, and they come in so many different varieties you're almost guaranteed to find one that fits your gardening style.

The problem is that squash take up a lot of room. The vines will grow over anything, potentially even your other plants, and tend to climb out of their beds into the yard, walkways, or whatever else is in their path. The solution to this? Grow them vertically! If you've never tried growing squash vertically, this simple guide will help get you started.

Read more
When should you harvest watermelons? What you need to know
Get the timing right for your watermelon harvest
Freshly cut watermelon slices

Knowing when to harvest watermelons can be tricky, especially if you’re used to growing crops like tomatoes, where there’s an obvious physical change (like turning from green to red) that indicates ripeness. Watermelons go through more subtle changes, so they can be difficult to spot if you don't know what to look for. If you're wondering if your watermelons are ready to harvest, this is the guide for you. We'll break down everything you need to know about when to harvest watermelons for the perfect summer snack!

How to tell your watermelons are ready for harvesting
Most watermelon varieties are ready to harvest roughly 1 month after the plant has bloomed, or 2 to 3 months after planting your watermelon seeds. The exact time can vary depending on the type of watermelons you're growing, what the weather has been like, and whether all the plant's needs have been met.

Read more