How Light Affects the Growth and Cultivation of Mushrooms

Blue Light

Mushrooms are intricate fungi requiring peculiar conditions, light, and specific substrates to grow. What kind of illumination do they need, how much, and what does it do for them?

Shrooms thrive in many conditions that other fungi or plants can’t and are highly resilient in sub-optimal conditions. 

They don’t require special lighting for specific internal functions, but it helps them grow bigger and display different hues. It also increases the health of fruiting bodies, and some psilocybe species may fare better with more brightness.

Join us as we explore the various aspects of mushroom cultivation and how lighting affects growth. We also examine the differences between unique species and whether an artificial or natural glow is better. 

Ready? Let’s illuminate those fungi.

What Conditions Do Mushrooms Require to Grow?

Mushrooms grew independently for millennia before humans started cultivating them for personal use. In nature, the fungi often sprout in the most unexpected, unusual places. Some appear in dark or barely lit areas, while others pop up in an open field with bright sunshine.

Research shows that these fungi typically grow better on their own in liminal or reluctant environments. It can be challenging to replicate natural conditions, but several factors contribute to thriving mycelia.

Mushrooms usually grow in the following environments:

  • Humid, hot climates and summer weather with lots of rain
  • Cattle pastures, particularly in animal dung
  • Open grasslands and fields
  • Decayed wood, tree stumps, and natural forest debris
  • Tropical or subtropical areas
  • Sunlit, grassy regions
  • Decomposed plant material

Shrooms start growing in the dark and usually sprout from the ground to receive light and humidity. They can pop up anywhere if there’s sufficient humidity and rain.

There isn’t a clear-cut or specific area to find mushrooms as they grow in most places. Common regions that experience the most psilocybin shroom growth are rainy, subtropical, and warm.

Why Mushrooms Need Light During Cultivation


Mushrooms don’t require lighting for the same reasons most plants do. They don’t go through photosynthesis, and some species can grow healthily in darkness. The consensus is that psychedelic fungi fare better with more radiance.


Depending on the species, mushrooms typically stay white during dark cultivation. If there’s illumination, it stimulates pigment formation to bring out more color and protect the fungi from ultraviolet radiation. 

Lighting impacts the mushroom caps by increasing their size. Some people prefer them to be smaller, as larger ones result in spore dispersal, possibly causing stunted development and cosmetic issues.

Mushrooms may also benefit from illumination as it aids in producing fruiting bodies. They only need a dim environment for a few hours a day. Filtered lighting is usually sufficient for them to thrive in the wild.

Blue Light: Is It Beneficial or Does It NoMake a Difference?

Blue Light

Blue light is a hotly debated topic among mushroom cultivators. Some concede that it contributes to healthier growth and better yields, while others believe it doesn’t make a difference.

Sunlight is generally more beneficial, though many growers achieve successful harvests with LED lamps.

Evidence points toward lighting having a positive impact on mushroom formation. 

The fungi benefit from it during the reproductive stage, and green, red, or blue lamps impact unique species differently.

A renowned mycologist, Paul Stamets, presented evidence for Exponential Medicine regarding yields and healthy formation. He stated mushrooms need a certain amount of lighting.

Further research proves that blue lamps aid in neurogenic compound formation. The specific color can also stimulate psilocybin precursor molecules, induce alkaloids, and develop other active ingredients. The ideal recommended wavelengths are 320–400 nm (nanometers).

Whether growers use blue lighting or not depends on personal preference. It might result in more robust, plump, and healthy fruiting bodies, but it doesn’t make a substantial difference. The same outcomes are possible with any type of illumination.

Ideal Lighting Conditions for Mushroom Cultivation

Cultivating mushrooms is relatively easy, and many growers use different approaches to achieve satisfying results.

The most common recommendation for mushroom cultivation is to start in complete darkness during incubation. Once fruiting bodies appear, only some lighting is necessary. Indirect, natural sunlight through a window is optimal and more than sufficient.

Around 3–4 hours of exposure daily is usually enough, resulting in happy, healthy fruiting bodies. 

Artificial lighting is also useful for less sunny areas. Full-spectrum lamps at 320–400 nm, CFL cool-tinted globes, or fluorescent bulbs at 100 watts are ideal. Common recommendations also highlight intensities shouldn’t be more than 6000–7000 Kelvin and should be economical.

The heat emitted from the lamps must stay low. Growers should keep mushrooms far enough from the light and be able to hold out their hands without becoming uncomfortable.

Red lamps have also shown positive impacts on mushroom growth, but the fungi thrive well even under fluorescent bulbs and indirect sunlight. 

Light the Way for Happy Mushrooms

Happy Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of the most fascinating organisms in nature, existing in their own kingdom, apart from animals and plants. The fungi grow in strange environments, on unusual surfaces like cattle dung and decaying wood, and typically thrive even in the dimmest surroundings.

Shrooms benefit more from at least some filtered light. Too much can harm them, but many cultivators expose them to about three or four hours of indirect sunlight daily. 

The right conditions can ensure healthy fruiting bodies and increase some compounds. Most growers typically rely on experimentation to find their personal preferences. Shrooms are resilient and adaptable; even sub-optimal conditions produce successful, healthy yields.

Check out the Fungushead blog for more intriguing information on mushrooms, spores, and updated scientific advancements.

All of the content and images on our site are for informational reference only. The cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is federally illegal in the United States. We do not promote the cultivation of psilocybin “magic” mushrooms under any circumstances. Do not contact us asking for advice related to this subject. Any products found on this site are for microscopy and taxonomy purposes only. None of the psilocybin mushroom spores we offer are for consumption or cultivation. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin. 


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