Mushrooms are saprophytic living things. Therefore, they depend on dead animals and plant materials. When living organisms have chlorophyll in their cells, they can photosynthesize and produce their own food using sunlight as their energy source. But do mushrooms need sunlight? 

Mushrooms don’t consist of chlorophyll and therefore they don’t need sunlight. Not only that fact but mushrooms can also grow outdoors as well as indoors. The darkness is one of the most needed requirements for mushroom development. 

But heat is also needed and sunlight used to get enough heat and sunlight (dim/ indirect light) is needed to the growth of fruiting bodies. Few hours are enough for that growth of fruiting bodies.  

Do Mushrooms Need Sunlight

Do Mushrooms Need Sunlight?

Light is not a necessary fact for the growth of the mushrooms but when considering the formation of fruiting bodies, light is one of the most needed facts. When harvesting mushrooms you can also use artificial light like LED light and fluorescent light. Some studies show that the blue color is the most effective color for formation of fruiting bodies.

But in rare cases, there are light loving mushrooms. Some of them are:

Garden giant (Stropharia rugosoannulata) – this is an edible mushroom.  It has commercial value and easily cultivated mushroom species. 

Shaggy ink cap (Coprinus comatus) is an edible mushroom too. This is cultivated the most in China.

Agaricus bisporus– is the common edible mushroom type worldwide. It is button shaped and the most cultivated mushroom type commercially.  

Can you grow mushrooms with LED lights?

Yes. You can grow mushrooms with LED lights. Some studies prove that artificial light is enough for mushroom growth. The blue, green and red LED lights are more effective in mushroom development than other colors. 

These colors affect the yield, weight of mushrooms and productivity of mushrooms. Green, Blue and Red color LED lights enhance the productivity of mushrooms. The mushroom exposing time for LED light is about 12 hours a day for the best growth and the rest of time, mushrooms should be exposed to dim sunlight.  

Do mushrooms grow at night?

Normally mushrooms need darkness for their growth. Therefore they can grow at night or in the dark but the correct humidity, temperature and other weather conditions should be suitable for the growth. 

Can mushrooms grow without sunlight?

Mushrooms have no chlorophyll so they are not doing photosynthesis. Therefore they don’t necessarily need the sunlight. But the mushrooms need some amount of humidity like 85 percent. To keep that humidity, the sunlight is evaporating water from the water sourcers and as an indirect way sunlight is  a needed factor. 

Do Mushrooms Need Sunlight

Do mushrooms need a light cycle?

The dim sunlight, LED light or Fluorescent light can be used in mushroom cultivation as a light source. When it comes to LED light or fluorescent light, there is a schedule to give light and the schedule is a 12 hour schedule.

When considering mushrooms, they need some light to produce their fruiting bodies. After the growth medium or substrate is full with the mycelium of the mushroom, the mushrooms are growing within 5 to 30 days of the time period under dim light and correct weather conditions.

Normally the lighting schedule is arranged as 12hours time period. But if the intensity of the light is high, the mushroom exposing time should be reduced to protect the mushroom cultivation. If you use high intense light, it is enough to expose the cultivation to light for 3 to 4 hours per day. 

The other fact to consider is the distance between the substrate and the artificial lights. Because the lights make heat and sometimes that heat can damage the growing mycelium. 

How are mushrooms sensing light?

Mushrooms and other fungi can sense some spectrum of light as the adaptation to the environment. According to some studies they say, fungi can sense light as red, blue, green and near UV (ultraviolet) etc.  

Fungi/ mushrooms have receptors to signaling and they use receptors for their cellular level activities. These receptors are called photoreceptors and studies show that fungi have about 11 photoreceptors. 

The mushrooms consist of some photoreceptors like cryptochromes, phytochromes and rhodopsins and they are responsible for absorbing red light from the light source. 

Some studies show that mushrooms are growing larger, healthier and grow faster under the blue light and the growth is reduced under red light. Not only the visible light but there is also UV light responsible for the better growing of mushrooms. The UV light spectrum helps mushrooms to produce vitamin D2.  

Should mycelium be kept in the dark?

Light for the growth of mushrooms varies from mushroom to mushroom. Some mushrooms need light for their mycelium growth and some mushroom types just require light to form their fruiting bodies. Some mushrooms do not need light to grow. The mushrooms need light for their mycelium growth also.  

Do Mushrooms Need Sunlight

Related question

Do mushrooms need oxygen?

The mushrooms are saprophytes. They depend on the decaying organic materials and when they are respirating they take oxygen and produce carbon dioxide as human beings too. If the mushrooms did not get enough oxygen, they would spoile. 

The spoiled mushrooms look brown and can observe spots. The low oxygen level helps to grow anaerobic bacteria like Clostridium botulinum. These anaerobic microorganisms affect the growth of mushrooms and  can lead the mushroom to death. 

But the incubation time period is different in mushrooms. At that time they can survive under high carbon dioxide concentrations.because the mycelium love to grow in semi anaerobic conditions. But mycelium also needs less oxygen for their living purposes. 

How much water do mushrooms need?

Mushrooms are considered as living things therefore they need the basic things that living organisms need. Mushrooms need water. 

The water is one of the essential components in mushroom development. But we should be very careful when watering the mushrooms because too much water or little amount of water can lead mushrooms to rot or die. 

Mushroom growing experts say that you need to add water for your mushroom cultivation at least twice daily. And this can be morning and evening. Three times a day is the best. 

If the watering schedule increases to 4-5 times daily, you should spray water to the soil. When watering, the important fact is to water the soil/ substrate and not water the mushroom. And spraying water is the best and safest  way to add water to the mushrooms.

The needed water amount also depends on the mushroom variety, age of mushrooms and size of the mushrooms.

Other factors to consider when watering mushrooms:

The other  importance of watering mushrooms is to maintain the suitable humidity. The tap water is not suitable for mushroom watering because chlorine can do harm to the growth of mushrooms. 

The bottled spring water is the best and most suitable option. You can’t use distilled water, due to the lack of nutrients in them. 

Sometimes rain water  can also be used as an alternative for this purpose, but collecting problems may be affected by that option.  

Do Mushrooms Need Sunlight

Do mushrooms need fresh air?

Yes, mushrooms need fresh air for their growth and producing fruiting bodies. When we cultivate mushrooms, we need to consider about maintaining humidity and fresh air. As human beings and other animals, the mushrooms can take oxygen and clear away carbon dioxide during their respiration. 

When mushrooms are cultivated indoors, it should give good consideration for the carbon dioxide level in the environment. Because the mushrooms are very sensitive to the carbon dioxide level.   

This risk increases if you cultivate Oyster mushrooms indoors. Therefore, fresh air circulation in your mushroom cultivation area or fruiting chamber is needed. You can reduce or eliminate this risk by installing a ventilator in your cultivation. 

The studies show that the calculated standard fresh air exchange rate is about 4 times an hour. The fruiting bodies are formed from mycelium, when the carbon dioxide level is low. But you should be able to maintain the humidity in your fruiting chamber too. 

The freshed air conditions help to reduce the growth of some bacteria and molds which can damage the mushrooms. The oxygen requirement of mushrooms changes according to their growth levels. 

In the incubation period, mycelium needs high levels of carbon dioxide but at least less oxygen is needed to survive. When mycelium forms fruiting bodies they need more oxygen than carbon dioxide.  

Do mushrooms need fertilizer?

Mushrooms need nutrients for their growth as other living beings. Carbon and Nitrogen are the two main components that affect the growth of mushrooms. Mushrooms need micronutrients too and they are magnesium, potassium, selenium, ferrus, manganese, copper, zink, molybdenum and phosphorus. 

Mushrooms are world wide commercially cultivated food and some species are used as medicines. When mushrooms are cultivated as large scales, the fertilizers are used to fulfill the nutrient requirement. 

The best fertilizer for the mushrooms is compost. The correctly prepared compost can increase the mushroom yield.

The mushrooms complete  their nutrient requirement externally. First they degraded the decaying or dead animal or plant materials using their enzymes. Some of the enzymes they used are, lignin peroxidase, oxidase, quinone reductase, cellulase etc. 

The nutrient requirements of mushrooms vary according to mushroom type. They are: 

  • Saprotrophs
  • Mycorrhizal
  • Parasites


These types of mushrooms can decompose the dead plant and dead animal organic matter into compost. They are decomposers and depend on organic compounds.

Examples for these types of mushrooms are Oyster, Shitake, Button mushrooms, Turkey tail, chestnut mushroom etc. 


These mushrooms take their nutrient requirement in a symbiotic way with plants. The mycelium grows around the plant roots. During the symbiotic relationship, plants give sugar to mushrooms and mycelium gives special nutrients to the plant. 

Some examples for Mycorrhizae are Hedgehog mushrooms, Chanterelles, Truffles mushrooms. 


These types of mushrooms are also very special and some of them are not only parasites but also saprophytes. The Lion’s mane mushroom, Honey fungus are examples for that. These mushrooms/ fungus show parasitic relationships.

They use the plants as their host trees and the mushrooms don’t give back anything to the plants. Some fungus not producing mushrooms/ fruiting bodies. 

When considering the substrates that we used to cultivate mushrooms like coffee ground, Corn stalks, Manure, Logs, Cardboard, Straw, Sugar cane base and Hardwood sawdust they vary from mushroom to mushroom. 

Because various mushrooms need various nutrient types because the substrates consist of different nutrients. The substrates also act as fertilizers. 

Credit to : Mossy Creek Mushrooms

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Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Environment and Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. My mission is to help other. You can use this knowledge to enhance your life THE BEST environments you possibly can.

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