How To Grow Maitake Mushrooms: [Hen Of The Woods]

You can look up all the information you want on the maitake mushroom, but at the end of the day, you’ll find that people love it for various reasons. However, it has to be the taste, aroma, and texture that make it stand out the most amongst today’s competition.

It offers an earthy and musky taste that is just right coupled with a distinct aroma that you’ll know and recognize as soon as you learn it. Couple this with its succulent texture, and it should be more than easy to see why people from all over the world are going nuts for this type of mushroom and everything that it has to offer.

It is these distinct properties that have coined the mushroom the nicknames “hen of the woods” and “dancing mushroom.”Most people that cook with the maitake mushroom prefer to pair it with vegetables, chicken, fish, and decadent red meats.

While there is also talk about its numerous health benefits, it really is the culinary world that accounts for the growing demand. And, there is quite a demand. So much so that it has caused the fungi to raise to uncanny prices, if you can even find it.

This is why most people opt to grow their own, and you can do the very same thing with this guide.

[Related Article: How To Grow Turkey Tail Mushrooms:[Easy Way]

Understanding The Maitake Mushroom

How To Grow Maitake Mushroom

Before you just jump right into growing the mushrooms it’ll be pertinent to take the time to familiarize yourself with some of its parts. These are parts and terms that will commonly be referred to throughout this guide, and you’ll want to make sure you know what they mean.

It could be the difference between success and failure. Whatever the situation is, the better understanding you have of the mushroom, the overall better informed you’ll be.

Cap – When you hear the term cap, you should think of the top of the mushroom. Each cap of the maitake can grow anywhere from 1 to 3 inches in diameter. They are usually grayish to brown in color with a white spot right smack dab in the middle.

Fruit Body – The fruit body is also technically known as the basidiocarp. And, it is the reproductive organ of the mushroom. In fact, it really is the only part of the mushroom that is externally visible, which is why many people mistake the fruit body for the mushroom itself.

It is also the only part of this species that is consumed. The Maitake grows in clusters and looks more like a sitting hen or a feather duster, hence the nicknames. This cluster can also be referred to as the fruit body in many cases and it usually measures anywhere from 4 to 6 inches in diameter.

The overall weight of the cluster can range anywhere from 3 to 15 pounds.

Stem – This one is probably obvious, as it is the central white stem that is composed of complex branched structures. Think of the steam of a piece of broccoli or cauliflower and you’ll be right on track with the maitake.

Flesh – The flesh of the maitake is white and grows tougher as the mushroom ages.

Spores – The spores are pretty much the seeds of the mushrooms, but can easily be propagated so that you’ll be ready for the next growing season. The spores of the maitake are usually white in appearance.

Naturally Growing In The Wild

From early September until early November you’ll be able to head into the wood and find this mushroom in abundance. It’ll be growing naturally on trees, mostly older oaks with dying branches.

It is not uncommon to find them in dead stumps near water as well. If you do happen to spot one, you’ll probably be in luck because they rarely grow alone. More often than not, you’ll find several fruit bodies in one growing location.

If you pick the mushroom from where you find it and return the next growing season, you can just about guarantee that there will be more, growing back in the same locations.

Grow Maitake Mushroom

Maitake mushrooms are one of the easiest species to start with. Learn to master this species, and you’ll be on your way to moving on to some of the more difficult grows. That being said, here is a list of things that you’ll need for an at-home outdoor grow:

  • 5/16-inch drill bit with a drill

  • Oak log right around 3 inches long and 6 inches wide

  • 25 to 30 dowels inoculated with maitake mushroom

  • Rubber mallet

  • ¼ pound cheese wax

  • Pastry brush

  • A stove, torch, or range oven of some sorts

Keep in mind that you can purchase these maitake dowels online or in any gardening outlet store. You can also make your own if you prefer.

  • The first thing you’ll want to do is soak that oak log from right around 2 hours

  • Drill 25 to 30 holes in the log, making them 1 and ½ inches deep, with 1-inch of space between them

  • Tap the dowels into the holes with your rubber mallet so they are inserted firmly

  • Heat the wax on a stove with low heat until it is slightly melted and apply this melted cheese wax residue to the dowels using the pastry brush. Allow this to cool before moving on

  • Apply a second coat of wax and let that dry

  • Place the log outside in a damp location using risers, bricks, or flat rocks to keep it elevated

  • Water the log in two-week intervals, making sure that it is moist but not completely drenched

Within 6 months to a year, you’ll start to have signs of growth.

An Indoor Grow

Maitake can be grown indoors as well if you are limited to outdoor space. Maybe you just want a more controlled environment. Whatever the reasoning, this is something that is entirely possible. Here is what you’ll need to get started:

  • Maitake spawn

  • Cultivation bag

  • pH tester

  • Potting Soil

  • Substrate (find and coarse hardwood (73%) coarse wheat bran (23%) Calcium compound like line (1%) Sucrose (1%)

As far as spawn goes, you’ll want to opt for the liquid or sawdust options.

  • Start by preparing the substrate in a clean and sterile environment. Just make sure you properly and carefully measure the components before adding to the mix. This will help with the pH, as they need to be precisely between 5.5 and 6.5 for optimum results

  • Fill the cultivation bag with the substrate. Don’t go all the way to the fill line, instead leave a clearance of 32 inches or more

  • Add in the spawn and mix. You can use a sterile spoon or some other sterile utensil

  • Make a 1 to 2- inch casting over the substrate. The potting soil will provide all the support you need for the mushroom to grow

  • Place the concoction in a well-ventilated room that isn’t directly exposed to sunlight. You won’t worry about light until there are actual signs of growth

  • Make sure you keep the temp 60 to 70 degrees F inside the room with a 60 to 65 percent humidity

  • Use a mist spray to keep the substrate fairly moist

With this method, you should have mature maitake mushroom in anywhere from 3 to 4 months.


As you can see the indoor grow is a bit more complicated, but it pays off in terms of speed. Either method is incredibly rewards and will yield the results that you seek, as long as you follow each guide to the letter.

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