Growing Instructions

Book your tickets for our first tours next year. The perfect Christmas present for the mushroom enthusiast. Click the image for information and tickets!


Swiss Brown & White Button

Our Swiss Brown & White Button kits all require the same setup and care. The black material on the top is called Peat Moss and Casing Soil. This provides the brown substrate underneath a humid environment for the mushrooms to grow in. Please watch all videos and read the setup instructions on our PDF guides. (See below) 

You can pick the mushrooms at any stage, from the tiny buttons all the way through to large field size mushrooms. The ideal time is just after the veil under the cap opens. If you leave the mushrooms growing too long they will leave a fine brown dust over the caps. This is the mushroom spawn (seeds) Unfortunately it’s not as simple as just planting these. There is a whole process that happens before you get your kits. We have workshops coming very soon. Make sure to come along if you’d like to learn more about growing your own mushrooms. 




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8Q7Mxc0dZ0https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUosnkovudU&t=2s

Shiitake Mushrooms

Here we highlight our low tech humidity tubs. This can be used for lions mane, shiitake and our oyster kits. Make sure to carefully change the water each week. (Update – Soak shiitake logs for a minimum of 24 hours) 


Oyster Mushrooms

Our oyster mushroom kits are super simple to setup. Make sure to not carry them from the small opening at the top. Simply lay them on their side, cut 5 small X shapes on the top with a razor blade. No bigger than 5cm in size. You don’t need to water them, don’t worry about removing the paper filter from the front. The mushrooms will push through this. If you haven’t had any mushrooms after a few weeks. Spray the front paper section with some water. You can also use the humidity tub setup as highlighted in the above shiitake section. 

Magic Tubs

Our Magic Tubs are a fantastic introduction into the word of mushroom growing. All you need to do is take the lid off and keep them moist. Please see our Swiss Brown/White button FAQ section for all growing requirements. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFOMoe1jHIAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sNZCrcsrYQ

Reishi

Our introduction into the world of medicinal mushroom growing is the Reishi kit. They love a lot of warmth. You can fruit them directly in the bag or follow the growing tips from Tony @ Freshcap mushrooms (see video) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWrIty4epl8https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytbG4jGgoek

Lions Mane

New Lions Mane growing instructions coming soon. We have some older videos to watch in the meantime

GROWING INFORMATION

ON CARNIVOROUS PLANTS

This is just a brief summary on how to grow carnivorous plants.
If you would like more technical information, scroll to the bottom of this page, and we also have many good books available for sale on the subject.
Please ask us which one is best suited to you. 

WHAT TIME OF YEAR SHOULD I PURCHASE A CARNIVOROUS PLANT?
There are fors and against buying plants at different times of the year. If you purchase in autumn, they will go into dormancy heading into winter, which is their natural occurrence. This is actually quite fascinating to watch the process, and come spring, they will already be adjusted to their new home. If you wait until spring, we can over winter them here in our nursery, however we will be sending them with fresh new traps that may not like to be disturbed during travel.  A personal choice, and in terms of the plants health, it doesnt really matter.

SPHAGNUM MOSS and SPHAGNUM PEAT MOSS
Sphagnum moss grows in bogs, and can hold large quantities of water inside its cells.  After a long time the underneath moss decays and breaks down forming Sphagnum Peat Moss.  Because of it’s water holding capacity, it can still hold up to 60% of its volume in water, due to still having a lot of the moss fibres, these peat accumulations then provide habitat for a wide array of peatland plants, such as carnivorous plants
Sphagnum moss is used for several carnivorous plants including Pinguiculas, Darlingtonias, Heliamphoras and in a Nepenthes mix.  If you are using sphagnum moss, you can use live, dried or dead moss.  It is the moisture holding capacity you are after, so make sure you keep it moist at all times.  If the moss is live and you want to kill it, because live moss can smother smaller plants, pour boiling water over it.
Sphagnum Peat Moss is used for Dionaea Muscipula (venus fly traps), Sarracenias, some Droseras, Utricularias, and as part of our Nepenthes mix.

DO NOT use coco peat or coir peat which comes from coconut husks.  DO NOT use sedge peat which comes from decomposed reeds and sedges often growing in salt areas and has a lower water holding capacity than that of sphagnum peat moss due to its finer texture. These all come from areas containing high levels of salt, and salt will kill carnivorous plants.  
We DO NOT recommend Lithuanian Peat.  Carnivorous Plants do not seem to grow well in it.
DO NOT use potting mix or any other such potting mediums as these will change the ph of the medium.  DO NOT mix potting mix or any other substitutes with your peat moss.

We use Canadian TEEM Sphagnum peat moss.  This is available from us in either commercial bales, or small home gardener size bags.  I believe N.Z. and Tasmanian peat should be ok, however we have never used it.
Wet the Sphagnum Peat Moss thoroughly first in a bucket before you plant into it.  It is very hard to get it to absorb water to start with, so put your hand in and mix it around.  Get it nice and moist.  Then pack into your pot, and plant away.  If you do not wet the mix thoroughly first before planting, the water will just run off.

Do not use terracotta pots. Terracotta leaches salt which will kill your carnivorous plants.
Make sure the pot or bowl has a hole in the bottom for the water to drain away and you can keep water in the saucer under the pot so the plants can draw up water when they need it.  For terrariums, see information at the bottom of this page.
For other carnivorous plants, please scroll down.

We recommend using perlite or propagating sand mixed in with your peat moss. 
NOT river sand because even if it says it is washed on the bag, it still contains high levels of salt which will kill carnivorous plants. 
Propagating sand is coarser and sharper than normal sand, and is normally washed. The sharp corners enables the water to get through the peat moss, encourage root growth, and doesn’t pack down as tightly as rounded water worn sand.  Propagating sand is usually used for propagating cuttings. It should be available from most garden centres in bags labelled as “Propagating sand”.   Unfortunately we cannot sell it due to the weight of it.
Perlite is an amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content. It has high permeability / low water retention and helps prevent soil compaction.
We do sell bags of Perlite.
If you cannot buy perlite or propagating sand, then you can use river sand, but you MUST wash it thoroughly first.  It needs to be a quartz based sand.  Put it in a bucket and fill the bucket with water using a hose.  Put the hose in the bottom of the bucket so that it stirs up the sand and let the water flow over the bucket for 10 minutes or more to wash the salt content from the sand. Or alternatively, wash it through using a sieve.

When you receive the plants from us, they will come bare rooted, not in pots, so you can keep them in the plastic bags they come in for another 3-4 days, in a cool spot if you don’t get to plant them straight away.  Don’t leave them in the sun or they will sweat in the bags.

What do I feed my carnivorous plants?
A very commonly asked question.
Can I feed them hamburger meat?
Answer:  Would you put insects in your hamburger bun, if there was no hamburger meat around!?
For more detailed fertilising techniques, see each species below.

Most web sites will tell you not to fertilise your carnivorous plants, and this is because people get a bit excited and start feeding them all sorts of things and at excessive dosage rates.  The information below on fertilising is what we do in our nursery, and we have fantastic results with it. We are not telling you to use this, we are telling you what we use.  It is up to you to make your own decision, or to experiment as we have done.

FERTILISER:

In the following information growing information, we talk about using Powerfeed and Seasol as fertilisers.  These are both made by the Seasol company.  We have no connection with this company, except for the fact that we use their products and obtain very good growth results and find them both very safe to use on carnivorous plants.  We have no experience with other fertilisers, so would not recommend you using anything else.

POWERFEED – organically fish based liquid fertiliser, which boosts plant growth and vigour.  Use the liquid “All Purpose” in the green bottle.

SEASOL- made from seaweed.  It is a complete health treatment that promotes healthy, strong root growth, and helps plants to cope with stresses such as heat, drought, frost and pest and disease attack.  We use this a lot when repotting, to help with transplant shock.  Use the one in the white bottle for “Complete Garden Health Treatment”

DIONAEA MUSCIPULA (VENUS FLY TRAPS)

The most famous carnivorous plant.
A large plant will grow to a maximum of 15 cm.
They have a white flower in spring.
They will catch and digest flies and mosquitos.
Dionaea muscipula is the only species in the genus.

NATIVE HABITAT: In the U. S. A., in peat bogs, on the border of North and South Carolina, U.S.A., tending more towards the north, is a tiny area where Dionaea muscipula grows.
The habitat fly traps grow in naturally is called the “Savannah”, which is a series of raised low islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares, of which probably no more than 50 of these islands remain in their original condition.

HOW THEY CATCH INSECTS: The trap consists of two halves, not unlike a clam shell.   The outer margins are lined with teeth or cilia.  A sweet nectar is produced by glands found along the inner base of the teeth that rim the trap.  Insects are lured by the nectar to enter the trap.  The flat surface inside the traps have 3 trigger hairs on each side of the V.  When these are repeatedly touched by insects moving about drinking the nectar, the trap snaps shut. At first, the trap closes loosely, so that the bug can continue to run back and forth within the trap.  If the bug is too small, it can escape.  If that happens, the trigger hairs inside the trap would not be further stimulated and the trap would reopen in about a day.  This is how the plant avoids wasting time trying to digest sticks, rain drops or prey that gets away.  But if a bug remains trapped inside, its continued running about would stimulate the trap to close more tightly, and digestion begins.  Glands on the inner surface of the lobes begin to secret digestive juices, and the insect drowns in this fluid.  The trap stays shut for several days up to 30 days and when it finally reopens, all that remains is the exoskeleton of the insect.  Each trap only has a life of about three meals, then the trap and petiole die.

REPOTTING: Use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss, and 25% propagating sand or perlite. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it.  The best time to re-pot is in the early spring when the plants are just starting to grow.  Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.  The pH of the sphagnum peat moss needs to be about 5.5.  TDS (total dissolved salts) should be 0 (zero).

WATERING: See more watering info at bottom of page under “WATER”. 
Do not ever let your Venus Fly Trap dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. The plant must enjoy the “thrill of the chase”, so that it releases it’s digestive juices, to devour the insect. 
We feed with Powerfeed (Powerfeed is made by the same company as Seasol).  To one litre of water, we use 2 ml of Powerfeed. If Powerfeed isnt available, then use Seasol at 4ml per 1 litre of water. 
DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot. 

LIGHT: Venus Fly Traps require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow them outside in the full weather.

HUMIDITY: Venus fly traps like humidity around 70-90%. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.  Venus fly traps don’t like temperatures over 35 degrees celcius. Their growth stops at these temperatures and it is very hard to get them started again. Where the fly traps grow naturally, it reaches 40 degrees celcius all through their summer.  But the fly traps have finished growing at this time, and the ground is always cool, as they are watered by capillary action from beneath the ground.

DORMANCY: During winter, colder days and shorter day light hours, your Venus fly trap will go into their dormancy period. They require around 6-8 weeks minimum of winter dormancy and will stop growing and may even die back to almost nothing. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant.  The plant can live outside on a porch or patio for 6-8 weeks during winter in cooler climates.  In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.  For tropical countries where you don’t get a cold winter, see the section at the bottom of this page on “Dormancy” for forcing dormancy.

FLOWERING:  Dionaea muscipula’s flower in spring, and are white. Flowering can be exhausting for Venus Flytraps, as they use a lot of energy producing the flower spike. Most plants will grow more vigorously during summer if prevented from flowering. You should cut off the flower stalk before it has reached about 5 cm tall for best growth of your plant.

If you want to try pollinating your venus fly trap flower, you need to hand pollinate the flowers.  Do this by taking the pollen off the anther and putting it on the stigma.  You have to do this with each flower as it opens.  The seeds take about 3-4 weeks to ripen and can then be planted straight away, or can stay viable for up to one year.  The seeds are hard and black when ripened, about half the size of a grain of wheat.  Seed production can tire the plant considerably, so if you notice the plant not looking too well, this is why.  You might have to sacrifice your plant for the seed.

PROPAGATION:  Division, leaf cuttings, seed, tissue culture.

PESTS AND DISEASES: 
APHIDS: result in twisted and deformed new traps.  Spray with Pyrethrum.
SPIDER MITE: common in hot dry climates.  Spray with a general House and Garden spray or Folimat.
BLACK SPOT FUNGUS: can appear on plants in an overly wet and humid environment.  Use a fungicide for control.

The Truth About Venus Fly Traps And Their Secret World.

NEPENTHES (HANGING PITCHER PLANTS)

These plants grow in the tropical forests of South-East Asia and very north eastern

Australia.  They are vines that can climb to the top of 15 metre trees.  They have jug

shaped pitchers, some varieties up to 30cm long.  These pitchers fill with liquid as

the pitcher grows, and when the liquid is ready to digest prey, the lid opens and the

trap is ready.  The traps can catch flies, mosquitos, wasps and bees, and even

moths, rats and small birds have been found in large traps.  In the Philippines and

Borneo, large pitchers are sometimes used for cooking rice and vegetables.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Nepenthes we use a mixture of 75% 5-10mm

size orchid bark, and the other 25% made up of Sphagnum peat moss, sphagnum

moss and perlite.   Or they can be grown in straight Sphagnum moss.
Wet your mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time

to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: Nepenthes do not like to be water logged, but do not like to dry out.  Water and let the water run through the pot.  During summer you will need to do this once or twice a day.  Make sure the mix always looks moist.  If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. 

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way.
We feed with Powerfeed (Powerfeed is made by the same company as Seasol).  To one litre of water, we use 3-4 ml of Powerfeed. If Powerfeed isnt available, then use Seasol at 5 ml per 1 litre of water. 

DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 6-8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot.  You might like to catch the fertilised water running out the bottom of the pot to reuse again once the next day to make sure the plant gets a good feed.

You can also make up your fertiliser mix in a spray bottle and give your Nepenthes a foliar feed.

LIGHT: Nepenthes require a high level of light to help produce their pitchers.  They need at least a couple of hours of natural light a day.  A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch. Don’t put the nepenthes outside in the full weather because they require more protection.

HUMIDITY:  The number one reason for Nepenthes not growing pitchers/traps is lack of humidity. The easiest way to create humidity is to place a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity.  Change the water in the tray every month.  A terrarium or glasshouse will provide warmth and humidity. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter your Nepenthes may not produce pitchers (traps). They will slow down in growth.  Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the stem of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitcher.  You can put a clear plastic bag over the plant in winter to keep it warmer and more humid.

When a Nepenthes goes through its transition stage and starts to grow its vine, it will have a time gap before it starts to grow upper pitchers. In the wild, they won’t grow upper pitchers until the vine reaches the top of the tree where it gets more light, and to catch the insects that live up there.

FLOWERING: Nepenthes will only flower in a high light situation. They will only flower once they start to produce upper pitchers.  Nepenthes plants are either male or female, so cannot be self-pollinated.  In botanical terms it is called “dioecious”, and you generally need one plant of each sex to pollinate, unlike most other plants which can be self pollinated.  Unfortunately you won’t know the sex of your plant, until it does flower.  Check Dionaea Muscipula for how to pollinate. More photos of Nepenthes flowers at the bottom of this page. 

SARRACENIA (PITCHER PLANT)

These plants grow on the east coast of North America.
Their brightly colored pitchers attract flies, wasps, bees and other flying insects.
Crawling creatures such as ants and slaters climbs up the pitchers, attracted by the sweet smelling nectar, or by the smell of insects already rotting inside the pitchers.
The pitchers have downward pointing hairs to stop any insects crawling out.
They all flower in spring with the flowers varying in color from red, yellow, pink or green.
A mature plant can grow up to 60cm tall.
Most have hoods to stop the pitchers filling with rain water and washing the food away. Some varieties don’t have hoods and use the rain water to drown their prey.

REPOTTING:
You can use straight Sphagnum peat moss or a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand or perlite. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the early spring when the plants are just starting to grow. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: See more watering info at bottom of page under “WATER”.
Do not ever let your Sarracenia dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water.  In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. 
We fertilise with Powerfeed (Powerfeed is made by the same company as Seasol).  Use 2 ml of Powerfeed to 1 litre of water.
DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 6-8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot. 

LIGHT: Sarracenia’s require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow them outside in the full weather.

HUMIDITY: Sarracenia’s like a reasonable amount of humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive. For sarracenias, heat doesn’t seem to be a problem.  Our growing houses reach 50 degrees celcius in summer.  We don’t put any cover over the plastic house, as the more light you can give the sarracenias, the better they are.  But they must never dry out.  Be very wary of high fertiliser concentrations when the temperatures get up this high.

DORMANCY: Sarracenias require around 6-8 weeks minimum of winter dormancy. In cooler climates this is triggered by temperatures below around 10 degrees celcius and shorter daylight hours. During winter your Sarracenia will naturally go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing and for most varieties, all the traps will die off. Do not worry.  This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers.  Without this, they will grow weaker each year.  Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant during June/July.  Make sure no pitchers are left by the end of July, or the plant will struggle in spring, so even if they look ok, still cut them off, or it will struggle in spring to grow new traps and retain last years traps.  While your Sarracenia is dormant, it can cope with overnight frosts, as long as the temperature rises above freezing during the day.  Where they grow naturally in America, it can snow on them. During dormancy, the Sarracenia still needs to stand in a small amount of water to prevent the sphagnum peat moss drying out and the root system from shutting down.  In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.  For tropical countries where you don’t get a cold winter, see the section at the bottom of this page on “Dormancy” for forcing dormancy.

FLOWERING: Sarracenia’s will flower in early spring, if the plant is of flowering size.  They put up their flowers first so that naturally in the wild, the insects will pollinate them.  They they put up their traps to catch and eat the insects. We cut off all of our Sarracenia flowers as soon as we see them appearing, so that the plant puts more energy into growing traps, as we need to sell plants, not flowers.  This is a personal choice and it is nice to enjoy one or two flowers as a home grower if you want to.  It may just delay the pitcher growth another month or so.  Make sure you fertilise as above to give the plant more nutrients.  To learn to pollinate sarracenias, we have some good books on the subject available for sale.

Image Gallery & Success Stories

A great first flush (crop) of swiss brown mushrooms. It's normal to accidentally remove smaller mushrooms when picking.
A great first flush (crop) of swiss brown mushrooms. It’s normal to accidentally remove smaller mushrooms when picking.
Some beautiful Reishi antlers
Some beautiful Reishi antlers
You can see why they call it lions mane!
You can see why they call it lions mane!
Swiss Brown mushrooms, many people worry that there is mould on the top! This is actually the mycelium heading towards the final stage of its life... FRUITING! YAY Make sure to keep it well watered now, misting twice a day!
Swiss Brown mushrooms, many people worry that there is mould on the top! This is actually the mycelium heading towards the final stage of its life… FRUITING! YAY Make sure to keep it well watered now, misting twice a day!
Some more pictures of what the Swiss Brown/White button mycelium looks like. If you're impatient you can always have a little scratch under the surface to see how far into the peat moss the mycelium has grown.
Some more pictures of what the Swiss Brown/White button mycelium looks like. If you’re impatient you can always have a little scratch under the surface to see how far into the peat moss the mycelium has grown.
Oyster mushrooms pushing through the filter paper.
Oyster mushrooms pushing through the filter paper.
Cooking oyster mushrooms, the one at the bottom right of the page is a perfect example of the golden colour they turn when shallow frying.
Cooking oyster mushrooms, the one at the bottom right of the page is a perfect example of the golden colour they turn when shallow frying.
Some small clusters of oyster mushrooms coming through the X's cut into the tops of the bags
Some small clusters of oyster mushrooms coming through the X’s cut into the tops of the bags
Rebecca has some pins and mushrooms in early development! The children are loving the whole process and learning an important lesson about where their food comes from! Great work team 🙂
Rebecca has some pins and mushrooms in early development! The children are loving the whole process and learning an important lesson about where their food comes from! Great work team 🙂
Tim has had a bumper first crop, another success story. It’s not uncommon that people tell us these are the freshest mushrooms they’ve ever tasted! Well done Tim
Tim has had a bumper first crop, another success story. It’s not uncommon that people tell us these are the freshest mushrooms they’ve ever tasted! Well done Tim
Anna's oyster mushroom kit coming through in full force.
Anna’s oyster mushroom kit coming through in full force.
Anna's white mushroom kit is going to produce a huge flush of mushrooms.
Anna’s white mushroom kit is going to produce a huge flush of mushrooms.
Anna's yield, she's been able to give them to a bunch of friends too! Our large kits produce up to 7kg over 8-12 weeks
Anna’s yield, she’s been able to give them to a bunch of friends too! Our large kits produce up to 7kg over 8-12 weeks

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