At the dawn of time when plants were just beginning to colonise our planet mycorrhizal fungi were there living in a symbiotic relationship with plants enabling them to extract nutrients and hold onto water in very difficult soil conditions.
In effect, the fungus provides a secondary root system, a system that is considerably more efficient and extensive than the plants own root system.
These fungi are living organisms and will live with the plant, sourcing a continued nutrient supply for its entire lifetime – a truly sustainable plant nutrition solution. In exchange the plant provides carbon and sugars to the fungi. Not unsurprisingly, 90% of all land plants employ this relationship to enhance their own root system’s capacity to deliver nutrients.
All plant roots in all soils have a relationship with a staggering array of microorganisms, one of the most important families of these microorganism are the mycorrhizal fungi.
Most gardeners buy or raise plants in sterile composts where the plants have easy access to the essential nutrients, however as soon as they are planted into soil, the root environment changes radically which can lead to plant failure and poor growth.
In most soils there simply are not enough of native mycorrhizal fungi close to the new plants roots to colonise fast enough to show the incredible range of benefits complete colonisation can achieve.
This is why it is so important to use mycorrhizal fungi. Just 1 teaspoon can contain up to 5000 pieces of fungi all ready to explode into growth, colonising every millimetre of a plants roots in a matter of days.
A new plant with a fully functioning mycorrhizal root system will have the best chance of becoming the rewarding plant gardeners so passionately want to thrive in their gardens.
The benefits of mycorrhizal fungi
- one treatment lasts for the entire lifetime of the plant (as the plant grows the fungal partner grows)
- easy to use (simply sprinkle in the bottom of the planting hole)
- earlier and better growth (in a matter of weeks, after planting, the mycorrhizal fungi can increase the active root area of plants by up to 700 times)
- better drought tolerance (due to the vast fungal root making best use of all available soil moisture)
- better uptake of fertilisers (the network of mycorrhizal fungi act like a net catching nutrients and preventing leaching)
- increased uptake of sequestered elements (the ultra fine fungal strands can unlock nutrients from the soil)
- reduced mortality of plants, especially specimen plants and plants that are difficult to establish (the extended root system nourishes the plant from very early on in its life)
- helps prevent rose replant problems (the mycorrhizal fungi colonise weak or damaged roots and start transferring nutrients and water to the rose much faster than its own roots)
In summary the benefits include
- Better and more balanced growth
- Healthier and more dense root system with hugely increased ability to uptake nutrients from the soil
- More abundant flowers and fruit
- Reduced need for synthetic or chemical fertilisers
- Higher resistance to drought
- Reduced stress during transplanting
- Stabilisation of surface
- Improved resistance to soil pathogenes and environmental stress
Did You Know?
Mycorrhizal fungi can increase the root capacity of a plant by up to 700 times in just a few months
The roots of a mature Beech tree laid out end to end would stretch for 5 miles, the mycorrhizal hyphae responsible for feeding that tree would stretch around the globe!
Hyphal network can be in excess of 100 metres of hyphae per cubic centimetre.
Glomalin, a sticky glue like substance exuded by the fungi is locking up one third of the worlds carbon underground. It also binds soil particles together that results in good soil structure.
Mycorrhizal fungi are used to treat tea plants grown on plantations in Kenya which ends up in some of our tea bags
Pine trees and conifers would not exist on Earth without the association with mycorrhizal fungi – imagine the Earth without forests!
Some of mycorrhizal fungi produce mushrooms used in cooking, including the Cep and Chanterelle, delicious!
The largest single living organism on Earth (by area) is said to be an Armillaria fungi covering almost 2,200 acres in a forest in Oregon, North America – awesome! Humongus Fungus!