How Do I Use Friendly Mycorrhizal Fungi
What are mycorrhizal fungi?
Mycorrhizal fungi are a remarkable group of organisms that have been benefiting plants for 500 million years. The word 'mycorrhizae' is from the Greek words - mykes meaning fungus and rhiza meaning root. Basically that is what mycorrhizae are, a specialised, beneficial fungi that establish a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. It has been thought for a long time that about 90% of the worlds land plants develop some type of symbiosis with mycorrhizae.
How do mycorrhizal fungi benefit plants? How does it work?
In its simplest sense mycorrhizal fungi do everything plants roots do but BETTER. When new plants are planted with rootgrow it takes only 2-4 weeks under normal conditions for these fungi to start benefiting plants. In that time they attach themselves to the plant's root system and grow out rapidly into the soil, searching for nutrients and water. They essentially become part of the plant's own root system by extending far into the surrounding soil, encompassing a much greater volume of soil than that occupied by the plant's own roots and root hair system. They are especially good at finding the nutrients responsible for flowering and fruiting such as phosphorous and nitrogen. The fungi consume the nutrients, but more importantly they generously share them with the roots of the host plant. The host plant in return provides the fungi with photosynthesized nutrients such as sugars.These fungi are so much thinner and finer than the plant's own roots they can therefore find nutrients in the soil far more efficiently that the plant's own course roots. As they can explore a much greater amount of soil than the plant's own roots they are also far more likely to find trace elements and the rare nutrients that all plants need to grow well. The long filaments of the mycorrhizae tend to accumulate in the soil over a period of time and may persist for months, even years.
Mycorrhizal fungi are an essential part of a plants ability to combat drought. Leaves and stems have developed mechanisms to combat drought such as silver leaves, waxy leaves and hairy leaves but these adaptations on their own aren’t enough if the plant doesn’t have its friendly fungal partner on its roots. Mycorrhizal fungi hold onto water in soils like a sponge.
Benefits to roses
Over the last few years the benefits of treating roses with rootgrow at planting time has been well documented. Using rootgrow with roses will not just help them to establish well and produce a good show of flowers but it will also enable gardeners to grow roses in soil that has previously had roses growing in it. Now established throughout the UK as a standard treatment for roses rootgrow has reported to be successful in combating the problem of rose replant disease or rose soil sickness.
Establishment in difficult soils
Mycorrhizal fungi will enable plants to establish and thrive even in difficult soils. In poor sandy soils the mycorrhizal fungi will be able to find scarce nutrients and hold onto water. In clay soils these fungi will be able to unlock nutrients from the soil acting like a clay breaker.
How do I use rootgrow mycorrhizal fungi
It is very important that these granules come into direct contact with the plant roots. The planting process is:
Dig planting hole as normal.
- Look at the base of the plant that is being planted and sprinkle into the bottom of the planting hole enough granules to cover ONLY that area.
- Place the plant in the hole directly on top of the granules (you shouldn’t see any granules around the plant once it is placed in the hole.
- Backfill as normal with compost/soil and whatever fertilisers are required.
- As easy as that - no water bucket to carry - just sprinkle the rootgrow in the planting hole
Treating existing plants
It is possible to treat plants that are already planted out. Rootgrow is a living symbiotic product and must have a living host plant to survive. Therefore you need to plant around the plant to be treated (target plant) with other smaller plants that will act as a host. Below ground rootgrow will grow toward the target plant and colonise it.
- Choose which plants you are going to plant around the target plant by consulting the table on the back of the bag
- For the 150g sachet bag you will be able to treat about 30-35 plants
- The number of plants you need will depend on the size of the plant that is to be treated.
- Generally plant up using an odd number of plants 3,5,7 or 9 spread equidistantly around the edge of the plant.
- The spread of the above ground parts of the plant will usually be mirrored by the roots so place the plants around the edge of the canopy
- Plant them following the advice in the guidance notes for applying the dry granule formulation.
Word of caution
Do not apply fertilisers directly onto the fungal granules.
Do not overdose, it will not benefit the plant and it is a waste of money.
Please note this is an approximate guide
Different species of plants have different shaped roots. Some will be bushier and take more gel to treat them. Adjust the consistency of the gel to suit the plants you are treating. Some bare root plants, such as Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) in particular have a very fibrous root system and will use perhaps more rootgrow.