Mushrooms growing in your plants pot? Don’t be too quick to freak out!
There is a whole network of life beneath the soil.
Mycorrhiza is beneficial fungi that works with your plants at their roots to help them grow bigger, stronger and more beautiful.
What exactly is beneficial fungi? So glad you asked…
Mycorrhiza comes from the two Greek words Mykes-meaning Fungus and Rhiza-meaning roots. Mycorrhizal fungi live naturally in soil and form a symbiotic relationship with 80-90% of the plants growing on the earth.
Spores from these beneficial fungi exist in the soil. When the plants roots begin to grow, they encounter zygomycetes, soil fungi, which in turn will enter the roots and begin to form hyphae. These tiny tubes take a small amount of carbohydrate (sugar or glucose) created by the plant’s photosynthesis and in return the fungi reach out beyond the roots, like an extension of the roots and bring in extra minerals and nutrients such as organic nitrogen, phosphorus and iron.
While plants in nature have always enjoyed this symbiotic relationship with beneficial fungi, recent use of pesticides, fungicides, over-fertilization and general over use of the land has depleted the presence of these spores and they are typically non-existent in typical potting soil.
Fast-forward to the early 2000s when horticulturalists and gardeners began adding Mycorrhizae back into the soil when planting vegetable gardens.
Ectomycorrhizal and Endomycorrhizal are the two main categories of Mycorrhizae with endomycorrhizal being the most common among plants, benefiting about 80% of all plant species. On top of that there are a whole range of species of Endomycorrhizal! So, choosing a product with multiple species is a great plan for success.
Not only will adding these beneficial fungi back into your soil help your plants grow faster and more densely, create bigger root growth and help them manage with less water and fertilizer, studies suggest mycorrhized plants are less susceptible to soil-borne diseases, soil diseases and other root-feeding microorganisms.
Benefits of using Mycorrhizal Fungi:
- Bigger root growth and root surface area
- Plants establish more quickly
- Grow faster and more densely
- Plants can manage with less water and fertilizer
- Plants are less susceptible to soil-borne diseases, soil diseases and other root-feeding microorganisms
- Improve soil structure so it’s less compacted with more spaces for air and water
When using mycorrhizal be careful not to over-fertilize which can obstruct the relationship between the fungi and the plant. Sticking to an organic fertilizer is best such as worm castings, rock dust or sea kelp as they won’t oversupply any one nutrient. Our natural fertilizer can be purchased online here: The Plant Sourcery: Worm Castings
Also avoid chemical pesticides and fungicides which will eventually kill off your beneficial fungi.
Mycorrhizal fungi also absorb carbon, often as much as the plants they live with, making them act as a living carbon sink, much like the Sphagnum Moss bogs. “Regardless of what you believe is causing global warming, there is one fact that all sides acknowledge and that’s not necessarily believing the planet is getting warmer. *It’s that the average parts per million of carbon dioxide is increasing”. So, grow more trees and plants and make sure to protect the relationship between plants and mycorrhizae so they can continue to protect our planet.
To purchase Beneficial Fungi for your houseplants - click link below:
Image: The Getty-Stock photo
Laid back Gardener
*Study from the US Department of Agriculture’s Research Service
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