Mycorrhizal fungi is a type of fungus, which forms a symbiotic relationship with plants. Symbiotic relationship is a relationship in which both the symbionts benefit from each other. In this case, mycorrhizal fungi reside in the roots of plants and help them absorb more nutrients from the soil.
In return, they receive a carbohydrate rich food from plants. Mycorrhizal fungi are present in the roots of almost 80% plants on earth. In case you intend to give a growth booster to your garden plants, then inoculating them with mycorrhizal fungi is definitely the way to go.
Mycorrhizal Fungi Benefits
As mentioned earlier, mycorrhizal fungi assist plants in deriving maximum nutrients from the soil. They form two types of symbiotic relationships with plants - endotrophic and ectotrophic relationships.
In the endotrophic association, fungi reside within the roots of plants, whereas in ectotrophic relationships, the fungi cover the roots from outside, thus forming a layer on the roots. Mycorrhizal fungi act like additional sets of roots for a plant, thereby extracting more nutrients from soil resource.
Plants that form symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi show better growth than other plants. Mycorrhizal fungi essentially helps plants to colonize land. Incidentally, the symbiotic relationship between plants and mycorrhizal fungi is about 400 million years old. Since then, mycorrhizal fungi have contributed to better growth and health of plants.
Mycorrhizal fungi are very useful in maintaining the ecological balance. Plants are likely to survive droughts and similar events, if they have a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. The mycelia (root like structure) of fungi are more resistant to droughts or unfavorable surroundings in general.
Besides, they also prevent loss of roots in plants during any disease attack. This allows the plants to survive and sustain. In short, mycorrhizal fungi are essential for healthy growth of your plants.
How to Grow Mycorrhizal Fungi?
- Mycorrhizal spores of the fungus are sold at plant nurseries as solutions. All you have to do is treat the roots of your plants with this solution.
- You will first need to uproot those plants, which you wish to inoculate with mycorrhizal fungi.
- Dust the soil from the roots to expose them.
- Apply 1-3 tablespoons of mycorrhizal root builder solution to the roots of the plant.
- Replant the plant in the pot and cover the roots with soil.
- Water the plant as you usually do.
Depending upon the brand of root builder solution, the spores may start germinating anywhere between 32 to 80 hours. The fungus starts multiplying at a rapid rate thereafter. You can see a noticeable difference in the growth rate of your plants after inoculating them with mycorrhizal fungi.
Taking Care of Mycorrhizal Fungi
Once, you inoculate your plants with mycorrhizal fungi, there is usually no need for extra care on your part. The fungi grow and effectively perform their function. The nourishment is provided by the host plant in the form of sugar, a byproduct of photosynthesis process. Thus, mycorrhizal fungi can very much thrive on their own.
However, certain gardening practices may hamper the growth of this fungi and destroy them. Chemical fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides may kill mycorrhizal fungi. One must note that when you use mycorrhizal fungi in your garden, your plants are less likely to get other types of fungal infestations.
These fungi effectively destroy fungal infections of most types as they produce a certain type of antibiotic substance. Plants that require transplantation such as tomatoes can benefit from mycorrhizal inoculation. Crops that are grown in green house, under controlled environmental conditions can also benefit from mycorrhizal associations.