We tend to look at funguses by first showing it our upturned nose. They can wreak havoc on a garden virtually overnight. Unsexy villains like powdery mildew, verticullium wilt, and the ever punctual early blight can transform a mild-mannered gardener into a curled up ball of whimper.
Amidst this rogue’s row exists funguses that actually benefit the plant and the soil. Perhaps the best known are mycorrhizae, a Samaritan fungus that creates a symbiotic relationship with the plant. Mycorrhizae can become a guide for a new plant, showing its roots how to obtain water and nutrients more efficiently. In return, the plant must satisfy the fungus’ sweet tooth by providing it with sugars.
The introduction of mycorrhizae back into the soil (which should exist naturally, but tilling, pesticides, etc. keep the natural relationship at bay) is akin to giving a person two more legs. The roots now have a treasure map to locate hard to find nutrients like phosphorous (therefore increasing its growth rate) and other hard to find micronutrients. The fungus also serves as a primer for the plant’s probable introduction to drought, giving it a much higher resistance than a non-inoculated specimen.
Now it’s time to set your plants up on a date with that extra special fungi. Don’t fret, applications are relatively simple, and there are plenty of companies that sell mycorrhizae. Some of the more well-known are Rooter’s Mycorrizae, and Bio Organics Endomycorrhizal Inoculant. All available mycos will have explicit instructions on how to get that plant/fungus relationship rolling. Also, you need to find out if your plant accepts endo or ecto-mycorrhizae. A good resource can be found here.
Once you acclimate to your plant’s new suitor,”fun” will posit at the front of the mind, leaving behind other funguses that came to spoil the party.