Terran's Tips

Mycorrhizae, Tiny Allies that make a Huge Difference

Our society seems to be steadily evolving toward an urban and suburban-oriented culture. As it does, those of us who love our plants and trees and who appreciate the multiple benefits that occur as we seek to live our lives among these bontanical benefactors are also becoming familiar with a new word popping up with increasing frequency in our gardening vocabularies. It’s the compound Greek word mycorrhizae, which means “fungus roots.”

While the word may be still new to many of us, mycorrhizae itself is probably as old as the Garden of Eden and as universal as dirt. This living fungal organism is found all over the world in naturally pristine forest floors and is a key symbiotic element in the function of hundreds (maybe thousands) of healthy vigorous plant and tree species. Mycorrhizal spores attach to plant roots and multiply their mass and absorptive capabilities hundreds of times. In so doing, they become tiny allies that make a huge difference. Mycorrhizal presence increases nutrient uptake by spreading from the host roots into the surrounding soil in extensive cobweb-like networks. Mycorrhizae mobilizes phosphorous in the soil that was previously unavailable, thereby stimulating root growth, flowering and fruit production. Mycorrhizal presence increases resistance to insect pests and diseases by forming a physical barrier around the plant roots. When overall plant health increases, the plant is far less likely to succumb to fungal and bacterial diseases. All of this means increased survival rates for transplants and visibly increased vigor and beauty of mature plants and trees.

Unfortunately, just like the fragile yeast that makes bread rise, mycorrhizae can be killed off in a hostile environment. For mycorrhizae, “hostile environment” means not only construction sites but also the unnatural clay subsoil moonscapes of suburban lawns. Here the living organically-rich horizon of topsoil is typically gone (too often literally graded off and hauled away) and the potentially composting leaf-litter no longer occurs or is graded up and replaced by an introduced competitor: grass.

Now mycorrhizal spores can be reintroduced into the soil. However, because there is also now little opportunity for re-establishment of a good topsoil environment, this inoculation of “good guy spores” needs to reoccur on an approximate annual basis in order to reap the benefits that they promise.

If you would like to learn more about this product for the health of your trees and landscape please give us a call today. We can start with a $35 soil sample analysis and test for any deficiencies in your yard.

Please email joanna@woodlandtree.com or call us at (901) 309-6779 for any of your tree servicing needs.

Posted by Mark Allen at 2:19 PM
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