What is Mycorrhizal Fungi?
A mycorrhiza is a mutual symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant. The term mycorrhiza refers to the role of the fungus in the plant's rhizosphere, its root system. Mycorrhizae play important roles in plant nutrition, soil biology, and soil chemistry.
Mycorrhizae fungi pictured below (white hairs are the mycorrhizal fungi)
What does mycorrhizal fungi do for plants?
Mycorrhizal fungi helps the plant to obtain additional moisture and nutrients. This is particularly important in uptake of phosphorus, one of the major nutrients required by plants. When mycorrhizae are present, plants are less susceptible to water stress.
Benefits of mycorrhizal fungi:
- Reduced nutritional deficiencies
- Potential reduction in fertilizer use
- Delayed wilting
- Resistance to salt toxicity
- Reduced root disease attack
How to use mycorrhizal fungi:
Add to the planting hole when planting in both open soil and containers, ensure the roots of the plant comes into contact with root growth, backfill and water as normal.
Seeding Inoculation: Mix 1 cup of mycorrhizal inoculant into 28ks of seed starting mix, and use this mix to germinate seedlings. Try not to use potting soil that has fertilizer, this can backfire and prevent infection of the plant roots.
Seedling or transplant inoculation: Established but small seedlings can be inoculated by adding a small amount, 1 teaspoon, per plant right near the base of each seedling. Also, we recommend making a small jug of liquid inoculant from the dried by mixing 1 tablespoon of granules into a 3 litre jug of water. Shake before use and water very sparingly for a few days.
At Planting: When planting directly into gardens and ground soil we recommend digging the hole, mixing your soil with compost you have made or purchased, shaping and sizing the hole, and adding a tablespoon of inoculant to the bottom, where the roots of the transplant sit directly on top of the inoculant. Watering in these transplants with the liquid inoculant and adding a small amount of mycorrzhizae around the drip line also helps ensure adequate infection of the root tips.
About the Author
Kelly Dini is the Seeds for Africa customer service guru! Kelly is a qualified horticulturist with 20 years of hands on experience and loves to assist customers with recommendations and giving excellent advice.