Gardening with Laurie: Mycorrhizae a must for you landscape

Aug. 4, 2011 at 3:04 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson The temperature keeps rising, and rain has become a memory of greener gardening days gone by.

Keeping landscapes watered has really become a challenge. The ground is so dry, that it's almost impossible to get enough water to our plants and lawns.

There are things that can be done to help out the situation, such as mulching, using soaker hoses and planting more drought-tolerant plants.

The use of mycorrhizae in your soil is another beneficial thing that can be done to help plants and lawns through all times.

Never heard of mycorrhizae before? Well, it's time to learn about some of the wonderful things these specialized fungi can do for your gardening.

Mycorrhizae can be described as the symbiotic relationship between a fungus and a plant. A relationship where both organisms benefit, but each benefit in different ways.

When mycorrhizae is introduced to a plant, it colonizes on the roots as the plant grows. The mycorrhizae fungi develop filament extensions on the plants root system that reach far into the soil. These filaments increase the surface area of the roots by 10 to 100 times.

It has been estimated that there can be several miles (yes, miles) of mycorrhizae filaments present in less than a thimbleful of soil. These filaments help the plant to utilize the soils resources.

With all this root area, treated plants will be more drought tolerant.

Plants treated with mycorrhizae are less bothered by diseases and pathogens because the fungi actually attack these problems as they enter the root zone.

Another benefit of mycorrhizae is that it will also improve the soils structure and is especially important to use with sandy or compacted soils.

In exchange for providing plants with all these wonderful benefits, the fungi obtain sugars from the plant roots as well as 10 to 20 percent of carbon that the plant has obtained from photosynthesis.

In this stressful time of the year, mycorrhizae should be a must for all the landscape. mycorrhizae can be applied at anytime and comes in different forms: liquid, granular, powder and gels.

Once applied, mycorrhizae remains with the plant for the life cycle of that plant.

Activities that will eliminate or reduce mycorrhizae fungi are chemical fertilization, removal of topsoil, erosion, tillage, road and home construction and fumigation.

Reintroducing mycorrhizae fungi in depleted areas will dramatically improve the establishment and growth of plants.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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