Trial 4 is a journey into the unknown. Micorrhizal fungi is new to me. I’ve heard that it is good for root system development, leading to healthy plants. I bought a packet a while ago and used a sprinkle on some newly planted raspberry canes, but otherwise it has sat on my potting bench shelf.
Micorrhizal fungi is in our soil. It forms a symbiotic, mutually beneficial arrangement with the roots of plants. The fungi get sugars from the plant, the plant gets a free network of fungal filaments that act as supplemental roots. The plant therefore gets access to more water and nutrients than it otherwise would with all the benefits that confers. That’s the theory anyway. I’m always fascinated by these kinds of symbiotic relationships – how did they evolve in the first place? They seem to be so mutually dependent now, it’s not obvious how the arrangment got started in the first place. Evolve it did, nonetheless.
It’s quite expensive to buy a packet, so I am keen to test whether it makes a blind bit of difference.
I’m using some lychnis arkwightii plants that I’ve grown from seed. They have been growing on in a tray for a few weeks but now need potting on into individual pots. I’m using five plants in each group.
Group 1: no fun to be with
Group 2: fungi to be with
It’s simple enough to apply. At its most basic you can just sprinkle some into the pot before adding the plants and topping the pot up. Or, you can dampen the roots first, sprinkle the fungi over the damp roots (best to do this over the pot), thus being sure that the fungi comes into contact with the roots.
I’ve no idea over what period the fungi take effect, so it’ll be a watching brief. I’ll measure the plants at intervals and check the root balls to see if I can spot-the-difference.
Hypothesis for this trial:
Plants in Group 2 grow more vigorously than plants in Group 1.
I note with interest that the RHS say that the effects of this symbiosis are lessened by the use of fertilisers in a garden situation, so the fungus is more generally beneficial in uncultivated circumstances. We shall see, I guess.
I’ll be back with an update in a couple of weeks.
Have you used micorrhizal fungus, and with what effect? Use the comments to share your experience, I’m interested.