15 APR 2022
Mycorrhizal? Let’s start with a more common word: symbiosis. We’ve all heard of that: where two different organisms live in a long-term relationship, usually (but not necessarily) benefitting each other. That’s pretty much what mycorrhizae are all about – a symbiotic association between a fungus (Greek: mykes) and a plant’s roots (Greek: rhiza). And in this case the partnership is mutually beneficial. The fungus supplies water and nutrients from the soil to the plant. In return, the plant supplies sugars by photosynthesis to the fungus.
We’re not done with Scrabble-busting words yet. A plant’s primary root system is called its rhizosphere. Mycorrhizal fungi augment this rhizosphere by providing a whole secondary root system for the plant, extending their filaments or hyphae into the soil far beyond the plant’s own roots, making it easier to absorb nutrients and water. These fungal hyphae are minute (about 1/60th the width of root hairs) and there can be 10 kilometres of them in a teaspoon of soil. Although tiny, they operate like a factory transporting nutrients such as phosphorus, dissolving minerals and feeding plants. As Matthew Evans says in his wonderful book, Soil, ‘It’s like lining up a bunch of feedbags around the roots so the plants can access what they want, when they need it …’.
Scientists so far have only scratched the surface of the extraordinary world of soil fungi and each new discovery seems more fascinating than the last, like how fungi pass on messages to other plants to warn of predators or disease, or use acids to break down rocks into fine minerals. All this magic is happening unseen under our feet in gardens, fields, woods and forests across the globe.
It’s no wonder then that, at For Peat’s Sake HQ, we’ve decided to introduce our own mycorrhizal fungi, called Root Buddies, to our portfolio. Available in granular form in 60g packets, Root Buddies are suitable for use on all plants. Within four weeks, Root Buddies will create a secondary root system that will support the plant for its entire life. The main benefits of this are improved drought resistance, reduced risk of disease and reduced repotting stress, resulting in more vigorous, healthy plants.
As we like to say, ‘Give your plants some tender-loving coir.’ Now give them Root Buddies too, who’ll be their friends for life.