Beneficial mycorrhizae has been living with plants roots in a friendly relationship for at least 460 million years. Today, innoculating your potting soil mix or hydroponic reservoir with these beneficial fungus can give the grower many benefits. With the chelating enzymes the fungus release, the plants uptake more useable nutrients. With the funal hairs acting as a secondary root system, plants grow big faster. Overall, with help from the fungus, plants grow up healthier.
When fungal hairs, called hyphae, were first discovered surrounding plant roots on a 460 million year old ocean fossil, it was believed the fungus must be robbing the plants of their energy. Further research has since proved this to be false. In fact, these very fossils became the evidence that suggests a relationship existed between the plants and the fungus that benefits both. The evidence goes on to conclude that it was exactly this symbiotic relationship that allowed plants to begin successfully growing on land about 55 million years ago.
In this arrangement, specialized fungal hyphae form organs called mycorrhizae along the plants roots. The plants provide energy to the fungus, and the growing fungus produce enzymes that convert (chelate) organic material into minerals that are easy for the plant to absorb. The fungus also acts as a moist cushion against heat and drought. The fungus exudes antibiotics that protect roots from disease, and the action of the fungus protect the plant against toxicities in the soil as well.
Research since these discoveries show that 90 percent of all green plants on land form these relationships. The fungal hairs are much finer than root hairs, and so have a much larger surface area compared to roots. They can grow into small places that plant roots cannot. Amazingly, over one mile of hyphal filaments can exist in one thimble of soil. Combined with the productions of chelating enzymes, plant growth rates can be substantially increased by maintaining healthy mycorrhizae.
Using mushroom compost as part of your soil mix will provide plenty of mycorrhizae. Some quality organic soil mixes, such as FoxFarm original, contain some mushroom compost. There are also solid tablets and a granular form that will inoculate your soil, such as Plant Success. You can also add mycorrhizae to your soil by using Peace of Mind organic fertilizers, or by using Rainbow Mix bat guano.