Testing out mycorrhizae

Mycorrhizae is a symbiotic fungus that lives on the roots of established plants. They help the roots to process nutrients and makes the plant healthier and generally stronger in regards to stresses. In the bonsai world most of the talk of mycorrhizae centers around conifers, but they can also be beneficial to deciduous trees. I found a list of plant species that benefit from the symbiotic fungus here, care of Horticultural Alliance.

As I’ve been reading about this stuff I decided to pick some up from a local “organic gardening” supply store. I found a bottle for around $12, labelled Rooter’s Mycorrhizae. The instructions on the bottle are a bit vague, but probably justifiably so. How much should someone use when considering the plant is in such a well draining mix and there are a lot more holes in a colander than a regular planter?

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And of course it lists all the different active ingredients. Surely some of these will be beneficial to the plant.

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A couple of months ago I made a couple of Ficus Microcarpa cuttings. This isn’t a scientific test in any way so both plants may get dosed with the fungus, but for now I’m just going to repot this small one with some added mycorrhizae. Funny enough, I forgot to take a picture of the actual cutting in the pot before starting to repot it so here is a picture of the original plant:

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I turned the pot over and slid the cutting out. It has already established a root system touching the edges of the pot. I actually had to pull the drainage screen off the roots near the bottom of the pot. After packing what I am calling “The Little Colander That Could” with a layer of bonsai soil mix, I spread the root system out and placed the plant on top of the surface.

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Since the directions were seem flexible, I spread about a spoonful of the powder over the root system.

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Then I covered it up with more soil and proceeded to give it a generous watering, hoping that I wasn’t washing all of the fungus out of the pot.

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The little rock is there to help stand the cutting upright. I plan to give it another dose of the mycorrhizae diluted the water in the next week or so. From what I’ve read the mycorrhizae either shuts down or dies when given high doses of nitrogen rich fertilizer. I may dilute to half strength, but since I’m using Dyna-Gro 7-9-5, which is under the nitrogen limit suggested (sorry for forgetting that source), I may just use the regular level. I’ll be sure to update later with my thoughts on whether it really helped out or not.

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Charles Willis

Bonsai!

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