Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Annuals

Helping Plants to Help Themselves (page 3 of 3)

by William Bryant Logan

Quick Mycorrhizae Facts

* There are 150 different species of vascular-arbuscular endomycorrhizal (VAM) fungi and hundreds if not thousands of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Only three ericoid mycorrhizal fungi are known.

* Mycorrhizal fungi are more specific to the soil than to plants. If your soil is poor quality -- dry and compact, with little or no topsoil -- adding mycorrhizal fungi will likely enhance your plants' ability to find and extract nutrients.

* Mycorrhizal plants are much better at extracting phosphorus from soils where the nutrient is unavailable due to pH.

* Food crops known to respond to endomycorrhizae include apple, artichoke, celery, corn, eggplant, fig, garlic, grapes, onion, pistachio, potato, soybean, squash, strawberry, and tomato.

* Older varieties of plants often respond more favorably to mycorrhizae than newer hybrid varieties.

* To determine if mycorrhizal fungi are present in your soil, send a soil sample to a lab for biological testing and analysis. The test results will tell you how to amend your soil for optimum plant health.

Arborist William Bryant Logan lives in New York and is the author of The Tool Book (Workman, 1997; $40).

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