Mycorrhizal fungi helps plants survive high temps in containers

gtippittAugust 7, 2010

I've been reading about Mycorrhizal fungi for some time and found that with container grown plants, much of the anecdotal evidence is contradictory. I've found 2 really good research articles from Texas A&M about using Mycorrhizal fungi in the nursery container business. These were plants grown in black nursery containers in Texas summer heat during July and August. The research compares the effectiveness of fungi inoculants with both organic and inorganic slow release fertilizers. For others that might be interested, I've summarized some of the important information from both studies. At the bottom are two links to download the PDF files of the published studies.

These studies contradict at least three common myths I've seen about why Mycorrhizal fungi are not needed with containers.

Myth 1: The inoculants are worthless because the fungi are naturally occurring, so plants grown in the ground don't need them, and when growing in containers, the high soil temps will kill the fungi. The truth is that even with root ball temps over 110 degrees, the fungi flourish as long as the plants survived to support them. The high temps of soil in containers does suppress the growth of bacteria needed for nitrification of organic time released fertilizers, so Osmocote was more effective than time released organics for plants in containers during hot weather.

Myth 2: The fungi help with a plant's uptake of phosphates in nutrient poor soil, but if you fertilize your plants, the phosphates will kill the Mycorrhizal fungi. The truth is that the beneficial effects of the fungi were significantly greater with high soil fertility.

Myth 3: Many organic gardeners say that good quality compost is so teaming with beneficial microbes, it will have all the Mycorrhizal fungi that plants need. Others say that the temperatures in a compost heap will kill the Mycorrhizal fungi. The truth is that these fungi are symbiotic with the roots of living plants and cannot grow except with the roots of living host plants. Good quality compost can provide many other beneficial microbes for plants, but Mycorrhizal fungi can't grow in a compost heap.

The articles show that organic slow release fertilizers did not work as well in containers during high temps, most likely because the heat kills the beneficial bacteria needed to break down organic sources of nutrients. The high temps also make the time released inorganics only last half as long as at lower temps, but plants did not suffer any negative effects from the Osmocote, even though nutrients were released almost 70% faster than normal due to high soil temps.

These studies found that the Arbusular Mycorrhizal fungi did survive the high soil temps in black nursery containers. They found that the transplants that were inoculated with the fungi grew much better than those without the inoculants. Both the organic and inorganic fertilized plants did better with the fungi inoculants. Inorganic time release fertilizer with the Mycorrhizal fungi were the best combination for container plants.

Two different inoculants were tested in one of the studies. One inoculant was a single strain of fungi and the other brand contained multiple strains of fungi. The multiple strains worked better, but even the inoculant with a single strain of fungi was a significant benefit to the plants during high summer temps.

Unfortunately the brand of Mycorrhizal fungi inoculants used in these studies are not available to the retail public. Does anyone have any experience with a good inoculant that is available in small quantities for a home gardener?

I've got about 20 containers with dwarf fruit trees, blackberries, and grapes. I want to see if adding Mycorrhizal fungi will help them cope with high soil temps during summer in containers. I planted my trees this spring in 18 gal containers and pruned their tops so their roots are adequate this year. The root systems will have to work much harder as the plants grow bigger and begin to bear fruit during future summers. I am want to see if I can get them prepared to survive future hot summers in a "sweatbox".

There are several Amazon sellers that have Mycorrhizal fungi inoculants for sale. They charge about $15 for enough for 50 container plants. I've seen the "Great White" product from Plant Success recommended highly on other websites, but it does not come in any small sizes. The other products from Plant Success are less expensive, but contain fewer beneficial organisms.

Mycorrhizal Fungi Plant Tabs for Veg & Flowers from JRM Chemicals (12 strains - 7 Endo & 5 Ecto)

Rooter's Mycorrhizae from Hydro Organics Wholesale (8 strains - ? Endo & ? Ecto)

Ecto Tabs Mycorrhizal Fungi Tables from Ecto Tabs ( 5 Ecto strains for nut trees)

Mycor Root Builder from GreenSense (? strains)

Garden-Ville Mycorrhizal Fungi from Garden-Ville (3 strains - 3 Endo)

Nature's Solution Mycorrhizae from Nature's Solution (5 strains - 4 Endo & 1 Ecto)

Plant Success Mycorhizae Granular from Plant Success (11 strains - 4 Endo & 7 Ecto)

Plant Success Mycorhizae Tables from Plant Success (17 strains - 8 Endo & 9 Ecto )

Plant Success Mycorhizae Soluable from Plant Success (18 strains - 7 Endo & 11 Ecto)

Great White from Plant Success (18 strains - 7 Endo & 11 Ecto)

I've read some discussion on other websites and found that many growers of "medicinal herbs" swear by the "Great White" products from Plant Success. While the herbs I grow are basil and rosemary, I must admit that the pictures they have of their "medicinal herb" plants are really something. They have really remarkable and beautiful foliage for plants grown indoors in containers. Before having all the information we have now on the web, I used to buy a copy of "High Times" once a year, because it had the latest information available on hydroponics, container growing, gardening in small spaces, and indoor gardening. Those growers are still a great source of information for gardening ideas that you won't get from from Martha Stewart or see on the HGTV network.

A word of warning if you are growing azaleas, blueberries, permissions, heathers, or rhododendrons. These plants in the Ericaceae family need Ericoid Mycorrhizal Fungi, that are different from those needed by most other plants. I have not found a source of small quantities of Ericoid fungi inoculants. You only need a small amount, about like you would use of rooting hormone for a cutting. An entire pound of the stuff for $50, and way too much for my 3 blueberries bushes. There is a large group of wild persimmons growing in a vacant lot near my house, so I'm going to take some small soil samples from around these persimmons and add it to my blueberry containers. I'm also going to keep an eye open for wild growing rhododendrons as well to collect some small soil samples to use to inoculate my blueberries. I'm hoping this might help give my blueberries some help coping with next summer's heat, when I hope to have my first crop of berries.

If anyone can recommend a brand of Mycorrhizal fungi which has helped their plants, I would greatly appreciate it.



PDF files of the two research articles can be downloaded at the links below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Mycorrhizal fungi with organic and inorganic fertilizers for growing container nursery plants

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Sounds like Osmocote is the real winnner in this study.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 1:09PM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)


I have used Plant Success Mycorhizae Soluable from Plant Success which seems to work. Would I go out and buy it again? Probably not, too expensive. I was thinking about making my own which would be alot cheaper and a new learning experience.

Below is a pic of a Maketmore 76 with Plant Success Mycorhizae Soluable with pith coir.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 2:03PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Just to clarify your thoughts, you do understand that there are thousands of fungal species that can develop mycorrhizal relationships, right? When not in association with plant roots, they behave just as to be expected of normal, saprophytic fungi. Including in the compost heap.

In other words, the mycorrhizae is the relationship formed by the two separate individuals. They can exist without each other (the fungus more so than the plants), but once brought together by natural or artificial means, they flourish.

I was introduced to the benefits of mycorrhizal inoculation many years ago. I have seen with my own eyes how the inoculation of living fungal spores can benefit container grown plants, turfgass, landscaping installations, and more. I was involved with a study involving the inoculation of several very old Live Oaks that gave impressive results.

Something worth mentioning is that a great deal of our disturbed soil (farms, construction, deforestation, chemical use, etc.) contain a fraction of the naturally occurring fungal species that would normally be present. Reintroducing this life form is not folly at all. Nor is implementing the natural phenomenon where we could not expect it to occur, such as in containers or on the golf course.

The benefits of mycorrhizal relationships are awesome. The fungal mycelium bring water to the roots from very far away; they also bring such elements as phosphorus, N, manganese, copper, and zinc. They create a physical (and maybe chemical) barrier against root pathogens and even plant parasitic nematodes. Mycorrhizae can greatly increase a plant's tolerance to heat AND pH extremes. Inoculated roots can help plants tolerate such stresses as transplant shock, soil compaction, soil toxins and heavy metals.

Now, here's the problem, Greg. Research has been done with several of the products available to homeowners off the shelf or on line. It was discovered that most of these products were inert, not viable, dead. These inoculants have a shelf life.

The type of packaging can help prolong the shelf life, but if the product is stored in a hot warehouse for months on end before it gets into your hands. And then where do you store it? In the garage or storage shed.

I'd recommend that you try to associate yourself with a grower or even a manufacturer that might deal with you on a small level. At least, you can develop a dialog with someone who might be able to counsel you on how to get some viable material in small quantities.

I wish I had some good advice for you. I sure do wish you the best of luck. You are more than welcome to email me, if you'd like to chat about these issues.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 2:32PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


Two years ago I used a product from Fungi Perfecti called Myco-Grow Soluble. It worked pretty well. This next Season, I am going to do an "A/B" comparison of it, vs. Biota-Max. Here are a couple of package photos:

My son owns a Hydroponics Shop in Santa Fe and claims his customers really like the Biota-Max. I want to see how it does on tomatoes, peppers, corn, and cukes next year.


Here is a link that might be useful: Fungi Perfecti Link

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 10:02PM
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Thanks for the post. Good information like this is why I continue to scan this board.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 1:02AM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

Very interesting information. Thanks.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 1:44AM
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I went and read about the Fungi Perfecti Myco-Grow Product, which sounds really good. It contain several species of mycorrhizal fungi. They offer a 1 ounce size for $6 plus $3 shipping. The 1 oz is enough to treat more than 100 plants or 200 square feet. It is the best deal I've seen, so I'm going to give it a try.

If you used the same soil in your Earthtainers, the mycorrhizal fungi from prior year should have still been in the soil to help this year's plants develop better root systems. It contains the following mycorrhizal fungi:
Endomycorrhizal fungi Glomus mosseae, G. intraradices, G. clarum, G. monosporus, G. deserticola, G. brasilianum, Gigaspora margarita
Ectomycorrhizal fungi Pisolithus tinctorus, Rhizopogon villosullus, R. luteolus, R, amylopogon, R. fulvigleba. The Myco-Grow also contains the non-mycorrhizal beneficials that are found in the BiotaMax product.

The BiotaMax is not a mycorrhizal fungi product. It has other kinds of beneficial microbes to help supress soil born pathogens and disease. If the BiotaMax works, it would be good for keeping down diseases that carry over in the container's growing medium from last year. How as your experience been this year with diseases on your tomatoes compared to prior years?

From what I've been reading about the mycorrhizal fungi, it sounds like your Earthtainers might work better if you did not remove the root ball from last years plants from the soil mix. The root ball from last year's plants would have been a massive colony of arbuscular endomycorrhizal fungi that could be used to inoculate the growing medium in new Earthtainers. You could have sold the root balls from last years plants instead of throwing them away! ;-)

If you are going to study the effectiveness of the Fungi Perfecti Myco-Grow next year, you will need to use it on a container with new sterile medium and compare it to same. The soil in the containers where it was used before may still have enough of the fungi to colonize new seedlings each year without additional applications. If you know which containers were inoculated before with the product, that would be a great comparison as well to see if it lasts.

If you have some containers that are new this year, at the end of the season it would be great to compare the root balls in the containers that were inoculated 2 year ago with Myco-Grow and see if their root balls are bigger than ones that are new this year.

The Rodale Institute has a webpage below where they instruct farmers on how to grow large quantities of mycorrhizal fungi to inoculating grass fields. They suggest building a raised bed filled with compost and vermiculite, to which is added bahia grass seedlings inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi. After the grass grows and dies in winter, the roots and compost soil can then be used to inoculate large pasture areas. Bahia grass is a fairly invasive perennial grass, so I would not use it if I planed to use the fungi on a vegetable garden. Something like buckwheat, clover, or rye grass would work better if you wanted to produce inoculant for non-grass areas. When your cucumbers are finished, their roots and the media they are growing in could be used to inoculate other soil.

The 2005 study above showed that the plants with Osmocote by itself were slightly better off. The addition of the BioTerraPlus inoculant resulted in plants that were 3 times the size of the plants with Osmocote alone. These results don't say that Osmocote is better than time released organics if you are growing in the ground, but for containers where soil temps are a problem, the Osomocote or other resin coated inorganics are the better choice for fertilizer.

I agree with what you said about variable quality of commercial products, which is probably why people's experiences with the products is so variable. For the past several months, I've been reading lots of research articles on mycorrhizal fungi. I love the Google Scholar function, where you can search scientific articles that have been published on a subject.

While all mycorrhiza are fungi, only some fungi are capable of forming mutualistic relationships with the roots of living host plants. Some ectomycorrhizal fungi can be found breaking down organic matter in a compost heap. The ectomycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with the trees and other fungi, but are not a great benefit to vegetables. The ectomycorrhizal fungi are evolved from saprobic fungi that get their nutrients from decaying organic matter. Some ectomycorrhizal fungi, like Laccaria bicolor, are mushrooms, with tops that can be seen above ground in pine forest, while their underground structures surround the roots of host trees. The hyphae of ectomycorrhizal fungi surround the outside of the roots of a host plant, while endomycorrhizal fungi attach to the roots and penetrate the cell walls of the roots of the host plant.

The arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which colonize vegetables and grasses, and the Ericoid fungi, which colonize azaleas and blueberries, are both endomycorrhizal fungi. These endomycorrhizal fungi are evolved from parasitic fungi, but now have a beneficial symbiotic relationship with the host plants. Endomycorrhizal fungi have hyphae that penetrate the cell walls of the host plant's roots to facilitate the transfer of nutrients. Endomycorrhizal fungi are dependent upon the roots of host plants to live. The spores of endomycorrhizal fungi can sometimes be found in compost if the roots of host plants have been composted, but the temperatures of an active compost heat will often kill them. Endomycorrhizal fungi can only survive in a compost heap in their dormant state and cannot grow without the roots of a live host plant. Endomycorrhizal fungi are as different from other fungi almost, as fungi are different from plants.

Almost all of the arbuscular endomycorrhizal fungi belong in the Glomeromycota phyla, which contains only the Glomus genus. All of the fungi in Glomeromycota phyla are arbuscular endomycorrhizal fungi. The arbuscular endomycorrhizal fungi are the mycorrhizal fungi most important to the health of lawns and vegetables, and are very different from other fungi. These fungi reproduce asexually rather than sexually, as one example that makes them different from all other fungi.

The information about mycorrhizal fungi is changing constantly. The phylum Glomeromycota was created in 2001. Before creating this separate phylum for the arbuscular endomycorrhizal fungi, they were grouped together with common black bread mold. As well as new information about known species, new species are frequently being identified.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 5:17PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


Thanks for the Tutorial. I could comprehend about 24% of what you said, but even so, I am happy to learn about Mycos.

The potting mix I used 2 years ago has unfortunately, been recycled elsewhere in the yard. All new potting mix went into the EarthTainers last Season.

Here was a trial I ran 2 years ago. The control 'Tainer with Snow Peas was on the right. In the center was the 'Tainer with the Fungi Perfecti Myco-Grow Soluble, and the 'Tainer on the far left was inoculated with Actinovate:

The yield in the Actinovate 'Tainer was significantly larger than the control, and I would estimate about 15% more than the Myco-Grow. See link to Actinovate below. I would appreciate your take on this product.


Here is a link that might be useful: Actinovate Link

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 1:05AM
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Here is a webpage with information about growing your own Mycorrhizal fungi inoculants.


Here is a link that might be useful: On-farm Production and Utilization of AM Fungus Inoculum

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 2:17AM
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My original post started out as notes I was taking for myself while reading about mycorrhizal fungi because I was confused and couldn't keep it all in my brain at once (Buffer Overflow perhaps). When I finally understood part of what I was reading, I went back to read over the notes I had made to see if I was any less confused. I thought that it might help others avoid some of the brain strain I had been through trying some of the journal articles. I tried to clean up what I had typed and post it on here for others. By the time I finished, it was almost as indecipherable as the original articles I had read. The hardest thing for me was that I can't keep straight in my brain the endo/ecto thing of which one is for woody trees and which one is for grasses and vegetables.

The two research articles I gave links for in the first post seemed particularly pertinent this summer. It has been so hot that even when well watered, my plants wilt in the afternoons because their roots cannot take up water fast enough to compensate for evaporation from the leaves. When I saw the article about mycorrhizal fungi for nursery container plants, I decided I might have found something helpful.

The Actinovate contains Streptomyces lydicus. This bacteria attacks disease causing fungi. The Myco-Grow contains this same bacterial and several others that serve a similar function, as well as the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi.

In your picture of the snow peas, it is fairly easy to see a difference between the control and the other two. Between the left and center, it is hard to see much difference. The left is more full at the top, but the center is more full at the bottom, which is likely a function of how the vines climbed more than anything else. Besides the size of the vines, it is amazing the difference between the number of blooms compared to the control. Normally the production of more vines and leaves would have corresponded with fewer blooms as you see with excess nitrogen.

With the SWC's, one drawback is that the soil always being damp can make plant's roots more susceptible to fungal diseases. Both Actinovate and MycoGrow have beneficial bacteria that feed on those bad fungi, which may explain the improved vigor of them both compared to the control. Even though the control doesn't show any signs of fungal diseases, the beneficial bacteria in both treatments may have given them stronger root systems. It is really hard to make any hard conclusions with only 6 plants because of the number of variables that are difficult to control. For example, the Myco-Grow container might have produced more than the Actinovate container if it had not been shaded on both sides by the other two plants.

I've never grown snow peas or green peas, 'cause I'm from the South were our peas are blackeyed or crowder. Since they are also called "Early Peas", I'll make a guess that the weather was cool when you were growing these. If the soil temperatures were low, the fungi in the Myco-Grow would not have had any effect on the snow peas, because mycorrhizal fungi don't really grow until the soil temp is above 70 degrees. One conclusion I can make for certain is that your EarthTainers produce really beautiful plants.

I really appreciate your giving me the name of Fungi Perfecti's Myco-Grow product. I did some more reading and couldn't find anyone with complaints about them or their product. On the "Med. Herb" discussion forums on other websites where they swear by the "Great White" product, several people had posted messages saying MycoGrow was just as effective as Great White, but cost much less.

On your EarthTainer website, you suggest that the rootball of old plants be removed and refill the container each year. I don't have any experience with SWC's. Would it disrupt the capillary action of the potting mix is you left the old root ball in the container to decompose and planted the new plants on top of it? From what I've been reading, there would seem to be some microbial benefits to leaving the old rootball and only digging out a hole big enough for your new transplants.

Now that I've ordered the Myco-Grow, I've got all the fungi I was looking for except for the hard to find ericoid mycorrhizae for my blueberry bushes. For the three of them I'm going to try getting some small soil samples from around wild persimmons and mountain laurel in my area and use this to inoculate the soil in their containers.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 4:19AM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)


Thanks for the links and all your hard work.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 10:51AM
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Greg, many thanks for reporting your research on this subject. Here are a few comments on the subject. A long time ago when I was a teenager my Dad, a noted horticulturist and garden writer, and I were walking through a mature hardwood forest. Suddenly he leaned down, scooped up a handful of earth and said, "This is the stuff of life". He then taught me about Mycorrhizal fungus, what it was, how plants used it and how Mother Nature makes it.

One of the ways (not the only one) MF develops is through the process of COLD COMPOSTING of plant litter which falls on soil surface. Each year the leaves, blossoms, fruit of plants, shrubs, trees that fall on the ground decay, forming MF. As you know, digging around established plants/trees, the feeder roots are right below the soil surface where they seek and utilize MF which develops at the surface. A simple explanation. But once understood a gardener should work with this process such as...

1. When fall cleaning of a perennial bed chip all the removed spent foliage and return it to that bed as mulch where MF will develop specific to what is growing there.

2. Adopting Ruth Stout's vegetable gardening idea. Straw mulch never disturbed except to plant, veggie parts and roots tossed on top of the straw to decay and allowed to cold compost forming, again, MF specific to what is growing in that garden.

3. By setting up a small area under a shrub where one tosses leaves and other spent plant parts creating a pile no higher than six inches. To remove the MF which has developed through cold composting the gardener simply reaches carefully under the pile and removes the impregnated soil to add to containers or sprinkle down a newly seeded row.

BTW, you are on the right track collecting soil under blueberry shrubs to add to your blueberry containers. Also, make certain that you mulch your containers with the spent blueberry leaves in the fall.

More later on the subject as I have time.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 2:36PM
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The link I gave above from the Rodale Institute's research on MF was also all about no-till farming. They are stressing planting cover crops whenever fields are not in production, not just for erosion control, but also to promote ongoing growth of MF in the soil. Instead of turning under cover crops for green manure, they now suggest moving the cover crop to create mulch and planting with minimal disruption to soil structure as you were talking about.

I got my order of Mygo-Grow from Fungi Perfecti today. I had put a bucket under my gutter downspout to collect some rainwater, but my dogs knocked it over. I'm supposed to get some more thundershowers tomorrow, so I can mix up some of the inoculant for my plants on Saturday.

Some cantaloupe seedlings recently sprouted up in my compost heap, so I've potted up three of them for a test to see what effect the myco-grow has on their roots. I'm going to give them a few days to make sure they all survive being transplanted, then I'm going to inoculate one with soil from my raised beds, inoculate another with the Myco-Grow, and leave the third growing just with the mix I potted them all in of pine mulch, peat moss, and kitty litter.

I've planted some basil seeds in the soil as well in case the transplants don't all make it. Keep your fingers crossed that the seedlings survive transplant, so I dont' have wait for the new seeds to come up. In a month or so, I'll dig them all up to compare their roots and post what I find.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 10:22PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


My order has shipped from Fungi Perfecti yesterday. Question: What are you using rainwater for the slurry? Are you implying that ordinary tap water with its chloramine content will harm the mycos?


    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 11:42PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Chlorine as found in city water is a killer of fungus and bacteria, it is meant to be. However it is a gas that will vent itself over night if left in an open container. Al

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 9:03AM
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Once the fungi are established in the soil, I'm assuming they can survive watering with tap water, otherwise they don't stand much of a chance. For the initial inoculation of the soil, I was going to mix it with 2 gallons of water and then pour about a cup on each one of my 30 plants growing in containers.

For the initial inoculation, I was going to avoid pouring the stuff directly into treated tap water, to avoid killing lots of the microbes right off the bat. Some places still use Chlorine that will gas off in about 24 hours, but most places are changing over to Chloramine, precisely because it is more stable and stays in the water for a long time.

Both Chlorine and Chloramine will kill fungi and bacteria, which is what I've just paid $8 for a packet of, so I want to give them a fighting chance to get started in the soil before I starting hitting them with tap water. Since research shows these fungi to help plants in containers that are being watered, I'm assuming that once they are established in the soil, they are resilient enough to survive periodically being watered with tap water.

I used to have aquariums, but haven't had mine set up in a few years. For treating water for fish, there are chemicals that you add a few drops per gallon of water to neutralize both the Chlorine and Chloramine, but I'm out of it. This weekend I'm planning to pick up some to add to the tap water I use for watering my plants for a few weeks. The first half of the summer was really dry here, but we've been getting a few showers each week for the past month, so I'm hoping to not have to water very much with tap water for the next few weeks.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 9:29AM
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I did some research on whether the Chlorine and/or Chloramine in tap is bad for soil microbes. When watering plants, neither Chlorine nor Chloramine will do too much damage to soil microbes. The Chlorine and Chloramine react with the soil itself which neutralized most of the Chlorine and Chloramine in the water. One study did find that tap water could kill some microbes in the top 1/2 inch of soil, but did not have any effect below that level.

For mixing the Myco-Grow inoculant with water, my first reaction was to avoid tap water because of my experience with aquariums. Besides being harmful to a fish's gills, if you replace too much water in a aquarium with tap water it will kill the beneficial bacterial that break down the ammonia in fish waste. The difference with watering plants is that the chemicals in the soil all react with the Chlorine and Chloramine to neutralize it.

When making compost tea or mixing an inoculant with tap water, the Chlorine and Chloramine could kill a significant amount of fungi and bacteria, but likely not all of them.

If you are mixing a bacterial and/or fungal inoculant with water, it is probably best to use rain water, distilled water, filtered water, etc.

If you use tap water to make compost tea, it is probably worth buying a bottle of the stuff to neutralize Chlorine and Chloramine for fish. It only take a few drops per gallon. The cheapest one will work fine, since you don't need any of the stuff in the expensive ones that helps keep the fish healthy.

For watering your plants or lawn, there are filters that will remove Chlorine and Chloramine, but they are a waste of money since the soil will neutralize it. If your city uses Chlorine, it will gas off really fast while using a lawn sprinkler. If you city uses Chloramine, it is actually a small dose nitrogen fertilizer.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 11:56AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


My refrigerator has a Pur water filter internal. Will that water be better to use for the initial slurry mix? Alternatively, I could get a couple gallon bottles of Alhambra Bottled Water to use for the treatment.

My Myco Grow just arrived in the mail this morning. The 10 tomato plants are about a foot high as of today. Should I use the Myco Grow immediately, or wait a few weeks for the root ball to enlarge?


    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 2:22PM
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I just want to know what kees everyne here doing all this hard work with these fngi..It all seems so cofusing, expensive and time consuming..

I just stick mine in a well draing mix, feed and they grow huge with abundant tomatos..They grow so fast, that no matter what size shape container I put them into, the roots fill the container within weeks..

Is it because you can water less often?

Is it because plants grow bigger and better. If this is the case, mine grow just a big and fast as the guy next door who uses these things..Just curious, thank you..
I am knew to this stuff and it seems confusing to me..
Is there a way to explain this simpler..?

Am I mssing something?

Thank you so much


    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 2:50PM
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Sorry should of checked my spelling errors, but my boss was


    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 2:53PM
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The filtered water should work fine, also I might let it come to room temp. (Grin) I would go ahead and inoculate the plants now.

I'm ordered the Myco-Grow mainly for use on my fruit trees, blackberries, and muscadine vines that I'm growing in containers. The two articles I gave the links for in the original post showed how plants with more Mycorrhizal fungi on their roots were able to develop more healthy plants faster, because their roots work more effectively. The beneficial fungi and bacteria will also help plants fight off diseases more effectively.

The nursery plants being grown in containers in hot weather in the study were almost 3 times as big as those without the inoculant. As far as my tomatoes vines are concerned, if it were to increase the size and number of tomatoes per vine and help them bear fruit a month sooner, that would be nice and worth $8 ever few years. Theoretically as long as the soil is properly maintained, the inoculation should last through multiple growing seasons as well.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 4:59PM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

There is a company that will be coming out with a new mycorrhiza that will be 2x or more the spore count than Great White. I will be getting a sample and will post my results ASAP. That is all the info for now so I don't get confused with SPAM or kickbacks.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 9:37PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


As I now have Myco Grow, Actinovate, and BiotaMax sitting here, I've been pondering doing a "cocktail" or sorts, to do an "A/B" comparison trial. My thinking was to blend Myco Grow and Actinovate in a 50/50% mix for one group of tomato plants, then do a 50/50% cocktail of BiotaMax and Actinovate for another group of plants.

Any pluses (or minuses) that you see in trying this?


    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 9:42PM
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The Actinovate and BiotaMax are both products that contain beneficial fungi and bacterial that are intended to prey on the disease causing fungi and bacteria in the soil. Just as people eat yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk to re-establish beneficial gut bacterial to treat an upset stomach, these soil probiotics help plants fight off diseases.

I keep trying to imagine the interactions between either of these with the Myco-Grow. It sort of reminds me of the old story of Satchel Page about a thermos bottle keeping liquids either hot or cold. "How to it know?" Part of my brains says the microbes in the Actinovate and BiotaMax will prey on the mycorrhizal fungi in the MycoGrow that we want to get established in the soil. On the other hand, the MycoGrow contains many of these same microbes in addition to the mycorrhizal fungi, so they must play well together.

While I've already bored everybody besides you to sleep with the benefits of mycorrhizal fungi to a plant's roots, these other microbes play different but equally important roles in the health of the soil and plants. Just as lady bugs, lacewing larvae, and praying mantis come in like the calvary to eat the aphids, spider mites, and thrips, these soil probiotics fill a simlar role. They will kill off the bad bacteria and fungi that cause plant disease such as Damping off, Powdery Mildew, Verticillium, Fusarium, Black Spot, Rusts, Fire Blight, and Phytophthora root rots and blights.

It's difficult to say anything for sure since the ingredients of the products don't give you any idea of how much of the microbes are included, only which ones are included. My hunch from reading over the info on all three products is that the Myco-Grow contains almost everything that is in both of the other two plus having the Mycorrhizal fungi. The Actinovate only has one strain of bacteria, so I'm guessing the BiotaMax will do more good than the Activovate.

The Myco-Grow contains:
Endomycorrhizal fungi
Glomus intraradices, Glomus mosseae, Glomus aggregatum, Glomus clarum, Glomus deserticola, Glomus etunicatum, Gigaspora margarita, Gigaspora brasilianum, Gigaspora monosporum

Ectomycorrhizal fungi
Rhizopogon villosullus, Rhizopogon luteolus, Rhizopogon amylopogon, Rhizopogon fulvigleba, Pisolithus tinctorius, Laccaria bicolor, Laccaria laccata, Scleroderma cepa, Scleroderma citrinum, Suillus granulatas, Suillus punctatapies

Trichoderma fungi
Trichoderma harzianum, Trichoderma konigii

Beneficial Bacteria
Bacillus subtillus, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus azotoformans, Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus pumlis, Bacillus thuringiensis, Bacillus stearothermiphilis, Paenibacillus polymyxa, Paenibacillus durum, Paenibacillus florescence, Paenibacillus gordonae, Azotobacter polymyxa, Azotobacter chroococcum, Sacchromyces cervisiae, Streptomyces griseues, Streptomyces lydicus, Pseudomonas aureofaceans, Deinococcus erythromyxa


The Biota Max Soil Probiotic contains

Trichoderma harzianum
Trichoderma viride
Trichoderma koningii
Trichoderma polysporum

Bacillus subtilis
Bacillus laterosporus
Bacillus licheniformus
Bacillus megaterium
Bacillus pumilus

Paenibacillus polymyxa bacteria for fixing nitrogen
Actinovate contains only Streptomyces lydicus bacteria

You said you had 10 tomato plants. I'm assuming that means 5 Earthtainers, so for a good experiment I would suggest the following:

One with no probiotcs added
One with MycoGrow only
One with BiotaMax only
One with MycoGrow and BiotaMax
One with MycoGrow and Actinovate

My newest topic I'm reading research on is using Aspirin as a soil drench and foliar spray to help plants fight diseases and stress. I'll post something when I find enough to indicate whether it's a fad or fact.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 12:09AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


My rationale in combining the BiotaMax with Actinovate in a run-off against Myco Grow plus Actinovate was that BiotaMax contains Trichoderma viride and Trichoderma polysporum which Myco Grow does not contain. Adding in Actinovate with BiotaMax would provide the Streptomyces lydicus component which Myco Grow already contains. Maybe I am over-thinking this too much, and should make a "Super-Cocktail" of a blend of all three. Then, I would have EVERY combination of components covered.

Right now, I am being wiped out (as many here in the San Jose area are) by an infestation of Tomato Russet Mites. Whatever I can do to strengthen the vigor of my Fall tomato plants to resist this onslaught is my goal. I plan to attack this internally as well to strengthen cell structure with either Rhino Skin, or Pro-Teckt Silica nutrient. The battle never ends.....


Here is a link that might be useful: Rhino Skin

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 12:43AM
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Okay I get it now, this is war not curiosity. I thought you were trying these to see which worked best, but you're trying to find something that will give your plants a chance of survival, so hitting them with it all can't hurt.

The one good thing is that at least your temps are low enough you can spray with the sulfur that is recommended. You're not supposed to use the sulfur when temps are over 90 to avoid burning the plants, and most of the country is over 90 except for you guys.

I don't know that any of these products will help against these mites. I've not run up against the guys before. I've always managed to get through the spring outbreak of aphids and thrips by spraying daily with insecticidal soap until the lady bugs move in for the kill. The trick with the aphids is to kill them with something non-toxic until the lady bugs find your plants and set up house keeping, but too many people go first for the sevin or stronger, so the lady bugs never get to do their job.

When insecticidal soap and DE won't kill them, it doesn't leave you many good non-toxic solutions, so spraying daily with sulfur is maybe your best bet.

I had not been watching the Tomato forum lately. I saw your pics from a month or so ago when your plants looked like a jungle. Tonight I was searching for info on Azatrol and found your recent post and pics in the tomato forum. I am so sorry, you lost them all. Mine are only doing a little bit better, but it is the heat that is about to kill everything around here.

I've got some cherry tomatoes from seeds I've saved for many years that are the only tomatoes I've got left now. The reason I grow them is partly that I have a sentimental thing about growing cherry tomatoes since I was a kid. My parents always had a big garden, and I always planted a cherry tomato plant that was mine to take care of all summer. Ever since I've planted a cherry tomato almost every summer, even when it was growing in a bucket on the apartment patio. A few years ago, I had this one cherry tomato that I planted that continued to set fruit all summer despite the heat.

Until a few years ago, I lived in Atlanta where it was a struggle to get tomatoes growing soon enough that they could set fruit before the temps were too high. By mid June, it was normally so hot the blooms would simply drop off and never set fruit. This one cherry tomato survived the heat and kept setting fruit all through the summer, so I've saved seeds for the past 15 years or so from it.

I tried "Mortgage Lifter" last year but didn't have much luck with it. I have the best luck with determinant vines that give me at least one good crop before it gets too hot. After they give out, I plant a late season crop or rely on my trusty cherry tomato for the rest of the season.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 3:09AM
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Greg, Thanks for bringing all this up for consideration.

I have used mycorrhizal amendments on fruit trees on recommendation of a retired extension agent who has evaluated for many years.

Used off and on in containers but plan on being more diligent with its application next season with some comparison experiments.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 11:04PM
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Greg, a few thoughts on this subject. I am using Epsoma Bio-Tone Starter Plus which contains mycorrihizae and beneficial bacteria. It is available at Lowes or online. I add it to the soil in which I am starting seeds and that is it. Living not too far from Atlanta, using this product I am now able to grow container tomatoes through the entire season. Even in our daily 100 degree heat the 'maters have continued to set an excellent crop. Of course, I using a few other "tricks" detailed below.

Although I post the following on the Tomato Forum everyone tends to ignore me. However, I am convinced that mulching containers with coir which does not encourage the growth of fungus really helps to prevent tomato/plant disease problems. Strongly suggest that you adopt this method.

I have spent the last five years experimenting with aspirin and plant diseases. This has led to my forming a number of theories on the subject and thanks to our local university which has agreed to run scientific tests I may have more definitive advice later. Aspirin treatment must begin on young seedlings after second leaves are set and continue without fail once a week in the cool of the evening. Aspirin does not dissolve in water so spray container must be constantly agitated to keep it suspended. My formula at the the moment is two chewable baby aspirin (81 mm each) placed in 1/2 gallon water for 48 hours then blended with a hand blender. Pour in sprayer and add a few drops of surfactant. Spray plants throughly. For me this formula works.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 10:57AM
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Thanks for the suggestion of the Epsoma product. I went to the their website and read about the Bio-Tone Starter Plus. I was really impressed that they not only tell you what species of fungi, but also give you estimates of the amount of spores and fungi propagules it contains. I have not seen any of the other brands provide this detailed information.

For use on plants in containers, I don't know how well it will work because of the organic fertilizer the fungi are mixed with. It has most of the same ingredients used in the organic fertilizer used in the Texas A&M research. They found that the organic fertilizers wouldn't decompose well in containers due to high soil temps, which caused the organic fertilizer to form partially decomposed compounds that retarded the plants growth rather than helping it.

I am going to get some of this to use on my raised beds. Once I've grown a season of tomatoes inoculated with a product like these, I will be able to use the soil and roots from the dead vines to inoculate container plants. They will produce all the self-grown inoculant I can use.

I've also been reading about the use of aspirin on plants. The research is still preliminary as to its effectiveness long term, but pilot studies are promising. They've found that when plants are stressed by disease they emit aspirin like compounds that trigger a response in the plants to fight off disease. They don't know if continues to be effective throughout the season. I've been using it mixed with my foliar feeding spray mixture this summer and have had good results.

I love your username of nandina. When I was growing up my grandmother had long hedge of nandina that grew along the front of a long high front porch. Every year at Christmas, she would prune it back level with the bottom of the porch and save the foliage and berries for Christmas decoration. It was easier to work with than holly and didn't have the sticky sap that evergreen clippings would ooze on everything. For many years gardeners didn't use nandina much because it was "out of style" and "too common". When people started looking for plants that didn't need as much pampering, I started seeing it again in gardening magazines and for sale at nurseries. It is difficult to think of a plant that is as versatile, beautiful, and easy to grow.


Here is a link that might be useful: Data Sheet for Epsoma Bio-Tone Starter Plus

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 4:43AM
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What has your keen eye noticed with the various fertilizers trailed this 2010 season? I've still not found a close substitute for old tomato tone.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 6:24PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


I don't have pictures to post, but from my impressions, if the "Old" Tomato-tone ranked a "10" in growth, longevity, and production, then the "New" Tomato-tone ranked an "8", with Fox Farms Peace of Mind at a "7", and EB Stone Vegetable at a "5".

I am experimenting with as CRF in my Fall tomato trials used in another "Industry" that seems to get rave reviews called Heavy Harvest:

I am experimenting with different dosage amounts in the fertilizer strips to see which amount is most effective without burning the plants. Stay tuned.

BTW, while early in the Fungi trials, the plants in the Biota Max are outperforming the plants in Myco Grow. Still too early to darw any conclusions - but interesting to watch.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 10:53PM
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