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mycorrhizal fungi for blueberries

Ran Prieur


Joined: Jun 01, 2010
Posts: 66
Location: Spokane and near Diamond Lake, WA
    
    1
So I just planted a bunch of blueberries, and I thought adding regular mycorrhizal fungi would be enough. But a botanist friend writes:

Blueberries are in the heath family, ericaceae. This means that they must have symbiotic fungi to live properly, being so adapted to having mycorrhizae as to not have root hairs. I did a bit of quick research, and it turns out the issue is weirder than I first thought. Plants of the family ericaceae, and specifically blueberries have a type of mycorrhizial association called ericoid mycorrhizae, typically fungi of the genus Hymenoscypus or Rhizoscyphus, and most typically Rhizoscyphus ericae. And without digging deep into weird places I doubt I could get culture of that fungus. If I were you, I would try and get a bit of soil/root mass from a thriving old established blueberry / wild vaccinium / cranberry / heath / rhododendron / heather plant in decending order of preference; and try and get said soil around the roots as a sort of seed to hopefully get the inoculation. No hurry, but the fungus is how they get their food to a large degree, unless they are in a nursery getting weak chemical fertilizers in the water, in which case they don't even need the fungus and it tends to atrophy unless fed.

References:
http://cropsoil.psu.edu/sylvia/mycorrhiza
http://www.angelfire.com/wizard/kimbrough/Textbook/Mycorrhizae_blue.htm


Sure enough, even fungi perfecti does not sell Hymenoscypus or Rhizoscyphus. So I'm going to look for somebody local with a good blueberry patch. Meanwhile, Ted also writes:

Pee would be particularly good for blueberries, due to blueberries only being able to uptake urea/ammonium ions for nitrogen, as opposed to most plants preferring nitrate ion.


According to the book Liquid Gold, urine should be diluted at least 8:1 before being fed to plants.

Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
thanks for the info, maybe I'll get some bits from the woods nearby where blueberries grow wild..as soon as I can get back there.


Brenda

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tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3082
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
interesting. a naturalist once told me that our red huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium) are mildly parasitic on conifers through mycorrhizal intermediaries. I don't know if that's actually true, as I've never heard it anywhere else. I can say that every red huckleberry I've encountered is growing on decomposing wood, so I generally incorporate some wood in the dirt whenever I plant a Vaccinium and mulch with chips pretty heavily.

our blueberries seem to be pretty happy. I wonder if the population of wild huckleberries relatively close by was enough to inoculate them with suitable fungus. or maybe some spores or mycelium came in with the wood chips.


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Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
Wild huckleberries grow right on our property and wild blueberries of all kinds live throughout Florida, so I'm guessing the right fungi are already in the soil here. Even if they aren't, when the plants were put in the ground, that fungi surely got innoculated into our soil at that time, already being present in the root ball. Our blueberries are doing great, mulched heavily with pine straw.


Certifiable food forest gardener, free gardening advice offered and accepted. Permaculture is the intersection of environmentalsim and agriculture.
Stewart Lundy


Joined: Aug 14, 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia, USA, Zone 7b, KeB Bojac Sandy Loam
    
    2
Has anyone tried Symbiom's products? http://www.symbiom.cz/index.php?p=distributors&site=en&set_menu=hobby There are two distributors in the USA, but information on the source is so sparse it's hard to tell if it's a scam or whether it's just an unknown resource.

They have a product called Rhodovit: "ERICOID MYCORRHIZA (RHODOVIT®) Grows inside the cortex of roots forming hyphal coils. This type of mycorrhiza colonizes plants of the Ericaceae family including: rhododendron, azaleas, heathers, blueberries, cranberries and dangleberries."


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Marc Troyka
volunteer

Joined: Jul 02, 2012
Posts: 354
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
    
  14
I didn't know blueberries were ericoid. That's strange indeed. Unfortunately it doesn't look like Symbiom distributes to the US. It's questionable whether the species they include would be appropriate here, anyway.
Shawn Harper


Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 220
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
    
    1
This is good to know. I will make sure to inoculate all new plantings at new locations with soild from the old.


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Stewart Lundy


Joined: Aug 14, 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia, USA, Zone 7b, KeB Bojac Sandy Loam
    
    2
M Troyka wrote:Unfortunately it doesn't look like Symbiom distributes to the US.


There are two US-distributors:
http://www.californiamycorrhiza.com/
http://www.viaterrallc.com/
Stewart Lundy


Joined: Aug 14, 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia, USA, Zone 7b, KeB Bojac Sandy Loam
    
    2
Shawn Harper wrote:This is good to know. I will make sure to inoculate all new plantings at new locations with soil from the old.


This would probably be sufficient. And since the symbiotic relationship between Blueberries and their partner mycorrhizae seems so close, it seems strange that any place growing blueberries would have none of this mycorrhizae. Soil from old blueberry plants would probably be sufficient. Especially wild blueberry plants.
Bob Dobbs


Joined: Jan 13, 2012
Posts: 145
    
    3
(actually I am the botanist ran referred to)
The trick with blueberries is that when grown in a nursery setting and receiving constant feeding, the roots never get inoculated. So, if you buy a transplant that was container grown, it likely has no mycorrhizae.
Marc Troyka
volunteer

Joined: Jul 02, 2012
Posts: 354
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
    
  14
It's really hard/impossible to inoculate them once they're grown, too . One more reason to plant exclusively from seed.
Bob Dobbs


Joined: Jan 13, 2012
Posts: 145
    
    3
Meh, I managed to do it by just lumping forest humus around the roots after five years with no growth. I am specifically referring to rabbiteye blueberries I planted that receive no care or nutrients, and I have no scientific proof that the fungus caught other than the exponentially increased growth rate. I think a heavy downpour washed the soil down a bit, they were planted in a dished area that would allow that to happen instead of washing away. Never actually grew any rabbiteyes from seed, though I have grown a couple thousand from cutting.
Marc Troyka
volunteer

Joined: Jul 02, 2012
Posts: 354
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
    
  14
Bob Dobbs wrote:Meh, I managed to do it by just lumping forest humus around the roots after five years with no growth. I am specifically referring to rabbiteye blueberries I planted that receive no care or nutrients, and I have no scientific proof that the fungus caught other than the exponentially increased growth rate. I think a heavy downpour washed the soil down a bit, they were planted in a dished area that would allow that to happen instead of washing away. Never actually grew any rabbiteyes from seed, though I have grown a couple thousand from cutting.


Ah, well exponentially better growth is pretty characteristic. I'm surprised that it was able to wash down, generally soil microbes stick to the soil and are resistant to being moved.
 
 
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