Clever plants com­mu­ni­cate

The Tribune (NZ) - - AL FRESCO -

It has also been noted that plants can warn each other about pest at­tacks.

Plants grow­ing nat­u­rally have some ca­pa­bil­i­ties for de­ter­ring pest in­sects, but from stud­ies car­ried out, the plants can take a bit of time to come to full alert and pro­tec­tion. I have writ­ten an ar­ti­cle on how spray­ing plants with a weak so­lu­tion of as­pirin can put them into full alert mode.

Read­ers will be fa­mil­iar with my­c­or­rhizal fungi which is found in healthy soils. The my­c­or­rhizal at­tach them­selves to plant roots and gather nu­tri­ents and mois­ture to the ben­e­fit of the plant in ex­change for car­bo­hy­drates. This can in­crease a plant’s root zone by 800 per cent.

The fungi threads also link plants to one an­other like a un­der­ground in­ter­net and it is thought this is how plants can com­mu­ni­cate with each other. If a plant sends out a warn­ing mes­sage that it is be­ing at­tacked by aphids, sur­round­ing plants start putting their de­fense mech­a­nisms into op­er­a­tion while re­lay­ing the mes­sage to other plants.

The warn­ing prompts plants to in­crease pro­duc­tion of volatile chem­i­cals that re­pel aphids for ex­am­ple, while at­tract­ing wasps, their nat­u­ral en­emy.

Re­searchers have ex­per­i­mented by re­mov­ing the con­nect­ing my­c­or­rhizal, and those plants quickly suc­cumbed to in­fes­ta­tions, pre­sum­ably be­cause they didn’t re­ceive a warn­ing mes­sage.

These stud­ies stress the im­por­tance of my­c­or­rhizal fungi to gar­den plants. Chem­i­cal fungi­cides, her­bi­cides and in­sec­ti­cides along with chlo­ri­nated water, kill my­c­or­rhizal fungi and leave plants vul­ner­a­ble to at­tack and un­able to ob­tain the full ben­e­fit from nu­tri­ents and mois­ture.

My­c­or­rhizal fungi also as­sists in the build­ing of gar­den hu­mus which se­questers car­bon and re­tains water and min­er­als. My­c­or­rhizal can be boosted by ap­ply­ing My­cor­rcin, a spe­cial nat­u­ral food that stim­u­lates the devel­op­ment of the ben­e­fi­cial fungi. It also helps pro­vide ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria to colonise the fo­liage and re­duce the abil­ity for fun­gus dis­eases such as black spot, from es­tab­lish­ing.

Gar­den­ers can also make their plants happy and healthy by play­ing them sooth­ing mu­sic.

Plants can also read peo­ple’s moods and gar­den­ers who love their gar­dens have a great heal­ing as­set. As you spend time look­ing af­ter your plants they are look­ing af­ter you. Clever plants. Prob­lems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmer­ston North 3570606) Email wal­lyjr@gar­de­ Web site www.gar­de­

Do you talk to your plants? Ac­cord­ing to re­search, your plants are cer­tainly talk­ing to each other us­ing a kind of un­der­ground in­ter­web. Photo: FAIR­FAX NZ

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