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What is mycorrhiza?

Author: Kees Kouwenhoven | Latest update: 07-04-2020

New methods for higher yields and better performance of the crop are looked for in horticulture continuously. When diseases or plagues are spotted, often chemical products are seen as a solution. The questions for green solutions are increasing, since the availability of chemical products is changing. The soil life can be named as one of the more green solutions. This because with the presence of different harmless moulds and bacteria, results in less ‘’space’’ for pathogens. The purpose and different types of mycorrhiza moulds are explained by our specialist in this article. 

What is mycorrhiza?

The word ‘mycorrhiza’ is derived from the Greek words ‘myco’ (mould, fungus) and ‘rhiza’ (roots). This type of mould grows in soil naturally.

It is mainly used in soil cultivations, because mycorrhiza can easily settle here. The application of mycorrhiza in substrate cultivations, is done less often. However it is not impossible, if use of a special type of mycorrhiza is made. 

Where moulds are often associated with plant damage, this is not applicable to mycorrhiza, which ‘mutualistically’ cooperates with the plant. The word ‘mutualism’ is used when both parties benefit from a cooperation. 

The moulds are nested in between the plant’s roots and form an extension through so called ‘cords’. The cords that are formed by the mould, emerge in a gigantic and solid network, enabling a better intake of nutrients. In return, sugar is delivered by the plant. Sugars are needed by moulds in order to be able to grow. Due to this successful cooperation, mycorrhiza and plants have lived in symbiosis for decades. Thanks to the exchange of these two parties, a disease-preventing soil is created, in which not much, to no damage occurs despites the presence of pathogens. 

What are the advantages of mycorrhiza?

Even though the presence of mycorrhiza is not believed to be crucial for the plant’s growth, the mould is able to fulfill important tasks for plants. These tasks are listed below: 
  • Protection of the roots (harmful moulds do not get space)
  • Improved intake of nutrition and minerals
  • Prevention of the plants drying out, due to better water storage within the plant
  • Improved resistance against diseases
  • Improved soil structure
  • Possibility for cultivation with a lower EC 

Types of mycorrhiza

Two types of mycorrhiza can be named, namely the endomycorrhiza and the ectomycorrhiza. 


The VA mycorrhiza is the most common in this family of moulds. The insides of the plant can actually be reached by this endomycorrhiza. This because this specific mould’s process of ramification is believed to be even more detailed than this of the root hairs. Because of this, even plant cells and vessels are reached by these endomycorrhizas. They can be found through the entire soil’s surface and are able to reach the root cells of the plant. Due to the distance that can be covered by this mould, the capacity of the plant’s intake is enlarged. Thanks to its ramifications, more minerals and sugars are exchanged by the plant and the mycorrhiza. 
Lastly, the storage of water is secured by mycorrhiza, which has a positive influence on the plant in times of drought, when the cultivator is forced to cultivate in a dyer manner. 


The location of this mycorrhiza is already revealed by the definition of the word ‘ecto, which means ‘outside’. The ectomycorrhiza can be found in the exterior layer of the root, but does not really get through to the vessels of the plant. Ectomycorrhiza on trees can be recognized by the form of mushrooms/fungus. Young plants are believed to benefit from the cooperation with ectomycorrhiza, since mycorrhiza grows along the roots from the start. Thanks to this, a maximal effect of the mould is ensured. 

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Add mycorrhiza to your cultivation

Because many plant functions are supported by mycorrhiza, the addition of this mould is strongly advised. It can be seen as a profitable addition when the plant does not grow properly or as desired. Moreover, it can be used to improve the plant’s resistance or when a new or young crop is grown. 

The application of mycorrhiza can be done in several ways. One of the methods is to make sure the mould is already present in the soil once the plants are young. This can be done by mixing the mycorrhiza through the soil of the older plants. In practice, this method is not executed often, since new cultivations are normally started in a ‘clean’ way. This in order to lower the risk of contamination. 

Mycorrhiza can be added to the plant through products containing traces of mycorrhiza, which are able to develop into full-grown moulds after the application to the soil. Make sure these products are applied as specific as possible, by means of dipping or sprinkling. 

It should be kept into account that mycorrhizas are killed by chemical fungicides and steam. Also keep in mind, that products for disinfection and for the removal of bio film have the same effect on mycorrhiza. This due to the organic base of the mould. 

Besides the presence of mycorrhiza in plant resistance products, it can also be found in several organic fertilizers. 

Mycorrhiza in orchids

One of the types of mycorrhiza is only found in orchids. The fact that this mould is able to get through the plant’s vessels is special. The proteins that have emerged once the old moulds have died, are used as a nutritional source for the plant. Due to this cooperation, the growth of orchids in soils low in nitrogen, is possible. 

More information about myccorhiza

Do you have questions about using myccorhiza, or would you like individual advice? Please contact crop protection specialist Kees Kouwenhoven via the contact form below. We will then contact you as soon as possible - on weekdays even within 24 hours.

Kees KouwenhovenAbout Kees Kouwenhoven

Kees Kouwenhoven, product specialist crop protection, has been working with Royal Brinkman since 2003. As a former grower of roses, he knows like no one else about all the things that need to be done. "Since I have my own nursery, I understand what a grower wants and what he faces. I take pleasure in working on the advisory side of the sector now, and to share my knowledge with customers."

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