A customer at our Portland garden center in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood walked in the other day quite distraught. Earlier in the spring, she had purchased a rose fertilizer developed by the Portland Rose Society from us.

In the past, she had always bought the conventional form of it directly from the Society, but this time, she had bought the organic version, and she was not pleased.

 

Fuzzy Rose Mold?

Something that seemed like “rose mold” had developed on the soil surface wherever she had used this fertilizer. She even brought us a sample to see. She said her roses looked fine but requested a refund for what was left in the bag.

 

if you’ve ever bought plants from a nursery, you might have noticed this white stuff on the bottom. Don’t remove it!

 

We were all mystified. We had never seen this kind of thing before and refunded her money. But I was still curious, so I called the Rose Society to find out if they had seen or heard about this phenomenon from other rose growers. Indeed they had! In fact, the rosarian on the other end started laughing!

 

Marvelous Mycorrhizae

It turns out that the fuzzy stuff was simply mycorrhizae doing its thing, except in overdrive. Mycorhizzae is a naturally existing fungus that has existed in soils for over 450 million years. It forms a symbiotic relationship with plant root systems, and essentially extends the plant’s nutritional network, boosting its ability to absorb water, key nutrients, and trace minerals.

Usually, this network is hidden underneath the soil surface. In our customer’s case, it had continued expanding above ground – manifesting itself with this white fuzz. Long story short – prolific mychorrhizae is exceptionally good news for your garden.

 

mycorrhizae-benefits

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

 

The world’s mycorrhizae networks are easily disrupted by construction, or even just digging. It is often completely disabled by industrial farming practices or the addition of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

 

The Benefits of Mycorrhizae Mold On Soil

Mycorrhizae boosts the plant’s immune system, and strengthens its chances of prosperous survival.

Per our amused rosarian – the addition of mycorrhizae to the custom rose fertilizer was the main reason the organic variety cost more than the conventional.

If you ever observe a fuzzy substance like the one in the photo growing near the roots of your roses – you will be prepared to treat it like the gift it is! 🙂

-Drake

 

A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.