Producing exceptional bud requires exceptionally healthy plants. That means understanding and caring for each part of the plant, from its flowers and leaves to its roots. Nutrient rich soil is a big component of plant health, as are pH, moisture levels, and lighting. There are also some easily overlooked factors at play; understanding the roles of plant hormones and fungus in cannabis growth is essential to anyone who wants to take their growing game to the next level.
Plant Hormones: A Simple Nervous System
Cannabis plants, like any other organism in kingdom Plantae, have no real nervous system. They don’t think, or feel pain, or have any sort of consciousness or understanding of the outside world. But plants still respond to their environment — you’ve probably seen a tree growing sideways out of a shaded area, or a square watermelon grown in a box. So if plants don’t have a nervous system, how do they react to environmental changes?
The answer lies in plant hormones. Plant hormones are a variety of naturally occurring chemicals that regulate plant growth, with the most common and important of them being a class of chemicals known as auxins. Auxins work by encouraging growth of particular plant structures based on their concentration in the area of the plant. While the entire plant contains at least some auxins, some areas, such as the root system, have very high concentrations. The auxins tell the plant’s cells to grow longer, pushing the structures away from the base of the plant. Depending on what other hormones are present in the plant material, that could mean rapidly growing a branch or stem, bending the main stem of the plant toward the sun, or expanding the root system.
Why does that matter for your cannabis growing? Well, this hormone based growth system is simple — and easily manipulated. By increasing the presence of auxins (particularly 1-Naphthaleneacetic acid, or NAA, and Indole-3-butyric acid, or IBA) in the rooting region of a plant, you can increase their growth. These so-called rooting hormones can be extracted from a number of organic sources, including willow trees and kelp. Our organically formulated Myco-Grow™ root inoculant contains kelp extracts that foster root growth.
Mycorrhizae and Your Plants: A Beautiful Friendship
Root systems aren’t as simple as they seem. It’s easy to imagine them as little straws of plant matter, soaking up water and nutrients to feed the leaves, stems, and flowers of your plants. While that is their main function, their operation is more complex than that. Plant roots cannot absorb all the nutrients they need on their own, as they may be physically or chemically unavailable to the root hairs. In other cases, the root system may simply be shallow and small, unable to independently pull enough moisture and nutrition from its immediate surroundings. That’s where fungi come in.
Mycorrhizal fungi are a type of fungi that form a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with plant roots. The fungus feeds off carbohydrates released by the roots, growing into a net of microscopic fibers through the soil. This fungal net captures and delivers moisture and nutrients to the roots, acting as a secondary root system on a much greater scale than the plant could alone. These nets of fungal threads can spread hundreds of times further than the plant roots they surround. You can imagine the impact that sort of nutrient and moisture absorption has on the health and growth rate of any plant; while a plant can survive without this fungal assistance, it only truly thrives in conjunction with mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizae also aid in the uptake and regulation of phosphorus, a nutrient crucial to growing healthy plants with potent buds.
Our organic soils are inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi, and our adjuncts will not damage or hinder the growth of mycorrhizae, unlike many synthetic materials. For a significant increase in mycorrhizal growth, our Myco-Grow™ formula contains more than twenty times as many spores per gram compared to some competing products.
Not all Fungi are Created Equal
Just as not every plant is adapted for every kind of soil, not all mycorrhizal fungi are appropriate for cannabis growing. Cannabis, like many types of plants, can only form a symbiotic relationship with one of two broad types of mycorrhizal fungi. Endomycorrhizae, which means ‘inner root fungus’, is the type that assists cannabis growth. Ectomycorrhizae, or ‘outer root fungus’, cannot. In fact, ectomycorrhizae can inhibit beneficial endomycorrhizal growth, so you could consider it harmful to your plants.
Furthermore, not every kind of mycorrhizal fungus can form symbiosis with cannabis plants. While there are many species of endomycorrhizal fungi, only a few species can benefit cannabis growth. Our Myco-Grow™ formula contains spores from four compatible species to ensure optimal fungal growth.