We spend countless hours ensuring our plants remain healthy and thriving. We provide them with plenty of sunlight, water them routinely, and shelter them from the harsh elements of our climate. But is it always enough?
In many cases, sunlight and plenty of moisture are not solely responsible for creating an optimal environment for your plants. Soil conditions play a critical role in supplying your flowers and shrubs with all the nutrients they require to flourish.
When it comes to soilless mediums, especially coco coir, infusing them with the right amount of nutrients is key to their success.
Though coco coir boasts multitudes of other advantages when gardening, such as increased aeration and moisture retention, its biggest drawback is locking out much-needed vitamins and minerals. One way to amend this deficiency in the growing medium is to add beneficial bacteria.
How can beneficial bacteria help your plants?
One of the most commonly added bacteria to coco coir is from the genus of Bacillus. This type of bacteria performs numerous functions based on the particular species, though they mostly protect the plant from pests and pathogens. This strain of bacteria offers its assistance by stimulating the plant’s natural resistance against pathogens that attack the leaves and roots.
Bacillus, along with beneficial fungi, also chase away harmful bacteria and pathogens by essentially draining them of resources. Their aggressiveness at consuming nutrients the harmful microbes need in the medium makes it impossible for the bad microorganisms to flourish.
The final way beneficial bacteria assist with plant growth is by breaking down organic materials found in the plants. In particular, Bacillus increases nitrogen absorption by making more of the nutrient available for use.
How can you add beneficial bacteria to soil?
Adding beneficial bacteria to the soil is much easier than you might think. There are different types of organic materials that boost levels of beneficial bacteria over time.
One way to do this is by adding compost, which contains higher levels of plant-bacteria than most supplemental ingredients. Bacteria sustains itself on the nutrients provided, and coco coir creates the perfect breeding ground for these microbes to subsist.
With these two factors in play, the bacteria reproduce quickly and make a nice, little home there in the soilless potting mix. This also works in traditional soils.
A second strategy for adding bacteria follows the same guidelines of introducing microbes to the soil as the first. However, it uses slightly different materials and adds a food source to increase the production of the bacteria.
Adding a blend of molasses, water, and dirt to the pre-existing soil, or soilless medium, is a great way to add beneficial bacteria.
The microbes that naturally live in the soil get a boost of carbon energy from the molasses and spread like crazy throughout the rest of the growing medium via the water.
Are inorganic nutrients toxic to beneficial bacteria?
The short answer is no, not in moderate quantities. Scientists define inorganic nutrients as anything that doesn’t contain carbon. Going off of that explanation, there are numerous nutrients already present within the soil considered inorganic.
Nitrogen, iron, and phosphorous all fall under the category of inorganic materials and regularly contribute to a plant’s health. They also aid in the nutritional wellbeing of many living things, including microorganisms.
Since beneficial bacteria use these same nutrients to thrive, feeding the soil these rich ingredients means feeding the microbes that live within it, too.
Does hydrogen peroxide kill beneficial bacteria in soil?
Hydrogen peroxide is a non-selective disinfectant, which means it kills all bacteria without distinction. It doesn’t matter if that bacteria is considered helpful or harmful to the plant. The hydrogen peroxide seeks it out and destroys both equally.
Some gardeners use a highly diluted blend of hydrogen peroxide and water to ward against common outdoor pests, such as aphids and spider mites. Check 27 Types Of Houseplants Spider Mites Like.
They also use this mixture as a great way to boost the oxygen levels in growing mediums. If either of these issues arises when using beneficial bacteria, an alternative resolution to the problem is necessary.
Since the peroxide lingers in the medium for quite a while, simply reapplying beneficial microbes does not work.
What are the Best Products that add beneficial bacteria to coco coir?
Now that we’ve discussed the basics for understanding and applying beneficial bacteria to the different potting mediums, there’s still one question left to address:
which product should you use?
Numerous companies offer their special blend of soil enhancements that add beneficial microbes to your plant’s nutrient supply. Each boasts a unique set of advantages designed to suit individual gardening needs.
1. Microbe Life Photosynthesis Plus Fertilizer
Microbe Life makes a whole collection of products that excel in improving the macro and micro-nutrients in plants. The key to their success is using organic materials and beneficial bacteria that improve the plant’s ability to perform certain functions, namely through photosynthesis.
The company’s fertilizer not only sprinkles in a mix of helpful microbes, but also enhances how well the plant absorbs and breaks down energy.
True to its “photosynthesis” moniker, the fertilizer makes the plant’s ability to utilize light energy much more efficient and improves its overall health no matter the type of medium.
Fungi also play a significant role in the development of soil structure and nutrients. Fungus like mycorrhizal often goes hand-in-hand with bacteria like Bacillus, since both need similar conditions to thrive.
The Xtreme Gardening product introduces these spongy fungi to the potting medium and increases the absorption of water as well as nutrients.
This product is a fantastic way to find a healthy balance between the necessary vitamins and minerals already present in the soil or soilless planting.
It also paves the way for other helpful microbes to thrive in the habitat.
3. Real Grower’s Recharge
Recharge is the perfect way to describe this next product. It incorporates a powerful blend of microbes that stimulate growth in lawns, potted plants, and hydroponic farming. It even assists gardeners by covering dry spots that refuse to grow, areas of the yard damaged by pet stains, pests, and more.
Real Growers uses three main microbial agents: Trichoderma, Mycorrhizae, and Bacillus. It also infuses the fertilizer mix with helpful nutrients like kelp and molasses to speed up the process.
The Mycorrhizae protect root systems, the Trichoderma quickly breaks down organic matter in the growing medium, while the bacteria act as an effective slow-release mechanism.
If you’ve added chemical fertilizers to your plants in the past, it’s not a problem. This mixture of bacteria has a high tolerance to compounds typically found in most products.
4. Earth Worm Castings
One of the best ways to add beneficial bacteria to any growing medium is through worm castings. While this may sound like an odd version of fertilizer, it’s actually the richest concentration of organic material and helpful microbes.
Worm castings are basically another way to say worm feces. Since earthworms eat compost, the droppings they leave behind remain a pure, filtered version of minerals and microbes the soil needs.
In addition to being an incredible tool in the garden, worm castings deliver a hearty dose of calcium and magnesium. Both of these are particularly deficient in coco coir mediums since the coconut fibers tend to retain these kinds of nutrients rather than break them down and redistribute them to the plant.
You can make your own worm castings at home, but it’s a lengthy process that requires a lot of maintenance. This option makes things much more convenient.
5. Mammoth Microbes Organic Bloom Booster
While this last entry also bears a pretty hefty price tag, it is backed by university research and comes in a highly concentrated formula. One liter of the product makes up to 1,600 gallons of solution, so it’s definitely worth the price increase.
There are smaller sizes also available, with the most compact size being 120ml for about $50. Mammoth Microbes contain beneficial bacteria that produce enzymes that break down nutrients.
These microscopic enhancements increase the nutrients in the soil by up to 30 times the amounts found in average soil conditions. The most significant increase, according to the company, goes to phosphorous levels.
It does not discriminate between which type of potting medium you use and is just as efficient in regular soil as it is in coco coir.
Mammoth Microbes is a supplement to fertilizer programs, and most gardeners used it in conjunction with other treatment plans.
Gardening requires a wealth of love and attention to keep your flowers and plants looking fantastic. Every gardening technique comes with its advantages and disadvantages, whether it’s traditional planting or hydroponic farming.
The trick is knowing which strategies to rely on to establish a strong base for plants to grow. While all species profit from the help beneficial bacteria offer, those in coco coir use this boost of ingredients as a much-needed source for regular nourishment.
Keep your flowers and shrubs healthy by adding the right mix of vitamins and minerals whenever possible.