Trichoderma, Too Good to Be True?
Paul Edwards, Internet Co-ordinator, Victorian Carnivorous Plant Society


Too Good to be True?

6 July, 2000.

This article first appeared in the Victorian Carnivorous Plant Society Journal
By Paul Edwards.

Carnivorous Plants, by the nature of their growing environment, can often be quite susceptible to fungi attacks, which can severely damage or kill a plant, or at worse, sweep through a whole collection.

Chemical treatments for fungi are often only partially effective, or not effective at all. And often they can damage the plant more than the fungi!

Have you ever wondered how those enormous trees you see being transplanted on the back of trucks, surrounded by an impossibly small root ball, actually survive? You think there must be a “trick of the trade”? Well, there is!

The answer is Trichoderma!

Investigation by CSIRO and other organizations in the area of biological disease management, as against chemical control, has shown most positive if not revolutionary methods of fungi control.

Read on, and I’m sure you’ll be blown away, as I was!

What is Trichoderma?

Trichoderma is a micro-organism (in fact called a “beneficial fungi”) that inhabits the soil, and attacks a wide range of the destructive fungi that often kill our CPs. In technical terms, Trichoderma is a mycoparasite, or saprophyte, which feeds on pathogenic fungi. There is photographic evidence held by the CSIRO showing Trichoderma actively parasitising   basideomycetes including Armillaria, mellea, Rhyzoctonia solari and Chondrostereum purpureum. In fact, Trichoderma can control the growth of many opportunistic, wood-infecting, decay fungi, as well as many soil-borne fungi responsible for seedling wilt and damping off (e.g. Fusarium and Pythium).

Does it work?

Pro-Pine Nursery Supplies of Kilsyth extensively tested Trichoderma on hundreds of cyclamen which were constantly suffering fungi attacks. In the past, the plants underwent an extensive process in an effort to stop fungi attacks. Pots were steam treated, potting mix was sterilised, and plants were chemically treated against fungi on a monthly basis.

Half of their plants were then treated with Trichoderma and nothing else. No other chemicals or treatments were done. The other half of their crop was treated as usual. The results were outstanding. Of the plants treated with Trichoderma, none were lost. In fact, they showed substantial gains as compared to the usual growth rates. Of the other plants, (not treated with Trichoderma) they sustained their normal rate of losses.

A distributor of theirs, a retail nursery, had a garden bed at their entrance way which Pansies were grown year after year. The bed was treated with the normal fertilisers, however over a period of 3 years, with no crop rotation, the Pansy bed was looking sick indeed. Then Pro-Pine distributed the Pansies to the retail outlet, however first treated them with Trichoderma. That year, the garden bed displayed Pansies as none of the staff there had ever seen them before – in short, they were magnificent!

But wait, there’s more . . .

Trichoderma appears to produce enzyme complexes that promote plant growth (i.e. a growth stimulant). Treated seedlings, for example, jump-start and can be transplanted days earlier. The vigorous seedlings also exhibit enhanced disease resistance. It is still not proved whether the vigorous growth produces better disease resistance, or the disease resistance boosts the growth rate. But who cares, if it works!

How to apply it

There are various forms of Trichoderma, namely pellets (trade name of “Trichopel”) which is mixed through the soil or potting