Underground Conversations: How Trees Share Secrets Through Root Networks

trees communicate

Did you know that trees communicate? Yes, you heard right – trees actually communicate with one another through their root systems. This communication is integral to your trees’ health, growth, and longevity. So how does it work, and how can you protect this communication system to ensure that your trees have a long and healthy life? 

How do trees communicate? 

Trees communicate through their root systems through a process called mycorrhizal networks. Here’s the basic breakdown of this interesting process: 

  • Mycorrhizal networks are actually created through fungi. Thin filaments from the fungi in the soil intertwine with the tree’s roots. 
  • This intertwining builds a network that subsequently extends to other trees nearby, allowing the trees to “communicate” with one another. 
  • This network helps trees transmit information to one another – they can warn other trees of disease, insect and pest infestations, and potential threats. 
  • It also allows trees to share water and nutrients with one another underneath the ground so they can all thrive. 
  • The relationship between the fungi and the tree roots is mutually beneficial. While the fungi allow the trees to communicate, they also break down important minerals in the soil so the tree can absorb them. In return, the tree roots provide the fungi with a source of sugar so they can also thrive. 

And it’s all happening under the soil where you would never know it otherwise. This system of networking and communication is critical to tree health, which is why it’s important to protect it. 

How can you help your trees communicate? 

If you want a healthy yard or garden, it’s critical to preserve the health of the trees in it. This means facilitating the process of how trees communicate by protecting these mycorrhizal networks. Here are some tips on how to nurture your trees to preserve these networks: 

Don’t let the soil around your trees dry out. Moist soil that receives even, routine watering encourages fungo growth and helps to strengthen and preserve mycorrhizal networks. 

Use mulch as a barrier. Mulch around the base of your trees is a great way to conserve moisture in the soil, and fungi tend to grow better under mulch. However, make sure the mulch is organic (wood chips, pine straw, etc.). 

Related: The Benefits of Mulch Around Trees: How Mulching Can Improve Tree Health

Try to encourage native fungi growth. Avoid tilling and removing native plant litter and debris in the area if you want to encourage fungi to grow and mycorrhizal networks to flourish. 

Be careful if you’re using fungicide. If you’re spraying your trees’ leaves and foliage, it likely won’t impact the mycorrhizal networks too much. However, using fungicide in the soil can destroy these networks and negatively impact your trees’ health. 

Don’t over-fertilize your trees. Too much fertilizer in the soil restricts fungi growth, which means fewer mycorrhizal networks in the root system of your trees. 

Help your trees communicate and thrive with Hometown Tree Experts 

Have questions about mycorrhizal networks and tree health, or need tips to keep your trees healthy and flourishing? Contact the Hometown Tree Experts today