white stringy fungus(?) in the soil in

TRVLBAG's picture

I am pruning roses today, and in digging out a few old ones I discovered a white stringy fungus

(looked like baby roots when pulled apart).  My rose garden has a layer of tan park which my gardener placed there last year when I asked him to get me an organic mulch.  The fungus seems to be sitting on top of the soil,  between the soil and tan bark.

While the soil is heavy clay, it has been conditioned, and lots of top soil worked in over the years.  Am not certain what to do about this, but want to clear it up before the buds start really coming out.   I think it might look like what I have been told in the past, oak tree fungus., but I don't have oak trees on the property, although I have lots of shade from cypress and pine trees.  Actually the roses don't get all that much sun, early morning to about 2PM, then a little more late afternoon.  I do grow nice roses so it seems like enuf sun.

Would love any input.  Thanks, Kathleen




Astrid's picture

(post #5749, reply #1 of 15)

Might it not be anything harmful to roses, just a mycorrhiza of some kind? Does the soil smell particularly mushroomy? I thought that was always a good sign of healthy loam, soil teeming with tiny beneficial organisms, all working at making a living, nourishing element for plants to thrive in. Sigh. I could be wrong of course. The soil in my gardens is mostly sandy clay with some loam, I envy you! :-)

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
TRVLBAG's picture

(post #5749, reply #2 of 15)

Hope that's not just wishful thinking, that it is something beneficial, but wouldn't beneficial organisms be a bit wiggly?  No, was just out in the garden, and  I noticed one of the bushes I dug out has mold around the rootball, and I'll bet its because the tan bark has let the rose bushes get too wet.  thanks for input.,  I love this site!!  Everyone is so willing to help.  Kathleen

LIBugGuy's picture

(post #5749, reply #3 of 15)

My guess would be it's just living on the mulch.  Yes, it will speed the decomposition of the mulch, but that will build soil anyway.  Come the rainy season, you'll probably have mushrooms of some sort popping up there.

Gardening in the heart of the suburban sandbar- LI NY, Zone 7ish...

Selling plants from the Orange box, and doing a little garden work on the side.

LI, NY, almost zone 7, but it's been warmer of late :)

TRVLBAG's picture

(post #5749, reply #4 of 15)

I'll bet you're right.  I thought it might be the darn tan bark causing it, AND  there is a huge mushroom right near where the patch of soil is that I'm concerned about.  But what do you mean 'when the rainy season comes'  its here! and has been for a couple months., Just joking, we are in northern Calif, where winter is rainy season, another reason why it could be a fungus right under the tan bark. 


Do you think I should just leave it there?  or take out the tan bark?

Jeapurrs's picture

(post #5749, reply #7 of 15)

It sounds like the subterrainean structures of fungi which, under the right moisture and temperature conditions, will send up "blooms" of mushrooms. This is absolutely of no harm to your plants, it feeds on decaying organic matter which, in turn feeds your plants.

Gardening Savant

Gardening Savant
gbandy2's picture

(post #5749, reply #9 of 15)

I noticed that some of the shredded bark mulch we've gotten has this fungus.  I just assume that the fungus is harmless.  The problem I do have is that said mulch tends to mat up so that water runs off to the lawn rather than penetrate through to the flower bed.

KimmSr's picture

(post #5749, reply #11 of 15)

One of the principal reasons I prefer shredded leaves for mulching my perennials and annuals. I'll use wood chips around trees and shrubs though.

West central Michigan along the lake shore

A sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, rather it is brown knees.

ellengst's picture

(post #5749, reply #12 of 15)

Gretchen - are you sure the stuff you've gotten is really bark mulch? There is lots of stuff out there sold as bark mulch that is really shredded wood chips.  You can probably tell by the length of time it takes to decompose - the bark takes much, much longer to break down. Wood chips will totally decompose in 2-3 years. (don't know how long it takes if you garden in a very dry area, but that's what I've seen in MA.)


gbandy2's picture

(post #5749, reply #13 of 15)

I don't know what it is exactly, just know it's some sort of shredded mulch.  I've tried to switch to using pine fines instead, though my bulk supply can be sporadic.  I'm lucky to have a bulk supplier at all.  If I could find the time, I'd shred leaves like Kimm recommended.  I too put free woodchips around trees and shrubs.

AnnL's picture

(post #5749, reply #14 of 15)

I have the same problem with the bark mulch matting.  I spread the mulch pretty deeply, but I leave lots of room around the base of my plants.  I also stir the mulch up as I weed, that helps the water to get through.  I've tried to find a bulk supply of pine fines but have not been successful. 

AnnL; MotherHen/Hobby Farmer

"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Jeapurrs's picture

(post #5749, reply #15 of 15)

Do you have a "Claw"? One of those things you push into the ground and twist? If not, you might want to get one. They're really good for getting into that mulch and breaking it up. That fungus literally glues everything together and, like you said, the water doesn't penetrate. If you can rough it up once or twice a season, that should fix that problem. That was a chief reason I stopped using shredded bark mulch - it matted with that fungus.

Gardening Savant

Gardening Savant
TRVLBAG's picture

(post #5749, reply #10 of 15)

Thanks Jeana!  what a wonderful forum this is.  Everyone has good suggestions.  Lets hope yours  is what I have.  I'd hate to lose my rose garden....some 60 strong.  Kathleen

DavidxDoud's picture

(post #5749, reply #5 of 15)

quite possibly Armillaria - 'shoestring fungus' - - widespread,  certainly oak is commonly affected,  but softwoods are also,  probably associated with the mulch you hauled in - check out this link and see if you recognize anything -


"there's enough for everyone"
KimmSr's picture

(post #5749, reply #6 of 15)

Mychorrizal fungi will be growing in the soil by the roots, so I'd suspect that fungi you found as something that "may" be a disease although it could just be part of Ma Natures recycling machine.

West central Michigan along the lake shore

A sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, rather it is brown knees.

TRVLBAG's picture

(post #5749, reply #8 of 15)

Thank you so much for input.  I can see I do have to pursue this further.  guess next step is to take a deseased rose bush somewhere to see if it can be definitely identified.  I'd be devastated if it infects my whole rose garden (about 60)!


Thanks, Kathleen