Do My Plants Need Added Beneficial Bacteria?

Posted by Diedra Blackmill on Oct 25th 2018

Pea plant in greenhouse

Maybe you’ve heard about beneficial bacteria. And maybe you’re wondering if it’s really necessary for your garden.

It’s understandable that you might be skeptical. After all, you’ve been growing without adding bacteria this whole time, right?

Well, the truth is that you can actually get bigger growth and better yields from your plants simply by adding a few tiny helpers to their roots.

Take a look at how bacteria can give your plants an edge.


Bacteria increases nutrient bioavailability

Here’s how it works. In nature, plants have formed a pretty sweet deal with microbes. They produce starchy compounds and sugars that the bacteria can nosh on, and in return, the bacteria transforms nitrogen in the soil to a form that plants can absorb.

Now, before you start to think that this is just one more thing you’re going to have to pay for, you should know that the boost from bacteria can actually reduce the amount of fertilizer you need to add to your garden.

The bacteria also synthesizes hormones and other compounds the plant needs to thrive.

And as if that’s not reason enough to add beneficial bacteria to your garden, here’s another reason. A proliferation of “good guy” microbes helps to prevent your plant from falling prey to pathogens (aka, “the bad guys” of the microbe world).

What that means for you as a grower is that your plants are more likely to be resistant to disease.

So how do you get these good guys to your plants?

Easy. You can make a compost tea. Or you can buy a pre-made plant inoculant solution. Look for one that provides the trifecta of friendly plant microbes -- bacteria, mycorrhizae, and trichoderma.

Nutrient additive

Can bacteria supplements be combined with synthetic fertilizers?

A lot of people have this misconception that using natural ingredients, like fungi and bacteria, to enhance plant growth is a thing that only organic growers do.

Get that thought out of your head.

Although beneficial microbes are popular with organic growers, you actually can use them in conjunction with synthetic fertilizers. There is, however, a catch.

It’s really important which order you apply your additives in. If you apply your microbes prior to adding a synthetic fertilizer, you will destroy most of them. Don’t do that.

Simply put, high doses of fertilizer don’t play well with beneficial microorganisms. So to ensure that as many of your friendly bacteria stick around as possible, apply the fertilizer first. After that is absorbed, then add your microbe solution.

It should be noted that if you are using an inoculant that also contains mycorrhizae, most of the myco will not survive mixing with synthetics. But you have a better shot at establishing them when you add them after feeding, not before.

And yes, you can use them in hydroponics

Beneficial bacteria is easy to add to soil, but don’t think that if you grow with hydroponics, you’re out of luck. That’s not the case.

The bacteria form a symbiotic relationship with the plant roots, not the soil. So all you need to do to get the benefits of inoculation for your indoor garden is to add the bacteria solution directly to your growing medium, where the roots are.

The bacteria will do the rest of the work.

We do our best at Indoor Cultivator to educate our customers about the best options for their indoor gardens. Stop in and see which nutrient additives we suggest.

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