Honey Fungus Treatment - Armillaria Mellea
Honey Fungus spores can be found everywhere and have been found in air samples taken at 5 miles high, they are usually present in air samples all year round which would indicate that they can ride the winds for many months before coming down to ground.
The Armillaria spore usually only grows on freshly damaged plant material i.e. damaged shrub, tree bark, or crushed/dying roots; where it has access to carbohydrates but without competition from other fungi or chemicals from the plants defense system. But once established on a plant it can and will grow out 'boot laces' or black string like tendrils which will seek out other plants and latch on and attack the new plant with a range of enzymes and chemicals, it will pass energy/food along the 'boot lace' to the 'fighting tip' so that it can continue the attack until it succeeds or is deterred by the plants chemical defenses. Armillaria also commonly infects other plants through the roots, via root grafts and other forms of root contact this method of spread can be very quick indeed if your plants are in a weakened condition or are susceptible species.
What you can do;
If your shrubs and trees are not in close proximity to each other, then the likelihood is that the parasite is using the bootlace method of attack and expanding from plant to plant. So take something like a stick or screwdriver and circle each shrub and tree that you have, scraping down an inch or so into the soil (deeper in loose soil) this method usually uncovers the bootlaces. Clean them all away and treat all trees and shrubs with my 'woody plant Tonic' , then wait and watch. Although the Armillaria spores are always in your garden, you can make sure that there is no increase in normal spore levels by removing all mushrooms (fruiting bodies) as soon as they appear and dispose of them in a plastic bag. Alternatively you can slice them thinly and fry in butter with a pinch of salt and pepper, a much more satisfying way of taking revenge. If your shrubs and Trees are close together and the fungus is 'spreading' down the line, removing plants next to the infection will cause root damage and continued infection, so remove plants that are down the 'line' causing a kind of 'fire break' whereby the infection can not pass from root to root, then follow my instructions for use of the wood ash 'tonic'. There have been attempts to contain the fungus by burying a plastic sheet in a trench thus blocking the spread of the honey fungus but this has not proved to be effective, although it has merit in certain instances, but the root cause is usually stressed and weakened plants open to infection
Honey fungus 'bootlaces' cannot grow through untilled soil because it is too compact for it to force its way through, it doesn't like bright hot sunlight, so check along the edges of your fences or under your hedges, anywhere it's shady and moist, also check through your mulch. I have also seen it grow through the roots of manicured grass lawns and it can grow longer than 30ft so check everywhere. If you are cutting down or digging out infected plants then make sure you sterilise/wash your tools afterwards.
If your soil flora and fauna is in good health i.e. (a chemical free garden that has a certain amount of organic matter), then the Armillaria spores will reduce in quantity as they are eaten or degraded by the natural life in the soil.
To clear away Armillaria from your garden after following the above advice, stop loosening/tilling your beds and around your trees and shrubs, if you feel your soil needs organic enrichment then sprinkle well rotted leaf mould through your beds (read my articles to maintain a sustainable soil environment), to encourage good soil balance. This does several things, it stops damage to roots by your digging, it allows the roots to develop a more enlarged and healthy system which in itself will strengthen the plant against infection. Also Armillaria has more success against weakened plants than it does healthy plants. Ill health in plants can be caused by peoples bad gardening practices (see article Tree Care). Forcing shrubs and trees to grow quickly by using chemical 'NPK' fertilizers will harm the long term health of the plant, save those fertilizers for annuals in pots. Reduce stress on plants by making sure they are planted in a situation/environment that they are used too i.e. sun lovers in the sun and shade lovers in the shade, make sure that as they grow they don't shade out others, either move them apart or prune the shade causing plant. Also if you have Honey Fungus (Armillaria ) in the garden don't stress your plants more by trimming or pruning until you are sure that the shrub is healthy and in no danger of infection.
Planting Early Purple Orchids in your garden, as in my experiment, must be planned explicitly , Orchids are fragile plants so match your garden environment to a supplier who is growing them in a similar situation. Early Purple Orchids can survive in either grass on the edge of a woodland or amongst woodland, your shrubs and trees represent the woodlands, but please read up on the Early Purple Orchids growing environment before planting.
Depending on environmental conditions the fungus can over winter in an infected plant remaining dormant, but it usually awakens and starts feeding as soon as the temperature reaches a certain warmth, this seems to be just before the tree/shrub comes into leaf and before the plant has a chance to develop a chemical defense; the struggle will continue until it becomes too hot or dry for the fungus to continue to spread into the plant and it seems to become dormant at this stage, although it will continue to digest wood deep inside the tree where the moist environment is more to its liking. Evergreen trees and shrubs have a slight advantage in Britain against Armillaria as they don't go totally dormant in the cold months and they are therefore more capable of defending themselves in Spring when the fungus wakes up, although susceptibility is different from plant to plant.
Armillaria is a week competitor so if your plants have a healthy symbiotic mycorrhizal partner; then you will have nothing to fear from infection as the mycelium will fight off the Armillaria attack with its own armory of chemicals. The way to make sure that your Trees and Shrubs have a strong symbiotic partnership with a particular type of fungus, is not to use ANY Chemicals in your garden, no worm away, no lawn or plant fertilizers, no weed or pest killer. All the minerals that plants need are in the soil, the only thing you need is a healthy soil flora and fauna which will break down the grains of grit/sand so that plants can access this resource, so put some organic matter into the soil in your garden and this will power the life cycles of all soil flora and fauna. If your soil is depleted of certain minerals, which can occur in areas of high rainfall, or perhaps your soil is very alkaline (low iron, manganese) or acidic (low calcium) then using the wood ash tonic will provide all the minerals your Trees and shrubs need.