Bootlaces = honey fungus?

Pete8Pete8 Posts: 2,920

I have a west facing border approx 100' and between 8’-15’ deep that has been largely untouched since i moved here 28 yrs ago (so it’s been on the ‘to do’ list a while now!)
 There are some large shrubs - rhododendron, berberis, myrtle, bay, pittosporum and roses, backed by a cotoneaster, ilex and laurel hedge and a few birch saplings.

It's all got rather overgrown in the last 25 yrs, so I removed a few and cut back just about everything and have just blown £100 with our friends at Crocus on some perennials to brighten it up and rejuvenate it.

The soil appears to be fantastic, really easy to dig and crumbles to a fine tilth and I dug in 20 bags of rotted farmyard manure just to make sure.

Now here's the question - whilst digging I’ve been pulling out masses of long black shoelaces all along the border.
Wondering what they were I googled them and identified them as belonging to the honey fungus.
The thing is despite masses of the Rhizomorphs (or shoelaces) all over this border, all the shrubs are doing very well indeed. I had a look on the RHS site and it seems that most of what has been flourishing there for years is susceptible to honey fungus and not likely to survive more than a few years, yet it's all flourishing and looking very healthy.

There was a mountain ash (sorbus) tree in part of the border (~20' high) which I'm sure did have honey fungus many years ago, it died over several years and blew down in gales about 15 yrs ago.

Is it possible that the fungus died when the host tree died or do I own some ‘super-shrubs’ ?
I’d hate to think that all the plants I’ve just planted this week are on dodgy ground – so to speak.

Any help or advice much appreciated
PS - sorry it's a long post



  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,221

    Hello Pete8, The honey fungus will be in the soil, that's almost certain. Probably the reason it bypassed your shrubs and never attacked them was because you never cultivated the soil and never disturbed their roots. 

    I think the fingus attacks plants by entering them through damaged tissue. So long as the plants are healthy and there are no cuts on the bark or roots, I think that they will be safe(ish).

    There is honey fungus in and around our garden but it only ever gets a grip on elderly plants or ones that are weak or diseased.

    If you restock your border during the winter when the fungus is dormant, I think you should be OK. 

  • Pete8Pete8 Posts: 2,920

    Thanks waterbutts - a very good point and makes sense.

    Just hope I haven't condemned the rest of the shrubs to an early death where I've been digging and hacking- I guess time will tell.
    There are times when maybe I should leave well alone!

    Thanks again

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