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Watering for Successful Landscapes

Air Pockets Kill Plants: How You Can Eliminate Them

While plants require oxygen to grow, roots do not expand through them. Also, an air pocket will prevent water from traveling throughout the soil, resulting in an under-watered plant or tree. Whether planting a vegetable or tree, avoiding air pockets is a must. Moon Valley Nursery can help make the project successful. We have locations throughout the country. Whether you live in California, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, or Texas, watering, and other methods help. We have years of experience walking our customers through the process. Our team also plants trees, and we know how to prevent air pockets better than anyone. We believe planting a tree or garden plant is a rewarding and fun experience. Our guide to avoiding air pockets will create a flourishing tree or plant.

Why Your Plants and Trees Require Air

Plants and trees require plenty of oxygen, just like humans and animals do. They photosynthesize it to make food and use it for breathing. Oxygen is energy. The most imposing, majestic trees in the forest require it the same as a modest cactus. But what many do not realize is how vital the air beneath the surface is. Below-ground oxygen is critical to root health because it must have a steady supply of oxygen to grow and provide the rest of the plant with oxygen. In many cases, houseplants and trees die because of avoidable root failure. The primary cause is air pockets, and two factors combine to create them:

  • Over-Watering: Be careful not to give your plants too much water. There is no air in water, as you know, so overly-saturated, saturated soil will not provide enough oxygen to your plants. By surrounding your plants with water and not draining their pots, the roots will suffocate.
  • Soil Decay: Compaction is the other factor impacting air pockets. Essentially, soil decay is the opposite problem. When you deny soil the oxygen, it needs to feed the roots, and compacted soil replaces healthy soil. If you do not address this issue, the soil will decay.

Step One: Pre-Soak and Saturate the Root Ball

Once Moon Valley Nursery delivers your tree or plant, you can begin the planting process. However, do not immediately dig a hole and place the root ball inside. Instead, be patient. Purchase a five-gallon bucket at a local hardware store and fill it with water and submerge the plant or tree into the water. Keep it there until there are no longer any bubbles forming on the surface. At that point, you have a fully-saturated root ball.

Step Two: Pre-Soak the Soil for Optimal Plant Health

Pre-soaking the soil is also essential. First, dig a hole twice the size of your root ball. Next, fill it with water using a garden hose. From there, you need to allow the water to drain. It may help to set up a timer because the water should not drain quickly. It makes sense to repeat this twice, just to be safe. Some of our Texas and Florida customers live in areas with heavy clay soil. If that is the case, pre-soaking the soil will take longer.

Step Three: Backfill the Hole Properly

It is tempting to place your plant in the hole, fill it, and then walk away. But backfilling a hole is more complicated than that. Once you finish pre-soaking the soil, the journey is almost over. Taking care during this final step is the last way to ensure you have a flourishing plant or tree for years to come. First, place your tree or plant in the hole. Be sure to stabilize the trunk; you don’t want your tree to topple under its weight! Next, water the area again, which will settle the soil and remove lingering air pockets around the roots. The last step is one many people don’t think about. Create a basin around the plant and put some mulch in that spot. Mulching is crucial to excellent plant growth.

Two Qualities Every Plant-Owner Should Possess

In addition to following the above steps, plant and tree owners can take their preparation to the next level by considering the following bonus tips. Every little bit helps. Planting is a complicated process – and a lot of it rests on instinct and adaptation. Soil conditions, weather, the season, and more all impact the process. Two traits of successful planters are:

  • Adaptability: If you are working with a larger plant that won't fit in a five-gallon bucket, adapt. The pre-soaking process is far too essential to skip, so looking around the house for a solution is critical. Give us a call if you’re stumped. We can help.
  • Patience: Because it is vital to ensure all water drains before planting the tree or plant, patience is a virtue. We encourage you to err on the side of caution. You can't wait too long before planting your tree!

Contact Moon Valley Nursery Today

At Moon Valley Nurseries, we value your time and your plants. We understand how critical air is to your plants, and we know how to help our clients have a successful planting operation. To learn more about air pockets and how they can harm your plant, stop by one of our locations. One of our experts can help you.