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How to Oxygenate your Soil for Maximum Plant Health

Growing healthy happy Bonsai isn’t an easy job for Bonsai enthusiasts throughout the U.S. and the world. We are faced with so many micro climates, many of which call for us to literally over water our plants to keep them from wind burn and high temperatures in the summer and then from frost damage, we over water during rainy periods in winter.

One of the most overlooked nutrients in plant life is one that we all take for granted every day. That is Oxygen O2. Many of us do not know the importance of this simple nutrient in relationship to plant growth and health. 98% of the Oxygen a plant uses comes from the soil, not the air.

I hope by reading this article you will understand the importance of developing the proper environment, and also the necessity of how and why, supplying your plants with a healthy availability of Oxygen every time you water will make you and your Bonsai happier.

The Benefits of Oxygen in Soil:

Oxygen in your soil allows plants to utilize nutrients through healthy root follicles. It helps your foliage develop lush and colorful growth. It allows a plant to develop intensive color variation in multiple color plants. It allows a plant to develop short internodes and gives support to ramification of leaf productivity.

Oxygen also supports and increases production of flowers and fruits without stressing out plants. It provides energy to plants through respiration. This keeps a plant’s metabolism running full steam ahead.

Oxygen is a preventive maintenance nutrient we never even think about. It will deter fungus and root rot and help support a level soil pH that will prevent toxins from forming in the soil.

The Lack of Oxygen in Soil:

How do you know if your plants do not have sufficient Oxygen in the soil? Go outside and look through your Bonsai as you water. Are some of them pot bound? Are the leaves sparse and yellowing? Does water flow through the pot readily or puddle on top of the soil? Does your soil stay too wet between watering? Has your plant growth been sluggish or stopped? Have your fruiting and flowering varieties produced fewer blooms? Are your internodes on your branching system spaced far apart? Do you water your plants from a hose or soak them in a container of water? Lack of Oxygen will also produce high concentrated levels of carbon dioxide which damages and retards root growth, and here again will produce toxin in the soil. Ever smell the bottom of a pot with slimy soil? This is another result of low Oxygen levels in soil. Plants are unable to absorb nutrients in the soil and weaken.

The Right Environment:

There are ways of preventing Oxygen deficiency in our soil. Here are some bonsai care tips to start with.

First you need to use the right growing medium to allow Oxygen a home to flourish. Porous absorbent particles are best to use, such as lava, pumice, perlite, bark, akadama and kanuma. Mulches such as leaf mold and coco mulch are also helpful. These are all water absorbent and have crevices for oxygen to hold onto until the plant roots need them.

Water when the soil is dry so it can replenish the oxygen as the water flows through the pot. Allow the water to flow through the pot from top to bottom several times. Water your plants from the top down not in a soaking tub. Soaking tubs force oxygen out of the plant through the top of the soil. That is what the bubbling action is when you submerge a pot. Keeping the soil too wet between watering starves the soil of oxygen. Although finer grades of soils keep more moisture in the pot and result in possibly less watering, they also result in less storage of Oxygen in the soil.

Water logged roots cannot intake Oxygen even if it was available for use. Carbon Dioxide is the waste product of a plant, it is released from the plant during the gas production stage. It there is a lack of, or low sufficiency of Oxygen during this gas stage, the plants ability to expel Carbon Dioxide is reduced as well as the plants productivity and its ability to photosynthesize.

Do not pack the soil too hard when potting Bonsai trees. Proper bonsai care is often augmented by adding live beneficial bacteria to your soil mix. You can use Microrrhizae, enzymes, and other live bacteria that are easily available on the market.

Another important product to help you oxygenate your soil is Superthrive. You can also purchase Hydrogen Peroxide and mix 1 pint of Hydrogen Peroxide to 1 gallon of water. Mix well for 10 to 15 seconds, then let it stand overnight before you use it. It is helpful to put an aquarium bubbler in the container of water as you are watering. This is not always possible, but works well if Superthrive and other products are not available to you.