Completely Burying Pots Underground

Hello everyone,

I’m wondering how successful I would be if I potted up my cherry trees in 15-20 gallon pots & then buried them. My reasoning: Where I want to plant them would have competition from a neighboring 40 yr old oak tree. I dug a small hole and there’s a lot of roots. I can also guarantee well drained soil this way.

What are the pros and cons to this?

Well you could end up making the drainage worse. If the surrounding soil holds moisture more than the potting medium your pot would just sit in a hole of water.

I think the major plus is that the cherry trees would have appropriate thermal conditions, i.e., the roots would be cooler than the ambient air temperatures. I think mksmth makes a good point about the drainage, and his comment leads me to think that the roots from the bit oak will search out the opportunities in your pot and grow roots into it one way or another.

I’ve had so many tree roots grow into my buried pots. It’s really a conundrum. The trees here are very old, so their roots spread out very, very far. It does stunt/kill the plant, yeah. The only way I could see it is maybe having tiny drainage holes and a very big pot. I’m going to try that with the nannyberry I got and see if that works at all.

I always keep potted trees in the ground in my nursery- I don’t have enough water or time to have to be constantly watering them. Drainage is not an issue if you use a mix designed for pots because capillary pull from outside soil seems to be minimized by the plastic barrier surrounding the coarse potting soil.

Over the course of the season roots grow out of the drainage holes, but never to the point of clogging drainage, IME. If you are maintaining trees in pots for your own orchard, you can sever the roots or save them when moving them inside., but saving means keeping them moist over winter.

Because roots can grow through drainage holes it discourages root circling and root boundness by placing pots in the ground and reduces watering- especially when a few roots get out of the pots. It also keeps the roots at a better temperature- the southern side of a pot gets so hot that it kills roots close to the container.

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I have a Carmine Jewel tart cherry bush is a pot and last fall when i went to move it in the garage it didn’t budge. The roots went through the holes into the ground. It is hardy to zone 2, so I decided to leave it right where it is. It came through winter with flying colors.

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That would be my concern, as well. I suspect that the oak roots would find their way in pretty quickly and outcompete the cherries. I use the areas around several large oaks for container gardening, and, since I grow in fabric pots, I have to be very vigilant and lift the pots periodically to keep the oak roots out.

If you built a raised bed and lay fabric cloth at the bottom, you could keep the oaks out. Although that limits cherry too. I have a cherry in ground near oaks and I just cleared the ground 6x6 of roots. Once established the tree competes fine with the oaks, and they are not small!

Oaks are amazing and even can out compete houses. So good luck with it!

Even if there’s only a few drainage holes?

If most of you think my drainage should be fine, I think I’m gonna go for it. I don’t totally understand why drainage could be worse. Maybe someone can elaborate a little?

I would just be concerned that the water may drain fast from the container medium but if it doesn’t soak into the surrounding soil at the same or close rate it could just sit in the hole and not leave the container. Same problem people have when the amend a planting hole in a heavy clay area. Most call it the bathtub effect. That’s all I was trying to say.