Peat moss is a very simple ancient type of plant. It has characteristics that are not common in modern plants. The peat moss creates the conditions necessary for the existence of bogs. Peat moss has a variety of characteristics that make it an excellent soil amendment for gardeners.
Peat moss is a type of very simple and small plant that does not produce flowers. The plant is found in water or in very wet areas, where it tends to raise the water table, creating bogs. Peat moss is used by gardeners to aerate soil, hold moisture and retain nutrients.
Part of the peat moss, the bottom part, actually dies. Since peat moss has no root system or vascular system, the top part of the plant thrives independently of the bottom. The dead part of the peat moss partially decays, trapping water within its structure. Bogs form because of this trapped water. Ancient bogs eventually resulted in the formation of coal.
Peat moss has the ability to absorb an enormous amount of nutrients, absorbing far more nutrients than it needs. The act of absorbing the nutrients removes most of the nutrients in the water surrounding the peat moss. Through an ion exchange process, hydrogen is released that turns the water of the bog very sour, making it difficult for most other plants to survive in the bog.
Peat moss was given its name because it produces an organic compound called peat, which is the natural accumulation of plant matter. This peat has a high nutrient content, which which can fertilize garden plants in a very natural way. Although sedges and reeds can produce peat, peat moss creates the highest quality peat. Bacterial growth is limited by the low oxygen content of rainwater, combined with the very acidic environment that the peat moss creates, which discourages both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.
Peat moss is frequently added to soil in order to prepare it for the growth of other plants. The peat moss loosens soil, increasing the circulation of air in the soil. Peat moss increases the body of sandy soil. The peat moss has an excellent ability to hold moisture. It also helps hold nutrients in the soil that would otherwise be lost through runoff. Peat moss is especially useful when transplanting trees or shrubs, maximizing the chances that the roots and the plants will be healthy.