[The Stress Factor] Why Air Prune Roots?

[The Stress Factor] Why Air Prune Roots?

Dan
Dan
25 Jun 2012

Sometimes, plants need tough love. A little stress goes a long way. It's definitely true of roots!

This is part 2 of a 2 part series

Here you'll learn why you should air prune roots. 

Part 1: [The Stressa Factor] When to Change your Feed
Part 2: [The Stress Factor] Why Air Prune Roots? (this article)

What's air pruning?

Roots grow in one direction, until they hit air. 

When they hit air, the root tip dehydrates, and forward growth stops.

The shock of this forces plants to sprout secondary roots. This is called air pruning.

So, the best way to get a stronger root network is to have a nice, airy rooting environment. 

How do you air prune?

To increase air pruning, you need to allow more air to enter your rootzone. 

One way to do this is by choosing a light, airy media mix. Clay Pebbles, Seramis & Perlite and similar hydro medias are great for improving air content. 

Another way is by using RhizoPots. They're made of a 'breatheable' fabric that allows air to prune roots just before they reach the edge of your pot. 

air prune air prune
rhizopots rhizopots

Why air prune?

To increase nutrient uptake and protect roots.

If you don't air prune (ceramic or plastic pots)

In traditional plastic and ceramic pots, roots are less likely to hit air.

Forward growth continues, until roots hit the inside edge of your pot. 

At this point, roots end up circling round and round the inside edge of your pot.

These roots:

  • Are more likely to suffer if it becomes hot
  • Don't branch as much
  • Stay clustered towards the outer edge of your media
  • Have less access to the nutrients water in the centre of pots
Rhizpot Rhizpot

If you do air prune (RhizoPots)

You get a bigger root network. 

Instead of clustering at the outer edge of your media, roots branch out evenly, covering more of your media.

  • They're have more access to water and nutrients in the centre of your media
  • They have more root hairs to absorb them from
  • The media can better protect them from temperature extremes
  • Plants are less likely to become pot bound

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Dan
Dan
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