What's going on with your roots?

What's going on with your roots?

Tim
Tim
02 May 2011

Roots might not be your top priority - it's the other end of plants that you care about!

But, bigger roots = bigger fruit.

Your final yield is directly related to the health, quality and size of your root system.

Without good roots, your plant simply can't take up enough nutrients or water to support heavy yielding plants.

What makes a good root zone?

Roots are very delicate and fragile. You need to pay real attention to your rooting environment.

The colour and feel of your roots will tell you how healthy they are. They should be white and firm – if they’re brown and mushy then you've got a problem!

Hailea Hailea

Temperature

Roots love consistent temperatures.They positively thrive in nutrient solutions that stay around 20oC.

For best results, keep your nutrient solution between 18oC - 21oC.

Warmer than this and your oxygen level drops. When this happens, root diseases can become a problem, and algae thrives!

Colder than this and nutrient uptake slows. If you go cold enough, you can even shock plants.



Aeration

Oxygen is great for two things:

  1. Speeding up nutrient uptake
  2. Fighting off pathogens
  3. Keeping your pH stable

Airstones are great - the way the bubble keeps your feed well mixed. That means it's easier to maintain a stable pH, temperature & CF. By keeping your feed moving, you're also reducing the risk of pathogens, diseases and bugs, which all like still, stagnant conditions. 

Some growers add Oxy-Plus to increase oxygen levels.

Roots Roots


pH Adjustments pH Adjustments

pH

The best pH for nutrient uptake is 5.5 - 6.8. Outside this range and some minerals will be less available.

The bad news is that the pH of your feed will always drift. 

As plants use nutrients in your solution, the pH creeps up. If you keep tweaking it, you can end up over-adjusting, which causes nutrient lockout. 

Sorry folks, you just have to accept that it's physically impossible to maintain a constantly optimum pH. 

Hint
When you first mix your nutrient, add all nutrients and boosters before adjusting your pH. You won't need to add as much pH that way. You don't need to adjust at all in soil.. 


Root overcrowding

As plants mature, your root volume increases. 

This is a good thing - the more root mass, the more nutrients you can absorb. 

It sounds a bit bonkers, but you can stimulate new root growth by breaking down old roots. A good enzyme product will do the job (like Cannazym and Hygrozyme). 

roots roots


Bacteria and Fungus

The rootzone's a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.

Don't panic - that’s not always a bad thing!

Yes, there are some very nasty things that can lurk in your roots (like Pythium!). But you can control these. A small dose of Silver Bullet Roots with every tank change is all it takes.

As bad as some microbes are, there are bacteria and fungi that actually help your plants and increase growth. Any organic grower will tell you that! They depend on beneficials like Charge, Mammoth P and Biosys!

Beneficials like these do things like:

roots roots
  • breaking nutrients down into more absorbable forms
  • nitrogen fixing
  • protecting plants from other bad infections

Trichoderma is a perfect example – once your rootzone is colonised with Trichoderma, it is safe from more harmful Pythium causing fungi.

We really recommend that you consider beneficials for your grow – the effect on your roots and plants is quite impressive!



Tim
Tim
About the author

Tim started out in Dudley but is now the manager at Bristol! Drop by and you'll probably see him there.  

GroWell Hydroponics Bristol

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