If you've ever picked up a juicy bud and wondered, "What gives weed its flavour…
While most cannabis growers are all about the bud, without healthy roots there’s no plant.
The roots are where your plant taps into its own network that connects it to water, oxygen, and nutrients. These elements are all pulled into the plant and keep the photosynthesis processes going.
Even when the sun is replaced with an awesome California LightWorks setup, the photosynthesis process can’t start without water tapping into the root system of your plant.
A little science for you is that the water, carbon dioxide, and stored UV light are then stored and released as sugars into the plant.
This sugar is burnt up in a metabolic process in the plant when combined with oxygen, which then creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy.
ATP energy, and other nutrients, is pulled into the root network, and what you get is a healthy and vibrant plant.
Now that we’ve covered the scientific basics the importance of healthy roots can’t be understated.
If the roots aren’t functioning properly, what you get is a sick plant. So, when transplanting or planting your new cannabis plant, make sure to focus on root health.
Here are the elements to consider when planting your cannabis with root health in mind.
Healthy roots need to breathe
It may be a bit of a surprise, but your roots need to breathe. Having access to oxygen is crucial for the plant’s development. Suffocating your plant’s roots means it can’t create energy, and in turn won’t grow healthily.
So, here are a few tips to ensure that your plant’s roots can breath:
- Don’t overwater your plant. It’s tempting to top up your pot whenever you walk past but don’t. Let the soil dry out between waterings.
If the roots are submerged in stagnant water it can’t breathe.
Allowing for these dry periods means your roots can take a deep breath.
- If you can, pot your plant into a smart pot. The porous material allows for oxygen to seep in through the walls into the soil. Cannabis potted into hard pots, or in the ground, sometimes have limited access to the oxygen.
- Make sure to mix some additives like perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss, as they also help with airflow in the soil. Also, it prevents the soil from compacting.
- And remember soil is a living medium, so allow for the fungi, insects, and microbes to do their work.
For those wondering about a hydroponic system, where the plant’s roots are submerged in water, making sure that water has oxygen is key. This can be accomplished with air pumps or keeping the water flowing.
And for those growing in a garden bed, make sure to till the soil. Also, don’t walk around the planting area a lot. The more you walk over the area, the more compact you make the soil.
Chilly soil is no good
Your plant’s roots are the most active at night. The goldilocks zone for roots is around 24°C.
If you are rocking an indoor grow setup, a pro tip is to set up the air intake below the canopy, and exhaust above, this will ensure airflow is good.
Then, for those growing outdoors, investing in a crop cover, which will protect the topsoil layer and retain heat, is a good use of funds. Mulch will also help, just remember to leave space around the stalk as too much moisture can lead to rot.
Your plant’s roots are constantly on the lookout for water. They will grow towards a source, moving away from the main taproot.
So, as your plant starts to grow, make sure to water in a large watering radius. This will encourage your plant’s roots to keep moving.
Be warned not to water too far away as this can cause the water to pool. Make sure to keep an eye on where your healthy roots are when watering.
Also, make sure to allow the soil to dry out. A simple test is to stick your fingers into the soil. Dig them in at least 5 – 7 cm.
Healthy roots need space
Roots need to be able to stretch their legs, so to speak. They need to explore for water, oxygen, and other vital elements.
When they are confined, they will eventually land up strangling the plant and killing off their own roots. Also, this can set off root rot, killing off the entire plant you’ve grown from a prized feminized, or autoflowering, seed.
Always make sure to use a large enough pot, and anticipate the plant’s potential size.
A big sign that the pot is too small is the appearance of roots popping out the drainage holes.
For cannabis plants, make sure to check roots before flowering, as they can’t be moved when they are budding.
Let them have friends
Allowing your plant’s roots access to mycelium is a big benefit. Mycelium is the substrate mushrooms sprout from, or their seeds.
Mycelium can help improve nutrient uptake and find water in the soil. This relationship actually has a name: mycorrhiza.
You can even purchase mycorrhizal powders.
Also, adding compost tea will help add good insects and microbes to the soil. And if you can add some earthworms, your plant will thank you!
So, the next time you’re repotting your amazing marijuana plant, take a moment, and appreciate the amazing work roots do!