Air Pruning & Nursery Pots
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With so many different types of nursery pots to choose from, you may be left wondering what is the difference or why does it matter? The answer is simple, performance. One of the biggest influences on performance is air pruning.
Air pruning is the introduction of dry air into the root system. When this happens the apical cells at the root’s tip become dehydrated. The plant responds by growing a pair of secondary roots that branch off of the initial root. Each time the media dries out, the process repeats itself creating literally thousands of offshoot roots. This vigorous root system is much better at mining soil and increasing nutrient uptake. Air pruning also prevents the plants roots from literally strangling each other, a process known as spiraling.
To break it down for you, below is a list of popular nursery pots, and how they stack up with regards to air pruning.
- The Nursery Container: This is the standard planter on the market, and one of the
least effective. With little air access, the pots effectiveness at air pruning a healthy root structure is limited at best. That being said, it is hard to find a more cost effective planter on the market, and it is widely available in a variety of sizes.
- The Rootmaker: These pots allow air access into the root structure on multiple levels, promoting vigorous air pruning and dynamic roots. Since the air access holes are not exceptionally big, this
pot is suitable for fine media such as coco coir. In addition, the Rootmaker’s design tapers down, making this container ideally suited as a transition container before final transplant. One negative is the limited size availability of this container.
- Hercules Pot: These pots allow even more air access than the Rootmaker pots. This allows for exceptional air pruning. The Hercules pot design uses larger square shaped holes
for air penetration that run vertically around the pot. Such large holes make this pot not well suited for fine media.
- The Air-Pot: These pots require a small assembly, but are perhaps the pot that “breathes” the best. The outside is a large plastic sheet with multiple holes
throughout. The sides wrap around a circle grid base. Plastic screws connect it all together. The Air-Pots design promotes fantastic air pruning, but as such isn’t well suited for fine media.
- Root Pots: These containers are constructed of fabric. Since maximum air penetration and air pruning is achieved, these pots create outstanding
root systems. They are well suited for all media, and reusable. Though one thing to consider is when reused multiple times the fabric has a tendency to hold onto salts.To alleviate this problem, rinse in Nutrilife’s H2O2 Liquid Oxidizer before a hot water bath between uses. As a transition container, transplanting requires more finesse and a bit of practice.
- Smart Pot: The sides of these containers are constructed of fabric. However, the bottom is made of capillarymatting which draws the roots down. Maximum air penetration and air pruning, combined with capillary pull creates superior root structure. Smart Pots are also available in a tan color. This reflective pot makes them ideal for outdoor growing, by helping to prevent the roots from getting “cooked”. These containers are well suited for all media, and reusable. However, as with other fabric containers, Smart Pots have a tendency to hold onto salts when reused multiple times. To alleviate this problem, rinse in Nutrilife’s H2O2 Liquid Oxidizer before a hot water bath between uses. As a transition container, transplanting requires finesse and a bit of practice.