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 thousands of offshoot roots. This vigorous root system is much better at mining soil and increasing nutrient uptake. Air pruning also prevents the plant's 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 concerning air pruning.
The Nursery Container: This is the standard planter on the market, and one of the least effective. With little air access, the pot's 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.
Root Pots: These containers are constructed of fabric. Since maximum air penetration and air pruning are 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 tends 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 capillary matting which draws the roots down. Maximum air penetration and air pruning, combined with capillary pull create a 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 tend 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.