Big or little?
Understanding Your Roots
“Trees are the only way to get weight,” has been a common belief that’s led many an indoor grower outdoors, but is this true? There’s no doubt that a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and deliver them appropriately is directly proportionate to the health and mass of the Cannabis root zone. That being said, how tall or big a plant is doesn’t necessarily relate to the size and health of its root zone. With the legal market in full swing, we know that there are multiple grow operations harvesting three-plus pounds of flower per indoor lamp…with mid-sized plants. But how?
Cannabis root health is the crux of a grow’s success. While most growers are keenly tuned into the visual status of the leaves and stems, it’s easy to forget about the importance of your rhizosphere. Just as nutrient and pH imbalances lead to discoloration and slowed growth, the roots have been injured and slowed as well, and this influences performance.
A common mistake, for example, is the use of reverse osmosis water without the minor addition of Calcium, Magnesium and silica. This gap drastically effects Cannabis root growth and causes the plants to remain slightly yellow throughout the vegetative cycle …
We all know Cannabis roots absorb nutrients and water but it’s a common misconception that what you put in is exactly what’s taken up. This mentality has caused many growers to place far less priority on the balance of nutrients they are providing and even less attention on basics like pH balancing and enzymatic interactions.Cannabis roots are very similar to our stomachs. While some compounds are immediately absorbed, similar to sugar-water to humans, the majority of nutrients are reliant upon ideal proportions, pH and living organisms to antagonize the plants’ uptake.
A common mistake, for example, is the use of reverse osmosis water without the minor addition of Calcium, Magnesium and silica. This gap drastically effects Cannabis root growth and causes the plants to remain slightly yellow throughout the vegetative cycle because Nitrogen cannot be absorbed without sufficient ratios of both Calcium and Magnesium. Growers frequently overlook this issue because in the first two weeks of flowering the nutrients are typically much higher in Cal:Mag causing plants to regain color and overall health leading to successful harvests. These successful harvest don’t yield three pounds a light though—generally, half that weight if their lucky.
In opposition to the Sea of Green model, the Screen of Green model has proven itself as queen in the cannabis industry. Pushing the plants growth horizontal aids in Cannabis root growth while simultaneously maximizing light penetration. A larger Cannabis root base is capable of supporting heavier feeding and ultimately larger yields. Where a Sea of Green model may have up to 36 plants in a 5’x5’ light footprint, Screen of Green is typically four to ten plants per 5’x5’. Clearly a lot more veg time.
Cannabis Root health can take on another level of security for your crop when cared for correctly as well. With the addition and nurturing of beneficial microbes, your rhizosphere can help to balance gardening errors. A bioculturally diverse soil helps to insulate the plant against minor pH changes, small periods of drought and even nutrient lock out. There are, of course, thousands of brands on the market all touting their own unique solution. Ultimately, all you need is a diverse blend of endo-mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria which can be achieved natively by brewing aerated compost teas or by purchasing a prepacked product. Even occasional use in potted plants can have extraordinary results.
Regardless of how small or big you choose to grow your cannabis, consistent love to your root zone will always produce a happier, healthier plant. Three pounds a lamp is a tough feat for any grower but its understanding that every part of the process plays an integral role in the final product that gets you there. If you start from the roots up, you’re sure to be on top. Happy growing!