Do cannabis roots need aeration? Sure! Soil aeration is known to accelerate plant growth and increase crop yield. Cannabis is not an exception, as this plant prefers light and well-aerated substrates. Researchers have found that its roots grow stronger and develop more lateral branches when placed in aerated soil. In other words, if you want your marijuana plants to be healthy and strong, you need to ensure that their roots can breathe. This article dwells on the purpose of aeration in more detail and provides hands-on tips on how to achieve it in your weed garden.
Cannabis roots need air to access nutrients. Marijuana soil aeration ensures the plant’s access to oxygen, which, in turn, speeds up the absorption of nutrients. This metabolic energy makes marijuana plants healthy and helps them accumulate valuable cannabinoids. The soil allowing the air to pass through is also beneficial for bacterial activity needed for normal growth.
But what happens if cannabis grows in a poorly aerated space? Inexperienced cannabis growers believe that their plants will thrive as long as they provide nutrient-dense, moist soil. However, they cannot be more wrong. Dense, compacted soil with limited porous space does not allow the roots to use nutrients. As a result, your plants may experience the following problems:
- Slow plant growth
- Occasional wilting
Thus, you need to maintain a balance between providing the plants with enough water and nutrients while also giving them some free space to breathe and grow.
How to Measure Aeration?
Determining the right level of soil aeration is not an easy task. Visually examining your pots may not be the best option, as you cannot determine for sure whether roots hidden inside have access to enough oxygen. This is where dissolved oxygen (DO) measurement comes in handy. This term refers to the level of oxygen saturation in the water measured in parts per million, milligrams of oxygen per liter, or a percent of saturation (%).
Ideally, a 40 – 45 ppm DO rate in the soil is optimal for cannabis plants to grow healthy and strong. However, achieving these levels at the roots will require a much higher level of DO in a treatment system. At the same time, a study conducted by Baiyin and colleagues found that the highest possible aeration intensity is not the goal. There is a reasonable range of aeration intensity within which cannabis plants grow normally.
A simple handheld DO meter may help you measure DO correctly and make changes if needed. However, be prepared to dig deep into your pockets because DO meters are pretty expensive. Moreover, you may need to watch a couple of videos and educate yourself on using this device correctly and interpreting readings. Don’t be discouraged by the complexity of this process! Once you master this skill, you’ll be able to measure and control DO effectively to achieve the optimal yield.
Suppose you learned how to measure DO. But how to modify aeration to sustain life in your precious plants? Let’s dwell on this task in more detail.
Oxygen enrichment is a common practice in agriculture, which you need to master to facilitate the growth of your marijuana plants. Let’s go through the main steps you need to take to enable adequate access of the roots to oxygen.
Choose the Growing Medium
The most important thing you can do for your plants is choosing the right growing medium. Scientists have found that some of the media are better than others in terms of containing air pockets and ensuring proper aeration. These include:
- Coir-based growing media
- Phenolic foam
Their structure enables adequate drainage and aeration, maximizing water and nutrient uptake and increasing root growth.
In addition to these soilless options, you can also use the so-called living soils. These growing media containing carefully selected and well-balanced ingredients and additives provide the optimal physical and chemical conditions for marijuana growth. Many types of living soils are available on the market, so either check with cannabis connoisseurs or read reviews to select a suitable option.
Find the Right Pot
You can also improve marijuana root aeration by using well-constructed containers. For example, you can use smart pots made of fabric, which allow the air to reach the soil from all sides. Air pots are also a good option. These are made of plastic and contain many holes to provide access to oxygen. There are additional benefits associated with using these pots:
- They prevent plants from becoming rootbound
- They reduce the risk of overwatering by improving drainage
Increase DO levels in the Soil
The simplest way to deliver dissolved oxygen to the roots is to use bubbling. However, most systems produce more bubbles than oxygen, so you will hardly reach a significant DO increase. So, you may consider oxidizing water chemically by adding hydrogen peroxide. Be careful, though, as adding too many chemicals may harm roots and cause more damage than benefit.
Ozone oxidation is another popular option, but it is more expensive and requires specialized skills. Using an ozone generator, you can inject ozone into the soil, thus maintaining optimal aerobic conditions for plant growth. This method brings additional benefits, as ozone is known to eradicate harmful fungus, bacteria, mold, and spores.
Does aeration change pH over time? The answer is yes. Whatever option you choose, don’t forget to control pH and adjust your interventions as needed because pH imbalance may cause nutritional problems and harm your plants.
In most situations, cannabis grows just fine without aeration control. Using a suitable growing medium and creating favorable environmental conditions for cannabis, you will likely achieve the needed aeration without additional efforts. However, if you notice that marijuana does not grow well or suffers from diseases, you may need to pay more attention to oxygen supply. In any case, there are many ways to improve aeration, so try different methods to find those working for your indoor garden.