How To Promote Better Root Growth in Hydroponics
Are your plants lacking in growth? If so, start with the root cause, pun intended. Root development is central to your plants’ health and survival, so pay close attention to the way the roots look and, on occasion, feel. Luckily, unlike soil-based farming, hydroponics gives you greater access to your plants’ root structure, permitting you to observe every inch of the plant without disrupting their growth cycle. To help you keep your roots long, strong, and intact, here’s how to promote better root growth in hydroponics.
Putting Down Roots
Plants, of course, derive all their water and most of their nutrients through their roots. In soil-based farming, roots extend through the soil and absorb sustenance from both the fertilizers the farmer provides and the nutrients already present in the soil. With hydroponics, the only nutrients the plants receive—aside from those that sunlight provides—are present in the nutrient solution from which the plants draw food. But nutrients aren’t the only thing roots need. While plants produce oxygen, they also need it to breathe. They partially take in oxygen through their leaves, but their roots must also receive oxygen. Believe it or not, if you leave their roots in water too long, plants can actually “drown.” Keep all this in mind as you continue to the following advice.
Your plants feed by extending very small, thin, hair-like tendrils to absorb water and nutrition. Most upkeep is quite basic. Make sure you’re properly mixing the nutrient solution and periodically measuring its pH balance. Don’t let the water or surrounding air temperature (if roots are exposed) drop too much, and never leave grow pots on a cold floor. If your plants continue to appear unwell, with yellow leaves or stunted, brown, and slimy roots, your roots may need a boost. Get a root stimulator for plants, which can de-stress roots and jump-start their ability to feed. But don’t rely on the quick fix of a root stimulator too often. Slow and measured fertilization and regular cleaning and trimming of the branches and the roots should keep them healthy.
Breathe in the Air
When considering how to promote better root growth in hydroponics, ask yourself if your plants are getting enough oxygen. There are several ways to aerate the water in your system. Putting an air stone in your system is one method. Air stones connect to pumps that push air through the stones’ porous structures. The bubbles that they form keep the system full of oxygen. Using air diffuser tubes is another method of oxygen delivery. The tubes produce smaller bubbles that evenly distribute the oxygen and last longer. Consider an automatic siphon as well, which periodically drains your system and lets your roots breathe. Additionally, you can use aeroponics systems. These systems spray nutrients onto plant roots that dangle in the air rather than sitting in solution. Whatever you use, make sure your plants can catch their breath occasionally!