The roots of a plant are what allow it to grow, feed itself and become strong and tough plants. Growing the biggest roots possible can only be advantageous. In this article we will explain the function of the root zone of plants, how roots work and the way the root zone interacts with soil and the food web. Also, we will introduce the best Atami rooting products to provide a plant for a high level of root growth and our top tips, allowing you to take total control of growing your root zone.

A light, loose substrate rich in organic matter is the key to success.

The differences between each type of root and their individual role.

The tap root – The tap root has the responsibility of growing as far down into the growing medium as possible and anchoring itself down. Once the tap root is established, the plant can grow upwards with ease, and from the tap root will grow the fibrous roots.

 

Fibrous roots – These roots are shaped like thin white hairs with a fish bone structure. Typically associated with clones, fibrous roots are responsible for searching out into tiny spaces and air pockets in search of moisture, nutrients, and sugars.

 

Adventitious roots – You will see adventitious roots above the surface level of the growing medium. Often growing above the first few inches, these hard and thick sized roots will remain mostly dry, and their primary role is to absorb nutrients and water from the air.

Differences between a plant with a strong tendency to develop a central root (left) vs. one with a tendency to form fibrous roots (right).
Differences between a plant with a strong tendency to develop a central root (left) vs. one with a tendency to form fibrous roots (right).

How much water do roots need?

Knowing just how much water to feed your plants, and the right times, can make a massive difference in how your plants grow and yield. Roots do not need lots of water and are able to absorb it from the roots into their foliage, from the moisture in the growing medium.

Watering a basil plant in a small pot. Watering must be controlled so as not to waterlog the roots.
Watering a basil plant in a small pot. Watering must be controlled so as not to waterlog the roots.

When it comes to watering soil, the RHS advices to follow a 10% rule, so for example if you have a 10 liter pot, then use only 1 liter of water or nutrient solution. Check the state of the substrate and how long it takes to dry out to better adjust the amount and frequency of watering. When growing with a coco coir based media or rock wool, then you can water significantly more without the risk of oversaturating your growing medium.

 

How much space and area do roots need to grow?

Whether you’re growing in a small garden or a commercial facility the size of a football field, you don’t need a lot of room for roots to grow. Of course, providing plants with as much growing space around the roots, will often determine how tall, bushy, and productive they can become, however working with a small amount of growing medium such as a 4-inch (10 cm.) rock wool cube, can produce some incredible results and large harvests.

Large modern greenhouse with a hydroponic growing plant using rockwool.
Large modern greenhouse with a hydroponic growing plant using rockwool.

● Organic crops grown in large pots using beneficial bacteria and fungi can yield the most.
● Repotting into a larger sized pot may be the best way to prevent root bound plants and limit growth.
● Root boosters during the early growth stages work very well, significantly increasing the root mass.
● Rock wool cubes and hydroponic systems can deliver incredible results with fruits and vegetables.
● Air is also very important to encourage the fibrous roots to search out and explore the medium.

 

Do roots need much time to grow?
There are many factors that will affect the way a plant’s root ball grows, and they range from the growing media to nutrients and minerals, temperature, light intensity, and pot size. As far as time goes, roots can grow extremely fast, with an urgency to establish themselves early on, to prepare for the long seasons ahead. There are many benefits to using clones with tomato, pepper, and chili production, as the clones will already have a strong ball and can be flowered if need be.

 

Atami products for boosting natural root growth

To give your plants the best head start in life, we recommend to use Rootbastic, ATA Root Fast, ATA NRG Root C and B’Cuzz Root Stimulator. When it comes to flowering, we strongly recommend visiting https://growlikeapro.atami.com/.

Rootbastic is a root stimulator that stands apart due to the high concentration of N-P-K and a large dose of trace minerals.
Rootbastic is a root stimulator that stands apart due to the high concentration of N-P-K and a large dose of trace minerals.

Our top tips for growing the best root zone of plants

Bigger roots mean bigger fruits, and when we are growing our favorite fruits, vegetables and herbs, root health is vital. Below are a few top tips to help you grow the ultimate crops.

 

Top tip #1 – Never over water

Over watering your pots can have lots of consequences on fruit bearing plants, and vegetables. One of the worst case scenarios is to let the roots become so waterlogged that the growing medium begins to smell unpleasant. Our top tip here is lightly water your pots and try and follow the 10% rule when working with soil.

 

Top tip #2 – Use substrates with perlite

Perlite is an inert growing substrate that contains no minerals or nutrients and provides a high ratio of air pockets inside the pots. Our top tip is to use substrates with perlite for increased aeration, which is an excellent way to increase dry back periods and provide plenty of air around the roots. If you’re more into peat substrates have a look at Janeco-Light-Mix or Kilomix, and if you are a coco grower then High Porosity Cocos is your perfect choice!

Top tip #3 – Improve Soil Life

Organic growers will find that inoculating their growing medium with beneficial mycorrhizae and bacteria will have many benefits. Not only will the soil food web have a chance to thrive, but the roots will also increase in mass once a symbiotic relationship has been formed. Our top tip here is to add ATA NRG Upgrade, which have beneficial bacteria from the genus Bacillus, or Worm Delight, to boost microbial soil life.

Upgrade provides Bacillus sp. which help to break down phosphate in the soil.
Upgrade provides Bacillus sp. which help to break down phosphate in the soil.

Top tip #4 – Avoid cold floors

When plant pots sit on cold floors inside or outdoors, the chance of the growing media and root zone being cold is much higher and far more likely. Cold roots can lead to slow growth and stunted plants. This is especially worse during peak fruit, vegetable and flower production, so our top tip here is to raise the pots off the floor, allowing air to circulate beneath the pots and insulate them with warmer air.

 

Top tip #5 – Use root boosters

Boosters are a great way to make sure you are providing all the relevant nutrients and minerals the plants require. Our top tip here is to provide the plants with root boosters, like the ones mentioned before, during the seedling stage and start to cut off around the later part of the vegetative period.

 

Atami’s conclusion

Once you begin to look beneath the surface of the soil level, you can start to grasp how complex a plant’s root zone and main function really is. Roots will naturally grow and will fill the area with soil or growing medium in a short amount of time in some cases. Be careful not to over water your growing medium, resulting in an over saturated root zone, leading to potential pathogens such as root rot. One thing roots love is oxygen, so make sure you provide dry periods before watering and follow the 10% rule when feeding water and nutrients to your growing medium.

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