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16 April 2021

Growing Cannabis in Air Pots and Fabric Grow Pots

Cannabis growers are seemingly always at the forefront of innovations in horticulture, striving to make the necessary tweaks and adjustments to maximize yield, potency, and efficiency. Along with significant technological advancements in lighting, grow environments, and nutrient supplementation, growers in recent years have discovered the advantages of modifying their growing containers as well. 

One major advancement came with the development of the Air-Pot, an innovative design that allows ample aeration of a plant’s roots. Turning the traditional pot on its head, so-to-speak, Air Pots, produced by the company of the same name, are sturdy plant pots that look like something from a science fiction movie, covered with dramatic ridges and holes all around the sides of the pot.

Similarly, felt fabric grow pots (frequently referred to by their most common brand name, Smart Pots) have gained favour with cannabis cultivators in recent years for many of the same reasons. Both containers offer a variety of benefits, but each possesses some drawbacks as well.

Why Air Pots for Cannabis?

If you’ve ever transplanted from a typical plastic container, you’ve likely seen what rootbound roots look like: they’ve circled the bottom of the pot and have begun growing into and around one another, creating a dense, inefficient rootball. Because cannabis plants like to grow long, widespread roots to anchor themselves to the ground, one plant can easily fill a pot with a massive root system in no time, particularly during vegetative growth or when grown outdoors.

Air Pots’ design allows significant amounts of air to reach a plant’s roots, effectively curbing the problem of rootbound plants. When roots are exposed to air, they cease growing in a process called “air pruning”, which essentially burns or cauterizes the root, and the energy that would have been spent extending the root further into the growing medium to seek out nutrients is instead spent developing new, healthy roots. Thus, with the introduction of a steady supply of oxygen into a root zone, plants thrive: root growth is sped up, resulting in the development of more fine root hairs, enabling greater nutrient uptake.

Air Pots possess a unique egg-crate-like design with conical ridges all over. The outward-facing ridges contain a small hole, allowing oxygen to air prune roots, while the inverted ridges do not, causing plant roots to fork as they seek out oxygen and nutrients. This ever-increasing forking, which leads to the development of more and more fine root hairs, eventually will consume the entire substrate. This design makes Air Pots suitable for various systems and growing mediums, though some more so than others. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and drawbacks of working with these futuristic-looking containers.

Benefits of Growing in Air Pots

– Better Root Development – As mentioned, Air Pots will help your plants’ roots to thrive, creating denser, more structured root systems. In fact, plants grown under proper conditions in these containers tend to produce a uniform, spiralized root system unique to the Air-Pot. It’s quite the trademark to boast!

– Greater Nutrient and Oxygen Uptake – Increased amounts of oxygen in your plant’s root zone will allow the plant to utilize more of the goodies you feed to her. Proper nutrition, coupled with increased airflow to the plant’s roots, will cause them to uptake these nutrients and utilize them efficiently for an increased growth rate and more vigorous plant growth.

– Decreased Disease Risk – The increased air circulation in the plant’s roots will help to reduce the risk of diseases such as root rot. Even in a dense, water-retentive growing medium like soil, Air Pots provide enough drainage and aeration to practically eliminate problems associated with overwatering. In lighter, more airy substrates (like coco coir or expanded clay pebbles), the risk is reduced even further.

– Virtually Eliminates Rootbinding – Rootbound plants have sent roots into the farthest reaches of the growing medium to seek out nutrients and water and have run out of space. Air Pots practically eliminate this possibility by continuously air pruning the roots, generating the development of new fibrous roots rather than driving existing roots further into the medium.

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Drawbacks of Growing in Air Pots

– More Watering Required – The increased airflow will cause your growing medium to dry out much more rapidly, making it necessary to water more frequently. For this reason, many growers like to use Air Pots with automated irrigation systems set on a timer.

– Increased Risk of Pests – The holes in the sides of Air-Pot containers allow for easier infiltration of the root zone by pests like fungus gnats, which thrive in moist soil. Yellow sticky traps can help prevent infestations, as can regular inspection and maintenance of the grow room.

– Increased Runoff – The multitude of holes surrounding an Air-Pot can cause your water and nutrient solution to seep out the sides of the container. Many growers find it necessary to invest in a new watering solution when switching to Air Pots, such as a slow bubbler or percolator. Often, slowing the rate at which plants are watered is enough to abate this problem.

Why Fabric Grow Pots for Cannabis?

Often referred to by their original branded name, Smart Pots, fabric grow pots are now produced by a vast number of suppliers, leading to variations in quality and cost. Fabric pots (sometimes called “grow bags”) are made of a heavy-duty, breathable felt fabric which, like Air Pots, allows for increased airflow to a plant’s root zone. Available in various sizes, fabric pots are perfect for a variety of applications, from growing in a small space to large-scale farming.

Larger sized fabric pots can house multiple large plants or even serve as an above-ground bed for vegetable gardeners. Boasting many of the same benefits as Air Pots, fabric pots have gained favour with growers over the past couple of decades, and not without reason. Of course, no plant container is without its flaws, so we’ll examine the benefits and drawbacks of fabric pots as well.

Marijuana growing in Air-Pot's
Air Pots’ design allows significant amounts of air to reach a plant’s roots, effectively curbing the problem of rootbound plants

Benefits of Growing in Fabric Grow Pots

– Increased Air Flow to Roots: As with Air Pots, the felt used for fabric pots allows significant air exchange in the root zone, creating a climate in which microbial life and roots can thrive. As a result, your plants will be better able to uptake nutrients, create stronger, forking root systems, and produce heavier harvests and more flavourful buds.

– Effective for Many Types of Gardening – Felt grow bags are effective with a wide variety of growing media. The porous felt fabric allows for water runoff without allowing the growing medium to be transported away with it. This makes these pots suitable for soil growing or a wide range of hydroponic applications, including ebb and flow and top feed drip systems, as well as with a variety of mediums such as coco coir or expanded clay pebbles.

– Reusable – Also, like the Air-Pot, fabric grow pots can be reused again and again. Their felt construction also makes them easy to store between grows. In addition, fabric pots can be washed to rid them of any stored nutrient salts.

– Cost-Effective – Fabric grow bags are quite inexpensive compared to their counterparts and are often sold in large sets.

Drawbacks of Growing in Fabric Pots

– Water Retention: Fabric pots possess most of the same drawbacks as Air Pots, including the tendency to dry out quickly. The increased airflow to the roots will require close supervision of the growing medium and a watchful eye for dried-out substrate. Of course, this increased airflow will only make your plants hungrier for more water and nutrients.

– Pest Risk: Fabric pots possess wide openings, which can allow for root-loving pests to make their way in. Many growers will use a breathable cover layer for their grow bags, such as ground glass or perlite, to help reduce the risk of infestation. When used outdoors, felt grow pots are susceptible to infiltration from below by gophers, a problem easily solved by elevating the grow pot on a few bricks or a wooden pallet.

The world of growing containers is vast, and the possibilities endless, but Air Pots and fabric grow pots both possess many characteristics which make them hard to deny and even harder to beat. Whether you’re growing indoors or out, in soil or a hydro system, both of these designs provide advantages that standard plastic pots do not. Whatever growing container you decide on, be sure to check out our in-depth collection of growing information here at Marijuana Grow Shop to continue to educate yourself and grow to your fullest potential!

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Post author
Michael Richey
Michael loves to grow cannabis and write about what he learns along the way. His best friends are his dogs and marijuana.
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