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Cannabis Roots - Ultimate Grow Guide

Created by
JoshuaHolt JoshuaHolt
Added 17 September 2020

Healthy Cannabis Roots In Soil

Roots are the most important part of almost all plants. By absorbing water and nutrients they provide the necessary function for a plant to grow. Unhealthy roots will only result in underwhelming harvests, meaning they need to be looked after properly.

First time growers often underestimate the importance of taking good care of the roots. Cannabis roots that are happy and healthy are essential for vigorous growth and big yields. This article shows you why they play such a big role in the life of a cannabis plant.

What are Roots?

The root is the first growth after germination starts. There are 3 types of roots which can be found in the vast majority of plants, including cannabis.

The tap root is the main root which emerges from a seed after breaking its husk. It is the central pillar from which other roots grow. Offshoots from the taproot are called fibrous roots, which develop smaller root hairs (capillaries) that are used for the absorption of water and nutrients.

Adventitious roots can also develop in cannabis plants. These are roots which grow from the main stem as an attempt for the plant to root itself. Cannabis plants are perfect for cloning because of their ability to grow adventitious roots.

Tap Root, Fibrous Roots And Adventitious Roots

Root Structure

The way roots branch underground is very similar to the plant growth pattern above ground. Unless they are clones, cannabis plants always have the same structural root growth - tap root, fibrous roots and capillaries.

Different containers affect the overall structure of roots as they will grow where they need to to find water/nutrients. This is why a lot of growers choose to transplant, because it allows roots to spread themselves more efficiently within the growing medium of the final container.

The density and structure of the growing medium will also determine how roots expand within their container. Roots will find the easiest way to reach the needed resources but if they have to use too much energy pushing through growing medium to find them, it is likely they will suffer.

The Function of Roots

Without the roots a plant would not grow. They are the foundation from which a cannabis plant supports and grows itself. This is why roots need to be taken care of with the utmost care. The aim should be to give roots the conditions they need to function to their full potential.

There are 2 main functions of the root system:

  • Transfer of water and essential minerals - capillaries growing from the fibrous roots are working hard to transfer everything the plant requires for explosive growth.
  • Support - roots form the base structure which holds a plant up. A well developed root system means a cannabis plant will have enough anchorage to support the production of heavy buds.

Roots Transfer Essential Nutrients To Plants

Root Growth

Roots grow mostly in the vegetative part of a cannabis plant's life so that by the time they reach flowering there are plenty for the easy uptake and transfer of nutrients to the flowers.

Giving cannabis plants a proper wet and dry cycle throughout their life means healthy root growth. The way to do this is by providing roots with good amounts of oxygen in between watering. Oxygenated roots is key to achieving big plants with high yields.

Root boosting supplements can also be used in the early stages of plant growth to maximise root development and efficiency.

The Tap Root Is The First Growth After Germination

  • Germination - Once a seed recognises it has water surrounding it the tap root will sprout and grow as it finds a substrate to make a home in. Roots like temperatures of around 20 - 24°C.
  • Seedling - Plants start to develop secondary roots (fibrous) as the plant finds support within the growing medium. Small root hairs shoot off and begin their search for nutrients.
  • Vegetative - By this stage there should be lots of fibrous roots and capillaries. There is an increase in water/nutrient absorption, accelerating plant growth. The plant is well established within the growing medium as it prepares to flower.
  • Flowering - Root growth slows down massively. From this point the roots are focusing on delivering water and nutrients to the flowers. Roots still need taking care of so be careful not to overwater during this phase.

Tip: Roots will not search for water without a dry cycle, resulting in small plants with low yields.

NuggetPawn from GrowDiaries has taken good care of his plant's roots from the beginning.

Flushing

Flushing simply requires you to feed your plants with only water, usually for 2 - 3 weeks before harvesting. This will help to flush out any excess nutrients still surrounding the root structure, leaving you with plants that taste and smell much better.

Well flushed cannabis buds have cleaner, smoother flavour and aren't so harsh when smoked.

Eventually, towards the end of the flowering period, plants start drinking less and their leaves turn yellow. These are good signs that the roots are slowing their function as plants use up the remaining store of nutrients. If plants have dark green leaves when flowering finishes it could mean there is still too much mineral content. 

Feeding Schedule

Flush time

Yellowing Leaves

No Feeding

0 weeks

Too early - plant may use its resources before buds have finished developing

Light Feeding

1 week

Early - leaves yellow faster as plant begins to use stored nutrients

Normal Feeding

2 weeks

On time - foliage should still be mostly green and then turn yellow once flushing begins

Heavy Feeding

3 weeks

Late - yellowing arrives later. Nutrient-free plants are not normally completely green when harvesting

Flushing Cannabis Plants Removes Excess Nutrients

Roots Problems

If you do not notice problems underground, signs of unhealthy roots will begin to show through the leaves. Growing in soil means roots are not visible, making it harder to monitor their health. Although roots should not be exposed to light, hydroponics systems give the possibility to check roots more easily.

Problems often start at the roots so check your plants regularly for any unusual changes. If you notice slow growth, deficiencies, drooping or curled leaves, there could be an issue with the roots.

Plants that are still small enough can be checked by turning the plant upside down and carefully removing the pot as if you were transplating. 

Root Rot In Soil Cannabis Plant

Overwatering - Roots become deprived of oxygen, growth slows and there is a risk of them rotting.

Solution: Use an airstone in your pot/reservoir to prevent algae or rot. Infections can be treated with hydrogen peroxide but make sure you check the strength first and dilute accordingly.

Underwatering - If roots dry out too much it can seriously stunt or kill a plant. Once roots dry out it is very hard to save them. Underwatered plants may survive but yields might be affected drastically.

Solution: Get into the habit of watering less, but more frequently. Irrigation can be set up on a timer although you should be regularly monitoring incase of failure.

Underwatered Cannabis Plant

Over fertilizing - Nutrient solutions can be too strong for roots and cause 'root burn', limiting growth and absorption of minerals.

Solution: Flush overfertilized plants with water. Once plants have stabilized and started showing new growth you can begin feeding again. Start with small quantities of nutrients and work your way up. Never use more than the recommended amount.

Conclusion

We can understand a lot through the appearance of a cannabis plant, but what is happening below the ground is equally as important. Neglecting your roots will only lead to disappointing harvests or failed grows, so pay attention to your watering schedule and give them plenty of oxygen. 

Now you've learnt about the importance of roots and their function, you can use this knowledge to grow even better plants! Leave your thoughts and tips below, we'd love to hear from you.

External References

Analytic Models to Predict Root Structure Depth. - Shi, Xijin & Hsieh, Sheng-Jen. (2020). 

Chemical and Biological Studies of Cannabis sativa Roots. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids. - Elhendawy, Mostafa A & Wanas, Amira & Radwan, Mohamed & Azzaz, Nabil & Toson, Elshahat & Elsohly, Mahmoud. (2018)

This article was updated August 2020.






Comments

Buddha2
Buddha2

I wonder for how long this flushing myth is going to continue :disappointed:
https://www.rxgreentechnologies.com/rxgt_trials/flushing-trial/

Show all replies (10)
Buddha2
Buddha2

@NorthernFrostCannabis, thanks a lot, very appreciated! And as bonus I learned something more about nutrient burn :smile::+1:

NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

@Buddha2, More great info https://cannabis-science-consulting.com/flushing-cannabis/?fbclid=IwAR2234VFGBbzVlWwn1Q85Ij6rdrr1ssRXDnvKXeaff2BzPaRXjUXHmGJqYM

Flushing is Broscience

Ganjagrandaddy
Ganjagrandaddy

@Buddha2, this is my biggest annoyance in the growing world at our level. if this was a commercial growers network involving hundreds of plants per diary the flushing would be a huge discussion point about cost amd savings. for us, we grow small amounts that matter per Gram so any loss on yield is a no no. starving plants when they most need the boost is insanity. drying slowly to allow her to dehydrate while using her stores up of chlorophyll and then removing all the leaf( inc sugar leaves as closely trimmed as possible if not removed) once dried properly over approx 10 days at 50% and 19°c. cure will start properly while drying out and using the stores. less jar time and more for storage than a cure.

HighRoller909
HighRoller909

bullshit.why? Because no one will ever come to read these articles.they are just copied and pasted, that's all. That hand holding a newly germinated seed seems to belong to Nebula from growweedeasy.doesn't it? ......
Also, contest judging is INCREDIBLY TERRIBLE. Always the same breeders' strains win the fucking diary of the month contest. Same "master" titled ones with same well known breeders.This is garbage. I always knew contests wasn't fair but it is so obvious,come on.
I saw diaries with weeks missing,very poor information,almost no effect review but they still win the crappy dotm contest.this website officially became the place where rqs,barneys,fastbuds,original sensible and some others to promote their strains and provide fake contests.The worst part is, even if your diary didn't come top 10, you don't have chance to remove it anymore. BUULLLLLSHIIIITTTT

everything in this website has become garbage.I don't think I'll last long here.Things getting crappier each day.just let some mainstream breeders advertise their shitty seeds with unfair contests. They don't even bother stabilizing their genetics before selling.

Nonsense articles with copy-pasted stolen info,very bad website management and that's all. good luck to all fake heads typing the same messages like "hope I answered your question.please approve it" , "your plant looking good.please come check out my new diary(plant actually looks sick and dead)"

one last thing, labossanova/freehongkong account manages the whole thing.I knew it but I got it lately after they replied to my comment about notm contest,telling they love how new users come and compete,they are addicted to seeing it,all contest judging is fair and great etc. It was so obvious. Because my comment was about how corrupt notm contest is,experienced growers with new accounts jjoining and winning it. labossanova(head of the management crew) directly jumped in and responded....

salutes to my fellow mates, fuck the rest.

Show all replies (2)
BossSauce
BossSauce

@HighRoller909, me too growmie :man-facepalming::skin-tone-2::sweat_smile::fire::rocket:

HighRoller909
HighRoller909

@LaBossanova, I doubt it

BossSauce
BossSauce

@HighRoller909, I’m the greatest grower of all time that’s why :trophy::trophy::trophy::trophy::trophy::trophy::trophy:

BlackListed
BlackListed

every frigging day i get notifications about this ?

edit: this article is again,shit =)

Whitoutduty
Whitoutduty

Really interesting thxGD :+1:

NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

@Whitoutduty, other good read https://cannabis-science-consulting.com/flushing-cannabis/?fbclid=IwAR2234VFGBbzVlWwn1Q85Ij6rdrr1ssRXDnvKXeaff2BzPaRXjUXHmGJqYM

Whitoutduty
Whitoutduty

@NorthernFrostCannabis, Hi :wink:,
tap root picture is great, agreed!
Nice growth

NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

@Whitoutduty, https://www.rxgreentechnologies.com/rxgt_trials/flushing-trial/

I don't flush unless my PPM runoff is very high. You can't take nutrients out of plants after its taken it in. Your flushing your medium.

occultgreen420
occultgreen420

tasty article, very well made and wonderful guide! it is worth mentioning also and starting the discussion about root training and air pruning and the big difference that it does for the plant, it's health and the bigger yield .

occultgreen420
occultgreen420

@NorthernFrostCannabis, no issues with flushing, pruning and training the roots is the game! :japanese_ogre:

BossSauce
BossSauce

@occultgreen420, root pruning sets grows apart ^^ :rocket:

NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

https://www.rxgreentechnologies.com/rxgt_trials/flushing-trial/

NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

Tomorrow will be my last day feeding MagnifiCal and I'll start giving them a lighter solution right till the end as I don't flush unless my PPM runoff is very high. You can't take nutrients out of plants after its taken it in. Your flushing your medium.

https://www.rxgreentechnologies.com/rxgt_trials/flushing-trial/

ewreck420
ewreck420

Great read.. Let people keep NOT flushing their medium and plants.. If flushing doesn't remove nutes from the plant, then WHY would leaves yellow as the plant is REMOVING NITROGEN from the leaves.. Some people need to stop listening to WRONG information that they heard from some other rand-o smh.. But go ahead and keep not flushing your plants.. Organics is a different story.. I wouldn't worry about flushing organic grows because they are natural and nature doesnt flush those out. It's the metals and synthetic crap I'm worried about smoking and inhaling.. But again.. You do you.. Ima do me :v:

Edit: no need for ANYONE to comment on my comment. I honestly COULD NOT care any less what your opinion is or what you read somewhere else lol..

Show all replies (5)
NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

@ewreck420,

https://cannabis-science-consulting.com/flushing-cannabis/?fbclid=IwAR2234VFGBbzVlWwn1Q85Ij6rdrr1ssRXDnvKXeaff2BzPaRXjUXHmGJqYM

NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

@ewreck420, LOL In Living Organic Soil never needs to be flushed. Synthetic don't either unless your PPM runoff is way too high. You cant take nutrients out of plants after they have taken them In. What your flushing is your medium... IMO we need more lab test that repeats the test under the same conditions for years to come. But If you look at my Blue Frost it has one week left and nutrient feed all the way. The colors are so nice ATM lot of fall colors. Took a branch down last week, the taste and burn was very nice. I just like it more amber (couch-lock) high, so I use my microscope everyday last week to harvest at the perfect time for me. around 65 days...

ewreck420
ewreck420

@NorthernFrostCannabis,
Is that synthetic nutes? Or organic?

NorthernFrostCannabis
NorthernFrostCannabis

https://cannabis-science-consulting.com/flushing-cannabis/?fbclid=IwAR2234VFGBbzVlWwn1Q85Ij6rdrr1ssRXDnvKXeaff2BzPaRXjUXHmGJqYM