One of the single most important factors in how well a plant will grow and how much it can yield is the healthiness and strength of its root system. Below the surface of your grow medium, the root zone is comprised of a tangled web of roots that store sugars and starches (plant food) for the plant and transport needed minerals to the plant above. These roots are also covered in millions of tiny little hairs that help absorb water and minerals from the surrounding root zone.
    
This root system sends minerals up through the body of the plant to leaves for use during photosynthesis, which in turn makes the starches and sugars the plant uses for food and energy. The bigger and more extensive the root system is, the bigger the plant will grow.
     
In the root zone, moisture levels, temperature and oxygen directly affect root growth. It is very important to remember that roots breath in oxygen, while the rest of the plant uses carbon dioxide (CO2). When growing indoors and using potted containers, the best containers to house your plants are those which are the most breathable, or permeable by air, so that oxygen can easily get into the root zone. If you grow outside, aerating your soil or grow medium by churning or tilling once every few weeks is also a good idea.

How Roots Work
When starch is made via photosynthesis in the top portions of the plant, any excess plant food is sent back down to the roots for storage. The more energy the roots have stored up, the more nutrients they can send up to the leaves to be used in photosynthesis to make more food. It’s a cycle that, when all things are going well, can lead to excessive plant growth. When the plants are properly trained (via trellising or pruning), this growth or energy can be directed towards flower and resin (trichome) production.
    
In the root zone, the quality of medium is also very important for these same reasons. The less energy the roots have to expend, the more they can use that energy to grow themselves and the plant above. The root zone is also where most of the plant’s water is taken in, with 99 percent of this water being transpired through the leaves up top. Mediums that are airy and retain a lot of moisture are most ideal. Soils and soilless mixtures (peat. Sphagnum-based) are also recommended as they offer excellent “buffering” for the delicate roots, which helps prevent burn from nutrient feedings and allows them to more effectively absorb the vital minerals needed to make sugars and starches internally.

Four Tips for Healthy Roots
1. Oxygen
Make sure air can permeate the root zone. Roots use oxygen to convert stored starch to energy, which in turn is used to send nutrients up the plant, which in turn creates starches… the circle of life begins here.
2. Temperature
Roots do much of their growing at night, when the top portion of the plant has shut down, and they function most efficiently when they are warm. Roots in a dark, warm place develop rapidly and create good structure in the root zone. Dark period temps of 75 – 78 F are ideal.
3. Structure
If possible, do not let roots become root-bound. If they cannot be allowed to advance, allow them to prune themselves via exposure to air. Some containers offer specialized coatings to stop roots from growing and strangling themselves while others have holes lining the sides.
4. More Air
The top third of the root zone containers specialized roots that breath air; The bottom-third are “water roots,” which absorb H20. Be careful not to over-water plants, especially near the top of the root zone, otherwise you may drown the air roots. Stagnant water can easily kill a plant. Roots should always be bright white and crisp.

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ‘em over to Nico at Edit.Grow@hightimes.com and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!