In hydroponics, How do you know if your roots are healthy?​

In hydroponics, How do you know if your roots are healthy?

Introduction to Hydroponics

Plant root

There are lots of things to consider when growing plants in hydroponics systems. One thing of vital importance that you may overlook is root health. Roots are one of the most important plant organs. They can be easily looked after within hydroponics as roots are not planted but rather, can be easily seen within the water solution itself or easily taken out and inspected with minimal interference. 

There are a few ways you should be looking after your plants roots and a few ways in which you can tell when something is wrong. As plant roots are exposed there are some easy tell tale signs that you can spot when your plant is struggling. A lot of root problems can be easily rectified and directly correlate to certain issues. There is plenty of information on root help available online. We will explore some things to consider and the most vital ways you should be caring for your plant’s roots

What exactly are healthy roots?

Although the roots of different plant species are different there are some easy ways to generally
identify healthy plant roots. Usually plant roots that are a darker color like brown are unhealthy.
Healthy roots should be a light beige or white color in appearance.

The texture of the roots is also important. Healthy plant roots should be sturdy and easily
manipulated without breaking. Crumbly, delicate roots are more likely to be present in an
unhealthy plant.

Some ways to differentiate plant roots between species from being healthy vs unhealthy is their
length and their abundance. Healthy roots will be longer and more adapted to absorb nutrients
from a wider space of land. There will also be more roots and they may even be more dense. 

How to get healthy roots?

Plant root

There are a number of ways to make sure your roots stay healthy.

 By following these steps you will be ensuring that your plants absorb the nutrients they need for continued growth. 

Regularly trim the roots. Tightly packed, tangled roots do not absorb enough nutrients. Trimming the roots of your plants is a good way to continue their growth as roots will continue to grow out and absorb nutrients and water. 

Use beneficial bacteria. Using probiotics and creating a world of microbes is beneficial for your plants as a whole but is very good for plant roots. 

Use the most effective root enhancer. Root enhancers not only improve root growth and absorption area of roots, but they also protect the roots from shock. This means that any sudden changes to the root’s environment are less likely to affect growth or kill the plants. 

Provide appropriate nutrient levels. Not only do the right nutrients help yield of leaves and vegetables/fruit that the plants produce but it helps maintain the health of the roots. This allows even more essential nutrients to be absorbed and the cycle repeats itself to produce healthy plants. 

Use thick materials for the grow bed. If hydroponic systems have small grow beds the ammonia in the system will not be converted to nitrates. 

Why is it important to have strong roots?

Why is it important to have strong roots? It is important for plant roots to be strong and healthy. Just like our circulatory system plant roots are what keep plants circulating the nutrients that they need to survive around the system. So far we have talked about how to keep plant roots healthy but why exactly is it so important to the wellbeing of your plant life? In soil or other firm growing mediums strong roots are vital to keeping the plant in place. Without a good root system plants could be swept away by wind or easily dislodged by wildlife. 

Stronger roots ensure that the plant stays in the ground where it can continue to source the nutrients it needs to survive. 

Plants that are easily dislodged from their growing medium may not be in the correct position to optimally absorb sunlight for photosynthesis and so will grow slower. Not only do the roots of the plant take in water, nutrients and minerals to grow the main body of the plant but they also store those same resources. 

This means that when there is low supply of resources that can be transferred to energy it will take a prolonged amount of time for the plants to die because they have a store of these nutrients. 

The ability of the plants to absorb certain nutrients, minerals and vitamins will directly affect the flavors that the plant produces. This means any crops you grow for consumption will rely heavily on the health of plant roots. 

Healthy roots are also much less likely to become susceptible to disease. The roots are where plant disease starts! If you’re growing plants hydroponically and closely packed together, even a small infection can lead to the failure of growth of an entire system. 

How can good roots be identified?

hydroponics roots

Although we have partially gone over what roots may look and feel like, it is important to go over these factors in more detail to make sure, with absolute certainty, your plant roots are healthy. There is more to assess than just root color! Healthy roots should be white or a very pale, translucent color. Some unhealthy roots can go all sorts of colors including gray, red and even purple. 

These are tell tale signs that something is wrong with your plant roots. Healthy roots will feel tough and firm. They will not be limp and floppy. Furthermore, they won’t be crumbly and brittle. They will also be long but not too closely packed together or intertwined. You should not have rootbound plants.

 This is one of the quickest ways for your plants to start dying on you without you even realizing anything is wrong. Root sickness can easily be identified by strong smelling roots.

 Roots that smell ammonia-like, sulfury or just like something has blatantly died are likely to be experiencing decay and disease and should be treated immediately. 

Root health is the single most important direct factor in caring for your plants whether being grown in soil or being grown hydroponically. 

Make sure to look out for signs of root sickness and keep up with root maintenance to make sure your plants are happy and thriving

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