What Is An Air Pot – How Does Air Pruning Work
Air pruning roots is an effective way to promote root health in potted plants. If your plants in containers seem sickly, it may be due to any number of root problems caused by uneven or overgrown roots. Air pruning containers create a healthy and hands-free environment for roots that makes for a stronger plant and easier transplanting. Keep reading to learn about air pruning roots.
Air Pruning Roots
How does air pruning work? In nature, a plant’s roots can grow wherever they please. In a container, of course, there’s a firm border to their growth space. Because of this, the roots will butt up against the wall and often continue to grow along it, creating the root-bound spiral shape so common in potted plants.
The roots grow thick and intertwined, inhibiting nutrient and water access and possibly eventually strangling the plant.
Air pruning containers, however, stop the root’s growth at the wall of the container so that instead of wrapping around the wall, it sends out offshoots along its length, creating a stronger, more dispersed structure with many more root tips for accessing water and nutrients. This is the ideal root structure for potted plants.
What is an Air Pot?
An air pot promotes this healthy root structure with just what you’d expect: air. Plants don’t want their roots to grow above ground, so when a root encounters air, the plant stops its progress in that direction and concentrates its energy in other parts of the soil.
There are many different types of air pruning containers on the market, and some gardeners even make DIY air pruning pots, but the basic concept of all of them is letting in airflow on the sides and bottom of the container to stop root growth around the edges and promote it inside the soil.
- Some air pruning containers have simple lines of holes along the edges. These are effective but not practical for fine potting material.
- Some are made of fabric, and are suited to fine potting material but awkward for transplants.
- Some are plastic grids surrounded by perforated sheets that actually require some assembly. These are very effective at air pruning roots and transplants, but are also not ideal for fine material.
Air pruning roots is an effective way to promote root health in potted plants. Air pruning containers create a healthy and hands-free environment for roots that makes for a stronger plant and easier transplanting. Learn more in this article.
What is Air Pruning?
Proptek have developed a wide range of air pruning containers and trays that are revolutionizing the propagation industry. But what is air pruning and how can it help you and your plans?
Plants did not evolve to grow in containers and as a consequence of this, roots produced in most containers are very poor. This leads to many problems later in life and is often terminal. There have been a number of techniques developed over the years to improve roots, but none come close to the quality of roots from a Proptek container. The plants grown in our containers have as good a root (if not better!) than in their “natural” way of growing.
The Benefits of Air Root Pruning
Proptek containers use a technique called “Air Pruning” to achieve these fantastic results. The benefits of air pruning are:
- No chemicals, no toxicity
- Cheap and affordable – the technique is built into the pot
- Incredible results
- Practical: can cover many formats and is easily adapted to any nursery’s needs.
How Air Root Pruning Works
An air pruning container works by having slots or holes in its walls along with a system of ribs or other devices to force the root to grow out of the slot or hole. When the root grows out of the slot into relatively dry air its tip is desiccated or “killed”. Once this first root is air pruned it loses its dominance and many secondary roots develop to replace it. These are then in turn air pruned and again they are replaced by even more roots. Air pruning therefore trains a root system with a very large quantity of young vigorous roots.
The simplest form of this is to simply make roots grow out of the drainage hole in the base of the cell. However, most of our containers have vertical side slots per cell which all air prune the roots up the side of the cell as well as on its base.
This is good as it creates a lot of secondary roots right up the side of the rootball. Great roots right up the rootball mean that after transplanting there are a much larger number of roots that quickly grow outwards giving the plant a great head start.
The Benefits of a Better Rootball
The net result is that the plant will establish more quickly with a higher % survival rate and more uniform growth plant to plant. It is also expected that plants will develop a mature root system earlier and also top growth has been reported to be 20% to 25% greater than for plants in a traditional pot. The reason for this is that if a better root system is developed with a large quantity of younger more vigorous roots which can feed / drink more and support more top growth.
Another benefit of air pruning is improved aeration and drainage via the holes in the container wall. If, for example, you over-irrigate, the excess water drains out so the plant is not sat wet and unhappy as long. The good aeration of our specialist air pruning pots provides a healthy microclimate to ensure plants are as healthy and as strong as possible.
We believe this is the best root system that is available today and is a result of the cell design. There is however one additional thing you must do to get the benefits of ‘air root pruning’. You must raise the tray off the ground so that dryer air can circulate around the outside of the cell to “kill” the emerging root tips.
Other Methods of Root Pruning
There are, however, other methods of pruning roots seen in the industry – all of which are inferior to air root pruning for a variety of reasons:
Air pruning is the chemical & labor free way to excellent, non-circling roots. Discover how air root pruning works and how it can benefit your nursery.