When looking after your homestead and taking care of your gardens, you’re always searching for smarter and more efficient practices. Air pots make it easier to raise healthy plants that will explode with growth once you place them in the garden.
What on earth are air pots? They’re a newer type of container that encourages lateral root growth, on top of other benefits.
Keep reading to discover why this should be your new method for enhancing roots and growing healthier plants.
What Are Air Pots?
Air pots are containers made of plastic with lots of tiny holes at the end of a small cone. These holes encourage healthy root development of plants as they allow more air to get to the roots and promote air pruning (which we’ll talk about).
They’re also generally able to break down, making it easier to remove the plant without disturbing the roots and to store. They can also be re-used year after year.
This container option is become more popular for starting plants, especially trees. They’re commonly used by:
- Small homesteaders
- Horticultural institutions
- Landscape designers
- Gardening enthusiasts
When you grow plants in this system, they will go through the process of air pruning, which prevents issues like circular or uneven roots.
Any roots exposed to dry air during the growing phase can experience air pruning. This is a natural process when the tip of the roots dry and fall off. Even though this might seem like a bad thing, it’s terrific for your plants.
Air pruning means your plant will begin producing more lateral roots out of the main tap root section. This creates a healthier root structure as it allows them to search for nutrients and establish a robust root zone.
It also means that you won’t have to deal with circular roots when planting. Pot-bound roots can take a long time to straighten out and start growing in the right direction.
Air pots promote air pruning. As the roots grow out of the holes, they find dry air, and the root ends die, encouraging more growth within the soil area. This creates healthy root systems ready to grow outward the second you put them in the ground.
How Do Air Pots Work?
Picking the right growing conditions for plants is always tricky, especially if you’re new to gardening and have never tried growing your own seeds before. Thankfully, air pots give you one less thing to worry about.
When researching the different growing requirements for plants, the last thing on the list is often root growth.
Instead, most people focus on sunlight, soil condition, water, and fertilizer. But air is the secret weapon for establishing your root system.
The holes in the air pots give your roots the breathing space to fully develop. They also increase drainage on top of encouraging air pruning and appropriate growth in the right direction.
Plants grown in typical round pots end up with circular roots, or roots that grow around the circumference of the pot. If there isn’t a natural or human intervention, the roots of a plant will continue to grow in a circular pattern, which isn’t healthy for your plant.
When you put your plant into the ground, it takes a while for the roots to straighten out and head in the right direction, slowing the establishment of your plant.
Benefits of Air Pots
Besides promoting better root systems, there are other compelling reasons to switch to air pots instead of traditional planters.
1. Healthy Bacteria and Fungi
Air pots improve the number of healthy bacteria and fungi.
Bad bacteria and fungi can lead to diseases, but good ones are vital for the overall health of your plant.
If your plant has more root surface, there will be more area for them to access good bacteria and fungi to grow. For a balanced garden, you want to have a supply of microorganisms that break down the nutrients in the soil, making it easier for your plant to stay healthy.
Mycorrhizae for Strong Roots
“Mycorrhizae” means fungal roots, and these fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plants near them. They attach to plant roots and eventually become part of the root system.
There are two different types of mycorrhizae: ectomycorrhizae and endomycorrhizae. Both of these fungus roots operate outside and all around the plant. Once either of these forms of mycorrhizae attaches themselves to a plant, it will increase absorption surface area.
When there is a healthy system in place, you won’t need to water the plants as frequently, there will be less soil erosion, and your plant will have more access to nutrients.
2. Recessed Bottom for Improved Drainage
In most planters, the bottom is flat, which means it’s in contact with the ground at all points. This makes it harder for water to drain away, encouraging mold development, root rot, and fungal diseases.
Air pots are made so that their bottoms are recessed, meaning it sits up one inch or two from the ground. You won’t experience the same drainage problems with this container as the water can run through and not pile up around the roots.
3. Easier Storage
Being a gardener can be a nightmare at times. You walk into your shed, open the door, and a pile of pots land on your head. When the growing season ends, you must store the pots somewhere safe until the weather changes, and you can start potting again.
If you decide to use air pots, it will make the storage system easier to handle. Compared to regular pots that come in various sizes and end up towering over shelves and falling, you can fit your air pots into a smaller area because many of them break down.
You can remove the outer walls and lay them flat and then remove the bottom.
Not all air pots can do this, so keep an eye out for ones that can be disassembled if maximizing storage is important for you.
4. Unpotting Made Easy
Another important task when you’re a gardener is repotting or removing your plants from the growing container. Air pots enable you to remove the pot walls and bottom and leave the soil intact.
When you put the plant in the ground, the soil is less disturbed and the roots are ready to grow in the right direction.
The Disadvantages of Air Pots
Of course, no planting method is ever perfect and air pots are no exception. There are a few downsides to consider when using these containers.
You will have to increase your watering schedule. Due to the holes that make air pots excellent for growing robust roots, systems require more moisture as the water evaporates quickly in these planters.
However, there is a way around this inconvenience. If you have many air pots, install a drip irrigation system.
These pots are also more prone to fungal gnat intrusion.