Healthy Roots For Healthy Cannabis Plants
We all recognize what a marijuana plant is supposed to look like, with its high branches, fruity buds and green, pointed leaves. But what if your plant is looking a little off, a little dreary or a little discolored? Here, we’ll discuss what lies beneath your green stalks: cannabis roots, and how to ensure their health for an equally healthy cannabis plant.
Function Of Cannabis Roots
The cornerstone of a healthy marijuana plant is healthy marijuana roots. The roots of the cannabis plant are the most vital organ of your plant, as it’s from the roots that the very important process of photosynthesis is able to occur. During the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is converted into oxygen and sugars as your plant reacts to sunlight. The roots feed on the oxygen from this process to keep your plant alive; oxygen and sugars then react to create ATP energy (adenosine triphosphate) which provides necessary energy to all living cells. It is this cyclic process in the roots that provides your plant with the necessary energy to grow.
Are Your Plant's Roots Alright?
The health of your roots ultimately determines the health of the flowers your plant produces. Roots should be creamy or white in color, with no sliminess or discoloration. Nutrient deficiencies are mostly visible in the leaves of the plant itself, however, such as nitrogen (yellowing, brown spots), phosphorous (blue-green, dark purple or dark copper leaves), potassium (dark green, leaf burn), iron (yellowing) and many more. It’s therefore important to keep an eye on your leaves to make sure your roots are getting enough nutrients. To ensure healthy roots, use perlite, vermiculite, peat moss and compost teas to provide nutrients and fluff up the soil, making it easier for natural microbes and critters to move around. Use complete soils to encourage symbiosis between fungus, insects, bacteria and your plants; these keep the soil loose so it’s easier for the roots to absorb water and oxygen.
Common Root Problems
Your cannabis roots can be very easy to manage, but without proper care, they can also be susceptible to a myriad of health problems. Tangled or dead roots, moldy soil and invasive pests are all common problems to watch out for as you raise your marijuana seedlings to budding stalks. Here are some common issues to be aware of when growing your own cannabis plants.
What Is “Root-Bound”?
If your roots become too cramped in their living space, the roots can tangle up and strangle themselves, depriving themselves of oxygen. This is what’s known becoming root-bound. Root-bound plants are unable to take in oxygen that’s necessary for their survival; they can then die off, possibly killing the entire plant. Root-bound plants typically suffer from stem discoloration (reddening), stunted growth in the plant and slowed growth in flower production. Your roots need plenty of space to grow, so make sure your plant is always in a big enough pot. If your roots are blocking the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot, it's time to transplant!
How To Avoid Watering Issues
It’s important to ensure that your cannabis plants are getting the right amount of water. Overwatering your marijuana plants can lead to serious problems in their root network, such as root rot, so make sure to let the soil dry completely between waterings. To avoid watering issues, make sure you use pots made of porous material so the soil is able to breathe; pots should also have a proper drainage system. And, of course, make sure your plants are in appropriately-sized containers. If your plant needs watering once or more a day, it could be time for a transplant.
Measuring The pH Of Your Soil
Cannabis plants need healthy soil to thrive, which also means having the correct pH levels. pH is a measurement of how acidic (0) or basic (14) a substance is. For soil and soil-like systems, the pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0, with 6.3 being the ideal. For hydroponic systems, the range is 5.5 to 6.5, with every system having a different ideal point. If your pH is too acidic or too alkaline, your roots cannot properly intake nutrients, which can cause a plethora of nutrient deficincies that are detrimental to plant health, so make sure you have healthy soil with a good population of microbes and bacteria!
What Is Root Rot?
Root rot in cannabis is a sickness your plants can get if they become root-bound, are overwatered, lack sufficient drainage and can no longer take in oxygen. When roots begin to rot, the entire plant becomes at risk of dying. Healthy roots should be visibly white or cream-colored, with no sliminess, darkening or discoloration. To avoid cannabis root rot in the soil, make sure your plants are in proper containers to avoid becoming root-bound. To fix cannabis root rot, make sure you have healthy soil with a proper network of healthy microbes and bacteria, particularly mycelium, which helps nutrients become more easily available to the roots.
What Are Fungus Gnats?
Fungus gnats are tiny gray or black long-legged flies, usually resembling mosquitoes, which can feed on your plants. Fungus gnats lay eggs in the soil of cannabis plants, the larvae of which are highly intrusive and feed on the roots, organic matter and healthy fungi in your soil. Insecticides seem to be the best way to rid your roots of gnats, but they can have negative effects on your plants. Keep your humidity low and do not overwater your plants. Root aphids are also a common pest in cannabis plants and are commonly confused with fungus gnats, with root aphid symptoms being yellowing, swelling and hardening of the plant roots, contrasted with the pale foliage and general flimsiness of fungus gnat symptoms.
Ways To Use Cannabis Roots
Cannabis roots have been used for their nutritional properties for thousands of years in different cultures around the world. Cannabis roots are a mostly-untapped source of potential for a variety of uses such as pain medication, topical creams, ingestables and even the potential support of cancer research. The following section will outline the various benefits of cannabis roots and how you can use them on your own.
Cannabis roots are the precursor for the development of THC in your cannabis plants. Hemp roots contain many raw cannabinoids not found in the flower of cannabis plants that can have added health benefits. Hemp root extracts also contain CBD, which is known to have many medicinal properties. Cannabis roots likewise contain nutrients that have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-nausea properties, and are rich in choline, a nutrient that aids metabolism and especially benefits liver health.
Cannabis roots can be used to make teas that can transfer these nutrients directly into your body. By boiling the roots of cannabis plants, you will yield a cup of bitter-tasting tea. You can enhance the flavor of your tea with oils, milk or any type of syrup to make it more tasty. Adding oil or milk – both of which contain fatty acids – will help release terpenes trapped in the roots that will give you added benefits. You can also grind your roots into a powder to add to any other type of food or drink.
An Ancient And Powerful Medicine
The earliest known recordings of cannabis roots as a form of medicine come from about 2700 BCE, in The Classic of Herbal Medicine. Here, it was recorded that hemp was ground into a paste and used to heal broken bones; its roots were also used for other forms of pain relief. Pliny the Elder, hailing from the Roman Empire, wrote of the magic of cannabis roots in his Naturalis Historia in 77 CE, stating how the roots were boiled in water and used to treat gout, arthritis, joint pain, acute pain and even hemorrhages suffered during pregnancy.
Source Of Relief
Because cannabis roots contain many cannabinoids that are known to be linked to pain relief, cannabis roots as a source of treatment for pain has been common for thousands of years in many cultures. As we have read, the usage of cannabis and hemp roots as a healing mechanism goes back to the Early Bronze Age in China. Cannabis roots ingested as a drink, food or paste, are still used to aid in menstrual cramps, postpartum hemorrhage and women with retained placentas. Cannabis roots also contain anti-inflammatory properties and can help with aches, gout, arthritis and skin rashes.
A Potential Cancer Treatment
In recent studies, cannabis roots have been linked to the phenomenon known as apoptosis; when cells cease to grow. In a laboratory study on colon cancer conducted at Penn State University, researchers discovered that the cannabinoids in cannabis roots cause apoptosis and successfully stop further cancer cells from growing in the colon. This link between cannabinoids and colon cancer is a first step in opening new research on the extraction of the properties of cannabis, cannabis roots and cannabinoids to help find a cure for all types of cancer. Marijuana roots also contain pentacyclic triterpene ketones, which are fat soluble molecules that have been connected to aiding in apoptosis.
Cannabis Roots For Skin Care
Cannabis roots can also be used as a powerful skin treatment. As previously mentioned, marijuana roots contain many anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat a variety of skin irritations. When used as a paste, marijuana roots can be used to treat dry skin conditions or those prone to red and irritated skin. You can also add whatever essential oils or scents you like to create your own personalized cannabis root cream. Because cannabis roots contain so many cannabinoids, all with varying health benefits, applying cannabis root creams topically can be just as beneficial as ingesting it!
Final Word On Cannabis Roots
It’s clear that the roots of your cannabis plant are not only important to ensure a healthy yield of flower from your plants, but are themselves extremely rich in nutrients and healing properties. You can utilize virtually every aspect of your marijuana plant, so think twice about disposing of the roots the next time you harvest your plants!