Getting to the root of your container plant problems…

Good soil is the way to start a good garden – always start with the base and grow upwards from there, especially in a container garden! Though this is a good start, it can happen that despite your best efforts, your plants aren’t thriving. Maybe they aren’t looking very robust, a leaf will drop here and there, or it becomes discolored.

Wilted looking sunflowers

This is the time during your grow that you want to get to the ‘root’ of the problem – literally! By checking out what’s going on in the root system, you’ll be able to get to the heart of what the problem is.

Potted plant removed from pot

Check the root ball: Turn your plant on its side, and gently tap the entire thing out of the pot. This will allow you to get a quick look at how the root system is forming – you want the roots to be tan or white colored, succulent looking, and not bound too tight together. If your roots are soft, brown-colored, and fall apart easily – the root system has likely collapsed. This doesn’t mean that it’s a total loss, but it will take a lot of time and patience to rejuvenate the plant.

knocking dirt off roots

Tap off the excess soil: While most potting soils are balanced in terms of acidity and nutrient content, pathogens attacking the root system is the main cause of root system collapse. While fresh potting soil is generally clean, the existing soil around the roots when the plant is transplanted from the nursery into your chosen container, or you may have leftover soil from last season in the pot. To be on the safe side, gently tap the root ball to shake off the excess soil to get ride of the old soil so you can give your plant a fresh start.

Newly potted plant

Replant with fresh soil: Now that you’ve been able to check on the condition of your roots, gotten rid of the old soil and trimmed away any dead plant-matter, you can re-pot your plant with some fresh soil. If it looks as though the root ball was getting cramped, you may also consider putting it in a bigger pot or a geotextile one like GeoPot, which handles air-root pruning and drains out any excess water, helping to avoid over-watering.

Potted plant in blue pot that reads Water Me!

Be aware of water needs: Speaking of watering needs; one of the most important things to be aware of is how much water your plant really needs. Overwatering can lead to root-rot, while under-watering can cause your plant to die. An easy way to check if your plants may need to be watered is to do the ‘touch-test’ – if the soil around your plant is dry, it needs to be watered. If the soil is damp, you don’t need to water it now, but should check again the next day. If you have any questions about how much or how little to water a specific plant, it’s always best to do a little a little research online, or ask the professionals at your garden center.

root zone from Wikimedia

While these four steps will definitely perk up your container grow, there’s always a little more you can do to give the roots a boost! One aspect of your plants roots to pay close attention to is the area known as the root zone. This refers to the area of soil and oxygen surrounding the roots of a plant, which is the starting point of a plants vascular system - water and nutrients are pulled up from the oxygenated soil around this root zone, and pumped in to all the aerial parts of the plant. Within THIS zone is the rhizosphere; the narrow region of soil that is directly influenced by root secretions, and associated soil microorganisms known as the root microbiome. Much of the nutrient cycling and disease suppression needed by plants occurs immediately adjacent to roots due to root exudants and communities of microorganisms. You can have a direct effect on this sphere by giving your plants Tribus Microbes Original.

Tribus Microbes Original is a highly concentrated, targeted blend of three growth-promoting rhizobacteria that can be used with organic or conventional growing practices to increase crop quality and quantity. These bacteria work symbiotically with the plant by producing extracellular enzymes and other biochemicals that maximize nutrient availability and uptake, improving root and stem growth, and increasing the plant’s growth rate. The bacteria in Tribus Original™ will populate the root zone of plants in all mediums and does not cause problematic biofilm formation in hydroponic applications.

It just goes to prove - when you’ve got a plant problem, you need to get to the root of it!

Have a hydroponic or garden supply store? Left Coast Wholesale has you covered with wholesale pricing available on Tribus Microbes Original. If you’re looking for Tribus Microbes Original near you, call 800.681.1757 today to find a local Tribus Microbes Original retailer!

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