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25 Jul

Setting Down Roots For A Successful Hydroponic Yield

 

Roots are undeniably one of the most vital components of plant physiology. Understanding the inner workings of root systems is essential for any hydroponic grower as facilitating a strong, healthy foundation for your plants will ultimately be key to vigorous and hearty yields. Without a solid network of roots, a seedling will never have the chance to thrive or produce a successful crop for harvest.

The crucial function that roots have in plant development is both diverse and fundamental to the operation of plant life. In their most basic role, roots absorb water and retain inorganic nutrients. This is realized primarily by root hairs and not the larger body of the root itself. Each root is tufted with millions of microscopic hairs that are thin walled, unicellular and act as a semi-permeable membrane. These root hairs will draw up water into the root through osmosis, much like a napkin soaks up a spill.

Contrary to popular belief, roots do not grow towards sources of nutrients. Roots grow downward due to gravitational pull, resulting in a phenomenon specific to plants known as gravitropism, and therefore only absorb minerals by way of interception and proximity.  Mineral salts are absorbed by diffusion and gain access to root cells once they are diluted in water. When their concentration is greater in the water surrounding the root than inside the root itself, these minerals will be imbibed through a root hair's membrane. Inorganic salts are ingested on a purely elemental level and are taken up by roots in their ionic form. Once the many root hairs have absorbed water and nutrients, they are then responsible for their storage and eventual dispersion to the remainder of the plant.

A root, much like a tree trunk, grows both out and downward due to meristematic tissue. These meristem cells are found only in root ends, meaning the only place from which new root tissue truly grows is at its tip. It is for this reason that root tips and hairs should never be cut and disturbed as little as possible.

Cytokinins, the phytohormones responsible for cell division in plants, are also synthesized in roots. Cytokinins release an important hormonal signal in plants that lets shoots and stems know how fast they should grow. Cytokinins work in a close balance with auxins, the plant hormone responsible for directional growth. Auxins flow from plant tips downwards while cytokinins flow from the roots upwards. Without a root system present to allow these two hormones to interact, auxiliary and lateral bud growth would not be possible.

Healthy roots should be white, fibrous and hairy. If the outer sheath of your roots looks brown, smells bad or slip off like a sheath you may want to reconsider your hydroponic grow plan in order to avoid rot. Healthy roots will form the groundwork for your operation so a close eye and knowledgable mind will only maximize your output.

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Last modified on Thursday, 25 July 2013 14:45
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