When it comes to pots, your cannabis wants one thing and one thing only: a safe, healthy place for root development. Without healthy roots, your cannabis will never thrive. Roots are in charge of water retention, nutrient absorption, anchoring the plant, and also facilitate vegetative growth. All of these functions must be considered when choosing a container.
For a root system to develop and thrive, they will need the following:
- Drainage: Water retention is paramount for healthy plants—without it, your cannabis will wither and die. But too much water will waterlog your plant and lead to root rot, killing roots.
- Oxygen: Plant roots require oxygen to function properly. Choose a container that facilitates enough oxygen for root development without overexposing them to the elements—containers do this though various styles of perforation.
- Nutrients: Roots require optimal conditions for nutrient absorption to occur. This includes pH balance, optimal temperatures, and nutrient availability.
- Space: Roots need plenty of space to branch out. A container that is too small will cause it to become rootbound and choke the plant.
Check out these additional resources on soil and planting:
Common pots used for cannabis growing
Garden centers and grow supply chains offer different pots that vary by material composition, shape, size, and perforation style.
Traditional plastic containers
Standard plastic containers are a popular option for growers operating on a budget. These pots are inexpensive, but still provide the essentials for your plants.
- Low overhead costs
- Solid drainage (plus it’s easy to add more holes)
- Transplanting is easy and inexpensive
- Inability to protect root systems from temperature fluctuations
- Lack of durability which can cause cracks and structural damage over time
- May have airflow issues depending on the grow medium
Otherwise known as terra cotta, ceramic pots offer a unique set of benefits to growers in hot climates.
- Absorb moisture and retain lower temperatures during hotter days
- Heavy weight helps to anchor larger plants
- Less than optimal drainage; drilling holes into clay pots is possible but requires special tools and is more labor-intensive
- Heavy weight makes it difficult to transport plants
A relatively new innovation in container gardening, roots in fabric pots grow to the outer edges and attempt to bypass the porous fabric wall. Instead, they are cut back, allowing new growth to occur. This process, called “air pruning,” results in a denser root composition which promotes healthy growth and development.
- Promotes dense, healthy root systems
- Increased airflow to the roots
- Excellent drainage ideal for carefully-maintained gardens
- Requires more attention and maintenance as the pots dry out quickly. Note: you can use larger pots to help slow drying out.
- Flimsy structure can make plant support challenging
This post was originally published on March 13, 2018. It was most recently updated on June 29, 2020.