By Miguel Ordoñez


Air pruning is what happens naturally when a root tip comes in contact with air. Instead of probing further the tip dies, and more root branches grow to develop a fibrous mass. In conventional plastic pots cannabis plants, roots wrap themselves around the tiny gap between the medium and the plastic interior.

The roots grow long and continue searching for new fertile substrate instead of branching off. Roots will even burst through and cling to the holes at the bottom of plastic pots. They just keep on growing unless they are air pruned.


Air pruning will help you crop a heavier harvest. By encouraging a dense root mass in a well-draining oxygenated medium, your cannabis plants will explode with buds. Your plants will be able to handle larger volumes of nutrient solution and you won’t have to worry about root rot.

Best of all, by air pruning, you are really making the most of your medium. This is especially important if you have invested in premium pre-fertilised substrates or created your own super soil. Air pruned plants will access more of the nutrient-rich medium.

Instead of a few long spaghetti string roots, air pruned cannabis plants develop a root mass like a spiders web throughout the medium. A healthy robust root zone facilitates larger plant growth above ground and fatter flowers come harvest.

Passive Aerial Pruning in Cannabis Plants


The act of air pruning your cannabis can be completely passive in most situations. As outlined, the roots tips die when coming into contact with air and the boost growth elsewhere. All you have to do is make that air available. This is done with air pruning pots — specialised plant pots that are designed for this exact purpose. What this means is that as long as you grow your cannabis in an air pruning pot that is approriatly sized for your cannabis, air pruning will happen automatically.


Today you have four options when it comes to air-pots. The first most expensive choice is the classic flat packed air-pot made of durable plastic and available in a wide range of sizes. Believe it or not, they are still the premium priced product. But they are built to last and great for growing weed trees.

The second choice is a smart pot. But not just any smart pot. You can pick up high-quality fabric smart pots online and even at ordinary garden centres on multipack deals if you shop around. They are definitely far more discreet and easier to carry home than huge plastic containers. Some brand name smart pots are extravagantly expensive and no better than economy smart pots made of the right stuff. Ideally a high-grade geotextile pot with handles. Sizes are impressive these days from 1l to 100l+.

Cannabis Plant Root

The third pick is a rigid plastic air-pot. These pots are a cheaper alternative to the more expensive originals. They usually cost about half the price. Readymade air pots work just fine and are also available in a wide range of sizes. While they may not look as cool as original air pots they are just as functional.

The fourth alternative is to make your own air pot. But there really is no need too. Homemade pots are just like homemade muffins. Most of the time they suck and everyone is too polite to say so as they choke it down. You owe your cannabis plants better and shop bought is always better than homemade.

Air Pruning Cannabis Plant


Indoors, any of the above is a solid choice, no matter what medium you prefer to cultivate your cannabis with. Most smart-pots made of fabric are really best suited to soil and/or coco. Black fabric smart pots are usually available on discount or a reduced price for multiple pots. Smart pots with handles are actually easier to move around than either of the plastic air pots.


Outdoors white geotextile pots are your best bet. They are relatively cheap, although always a little more expensive than the black indoor kind. But you need to pay that little extra to keep the roots cool. And you don’t want the medium drying out too rapidly either. So the reflective white fabric is more advantageous for the outdoor weed farmer. Handles are critically important. You will either be moving your plants to follow the sunlight or to shelter in a rain shower, so buy the kind with handles.

Air-pots are too cumbersome without handles in the extra large sizes that outdoor cannabis grower’s desire. They may be of interest to discreet balcony growers able to manoeuvre 10l air-pots. If you want to grow monster marijuana plant you really need a super-sized smart pot.

Smart Pot with Handles for Outdoor Cultivation


Holding on to a mother plant of your favourite strain long term is best accomplished by potting that mother in a large air pot or smart pot. You definitely can’t keep a mother plant in a small pot for long. Non-porous plastic pots are not recommended even if they are quite large.

However, if you find yourself stuck with a root bound mother plant in a plastic pot you can salvage the situation. By removing the bottom two-thirds of the root mass and potting up into a larger container you can save your precious mother plant. It’s a risky move trimming so many roots and there is a significant risk of transplant shock too.

Provided the process goes smoothly the recovery time for the mother plant to re-grow a dense healthy root zone is enough to set you back. Expect at least a couple of weeks delay before you can take more cuttings.


Overall air pruning is a valuable cannabis cultivation technique. In fact, unless you’re already deeply committed to a particular hydroponics system you should at least experiment with air pruning. Soil and coco growers can easily make the switch whether they grow indoors or outdoors.

All you really need to do is upgrade your containers to air pots and/or smart pots and see the results for yourself. Once you find the right kind of air pot or smart pot for your grow show you’ll never go back to plastic pots. Most ordinary decent home growers can grow an impressive air pruned cannabis plant with a 15l air pot or smart pot indoors or outdoors in a warmer climate.

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