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Can Air-Pots And Smart Pots Increase Cannabis Yield?

The pots you grow cannabis in can dramatically affect yield, flavour, and overall plant health. Smart and Air-Pots are two options for those who are looking for better ways to grow their potted cannabis. Here is a primer on what they are and the difference between them.

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There is little these days that is not being fundamentally rethought with the aid of technology. That is absolutely true of the world of weed. Starting with cultivation.

Here is the great news. You don’t have to be a billion dollar Canadian pot unicorn to avail yourself of such techniques and equipment.

This starts with so-called “Smart” and “Air” Pots.

WHAT ARE SMART POTS AND AIR-POTS?

If you have observed odd-looking pots at your local grow shop, you probably know what Smart and Air-Pots are – even if you did not know what you were looking at. These are special grow containers that help provide extra oxygen to the roots of your growing cannababies.

This concept is also why hydro growing is so effective.

Extra oxygen is the key to healthier plants. And of course, healthier plants produce higher yields.

However, picking the right pot can hugely impact the bud you grow.

HOW A GROWING CONTAINER CAN AFFECT YOUR BUDS

Your plant pot, along with the medium you root your plants in, is the most important piece of grow equipment you will invest in. Why? The amount and quality of the final product relies on a healthy plant, right from the start.

Yields can be drastically reduced by several different conditions created by the pots you plant in.

Stunted seedling growth is a big culprit. This happens when the moisture content is inconsistent in the grow medium (either too dry or too wet). Overheating your plants at any stage of growth can also slow maturation. This in turn slows growth and decreases yield. Plants whose roots are abnormally stunted by the grow environment cannot absorb enough nutrients. Root cramping or binding stresses the plant out. And stress leads to lower yields.

SMART POTS VS AIR-POTS

Both Smart Pots and Air-Pots are brand name products with several variations on a common theme. In general, here is how to understand the difference between the two.

A “Smart” Pot is made out of a stiff fabric. It is a squat, wide, cloth container. If location and space are an issue, remember that these make it possible to grow in a slightly “shorter” space. However, these pots are broad. You will require some space to set them up.

If growing indoors as opposed to a porch or greenhouse, you will need to consider drainage. In order to capture water run-off, you will need to place a large tray underneath your pots.

Air-Pots, in contrast, are plastic containers that are perforated or have odd-looking raised semicircles on the sides. The holes and “bubble spaces” of air pots allow plants to spread roots as they will. This pot is rigid, and tends to be taller and slimmer than a smart pot. They are also easier to move around.

On the negative side? Air-Pots can be a bit messy. Soil and water can also spill out through the holes. These pots also need to be put on a tray to capture run-off.

Bottom line? Both Smart and Air-Pots produce significantly healthier plants than traditional ceramic or plastic grow tubs.

RQS FABRIC POT: A VAST IMPROVEMENT ON THE STANDARD SMART POT

With the RQS Fabric Pot, Royal Queen Seeds has made several improvements on the typical smart pot while keeping all of this soft-sided container’s best traits. This new pot continues to provide an increased amount of oxygen to the plant’s roots and prevents circular root development to enhance both health and growth.

The RQS Fabric Pot includes an innovative “Aqua Breathe” layer as an inner sleeve. This air-permeable material allows air to flow through freely, but restricts water flow. Because of this feature, the pot only drains through the bottom. This keeps the grow room cleaner, helps prevent moisture problems, and keeps the pot from slumping down. As added bonuses, salt stains won’t bleed through, and it’s almost impossible to overwater your plants.

Unlike most other smart pots, the RQS Fabric Pot features sturdy, durable handles that help you maintain your grip so you can move even the biggest cannabis plants with less effort. The fabric is made of environmentally friendly material that’s both washable and biodegradable. Each fabric pot features an attractive RQS logo embroidered on the side in gold. The 11-litre RQS Fabric Pot can be used in any grow environment from hydro to soil, indoors or outdoors.

The environmentally friendly RQS fabric pot, complete with proprietary “Aqua Breathe” geotextile layer, lets your plant’s roots breathe for optimal growth.

The environmentally friendly RQS fabric pot, complete with proprietary “Aqua Breathe” geotextile layer, lets your plant’s roots breathe for optimal growth.

WHY SMART AND AIR-POTS ARE SUPERIOR TO REGULAR CONTAINERS

There are several major benefits for shifting your grow to a Smart or Air-Pot.

  1. It is easier. The plants are more protected from your own failings as a cultivator. That starts with overwatering.
  2. There is no way roots can choke the plant if they meet a hard pot “wall.” Greater aeration is really good for the roots. The one downside on the maintenance front? Plants grown in such pots need to be watered more often.
  3. You get better results. And bigger yields.

The pots you grow in can dramatically affect your plant's health, yield, and bud flavour. Here is a primer on what these pots can do.

Smart Pots vs Air Pots vs Regular Pots

Have you seen fabric pots (also known as “Smart Pots”) or “Air Pots” in a local gardening store or online in cannabis growing pictures? Wondering if smart pots and air pots are good for growing marijuana?

Smart pots and air pots provide extra oxygen at the roots, which is a good thing. In fact, that’s a big part of what makes hydro so effective at increasing cannabis growth rates, and smart pots capture some of that power. Growing cannabis in smart pots or air pots gives you some of the advantages of growing hydro, while allowing you to still hand-water your plants in soil or coco coir.

Smart Pots & Air Pots Make Cannabis Grow Faster!

Smart Pots
(Fabric Pots)

Air Pots
(plastic containers with holes on the sides like Swiss cheese)

However, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to growing weed. All types of containers have their strengths and weaknesses for growing weed, which I’ll outline for you quickly:

Quick Review: Regular Containers vs Smart Pots & Air Pots

  • Cannabis plants grow faster in smart pots or air pots (especially in the vegetative stage), in part because plant roots get plenty of access to oxygen
  • Cannabis plants in smart pots or air pots can’t really become root-bound, which is when roots wrap around the edges of the container and “choke” the plant. In a smart pot or air pot, it’s very difficult for the plant to get rootbound since it’s always receiving air from the sides which “air prunes” away any roots trying to wrap around the edges.
  • Cannabis plants are protected from becoming overwatered in air pots or smart pots. The air from the side helps make sure your plant always has plenty of oxygen so your plants don’t get “wet feet.”
  • However, in air pots or smart pots, plants need to be watered about twice as often as regular containers since the grow medium is constantly drying out from the sides.

Complete Cannabis Container Breakdown

Regular Pots vs Smart Pots vs Air Pots

Regular Pots for Growing Cannabis

This is a container with a hole at the bottom for drainage, plus a saucer to catch the water.

Tried and true method

Easy to find at any gardening store

Saucer captures runoff water for easy disposal

Helps keep growing medium from drying out too fast

Usually made out of ceramic or plastic

Smart Pots for Growing Cannabis

A smart pot is a plant container that has been made completely out of a stiff fabric

The shape is usually wider/more squat than a regular container, so it may be possible to grow plants in a slightly shorter space, especially compared to an air pot which is tall/thin. However, they take up more width than any of the other containers, so you may be able to fit less containers in a particular space.

Indoors, you need an extra large saucer or a tray to capture runoff water since smart pots don’t come with a saucer or tray and they seep out water from the sides. So in addition to the container taking up extra room, so will the saucer.

The wide base of a smart pot makes them well suited to growing really large plants, which is why smart pots come in huge sizes in addition to standard plant container sizes. Even giant plants won’t tip over in a smart pot. Many outdoor cannabis growers plant their cannabis in big (600+ gallon) smart pots since they help outdoor plants grow faster than just putting them straight in the ground.

More oxygen is delivered to the roots than a regular pot

Smart pots help prevent your cannabis from becoming root-bound and needing to be transplanted to a new container. This is accomplished by “air-pruning” roots from the sides, which stops your roots from wrapping around the edges of your container and “choking” your plant.

Smart pots make it difficult to over-water your plants, but that also means you will end up watering more often

Because smart pots dry out faster than regular cannabis containers, you should get double the size as you normally would, and it’s recommended your final size should be at least a 5-gallon container (anything smaller than that dries out in just a day or two!). So if you would normally get a 2-gallon container for your plants, you’d want to get at least a 5-gallon smart pot to make sure you’re not having to water your plants all the time.

If you’re going to go big, go with smart pots – your plants won’t by tippy

Air Pots for Growing Cannabis

An air pot is a plastic container with holes on the sides

The shape is taller and thinner than a regular container, so it may be possible to put more plants in a smaller space as long as you have the height

The narrow base means plants tend to be less stable on the ground in an air pot, especially if they’re tall, which means large plants can be easy to tip over.

Although water seeps out the sides when watering, air pots are tall and thin so you can use a regular sized saucer for each container (if it’s a 5-gallon container, you can use a regular 5-gallon saucer).

More oxygen is delivered to the roots than a regular pot, though about the same as a smart pot

Air pots help prevent plants from becoming root-bound and needing to be transplanted. This is accomplished by “air-pruning” roots from the sides, which prevents your roots from wrapping around the edges of your container and “choking” your plant.

Air pots make it more difficult to over-water your cannabis plants, but that also means you will end up watering more often

Because air pots dry out faster than regular cannabis containers, you should get double the size as you normally would, and it’s recommended your final size should be at least a 5-gallon container (anything smaller than that dries out in just a day or two!). So if you would normally get a 2-gallon container for your plants, you’d want to get at least a 5-gallon air pot to make sure you’re not having to water your plants all the time.

The Blue Velvet cannabis plant on the left reacted beautifully to growing in an air pot! On the right is what your cannabis roots look like after growing up in an air pot – all of the roots are reaching to get oxygen from the sides, and absolutely no signs of wrapping like with a rootbound plant!

cannabis root pic by coco coir expert roll_it_large

Which one is the best for growing cannabis? Is it Smart Pots, Air Pots, or regular plant pots?

The truth is these containers are each good in different ways. Some are better suited to some grow setups than others. So let me share my personal opinion…

A Regular Plant Pot is Tried and True

As a general rule a regular plant pot tends to take slightly less maintenance than the others because the growing medium dries out more slowly. Since you can use smaller pots for the same effect, you may be able to fit more plants in a small space.

At the same time, it’s a lot easier to overwater your plant in a regular pot, and you may find your plants quickly become rootbound if you keep them in a too-small container. When a plant is suffering nutrient deficiencies and droopiness from being rootbound, there’s not much you can do to fix it besides transplanting the plant to a bigger container and that can be tough, especially if your plant is already in the flowering stage. I like that you never have to worry about plants becoming rootbound with smart pots or air pots.

Air Pots & Smart Pots Make Cannabis Grow Faster

I’ve tried them both and air pots and smart pots both work amazingly well at increasing cannabis plant growth. A few years ago I even did a side-by-side grow with a regular pot for comparison. From my experience, I don’t think either air pots or smart pots are inherently better than the other. They are both very effective at increasing the vegetative growth rates of your cannabis plants, and they work by doing essentially the same thing – bringing in air from the sides.

As far as I can tell, the major differences between the two is mostly physical. Air pots are taller/thinner and made of plastic, while smart pots are wider/shorter and are made of fabric.

If you’re trying to stuff a bunch of plants in a small space, you might want an air pot since they’re thinner, however plants become tippy if they get tall.

If you have a shorter space, you may opt for a smart pot to save a few extra inches of height, and a smart pot is less tippy so it’s more suited to growing outdoors, or any time you’re growing a big plant.

Personally, I like smart pots better, but mostly just because I prefer fabric over plastic. (Check out my last grow journal using smart pots)

Full disclosure: I currently have switched to hydro (you just can’t beat those cannabis yields!) but if I was going to do another hand-watered cannabis grow, I would never use a regular pot again! At least for me, the increased cannabis growth from a smart pot or air pot makes it worth a little extra watering! It’s like capturing a little bit of that hydro power, while keeping the hand-watered experience.

Do smart pots and air pots really make your cannabis plants grow faster? The answer may surprise you!