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!
(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!
I think I’m done with Smart Pots
- Nov 19, 2013
Let me start off by saying that I think that Smart Pots and their ilk are a good idea and certainly have their place. I think I have been using them for 3 years now and they have served me well – most of the time.
Like many things, they have their pros and cons. I think they are great for the beginning and novice grower. They really do protect you from some really common mistakes like over watering, or bad soil, no root binding, etc.
That said, I’m moving back to plastic pots.
Recently, I had a problem with a non-ph potassium lockout. I think that the mechanism (and what makes Smart Pots a decent option) of action of a Smart Pot was at least indirectly to blame. More on that in a moment.
Here is why I’m going back to plastic:
- Significantly more water consumption
- Uneven watering – water can and will hit the sides and run out the pot
- Uneven drying – the airflow through the pot can dry soild faster in some areas
- They get “sloppy” during the grow – i.e. there is a lot of movement of the pot and the soil/plant because the pot isn’t rigid
- Corrective flushing is hard – water just flows out everywhere instead of evenly top to bottom
- I believe that because of the uneven drying, you can easily get concentrated nute pockets with no water to act as a carrier to roots
Maybe I’m completely off my rocker with this, but at this point in my growing life, I think I have just “out grown” Smart Pots. Like I said above, I think they are a good thing overall, they just don’t fit my needs anymore.
Avoid the temptation to do something all the time with your plants. Not touching them is actually doing something.
Let me start off by saying that I think that Smart Pots and their ilk are a good idea and certainly have their place. I think I have been using them for 3…