They might be usually out of sight, but if you forget about your plants’ roots systems, then you will be in for a world of problems that will ruin the fun of gardening and make the entire process a headache that you wish could just be over.
Diagnosing plant issues and deficiencies are never fun, but it becomes a nightmare if the issues are stemming from a root based problem. Root based problems will display themselves however they please. One second it could look like you have a nitrogen deficiency, then the next it looks like you’re giving too much calcium. This leads gardeners to freak out and flush their plants, which rips out vital nutrients that weren't causing an issue at all -- but surely will now that they are gone.
This isn’t to scare you but instead, to show you the importance of building a strong root system. Because not only are root based issues a nightmare to diagnosed and fixed, a strong root system is vital to growing the biggest, tasty plants that rule your garden.
Here is even more reasons why it’s vital you create a strong root system:
- Roots act as a lifeline to your plants
- They greatly affect how nutrients are uptaken
- They offer protection from disease and dangerous pathogens
- They anchor your plant in place.
- Secrete compounds that encourage a relationship with beneficial microbes
How cloning gels and root enhancers work
Root enhancers commonly come in three main forms: gel, powder, or liquid, but regardless of the form they all contain a class of rooting hormones called auxins, which promotes root development, growth, and provides them a shield of protection.
Rooting gels are most frequently used when cloning plants. The easiest and most common way to clone is by taking a cutting from a mother plant -- preferably in the vegetative state. The cutting will form a mass of cells at the point of separation called a callus. The goal of the grower is to have the callus grow, divide, and form specialized cells such as root cells. And you guessed it, these class of hormones known as auxins promote the callus to do just that.
Using a root enhancer for cloning is simple, and all you do is dip the part that was directly separated from the mother plant in the gel before planting it.
The one thing you’ll want to remember when cloning with rooting agents is do not stick the cutting directly into the bottle as a sick clone can contaminate the entire rooting solution. As well, the moisture from the cutting will slowly degrade the solution.
Do I only need a root enhancer when cloning?
Yes, and no. No, you do not need a root enhancer when propagating from a seed, but root enhancers can get your plant’s roots off to a stronger start and this sets you up for that long road ahead.
More important however, root enhancers can greatly help prevent transplant shock. Because seedlings and seeds are so tiny, professional growers often use a dedicated propagation system and grow media to get them off to a strong start and then transplant them into a larger container/media.
Obviously, ripping your plant out of their media is going to upset them, but the benefits truly outweigh the negatives, especially if you give a rooting agent that will protect the roots when transplanting.