How Cannabis Plants Absorb Nutrients: The Rhizophagy Cycle and Beneficial Microbes

Last week, we explored how compost soil offers a nutrient rich foundation for cannabis cultivation. These nutrients are absorbed through the plant’s root system, a process known as rhizophagy (pronounced: rahy-ZOF-uh-jee). But did you know that beneficial microbes play a crucial role in this nutrient absorption process?

The rhizophagy cycle begins with beneficial microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa, entering the root system through the root tip, finding their way between the spaces of the root’s cells. Once inside the root, these microbes transition to protoplasts, which are plant cells with their cell walls removed, consisting only of the plasma membrane and its contents.

Enzymes, biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions in living organisms, play a crucial role in this cycle. As the roots grow, the enzymes break down the protoplasts within the root, releasing their components as valuable nutrients. These nutrients are then utilized by the cannabis plant to support its growth and various cellular processes.

Interestingly, surviving protoplasts exit through the root hairs, triggering the elongation of the hair. After exiting the root hairs, these protoplasts need nutrients to reform their cell walls. As a result, they are drawn back to the root tip, where nutrient-rich root cells await them.

Different Feeding Techniques for Cannabis Growers

Cannabis growers utilize various feeding techniques to ensure optimal nutrient uptake by their plants. Here are three common methods:

  1. Soil-Based Feeding Techniques: In this traditional approach, nutrients are provided through the soil medium, ensuring a well-balanced nutrient profile. Organic additives like natural fertilizers and composts are often used to enrich the soil, providing a slow-release of nutrients over time. This method is popular among growers who prefer a more natural and hands-off approach to nutrient management.
  2. Hydroponics: Hydroponics is a soilless cultivation method where nutrients are dissolved in water, and the plant’s roots directly uptake them. This technique allows for precise control over nutrient concentrations, making it easier to adjust and optimize the nutrient supply based on the plant’s specific needs. Hydroponics is often preferred by growers seeking increased control over their cannabis plants’ nutrient intake.
  3. Use of Beneficial Microbes: Some growers harness the power of beneficial microbes by adding microbial inoculants to their growing media. These beneficial microorganisms help to improve nutrient availability, protect against pathogens, and enhance overall plant health. By promoting the rhizophagy cycle, these microbes facilitate nutrient absorption by the cannabis plants.

If you’re a cannabis grower looking to enhance your cultivation practices and promote optimal nutrient uptake in your plants, consider exploring the benefits of the rhizophagy cycle and beneficial microbes. For more in-depth information and to download an educational poster on this topic, visit CWI’s Tools & Resources Page for free. Happy growing!


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