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fabric pots for cannabis

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!

Fabric pots

Mr.Juice

For those that have fabric pots, I’ve upgraded to 5 gal ones from vivosun. Simple question, do you raise them? I have a good handle on my basic growing conditions now (21-27C ,50-60% RH) but what I’m finding is that the top few inches of my medium (promix HP) gets bone dry while deep down there is still a good amount of moisture. 4×4 tent and my air circulation come from a 90cfm fan blowing in.

I think that if the pots were raised a bit it would help them dry a bit more evenly. Is this a problem others have had. Right now I’m giving about 1L every two days. Three days is too much and will will get a bit of wilt to underwatering. When I water after two days, they seem to droop shortly due to over watering and then bounce back. Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks

UncleRomulus

For those that have fabric pots, I’ve upgraded to 5 gal ones from vivosun. Simple question, do you raise them? I have a good handle on my basic growing conditions now (21-27C ,50-60% RH) but what I’m finding is that the top few inches of my medium (promix HP) gets bone dry while deep down there is still a good amount of moisture. 4×4 tent and my air circulation come from a 90cfm fan blowing in.

I think that if the pots were raised a bit it would help them dry a bit more evenly. Is this a problem others have had. Right now I’m giving about 1L every two days. Three days is too much and will will get a bit of wilt to underwatering. When I water after two days, they seem to droop shortly due to over watering and then bounce back. Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks

MIMedGrower

I dont use fabric pots so I cant be any help there but reading your comment made me remember my breeder telling me to let my flowering plants dry out more.

I did. I let them go another day past my panic time and suffice to say that is when my quality and yield started to go up.

I immedietely noticed the extra dry day was the plants happiest day too.

Of course i grow in potting soil so i cant speak for coco only mixes.

Sorry for the thread sidebar.

Buzzer777

For those that have fabric pots, I’ve upgraded to 5 gal ones from vivosun. Simple question, do you raise them? I have a good handle on my basic growing conditions now (21-27C ,50-60% RH) but what I’m finding is that the top few inches of my medium (promix HP) gets bone dry while deep down there is still a good amount of moisture. 4×4 tent and my air circulation come from a 90cfm fan blowing in.

I think that if the pots were raised a bit it would help them dry a bit more evenly. Is this a problem others have had. Right now I’m giving about 1L every two days. Three days is too much and will will get a bit of wilt to underwatering. When I water after two days, they seem to droop shortly due to over watering and then bounce back. Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks

You could cover your medium with panda film or this needled anti algae film.
Root mats like polyester or polyethylene fabric or coco mats is another way to reduce evaporation at the top layer and to get the irrigation to spread more evenly.
I did both with regular containers if I felt the need, a layer fabric and on that a layer needle film and the roots grow right up to the surface.

Yet another way would be to layer the substrate with a layer with more water holding capacity on top. If there is no space left for that you could mix in some clay, leonardite powder, diatomaceous earth or .
I always start with an airy medium in small pots and every bigger pot gets substrate with more water capacity, except an airy layer on the bottom.
There’s no need to worry about inhomogeneous substrate, layering works well.

UncleRomulus

You could cover your medium with panda film or this needled anti algae film.
Root mats like polyester or polyethylene fabric or coco mats is another way to reduce evaporation at the top layer and to get the irrigation to spread more evenly.
I did both with regular containers if I felt the need, a layer fabric and on that a layer needle film and the roots grow right up to the surface.

Yet another way would be to layer the substrate with a layer with more water holding capacity on top. If there is no space left for that you could mix in some clay, leonardite powder, diatomaceous earth or .
I always start with an airy medium in small pots and every bigger pot gets substrate with more water capacity, except an airy layer on the bottom.
There’s no need to worry about inhomogeneous substrate, layering works well.

Not wrapping the whole pot!
Just cut a piece of to cover the top of the substrate to lessen evaporation there. Just a whatever you use” disk” with a slit.

But wrapping worked too for me.
I had problems with high humidity during my one and only flower in fabric pots. Just wrapped them in plastic bags with holes and took em off once in a while to get the roots pruned.
But I don’t like them at all cause they are
1 throw away products
2 problematic humidity wise
3 hard to transplant
4 a bitch/impossible to clean
5 Cost way too much for what they are and how long they last.
At least the two kinds I had.

Airpots have all the benefits but none of the downsides, reusable for decades and easy to clean and even desinfect if you had some nasty shit.

As you may have guessed by now, I hate fabric pots!
The last two I got mothers in are finally starting to fall apart after only three-four years. Can’t wait to trash them.
The moms will get Airpots then, those you buy only once in your life.
I love buying things just once!

But to each its own, if it works for you it can’t be wrong.

Buzzer777

Not wrapping the whole pot!
Just cut a piece of to cover the top of the substrate to lessen evaporation there. Just a whatever you use” disk” with a slit.

But wrapping worked too for me.
I had problems with high humidity during my one and only flower in fabric pots. Just wrapped them in plastic bags with holes and took em off once in a while to get the roots pruned.
But I don’t like them at all cause they are
1 throw away products
2 problematic humidity wise
3 hard to transplant
4 a bitch/impossible to clean
5 Cost way too much for what they are and how long they last.
At least the two kinds I had.

Airpots have all the benefits but none of the downsides, reusable for decades and easy to clean and even desinfect if you had some nasty shit.

As you may have guessed by now, I hate fabric pots!
The last two I got mothers in are finally starting to fall apart after only three-four years. Can’t wait to trash them.
The moms will get Airpots then, those you buy only once in your life.
I love buying things just once!

But to each its own, if it works for you it can’t be wrong.

Seriously? I wash them in a laundromat and reuse them for at least 4-6 grows. Mine don’t really wear out, but they look like crap.
I pay about $2.50 for a 3 gallon tan with handles and a few $$ more for 5’s..I have 5 of the 15’s for outdoors this year and those I will toss.
As far as cost goes..take $2.50/5 = fifty cents per grow per plant..I can afford that..LOL

If you want to “move” a plant to larger quarters..just take the existing pot and put the whole shebang into a new larger pot..the roots can’t air prune, so they grow thru the bag into the new medium.
Look at these plastic pots..you can see the fabric pot handles sticking up..no problem for the plants!

I find air pots too expensive but simple to make DIY. Unfortunately even with the real thing..roots will be left sitting in water since the excess water is not sucked back up like a fabric pot..

EACH TO OUR OWN AND WHATEVER WORKS! Like this simple thing to extend veg (mini knockoff air pot)

Seriously? I wash them in a laundromat and reuse them for at least 4-6 grows. Mine don’t really wear out, but they look like crap.
I pay about $2.50 for a 3 gallon tan with handles and a few $$ more for 5’s..I have 5 of the 15’s for outdoors this year and those I will toss.
As far as cost goes..take $2.50/5 = fifty cents per grow per plant..I can afford that..LOL

If you want to “move” a plant to larger quarters..just take the existing pot and put the whole shebang into a new larger pot..the roots can’t air prune, so they grow thru the bag into the new medium.
Look at these plastic pots..you can see the fabric pot handles sticking up..no problem for the plants!
View attachment 866525

I find air pots too expensive but simple to make DIY. Unfortunately even with the real thing..roots will be left sitting in water since the excess water is not sucked back up like a fabric pot..

EACH TO OUR OWN AND WHATEVER WORKS! Like this simple thing to extend veg (mini knockoff air pot)

It’s just personal preference I guess, but I see some definitive benefits in Airpots.
Might be the other way round for other people. One should try both and see what fits the situation and style better I’d say.
When I bought those fabric pots they were new in Europe and at least as much as Airpots are now. Don’t know, absolutely possible that they are cheaper nowadays and perhaps in general USA/Europe. And fabric pots last a couple years maybe even a decade, but Airpots are a one time buy. Indoors they’ll last till I die and then some!
I really like products that last a lifetime.
But the real deal killer for me is that I can’t use fabric pots as good for NFT/topfeed hybrid + the raised humidity I get with them but not with Airpots. And at least some models aren’t just air pruning, they also work cause the roots entangle in the fabric like in a tight lawn. Said the advertising.

Btw. Airpots don’t sit in water, the bottom is raised a bit for exactly that reason!

I got a tip regarding the diy airpots:
If you use such self made Airpots you can cut the bottom off too and put them in another pot the same size till the roots hold the substrate. It’s great for NFT, topfeed or EnF with root mat. Better than RW cubes and no waste!

For those that have fabric pots, I’ve upgraded to 5 gal ones from vivosun. Simple question, do you raise them? I have a good handle on my basic growing…