Oxygen contributes heavily to the strength and resilience of cannabis plants, optimising photosynthesis, transpiration and restoration processes. For photosynthesis to occur, the plant’s roots must absorb adequate quantities of water, which then make their way up to the rest of the plant. Oxygen levels at the tips of the roots have a direct impact on nutrients and water uptake.
Research has shown that an oxygen-rich environment helps the roots assimilate key nutrients and moisture more efficiently. Some also believe that by taking control of oxygen levels, the grower is able to force specific results – such as the production of blue or purple flowers.
By contrast, the insufficient levels of oxygen in the growing medium can adversely impact plant growth, resistance to disease and its ability to generate generous harvests. The effects of cannabis oxygen deprivation can be clearly seen when a plant has been overwatered – the number-one cause of oxygen deprivation.
When problems with root system health are identified, simply providing more oxygen can often reverse the issue in no time at all.
Molecular Oxygen Vs Dissolved Oxygen
The science of cannabis oxygen deprivation and provision brings two types of oxygen into the equation. Molecular oxygen is present in water, though cannot typically be introduced in more concentrated quantities. Dissolved oxygen levels can be increased or decreased through a variety of processes. The long and short of it being that the more dissolved oxygen you introduce to the water, the more positively your plants will respond.
At a baseline, each water molecule is formed from two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Water therefore naturally contains a certain amount of oxygen, but this doesn’t mean you can’t enrich it with more oxygen.
Moving Water Vs Still Water
When water moves, it naturally increases its own oxygen content. In doing so, it maintains its robust resistance to the kind of bacteria that stand to affect its quality. By contrast, allow water to stagnate in one spot and its quality quickly deteriorates. Molecular oxygen levels slowly deteriorate, creating the perfect breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria.
This is not only why many ponds and lakes have an unpleasant smell, but also why it pays to keep things moving in your grow space. Moving water means more oxygen for your plants, which means larger and more generous plants in return. Not to mention, a significantly lower likelihood of your plants succumbing to root rot, for which the primary cause is anaerobic bacteria.
However you go about the job, keeping things in motion by way of an active irrigation system is a good way to go.
Keeping Tabs on Temperatures
Whether using an air pump, setting up a water re-circulation system or combining the two, you’ll also need to keep tabs on temperatures. For the sake of maximising and preserving oxygen levels, colder water is always better. But at the same time, it’s important to remember how metabolic activity decreases in the roots themselves when temperatures drop below 16° C. At the opposite end of the scale, anything higher than 23° C plays right into the hands of root rot.
Ideally therefore, you should be looking at keeping things as close to 18° C as possible. This will help maintain the highest possible oxygen levels in the water, while keeping the plants’ roots happy and healthy.
Do I Really Need to Boost Oxygen Levels?
Realistically, the answer is no. Standard water in its basic form contains more than enough oxygen to cultivate the vast majority of plants in existence. It’s therefore considered optional, but can nonetheless help drive more impressive results.
That said, taking action to maintain optimum oxygen levels in the water comes highly recommended. As does avoiding over-watering at all costs, which largely guarantees oxygen deprivation.