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Substrate depths

>Michael D Nielsen  wrote:
>> After reading some posts about root bound, older setups, and daydreaming
>> in class today I was wondering something.  
>> Will a deeper substrate help slow down/negate the tendency for very dense
>> root mats?  In nature the substrate is very deep and plants seem to do
>> fine for millions of years with no one uprooting them.  Would a substrate
>> thicker than about 4 inches help at all?  Somewhere in the 6-8 inch range
>> perhaps?
Steve Pushak wrote:

>During my recent move to the new house, I had to remove all my plants.
>As you know, I use dirt in the substrate along with clay fertilizer
>balls. The root mass of the plants was quite small except for Crypts
>which had long rhizomes but small roots.
>This is because plants which are growth in infertile conditions have a
>larger root to shoot ratio. Plants grown in more fertile conditions do
>not invest as much growth energy into producing a large root system.

That assumes that the plants are small.  Plants grown in infertile
substrates may grow PROPORTIONATELY more/longer roots, but in general (I
know willows, for instance have very shallow root systems which lead to
their vulnerability in strong winds) big plants have more/longer roots than
smaller ones.  It seems to me that it is still entirely possible for plants
in a good nutritious substrate to completely fill their container with
roots... Particularly if we continue to prune the top of the plant, and do
nothing to trim the root system.  My house plants on the window sill,
properly fertilized, with no access to nutrients anywhere BUT through their
roots do this on a regular basis.