Photo credit WVC 2010-07 - Kalanchoe thyrsiflora in my garden in Zaffelare, Belgium

Expertly measuring root growth of plants in container

Photo credit WVC 2010-07 – Kalanchoe thyrsiflora in my garden in Zaffelare, Belgium

Advancements in Root Growth Measurement Technologies and Observation Capabilities for Container-Grown Plants

by Lesley A. Judd, Brian E. Jackson, William C. Fonteno (2015)

in Plants 2015, 4(3), 369-392; doi:10.3390/plants4030369 (registering DOI)


The study, characterization, observation, and quantification of plant root growth and root systems (Rhizometrics) has been and remains an important area of research in all disciplines of plant science. In the horticultural industry, a large portion of the crops grown annually are grown in pot culture. Root growth is a critical component in overall plant performance during production in containers, and therefore it is important to understand the factors that influence and/or possible enhance it. Quantifying root growth has varied over the last several decades with each method of quantification changing in its reliability of measurement and variation among the results. Methods such as root drawings, pin boards, rhizotrons, and minirhizotrons initiated the aptitude to measure roots with field crops, and have been expanded to container-grown plants. However, many of the published research methods are monotonous and time-consuming. More recently, computer programs have increased in use as technology advances and measuring characteristics of root growth becomes easier. These programs are instrumental in analyzing various root growth characteristics, from root diameter and length of individual roots to branching angle and topological depth of the root architecture. This review delves into the expanding technologies involved with expertly measuring root growth of plants in containers, and the advantages and disadvantages that remain.

See the text: MDPI

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.