When it comes to growing weed, there are two primary setups. Soil growing beds and hydroponic growth systems, both of which have their pros and cons.
One common question is, “What is the best way to grow Cannabis?” If you were hoping for a simple answer such as “One way is always better than another,” sorry to disappoint, but if you want the whole, the absolute truth behind it all, read on! We are delving into the matrix of soil Vs hydro!
Soil Vs Hydro Method
Soil growing takes longer than the hydro or hydroponic method. It requires more maintenance, but the harvest is often more potent. If you have experience with soil growing, you will know what to expect! Soil is more complex to master than hydro because of all the variables involved. This guide focuses on soil growing methods (using coco coir instead of soil).
Hydro is more predictable because both your environment and water are under your control, but it’s not as potent. If you have limited growing space or little time to spend on increasing, then hydro may be the way for you! So, it is essential to assess your cultivation space and determine if soil Vs. hydro is for you. You can even control the amount of nutrients in your water for “micro” growing.
Cultivation outdoors is natural growing medium used around the world. The main ingredient in soil is earth, which provides bulk and water-holding capacity to promote plant growth. The earth’s composition is derived from rocks, broken down by erosion, weathering, and living organisms such as plants and animals. With hydro the medium is a scientific production. This is the main difference between soil Vs hydro. In addition to being on land, soil can also be in aquatic environments as sediment layers at the bottom of lakes or oceans.
The basic components of good quality Cannabis-growing soil are: – Good drainage – High oxygen content – Organic matter
Good Drainage: Having good drainage means the water you give the plants won’t pool at their roots. If it does, all they can do is use the water they need and let the rest go through naturally. This will result in a lack of nutrition for plants to be able to thrive properly. If there is not enough oxygen, basic elements needed by plants cannot be absorbed. Another difference with soil Vs Hydro
High Oxygen Content: Healthy roots are those that have good intake air spaces. These spaces provide oxygen for root respiration – which produces energy for growth! In addition, water needs air as it passes through the roots If your roots don’t get enough air you can expect nutrient problems as well as irrigation ones.
Organic Matter: Organic matter is carbon material from living things. These living things are dead remains of plants and animals resulting from decomposition. These remains break down by microorganisms into simple chemicals that dissolve in water. This includes things like compost, leaf mold, and manure. It’s a good idea to add organic matter when you’re setting up a soil grow bed for the first time. Or renewing one that has fully dry before refilling it with fresh soil mix. If your existing soil is well-made and drains well, this step isn’t necessary.
In order to keep the pH value of soil from falling too far below 6 (a number determined by the acidity or alkalinity of a substance), addition of lime or wood ash is advisable. You can also adjust the pH level later on using a special tool if you notice that the plant doesn’t seem to be able to absorb nutrients properly after going through the growth process.
Once you have this basic build, you can then decide if you want to add fertilizers to your soil bed in order to make it more nutrient-rich. Remember, however, not all fertilizers are safe for this purpose. So only use products labeled for use with Cannabis or made specifically for growing mediums!
Also keep in mind that certain additives which might seem beneficial are actually toxic once they break down inside the plant’s root zone . These include manure , bone meal , blood meal , cotton seed meal , feather meal, fish emulsion and virtually any animal by-product. Don’t try using these without first finding out if they’re okay to use by contacting a company that specializes in organic gardening or consult an organic gardening book.
The pH of Soil
One important factor you must always consider when growing Cannabis outdoors is the pH level of the soil. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Numbers below 7 are acidic and numbers above 7 are alkaline. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6-6.5. If you have a soil test kit, it’s a good idea to check the pH level of your space before planting and then adjust it as needed. You can use products like sulfur, aluminum sulfate, or phosphoric acid to lower the pH if it’s too high, or lime or wood ash to raise it if it’s too low.
Hydroponics is a subset of hydro-culture, the method of growing plants indoors. Plants may be grown in any type of medium, such as per-lite, gravel, sand, vermiculite, or rock-wool. Nutrients are supplied to the plants in water, and the roots absorb them directly from the water.
One big advantage of hydroponics is that it’s possible to closely regulate the nutrient levels in the water. This is important because different plants have different nutrient needs at different stages of growth. It’s also possible to feed the plants with balanced solutions that contain all the nutrients they need, something that’s not possible with traditional outdoor gardening.
All this precision means that hydroponic plants tend to mature quickly; however, some people think hydroponics produce weaker plants because it’s harder for them to get the nutrients they need.
Learning About Nutrients in Hydroponic Cultivation
Growers who use hydroponics sometimes supplement their nutrient solutions with additional minerals dissolved in water. Calcium and magnesium are particularly important because these elements play essential roles in growth, flowering, fruiting, seed production, chlorophyll production, energy transfer within the plant , and stomatal opening.
Pre-mixed hydroponic solutions come with everything the plants need in the medium. So you don’t have to worry about anything except adding pure water periodically to replace what has evaporates. Or the plant absorbs. However, if you decide to create your own custom nutrient solution, you must be very careful to get the ratios of each element correct or the plants will die.
When it comes to choosing a method for growing Cannabis, there are pros and cons to both soil and hydro systems. In general, soil growers need to be more vigilant about pH levels and nutrient levels, but can use a wider variety of additives (including organic materials) in their grow medium.
Read About Marijuana Growth Cycles Here
Hydro growers must pay close attention to nutrient levels and pH values and use only approved hydroponic nutrients. They can also expect to see faster growth rates and larger yields. The choice between outdoor cultivation and hydro is ultimately a personal one. What works best for one grower may not work as well for another. Soil or hydro – it’s up to you!
Pros and Cons of Soil Vs. Hydro
To give you a better idea, here are the pros and cons to hydro/soil growing:
Pros Of Soil Growing Vs Hydro
The soil produces more cannabinoids because there are nutrients available all the time for the roots (this is only true if you maintain your pH levels).
You can cultivate several strains in the same space, especially if your space is limited. You are not restricted to growing just one plant!
Growers can clone their plants, which means they don’t have to start from seed. This is a major advantage for first time growers or those who are planning for a big harvest! Clone-only grows are also much easier to manage
Cons Of Soil Growing Vs Hydro
It’s harder. It’s easier to mess up because you have more variables going on, like air temps and water levels. With hydro/ coco growing, the environment is controlled so it makes it a lot easier to have consistent maturity without making mistakes.
You can’t just start growing without a lot of experience. It takes years of practice and experimenting to master outdoor cultivation (or coco coir). So if you want potent Cannabis, but don’t know how to cultivate it, hydro is your best option. Just make sure that the nutrients stay at the right levels or else your buds will taste like shit..
You have to water more, and the plants can get too big for their pots causing root problems or even air flow problems. I think this is an issue when you grow only one plant at a time! Soil grows are less efficient than hydro because both sides need room to spread out. You also have to water more.
For me this is indeed a reason to grow in hydro. No need for total control, just regular watering and 8-14 weeks later you’re set! The biggest downside of soil grows is the risk of mold or root damage from over/under watering. Try to keep that in check with daily inspections as well as adding a bit of General Organics Canna Aqua Flakes to the water. How I do it in soil is explained here:
Regular inspection side by side
Hydro setup has so many ways to monitor your plants that you’ll rarely cause any damage without knowing about it right away. Outdoor Cannabis cultivation however, can get into trouble if you’re not careful. It’s fairly easy to over-water a plant, especially when you’re new to growing and only have one plant in your space.
The second reason I prefer hydro is the risk of mold due to over watering is pretty high if you’re not growing at least 2-3 plants together. With soil, growing becomes harder to keep the humidity in check.
Over-watering is one cause for mold and even root rot. Like all living things, Cannabis plants will die from too much water. It’s fairly easy to over-water a plant when you’re first starting out. You are not familiar with the watering schedule of your specific strain so, it might look like it’s not getting enough water.
You should be able to determine if you have watered too much by feeling the top of your pots. If it’s really wet and muddy, then you know there’s a problem.
Learn more about other common growing mistakes with soil Vs hydro….
With hydro I generally only check on my plants once a day and I always check the water level. With soil you need to do more frequent checks because there’s a greater chance of over-watering.
The roots rot from too much moisture, causing air flow problems for the plant which can lead to mold or even death in severe cases.
I’ve never experienced a case of mold with my own plants from over-watering, but it can happen! Just make sure you check the water level in your pots often and give them regular fanning. By placing the fans near where you’re growing, you’ll also help keep down humidity which is always another threat to your plants.
Although a little extra humidity is good for plants, too much can be bad and cause mold as well. This happens when you keep your growing space warmer than 70-75°F (20-24°C). Because the heat and water together create the perfect conditions for mold spores to germinate and spread.
In hydro you’re also less likely to have mold because your water level is always visible and you can adjust it quickly. If there is a problem with over watering, the plants will show signs quickly and you’ll know which pot to investigate. With soil cultivation this is not as easy or quick to do if you only check by eye!
Lastly, growing in hydro helps you keep track of your plants much easier than soil. You have more control over your environment, so they’re less likely to get too hot or cold which is very important.
With an outdoor setup it’s also easy for the roots to become tangled around each other which can lead to root problems, especially if you’ve got a plant that’s too close to another.This is a unique difference between soil vs hydro.
You can prevent this with good training, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable when you’re growing more than one in the same space. Don’t worry if your plants are a bit tangled though, they will grow out of it eventually! For now we’ll pull any that get tangled at least once a week to help them grow better.
Although you have less control over your environment in soil growing, it’s much easier to maintain Cannabis plant health than with hydro because you’re growing more at once and they generally get the nutrients faster through water. You don’t have to worry about pH levels or giving extra shots of calcium for example. But with hydro, you do have to be aware of these things and adjust accordingly. It’s all about balancing the nutrients in both setups, but it’s still a bit easier with soil.Hence the consideration of Cannabis cultivation in soil Vs hydro!
Soil growing is definitely easier when all you need to concentrate on is your plants and not worry about pH levels or adding extra nutrients. That’s why I recommend it for beginners. Once you get good at growing though, you’ll want to challenge yourself with a hydro setup!
Soil vs hydro for growing cannabis – which is better? They’re both good, but it really comes down to personal preference. You may want to try both methods before making your decision. However, there are definitely some things you should consider before deciding on one or the other… And that’s what we’ll look at next!
If you’re looking for a more in-depth look at the differences between soil and hydro, check out this article: https://www.growweedeasy.com/soil-vs-hydro-marijuana-growing.