Do you grow weed outside? Check out our ultimate guide on the best soil for outdoor weed, which nutrients to use, how to maintain the earth, and more! Been trying to figure out what is the best soil for cannabis? Not sure where to start? Read on to learn more about different soils and what's right for you. Soil is the medium of choice for most cannabis cultivators. But what are the best soil for growing cannabis? This article answers the question and what you need to know to get the most out of your grow!
Best Soil for Outdoor Weed
You’ve got your seeds ready and feel excited about growing your first cannabis crop. What seemed like an easy task has turned into confusion, and a lot of questions pop up. What is the best soil for outdoor weed growing? Which nutrients work best? How do you maintain the ground?
Preparing the dirt the right way makes a massive difference to the quality and size of your weed. Not every plant is the same, and cannabis has specific requirements regarding the texture and type of earth.
You’ll need to develop the perfect outdoor cannabis soil mix for big, beautiful buds to flourish.
We understand that you might need some guidance to get things right the first time. We know you’re picturing yourself lighting up that first fat joint and don’t want you to be disappointed.
We’re here to help! Read on to learn everything you need to grow top-quality plants using the best soil for outdoor cannabis.
Starting to Grow Weed Outdoors Using Soil
There are many benefits to growing weed outside, including:
- Lower costs
- Big yields
- Environmentally friendly
- Fun and relaxing
Choosing the best soil to grow cannabis outdoors means you’ll need to stay on top of monitoring the acidity, texture, and pathogens (pests in the ground).
If you opt to make your own soil or purchase sterile earth, you’ll have complete control over the acidity, nutrition, and texture.
You need to be aware that planting weed in the ground gives your plants exposure to all the living organisms in the dirt, which is more challenging to create in a pot.
The container you grow your marijuana in is fundamental to the life cycle and harvest of your plant.
Wherever you decide to plant your weed, a well-prepared outdoor cannabis soil mix is crucial to mitigate any issues throughout the different growth stages. As long as you nourish the earth properly, your plant will thrive, and you won’t need to intervene.
Ultimately, excellent soil is the gateway to a healthy plant, which means an optimum harvest for you to enjoy to the fullest.
Soil Texture and Composition
The best soil for growing cannabis outdoors is light, loamy, and drains well but retains enough moisture. Loamy means a mixture of sand, silt, and clay with a ratio of around 40:40:20. The following make up the composition:
Cannabis plants need a specific type of soil to grow and flourish. You cannot just use whatever substrate you find. Even the standard garden soil sold in local stores will not suffice.
Ideally, the chosen mix should feature an optimal blend of light and heavy materials. This facilitates adequate water and oxygen intake. On top of that, it should contain a host of organic matter, making it hospitable to the microbial populations.
Soil can be broken down into four core components.
- 45% minerals (sand, silt, and clay)
- 25% water
- 25% air
- 5% organic matter
Sand is light, coarse-grained, and fast-draining. It primarily contains tiny fragments of rocks and hard minerals, such as granite, quartz, and limestone. The high porosity helps enhance the drainage and aeration of the mix. On the flip side, sand has poor moisture retention and little to no nutrient content.
Note: It is called “sandy soil” if it contains at least 85 percent sand and up to 10 percent clay.
Silt feels powdery when dry but slippery and mud-like when wet. It mainly consists of loose sedimentary material and rock particles that are much smaller than a grain of sand. It is not well-draining but has fantastic water retention properties. More than that, silt is also rich in nutrients and other essential minerals.
Note: It is called “silt soil” if it contains 80% or more silt and less than 12 percent clay.
Of the three types, clay has the smallest particles. Each grain is tightly-packed, leaving barely any airspace in between. The result is a heavy material that could store water and nutrients well. It is also highly fertile and contains a range of essential minerals. At the same time, though, being compact also makes it hard for moisture and air to pass through it. If there is too much clay, for example, the soil mix will not drain properly and may even turn concrete-like when saturated.
Note: It is called “clay soil” if it contains over 25 percent clay.
Water comprises about 25% to 30% of soil. It is not just plain water, however. Instead, it is referred to as ‘soil solution’ – water containing dissolved gases, salts, minerals, and organic matter. More importantly, it holds ions – the form of nutrients that the roots can absorb.
Just like water, nearly 25% to 30% of soil exists in a gaseous state. These gases fill the pore spaces in the soil. Note that soil naturally contains high amounts of carbon dioxide – but low levels of oxygen. That is why it is important to boost aeration in the root zone. Remember, plants need oxygen to convert sugars into usable energy – a process known as respiration.
Soil is made up of about 5% organic matter or carbon-based compounds. That refers to any living material – including plant and animal debris – at various stages of decay. Although the organic content is relatively small, it still plays a critical role in the quality and quantity of the yields.
The millions of microorganisms in the soil – such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, arthropods, and nematodes – are responsible for breaking down the once-living biomass. In other words, organic matter serves as the food source of these microbes. Along the way, it produces and synthesizes nutrients, making them more available to the roots. At the end of the decomposition process, what you get is humus – a dark, spongy material teeming with nutrients.
The main benefit of organic matter is that it enhances soil tilth – the soil’s physical condition, especially its ability to support plant growth. In particular, it boosts aeration, water absorption and retention, and drainage, among others. It also serves as a nutrient reservoir.
What exactly is loam, and what is so special about it?
Technically speaking, loam refers to soil containing less than 52% sand, 28% to 50% silt, and 7% to 27% clay. For gardening purposes, the most popular sand-silt-clay ratio is 40:40:20. The proportions, though, may vary, resulting in different soil subtypes.
|Types of Loam Soils||Mineral Composition|
|Sandy loam||Sand: 43-85% Silt: 0-50% Clay: 0-20%|
|Silt loam||Sand: 0-50% Silt: 50-88% Clay: 0-27%|
|Clay loam||Sand: 20-45% Silt: 15-53% Clay: 27-40%|
|Sandy clay loam||Sand: 45-80% Silt: 0-28% Clay: 20-35%|
|Silty clay loam||Sand: 0-20% Silt: 40-73% Clay: 27-40%|
The unique mineral composition of loam soil significantly impacts its texture, drainage, and water retention – in a good way.
As a combination of sand, silt, and clay, loam soil contains multi-sized particles. If you run your hands through the material, it should feel dry, soft, and friable. More importantly, it should maintain this consistency when dry and wet, making it easy to handle and work.
When compressed into a loose ball, loam should retain its shape for a moment before breaking up into chunks. That is a sign that it has an optimal texture – neither too compact nor too loose. Having enough airspace in the soil is critical as it allows the roots to grow through it. At the same time, it also boosts oxygenation while promoting drainage.
Having sufficient drainage helps prevent overwatering, which could drown and suffocate the roots. And without enough oxygen, the roots will starve and begin to decay. Eventually, this leads to nutrient deficiencies.
Loam soil has enough sand to make it well-draining. That is because the gap between the particles allows water to percolate through it. After watering, the pool on top of the medium should drain within a few seconds. Neither should it take too long to trickle out of the bottom holes.
Water Retention Capacity
The main concern with sandy soil is that it is fast-draining. It runs the risk of drying out, but it could also flush the essential minerals. That means that the plants may not have the moisture and nutrients they need to grow and prosper. If left unaddressed, this could stunt growth and cause other damage, compromising the yields.
Loam soil does not have drainage issues due to the addition of silt and clay – both of which are water-retentive and can negate the high drainage capacity of sand. Ideally, it should absorb and hold onto moisture without getting too muddy.
The Ideal Soil Amendments
Loam soil – regardless of the type – is by no means perfect. Depending on your needs, preferences, or situation, you might find it lacking in some aspects. Or, maybe you did not achieve the optimal sand-silt-clay concentration. At any rate, you will most likely want to improve its physical, biological, and chemical makeup.
Soil amendments – which include both organic and inorganic materials – could help you achieve precisely that. Ultimately, they help maximize plant growth and productivity.
Organic amendments come from materials that were once alive. These include compost, earthworm castings, and animal manure. They increase the organic matter content in the soil, dramatically improving tilth in the long run. Most of these materials have nutritional value, which is why they double as organic fertilizers.
Inorganic amendments, on the other hand, are usually mined minerals, such as perlite, vermiculite, pumice, and limestone. Generally, they improve the structure of the soil, particularly aeration, drainage, and water retention. Others help stabilize the pH or even add minerals.
Here are some of the most popular soil amendments and their specific purpose:
|Primary Functions||Soil Amendments|
|Improve Texture||Gypsum Coco coir Biochar Perlite Vermiculite Pumice Compost Earthworm castings|
|Boost Drainage Ability||Gypsum Coco coir Biochar Perlite Pumice Compost Earthworm castings|
|Increase Water Retention Capacity||Coco coir Biochar Vermiculite Pumice Compost Earthworm castings|
|Add Organic Matter||Biochar Compost Earthworm castings Chicken manure Blood meal Bone meal Bat guano Crustacean meal Fish emulsion Kelp meal Alfalfa meal Mycorrhizal inoculants Humic acid and fulvic acid|
|Adjust or Stabilize the pH Level||Biochar Garden lime Compost Bat guano Blood meal Humic acid|
Note: You have the option of starting with loam soil and amending it with the preferred ingredients. Alternatively, you can also buy organic potting soil from trusted brands. If the product contains any of the above amendments, you can expect that it has a decent texture and composition. Despite having nutrient-rich materials, though, you would still need to use separate nutrients across the different growth stages.
Planting in Pots or in the Ground
Once you’ve got your soil mix for cannabis outdoors ready, you’ll need to determine where you’re going to plant your weed. There are two primary options, pots or in the ground. Both methods have their benefits, so it’s up to you to decide which works best.
If you opt for pots, you have the advantage of using commercial soil, which, luckily for you, tends to be optimized for growing cannabis and is pre-sterilized. This earth keeps harmful microbes away and your plants well-nourished.
There’s a downside, though. Your plants will be constricted within the container and may also require transplants and lots of watering.
If you want to go all-natural, your plant’s roots can spread out and access the maximum amount of groundwater. Your cannabis will grow bigger and require far less maintenance, but there’s always the risk of exposure to pathogens in the soil and contamination.
The seasoned weed growers may make it seem near impossible to create the best soil for cannabis outdoors, but fear not! Marijuana will grow almost anywhere, even on riverbanks.
Make sure to watch your plants as they grow and adjust the soil when needed. Producing cannabis is a learning curve that you need time and patience for. The best way to learn is on the job.
Best Soil for Growing Weed Outdoors
We’re sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘you are what you eat.’ The same applies to your cannabis seeds and plants, which is why quality soil is essential. The better the earth, the better your final harvest will be, and the more you’ll enjoy it.
What is the best soil for outdoor weed growing? It depends on where you plant your cannabis.
Best Soil for Growing Weed in Pots
When planting your seeds in pots, you have complete control over what goes into the mix. You can buy a commercial branded soil that’s all ready to pop your seeds into, or you can opt for some homemade compost.
For first-time cannabis gardeners, investing in quality potting soil is the best idea. Marijuana outdoors grows with watering alone if you use the ‘super soil’ correctly without having to add any minerals or nutrients.
You can make this earth yourself with a combination of worm castings, bat guano, and other components. Let it sit for a few weeks with some quality soil, and it’ll be good to go. We recommend adding a few stones to help with drainage.
Best Soil for Planting Weed Seeds in the Ground
The best soil for weed outdoors when planting in the ground is loam, which we mentioned is a mix of sand, silt, and clay.
Test your soil with the glass jar method to check the ratio of each element and amend accordingly. You’ll also need to consider certain factors, including:
- pH level
- Water retention
- Nutrient makeup
A clay-heavy soil will drain slowly and won’t hold oxygen well. Dig large holes at least a month before you plant and mix in plenty of compost, worm castings, manure, and other organic matter. This technique allows for aeration, drainage, and lots of nutrients.
Sandy soil is easy to manipulate and drains nicely, but it doesn’t hold nutrients well. You’ll need to dig holes and add compost and peat moss to bind everything together.
Silty soil is ideal because it’s simple to work, holds moisture, drains well, and has lots of nutrients. This dirt is also very fertile and will welcome your seeds well.
Ideally, your outdoor soil mix for cannabis should be a blend of them all. You can add in store-bought earth with added nutrients to help maintain your plants healthy until harvest. Ensure you add fertilizer and sterilize the dirt if you don’t use a commercial brand.
The Best Nutrients for Outdoor Soil Growing
For your seeds to grow to their full potential, your earth will need three essential nutrients. The best soil to grow cannabis outdoors should include the following in the fertilizer.
This nutrient is the most essential for your plant’s growth, food processing, and chlorophyll creation. You’ll notice a lack of nitrogen if your cannabis starts turning yellow and stops growing taller.
When your soil doesn’t contain potassium, leaves will turn light green to yellow. The nutrient aids proper growth and helps with the reproduction of your plant. Potassium also affects the shape, size, color, and taste of your weed.
Playing a vital role for seedlings and young plants, phosphorus helps cell division, promotes root growth, and aids the development of the growing tip.
How to Get the Best Soil Mix for Cannabis Outdoors
As mentioned earlier, you can buy a soil mix or make your own. Here are a few things to consider and look out for in either situation.
Buying Pre-Made Soil Mixes
If you decide to buy the best soil for outdoor weed from your local garden store, you’ll come across a variety of amendments, such as:
- Bat guano
- Peat moss
- Plant food
- Worm castings
- Bone meal
- Fish meal
- Glacier rock dust
If the brand amends the soil heavily, there’ll be a huge list. Others create great structured soil with basic nutrients, leaving gaps to fill yourself.
When looking for something that’ll help you throughout your plant’s life, opt for dirt that offers the correct pH level, balanced nutrients, and a loamy texture. This way, you won’t need to do a lot, if anything, yourself.
If you like the idea of creating your soil mix but would like a little help, purchase a customizable option. With these bags, you can add your topsoil and liquid nutrients when you want, depending on your weed’s needs.
Creating Your Own Outdoor Cannabis Soil Mix
Perhaps you decide to create your mix, so you’ll need to do a bit more work to keep your seeds happy. To make the best soil for growing weed outdoors, you’ll need to assess your current dirt first.
Once you’re satisfied, you’ll need to look for a quality fertilizer to provide your plant with the three essential nutrients. The less nourishment your weed gets, the fewer buds it’ll produce.
These nutrients need to be present throughout each growth stage, which means a lot of maintenance on your part.
Keep in mind that shop-bought soils come already sterilized, which kills harmful bacteria, fungi, and insects. For your seeds to flourish, thorough sterilization is a must.
The process takes a lot of time and effort, though, and there are other ways to control your pests by introducing beneficial microbes and insects into the soil.
How to Feed and Maintain the Best Soil for Outdoor Weed
Once you’ve started growing marijuana outdoors, you need to know how to feed and maintain your beloved plant. Neglecting your cannabis at any stage will result in poor quality weed or, even worse, losing your entire harvest.
Throughout your marijuana’s lifecycle, you’ll have to ensure it gets enough nutrients. You can buy ready-made mixes in a store or create your fertilizer. If you want to make organic food for your cannabis, we recommend these:
- Blood meal or fish meal for nitrogen
- Bone meal or bat guano for phosphorus
- Wood ash or kelp meal for potassium
- Dolomite lime for calcium and magnesium
- Epsom salts for magnesium and sulfur
We advise against nutrients designed for indoor growth as they tend to contain synthetic mineral salts, which are damaging to bacteria in the earth.
If you’re not sure how much fertilizer to use, it’s best to be conservative. You can always add topsoil if you notice deficiencies in your plants. There’s such a thing as too many nutrients, which could cause a nutrient lockout and ruin your crops.
Growing Weed Outdoors in Soil is the Most Natural Way!
By now, you should know enough to prepare the best soil for growing weed outdoors to plant your seeds for optimum growth successfully. Cultivating weed is an enjoyable pastime and highly rewarding when you finally sit down to light up and try your cannabis.
Remember, whether planting in pots or the ground, buying ready-made soil, or mixing your own, have fun and spend lots of time with your cannabis.
Once you’re ready to get started, shop for seeds and begin your marijuana gardening journey. Don’t forget to share stories and let us know how you get on!
Learn now how to choose the best soil for growing cannabis
Most weed gardeners know that growing cannabis in soil is a common and effective growing method.
The difficulty is that growers have to peruse through many soil options and may find it challenging to determine the right option for them.
Well, sit tight! In this article, we’ll be showing you how to choose the best soil for cannabis to give your marijuana the best chances of fat buds and a huge yield.
Why is choosing the best soil for cannabis very important?
Soil is one of the three components (including water and light) needed to help a plant
Choosing the best soil is vital as, without it, a plant can’t grow effectively and may end up lacking nutrients or even under developing. Good earth also helps provide plants with the health needed to survive under challenging weather conditions.
Along with learning about temperature and humidity for growing weed, understanding soil is vital. It spells the difference between a plant that didn’t grow to one that exceeded expectations.
The components that make up the soil
Soil consists of several components and is quite complex in its makeup. Let’s look at what these are:
- Air: 25% of soil is simply air.
- Water: A further 25% of the earth is water. It’s vital for moving nutrients to the plants.
- Clay: One of the three primary materials found in soil, clay, like the other minerals, is derived from broken-down rocks.
- Sand: This is one of the primary minerals found in dirt. Minerals, in fact, make up 46% of all soil.
- Silt: The second of the primary minerals found within the soil.
- Organic matter: This makes up the remaining 4% of the earth. Soils high in organic matter are brilliant for plant growth.
Knowing what good soil is
You can identify excellent cannabis soil by looking at a few key indicators.
- Dark and loose: Dark soil is rich soil. It means that they contain plenty of organic matter, sodium, and healthy nutrients. Loose soil allows for better aeration.
- Good drainage & water retention: Good drainage means that the marijuana water can drain to the bottom well. Well-drained earth ensures that your cannabis stays wet for a reasonable amount of time. An appropriate amount of water retention is vital to keep cannabis healthy.
- The correct pH value: The ideal pH value is about 6.0 as cannabis plants thrive better in a slightly acidic environment.
- Organic matter: Organic matter is decomposed material derived from plants and animals. It helps provide nutrients and improves the water holding capacity of the soil. Examples include compost and manure.
Choosing the best soil for marijuana
The best soil depends on the conditions that you’re growing your marijuana. So, for example, what’s needed for outdoor marijuana is different from that for indoor cannabis.
Let’s break it down.
Best soil for outdoor cannabis
The benefit of growing cannabis outdoors is that your plants won’t be as restricted and can further grow their roots.
However, you’ll have to monitor and possibly change the soil’s pH level if it’s not suitable.
Cannabis plants all need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in their soil ‘diet’. These nutrients will be absorbed at different rates and need to be renewed with a good marijuana fertilizer from time to time.
A dark, crumbly loam works best outdoors that’s mostly silt.
Best soil for indoor cannabis
Loamy soil is the best for indoor cannabis. An ideal mixture of 40% silt, 40% clay, and 20% sand offers a loose soil texture for adequate oxygenation and root growth. This mix also offers good water retention, drainage, and an ideal pH level of 6.0.
Best potting soil for cannabis
Firstly, it’s important to note that no matter what pot you use, always make sure that there are holes at the bottom to prevent your cannabis from drowning.
Cannabis can be effectively grown in pots using pre-packaged organic soil.
An alternative is to make what is known as a ‘super soil’ mix. You’ll have to find a super soil recipe or order a mix online. It’s a great option as it self-regulates its pH levels.
Best organic soil for cannabis
Creating the best organic soil for marijuana is tricky, but there are a few components that can drastically improve its health and efficacy:
|Component||What it offers|
|Worm castings||This is a good source of nitrogen. It’ll also give your soil the added benefit of many micronutrients.|
|Bone meal||For a source of phosphorus, this is the way to go.|
|Chicken manure||Chicken manure is an excellent source for adding nitrogen and phosphorus to your soil.|
|Bat guano||This is also a good way to get phosphorus and nitrogen into your organic soil. It also diversifies the soil’s bacteria.|
|Compost||Compost piles can be an excellent source of nutrients such as potassium.|
|Kelp meal||Both promoting microbial diversity and offering potassium, kelp meal is a great component to add to organic soil.|
Best soil for autoflowering cannabis
Autoflower cannabis seeds transition automatically from the vegetative to flowering stage regardless of the light availability.
However, for this type of cannabis, light and aerated soil is preferred. This aids the roots in growing deeper.
You can make the best soil for autoflowers from peat moss, compost, vermiculite, and coco coir.
Store-bought vs. homemade
If you’re not interested in the hassle of putting together your own soil, then you can always stop at a local shop or peruse an online store for some good-quality mix that’s ready-made.
Although homemade soil may lack on some fronts, it does offer certain benefits. Let’s take a look at what those are compared to store-bought:
|Homemade Cannabis Soil||Store-Bought Cannabis Soil|
|Greater flexibility of choice.||Already pre-packaged.|
|Generally cheaper than store-bought cannabis.||More expensive than homemade cannabis.|
|It requires more research to figure out and can be complicated.||The work to put together nutrients and research is already done for you.|
|Easier and cheaper to make in bulk.||Often comes in smaller packaging.|
How to make your own soil
Making your own soil may be preferable for many as ready-made soil mixes can be pretty expensive. Here are a few steps that you can follow to get started:
Step 1: To start with creating your marijuana soil mix, you can opt to find soil at your local gardening store. Alternatively, you can use the soil you have at home.
Step 2: Next, you’ll need to add the building blocks of cannabis: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can find these components in worm castings, bone meal, and compost.
Step 3: Then, mix the soil. It’s as simple as that, and you’re on your way to having the best soil to grow marijuana.
Improving the soil, you already have
There are several minerals, soils, and nutrients that you can add to the soil you already have to make it suitable to grow excellent cannabis. Here are a few suggestions:
- Coco for cannabis: Coco-coir is a flexible growing medium made out of coconut shells that grants your plants the ability to grow even faster than they already are.
- Perlite: This can help loosen and provide excellent aeration to the soil and also aids in the speed of growth of the plant.
- Vermiculite: This is good for dampening the soil and raising the pH level of your cannabis.
- Worm castings: These are great for resolving nitrogen cannabis deficiencies. This nutrient-rich manure is perfect for any weed soil mix.
- Nutrients: Along with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, marijuana soil also needs calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and many others.
Before we move on to our FAQs: if you want to know more about growing, be sure to check out our marijuana for beginners guide. It offers a lot of helpful information about costs, climate, strains, and much more relating to growing marijuana.
FAQs related to best soil for cannabis
We’ve scoured the internet and put together the most frequently asked questions to help you find the best soil for growing weed.
What is the best soil for growing cannabis?
Loam is undoubtedly the best soil for growing cannabis. Its pH level is close to the ideal level of 6.0. Regrettably, it’s quite an expensive soil to buy but a worthwhile investment if you want to grow the best marijuana plants possible.
What is the best soil for outdoor cannabis?
Outdoor cannabis grows well with organic soil. You can make your own or opt to purchase a mix online or at a local garden store.
What is the best soil for indoor cannabis?
The ideal is the same as the best overall cannabis soil, which is loam. If you’re not willing to pay the price, though, you can always opt for a nice pre-packaged cannabis soil mix. Just make sure that it’s full of quality nutrients!
What is the best organic soil for cannabis?
You’ll want a soil mix that’s teaming with all the necessary micro and macronutrients needed for your plants. A nice blend of worm castings, rock dust, bone meal, bat guano, and various other soil amendments is the way to go.
What are the best nutrients for cannabis in soil?
The fundamentals are:
- Nitrogen (blood meal, ammonia, or cottonseed meal).
- Phosphate (bone meal, slag, and rock phosphate).
- Potassium (wood ashes or seaweeds).
It comes down to you
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the best soil for growing marijuana. It depends on the type, where you’ll be growing it, and what you hope to achieve.
There are a lot of great ready-made products out there, both online and in-store. It just takes some time and research to figure out which is right for you.
Do you feel ready to start growing? Peruse the i49 website and decide on the right cannabis seeds for you to start your growing journey today.
- Cannabis Consumption
- Edibles & Recipes
- Ways to Smoke Marijuana
- Cannabis News
- Germination & Seedling Stage
- Time to Harvest
- Vegetative & Flowering Stage
- Climate Control
- Indoors 101
- Lighting Requirements
- Your Grow Room
- Climate and Weather
- Outdoor Grow Calendars
- Outdoors 101
- Beginners Guides
- Plant & Seed Types
- Setting Up: Tools & Equipment
- The Cannabis Plant
- Hydroponic Growing
- Optimizing Yields
- Pruning Techniques
- Sexing & Making Seeds
- Animal and Insect Pests
- Fungi & Other Diseases
- Growing Issues
- Nutrient Problems
How to Identify a Female Marijuana Seed 15 March, 2020 How to Identify a Quality Marijuana Seed Ask any e. Read Article
Hydrogen Peroxide and Cannabis 1 May, 2020 The Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide in Hydroponics a. Read Article
How to Speed Up Flowering of Outdoor Cannabis Plants 2 April, 2020 A good deal of cannabis horticulturists grow their. Read Article
How To Choose The Best Soil For Growing Cannabis
If you go to any cannabis trade fair you will see all sorts of different companies promoting a litany of products, from the most recent tents, to advanced hydroponic setups, to the latest in lighting fixtures and the best soil for growing cannabis. This can be intimidating for some, as many of these products seem quite advanced and expensive, however growing good cannabis can actually be surprisingly easy. That is of course, if you do what nature intended for cannabis, namely provide a solid foundation in the form of some good old-fashioned soil.
You can endlessly argue back and forth as to whether you get bigger and better yields from growing hydroponically, in a greenhouse, or indoors, but the most trusted names in the world of cannabis cultivation will almost always tell you that nothing beats cannabis grown in some simple dirt. Your growing medium will always play one of the biggest roles in terms of quality of the final product and perhaps the biggest argument for choosing soil over hydroponics is terpene production, which is where organic soil shines. Sorry hydroponics-lovers, but you’re just not going to get those terpene-driving microbes in your nutrient solution no matter how hard you try. Organic soils, particularly of the no-till variety, are vast oceans of microbial life that provide nothing but the best nutrients for your plants in symbiotic fashion and your plants reward you for that in the form of delectable, fragrant flower.
Not all soils are equal and in many cases some work will have to be done to give your plants what they need so that you can have a bountiful harvest. Thankfully, putting together some good-quality soil is not rocket science and most of the required ingredients are readily available at your local gardening shop, though there are a few basics you should consider when deciding on a particular soil.
Drainage, Texture, and Water Retention
Proper drainage is an absolute must in order for water, nutrients and air to reach the roots of your plant, so consider a soil with the right texture, that is not too compact or dense so as not to asphyxiate the plant’s roots, which would end your gardening activities before plants can develop. A light and airy soil is ideal, however, on the flip side you want a soil with good water retention as well. If your soil is too loose, you will end up having to water it constantly, which means you run the risk of your plants drying up if not careful. Too much water in the soil, especially the top layer, will also attract pests and pathogens, such as fungus gnats and mold, so you want to find that sweet spot where your soil is moist enough for roots to develop but dry enough to prevent mold from forming.
The Optimal pH Level
Another important factor to keep in mind is soil pH. Different soils can vary as far as their pH levels are concerned, but that won’t stop them from producing high-quality cannabis. As long as they fall within the range of 5.8-6.5, they should do just fine, though optimally you want to aim for 6.0-6.3). Anything beyond that will likely require intervention by the grower so as to avoid issues such as nutrient lockout and deficiencies, which could severely affect plant growth.
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium: Key Cannabis Nutrients
This also ties into what you feed your plants in the form of additional nutrients and fertilizer. A good soil should have a healthy amount of the three basic macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Without these three, your plants will wilt and yellow, eventually becoming too weak and sick to fully develop. Depending on the plant’s stage of life, the required N-P-K ratios will vary, but a ratio of 3-1-1 in the vegetative stage is a good rule of thumb.
Soil For Outdoor/Indoor Cannabis
Cannabis connoisseurs swear by outdoor, sun-grown cannabis and it should come as no surprise that “all natural” cannabis is said to be the best tasting with some of the most magnificent effects, however not all outdoor cannabis is the same. If the choice is made to grow outdoors, growers have two options, namely growing directly in the ground as nature intended or in pots/beds using a blend of ingredients for the soil. When growing directly in the ground (especially using the no-till method), the plant should have all the basic nutrients it needs provided the soil hasn’t undergone erosion. Some growers choose to supplement such plants with amendments like compost, manure and other organic fertilizers with very good results, but considering cannabis has thrived for hundreds of thousands of years without human intervention, there’s a good chance it will perform well without much amending.
Indoor growers have more options as far as choosing their soil composition goes, especially these days where buying good quality soil is just a few clicks away. There are also plenty of soil mix recipes available online so growers can experiment with different ingredients to see what blend will work best, though all-organic soils and/or ingredients will give you the most rewarding results. Regardless of what type of soil you choose for your indoor grow, make sure it is light and airy enough to allow for your roots to breathe. Remember that roots also need air, so if possible avoid using plastic pots. Not only will they keep air from getting into the soil, they can also absorb heat, particularly if black, and potentially cook the plant’s rhizosphere, which could easily ruin your harvest. Use fabric pots/grow bags or air pots to make sure plant roots are getting the oxygen they need.
Autoflowers & Seedlings
Seedlings and autoflowering plants can be kept in the same type of soil as photoperiod plants, however the lower the nutrient content, the better in this case. Seedlings are particularly sensitive to nutrient overload and autoflowers have a very limited vegetation period, which means they will not have much time to recover before the flowering period kicks in, should there be some sort of nutrient imbalance. As a result, you want to avoid overloading your plants with food (nutrient burn) to the greatest extent possible. Regardless of the type of plant or soil, less is more. Nutrient deficiencies can be easily corrected, nutrient excess is more difficult to remedy.
Recommended Best Soil For Growing Cannabis
If you feel inclined to buy a ready-made soil from an established producer, there is a multitude of options available online as well as any decent growshop/gardening center. Just make sure that you are buying an organic potting mix. A good soil should be dark, loose and not clumpy or muddy. If it has perlite/vermiculite/coco coir mixed in, all the better as this provides good drainage as well as water retention. Fox Farm, Roots Organics, and BioBizz are trusted brands that provide good results, whereas BioTabs distributes good-quality organic supplements and fertilizers should you choose to take this route.
Super soils are a great option as they eliminate the need for feeding your plants liquid nutrients. The only liquid they will need is water, beyond that you won’t have to do very much to achieve respectable results. An online search will give you loads of different recipes, so feel free to dig around and find one that suits you best. Having said that, your super soil base should be comprised of the following: coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, and compost and/or worm castings.
There are many additives to choose from to make a nutritious living soil your plants will really love, but the most common ones include activated charcoal, coffee grounds, mycorrhizae mix, bat guano, dolomite lime and kelp meal. Simply combine the base with the additives and mix thoroughly to remove any larger clumps and presto you have yourself a solid super soil that only requires occasional watering.
Many growers experiment with and tweak their recipes, so there is no perfect formula. You may have to play around with ingredients for a while before finding the mix that works best for you, but remember not to get too carried away, as cannabis will respond negatively to nutrient excess and imbalances.
To sum it up
The beauty in growing cannabis in soil is that the simpler you keep it, the better your plants will respond and the easier it will be to identify and address the plants’ needs. Organic soil is widely believed to be the best medium for cannabis plants, just as mother nature intended it to be. Not only will your plants be happy, but so will you, provided of course you give them what they ask for, no more no less. Happy growing!