When you grow marijuana, you need to start from the very basics. The most basic element in the process of growing weed for most growers is the soil. Over the past few years growers have been trying out non-soil techniques of growth as well, but for an overwhelming majority of growers, soil continues to be the preferred medium of growth. It is easier, cheaper and more natural to grow weed in soil and is a trend which is unlikely to go out of existence anytime in the foreseeable future. In this article, we intend to provide you with a list of the top 5 best soils for growing cannabis.
Here, we shall be taking a detailed look at everything that you need to know about soil beginning from answering the most basic question of “what is soil”, followed by the importance of soil when it comes to growing weed, then we shall look at the top 5 best soils for growing cannabis which we shall review in detail along with the pros and cons of each one of them. Post that we shall look at the overall pros and cons of growing marijuana in soil and then provide you with a buyer’s guide of things that you need to look for before you buy soil for growing weed.
When it comes to buying soil for growing cannabis, one also needs to understand the concept of soil nutrition and keeping that in mind, we have dedicated a section for that in our article as well. Post that, there are some frequently asked questions and then the conclusion. Without any further ado, let us begin:
What is Soil?
Plants require a ‘medium’ to grow. When you use soil as a medium to grow weed, what you basically mean is that the plant will be rooted on to the soil, and water and nutrients will also be provided to the soil, which will absorb them. The roots of the plant will then consume this water and the nutrients from the soil. Of late, there are other mediums which have come up such as rockwool cubes, peat moss and coco coir – but soil as a medium continues to be the number one preference among the growers.
There are three things that growers need to know about when it comes to soil. There are a number of elements which constitute to soil, but when we talk about soil for growing weed, it is generally judged upon three major parameters:
- Structure: The structure of the soil is basically how hard or soft it is – and what is it made of. This includes rocks, stone, gravel, mud, sand, silt, clay and a number of other similar elements which make it up. Sometimes these elements also include animal droppings and many other organic matter. The structure of the soil can be clumpy too as sometimes these particles form clumps of soil which do not dissolve in water. Healthy soil needs to have a lot of clumps in it. Depending on the composition of these elements, the soil’s texture and composition is determined.
- Texture: The texture of the soil is basically how tight or loose it is. Soil can either be clayey or sandy. Having excessive amounts of clay in the soil would mean that it is too retentive and that it might cause waterlogging. Having excessive amount of sand in your soil could make it too loose resulting in the water draining out quicker than usual. Hence, you need to find the perfect balance between clayey soil and sandy soil to make sure that the water can be retained well.
- Composition: This is the nutritional composition of the soil – what nutrients does the soil carry. A soil which is good in the NPK nutrients – i.e., Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium is just the right kind of soil for growing your marijuana in. However, no soil is perfect and additional nutrients always need to be added to it in order to get the composition just about right for marijuana plants to grow well.
Why Is Soil Important for Growing Cannabis?
Soil is really important for growing cannabis for a number of reasons. The most important thing about soil is that it has retentive and absorptive properties. This means that a significant amount of the water that you add to the soil gets stored in it while the excess gets drained off. However, while plants need water for their growth, another thing that they need is nutrients. These nutrients travel up the plant’s body mixed with the water that is stored in the soil. The plant uses its root, which absorbs the water from the soil with the help of root hair, and then eventually transfers it to the entire body of the plant. In case you don’t water your plants for a few days due to some reason, this stored water in the soil will then be used up. This is the primary reason as to why soil is important.
Benefits of Growing Marijuana in Soil
Plants that you grow in soil tend to have a different kind of a taste to it compared to the plants that are grown via non-soil means or via hydroponics. Another benefit is that when you grow plants in soil, you are growing them in a natural setting where they have grown for thousands of years so they are more genetically suited for such a growth. Growing in soil also means that they can get access to a number of naturally occurring organic material such as earthworm castings, bat guano, etc. which is naturally present in the soil. Earthworms and other living beings help move around the soil and mix it quite well. Soil is also rich in a number of bacteria and fungi which are great for the growth of plants. Furthermore organically grown weed is always considered to be better than other types of weed.
Top 5 Best Soils for Growing Cannabis Reviewed
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Having fully understood what soil is and what are the benefits of growing marijuana in soil, it is now time for us to take a closer and detailed look at some of the best options that we have when it comes to the best soils for growing cannabis. We have tried to provide a detailed review of each of these soils here, along with their individual pros and cons which you must consider before you buy them.
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FoxFarm is the leading name in the world of soil as well as nutrients when it comes to growing marijuana. Generally, growers prefer buying both – soil as well as nutrients from the same company as this gives them an advantage. The FX14240 FX14054 is a soil which is great for your cannabis plants. It is a great soil for beginners and is rich in organic elements such as bat guano, earthworm castings, and forest products. The nutrients you get in this soil are just enough to provide you soil with a proper nourishment but not too much that they would actually burn out the plants growing on them. This soil is particularly rich in Nitrogen.
- Great soil for beginners
- pH is well balanced
- Features soil microbes and worm castings for better growth of plants
- Retains sufficient water and does not drain too fast
- Not so rich in Phosphorus and Potassium
- Too many wood chips
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Considered to be one of the best soils for growing cannabis, the Coast of Maine Platinum Grower’s Mix is a ‘super soil’ which offers a lot to the growers growing weed! What truly makes it stand out is while it has a good nutrient composition, it also features quite a wealth of organic material ranging from lobster compost to mycorrhizae and alfalfa meal to kelp meal, fishbone meal, and worm castings. Using this soil for growing cannabis will give you a good smelling as well as good tasting bud in the end which will be rich in the psychoactive content as well, giving the stoners a good ‘high’ out of it. This is a little expensive but really great option for growers who want to give their plants a good growth.
- Perfect pH for marijuana
- Comes with a lot of pre-mixed organic ingredients
- Supports the plants through all the phases of growth
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A potting mix that features coco coir, peat moss and a number of other similar water retentive components, the Big Rootz all purpose potting soil has problems relating to the pH balance which tends to tip over sometimes. However, it is a great option for beginners who want to grow their weed without caring too much about the technical details of the soil. It is an easy to use product as you can just put it in the container straight out of the bag and start growing your plant in it in a matter of minutes without really having to mix things up or treating it.
- Great for beginners
- Retains sufficient amount of water
- Coco Coir and Peat Moss are good substances to have in the mix
- Can harbour insects and pests
- pH balance isn’t good
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For anyone looking forward to buying the best organic content for their cannabis plants, this is a great product to buy. Organic Earthworm Castings, High Quality Bat Guano, Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Fish Bone Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Kelp Meal, Dolomite Lime, Azomite, and a total of close to 50 organic materials, this super soil is the best option for those growers who want to leave nothing out and are willing to pay a price for it. It has a very strong smell (which is expected, as the manufacturer puts out) but the smell slowly fades away. This helps with rapid growth of your cannabis plants and provides you with high yields as well.
- Great soil, rich in organic components
- Helps your plants grow bigger and faster
- Gives a natural taste to the plants
- Easy to use
- Has a strong smell, not recommended for discreet growers
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Last on our list but again one of the best options we’ve got, this is another product from Fox Farm, which offers the growers with just the perfect pH for their soil. Growers can grow cannabis plants in this soil which can grow tall and have a pretty good yield with ease. This is a great soil as it helps the plants sustain themselves through all stages of their growth. It is one of the easiest to use soils for growing cannabis, and is not too expensive as well, compared to some other names on this list!
- Perfect pH balance, you won’t need to test it
- Very easy to use
- Gives you plants which grow really well offers you high yields
- Aeration might not be as good as one may expect it to be
Pros and Cons of Growing Cannabis in Soil
Now that you know which are some of the best options that you have when it comes to buying
- Using soil to grow cannabis ensures that there are a number of bacteria and fungi present in the mix which will help promote the growth of the plant. These bacteria tend to have a symbiotic relationship with the plant’s roots and the fungi help detoxify the soil and break down organic matter.
- Using soil for growing your cannabis plants is also beneficial because this is a more affordable method of growing your weed compared to hydroponics where the cost of the kit might get a little too high at times.
- Growing in soil also helps enhance the terpenes of the plants, which in turn, help the plant gain a stronger smell, which keeps the insects and the pests away, thereby protecting them. Terpenes are also useful for the plants to attract humans towards them.
- Soil is also a sustainable and reusable medium of growth as growers can re-use soil to grow another plant, unlike water, which has to be drained off after using it once.
- Working with soil tends to get a little too messy for some growers, as there is a risk of spillage and there is a lot of cleaning up to do.
- Working with soil is a tiresome process as it is quite heavy to move around and carries a lot of weight, especially after you add water to it.
- Growing your plants in soil puts it in risk of a number of soil-borne diseases which are higher compared to water-borne diseases.
How to Choose the Best Soils for Growing Cannabis?
- How many plants you are going to grow: One of the first things you need to know is exactly how many plants you are going to grow? The more the number of plants, the more amount of soil would be required by you. Hence, you need to make your calculations accordingly and buy that much amount of soil.
- Water retention by the soil: Now this is a very important thing that all growers need to know. What truly makes soil really useful in the process of growing weed is the fact that it retains a lot of water that you provide it.The plants can then consume water as and when they require. However, in order to retain water you need to make sure that the soil’s structure and texture is right – your soil needs to be clayey but not too clayey and have some sand but not too much sand. Having too clayey soil might retain too much water and avoid drainage while having a soil which is overwhelmingly sandy might lead to excess drainage and little retention.
- Nutritional composition of the soil: You need to be aware of the nutritional composition of the soil as well. The NPK ratio of the soil – how much Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium does it carry before you add additional nutrients to it. Knowing this would help you make a better judgment while providing the nutrients to your plants.
- Soil pH: The soil needs to be slightly acidic in order for the cannabis plants to perform well. For soil-based growth a pH level between 6.0 to 7.0 is considered just about right. Having it go too high or too low would mean that plants might face problems consuming the nutrients and the water from the soil.
- Organic Components: Lastly but not the least, you must also know the organic components present in the soil – soil is made up of many animal elements such as droppings, decomposed bodies, castings, etc. Knowing what has gone into it would make sure you can add some other elements and get the best possible growth out of your plant.
Understanding Soil Nutrition
Plants, much like humans, require nutrition to grow. When it comes to the marijuana plant, the three major nutrients that are needed by the plant are – Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These are the most important nutrients and are collectively known as the ‘NPK’ nutrients. These are naturally present in the soil but in different quantities. You need to provide the plant with the right kind of nutrition in order for it to grow well.
Nitrogen: Required by the plants in the early stages of growth, Nitrogen is essential for the leaves to emerge and for the plant to grow from the seedling stage to the mature stage. While Nitrogen is needed all through the growth cycle, the early stages is when a higher dose of Nitrogen is usually needed by the growers.
Phosphorus: This is a nutrient that the plants require a lot during their blooming or the flowering stage. Growers tend to begin adding bloom-specific nutrients to their plants once the buds begin to appear or once the pre-flowering stage begins. Phosphorus ensures that the flowers become bigger and that the plant provides the growers with a higher yield.
Potassium: While Nitrogen and Phosphorus are more or less stage-specific, Potassium is needed during both the phases and is phase agnostic. This helps provide additional support to the plants during both the phases of its growth – vegetative as well as flowering phase.
Together, the NPK nutrients form what we know as the macronutrients, which are the primary nutrients that the soil must have (or must be provided with). In addition to these, there are also ‘micronutrients’ which are needed by the plants and need to be added to the soil, although in a much smaller quantity compared to the NPK nutrients. These are Sulfur, Boron, Zinc, Magnesium, Copper, Iron and Calcium among others. All of these together help the plant grow and help the flowers bloom better.
Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs About Soil for Growing Cannabis
Growing cannabis is a complex process but we wish to make it as simple for you as possible. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about choosing the best soil for growing cannabis. Do take a look at them as you, too, might be wondering about some of this:
1. What is the difference between soil based growth and non-soil growth?
Growing via soil means that the nutrients and water that you will be providing to the plants will be provided to them via the soil, which acts as the medium. Soil retains the water and nutrients which the plants can absorb as and when they need it. In non-soil growth, you can either have rockwool cubes, coco coir, peat moss, etc. as the medium or you can have something like a completely water-based setup where the roots are constantly either submerged in water – or are being provided water with the help of sprinklers. Here, the same water keeps circulating in the system for a while before it is replaced. These systems save water but are expensive and complex to operate.
2. Is it legal to buy soil for growing marijuana?
Buying soil off the internet or buying soil from regular marketplaces is completely legal and can be done without any legal issues. However, when you start growing weed – that should become a matter of legality because growing weed might not be allowed in your jurisdiction. You need to check your local laws to know if you can grow weed – and if so, how much weed are you allowed to grow at home.
3. Which is the best soil for growing weed?
This is a subjective question and depends from grower to grower. However, the ideal soil has a well balanced pH between 6.0 to 7.0, comes with all the organic elements in it, and has a good amount of the NPK nutrients as well as the micronutrients pre-mixed in it. You can also buy certain concentrates to mix into your soil to make it better. However, this ultimately depends on the grower and what kind of weed they’re planning to grow.
4. What is the most important thing to consider before you buy soil for growing cannabis?
The most important thing is that the soil’s texture should neither be too tight nor be too loose. You need just the right amount of water retention – going beyond or below it might lead to problems in the growth process as water and nutrients are both essential for the plants.
To conclude, we hope that this article helped you gain a better insight into the best soils for growing cannabis. Choosing the soil for growing weed might sound like a simple process, but it is actually something that requires a lot of concentration and effort from the growers because you need to be really aware of what you’re buying. Getting the wrong kind of soil can kill of your plant even before it reaches full maturity! Hence, you need to pick your soil carefully and we hope this article helps you do that. If there’s something else that you’d like to know or if there’s something that you feel we might have missed out on, do let us know in the comments below or drop us an email. Till then…
…Happy Growing! 🙂