Best soil for growing weed
For cannabis. you’ve got to nourish to flourish, and it all begins with the roots or base of your plants. Using soil is one of the most popular growing mediums, and is ideal for beginner growers. But, choosing the right or best soil for marijuana is key. The type of cannabis soil you choose can not only affect your plant’s life cycle of growth, but your end yields at harvest time too. So, what is the best soil for growing weed? We’ll answer that question and more in our in-depth guide to the best soil for cannabis growing.
The Pro’s and Con’s of Growing in Soil
With the emergence of hydroponic growing, many cannabis growers are now asking – to grow in soil, or not to grow in soil? Like many of the factors that go into growing healthy marijuana plants, your soil is just another that will be just as important to choose. Of course, there are pro’s and con’s of going with cannabis soil as a growing medium, so we’ve compiled a simple breakdown to best understand.
Pro’s of Growing with Soil
Hydroponics systems can be expensive, so the first advantage of growing in soil is the simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Plus, it’s likely you have prior knowledge of how to grow in soil since most plants besides cannabis are grown in such a way. The ease of growing in soil is ideal for beginner growers, which is why it’s more popular than most other growing mediums. Overall, soil is easier to maintain, more forgiving with any mistakes and can help boost the flavours of your final product, too.
Con’s of Growing with Soil
With dirt, comes pests, so that’s the first major con of growing in soil to consider. Soil is perfect for detrimental pests to hide and thrive in, so if going with this method you’ll want to ensure you’re buying new and clean bags of the type you choose. Additionally, soil can lead to slower growth when compared to hydroponics and can be hard to manage with big bags, and mixing balanced ratios. Last but not least, hydroponics are known to produce higher yields which is a con for many when choosing to grow with soil.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Soil
To figure out which is the best soil for marijuana, you should understand the factors that soil lends to the health of a growing plant. To create an optimal environment for growth, soil traits that should be considered include –
- pH Value
- Water Retention
Types of Soil
Once you decide to cultivate using soil, that’s not the last decision you’ll have to make. Then, it’s time to choose what type of soil is best for your operation or the growth you’re trying to achieve. Luckily, over the years, the growing community has learned what works and what doesn’t. So, using this knowledge can help boost success from the start. The most popular types or textures of soil include –
- Sandy soils – Sandy soils contain lower levels of pH which will help you along the way when balancing pH for nutrient uptake. Higher oxygen levels also make sandy soils, helpful for optimal growth. The granules are larger so sandy soils also help promote proper drainage and avoids compactness. On the flip side, better drainage means less water retention and can lead to sandy soils drying out more quickly than others.
- Silt soils– Silt soils have a smaller granular size compared to sandy, so conversely it retains water better, with less than ideal drainage. But, it naturally contains beneficial nutrients which can help stabilize plants for a more healthy growing environment.
- Clay soils – Clay soils are the smallest in granular size in comparison to sandy, and silt, but comes with a higher pH level than most. It’s consistency may be hard to work with, but the material has a high level of beneficial minerals that promote healthy growth. Again, like silt, it retains water better than sandy soils, yet lacks in drainage.
- Loam soils– So, what happens when you combine soil types to benefit from the varying types’ individual advantages? That’s the purpose of loam soil. Cannabis plants flourish with mixed materials like loam soils provide. Due to the soil’s neutral pH levels, fertile nature, high oxygen levels, and ideal drainage and retention. The only downside, is loam soils can be more expensive in cost.
Soil Additives to Consider
After you’ve decided which soil to purchase, if it’s not a combination made specifically for growing weed – you can easily add materials to improve the base’s quality. Soil additives can improve drainage, increase water retention and the uptake of nutrients for optimal growth. The most popular items to add to soil, to do so are –
Perlite is white pebbles in varying size, that feel like styrofoam in consistency. When adding to soil, they help improve overall texture by better holding water and air. Perlite also helps improve drainage when using 10-20% in your soil mix.
Coco Coir is a unique material that’s made of coconut husks. The consistency helps promote ideal water retention without causing the soil to become too heavy. Coco Coir’s biggest advantage is it helps the root of your plants develop more quickly. It is possible to grow your plants in strictly coco coir, but the soil can be costly. If creating a blend of soils, it’s recommended to add up to 30% of your final mixture.
Vermiculite is often used with perlite, and are similar in shape and color. The additive lightens the weight of the soil, while improving water retention.
Clay Pebbles while often used with hydroponics, can also be added to your growing containers for unique benefits, too. Most growers place clay pebbles at the bottom base of their cannabis soil, which prevents water from pooling. This enhances overall drainage, and avoids root rot that can occur from poor drainage. Other growers add clay pebbles to the top of their soil mix, to trap moisture that would normally escape through evaporation. On top, clay pebbles also serve as ‘mulch’ hindering weed growth, and protecting beneficial nutrients from hot sun or lights.
Worm castings. or, yes, worm ‘poop’ is a highly beneficial soil additive used by a variety of gardeners and growers. It can help cannabis soil by enhancing the overall texture for better water retention and drainage. Worm castings, and other ‘icky’ materials like manure or compost naturally also contain beneficial nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen that slowly release over time.
Photoperiod Plants vs. Autoflowering
Of course, keep in mind that photoperiod plants will require differing soil content versus autoflowering plants. That’s because autoflowers require fewer nutrients overall for optimal growth. Plus, autoflowers are more finicky to stress, and high levels of nutrients can actually burn the seedling or early veg plants.
When mixing soil for autoflowers, an ideal mix to implement would be –
- 3 parts peat moss
- 3 parts compost
- 2 parts perlite or coco coir
- 1 part vermiculite
Best Recipe to Mix Your Own
There are many viable options for purchasing a ready-made mix of soil, specifically formulated for cannabis. But, when you make your own you can pick and choose which factors are most important to the health of your crops. If you’re looking to experiment with mixing your own soil, below is a simple base of ingredients you can follow for success.
Making your Own Cannabis Soil Ingredients –
- 1 part potting soil – a high quality soil for the base, is recommended.
- 1 part compost – you can purchase compost, or make your own at home. Adding worm castings with your compost is highly beneficial, too.
- 1 part perlite or coco coir
- 1 part vermiculite
Soil Matters for Growth
Overall, once you understand the in’s and out’s of how growing in soil works – it’s by far, the easiest and highly effective grow medium to implement. With the information you’ve gained today, now you can start your crop off on the right foot, with the best soils for growing weed. The more you learn about the factors and environments that can affect your operation, the better your plants can thrive.
Best Soil for Growing Weed [The Grower’s Guide]
Whether you want to call it dirt or a growth medium, soil is a crucial component for growing marijuana. Choosing the best soil for your weed is arguably the most critical decision you’ll make when growing cannabis at home. Getting it right is likely the difference between a bountiful harvest and utter failure.
The apparent simplicity of picking soil often fools newcomers, and they frequently make mistakes that cost them their harvest. The truth is, you have to make a lot of considerations. For example, the soil you use for indoor growing is not the same one you’ll need for an outdoor grow. Then there is the small matter of things like pH, drainage, and a host of other criteria.
There are a large number of soil brands available, which is both good and bad news. You get a lot of options. However, with so many choices, how do you determine the best soil for growing your marijuana? The key is to analyze your situation, and our guide will help do the rest.
Pros & Cons of Growing Cannabis in Soil
Ultimately, you can choose between soil or a hydroponic system if you wish to grow weed at home. A hydroponic system is potentially extremely effective, but it is also expensive. Generally speaking, those cultivating their cannabis for the first time should choose soil. The roots of your plants will extend deep into the earth as they look for nutrients and water.
That’s why indoor systems, which have a lack of space, need to create smaller root systems for marijuana. Regardless of the root system you choose, make sure the temperature in the growing area stays around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, ample water and oxygen in the soil is a must.
Irrigation in soil is easier than with hydroponic systems, as is fertilization. With so much information gathered from thousands of years of growing, you can quickly become a soil expert as long as you read the right articles!
On the downside, soil requires a ton of space, and it is cumbersome. You’re also more likely to have issues with pests than with a hydroponic system.
Choosing the Right Cannabis Soil Container Size
The size of the containers you choose will dictate the size of the marijuana plant’s root system. The more space the roots have, the faster they grow. You can expect problems to arise when the roots outgrow your container, so choose wisely! There is no need to go beyond a 10 x 10 x 10 cm container while your plants are still seedlings.
Once it reaches a height of 25cm, transplant the plant(s) to a container that is at least double the size of the first one. Once your plant hits the lofty heights of 80cm, move it to at least a 12-liter container. Once your plant hits a meter in height, you’ll need an even bigger box. This process continues until harvest.
Watering Your Soil
The soil type and growing environment determine the way you water the soil. Hot climates need more water, and colder climates need less.
When you water the plant, it moves essential nutrients and minerals to the roots. Then, they travel to the rest of the plant. Water cools overheated plants down and is a critical ingredient for photosynthesis. The best advice we can give is to water the soil until it is moist, but not wet to the touch. Overwatering aids the growth of harmful fungi, which can result in root disease, so exercise caution!
Quality Soil for Cannabis
Natural soil comes in four varieties: sandy, silt, loam, and clay. You are in for a nasty surprise if you think that soil is just one ‘type.’
Many soils will have a combination of at least two of the four types. Therefore, you can have sandy/silty, loamy/clay, silty/clay, and so on. If that isn’t confusing enough, there are different ratios of every soil type. It is an important consideration, however, because each one has its pros and cons.
Sandy soil is known for its large granular size and has a low pH. The issue with this type of soil is that it dries quickly and often experiences difficulties in moisture absorption. The nutrients also get washed away, and nitrogen, in particular, is lost rapidly from sandy soil.
On the plus side, sandy soil is easy to prepare for cultivation, offers good drainage, and contains high oxygen levels. It is one of the best options for growing weed indoors.
This soil type consists of minerals such as quartz and fine organic particles. Although they hold moisture, silt soils have decent drainage and are one of the easiest to work with when wet. Also, silt soils are among the most fertile, which gives you a chance of a decent-sized harvest. With frequent irrigation, you can extend the length of the growing season. Silt soil is one of the best soil types for seedlings.
Loam soil is a combination of sand, silt, and clay, typically in a 40/40/20 ratio. It has at least 20% organic compounds and can vary from being easy to work with to incredibly complex. To identify a loam soil, squeeze it. It should form a loose ball that quickly threatens to break apart.
This is a prevalent marijuana potting soil and has an almost neutral pH. It offers excellent drainage and water retention, contains high oxygen levels, and is naturally fertile. However, it is by far the most expensive option.
This type of soil is among the best organic options for cannabis. Clays consist of fine crystalline particles created via chemical reactions amongst minerals or other natural resources. You can mold or shape clay soil, but it is hard to work with and drains poorly.
If you try to use this kind of soil, expect to have difficulty in getting the plant’s roots to penetrate the surface. Clay soil has a high pH. While it stabilizes plants, the soil is heavy and requires a lot of effort overall.
What Does Loam Soil Look Like?
Loam is, without doubt, the favorite weed soil of growers. It makes the best soil for potted plants and is probably the best soil for plants in general. It contains the right balance of all three soil types (clay, silt, and sand) along with humus. This combination ensures that loam has high calcium levels, but it also has a relatively high pH.
Loam has a dark color and is soft, dry, and crumbly when you hold it. Although it offers a tight hold on plant food and water, it drains exceptionally well. The air can freely move between the particles down to the marijuana plant’s roots.
How to Make Loam Soil
Loam soil is a combination of the three main soil types. However, don’t think you can create loam soil by adding clay soil to silt, or vice versa. If you try to add sand to clay, for instance, you’ll end up with a cement-like texture. In reality, creating loam soil for your plant is not a straightforward or quick process.
It is, however, the best soil for cannabis, which means it is worth the time and effort that you have to put in. No matter what type of soil you have, creating loam involves adding organic matter to it each year. The decomposing plant material creates the excellent drainage conditions your weed needs.
The trouble with organic matter is that it gets depleted rapidly. This means you have to amend it on a season by season basis.
The amount of work you must do depends on the balance of your existing soil. For instance, if it has high amounts of clay or sand, you’ll have to add large amounts of organic matter several times a year. You can add a two-inch layer of organic matter onto the surface of the garden. Then, you should work it into the first couple of inches of soil.
Buy Only the Right Soil for Your Cannabis Plants
It is normal to go to your local garden store full of enthusiasm. That is until you are knocked back by the enormous number of options. First of all, please note that buying it in bulk could be a mistake. There are no certifications or standards attached to soil quality. Believe it or not, some of these sellers provide you with soil from construction sites. They could even sell soil excavated from basements!
When buying soil for weed, make sure you understand the basics of good cannabis soil. If you want your plants to offer lots of cannabinoids and trichomes, you have to pay attention to several variables. including:
- Drainage, texture, and water retention
Drainage, Texture & Water Retention
The texture, drainage ability, and water holding ability are arguably the most critical aspects of marijuana soil. Your plant will not produce a good yield if it doesn’t have the right mixture of water and oxygen in the roots 24/7. If there is too much water, the roots won’t get enough oxygen. If there isn’t enough water, the roots can dry out quickly and become damaged.
High-quality marijuana soil should have:
- A rich and dark color
- Loose texture
- Excellent drainage; in other words, it should not make a pool on top of the soil for more than a few seconds
- The ability to retain water without becoming muddy
It is unlikely that your cannabis soil will have the ideal drainage, texture, and water retaining abilities. Fortunately, there are a host of amendments available to alter the drainage, texture, and water-retaining capacity of your soil. Here are four of the most popular:
This is made from coconut husks and manages to improve water retention without causing the soil to become heavy. When you use coco coir, the roots of your plant should develop quicker, and you’re less likely to overwater. You can grow your marijuana in pure coco coir. However, a maximum of 30% is best for a productive soil amendment.
This enhances water retention and causes your soil to become ‘lighter.’ It works particularly well with Perlite.
This is probably the most commonly purchased amendment and is ideal for practically any soil mix. It consists of airy ‘rocks’ known for their white hue. Perlite looks a bit like popcorn and improves drainage while adding oxygen. Use 10-20% to improve water retention. You can go as high as 40%, but you risk leaching nutrients faster. If you use Perlite and Vermiculite, don’t go above 50% for the two combined.
Yes, we are talking about worm poop! Once you get past the initial horror, you’ll find that your marijuana plants adore worm castings. They improve water retention, drainage, and texture. Their natural nutrients are quickly broken down. Worm castings typically include useful microorganisms since they go through the digestive systems of worms. Keep the level of worm castings down to around 30%.
As long as you choose correctly, your cannabis soil should already have a vast array of nutrients because it consists of organic material. One mistake is to try and add organic material such as animal manure and rotting vegetables directly to the plants as fertilizers. You must break down the content first if you want your marijuana plants’ roots to absorb the nutrients.
Indoor growers need to find soil with a lot of nutrients.
This is because they don’t benefit from nature in the same way as outdoor growers. Use heat to sterilize the soil and add nutrient-rich potting soil mix. You can make it yourself, but newbies should purchase it from the garden store. Water the soil correctly. Also, keep it in a room with a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and test the pH every so often.
In case you weren’t aware, pH means ‘potential of hydrogen.’ It is a chemical scale that determines a substance’s alkalinity or acidity. The range goes from 0-14. A pH of 7.0 is neutral (pure water is 7.0, for example). Everything from 0-6.9 is acidic, while everything from 7.1 to 14 is alkaline.
Battery acid and hydrochloric acid have a pH of 0, while liquid drain clearing fluid has a pH of 14. Ideally, your cannabis soil is slightly acidic. Most experts believe that the ideal pH is 6.0. However, you are on solid ground if your soil’s pH is between 5.8 and 6.3. Your crop will survive outside of this range, but the yields are likely much smaller. If you stray too far from the 5.8-6.3 range, the plants will die.
Soils for Cannabis: Recommended by wayofleaf.com
If you are a beginner grower, you must purchase your soil from a garden store. Did you know that the vast majority of expert growers also buy their soil? A handy tip when talking with a store employee is to ask about the right kind of soil for tomatoes. It is an excellent option if you feel uncomfortable disclosing your desire to grow weed!
At wayofleaf.com, we took the liberty of recommending a few store-bought soils for your cannabis plants. Please note that these are NOT for seedlings, as they contain too many nutrients. These are soils designed to help your plant thrive once it reaches the vegetative stage. Otherwise, you need to look at potting soil brands when your plant is still a seedling.
Before we continue with the best soil brands for growing cannabis, let’s look at general guidelines for indoor and outdoor soil.
Best Soil for Indoor Plants
Overall, you can’t go wrong with an organic super soil and fertilizer mix. The super soil offers the ideal blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, and a myriad of other nutrients. You can make them yourself, but once again, we recommend investing in store-bought pot soil.
Best Soil for Growing Weed Outdoors
When growing weed outdoors, make sure you use soil that feels fluffy in your hands. It needs to possess a reasonable amount of nutrients, and good drainage is essential. Compost and store-bought fertilizer can form a fertile and productive base. Crucial nutrients include Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus.
Best Cannabis Soil Brands
Best Organic Soil – Roots Organics
This organic blend is designed to enable a higher water-holding capacity. It includes ingredients such as bat guano, kelp meal, and fish & crab meal. It is suitable for marijuana plants that are beyond the seedling stage. We love the ready-to-use pot because it enables you to transfer your plants immediately.
Best for Seedlings – Espoma
This is a great option if you want to nurture your crop from seedling through to harvesting. This Espoma soil contains excellent nutrition for early-stage growth. You will need to begin with small pots, before transferring your growing plants later. It contains peat moss, perlite, and peat humus – not to mention a hose of nutrients that aid strong root growth.
Best of the Rest – FoxFarm FX14047
The Fox Farm company has over three decades of experience in the industry. It is a well-renowned maker of cannabis soil in the United States. Its FX14047 soil mix contains a unique blend of mycorrhizal fungi, and much more. It helps increase root development rapidly. When you use FX14047, your plants will develop a strong structure and experience rapid vegetative growth.
It is a lightly textured and well-aerated soil. Its pH is adjusted to ensure your plants feed more aggressively. You get two cubic feet of organic soil, and it is ready to use out of the bag.