Option 1: Store-Bought Soil + Nutrients – Growers can buy soil online or at a store, and simply add nutrients throughout their grow while watering for thriving, happy cannabis plants. Option 2: Compost or Purchase “Super Soil” – For those who don’t want to worry about soil pH or adding nutrients throughout the grow, there is the option of amending and composting your own super soil (or buying it already composted) specifically made for cannabis plants. While this option takes more time before you start growing, it can be somewhat simpler especially for those who have composted soil in the past. Note: Some growers believe growing in organic composted super soil with a rich microbial life can actually improve the taste and smell of cannabis by causing a plant to produce higher levels of terpenes and terpenoids.
Pests – Soil is an organic material, and there are many types of bugs that can live in soil. Often, soil-growers seem to suffer more often from pests attacking their plants than hydroponic growers. Slower Growth – Growing in soil is not as fast as growing in a soilless or hydroponic setup – hydroponic plants tend to get better growth rates, especially in the vegetative stage. Common cannabis soil mixes include Fox Farms Happy Frog and Fox Farms Ocean Forest. Any high-quality organic soil mix will do in a pinch. Avoid Miracle-Gro soil or anything with “extended-release” nutrients! To improve drainage, it can be beneficial to add 30% perlite to aerate and loosen soil. Common cannabis containers include classic plastic pots, terracotta pots, smart pots (fabric pots) and air-pots.
Soil growing probably requires the least effort of any growing method (especially if growing in super soil). Your main effort will be spent watering your plants. I recommend starting with Fox Farms Happy Frog soil and mixing the soil with about 30-40% perlite for a perfect cannabis soil starting mix. For the easiest soil growing, get a smart pot (a growing container made out of fabric – they work perfectly for growing cannabis). Learn how to mix up your own super soil so it has all the nutrients your cannabis plants will need! Bonus: With composted super soil made using the recipe in the link above, you don’t need to worry about maintaining your pH! your super soil will automatically manage the pH for you. Maintenance Cost – After setup, the main maintenance will be replacing your soil every grow (highly recommended – reused soil often does not get great results even with added nutrients). Occasionally you will have to replace used containers that crack or break. You also need to think about the cost of electricity and replacing nutrients every few grows. Maintenance Effort – Watering your plants, providing nutrients and managing the pH to prevent deficiencies (composted super soil has microorganisms in it to help manage pH and make nutrients available to your plant roots). Soil has relatively slower growth rates than hydroponic methods, but a tuned-in soil grow can achieve impressive growth rates if given a great environment and plenty of bright light. Most soil grows require 1-3 months of vegetative time (depending on how big you want your plants) plus 2-3 months of flowering/budding (depending on your strain). Many growers feel that cannabis grown in organic super soil has the best smell/taste profile, though this is highly disputed among hydroponic growers 🙂 How long can grower be away? It’s important for a grower to always remain close by for their first grow, especially for inexperienced growers. Experienced growers can safely spend more time away from the garden. Bigger containers hold more water and therefore give growers more time away, since constant watering isn’t needed. In the best-case scenario, it is always best to check on your plants at least once a day. You never know when a pest infestation will take hold, a plant will fall over, or some other unexpected event will happen. The most common mistake made by beginners growing cannabis in soil is they water their plants too often . Overwatering is almost never a case of giving your plants too much water at once. Instead, overwatering cannabis in soil is almost always caused by giving the plant water too often. Wait until the top of your soil feels dry up to your first knuckle (about an inch deep) Add nutrients to your water (if needed), then adjust the pH.
The most common reason growers get nutrient deficiencies is because they don’t adjust the pH of their water. Most soil growers only add nutrients every other watering (or even less often), but even when giving just plain water you still need to adjust the pH of your water to prevent deficiencies. Start watering your plants and continue to add water until you see at least 20% extra runoff water drain out the bottom of your pot. For new nutrients you haven’t grown with before, always start at half-strength and raise the amount slowly. Most growers will add nutrients every other watering or even less frequently. You can always add more nutrients later, but it’s a lot more difficult to take them back from the soil. An easy and simple nutrient system for beginning cannabis soil growers is the Fox Farms Nutrient Trio for Soil.
The Fox Farms trio works great for growing any cannabis strain, without needing any additional supplements. There are three different bottles that you will need to grow cannabis, “Grow Big,” “Big Bloom,” and “Tiger Bloom.” They are often sold together.