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Hydroponics vs Soil | What’s the difference?

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Hydroponics vs Soil – do you know the difference between the two? Obviously there are more than one, and in this short post we’re going to go over the differences between growing cannabis plants hydroponically or in soil indoors; how much they yield, how flavor and aroma is affected and how general plant growth differs.

Hydroponics vs Soil | Main Differences

When grown in soil or peat substrates and in flowerpots, plants grow independently – only when grown in separate flowerpots, of course. The only thing they share with the rest of the plants is the nutrient solution you use to feed them.

This allows for strict control over your plants individually, so you can give each one its own treatment, allowing you to get rid of ill plants or problematic plants without affecting the rest.

Hydroponics, however, is a totally different story. All plants grown hydroponically get the exact same food and water. This means that if one of your plants ends up with an illness or fungi on its roots, it will most likely spread to the rest of your plants. That’s why you need to be incredibly cautious when it comes to keeping your plants’ roots clean when growing hydroponically.

In order to avoid such issues, we recommend keeping a close eye on your plants’ roots. You can use silicone and trichoderma products which keep your plants’ roots protected. Of course, while this may be almost necessary when growing hydroponically, you can also use this method when growing in soil to ensure stronger, healthy roots.

Hydroponic Agriculture | Pros and Cons

The pros of hydroponics

Like we were saying before, hydroponic growing is much more delicate than growing in soil, but it definitely has its benefits. Your plants will grow much faster in hydroponics, and they’ll also be capable of producing much larger yields. It also saves quite a lot when it comes to electricity and water bills, as your plants will be ready to harvest much earlier.

This is due to the enormous amount of oxygen that your plants’ roots receive due to being watered constantly, which means that they basically grow non-stop thanks to all the extra oxygen. This is one of the biggest differences when it comes to the hydroponics vs soil debate; the oxygen found in soil is much inferior to that which hydroponic plants have access to.

In order to grow cannabis plants properly in hydroponic set ups, you’ll need to maintain a few parameters in order as consistently as possible. For example, you’ll need to keep your water at around 22-26°C for optimal oxygen and nutrient absorption. When growing in soil this parameter isn’t as crucial, although it still needs to be adjusted.

Another advantage when it comes to growing hydroponically is the fact that you can effectively “reuse” your substrate. Clay balls are incredibly easy to clean, however peat or soil substrates can’t really be reused as they’re incredibly hard to clean; another money saver!

The cons of hydroponics

Not everything about growing cannabis hydroponically is beneficial though, and issues may arise that cause your final product to decrease in quality quite a lot. This is due to the fact that growing cannabis hydroponically produces much less terpenes than when you grow it organically in soil.

The main reason that plants grown in aquatic media don’t produce many terpenes, and therefore have less intense aromas, is the water itself. Due to having developed in a constantly humid environment, the plant doesn’t go through the natural short periods of drought that other plants do, which is what increases terpene production.

Another disadvantage to growing hydro cannabis plants is the fact that you need to constantly monitor the water and your plants to see how they react to their feed. If left to their own devices, you may end up with no plants at all. This is due to the fact that any issues are accelerated, just like growth is, in hydroponics. If you don’t have much experience, we recommend starting with soil and then try out one or two plants in hydroponics.

Hydroponics vs Soil | The Verdict

After having a look at some of the main differences when it comes to hydroponics and soil, hopefully you’ll be able to decide which method is better for you. When it comes to hydroponics vs soil, depending on the part of the world, soil is generally the winner when it comes to widespread use. However, hydroponics can produce amazing results and it’s much less widespread in some areas of the world.

Those that tend to grow for large yields use hydroponic systems for the speed and larger yields, including commercial growers that look to grow as much weed as possible in order to sell it, regardless of quality.

We highly recommend investigating different growing methods until you find the one that fits your needs and tastes; none of them are truly better than the other, but one of them may be better for you and your particular preferences when it comes to maintaining your plants and how experienced you are.

In this article we talk about hydroponics vs soil – the advantages and disadvantages of growing in each medium when it comes to cannabis plants and yield.

Hydroponic Vs Soil Cannabis Cultivation

The debate over cannabis growing mediums is not likely to end soon. With all the information available, it can be hard to make this decision regarding your own grow-op. We’re here to help you choose!

Contents:

With the continuous momentum of cannabis legalization, a lot of people are starting to take a swing at growing cannabis. Smoking your own home-grown bud is one of the most gratifying experiences a stoner can have. But when starting out, most people don’t know where to begin. In this article, we’ll be covering hydroponic vs soil-based growing operations. This will help the inexperienced and even the experienced grower decide on the correct medium for their next grow.

In 2017, when we talk about soil vs hydro plantations, we’re usually referring to indoor vs outdoor growing. This is because indoor mediums are rarely 100% soil. People tend to use substrates like coco coir and rockwool, which are soilless mixtures. Most fully-soil operations out there will be found in outdoor plantations. Let’s dive into what the differences between hydroponic and soil growing actually are.

THE ESSENTIALS OF EACH METHOD

As you probably know, soil is the green part of our “blue planet.” Although it only dominates 30% of the Earth’s surface, it’s where most plants grow and have done so for millions of years. Because of this, soil has accumulated minerals and organic matter that is very hard to replicate with any other method. That is why a lot of traditional cannabis aficionados will only grow and/or buy cannabis that is cultivated outdoors in soil. But it’s still important to note that most soil growers will add nutrient solutions or nutrient-rich materials like earthworm castings and manure to enhance their medium.

Hydroponic, on the other hand, takes away all the unpredictability of soil. The term hydroponic is now very commonly used for all mediums other than soil. Water-based growing operations without a stationary medium are referred to as “solution culture.” Because of this, we’ll be defining hydroponics as methods where the roots of the plant are in constant contact with a water solution. Nutrients are then added in liquid form to the water, creating a new solution. This will consist of only the absolute essentials for the plant and will give the grower much more control over the end result.

THE PROS AND CONS OF EACH METHOD

What differentiates these two methods is mainly a matter of yield vs quality. Growing outdoors with a soil medium will generally allow for much higher yields. Outside, there is no height limitation and with soil, the roots can grow and branch out freely. With proper care, a soil medium can help you grow plants that are 2m tall, offering more than 400g of quality bud per plant. Using hydroponic methods in an indoor operation won’t allow for cannabis this tall. Therefore, yields won’t be as high because the roots are limited by the size and volume of your coco coir, mesh pot, water bucket, grow room, etc.

Quality works in the opposite way. It’s much easier to control an indoor hydroponic plantation. You’ll be giving the plant the exact nutrients it needs under the perfect lighting conditions in an environment with the ideal humidity. This will also allow you to automate most of the growing process.

Soil is not as controllable. When growing cannabis outside, there will be temperature changes, uncontrollable wind, and even humidity variations. These are hard to predict and impossible to master. One can only adapt to the outside environment and hope for the best. Soil also contains organic matter and bacteria that might not be too favourable for your plant’s health. These will be hard to identify until visual changes manifest on the plant.

You’ll have to base your decision on finding the best combination of quantity and quality for your situation. Soil is a much more familiar medium than hydroponics and is more advisable for first time growers. There is a lot of information out there. Conduct further research to make a more informed decision.

NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS

When growing a complex plant like cannabis, changing the medium will affect its requirements. You’ll have to adapt nutrient feeds so you’re not left with an unwanted deficiency. This is a very common problem in cannabis plants that a lot of growers don’t know how to deal with. Making sure your products are the appropriate ones and your pH is ideal will go a long way in preventing deficiencies or nutrient lockout.

Whether in the form of mineral powder or dissolved in water, macronutrient products will have three basic elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are summarised by the N-P-K ratio composed of three numbers on the front of a nutrient bottle. Each value represents the percentage by volume of the corresponding nutrient in the solution.

In a soil medium, manure can be added, which is a nutrient-rich material. This is something that a hydroponic solution can’t replicate. Soil is filled with microbes that help turn organic material like guano and worm castings into usable nutrients for your plant. In hydroponics, you’ll have to feed your plants the full quantity of micro and macronutrients. Independently of the quality of your soil, you’ll likely need extra supplements in order to obtain the best results. This is where the hydroponic system differentiates mostly from a soil-based medium.

Micronutrients like iron, copper, and magnesium are widely available in most soil mediums. Therefore, hydro solutions must contain more of these to compensate. They also require more nitrogen, a macronutrient abundant in soil, but not as much in water sources. This is why hydro nutrients during the vegetative stage have a higher percentage of nitrogen.

MAKING A CHOICE

This is the part where you’ll have to decide what to do next; which materials to buy and how much area to dedicate to your plantation. Let’s recap on what we explored above.

Growing in soil will be the best choice for you if you want to keep the natural essence of the plant. You might prefer the flavour outdoor soil gives the flowers. Only consider soil if you have access to high-quality soil mediums. Soil growing is perhaps the best option if you’re not growing full-time. Soil will require much less of your attention as it will be doing the bulk of the work for you.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for the highest cannabinoid presence, hydroponic will be your choice. This is where you’ll get those deliciously frosty 28% THC buds. It is also smart to choose hydroponics if you want an automated system. You won’t be able to fully automate the process, but with methods like drip irrigation, it will reduce your chores. This will be the best method to try out if you’re experienced, but have never tried it before. It’s always positive to learn how cannabis grows and behaves under different conditions. You’ll probably achieve better results growing hydroponically, assuming you know what you’re doing.

Remember that the best choice will be the one you make. You’ll make it work whether you’re experienced or not. It’s the motivation and passion you have that will ultimately determine your success. Even though people have been growing cannabis for thousands of years, only recently has real research gone into it. Perhaps you’ll be the one to figure out the next trick or hack for growing the best cannabis flower. Go out there and experiment; just have fun!

THESE STRAINS ARE A GREAT PLACE TO START

Whether you choose soil or hydroponics, both are capable of producing top-quality cannabis. However, if you are not sure which strain to start with, we have a beginner-friendly suggestion for both methods.

Soil is the traditional growing medium that has served growers for centuries. As we have alluded to though, soil can be a little tricky to manage, especially if it is your first time cultivating cannabis. With that in mind, we have picked a strain that is more forgiving than others to offset any small mistakes.

SOMANGO XL

This flavoursome beauty benefits from indica-dominant genetics, and can be harvested in as little as nine weeks. Not only is that less time for things to go wrong, but Somango XL is considered ideal for both newbie and experienced growers. Her hardiness allows simple mistakes like nutrient fluctuation to occur without significant repercussions.

Struggling to decide which grow method to go with? Here, we'll go through everything you need to know in order to make the best decision for your situation!