Hydroponics Vs. Soil When Growing Cannabis

Hydroponics Vs. Soil When Growing Cannabis

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Be sure that the debate on what medium you’ll use when growing cannabis does not end soon. As a matter of fact, the debate has been with us for years, and it is likely to stay longer.

Many people have expressed their diverse views on which medium is better, and the more they try to convince the party that is on the other side of the coin, the debate gets even more interesting.

However, we should always try to seek the middle ground on a matter as heated as hydroponic Vs. soil. Before we delve into the main subject, though, first things first.

Do the two mediums give results? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Do the two produce the same results? The answer is a big no! Since you’ve known the two give results, it is upon you to choose the type of results you need.

Now, let’s dig deeper into the gist.

What is it like growing weed in soil?

Growing plants direct into the soil or soil cultivation is what many people are into. For many years, that is what people have done, and trust me, the practice is not going to stop any soon.

The point is: if you have tried to grow crops in soil or practice gardening directly into the soil, this is what you are familiar with this you may be comfortable growing your cannabis directly into the soil. 

However, there is absolutely no harm in trying other cannabis cultivation methods such as hydroponics. If you are into the latter, you are doing a good thing, but first, we need to look at the pros and cons of soil cultivation of cannabis.

Even before we look at some of the pros and cons of planting your cannabis directly into the soil, there is something important you need to hear. 

NB: Experts advise that you do not use soil, which has what they call ‘extended release’. In other words, they warn against the use of ‘Miracle-Gro.’ 

You may ask, why do experts warn against the use of ‘Miracle-Gro’? 

The main reason experts give is the medium will supply excess nitrogen to your cannabis. Yes, your weed roots will receive excessive amounts of nitrogen for a long time; usually 6 months or so (extended-release). With the continuous ‘over-supply’ of nitrogen, your plants will have a problem some time later.

According to experienced cannabis growers, the extended-release of nitrogen into your cannabis will have adverse effects during your plants’ budding/flowering stage. They say that excessive nitrogen into the roots will finally burn flowers and buds, something that will reduce the yield significantly.

Again, here goes experienced cannabis growers’ opinion:

Never depend on Miracle-Gro soil if you want to enjoy good yields. Do not use soils that have extended release. They will ruin your plants and affect your produce significantly.”

With that fine start, now it’s time to look at the advantages and disadvantages of cultivating your cannabis directly into the soil.


  • The first advantage of growing cannabis in soil is that the process does not need any additional experience. Many people already have pieces of land or large parcels of land. On those pieces of land, they have planted or cultivated other crops such as onions, tomatoes, pumpkins, or even corn. It is the same with cultivating cannabis.
  • It’s simple and does not require a lot of work. Apart from weeding your crops, you will only need a watering can or a pump if the piece of land is expansive.
  • Outdoor cultivation of cannabis exposes plants to natural weather conditions that are conducive. In stable environments, cannabis can thrive without the use of any additional supplements. Besides, you may not be physically present every time to check on your crops. Unlike growing cannabis in a greenhouse, you do not need to change or adjust anything in outdoor cultivation. 


  • The foremost disadvantage with the cultivation of cannabis in soil is retarded growth. Depending on the type of topsoil and the environment, plants do not grow fast. In fact, some of the marijuana strains start to flower so late compared to when they are cultivated using hydroponics. 
  • Natural soil is home to many bugs. Pests, rodents, and even mold can ruin your crop. It is not always easy to control or contain pests once they invade your crops. In fact, some deliberate efforts to eradicate the bugs can cause the substantive amount of damage on your crops and even soil.

Basics of growing cannabis in soil (tips)

As mentioned earlier, it is easy to grow cannabis directly to the soil. However, there exist a few tricks and steps you need to learn. Here are some of the tricks that have given many soil cannabis growers to reap big:

Maintenance cost

After setting up the soil, the main challenge you will face will be changing the soil every time you want to plant. Therefore, after every planting season, it is advisable to replace the old soil with a new one. 

Apart from changing the soil, you also need to add manure and other foliage in a bid to add nutrients to the medium. Unless you do this, you will not have a good harvest. The other thing is replacing used containers. 

While it may be a challenge to replace all the containers, such as pots, you can wash them before reusing them again. As for those who plant cannabis directly into the soil, there is nothing to replace apart from adding manure to your garden.

Maintenance efforts

During the plantation period, your cannabis will need water. Although this may not apply to all growers, a majority of them would actually require watering their crops from time to time. Watering plants is essential because that is the only way to maintain the soil’s pH levels as well as ensuring the roots absorb the needed nutrients.

You should strive to maintain and check your plants’ root pH levels unless you have cultivated them in what many refer to as ‘composted super soil’, that is praised for harboring microorganisms that aid in the management of soil pH. In turn, the microorganisms will enable the availability of nutrients in the soil for better growth of cannabis.

Growing weed using hydroponics method

Technically, all cannabis growing methods that is not growing in ordinary soil is referred to as growing cannabis hydroponically. The methods in question are the cultivation of cannabis in coco coir, a soilless medium, and the use of water reservoirs.

However, to experts, it is the latter that is in most cases referred to as hydroponics. What do you need to know about this cannabis growing method? Are there advantages of growing cannabis using hydroponics? What are the cons of cultivating cannabis hydroponically? This section looks into this and other questions.

What is hydroponics?

The term refers to a cannabis growing technique that involves the use of water reservoirs. The medium in the reservoir is enriched with special nutrients that are balanced. The nutrients are responsible for the faster and improved growth of the cannabis plants, with intended extra yield.

Like other experts, we believe that growing cannabis using hydroponics is so far the best way to grow and harvest cannabis.

Before we speak about some of the notable advantages and disadvantages of growing cannabis using hydroponics, here is something important.

This 2-minute YouTube video explains what is better between soil and hydroponics. When you watch it keenly, you will find that there are different factors to consider before settling for the final word – BEST. 

In summary, you will find that soil beats hydroponics hands down in the case of outdoor cultivation. Conversely, hydroponics work the best for that cannabis grower who is somewhat impatient as soil cultivation is far much slower. Hydroponic cultivation brings far much yields indoors than soil cultivation, but they are costly. 

Different types of hydroponics

Unknown to many, hydroponics is not a one-method thing. The technique comprises several systems you need to choose from. Some of the hydroponic systems available include:

  1. Drip System (involves automatic watering) – utilizes automated watering system to run and water the plants. In order not to flood the reservoir with water, the containers are made in such a way that they keep rotating.
  2. Hand-Watered Hydro (require to water the soil fusion on a regular basis) –this is a soilless medium. Many people who prefer this system use coco coir to plant their crops. 
  3. Deep Water Culture (the most common among all) – this involves the use of an air pump, which pumps air into the air stone, which creates bubbles thereafter. The reservoir is then filled with a growing solution to almost full, and the crops are placed at the top bar with roots stretching into the solution to pick nutrients. 
  4. Aquaponics (involves fish for cannabis nutrients) – perhaps you’ve seen that fish are involved. Yes, that is a fact. In this method, the grower raises fish in a tank with the aim of collecting their droppings, which form the main nutrient for cannabis root formation and growth.
  5. Top-Fed DWC also known as Bubbleponics – this method is similar to DWC. The only difference is that the roots get their water from a top feed.
  6. Aeroponics (uses misted air) – this is perhaps the only method where more oxygen reaches the roots than any other system on this list. It might be tricky to set it up but we are grateful that nowadays, you can buy a set up kit that is ready to use.
  7. Ebb & Flow (that involves flooding and draining) – in this system, the container is flooded with water that is mixed with essential nutrients. The roots collect oxygen, nutrients, and water from the flooded solution for their survival.
  8. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) – roots of cannabis plants hang from a container that is usually tilted. Water comes from a reservoir by means of a pump. The water hits the roots then to the reservoir. The process repeats itself slowly over the period in which the plants are growing.

Pros of using hydroponics system

As it were, hydroponics has many advantages over disadvantages. If you are a cannabis grower who has not tried this method, it is high time you tested the waters. You will realize soon or later that the process is simple and gives better results compared to other cannabis growing techniques.

Look at some of these advantages:

Accelerated growth

Truth be told. When you grow your cannabis using hydroponics method, the growth of your plants is super fast. Yes, the plants grow faster than those planted directly in the soil. With faster growth, it means you are going to harvest early enough, giving you time to start another cultivation season.

Huge yields

Experienced cannabis growers opine that using hydroponics has much higher yields compared to any other form of cultivating cannabis as long as the growing conditions remain the same. 

Minimal pest invasion

When growing cannabis using hydroponics, chances of your weed getting affected by pests, rodents, molds, and any other harmful invaders is minimal. In many cases, bugs do not invade leave alone thrive in the cannabis solution used in the hydroponics method.

It is true that pests are inevitable, but the level of damage that may be caused by the bugs in hydroponics is minimal compared to that in natural soil, which is the main determinant for the pests’ lifecycle.

In fact, even in the natural cultivation of cannabis that involves soil, not all growers experience pest invasion. Some growers see pests in their soil for the first time when they bring home new soil medium from an unattended soil.

Low maintenance costs

Although not all, some hydroponic growing techniques require minimal maintenance or no maintenance at all. 

Cons of using hydroponics system

Although this part may have almost the same number of points as the previous section, look at the cons with a third eye. The aim is to weigh and see what technique between hydroponics and soil growing works best for you. 

That said, there is no better way to weigh than looking at the pros and cons of each technique.

Set up cost

The initial set up cost for a complete hydroponic system is a lot. Buying tools and equipment such as pumps, reservoirs, water stones and other drippers is no joke. While it may not be a problem to some growers, a majority may find it costly to buy the things needed for a hydroponic system.

Regular root problems

Many inexperienced cannabis growers often find themselves in a difficult situation, especially in trying to ensure their plants’ roots are forming properly. It is easy even for experienced persons to break the roots or even fail to provide enough oxygen to the roots.

Difficult to grow hydroponics outdoors

The truth is; maintaining a fully-functional hydroponic system outdoors can be a success. However, many growers we have talked to often agree that it is not a walk-in park. Ensuring all essential variables are in a balance is not a joke.

Some of the things that you need to ensure are in order include sterile environment, powering pumps, and controlling the amount of cold/heat is not always easy.

Some hydroponic systems are high-maintenance

We have talked about this on another point but trust you me, some of the hydroponic options we talked of earlier are extremely hard to set up and maintain. For best cultivation, growth, and maintenance, some of the hydroponic systems are far and hard to reach, especially if you are starting up as a cannabis grower.

Final thoughts

After looking at all the essential details of the cultivation of cannabis using hydroponics method and growing cannabis directly into the soil, it is evident that you will get more results if you use hydroponic technique. Faster growth, increased yield, and less loss are some of the benefits you will reap if you put the effort. 

Nonetheless, you should beware that maintaining a functional hydroponic system is not an easy thing. Maintaining a sterile environment, meeting the cost of all the materials and tools, including pumps, is not a joke, but in the end, you will reap big. 

Finally, if you are fascinated about growing your weed using the hydroponic method, watch this video again. 

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