The Many Mediums of Cannabis Cultivation Explained
Coco, soil, and hydroponic cannabis grows and what each system offers as its benefits.
While cannabis grows freely in the mountains of Nepal and in the streets of Dali, China, its production for the marketplace requires specific cultivation practices.
Indeed, there is more than one way to grow cannabis, but can it be grown in places other than the Earth’s soil?
Let’s take a look at the different media available for cannabis cultivation and why growers might want to use them.
Cannabis Cultivation Practices Defined: Coco, Soil, and Hydroponic Grow Systems
What is the difference between growing cannabis in coco, soil, or a hydroponic grow system?
Growing in soil is a good option for first-time cannabis cultivators.
As mentioned, the Earth’s soil is where cannabis grows on its own across the world.
As such, it makes sense for cannabis cultivators to grow in soil, as well.
According to a 2019 study, cannabis has a high degree of tolerance when grown in soil.
In fact, the research, which was published in PLoS One, pointed out that when cannabis grows well even in soils with heavy metals. Their data showed that there was an “18-fold increase in the expression of the cannabidiolic acid synthase gene in plants grown on mine land soil.”
Some cultivators prefer to place their cannabis in unpasteurized coconut material. This is what we call ‘coco.’
Growing in coco is quite common in the cannabis industry, but it poses its own risks, as well.
For example, a study from 2019 published in Frontiers in Plant Science pointed out that “fungal communities present in unpasteurized coconut (coco) fiber growing medium are potential sources of mold contamination on cannabis plants.”
The researchers pointed out that there are a handful of fungal varieties which may pose a threat to coco-grown cannabis, such as:
Several species of Penicillium
Finally, expert cannabis growers may eventually upgrade to a more expensive hydroponic grow system.
This type of grow submerges the roots of cannabis in liquid instead of a soil medium. It’s a complicated, more expensive set up for cannabis cultivation.
So, why would someone want to grow their cannabis in these differing mediums?
Comparing the Benefits of Growing Cannabis in Soil, Coco, and Hydroponic Systems
While cannabis grows freely in the Earth’s ground, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to grow your own cannabis in soil.
Yes, it is less complicated than some of the other media we discuss here, but it presents its own challenges, as well.
For example, according to a report from 2014 published in PLoS One, the different varieties of cannabis will create unique endorhiza, rhizosphere, and soil compositions.
However, it doesn’t take an expert in soil science to understand how to grow in soil because, as the authors of the report indicated, “little is known about its soil-based microbial associations.”
This means that growing in soil is partly guesswork at this time, especially for home growers without the resources to continuously test the microbiome of their plants.
When growing in coco, however, there are certain benefits over growing in soil.
For example, growers don’t need large pots to grow in as are needed for soil-based grows.
It’s also difficult to overwater in coco since there is a better moisture/aeration ratio which prevents the roots from sitting in stagnant water.
More importantly, coco can be reused after a simple flush!
Lastly, growing in a hydroponic system gives growers the most control over their outcomes.
Many growers point out that they appreciate being able to better dictate the nutrient solution and not need heavy and space-consuming pots.
Perhaps most importantly is that hydroponic systems avoid the pests and bacterial infestations that often are a result of growing in soil.