Approaching this time of year, you will certainly be thinking about how to care for your marijuana plant in order to continue growing it in the best of conditions. Now is the time to think about good substratum—the material that holds your plant in the pot so that it can grow in a healthy and strong way whether it is an indoor or outdoor crop. The quality of substratum is very important since it doesn’t just hold our plant but also nourishes and provides what is necessary for optimal growth.
The basic elements that you need to keep in mind are: oxygen, water, and nutrients. One of the most important is oxygen, so the substratum that you choose always needs to allow the roots to develop their vital metabolic and respiratory activity for good growth, receiving necessary oxygen, being aerated in order to carry out the exchange of CO2 and oxygen without problems.
A great advantage that we have in cannabis cultivation is the fact that it is a plant that adapts very well to its environment which means that we can choose between various types of substratum according to the time that we are able to dedicate, as well as the results that we are trying to get. It is important that we observe how the substratum works in order to see how the plant is being nourished and how we need to irrigate it.
Some substratums make the marijuana plant absorb water and nutrients more quickly than others, so you should pay attention to how absorption is going in order to not let the plant become dry and dehydrated. You also need to pay attention to whether your plant has very compact substratum where the water soaks, because this can rot the roots and endanger the growth of the whole plant. As we said before, the ideal thing is that the substratum allows the plant to breathe so that this doesn’t happen and nutrients can be digested in the correct way.
Each grower tends to have their own mixture according to what works and what is most practical. Additionally, you need to keep in mind that the mixture can be changed depending on the phase in which you find your plant. It is common to change the percentage of some elements in order to help with development when transplanting into a pot or when the plant is entering the flowering phase.
Now, we will explain the different types of substratums that you will find for marijuana plant cultivation.
Inert substratums are best for hydroponic crops and they don’t have any type of nutrient. Among the most common of this type of substratum for cannabis cultivation you will find:
- expanded clay
- rock wool
Coconut fiber is one of the preferred substratums for expert growers since it yields very good results. The material is completely natural and recyclable so that you can use it on various plants. Its main benefit is that it allows the plant to absorb oxygen very well and receive nourishment well and quickly thanks to its porousness and the ventilation that it provides. This makes it such that, on the other hand, you have to water the plant more frequently and with less water, but you will see that the plant is nourished quickly and, given this fact, also grows more quickly.
Coconut fiber substratum also allows the roots to thicken and spread out, so that you have a stronger plant. Another advantage is that you need less substratum with coconut fiber that with other substratums such as soil. It takes up more of the pot and at the same time is much lighter.
It can also be found in other formats such as with pearlite or with clay pebbles. Jiffys are very popular and they come already prepared so that the crop is easy and ready to transplant so that the marijuana plant can continue growing.
Explanded clay or arlita
This is a composite of clay in the form of little balls between 7 and 15 mm, that release water according to the needs of the plant as well as helping us to avoid illnesses and parasites. This method is useful for different re-circulation systems and, just as with the previously mentioned substratum, also allows for better oxygenation of the roots and with good growth of the plant.
However, expanded clay requires cleaning preparation before its application in order to balance the pH level and EC (electroconductivity). Before using it, it is recommended that you put it in a basin or bucket full of water with a pH of 5.5. It is a recyclable substratum, so all you have to do is clean it and balance its pH again for the next plant.
Rock wool, which is a substratum made from volcanic rock, is also often used for hydroponic cannabis crops. It is easy to use and very clean though perhaps it is advisable for those who have some experience. Like expanded clay, the rock wool blocks or cubes require preparation to stabilize their pH at 5.5.
As with the aforementioned methods, a rock wool substratum will shorten the duration of the crop since its growth will be very fast and effective because of high oxygenation capacity.
Once the cuttings root in their little rock wool cubes, they can be transplanted to the slab which houses 4 or 5 plants in a row in order to have mono-bud harvests. This economizes space so that you don’t have to move each plant one by one. In order to do it, you can have a rockwool alternative in order to keep them separate: mapito.
Mapito is crumbled rock wool, designed so that you can put it directly in each pot seperately and move it as you wish.
Soil is the most universal substratum to plant any vegetable. But not any soil will do. It is important that it is not very compact or dense, but rather that it is spongy, which allows the roots to breathe and grow freely without stagnating. It contains organic nutrients and you can make mixtures with other elements like: volcanic rock, coconut fiber, pearlite, vermiculite, various types of peat, etc.
Peat is a composite of organic decomposed vegetable material. It is used to maintain humidity and it allows you to save when it comes to irrigation water. Still, in hot months and zones it can become dehydrated and for that reason it is advisable to mix it with other components. You can find it in two different forms:
- Black peat: this is less fibrous and more decomposed so its color is darker. Its pH is higher, oscillating between 7.5 and 8.
- Blonde peat: this has a greater capacity to retain water and its pH is low, between 3 and 4. It can also be used to add acidity to the soil or the substratum.
Worm humus or guano
A very efficient organic fertilizer during the growth of your marijuana plant is compost or worm excrement, since it provides us with nitrogen.
Guano or bat excrement is useful to us once the plants are entering their flowering phase, since it is rich in phosphorus which his ideal for flower formation.
If you are a first time grower or still aren’t an expert, you can start with substratums that are made specially for cannabis cultivation with an already prepared mixture of different components, each with their respective ideal percentages in order to make sure that each one carries out its function. According to the conditions of the place where you are growing you can see what your plant needs and even make your own substratum with different percentages of each component.