What is Good Soil For Growing Cannabis? When it comes to growing cannabis in soil, unless you’re using a brand that is known for making soil that is specifically cannabis-friendly, there are a Growing cannabis outdoors offers many benefits. Firstly, it can be very affordable. You do not need to provide a structure like a greenhouse or high tunnel. In addition, artificial light is not necessary if you place it in the right spot in your yard, because your plants can benefit from the sun’s abundant and free energy. In addition, you do not necessarily have to provide costly soil for your plants outside. But for the best results, you want good marijuana soil that will help your plants grow healthy and happy. DripWorks is here to offer you a few simple tips for finding and creating the best soil for growing marijuana outdoors. Soil Types Four basic soil types exist: sand, clay, silt, and loam. Each has its pros and cons for gardening. Sand is easily permeable for root growth, for instance, but it does not hold on to water or fertilizer well. Clay is just the opposite. When it’s hot and dry, clay can become hard as a rock, making it difficult for roots to penetrate. Clay drains poorly and is hard to cultivate. On the plus side, it is rich in minerals and natural nutrients. Silt soils have lots of minerals and retain moisture well. Like clay, however, this type of soil can become compacted and hard in certain conditions. It can also form a crust, making it difficult for moisture and nutrients to reach plants’ roots. Loam for Growing Marijuana &amp; Other Crops Of these types, loam is by far the best soil mix for growing marijuana plants and many other types of crops. Loam is a mixture of clay, sand, and silt, bringing forth the best qualities of these disparate types of soil while minimizing their worst attributes. The optimal ratio for loam is 20% clay, 40% silt and 40% sand. Most folks think a pH of 6.0 is best for cannabis, with a range of 5.8 to 6.3 being acceptable. With a pH close to neutral, loam is typically in that zone or close to it. Test kits are available to measure your soil’s acidity, or you can take a sample to your friendly local extension agent. If your dirt does not have the proper acidity, soil amendments are available to lower or raise the pH level in your soil. Your local nursery, garden store or extension agent can make some suggestions. Loam is ideal for containers as well as for outdoor growing. Unfortunately, it is usually the most expensive soil to buy. But if you are interested in growing the best plants possible, it can pay big dividends in the long run. You can also build up your own loam soil by adding organic matter to it. If you have a compost bin, you can use the compost to improve your soil. This will be a time-consuming and ongoing process but with grit and persistence will pay off in the long run. Water, Light and Nutrients You will want to provide the proper amount of light and water to your plants, of course. A drip irrigation system can cut your water bills while improving the health of your plants. Kits are available that give you everything you need to get started. If you prefer, you can start from scratch and obtain separate components to put them all together. Just like humans, plants need the right nutrients. The most important ones for your cannabis plants are nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and phosphate (P). These make up the ratios you will typically see on fertilizer labels. The right balance is essential for healthy growth. Many pre-mixed marijuana fertilizers are available, making your job easier. But if you prefer, you can also formulate your own. The best soil for cannabis plants depends on a variety of factors. Learn how to find or make the best soil for growing marijuana!
What is Good Soil For Growing Cannabis?
When it comes to growing cannabis in soil, unless you’re using a brand that is known for making soil that is specifically cannabis-friendly, there are a few things that you need to consider before starting a grow.
What should you look for in good cannabis soil?
I think most growers agree a good cannabis soil should look dark and rich, with a loose texture that drains well and can hold water without getting muddy (you want wet soil, not dirt-batter!). But beyond that, what do you look for?
The following video shows the soil texture you want (this is Coco Loco, an excellent soil for growing cannabis)
Some growers choose an amended and composted “hot” soil that slowly releases nutrients over time. With this type of soil, you typically just add water or natural supplements like worm tea from seed to harvest. Other growers prefer a lighter potting mix so they have more control, and give nutrients in the water once the plant roots have used up the nutrients in the soil. But which brands can you trust?
Some popular soil examples that I’ve used with good results include:
- Almost any organic soil potting mix – If you can’t order special soil online, ask for the best soil at your local gardening store. You can use almost any organic soil potting mix to grow cannabis. I say “organic” because that cuts out a lot of potentially problematic ingredients like slow-release chemical nutrients (which often cause nutrient issues in the flowering stage by delivering too much Nitrogen). If asked what you’re using it for, say tomatoes. You should plan to start adding extra nutrients in the water by the time a plant is a few weeks old as the roots will quickly use up everything. Try to look for soil with a rich and dark but loose texture. It’s a good sign if you see little white pebbles mixed in (this is perlite, which makes soil drain better). If a soil looks like dirt or mud, it’s no good!
- Roots Organics Original – This was the first soil mix I ever used to grow cannabis and I had a great experience. I’ve moved on to Fox Farm products because they were available at my local hydroponics store, and now I’m hooked on Coco Loco. But Roots Organics Original soil has been around for a while because it works great. As with most soil mixes, you will need to supplement plants with additional nutrients after a few weeks.
- Fox Farm Happy Frog soil– This soil mix is relatively light on nutrients so it’s great for seedlings. It’s also suitable if you plan to give nutrients in the water from seed to harvest. If you don’t add extra nutrients, your plants will use everything in the soil up quickly.
- Fox Farm Coco Loco soil– A coco-based soil mix with enough nutrients to last your plants for a few weeks. With Coco Loco, you should start supplementing with extra nutrients once plants are 2-3 weeks old. I personally like Coco Loco the best of any soil mix I’ve used. You can use it by itself and it’s also my favorite base potting mix for a “just add water” super soil grow. I feel like plants tend to grow happy and healthy while being more resistant to over or under-watering compared to the other soil mixes I’ve tried. It’s great soil for other types of crops too.
- Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil– A “hot” soil mix with lots of nutrients packed inside. You can start seedlings directly in this mix though they may show signs of nutrient burn at first until they get adjusted. Ocean Forest has enough nutrients to last your plants quite a while, though you likely should still give extra flowering nutrients once your plants start making buds in order to get the best yields, density, and bud quality. Cannabis plants need a surprisingly lot of nutrients in the flowering stage and you don’t want to starve the plants right as buds are forming.
Recommended soil nutrients:
– These 3 bottles include everything your plants need from seed to harvest. The FF trio produces superb weed with any high-quality soil.
- Learn about other cannabis-friendly nutrients
Important Cannabis Soil Considerations
- Drainage Ability
- Water Retention
Although that list looks vague and complicated at the same time, the requirements you want to meet are actually pretty simple; let me break it down!
Texture, Drainage & Water Retention
It’s easy to get caught up thinking about what nutrients and amendments are in the soil, and those are important, but perhaps the most important aspect of any soil is actually its texture, ability to drain, and overall water “holding” ability.
In order for a cannabis plant to grow and thrive, it needs a good mix of both water and oxygen at the roots at all times! Too much water and the plant roots can’t get enough oxygen (lack of oxygen at the roots is why plants get droopy from overwatering) but on the flip side if there’s not enough water retention the roots can be injured from drying out too quickly!
What gets the best results for growing cannabis is a soil with a light texture that is good at retaining water…but not too much!
Note: Don’t worry, there’ll be examples of good and bad soil in just a bit!
Signs of Good Cannabis Soil
- Appears dark and rich
- Loose texture
- Drains well (doesn’t make a pool on top of your soil for more than a couple of seconds and doesn’t take forever to drain out the bottom)
- Holds water without getting muddy (you want wet soil, not dirt-batter)
Example of “Good” Cannabis Soil Ingredients
Note: You’ll likely never see any soil mix with ALL those ingredients, but I wanted to share examples of common cannabis-friendly ingredients and amendments that often appear on the label of good soil
If you get the soil part right, you have almost everything you need to get to harvest! With the correct texture, drainage and water retention, you’ve got a perfect base. Add good soil cannabis nutrients, especially in the budding phase, and you should get to harvest with great results!
Example of happy marijuana plants in good soil!
More About Common Amendments to Alter Texture, Drainage & Water Retention of Soil
Perlite is one of the most common soil amendments. It is highly recommended for any soil mix that doesn’t have some already.
- Very light, airy white “rocks” that feel almost like popcorn and add oxygen while increasing overall drainage ability.
- Add perlite to the mix (10-40% of the total volume). Use less perlite if you want better water retention and don’t plan on using a lot of extra nutrients. This is because a lot of extra perlite can cause the nutrients leach out faster from the soil. Add higher levels of perlite if you want to use a lot of added nutrients or supplements without burning your plants (since perlite helps prevent nutrient buildup).
Vermiculite “lightens up” heavy soil and improves water retention.
- Some growers use perlite and vermiculite interchangeably, though they’re not exactly the same. Vermiculite holds water much better than perlite, but is not as effective at adding aeration and drainage.
- Some growers use a little bit of both. If you go high with vermiculite, you don’t want to go as high with perlite and vice versa. Together, perlite and vermiculite should never make up more than 50% of your soil!
Coco coir is made from coconut husks. It can be purchased as loose coco coir, in an amended potting mix, or as coco bricks which needs to be rehydrated before use (learn how to re-hydrate coco bricks). Sometimes you’ll find a “soil” mix that is pretty much all coco plus amendments, and these can be a great choice for cannabis. Coco has some unique properties that make it a good supplement for cannabis soil mixtures.
- Coco improves water retention, but doesn’t make soil heavy.
- Roots tend to develop faster and plants are less likely to suffer from overwatering in coco coir.
- Some growers grow in pure coco, but if you’re adding it to a soil mix as an amendment, you might add 10-30% coco coir.
Worm castings is a nice way of saying worm poop, and cannabis plants love it!
- Improves texture, drainage and moisture retention
- Add a natural source of nutrients that breaks down slowly
- Usually contains high levels of beneficial micro-organisms due to going through a worm’s digestive system
- Add up to 30% worm castings in your soil (although it contains nutrients, it’s gentle enough that it’s unlikely to burn your plants even if you add too much)
Now here are a few examples of good and bad cannabis soil so you can see the texture you’re looking for!
Good Cannabis Soil
Rich and light composted soil. Since this soil doesn’t have a lot of perlite, it’s a good choice for a grower who doesn’t want to add a lot of extra nutrients or supplements in the water.
Good Cannabis Soil
Another light, rich soil mix with great drainage. Although there is a wood chip in this picture, for the most part the mix is completely composted and broken down. It’s normal to see some wood pieces in composted soil, but you don’t want to have to wait for a lot of wood to break down while your plants are growing – you want all that rich nutrient goodness to be readily available to your plant roots
Good Cannabis Soil
This soil has quite a bit of perlite, which is a good choice if you plan to feed heavily with nutrients and supplements since the extra perlite prevents nutrient buildup in the soil
Good Cannabis Soil
The plant is growing in organic, composted “super soil” which has enough amendments to last your entire grow, so the only thing you do is add water!
Here’s organic “super” soil up close
Bad Cannabis Soil
This soil is muddy, clumpy and waterlogged. It retains too much moisture, which makes it really easy to overwater your plants.
Bad Cannabis Soil
Cannabis soil should not have a whole lot of big visible wood chips in it. That means the soil hasn’t been fully composted, and all the nutrients and goodness in that wood is mostly unavailable to your plants.
Bad Cannabis Soil
Although this seedling is over a month old, it has stayed tiny. Its growth is stunted by the thick heavy soil that holds way too much water and not enough air. Note how some of the soil looks like one solid object.
Bad Cannabis Soil
Don’t use dirt from outside! It almost never works, especially if it looks like this!
Suggested Brands for Cannabis Soil
Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil
Fox Farm has been around for over 30 years and makes some of the most common types of “cannabis soil” (at least in the US). They have several great soil mixes, including “Happy Frog” which is a great choice for seedlings and clones.
Their Ocean Forest soil mix is “hotter” soil (higher levels of nutrients) that contains ingredients that cannabis plants love, including earthworm castings, bat guano, fish meal and crab meal. The nutrients contained in the soil will provide everything your plant needs for several weeks. Although it might give young seedlings just a touch of nutrient burn at first, they can be started in Ocean Forest soil and will soon be able to use the nutrients and start growing quickly. Some growers might put a little big of Happy Frog on top of a container of Ocean Forest, just to make it a little more gentle for seedlings the first week or two.
If you are willing to keep transplanting to bigger pots as your plant uses up the nutrients in the soil, you don’t need to supplement with extra nutrients. However, even if you grow in the same pot from seed to harvest, Fox Farm offers a complete nutrient system that is also formulated for plants like cannabis and goes perfectly with their soil to make sure your plant is getting the right levels of nutrients throughout its life.
This plant is growing in Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil
Kind “Super” Soil (Living Soil)
When cannabis growers talk about “super” soil, they’re usually referring to soil that has been amended with slow-releasing organic nutrient sources, and then composted for several months (learn more about super soil).
The composting process creates a “living” soil that is full of microorganisms in the rhizosphere (area around the roots). Properly composted soil has nutrient sources that slowly break down over the course of your plant’s lifecycle. It very closely mimics what happens in nature.
Super Soil has a colony of micro-organisms living in the soil which form a symbiotic relationship with your plant roots. They deliver nutrients to your plant, and in return they eat the sugars that get secreted by your roots!
The “micro-herd” in the soil delivers nutrients directly to your plants. As long as you’re using decent water, you usually don’t need to worry about pH or other things that can disrupt nutrient absorption in regular soil.
However, when growing with Super Soil, it’s a good idea to avoid watering too much at a time, as extra runoff waterwill drain away some of the nutrinets. Try to give just enough water to saturate the soil with very little extra coming out the bottom. Since you won’t be adding more nutrients through the grow, you want to conserve what’s in the soil!
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Organic Potting Mix
This is what kind of soil to get if you don’t have any “good” soil available, but want something that is known to work for growing cannabis.
Generally, anything labeled as an “organic potting mix” will work. This type of mix hasn’t been amended with chemical slow-release nutrients, which is one of the main things you want to avoid with soil for cannabis. I know it sounds like heresy, but even the Miracle-Gro version of “organic potting mix” will work okay, because unlike their original potting mix it doesn’t contain chemical nutrients (though it still has poor drainage and moisture retention – almost any other type of organic potting mix is better!).
Usually an organic potting mix does not have enough nutrients to last your plants for more than a few weeks, so it’s a good idea to always supplement with cannabis-friendly nutrients, especially in the flowering stage when your plant is making buds and needs lots of extra Phosphorus and Potassium.
Espona Organic Potting Mix is found in many stores in the US, and works for growing cannabis!
What to Watch Out For With Any Soil Mix At the Store
- Look At and Touch It If You Can! You already have an idea what soil should look and feel like, but here’s a test: If you form the soil into a ball, it should stick together loosely, but it should also easily fall apart again if you squeeze it.
- No “Time Release” Chemical Nutrients in the Soil – These types of soil slowly release nutrients over the course of months, which provides too much Nitrogen in the flowering stage and could possibly impair overall bud growth.
- Soil Should Appear Dark and Rich – Pale, crumbly or sandy soil usually doesn’t have a lot of nutrient content that the plant roots can get to.
- Soil Has Little White Rocks In It (Perlite), if you see white, almost fluffy rocks dispersed through the soil like popcorn, that is usually a good sign because it means this potting mix was intended to have good drainage.
- Soil Isn’t “Heavy” – Cannabis grows best in soil with a light airy texture and great drainage, which may seem almost fluffy when it’s dry.
- Example of “Good” Soil Ingredients – Composted forest humus, sandy loam, sphagnum peat moss, coco coir (sometimes labeled coco fiber), perlite, earthworm castings, bat guano, fish meal, crab meal, bone meal, blood meal, Azomite, pumice, kelp, dolomite lime, mycorrhizae and leonardite. That’s not everything, just examples of cannabis-friendly ingredients you see the most often
- Examples of “Bad” Soil Ingredients – You don’t want to see wood or bark on the label if it doesn’t say it’s been composted first. Also if you see just the word “fertilizer” in the ingredients that’s often code for slow-release chemical nutrients, which you don’t want!
Try to get soil that looks like this!
I hope this soil tutorial helps you find the right soil for your cannabis setup!
The Best Soil for Growing Marijuana Outdoors
Growing cannabis outdoors offers many benefits. Firstly, it can be very affordable. You do not need to provide a structure like a greenhouse or high tunnel. In addition, artificial light is not necessary if you place it in the right spot in your yard, because your plants can benefit from the sun’s abundant and free energy.
In addition, you do not necessarily have to provide costly soil for your plants outside. But for the best results, you want good marijuana soil that will help your plants grow healthy and happy. DripWorks is here to offer you a few simple tips for finding and creating the best soil for growing marijuana outdoors.
Four basic soil types exist: sand, clay, silt, and loam. Each has its pros and cons for gardening.
Sand is easily permeable for root growth, for instance, but it does not hold on to water or fertilizer well.
Clay is just the opposite. When it’s hot and dry, clay can become hard as a rock, making it difficult for roots to penetrate. Clay drains poorly and is hard to cultivate. On the plus side, it is rich in minerals and natural nutrients.
Silt soils have lots of minerals and retain moisture well. Like clay, however, this type of soil can become compacted and hard in certain conditions. It can also form a crust, making it difficult for moisture and nutrients to reach plants’ roots.
Loam for Growing Marijuana & Other Crops
Of these types, loam is by far the best soil mix for growing marijuana plants and many other types of crops. Loam is a mixture of clay, sand, and silt, bringing forth the best qualities of these disparate types of soil while minimizing their worst attributes.
The optimal ratio for loam is 20% clay, 40% silt and 40% sand. Most folks think a pH of 6.0 is best for cannabis, with a range of 5.8 to 6.3 being acceptable. With a pH close to neutral, loam is typically in that zone or close to it.
Test kits are available to measure your soil’s acidity, or you can take a sample to your friendly local extension agent. If your dirt does not have the proper acidity, soil amendments are available to lower or raise the pH level in your soil. Your local nursery, garden store or extension agent can make some suggestions.
Loam is ideal for containers as well as for outdoor growing. Unfortunately, it is usually the most expensive soil to buy. But if you are interested in growing the best plants possible, it can pay big dividends in the long run.
You can also build up your own loam soil by adding organic matter to it. If you have a compost bin, you can use the compost to improve your soil. This will be a time-consuming and ongoing process but with grit and persistence will pay off in the long run.
Water, Light and Nutrients
You will want to provide the proper amount of light and water to your plants, of course. A drip irrigation system can cut your water bills while improving the health of your plants. Kits are available that give you everything you need to get started. If you prefer, you can start from scratch and obtain separate components to put them all together.
Just like humans, plants need the right nutrients. The most important ones for your cannabis plants are nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and phosphate (P). These make up the ratios you will typically see on fertilizer labels.
The right balance is essential for healthy growth. Many pre-mixed marijuana fertilizers are available, making your job easier. But if you prefer, you can also formulate your own.
What is the best soil for cannabis growing?
If you’ve thought about growing, you’ve probably already thought about the best soil for cannabis.
You likely didn’t give it that much thought, though, because who takes time to think about soil?
Well, the soil that you grow your marijuana in is very important, so if you want to grow the best weed possible, you should pay some attention to it.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about the common growing medium.
How to choose the best soil for marijuana plants:
The basics of using soil for marijuana grows
Plants typically need three things to survive: water, light, and soil.
Soil may seem obvious, but nowadays, with soil alternatives and hydroponic growing, even that is optional.
However, for most growers, especially those who are new to growing marijuana, growing in soil is the best option.
Soil growing (instead of growing in nutrient-infused water) is one of the easiest and most familiar methods of growing.
Plus, attempting to grow hydroponically the first time you are growing marijuana is almost guaranteed to be a recipe for disaster.
Soil is simply the natural way to grow, but it is still important to start with a good quality soil.
After all, it provides the plant’s nutrients and helps the plant form stable roots.
High-quality soil is especially important for outdoor plants who could face potentially harsh winds and other environmental conditions.
Why grow marijuana in soil?
Great soil can help your plants thrive, so it is essential to first understand what soil is.
It is definitely more than dirt.
Advantages of using soil
The soil is the most natural medium for growing almost all kinds of plants. It means that most people already are familiar with or have experience in doing it.
In effect, it is easier and less stressful to use than other modes of planting, which requires a learning curve.
Another advantage is its simplicity in making it work. Just watering the soil is enough for most plants to grow.
Also, the supplies needed are few compared to using other costlier mediums.
Natural soils are made up of mineral particles, air, organic matter, water and biological organisms.
Disadvantages of Using Soil
Since soil is an organic material, it is natural for bugs to live in it.
Therefore, the plants are more prone to suffer from pest infestations.
There is also the issue of slower growth.
In contrast, marijuana grown using hydroponics enjoys explosive growth due to faster and more efficient nutrient absorption.
Nearly 25% of soil is air that exists in a gaseous phase –not quite liquid or solid.
Water is known as soil solution, a liquid made of water, and ions from dissolved salts, and chemicals.
These ions are unable to attach to minerals in the soil.
Water also makes up nearly 25% of soil. The mineral particles in soil consist of sand, clay, and silt.
These inorganic particles can significantly impact a soil’s quality.
These tiny fragments of rocks and hard minerals (such as quartz) do not carry any nutrients, meaning large amounts of it in your soil is a bad thing.
Soil with lots of sand is arid;
however, small to moderate amounts can improve drainage and aeration as well as increase tilling quality.
This mixture of sand and minerals has some nutrients, but not many.
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It is is beneficial for soil, as it can include the important nutrients of K, Ca, Mg and Fe- making soil fertile.
Clay is aluminum-silicate and has negatively charged ions that attract these nutrients to it.
However, if there is too much clay, it will be hard to till the soil, and there will also be poor drainage.
Soil also includes a variety of organic matter and substances such as:
- Decomposing plant and animal particles
- Organisms and microorganisms living in the soil
- Substances produced by roots and microorganisms
These exist in smaller amounts, typically around 5%. Although there isn’t much organic matter in soil, its presence highly influences its quality and the eventual yield of your plants.
The particles and substances are also known as humus, whereas organisms may include earthworms and other beneficial creatures.
How to recognize the best soil for cannabis
Now that you understand what soil is, it is much easier to recognize good soil when you see it.
Marijuana soil has some specific requirements, so unless you are buying soil that is specifically designed for cannabis, you’ll want to learn to pay attention to certain things.
Good soil will have the correct texture, drainage ability and water retention for marijuana. It will look dark and rich, with a loose texture that isn’t muddy.
Good marijuana soil also drains well – you should be able to pour water on it and have it drain out within a few seconds.
The soil should retain enough water for the plant to thrive, as the roots need that water, but it shouldn’t be so much that the roots cannot get enough oxygen either.
This is why both proper drainage and water retention are essential aspects of good soil.
Good soil also has good ingredients. Of course, soils that include some form of organic matter (humus) are great for marijuana because they provide plenty of nutrients.
Some examples of organic matter to look for in a good cannabis soil include:
- Earthworm castings
- Bat Guano
- Blood, fish, or bone meal
- Sandy Loam
- Dolomite lime
If you purchase soil that has any of these ingredients in it, there’s a good chance it might provide great nutrition for your plants.
You’ll still want to make sure that it has the right nutrients for your plant’s particular stage in its life cycle though.
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Choosing soil for your marijuana plants
With an understanding of what you are looking for, you can now start to select the right soil for your plants.
The first thing to remember is that soil is highly dependent on the stage of life that your plant is in.
While it is still sprouting, it is best to use peat plugs or something similar to that.
These ready-made blocks of soil provide everything that a budding seed needs to make its way into the world.
If you can’t find, (or don’t want to use) peat plugs, an organic potting soil will also work.
Organic soils will not have any added ‘slow-release’ chemicals, something you’ll want to avoid when growing marijuana.
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While potting soils do not have the right type of nutrients to support a growing marijuana plant, they will have enough to support a seedling for its first couple of weeks.
After that point, you’ll want to supplement with nutrients that are specifically designed for marijuana plants – especially once you reach the flowering stage.
Another reason why it is okay to use potting soil (at least at first) is because you’re likely going to end up moving your plants after they are about a month old anyway.
The roots will be too big for their first home, and you should place them in a bigger container or move them outdoors.
That is the perfect time to switch out your soil for something more suitable.
If you used peat plugs, you can simply add the plugs to local dirt or grass mulch to make a suitable soil outdoors.
Not only does this provide a better texture over the natural earth, but it also offers ample room for young roots to move around and increases the nutrient value in the soil.
You can also move your seedlings into either sterilized potting compost or a “living soil.”
If you opt for sterilized soil, it should include some form of amendment (such as perlite), that makes up at least 20% of the soil.
This additive will help increase the amount of air present in the soil, which helps marijuana plants grow faster.
Living soils, on the other hand, are composted soils.
They are useful because they include microorganisms that create an ecosystem similar to the best natural scenario.
The roots directly absorb the nutrients produced from these organisms, and the results are often noticeable in the flavor and scent of the harvest.