When you look at the details on how to grow marijuana, you can get mighty confused about what your marijuana roots should grow in.
Obviously they have to grow in a container, because they need to be in the dark, they need to be kept moist, they need to be fed, they need oxygen.
But the choices for how you achieve the right place for your marijuana roots are many. Let’s line it out here…
Soil: This seems like a simple, logical choice, but it’s not as simple as you might think, because most store-bought potting soil, even kind stuff like Fox Farm Ocean Forest, just isn’t nutritious enough for long enough to feed marijuana for maximum bud production.
Using soil, you’ll get bloom phase potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus deficiencies unless you add fertilizer.
Or you can take the time and expense to make “supersoil” that feeds your plants adequately from start to finish. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve solved other problems associated with soil, such as drainage, pH, pests and diseases.
Water or Mist infused with nutrients: This includes aeroponics, fogponics, deep water culture (DWC), water culture, and nutrients film technique (NFT).
Big advantages of water/mist systems is total control over nutrient dosage and type, root zone pH, root zone temperature, feeding times.
You also get maximized oxygenation of root zone, and hardly any place for root diseases and pests to take hold.
Downside: these marijuana growing systems depend on timed application of water and nutrients.
If you have any equipment failure or electricity interruption, you can lose your marijuana crop in just a few hours.
Water infused with nutrients with roots in solid root zone media: This could be flood and drain, ebb and flow and hybrid aero/DWC/NFT systems.
Your roots are anchored in hydroton, perlite, or some other porous material. Or they hang in space, anchored by a gasket or sleeve or net. Water infused with nutrients comes into your hydroponics root zone and hangs out in amongst the solid media and roots for a while and then recedes.
As with pure aero/fogponics/DWC/NFT/water culture, if you have pump, timer or electrical failure, your crops can quickly turn into toast, although not as quickly.
You can also use drip irrigation when you’ve got your marijuana plants growing in solid media.
Grodan Rockwool: Notice I mention only Grodan rockwool for marijuana growing.
Because Grodan is sky-high better than any other rockwool. Superb, neutral, engineered for growing material that allows you to use hydroponics nutrients to provide your plants exactly what they need when they need it.
Grodan has invested mucho money in research and development, which is why they have a variety of starter cubes, drainage grades, whole-season cubes, slabs, and loose rockwool that works in almost any hydroponics cannaabis growing situation.
Plus, Grodan tech support is awesome.
Note: Grodan now calls their rockwool “stonewool.” You can best use stonewool in drip irrigation systems, although it can be adapted to ebb and flow and flood and drain in some circumstances.
For my money, this is the best root zone media on the market right now, and has been for many years.
Coco Coir: Some people love it and others call it a “sterile” root zone media. I don’t. It comes with a tendency to create nutrients problems. That’s why you have to use special coco coir fertilizer (check out Advanced Nutrients coco fertilizers).
Sphagnum soil mixes: Generations of hydroponics marijuana growers have used Pro-Mix or Sunshine Mix. Mostly sphagnum moss with some lime, beneficial microbials, and a starter charge of fertilizer thrown in, these are considered “almost as sterile” as coco and certainly more sterile than supersoil or potting soil.
But still not sterile enough for you to be sure you’re delivering exactly what your plants need.
And Sunshine Mix quality and composition and quality control has gone to hell in the last few years.
Plus, sphagnum peat mining is terrible for the environment. As you might guess, I’m not a fan of coco, or sphagnum soil mixes.
Is there a “best” marijuana hydroponics growing medium or method?
Well, every one of these above-mentioned items has advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on your goals, your how to grow marijuana experience, situation, money supply, and personal preferences.
The main thing I want to emphasize is that if you have marijuana cropping problems, it may be caused by how your root zone is set up.