Growing Media

A growing medium is where your plants develop their root system. Many growers keep it simple with pots of soil, but you can also use coco coir, perlite, rockwool, pebbles or go for a fully fledged hydroponic setup.

Soil Mix
Growing in soil is the simplest way to get some nice plants going. Many growers say that soil enriched with high-quality compost (like Bat Guana) grows them the best-tasting product.

Coco/Perlite
Growing in a mix of coco and perlite provides the advantages of a hydroponic grow and the ease of a soil grow. The big advantage here is that you have full control of nutrients, as the medium is inert

Rockwool
Rockwool is inert and made from cotton candy-like fibre spun from basalt rock and has excellent moisture-retention abilities. You can find rockwool for growing in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Hydroponics
There are various types of hydroponic setups used for growing cannabis. Some systems hold plants in pots filled with a hydroponic growing medium such as clay pebbles, perlite, or rockwool.

SOIL/COMPOST

 Difficulty: Easy
• Cost: Low

Growing in soil is the simplest way to get some nice plants going, but don’t think that means soil produces poorer results than other methods. Far from it! Many growers say that soil enriched with high-quality compost grows them the best-tasting product, even if yields aren’t quite as good as in coco or hydro.

The main advantage of soil is that it is forgiving and beginner-friendly, and you can still crop your plants of top-notch quality. Soil is also widely available and relatively inexpensive.

COCO/PERLITE

• Difficulty: Medium
• Cost: Low to medium

Growing in a mix of coco and perlite provides the advantages of a hydroponic grow and the ease of a soil grow.

As a coco/perlite mix does not contain any nutrients, you are responsible for giving hydroponic nutrients from the start. The big advantage here is that you have full control, and your plants will grow as fast as in hydro. Downside: Just as with hydroponics, you will have to closely watch your pH levels. It’s also less forgiving of mistakes than soil.

ROCKWOOL

 Difficulty: Medium/high
• Cost: Medium

Previously used only in construction, where it experiences widespread use as insulation material, rockwool has become a top medium for horticulture. Just like perlite and coco, it is a so-called “inert” growing medium that doesn’t have any nutrients in it. Rockwool is made from cotton candy-like fibre spun from basalt rock and has excellent moisture-retention abilities. You can find rockwool for growing in a variety of shapes and sizes, from smaller blocks and cubes to large slabs.

Rockwool is most often used in hydroponics. The roots of the plants receive support from the rockwool as drippers provide water and nutrients.

HYDROPONICS

• Difficulty: Medium/high
 Cost: High

There are various types of hydroponic setups used for growing your plants. Some systems hold plants in pots filled with a hydroponic growing medium such as clay pebbles, perlite, or rockwool, with drippers dispensing water and nutrients to your cannabis.

You can also find setups that do not use a solid growing medium at all. In these systems, plants are suspended above a tank, with the roots reaching down into the water/nutrient solution. Some systems may use a combination of these, with the plants in a solid medium and the roots suspended in a tank. Simple dripper setups are relatively affordable, while more elaborate systems that make use of pumps and other equipment can be quite expensive.

WHAT IS THE BEST GROWING MEDIUM?

In conclusion, there is really no “best” growing medium for your plants—each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Many times, it will come down to cost, in which case soil is still the reigning champion.

  • Consider growing in soil/compost if you’re just starting out or simply want to go the most natural route.
  • Consider growing in coco/perlite if you’re already confident growing in soil and feel that you want to upgrade. Growing in coco has the advantage of providing almost all the benefits of hydro, but it’s still essentially as easy as growing in soil.
  • Consider using a hydroponic system if you want the fastest growth, biggest yields, and full control over most aspects of your grow. With many hydroponic setups, you are free to use an inert growing medium of your choice (clay pebbles, perlite, rockwool, etc.), so there is plenty of room for some horticultural experimentation.