Growing Mediums for Cannabis Plants

There are many types of growing mediums that you can use when growing cannabis. I will focus on the main 3 options and go over the pros and cons of each. What you decide is dependent on your budget and knowledge of growing with that medium. I personally use soil because it was what I was knowledgeable about, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to use soil as well.

There are 3 common growing mediums for growing cannabis: Soil, Soilless Medium/Coco Coir & Deep Water Culture/Hydroponics. Let’s dive into these in more depth.


Gaia Green Living Soil

Soil, soil mix, or compost all fall under this category. Soil is the most commonly used medium. It can create living soil which allows the microbial life in the soil to break down nutrients and make it more available for the plants. You can grow organic cannabis using soil. When you grow with soil, it doesn’t typically require any special knowledge. This makes it a good option for beginners to start out with. The ideal pH level range for soil is between 6.0 – 7.0 for optimal nutrient absorption. You can also keep your pH at 6.5. This allows for all nutrients to be taken up by the roots.

Some soil recommendations:

  • Fox Farm Ocean Forest (add perlite for better soil aeration)
  • Gaia Green Living Soil
  • Stepwell SS-W Supersoil

You can also make your own soil mix by mixing multiple ingredients to make a soil that’s rich in nutrients. Use a mixture of compost, manure, peat moss, perlite, & worm castings. You can mix and match whatever ingredients you would like to add together. Cannabis grows best in light soil with good aeration, so keep that in mind when mixing your own soil mix.

For more Gaia Green products, check out their website,

Soilless Medium/Coco Coir

Mother Earth Coco Coir Bale

Coco Coir is becoming a very popular medium among cannabis growers. This medium is made up of shredded coconut fibres. It can also create living soil where the microbial life helps to make nutrients more available to the plants. You can grow organic cannabis with Coco coir as well. There’s no special knowledge required to grow with this medium. It is a similar style of growing as soil. One of the main differences is that Coco coir needs to stay more moist, especially if it’s in fabric pots. This is because the medium dries out quickly and in order for the microbial life to thrive, the medium must be kept moist. The other difference from soil, is that it’s pH range is 5.5 – 6.5. You can keep the pH at about 5.8 to achieve uptake of all nutrients.

Hydroponics or Deep Water Culture

AutoPots Hydroponic System

Hydroponics or Deep Water Culture is a style of growing which using Soilless mediums such as coco coir, clay pebbles, rockwool, or perlite. These are just some of the main options. The plants roots and directly in the water, allowing quick uptake of nutrients. You can still grow organically with hydroponics, but not quite the same as with soil. It won’t achieve the same microbial life that soil or coco coir in pots will.

When growing cannabis using hydroponics, you have to use liquid fertilizer. Hydroponics require a reservoir of water for all your plants or for each plant. You should to use either distilled water or reverse osmosis water for hydroponics. This style of growing requires some extra knowledge of the hydroponic system and how it works as well as requiring some extra equipment as well. It is the most challenging of the growing mediums for cannabis plants. The pH range for hydroponics is 5.5 – 6.5 and you can keep it at about 5.8 for optimal nutrient uptake.

Pros & Cons of Each Growing Medium for Cannabis

Soil – Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Fairly inexpensive
  • Living Soil makes for the best smelling & tasting cannabis
  • Can use any nutrients, dry or liquid

Soil – Cons

  • Slower growth compared to other mediums
  • Lower yields compared to hydroponics & coco coir
  • More prone to pests than hydroponics

Soilless/Coco Coir – Pros

  • Faster growth than soil
  • Slightly higher yields than soil
  • Easy to use
  • Can tak use any nutrients, dry or liquid

Soilless/Coco Coir – Cons

  • Slower growth than hydroponics
  • Lower yields than hydroponics
  • More prone to pests than hydroponics

Hydroponics/DWC – Pros

  • Fastest growth of all the mediums
  • Highest yields of all the mediums
  • Least chance of pests of all the mediums

Hydroponics/DWC – Cons

  • Can only use liquid nutrients
  • Requires additional equipment
  • Harder to use than other mediums (requires some extra knowledge)

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