Busting 5 Cannabis Grow Myths
There is a lot of growing advice out there, and some of it can harm your plants or be just plain wrong. Rich Hamilton explores some myths you should ignore in your effort to get big, potent, flavorful buds.
There is a wealth of information out there about growing weed. Everyone has their own “top tips” and particular ways of doing things. However, this advice is not always reliable. Following such misinformation could spell disaster for your efforts, especially if you are a beginner grower. Well, fear not, as we are here to bust some of the most common cannabis growing myths around and teach you some solid facts along the way.
Myth #1. Hanging Plants Upside Down Increases Potency
You may have heard that hanging a whole plant upside down before harvesting or removing the buds helps increase potency due to the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the rest of the plant working with gravity to move down into the buds slowly.
This is not true. The majority of the THC is already in the buds, since that is where the reproductive glands secrete it. Secondly, THC does not move around a plant this way. If you turn the plant upside down, gravity will not enable more THC to run into the buds from other lower parts of the plant. THC is not a free entity within the plant, like sand in an hourglass.
That is not to say that drying upside down is wrong because it’s not. It is a preferred method by many, but not because it increases potency.
The “whole-plant upside down hang” method slows the drying process and water loss for a smoother smoke. It reduces the loss of terpenes, giving the end-user an overall aroma and flavor.
Myth #2. More Nutrients Means Faster, Bigger Growth
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that more nutrients are better, especially toward the end of flowering when you are pinning all your hopes on a yield of big resinous buds.
Cannabis plants do indeed require much higher levels of nutrients than generic houseplants. If they don’t get enough, they can be more susceptible to deficiencies and perform poorly overall. However, too much can be just as damaging.
One of the primary issues of using too many nutrients is the risk of nutrient burn. Nutrient burn can be defined as over-fertilizing your cannabis plants to the point where growth and bud production is stifled. Unlike animals, plants cannot store excess nutrient energy inside fat cells.
Some suggest you use as many nutrients as your plant can take until you see the first tell-tale signs of nutrient burn and then pull back. However, this is a risky game. Plants that are pushed to the limit with nutrients don’t appear to grow any faster or more significant than plants that receive a standard amount of nutrients.
The most obvious sign that you have breached the territory of nutrient burn is the slow appearance of browning and scorching on leaf tips and edges. This renders the damaged parts of the leaves defunct from absorbing light for photosynthesis, further exacerbating the plant’s health issues.
Debunking the Cal/Mag Myth in Cannabis Cultivation
Why Are My Leaves Turning Yellow? 3 Common Nutrient Deficiencies
Knowing When to Harvest Cannabis: Fan Leaves, Pistils, and Trichomes
Myth #3. Flushing Removes All Chemicals
While we are on the subject of flushing, let’s clear up another myth. Flushing your plants in the last two weeks of your cycle is an essential practice during the pre-harvest time.
There is no doubt that flushing is a worthwhile process, but not always for the reason most people think. Every time you feed your plants, they take in nutrients that, when in excess, cannot be used by the plants. The build-up can result in an unpleasant chemical taste to your finished product.
Flushing enables your plants to drink water without extra minerals to dilute this taste as far as possible. It also helps to clear any build-up of minerals or nutrient salts that are present in your medium.
However, flushing will not remove any remaining minerals or nutrient salts already in the buds. You will not be able to entirely remove that chemical taste from your buds if you over-fertilize throughout the flowering stage.
Myth #4. Adding Fruit to Your Medium Enhances Flavors
This is just madness; however, I hear it all the time.
Terpenes are compounds responsible for giving plants their unique aromas and flavors. They make lemons smell and taste like lemons, for example. In cannabis, terpenes also help drive each cultivar’s overall effects.
Strain genetics determine the terpene profiles of any given strain, which is why many varieties exist. While individual results may vary depending on factors like environmental conditions, putting extra fruit juices, pulp, or anything else into the soil will 100 percent not increase your terp percentages. Nor will it help cannabis plants to entertain new flavors.
It can, however, alter the delicate nutritional balance of the soil pH, creating environments that may be too acidic or alkaline for your plants to deal with. Even using juice in a mixture of water for your plants can be fatal.
Myth #5. Green Light is of No Use to Plants
Grow lights have changed a lot in recent years. The associated technology continues to advance at breakneck speed with the development of high-tech LED lights with tailored spectrums and fully customizable settings.
Red and blue light has always got all the press. Red for flower, blue for veg, and green tends to be written off. Still, we should not be so fast to dismiss it as science is starting to unravel its complex relationship with plant growth.
Chlorophyll absorbs light in the red and blue spectrum very well. However, chlorophyll reflects light in the green range, which is not helpful for photosynthesis. The reflection of green light is why we see leaves as green.
So, green light may not be helpful for photosynthesis, but we forget that pigments other than chlorophyll are present in our plants.
As a full-spectrum light footprint enters the canopy, the leaves on the surface capture much of the blue and red photons. In contrast, the green photons penetrate deep down into the canopy. They are captured by other pigments, assisting with many complex processes inside your plants.
There are plenty of steps that you can take as a grower to try and improve your results. I think the takeaway here, however, is to research what you read or are told before you implement it. Make sure the information comes from a reputable source and can be backed up by science. Don’t treat advice from a friend of a friend or some online forum as gospel without evidence or it could cost you dearly.
Written by Rich Hamilton | Writer, Consultant, Author of The Growers Guide
Rich Hamilton has been in the hydroponics industry for more than 20 years, working originally as a general manager in a hydroponics retail outlet before becoming an account manager at Century Growsystems. He enjoys working on a daily basis with shop owners, manufacturers, distributors, and end users to develop premium products.