Soil vs. Hydro

Is there a difference?

When talking about the cultivation of the marijuana plant, invariably the conversation involves the types of growing.

There are two main schools of cultivation:  Plants grown in soil, also known as bio, and plants grown without soil, known as hydroponics.
As with all things, there are pro and cons to each style.  Here's some basics.

Plants grown bio

A marijuana seedling planted in biological soil

Soil is self explanatory.  The roots of the plants are dug into dirt, whereby the caregiver waters and feeds the seedling until it is a fully mature budding, resinous plant, ready to harvest.  


It is easier to use organic fertilizers.  They are formulated for bio gardening and one doesn't need to fertilize every drop of water so it's cheaper. 

Plants grown in soil, either indoor or outdoor, are more forgiving.  The plants doesn't shrivel up and die as quick as plants grown hydroponically if something goes wrong, with say the watering timer or pump and you went away for the weekend.
Just saying..

Cost efficient set up.  With ingenuity and ambition a lot can be accomplished in one season for very little money.

Better flavour, cleaner burning.  Many people, including Jason King author of The Cannabible declares bio herb "much tastier".

"There was no comparison. The organic had a multitude of flavours, one appearing after another on my delighted palate.   I could even pick up the earthy flavour of the soil in which it was grown.   The hydro bud tasted good on the first hit, though the flavour was not complex like the organic one.  Instead of picking up the earthly flavour of soil, I was left with a chemically burnt flavour in my mouth.   Now I will only smoke organic herb".

Excerpted from The Cannabible, author Jason King, published 2001, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA Pages 78 & 79

I couldn't agree more.


Lower yield.  It is a commonly held belief that plants grown in soil do not produce as much bud weight as hydroponic plants.  While true for the most part, I've seen some pretty extreme plants that prove the exception, growing outdoors and exceeding anything grown hydroponically.

Salts can build up.  The soil will retain the salts from fertilizer and accumulate them if not flushed with straight water frequently, even if following the directions.  Plants potted in soil containers are much more vulnerable than plants grown in the dirt, dirt, i.e. dug into the ground.

Lack of oxygen to the roots.  Watering plants grown in soil means paying attention to the roots becoming bound and not enough oxygen getting to them.  Also bound roots will inhibit the uptake of nutrient and salts build up can occur.  Repotting the plants into larger containers will become necessary at this point.

Plants grown hydroponically

Up close with hydroponic seedlings in their inert receptables

Plants grown without the use of soil.  The roots of the plants are affixed to an inert medium such as coconut husks, clay pellets, rockwool, sand etc.
Water with nutrients are frequently flushed over the roots of the plant until it is fully budded and ready for harvest.


Fast vegetative growth.  Side by side tests between plants grown in soil and plants grown hydroponically have shown hands down: the hydroponic plants outgrow the ones in soil in the vegetation phase.

Heavy yield per square foot.  Which stands to reason, the larger the plant is when it is switched over to flower stage the higher the yield will be.  Plus, with all the additional oxygenated water delivered to the roots, the plants thrive.

Cleaner, bug free environment.  Growing in an inert medium has the advantage of not dragging in a bunch of dirt and bugs into the room.  Rarely do hydroponic growers have to deal with mites, thripes and fungus gnats.  


Requires expensive synthetic fertilizers.  The nutrient in the water is the only source of food for the plant and therefore is used continuously throughout the growing process.

A lot can go wrong.  Hydroponic set ups can be complex (and expensive) with not a lot of wriggle room for failure.  A simple little water spigot popping out under pressure when the pump is engaged going undetected can empty the whole water reservoir out onto the floor.
Just saying..

Quality suffers.  Flavours are not as complex as soil based cannabis plants with chemical like aftertaste.  This is a common complaint.  Also, it seems that a black carbon-like ash is left burnt by the joint instead of a soft grey ash.  

Growing takes Planning

There is much to take into consideration when setting up a grow room.

The key is to maximize the available square footage and to make use of every of lumen (that being the energy given off from the lights).

Start up and maintenance costs can be curtailed with smart planning.

It doesn't take long and you'll be enjoying some of the best herb you've ever had: Your own.