It is much harder to eliminate pests once they have invaded your growing space. As the Dutch philosopher was attributed as saying, "Prevention is better than cure." It is best to prevent an infestation of your cannabis plants rather than have to get rid of the pests once they have moved in.
You should be checking on your plants daily. Look for signs of the presence of insects. Do the leaves suddenly have holes or bite marks? Check the stems also. Does the plant show signs of stress? Are the leaves a deep, lush color? Do the leaves look yellowish and dry?
All these are signs of something wrong with your cannabis plant. It would be best if you took action immediately. If there is an infestation, you will need to identify the pest and take appropriate action to get the situation under control.
Prevention advice is better; we should take a step back and look at that. You have everything you need to start your growth. You have your seeds, fertilizer, hydration plan, the soil you will grow in, etc. Here is a question for you: what's in the soil? Are there any eggs waiting to hatch? You can not know.
This is primarily a problem for indoor growers. Outdoor growers can have pests show up because they are outdoors. However, it is good practice to sterilize your soil. You sterilize your soil by heating it. Soil becomes sterilized at 180 to 95°C (180 to 200°F) after 30 minutes.
There are three main ways you can sterilize your soil. Each way will require some equipment and time. All three ways will require a meat or candy thermometer to check the temperature.
If you only have a small amount of soil to sterilize, your oven should work well enough. You will need soil and something to place it on. Preheat your oven to 80 to 95°C (180 to 200°F) and put your soil in. When the soil comes to temperature, time it for 30 minutes, and let the soil cool down before using.
If you are planting outside, you can use solarization. Solarization uses a clear tarp to trap solar energy to raise the temperature of the ground. Using your thermometer as a probe, check the temperature when it hits the appropriate temperature, time it for 30 minutes. Then remove the tarp and let the soil cool down.
You can steam your soil to sterilize it. Steaming your soil will require the purchase of a steamer. Depending upon the amount of soil you wish to sterilize, this equipment can get very expensive. Keep this in mind. Otherwise, the process is pretty straightforward. Set up your steamer, turn it on, and when the temperature hits 180-200 degrees F, let it sit for 30 minutes.
When you finish, move on to the next bit of soil that needs to be sterilized. Let the soil cool. If you have little soil to steam, you can probably get away with using a home steamer and a heavy-duty bag. Otherwise, you will need to consider more expensive options, including industrial steamers.
Check out a video on steaming soil.
When you are finished sterilizing your soil, it is essential to fertilize it. Many beneficial nutrients in the soil will be "cooked off&rdquo, and you will need to replace them. Once you have ensured that your fertilizer is distributed throughout the soil, you are ready to plant cannabis seeds.
The easiest way to get rid of pests on your marijuana plant is to use a pesticide. However, many of these can be dangerous. You will be ingesting this plant or giving it to someone who will be, and dangerous chemicals should not be considered.
You can use organic alternatives. One that comes to mind is neem oil. Neem oil is derived from the neem plant. If appropriately diluted, neem oil is considered safe for use in the garden.
For more information on using neem, check out our blog post on How to get rid of leaf miners on your cannabis plant.
Companion plants are plants that you plant alongside your cannabis plant to help with soil nutrients or to pull pests away from your cannabis.
Some plants, such as mint, have a powerful smell. Many pests are not fond of this smell and will avoid mint. If you place mint in pots around your cannabis plants, it can help deter pests' arrival.
Other plants, such as Chrysanthemum, can pull pests away as sacrificial plants. That way, the pests will go for the Chrysanthemum instead of the cannabis. As a bonus, the flowers on the plant can attract predators.
Check out our blog post on Companion Plants to learn more about which plants serve as companion plants and what they can do.
If there is one thing that can be counted on in nature is that there is always a predator. Predatory insects can quickly diminish the population of pests on your cannabis plants.
Some predatory wasps lay their eggs in caterpillars. Other wasps kill leaf miners and lay their eggs near them, providing their young a meal. These insects are highly specialized at hunting down certain pests and killing them. Check out our blog on How to get rid of caterpillars.
Ladybugs, or ladybirds, are perfect ant-controlling aphids and spider mites. Unfortunately, they also eat the larvae of some moths and even some smaller insects. Check out our post on Fighting Spider Mites with Ladybugs.
Leaf Hoppers are a pest that can plague your cannabis plants. They suck the sap out of the plant and can do a lot of damage to your cannabis plants. In the spring, they can lay up to 6 eggs a day. It can get out of hand if you don't catch them when they have just arrived. You may be surprised to discover that Ladybugs can be very useful in controlling leafhoppers. Check out our blog on How to get rid of leafhoppers.
A few last words
We have covered a few pests and how to manage them. Remember to stay vigilant. An infestation is harder to eliminate than it is to prevent. Find out what you are dealing with and how to deal with it.
Remember to Identify a threat, Decide on a course of action, and Act. For more information on growing cannabis and other related topics, check out our blog.