Choosing to grow hydroponically or in soil is very much a personal preference. Every grower will have their own opinion and will swear that their method is the best. By providing you with the facts, pros, and cons of both methods you will be able to decide which method works best for you.
A Science Lab
Hydroponic grow areas can sometimes look more like a science lab than a grow room, after all, there is a science to growing hydroponically. You will need to create the perfect nutrient mix for your plants to thrive on, as the only nutrients they will be getting are the ones you give them. The medium doesn't contain any nutrients itself, as its primary purpose is to provide stability and protection. The main difference when growing hydroponically as opposed to soil is that the plants are grown in mediums without soil. To name a few, these mediums can be straight-up water, peat moss, soilless potting mix, sand, coco coir, or gravel. Any of these methods can work as long as you provide water with the correct amount of nutrients.
We made a video about Hydro Soil Irrigation. Check it out here:
Whether you are growing in soil or hydroponically you need to pay attention to the growing medium's pH level. There isn't a universal pH level that suits both hydro and soil. If you choose hydro, then aim to keep your pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5. If you're going for soil, then it should be between 6.0 and 7.0. Potting mix isn't considered soil so you will need to use the correct pH level for growing hydroponically when using it. Just because a mix looks like soil and feels like soil doesn't mean it is soil. Do some research into the ingredients of your medium in order to know if it is real soil or potting mix for growing hydroponically.
Let's get down to the pros and cons of growing hydroponically. A major advantage of growing hydroponically is that you have all the control over what and how much nutrients your plants receive. A great balance between your nutrition and pH will offer a much bigger yield growing hydroponically than with soil. Not only will you have a greater yield, but you will have a faster harvest. Because hydroponics are soilless, the plants are less likely to suffer from soil-borne diseases, pests, and weeds. If a problem does occur, it can be corrected more quickly when compared to growing in soil. Once a hydroponic system is set up and running it can be automated so that it takes minimum effort to maintain.
A Few Disadvantages
With so many major advantages there are of course a few disadvantages as well. One of the advantages of hydroponics can also be a disadvantage. Because you are solely responsible for the nutrients the plants receive, you need to be knowledgeable of the correct nutrients and amount needed to keep your plants growing. There is no room for error in this due to the fact that the roots absorb the nutrients you give them directly. A nutrient mistake will show immediately, and problems can overtake plants more quickly since they often all share a reservoir.
Easily Fluctuated pH
The pH in hydroponic systems easily fluctuates so you will need to keep an extra eye on that. Another con that soil growers like to claim is that hydro-grown cannabis doesn't taste as good as when it's grown in nature. Overall, growing hydroponically may not be the easiest for beginners to take on; it takes more knowledge than growing in soil. Now let's take a closer look at growing in a more traditional way, the soil method. Soil is made up of water, air, minerals, and organic material. Good soil will make any plant flourish as it already contains everything a plant needs to grow. However, you will usually need to add some fertilizers during the growth period of your plant.
Soil growers need to be aware to not buy already fertilized potting soil as it contains too many additives. This can cause nute-burn for your plants. Also, the pH of pre-fertilized soil is usually too acidic for marijuana plants. Check for fertilizers that are specially made for growing cannabis. With the correct pH, the roots will be able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients. Also, it is important that the soil is light enough so that it doesn't withhold water as this can deprive roots of oxygen. The best way to avoid that is to not overwater your plants.
A Bigger Yield
You can choose to grow your plants in pots or on earth itself. The bigger the pot, the bigger the plant will become. If it's grown in the open soil, then the plant has free range and can provide a bigger yield. However, it is harder to control the environment doing it like that. If you are growing in pots, then you can move your plants around in case harsh weather strikes or the plant isn't getting enough sunlight.
Room for Trial and Error
The pros of growing in soil are that it is much more forgiving to the novice grower as it leaves some room for trial and error. Soil is also the more natural way to go and requires less preparation than hydroponics, before starting to grow. Start-up costs for growing in soil are also a lot less.
Cons of Using Soil
The cons of using soil as a medium are that your grow time will be longer, and your yields will be smaller. If your plant does get sick, it will take longer to recover.
What Suits Your Needs
Ultimately, choosing to grow in either soil or hydroponically will be based on what suits your needs best. If you're pressed for time, then growing hydroponically may be best for you. If you're still a rookie when it comes to growing cannabis, then it may be best to start off with soil. Now that you have some insight into the pros and cons of growing both ways you should be able to determine which method to choose.