A wide range of factors play into the art of growing healthy marijuana and producing a quality cannabis crop. Arguably the most important element is making sure that the environment you’re growing in is suitable for promoting a healthy plant lifecycle.
If the environment in which a plant is growing- whether it be marijuana or anything else- isn’t optimal, it’s much less likely to survive throughout its entire natural lifecycle. And even if it does manage to survive, it will likely produce a minimal crop of sub-quality buds that won’t deliver a decent high.
That said, when cannabis grows in optimum conditions, it’s exponentially more likely to survive and produce a more prosperous, better-quality crop yield.
Additionally, the plant will have a better opportunity to grow into the best possible version of itself and then pass its genetics onto its offspring. But many aspects will naturally prohibit cannabis plants from growing optimally, ranging from pests to improper nutrient absorption, anti-growth elements in the air, and so much more that responsible growers need to be aware of and keep a vigilant eye on.
Thankfully, there is an ingenious and easy way around many of these issues that can help ensure your marijuana plants are developing in a great environment to facilitate their optimal growth; companion planting. This 10,000-year-old technique will help ensure your cannabis plants thrive without you having to put forth large amounts of extra effort.
Here at a Pot for Pot, we’re huge fans of planting your own seeds, whether it’s cannabis or anything else. Here are some top suggestions for marijuana companion plants that you can use to help ensure you provide your cannabis with a great environment that will facilitate optimal levels of health and development throughout their lifecycle.
Companion Plants for Growing Marijuana
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What Is Companion Planting, and How Does it Work?
Companion planting, also known as polyculture or intercropping, is a beneficial method of growing plants, in which different plant types are grown side by side in a limited area to promote an optimized growing environment with higher crop yields. Companion planting falls under the scope of permaculture, which strives to replicate natural ecosystems in a contained environment.
In short, companion planting involves using different plants and herbs to facilitate the healthy growth of the primary plant, which is marijuana.
Companion planting allows for the release of chemical attractants and repellants of multiple plants at once in a small area, causing an enhanced growth cycle for all plants and providing pollination advantages and natural protection from different types of insects.
A wide array of varying companion plants can be used in this process, with each providing a different kind of environmental advantage. Onions, for example, release specific odors that naturally deter the presence of insects and prevent harmful infestations. Other companion plants provide shade to their neighbors, help provide soil structure and stability, and even add beneficial nutrients like nitrogen into the soil.
Perhaps the one of the most famous examples of companion planting is the three sisters cultivated by Native Americans. These sisters are corn, beans, and squash. Planting corn first, it sets a structure for the beanstalks to climb. Beans, the second sister, in return, add stabilization to the corn during heavy winds. And not to mention, beans being nitrogen fixers, support all of them by taking nitrogen in the air and converting it into forms that can be used by the plants. And baby sister squash stays low to the ground, doesn’t interfere with her two older sisters, and instead offers her large leaves to shade the soil which supports water retention and crowds out weeds.
Companion planting is also an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tool which is useful for those wanting to grow cannabis without chemicals. This planting practice is one of the best friends to organic farmers!
Benefits of Companion Planting
There is a wide range of benefits associated with companion planting, so there’s little wonder as to why this age-old technique has been utilized for thousands of years by individuals dedicated to growing any kind of plant. Additionally, there are no drawbacks to using this method, and it is an inexpensive and easy way to help promote the growth of healthy, robust cannabis in the grow room or outdoors.
With a strategic approach, companion plants can help increase the yield of cannabis crops tremendously while also inherently promoting the health and prosperity of the plant as a whole. As noted briefly in the above section, companion planting also helps with pest control, nutrient refinement, and soil integrity, which are all integral factors of healthy cannabis growth.
Many companion plants act as a stealth cover for your cannabis growth, and using these particular plants will result in a safe, secure, and even discreet growth period for the plants.
There are six main reasons that companion planting is utilized:
Intercropping is what most people think companion planting is: planting more than one type of plant together. The proximity of the plants utilizes space and the plants are compatible in such a way that they benefit from each other. Some plants fix nitrogen, or mine other nutrients in such a way that the plant next to it can get a boost. This below ground community increases biodiversity and supports soil health. Living soil is made of many organisms. The richer the relationship of plants, the more organisms. Mychorrihiae fungi act as the highway.
Intercropping is cleverly planting plants together to produce more in less space. The Three Sisters is a good example of this! Corn roots go deep, beans roots fix nitrogen, and squash roots stay shallow. Intercropping also makes good use of time. Again with the Three Sisters, corn is early, beans arrive later and use corn stalks as support, and squash is later and always stays low to the ground.
Intercropping can also support water retention and keep soil a good consistency.
This is where other plants are planted near your cash crop (in this case, cannabis) that attract pests more. Not only does this act as a defense for your weed plants, it gives you a safe warning that something is off and needs to be dialed in. Like the canary in the coal mine, if one of your trap crop plants gets an infestation, problems can be addressed swiftly with other pest management practices (like biocontrols) before the bugs ever make it to the precious cannabis plants.
Trap plants do their best job when placed at the entrances to greenhouses as well as along the sides of your greenhouse or outdoor plots– about one trap plant for every 30 feet or so.
These are plants that host defender species. Planted on the outskirts of your grow, these are plants that either directly or indirectly furnish resources like food and shelter to insects that are natural enemies (aka beneficials) to pests that eat your plants. In short, these are plants that support the good bugs!
It is important to have a healthy environment to maintain and keep the natural enemies around your grow. This is a long term solution to the suppression of pests and is ideal for when you plan to release natural enemies to combat or prevent pests that could damage your crop. But this method also works without planned releases of beneficial insects as it supports and boosts natural populations already in play.
Pro-tip: planting your banker plants in moveable pots allows you to redistribute them where they are needed throughout your grow!
Nitrogen is one of the building blocks of life. Certain plants, like legumes, can fix nitrogen from the air into the soil by generating rhizobacteria. Planting cover crops like clover, alfalfa, or vetch early then “chopping and dropping” (cutting down and mulching) before planting your cash crop like cannabis, starts your plants off with healthy, rich soil.
Biochemical pest suppression
Some companion plants release chemicals that repel unwelcome pests by mimicking fright or scatter hormones that the bugs pick up on. At the same time, these chemicals attract beneficial insects.
These plants serve as beneficial habitats providing food and shelter for the bugs that you want around to eat the bad bugs.
For a grower, this can result in a more stress-free experience and a better return on investment for their time, money, and effort. Please keep reading through the following article to learn about the top plants to consider as companion plants for your marijuana to help create an optimal environment that will produce a quality bud yield.
The Rules of Companion Planting
Companion planting can be a fantastic and highly beneficial way to create an optimal environment for quality cannabis growth. However, there are many rules that growers should be aware of before utilizing the companion planting method to help ensure their efforts will be as successful as possible. For example, before selecting any companion plants, growers should diligently research their options and take note of the different elements that the companion plants will need to thrive alongside the primary plant.
Take careful note of how much sun each plant will need to receive every day to grow properly and remain healthy. Also, note the pH level of your garden, and determine the pH range required to support each of the plants so you can make any needed adjustments to your soil.
Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that each of your companion plants will have adequate drainage required for their growth and to prevent damage from the presence of too much water.
Best Plants For Companion Planting
The following herbs and flowers can help cannabis grow more efficiently and productively. Each can be used for a different purpose, from stealth to nutrient absorption and more. To make the best use of all their effects and to promote an environment suitable for optimal cannabis growth, growers should utilize a combination of at least a few of the following plants.
The ones any grower selects will depend on their personal preferences, time, space, and overall growing abilities. But it’s recommended that growers attempt to branch out to get as many of their benefits as possible.
Marigold varieties that produce scents deter leafhoppers, whiteflies, beetles, beet leaf hoppers, Mexican bean beetles, and nematodes. French and Mexican marigolds are the best! They also attract beneficials.
Chamomile is a great defender against pests and whiteflies. While it is more famously known for producing calming tea, chamomile is a strong protective plant for cannabis, especially in the earlier stages.
Planting it next to cannabis keeps the insects at bay and can give younger plants a nutritional boost as well.
This popular herb is an ideal companion plant for cannabis. Dill has strong protective qualities which makes it an ideal defender companion plant. Dill drives insects like caterpillars away from cannabis as they prefer dill over other plants.
Dill also has strong repelling powers against bugs, mites, and aphids. Not only is it easy to plant, one can do so without causing any harm to the crop.
This ‘Prince of Plants’ is also a great companion plant for cannabis. Many farmers believe that basil helps improve the flavor of their crops like tomatoes. In the case of cannabis, it can boost the production of terpenes, which are essential oils found in cannabis.
Not only does it promote the growth of terpenes but it also attracts insects that help the cannabis plant while driving away harmful insects like asparagus beetles, mosquitos, and whiteflies.
Alfalfa is a famous high grass - no, not cannabis, but a crop known to repel lygus bug. This pest is particularly harmful to the growth of marijuana.
Alfalfa also helps with adjusting the nitrogen levels in the soil, which are key to the growth of any plant - especially cannabis while it stores iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, all of which are important nutrients.
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6. Lemon Balm
Want to hide the odor of growing cannabis? Start by planting lemon balm around it. Lemon balm has an effective aroma that helps disguise the smell of marijuana.
This is particularly helpful with nosy neighbors and in areas where cannabis cultivation is frowned upon. The stealth benefit alone is a huge plus point of using Lemon Balm as a companion plant for any cannabis garden.
Lemon balm also helps repel mosquitoes and gnats, which keep the plants safe.
Sunflowers are among the top companion plants for cannabis. Not only are they beautiful, but they also serve a strong purpose in cannabis cultivation. Sunflowers are helpful in luring insects away from cannabis due to their dominant presence.
Sunflower roots are helpful in soil filtration and preservation. Disguising any cannabis plant is easier when there are sunflowers next to it, they draw all the attention to themselves and leave little to no room for any distraction.
Aesthetic value aside, lavender is highly useful for cannabis cultivation. Fleas, ticks, and mice are highly repulsed by the smell of lavender.
Planting it next to marijuana will keep pesky pests away and the cultivation safe from unwanted intruders.
Nectar-feeding bugs, which are beneficial to cannabis cultivation, love lavender and are attracted to it, thus benefiting the growth process of marijuana as well. Plus, it works great as a relaxant alongside cannabis.
Yarrow is a garden edge plant, which means that simply planting it around cannabis will not only save space but also help in yielding higher growth results.
Yarrow helps facilitate the release of essential oils in plants in its vicinity, which is an important aspect for any cannabis grower.
Yarrow also attracts insects like ladybugs, hoverflies, aphid lions, and mini wasps which end up protecting the marijuana plant.
The strong and mostly undesirable scent of coriander keeps insects like aphids, spider mites, and potato beetles at bay.
On the other hand, it attracts tachinid flies, hoverflies, and a variety of parasitoid wasps that prey on bugs that cause harm to cannabis plants.
Using coriander as a companion plant for cannabis cultivation is a great way to deter pests and keep the plants safe from any unwanted visitors.
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Selecting a companion plant should be decided based on the purpose that growers need it to serve regarding the primary plant. There are many benefits to using companion plants while cultivating cannabis, from disguising the cultivation to protecting it from pests and much more.
One should always understand these different benefits, along with the various requirements that each of their selected companion plants will have to grow effectively. Once you understand this information, you can then move ahead to ensure they are all receiving the proper nourishment, space, and more to create an effective environment for the growth of your cannabis.
Frequently Asked Questions about Companion Plants
What are good companion plants for outdoor cannabis?
Here are some good companion plants for outdoor cannabis: Cerastium, Sunflower, Marigold, Alfalfa, Red Clover, and Chervil
What are good companion plants for Indoor cannabis?
Anything except a male cannabis plant. For indoor cannabis, you need to be growing female plants only. A male plant will pollinate the entire room, resulting in seeds, not unfertilized flowers. When a cannabis plant gets seeds, the potency of the buds drop as well.
What do companion plants help with?
Companion plants provide essential nutrients, maintain healthy soil, attract the ideal insects, and keep away the bad ones.
Do you enjoy an occasional cannabis smoke break but would like to avoid overly-expensive trips to your local dispensary each time your bud stash starts to run a little too low for comfort? Take the time to consider growing your own marijuana from the comfort of your home with one of our top-quality cannabis growing kits.