Measuring soil PH level is important for growing cannabis

Published Aug 9, 2019 01:12 p.m. ET
iStock / fotokostic

Just like any other plant, offering up the ideal environment provides a boost like no other. The medium is the base of every growing cannabis plant, as it will draw the majority of its nutrients from underneath this source. Whether you are just learning how to grow weed or you are an experienced green thumb that is used to less technical jargon, then figuring out how to maintain the PH levels of your growing medium should be one of the first things put on your to-do list. Though some people will always believe that leaving nature to take its course might be better; Here we will cover some of the reasons this particular aspect of growing cannabis can be so influential on the quality of a crop.

What does PH mean?

In this instance, PH means the precise amount of alkalinity or acidity of water-soluble elements. The scale that is used to measure PH ranges from 0 to 14, with higher numbers meaning an alkaline environment, and lower ones being acidic. Some species of plants enjoy high levels of either factor, and this is often determined by the amounts that are found in their region of origin.

Are PH levels only relevant to those who are using hydroponics?

A lot of people assume that fancy testing kits and specific data are only necessary for more high-tech operations like hydroponics. These setups utilize water and other growing mediums that shift much more than your average soil. Though PH levels are much more critical with this method of growing, regular soil straight from the garden can have high or low reading and either positive or adverse results to show for it as well.

What is the ideal PH level for growing cannabis?

Cannabis plants are a hardy species that do quite well in an above average on the acidic scale environment. The recommended PH level for producing marijuana is between 6 and 6 1/2. If the alkalinity rises above 7.5, it can hinder the cannabis plants ability to consume essential nutrients like iron, zinc and copper. If that number drops below 5, then it hits the fragile root system and stops it from being able to process other types of nutrients like magnesium and calcium. Reason being, with this type of acidic of an environment, they lose their water solubility.

How do PH levels influence cannabis plants growth?

The highest producing cannabis plants will most often be products of a stellar environment. As these plants grow, they must work hard their entire lives to gather vital elements like nutrients. Since the majority of these natural wonders are pulled from the growing medium, it is crucial that nothing stands in the way of that. The ideal environment results in the highest bud production, most potent due to increased amounts of THC and larger, more robust cannabis plants. All of which will ultimately provide a better quality product.

How are PH levels generally managed when growing cannabis?

This is a difficult question, as some many different products and ingredients can be used to balance the delicate scales within the growing medium. However, in general, it is some form of supplement that is added to the water and given to your cannabis plants. This can help you to stay within a safe range, which will provide the best boost possible to your plant’s growth. Supplements are just that and only offered on a temporary and an as-needed basis. Testing for ph levels is typically done with a testing kit that can be purchased on Amazon, at your local dispensary and greenhouses/nurseries.

Step by step instructions for managing PH levels

If the growing medium is far too alkaline, then adding a natural compost to your water can help to return the standards to a safe range. To do this, you will need to test the water that will be used on the cannabis plants, as well as the runoff after it filters through the soil. A catch at the bottom of pots can help to keep this task smooth. At this point, it is also a good idea to arm yourself with nutrient PH level controllers, but if necessary, that can wait until when and/or if a problem ever arises.

  1. Add all-natural fertilizers or nutrients to your cannabis plants with water.
  2. Test the water and water runoff with a goal of around 6 on the scale. This won’t be able to alter immediately, but it gives an immediate idea of how healthy the plant’s environment is.
  3. Use pure water to rinse cannabis plants.
  4. Test PH levels the same way as before
  5. If the levels are in the ideal range, then continue with a regular watering schedule. If they are too low, then you will need to add a boosting supplement with the next watering. If they are too high, then wait one more day and test again. If it is still too high, then you will need to pick out an additive that will lower them and add it to your next watering.


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