A Complete Guide to Growing Organic Marijuana

iStock / ArtRachen01

The average pothead knows that there are two most popular methods of growing organic marijuana. One is in soil, and the other is in water using hydroponics. Unfortunately, what is often overlooked is the fact that marijuana plants are resilient by nature, so no matter how they are grown they don’t require any harmful chemicals or fertilizers to flourish.

It is a common misconception that any plant grown without the aid of high-priced additives is often referred to as ditch weed and is expected to be of low quality. This is mainly driven by the manufacturers and vendors that sell these pre-made products for a profit and isn’t based, however, indoor organic cannabis can be bountiful while also containing high levels of THC and terpenes.

Understanding Growing Organic Marijuana

Organic marijuana is cultivated using only natural ingredients and supplements that do not adversely impact the environment or the people who are consuming the products.

Benefits of growing cannabis organically

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to avoid chemicals of any sort coming into contact with any products that you will be ingesting, but when it comes to cannabis, the addition of these treatments can have some pretty devastating effects on your buds, and your health.

  • Typically, it is recommended that if you use fertilizers and other chemicals, you should conduct a cleansing period of at least two weeks before harvest. The trouble is that many of those elements remain left behind in the bud flowers that you will want to consume at some point. This often results in a burnt taste and smell when the weed is smoked and a bitter aftertaste if it’s made into marijuana edibles. When you cultivate organically you can avoid all of that, and not hve to worry about advese concenquences.

  • Many of the substances that stick around are carcinogens and known to cause cancer when heated. Organic fertilizers do not emit hazardous elements when they are smoked.

  • Cannabis plants are naturally equipped to ward off disease and predators when they are given the appropriate natural nutrients that they need to thrive and using chemicals in the growth process may hinder those natual abilities.

Tools you'll need and how much they cost

Growing organic cannabis will require some of the basic tools you would expect to find in any grow room, including lights, soil, water, and moderate temperatures, but will also include homemade plant food for weed rather than traditional industrial chemicals that growers often turn to first.

  • Pots/garden - $0-$30
  • Cannabis seeds - $5-$15
  • Super soil - $5-$20
  • Compost or other nutrient boosters - $5-$35

How to grow organic marijuana


Step 1. To begin, you will need to select a light fixture and make sure it is installed before your seeds sprout.

Step 2. Now, you will want to begin germinating, which can be done several different ways. You can use peat moss pucks that can be planted directly into potting soil once they sprout, or you can use the old-school methods of putting them directly into the dirt or soaking them in water between layers of paper towel for a few days until you see sprouts appear.

Step 3. One of the most important steps to growing indoor organic cannabis is providing the plants with proper amounts of the essential organic cannabis nutrients needed for the best start. The best way to do this is through the soil medium you choose. You should begin with a super soil that is filled with as many nutrients that can be added safely. This can be done by using various mixtures consisting of compost, bat guano, coffee grinds, worm castings, and more.

Step 4. Once you have finished making enough super soil to fill one 2-gallon pot for each plant you will be growing, then you can fill the containers with it and mist the soil to give the nutrients the chance to begin activating before the sprouts even make it into the pot.

Step 5. The rest of the process is similar to growing any other kind of weed indoors, except with required fertilizers. The biggest benefit of growing marijuana organically is that it’s the least amount of work. Regular watering will continuously feed the plant trace amounts of nutrients as required.

Unfortunately, some still see various deficiencies in their plant’s as they grow. If at any time you feel your plants may need an extra boost, you can consider home nutrients for weed plants that can be added to your watering schedule as needed.

What nutrients you need to grow organic marijuana

When growing completely organic marijuana plants, you will need to either purchase or make some organic cannabis nutrients to add to your daily watering schedule or soil medium. The base of the best homemade plant food for weed should be the cleanest water you have available. Tap water can contain high levels of various chemicals that can be damaging to a plant long-term or hinder the plant’s ability to absorb any of the nutrients it’s given.

The three most essential organic cannabis nutrients are phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. Then there are slightly more complicated ones, but just as necessary micronutrients AKA trace elements, which consist of minerals and metals that your plants will want in smaller amounts.

1. Phosphorus - For phosphorous, banana peels can be used. Place a few in a medium pot filled with water and boil them for approximately10 minutes. Dilute the end product with water and apply it to your watering schedule once a week.

2. Nitrogen - To add nitrogen to your list of home nutrients for weed, you will need liquid worm castings to add to your watering schedule once every 3 days.

3. Potassium - For potassium-based home nutrients with weed plants, you can use bat guano, banana peels, fish meal, or wood ash and add them directly to the watering container once a week.

All-natural fertilizer alternatives

iStock / sasimoto

Whether you are just learning how to grow marijuana or have the experience but little knowledge on the more natural options, chemical-free fertilizers are an excellent choice as they do not impact the smell, taste, or growth of your marijuana plant in any negative way. Though you might not see master growers or licensed producers using these methods to feed their growing marijuana crops, they have the experience, knowledge, and tools necessary to use higher strength fertilizers without causing damage.

Even with proper instruction, manufactured options can significantly impact flavor and leave behind residues that can be damaging to your health, as they cannot be removed with curing. If all-natural options sound like they might be for you, then you will want to check out these 5 fertilizer alternatives for organic cannabis.

1. Worm Castings

If you cringe at the idea of worm castings, then you are not alone but do not worry, as they generally create no harm in the making of this product. Worm castings are little more than a fancy term for worm poo, as it is the digested materials that come out of the worm after they have ingested.

This additive is full of nutrients and microorganisms that will work hard to keep your marijuana plant healthy and thriving, but it isn’t a great option for already established plants. Instead, it is most often used as a soil amendment long before planting.

2. Guano

This is the perfect addition, particularly for those who start out with a less nutrient-dense soil, as these droppings are chocked full of natural salts, nitrogen, and phosphorus, all of which can be activated at each watering for a slow release of goodness for your growing marijuana plant throughout its entire life.

  • Bat Guano
  • Fossilized seabird Guano
  • Seabird Guano
  • Belize Bat Guano

3. Urine

Though it might sound a bit gross, it is never a good idea to pee directly onto your growing marijuana plant as it can burn the leaves and stems, however, it does make an excellent addition to water in minimal amounts. This alone can help to boost your weed plants leaves and stem growth by a noticeable amount.

Just be careful not to overdo it, and if you do decide to mix some urine fertilizer solution, be sure to use it all immediately as leaving a combination of ingredients like water and urine to sit can cause the ammonia levels to skyrocket, which will damage a plant rather than help to feed it.


4. Bone Meal

This is an excellent option for boosting nitrogen levels in your soil. However, this one isn’t a vegan-friendly option as these natural fertilizers are created using animal byproducts. They are perfect for adding to an already established plant because they will not harm the stem, they do not smell and will not attract hordes of annoying and damaging pests.

  • Soy Meal
  • Blood Meal
  • Steamed Bone Meal
  • Fish Meal

5. Tea Compost

This little-known secret is excellent for growing marijuana, and it isn’t just plain old tea grounds sprinkled onto soil. Tea compost is a combination of many different natural ingredients that are mixed together in compost and then bathed in a hot liquid tea to activate the rich source of nutrients.
Once this process is complete, you can use the soil by planting a marijuana plant directly in it, or by adding a nice thick layer of topsoil to your pots or garden. As you add water through regular care, it will slowly deliver a potent stream of needed nutrients to your cannabis plant.


Composting is a huge portion of growing organic marijuana for most who are cultivating small scale grows because it is cost-effective and easy to start. All you really need is a large container with a hole in the bottom and a lid, and a space in the backyard to leave it upside down buried only a few inches into the soil. The problem with composting is that is can take a little while to get a good base ready to use, but the wait is well worth it.

How to start composting

iStock / Grahamphoto23

You will need:

  • Large bucket with lid
  • Shovel
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Any of the all-natural fertilizers mentioned above
  • Nutrient-rich soil
  • Hay (or leaf scraps)
  • Knife (or other cutting tools)


  1. Dig a hole in the ground outside, that is slightly larger than the bucket and approximately 6 inches deep.

  2. Remove most of the dirt from the hole.

  3. Cut the bottom out of the bucket and bury that end in the hole that you’ve just dug.

  4. Fill the bottom ¼ of the bucket with a mixture of any of the ingredients that are listed above, and finish by replacing the lid.

Maintaining your compost

Now you have a really good start for a compost that is perfect for cultivating organic marijuana, but it isn’t going to do much good as it sits. You will need to consistently add new ingredients to the pile, and a lot of it can be free from the scraps that you would normally toss out in the kitchen.

Most vegetables, eggshells, and other organic food products can be excellent additions to a compost, and they will help to keep the pile nutrient dense with a constant source of food so that you have a head start for growing your next crop. On top of daily table scraps, leaves, manure, hay, straw, and more base soil can always be added to keep your compost pile rich with all of the essential nutrients necessary for cultivating organic marijuana.

Organic compost tea recipes for cannabis

Compost can be a powerful tool when it’s used on its own, but it’s even better when it’s combined with these other all-natural supplements to create a tea. There are many different versions to choose from, but below you will find a simple guide to base ingredients, and an easy to follow steps on how to use them.


  • Compost
  • Kelp
  • Fish hydrolysate
  • Molasses
  • Worm castings
  • Large bucket with lid
  • Water
  • Air pump


  1. Add approximately 1 cup of each of the soil amendments to a large bucket and then fill it ¾ of the way with distilled chemical-free water.

  2. Stir the mixture well until all of the chunks are broken up before tossing an air pump into it. Professionals often use high-quality pumps, but on a smaller scale, one from a fish tank can work just fine.

  3. Leave the compost tea to brew for anywhere from 24-48 hours.

  4. Add 1 cup of this compost tea to every gallon of water that you use for growing organic marijuana for an extra boost in nutrients.

Organic Pest control

iStock / taden

Most people utilize a variety of store-purchased supplements to maintain their marijuana plants, and while some might appear to be effective, they are all chemical-laden and require careful administration to be successful. If that doesn’t sound appealing, then you might want to see what it takes to use ladybugs to help you to care for your plants.

1. Buy the ladybugs
Though there are millions of ladybugs likely hanging out in your backyard, those might not be the ideal species for bringing indoors. It’s important always to remember that some invasive ladybug species can do much more harm than good, so it’s always a good idea to purchase a ladybug bundle from a reputable breeder meant specifically for this purpose. Search for native ladybug species that don’t bite and will not consume the plants. There are local sources, or online to choose from, and both will ship the perfect number of ladybugs right to your doorstep.

2. Release the ladybugs into your cannabis garden
Some people swear that a few healthy ladybugs are fine to keep on a cannabis crop throughout every stage, but the professionals have a slightly different opinion on the matter. When you are growing marijuana and want to use ladybugs, they should always be quarantined to one room and only used during the vegetative stage. Once that stage is over, they can be gently removed and stored until needed again or released into the wild. The later and more mature flowering stage is much more appealing to these leaf munchers who may cause some damage if left unchecked.

3. Maintain the ladybugs
Now that you have released a small army of ladybugs, you will need to maintain them so that they survive to do the job. An easy and cost-effective food source is raisins or other dried fruits that have been soaked in water. A separate dish of fresh chemical-free water should always also be available for them to drink from. Taking care of ladybugs is simple, once you get comfortable with their presence, then the only real downside is the occasional carcass that you will find littering the floor as they die.

Benefits of ladybugs for growing marijuana

Whether you are just learning how to grow weed, or you are an experienced cultivator looking for a cost-effective solution to pests. Either way, ladybugs can help to protect your harvest from vicious and unforgiving predators like spider mites that are difficult to treat and nearly impossible to come back from.

It’s the cheapest non-toxic method currently available and could save you thousands of dollars from one yield alone, making them the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t mind a small colony of visitors for a few days.

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