Companion plants are a natural way to keep your cannabis plants healthy and protected from pests. Some help attract beneficial insects, others ward off bad ones, and some fix nitrogen in the soil.
If you’re a grower looking for ways to boost your yields and minimize the chances of disease, companion planting is a great choice. Let’s take a closer look at how it works and how you can use companion planting in your cultivation!
Insect Resistant Species
Insects can cause great damage to cannabis plants, especially when they aren’t properly treated. Fortunately, there are several pest-resistant species that you can use in your cannabis garden to help reduce pest problems.
Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques can be used to minimize pest populations and maximize plant yields. These methods include physical controls such as air filtration and lighting, as well as chemical controls that can be used to eliminate pests.
For example, neem oil is highly effective at preventing and fighting many pests that are common in cannabis cultivation. It can be used to treat and prevent aphids, white flies, leaf miners, thrips and more.
Neem oil can be sprayed or added to watering supplies and used on both the leaves and the stems of cannabis plants during the flowering stage. This method is safer, healthier and more eco-friendly than traditional chemical pest prevention.
Another natural way to protect your cannabis crops is through companion planting. This involves introducing species that are beneficial to your crop but also to other species in the garden. This strategy can be used in conjunction with biologically sourced pest control products.
Rove beetles are a natural and effective predator of pests such as fungus gnats, whiteflies and thrips. They can be purchased as a tube and emptied on affected areas of your crop.
In addition to rove beetles, there are several other predatory mites that can be introduced into your cannabis garden to keep pest populations in check. Phytoseiulus persimilis is an especially good candidate, as it has the ability to feed on red spiders and their eggs and larvae.
Ladybugs are another excellent predator of soft-bodied insects such as aphids, mealybugs and whiteflies. They can be released in an outdoor grow or greenhouse setting and can consume up to 50 aphids daily.
Natural Pest Deterrents
Natural pest deterrents are a cost-effective way to keep your cannabis garden healthy and thriving. They are also safe for the environment and will not harm your plants or people around them.
The most common types of pests found in cannabis gardens include spider mites, fungus gnats, root aphids and thrips. However, there are other soil-dwelling pests that can damage your garden without your knowledge.
Companion planting, or cultivating beneficial plant species near your cannabis crop, is a great way to deter pests from your garden. For example, basil repels aphids, asparagus beetles and mosquitoes while lemon balm is known to deter fungus gnats and other insect pests.
Many other plants can be used to deter pests. For instance, garlic, dill, coriander and chrysanthemum naturally produce pyrethrum, which is a deterrent to many pests.
Another effective natural pest deterrent is neem oil, which can be added to foliar sprays or applied directly to the foliage of your plants. Neem oil is a powerful natural insecticide that can help protect your cannabis crops from aphids, whiteflies and leaf miners.
There are a number of predatory mites that can be used to control aphids and other pests in your garden. Some of these predators can be introduced at the start of your vegetation cycle to help control aphid populations before they become too large.
Another beneficial pest control option is to release native American ladybugs on your plants. They are non-invasive and can be released both indoors and outdoors, although be sure to release them in the evening, after sundown. They are not venomous and will only bite if they are provoked.
There are a number of ways that growers can protect their marijuana crops from wind damage. One is to plant a cover-crop (planting that grows around your cannabis plants) that traps moisture, deters pests, and provides living mulch. Another option is to use a plastic windbreaker that blocks the wind and keeps your plants dry.
When a cannabis crop is exposed to strong winds, it can become shredded or damaged, particularly if the leaves are swollen in heavy flowering. This can lead to a variety of problems, including micro-injuries that inhibit the plants’ ability to perform biological functions necessary for survival.
The movement of air in a garden helps to keep the leaves stomata open for continuous gas exchange, and a stiff breeze can also help your plant absorb more nutrients through its roots. However, long-term exposure to strong winds can cause the plant to suffer from a condition called plant wind burns.
This is caused by the air moving faster than the plant can process it, which prevents the plant from performing its vital biological functions. Once a plant develops a wind burn, it must be treated immediately.
Another way to protect a cannabis crop from wind damage is to plant companion plants nearby. These plants can attract predatory insects that help control pest populations, and they can also repel harmful pests.
Some companion plants can even provide a boost to your cannabis growth, giving it the energy and nutrition it needs to thrive. Sunflowers and lavender are two great examples. These flowers attract insects that are beneficial to the cannabis grower, and they also protect the marijuana crop from nematodes, which are microscopic worms that damage plant roots.
Companion planting, which is a permaculture technique, enhances the health of your cannabis plants and their yield by creating a natural ecosystem. It also improves the overall quality of your soil by providing a healthy living space for beneficial microorganisms to grow.
Nitrogen fixing plants (pod trees like Black Alder, Honey Locust, and Russian Olive; shrubs like Caragana and Sea Buckthorn; and legumes such as peas and beans) are great companions to your cannabis crop. They help your cannabis plants to pull nitrogen gas from the air into a bio-available form, improving the quality of your soil.
These plants need the bacteria known as rhizobium to help them do this. When these bacteria infect nitrogen fixers they convert the airborne nitrogen to a form that can be taken up by the plant and then used to produce more food.
If your garden is experiencing a nitrogen deficiency, try adding granulated fertilizers from cottonseed meal or alfalfa hay to correct this problem. They contain protein that will counteract the nitrogen deficiency.
Garlic is another great companion plant as it produces a natural pesticide that helps keep away many insects. It also repels nematodes, which are microscopic worms that can attack and damage the roots of your cannabis plants.
In addition to these nitrogen fixers, there are a few other herbs and vegetables that can be planted alongside your cannabis garden to boost its health and yield. French Marigold is a great choice as it keeps away a variety of insects, including beetle leaf hoppers, nematodes and water flies. Peppermint repels harmful insects and attracts helpful ones, while garlic can help protect your garden from fungus.
Biodiversity, or the variety of living things, is a key part of ecosystem health. It refers to all the different organisms that exist within a particular area, and it includes species diversity (the variety of individual species), habitat diversity (the number of different habitat types in a certain area) and genetic diversity (the number of different genes in each species).
Biodiversity can be measured on both the local and global scales. Ecosystems that have high biodiversity are known to have a range of characteristics that make them more resilient to disease, pests and environmental hazards.
These characteristics are also associated with ecological services that are critical for making life livable on Earth. These include cleaning water, absorbing chemicals and providing oxygen for us to breathe, among many others.
However, there are also some human activities that lower biodiversity. These include:
– Industrial agriculture, which depletes the soil and reduces natural resources.
Planting monocultures that only consist of one crop, such as corn or potatoes, can be highly vulnerable to diseases and pests. Moreover, monocultures deplete the soil at a rapid pace.
A more sustainable approach is to use polycultures, where plants grow adjacent to each other rather than in separate fields. This can help create two important characteristics that nature has developed: species diversity and complex structure.
The different plants also attract and promote different soil microbial life, which helps to enhance nutrient uptake by cannabis. The right microbes can even protect plants from specific pests and diseases.
Companion planting can be an excellent strategy to increase cannabis yields and boost its quality. It can also be used to minimize cultivation costs and mitigate risk.