Companion Plants for Cannabis Growing
Growing cannabis alone, either indoor or outdoor, leaves them exposed to the elements and can result in problems like mold or bugs. Just like cannabis, companion plants also produce terpenes so planting the right ones at the right time can help you combat pests, improve soil, and invite beneficial microorganisms to your garden.
1. Companion plants
Companion planting is a method of cultivation where specific plants are grown together for their properties and benefits, promoting a natural ecosystem.
This method is super old, dating back to the beginning of agriculture itself, back then farmers didn’t have synthetic products to combat pests so they tried with aromatic vegetation and realized the benefits of this technique.
These aromatic herbs and cover crops are a natural way to protect your grow from pests and diseases, they can attract beneficial bugs that feed on harmful species, some also can combat mold and fungi that can attack your garden.
This happens because plants produce terpenes and other compounds that can deter or attract pests and can live in a beneficial relationship with marijuana.
Now, most growers stick to growing Cannabis but by mimicking nature and maintaining the right biodiversity you can not only avoid problems but also improve soil quality and help fixate nutrients in the soil, resulting in more resiliency to pathogens and a healthier garden.
2. Different types of companion plants
Even though companion plants are any type of vegetation that can have a beneficial relationship with your cannabis, there are different types.
Depending on the type of plant and herb, it can have different effects, from preventing bugs to improving soil and the nutrients available in it, you need to have in mind that each one brings different benefits.
- Cover crops
Cover crops help in the texture of your soil, help protect beneficial microbes and manage nutrients, making them more available when needed.
- Nitrogen fixers
Nitrogen fixers pull nitrogen into the soil, which is used by Cannabis in photosynthesis, have in mind that nitrogen fixers don’t do it on their own, they need other plants and especially bacteria to do it properly.
Deterrents emit strong odors, the terpenes produce by them is usually avoided by bugs and other pests, helping you keep your garden bug-free.
Attractors are those that attract pollinators and other beneficial bugs. Beneficial bugs can feed on other bugs like whiteflies or aphids, helping you control pests on your cannabis.
- Foods and herbs
Foods and herbs that can be consumed by usually don’t bring as many benefits as the other ones cited above but are a good choice to keep your soil active and maintain the microorganisms alive.
3. Best Companion Plants for Cannabis Growing
Even though in nature this type of vegetation are whatever grows naturally and most aromatic herbs can work, there are some of them that can be more effective than others.
If you’re looking for the best plants to grow in between your cannabis, here are the best.
Cerastium (Cerastium tomentosum) is a fast-growing cover crop that spreads across the top of the soil, retaining moisture and protecting microbial life in the soil.
Alfalfa ( Medicago sativa) is another cover crop that works with bacteria in the soil by drawing in nitrogen from the atmosphere, boosting vegetative growth and due to the deep roots, increases water penetration keeping the roots hydrated.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) not only can attract beneficial nitrogen-fixing bacteria that can help you combat or prevent aphids but also boost the production of essential oils in plants nearby, resulting in better tasting buds.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) apart from attracting beneficial bugs, it’s a plant that works with nitrogen-fixing bacteria to pull high amounts of nitrogen from the atmosphere, improving and encouraging plant matter growth.
Lavender (Lavandula spica) are beautiful plants that emit a strong odor and just like coriander, it will attract a lot of beneficial insects to your garden and prevent harmful bugs from getting into your garden while also helping mask the strong cannabis smell.
Peppermint (Mentha balsamea), as you may know, emits a strong smell, this aroma prevents pests like ants, fleas, aphids, and even mice while helping you mask the pungent odor that reeks during flowering.
We recommend keeping a close eye on peppermint because they can take over your garden so it’s better that you grow them in individual containers.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a member of the celery family, this plant produces a pungent smell that provides protection against caterpillars and spider mites.
Sunflower (Helianthus), apart from adding beauty to your garden, attracts the attention of bugs like aphids, whiteflies, and snails, protecting your garden from them.
Food and herbs
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of the most aromatic herbs and just as we can smell it (and love it) bugs do to. The herb attracts various harmful insects like beetles and aphids, keeping them away from your cannabis.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) produces a smell that spider mites, beetles, and aphids cannot stand, protecting your cannabis against pests and also, can attract wasps that feed on these bugs, keeping the pest population down.
4. Benefits of companion plants
This technique is based on the principle of permaculture which proposes that every agricultural activity should be sustainable and self-sufficient, meaning they are closed-loops systems and everything that goes in has to be recycled.
This technique works like that in a way because everything that goes into your garden will result in food, beneficial vegetation or microorganisms, compost, and nutrients, and nothing will go to waste because it literally goes back into the soil.
Trap cropping consists of drawing attention away from your cannabis by having trap crops that pests and bugs prefer, even though you’re sacrificing some of them, your cannabis will be secure and bug-free.
One of the benefits of having this kind of relationship in your garden (apart from the beauty of a healthy garden) is that depending on the size and plants used, you can effectively camouflage your cannabis like in a guerilla grow style.
Improving soil fertility
The soil fertility can be improved by having nitrogen fixers that fixate the nitrogen from the atmosphere. Vegetations like clover and peas develop a symbiotic relationship that helps fix nitrogen in the soil that can be used by your cannabis, other vegetation, and microorganisms.
Biological pest control
Some companions release chemicals from the roots or leaves that help prevent pests because some of these compounds can influence the growth, survival, and reproduction of some organisms.
Beneficial spatial interactions
Companion planting can provide beneficial spatial interactions, this means that taller plants (which prefer more sun) can share the same space as shorter ones (which prefer a bit of shadow, resulting in higher yields from that space of land.
5. What not to grow with your companion plants
Even though companions bring a lot of benefits, you have to be careful when choosing, planting unsuitable companions can end up affecting them in a bad way so you can take a look at this table to know exactly which ones to avoid.
What not to grow with your companions
|Yarrow||Allium family (onion, garlic, chives…), Rue|
|Peppermint||Lavender, Dill, Coriander|
|Dill||Cilantro or Coriander|
|Sweet basil||Thyme, Rue|
Now, this doesn’t mean you cannot have them together, for example, you can have dill and coriander in the same growing space but in different places and, preferably, a couple of meters from each other.
6. In conclusion
Companion planting is a natural and very effective way of improving your soil and cannabis in general, either with better soil, preventing pests, or just by keeping the moisture locked in, these plants will aid you in the process of growing cannabis.
Have you ever benefited from a symbiotic relationship while growing cannabis? If you have any tips or just want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below!
- Benefits of Companion Planting in Gardening.- Leonard Githinji
- Companion Planting. – Reddy, P. (2017).
- Companion plants for predatory bugs. – Lambion, Jérôme & Ingegno, Barbara Letizia & Tavella, Luciana & Alomar, Oscar & Perdikis, Dionysios. (2016).
- Companion Plants and Mixed Cropping. – Mousaei Sanjerehei, Mohammad. (2017).
Companion plants are all plants that can be grown near cannabis and will result in a symbiotic relationship that will benefit both of them.
Companion Planting For Cannabis: What You Need To Know
Growing cannabis plants alone leaves them exposed to pests and the elements, and it can leave the soil depleted as well. If you grow companion plants nearby, though, you’ll not only be able to fend off pests, but bring in beneficial insects and introduce key nutrients to the soil as well. Here, we’ll be discussing how they work in close detail.
Companion planting will transform your garden and help your weed plants thrive.
For the most part, cannabis plants do well when grown as a monocrop (meaning it’s the only plant in a given area). As it goes in nature, though, they grow much better when surrounded by certain species of other plants. These helpers, known as companion plants, fulfil a variety of critical roles in the garden and grow room, from keeping insect pests away to driving vital nutrients into the soil.
Read on to discover the fascinating world of companion planting, and see why you should be partaking in this ancient practice.
WHAT IS COMPANION PLANTING?
As we’ve implied, companion planting involves growing beneficial plant species in close proximity to—or even among—your cannabis plants. These species offer myriad benefits to your growing operation, hence why they’re referred to as “companions”.
Some plants attract useful pollinators and predatory insects, others keep your cannabis hidden away, while different kinds pull in nitrogen from the atmosphere. As they take root with your crop, the resulting polyculture resists disease far better than a conventional monoculture. The cannabis you harvest will be higher-quality, too!
AN ANCIENT PRACTICE: THE HISTORY OF COMPANION PLANTING
The practice of companion planting is almost as old as agriculture itself, dating back thousands of years. As farmers tried growing new crops, they realised the benefits of growing symbiotic plants together. They saw their yields increasing and the health of their plants remaining stable, all while saving space.
Around 6,000 years ago, Native Americans began practising a companion method known as the Three Sisters. This trio—consisting of corn, squash, and beans—was found to bring the best out of each other.
The corn grows tall and pole-like, providing ample shade for the squash and a climbing frame for the beans. The squash then develops large leaves that block sunlight from directly hitting the soil, preserving microbial life. In turn, the beans, being legumes, work with said soil-dwelling microbes (rhizobia) to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere—a vital nutrient.
THE BENEFITS OF COMPANION PLANTING: A PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE
As you can see, companion planting can transform your garden into a complex web of life that sustains and benefits itself. Given that, the practice is consistent with the idea of permaculture, which suggests agricultural systems should be sustainable and self-sufficient.
Permaculture also places a huge emphasis on closed-loop systems. These systems aim to keep the flow of resources within the boundaries of a farm or garden. With that in mind, companion planting helps achieve a closed-loop system by providing food, herbs, compost, and atmospheric nitrogen.
Let’s dive in a bit deeper to see how these benefits pan out.
Of course, growing different species of plants in close proximity will greatly enhance the biodiversity of your garden. This biodiversity creates a superb environment for soil microbes to thrive—one of the keys to developing healthy cannabis plants.
Increased biodiversity in the form of flowers, shrubs, and vegetables also provides a safe haven for beneficial wildlife and pollinators. In turn, this variety helps reduce instances of disease transmission. In contrast, large, densely packed monocultures are notorious for catching fast-spreading pathogens. Since the plants are all the same, they’ll fall victim to the same illness. Companion plants fix this by creating a buffer between the main crop and disease.
Companion plants do attract wildlife, but not all kinds. In fact, they also help deter animals and pests that can do real damage to your cannabis plants.
Many species of companion plants release pungent aromas into the air and act as natural insect repellents. Other species take an opposite approach, looking far more attractive in the eyes of insects. Instead of driving pests out of the garden, they steal their attention and divert them away from your weed plants.
Larger species—especially those grown as barriers—can also protect your cannabis from harsh weather. Tall sunflowers and tomatoes, for instance, can act as windbreaks to prevent any stems from snapping during storms.
SOIL HEALTH AND NUTRIENTS
Healthy soil sets good cannabis growing operations apart from great ones. Just below the surface of the soil, in the rhizosphere, roots “farm” many different species of microbes. The roots then release sugary exudates and attract all manner of bacteria and fungi.
These species help plants access nutrients in various ways. Mycorrhizal fungi, for one, fuse with plant roots and help them obtain nutrients in return for sugars. Bacteria love the taste of these sugars, too. As a result, when they eventually die, they release many nutrients in close proximity to the roots.
Polycultures are particularly great at sustaining these microbial colonies. Cover crops guard them from the sun, and other companions add exudates into the soil, creating a thriving food web. Nitrogen-fixing plants also ramp up soil health and accelerate growth. Specifically, they work with bacteria in the soil to pull nitrogen from the atmosphere and into the soil.
FOOD AND NATURAL REMEDIES
Perhaps one of the best benefits of this growing strategy is that some companion plants even produce food! To us, nothing beats the satisfaction of cooking up food from your own garden, especially when you have the munchies.
Other plants can be used in soothing teas, tonics, or cosmetics such as lotions, balms, and tinctures.
EFFECTIVE AND POPULAR COMPANION PLANTS
There are hundreds of companion plants to choose from, and thousands of combinations. When planning your polyculture, be sure to check which plants are compatible and which are not. Some plants thrive together, whereas others simply don’t get along.
With that being said, these are some of the most effective companion plants out there, categorised by type.
Cover crops improve the structure of the soil, manage nutrients, and help protect microbial populations.
Companion plants offer many benefits to your cannabis crop. They'll deter pests and leave your soil healthier than ever! Click to find out more.