More equals better, at least, that’s what many growers think. So anyone growing cannabis outdoor wants as many plants per square metre as possible, to make optimum use of available space. But did you know that you can make your weed plants thrive by planting other species next to, or even in between your cannabis crop? This approach, known as companion planting or intercropping, holds surprising benefits for cannabis growers. Here are some great neighbours for your marijuana plants, bringing properties that can boost your grow. They can enrich the soil or help keep pests at bay. As farmers know, diversity can be profitable. Your cannabis plants will be all the better for it, while you enjoy a gorgeous sea of fresh herbs and wild flowers.
Cannabis Companion Planting: Marijuana Neighbours
Combined planting or intercropping denotes mixing species of herbs, flowers, and other plants together with your original crop of choice. The idea itself is ancient: farmers soon noticed how certain species have traits that are useful for other species. Such companion crops can be said to grow symbiotically, in this case with cannabis, offering many advantages while doing so.
Even though the concept of companion planting has been around since the dawn of agriculture, growing vegetables, fruit, and even cannabis has shifted to a monoculture approach. You’ll notice this the minute you travel to the countryside: endless fields of corn and potatoes, as far as the eye can see. In recent years, however, farmers have rediscovered the proven benefits of mixed culture or combined planting. Acres and acres of land with just one crop are highly vulnerable to disease, pests, and weather extremes. Moreover, monoculture depletes the soil at record pace.
Plats allowed to grow in symbiosis with other species enjoy all sorts of advantages over monoculture crops. These advantages pertain not just to regular farmers: they hold true for marijuana growers as well. Cannabis companion planting involves specific neighbour plants selected for their useful traits. Benefits of cannabis companion planting include:
- Greater biodiversity;
- Attracting useful insects and other animals;
- Repelling harmful insects and pests;
- Enriching the soil (through nitrogen, for instance).
The Advantages Of Cannabis Companion Planting
Once growers plant their cannabis seeds in the soil, they can benefit from adding a few useful neighbours to their crop of choice. This is especially true for outdoor grows, but even indoor growers can make clever use of companion planting for better cannabis harvests. Marijuana intercropping can be a major improvement in the following ways:
Protecting Marijuana Plants Against Pests
Adding the right neighbours can be a source of protecting for cannabis plants. Certain insects and pests can wreak havoc on any grow. Some herbs, however, secrete certain aromas that can help repel such threats. These aromas are usually associated with terpenes similar to the ones cannabis plants use to protect themselves. Growers can also decide to surround their weed with herbs that are particularly attractive to specific pests instead. If done right, these companions will serve as a decoys, distracting harmful critters from fragile cannabis seedlings by offering a tastier alternative. This is a very eco-friendly pest control technique that uses the power of nature to your advantage.
As mentioned, monocultures are very fragile systems, but on top of that, they degrade and deplete the habitat of all plants. By planting a diversity of species, biodiversity increases, promoting the overall health of the entire growing environment. Several different species of flowers are likely to attract more insect species in turn, while further improving the environment for soil microbes. That will provide a solid basis for strong, healthy cannabis plants.
Healthy Soil And Nutrients
Soil health is key to growing strong, healthy marijuana. Soil is living matter, occupied by microbial colonies that break down organic matter. When these microbes eventually die, they provide nutrients in turn for reintroduction into the soil ecosystem. Some microbes also help keep nitrogen levels balanced. This explains how plants contribute to soil health and the vitality of the cannabis plants grown on that soil.
Companion Planting: Best Cannabis Neighbours
Below, you will find a summary of useful combined cannabis planting allies. This list is far from exhaustive, though: nature is infinitely complex and surprisingly sophisticated, so feel free to explore and find other useful marijuana neighbours!
Repelling Harmful Insects By Intercropping
Most people know basil as the aromatic herb used in Italian cuisine. However, growers can make great use of them to protect cannabis plants against mites, aphids, and whitefly. Basil also helps keep mosquitoes at bay as an added bonus; plus you’ll have fresh leaves to add to your homemade pasta sauce. On the other hand, basil can attract useful insects, too.
Planting lavender near your cannabis grow is a great idea. This plant, known for its wonderful, soothing scent, is perfect for attracting pollinator insects. Lavender also helps repel mice, ticks, moths, and fleas.
Garlic is not just very healthy for humans; it also helps guard the health of cannabis grows. Garlic is an absolute must to help against spider mites. You can use tie-rips to add the garlic and hang them to your plant. This plant can also repel maggots, slugs, and snails, for instance. Don’t be afraid you’ll be smoking Garlic kush, as the smell won’t effect your weed flavor.
Attracting Useful Insects By Combined Cannabis Growing
Not all insects are pests; far from it, actually. Cannabis growers ought to welcome useful insect species to their gardens, greenhouses, or even grow rooms. Try planting dill among your marijuana grow; it is known to attract predator insects (like ladybugs, ichneumon wasps, and hoverflies) that actually prey on pest insect species like aphids. Dill also attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies – plus it’s great on fried fish or grilled lamb!
Geraniums do more than adding a classic flowery look to your garden; they’re also great cannabis companion plants. Geranium actually attracts insects that can threaten your harvest. If these insects decide to attack your geraniums instead, they’ll be less of a problem for the local weed population. The oil produced by geraniums is also known to repel harmful insects such as spider mites – a real grower’s nightmare you’d best avoid.
Cannabis Companion Plants For Nitrogen Balance
The roots of these pretty cannabis companion plants emit substances that feed nitrogen binding bacteria. For added companion growing effect, yarrow also attracts useful insect species.
Everyone knows the bright yellow flowers of the dandelion. Most people consider dandelion a weed – they’re actually quite hard to keep out of your garden – and yet, they can be highly instrumental allies to marijuana growers. Its taproot can dig deep down into the soil, bringing minerals to the surface that would be hard to access for cannabis plants otherwise. What’s more, if you leave dandelions on your compost heap (without flowers), they’ll be a great nitrogen source for next year’s grow.
Companion Planting – Using Natural Allies For Cannabis Growers
Finding the right neighbours for a marijuana grow can hold many advantages. Soil nutrient availability increases, useful insects arrive to help keep pests at bay, and harmful insects are discouraged and distracted by smart plant allies. Best of all, growers get (nearly) all of that aid for free, without any pesticides or other artificial interventions…
Cannabis companion planting makes gardens more diverse, helps increase biodiversity, and provides a fresh supply of kitchen herbs as well! All in all, you’ll see the benefits of these friendly neighbours in healthier marijuana grows that may even get you better yields. Best of all, you’ll help your plant without harming the environment, no matter which top-quality marijuana genetics you’re protecting. If you’re interested in learning more about eco-friendly tips to keep pests at bay, be sure to check out our other grow blogs. You’ll find out how to keep snails and slugs from munching away at your plants, how to stop fungi like bud rot and mildew, and many more useful grower tips besides!
Disclaimer: Local laws and legislation on cannabis cultivation and germination of seeds vary between countries and states. Amsterdam Genetics products and information are exclusively intended for use in areas where such use is fully legal. Check your local rules; do not act in conflict with the law!