Hydroponics vs. Soil

Hydroponically grown cannabis is generally of a  higher quality than conventional outdoor weed that many people refer to high-potency strains simply as ‘Hydro.’

The difference between a conventional light cycle and soil cultivation which is scantily taken care of and a properly maintained entry-level hydroponic system is profound.

Yet, those who know their cannabis swear by the enhanced flavor of proper soil-grown pot.

Our comparison – Hydroponics vs. Soil – will take you through everything that you need to know about growing in each medium, highlighting the benefits, the cons, and the science.

Plants grown in hydroponics

Direct Comparison

Hydroponics

  • Plants grown in hydroponics suffer from far less potential diseases, pests, and parasites
  • The recirculating nutrient reservoir of most hydroponics saves water
  • Hydroponics grants a quicker growth rate leading to a harvest which is twice as fast
  • A hydroponic system gives you the greatest degree of control
  • Hydroponic plants are very flexible and can be grown almost anywhere

Soil

  • Plants grown in soil are at risk of disease, mold, fungus, and many pests and parasites
  • Soil requires constant irrigation
  • Cannabis grown in soil has richer flavors but a growth rate twice-that of hydroponics
  • Soil enriches through prolonged cultivation benefitting you and the environment
  • Gardening in soil always takes up a negligible amount of space relative to the potential yield

Breaking It Down

Our comparison of growing marijuana using hydroponics vs. soil will be taking you through a look at the growth rate difference, difficulty, and yield.

Growth Rate

Growth Rate

Growing in either medium comes with a range of benefits but there are distinctive time differences between the two. Here’s a closer look at the growth rate of cannabis in each.

Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems deliver nutrients intensively and directly to the roots of a plant while sustaining a rich oxygen supply through aerobic respiration. Your plants also benefit from precise temperature and humidity control within the confines of your grow box, grow room, or grow tent. Exact ventilation assists transpiration which allows your cannabis to draw water and nutrients at a much more rapid rate. Cannabis grows from seedling to harvest in just over eight weeks when grown hydroponically.

Soil

Cannabis cultivation in soil is far more forgiving on your nutrient supply, irrigation, lighting, and ventilation but the yields as little as half that of weed grown hydroponically. While the nutrient profile in soil is more diverse which leads to an increase in terpenes, thus lifting the taste, marijuana grown in soil also takes two to three times as long. Most plants will mature to harvest within 10 to 12 weeks when grown in soil.

Winner

Cannabis cultivated hydroponically experiences a 30-50% faster growth rate or more over the same strain grown in soil, using the same lighting, ventilation, and irrigation. Hydroponics wins growth rate without question.

Difficulty

The difficulty of growing in either medium depends on your initial setup and the environmental conditions that you’ll be dealing with. Let’s delve deeper into the difficult of hydroponics vs. soil.

Hydroponics

Growing cannabis hydroponically comes with a definite learning curve. From root suspension to nutrient recirculation, humidity control, lighting, light spacing and light cycles, the difficulty mainly hinges upon the methodology and components of the hydroponic grow cycle. The type of starter set which you equip yourself with also sets a scale for getting used to growing in water.

Some kits provide everything and instructions, clipping together with no tools into a fail-safe turn-key grow tent. Other growers assemble DIY hydroponics which is much harder. With all these factors aside, hydroponics is something you need to learn.

Soil

To narrow things down as far as possible, growing in soil is a simple as putting a seed in the soil, giving it water daily, and making sure that it gets enough sun. However, growing good weed in properly prepared soil which has been nourished and cultivated for months or years is both an art and science. While it is easier to start growing cannabis in the soil it does take some time to learn proper pest control and other good gardening habits.

Winner

Growing in soil is the quickest and easy way for anyone to take action and start growing a marijuana plant. The quality of cannabis grown in soil is widely poorer than hydroponic cannabis but it is much easier to grow. If you take the time to learn proper soil preparation and study the science of cultivating in the soil, then your marijuana will be hassle-free to grow in the controlled environment you’ve created for it and produce rich, intense flavor.

Certain cannabis connoisseurs also widely prefer cannabis grown in soil due to the way that the diverse nutrient profile heightens the flavor when smoked or ingested.

Yield

This is the factor that concerns most growers. How many buds will I get from my harvest? Let’s take a look at the averages.

Hydroponics

By default, any cannabis which is grown in a hydroponic system will produce almost twice as much bud as the same plant grown with matching sustenance just in soil instead. Hydroponic marijuana averages 1 gram or 0.035 ounces of buds per Watt of lighting at harvest. A grower who has yielded a poor harvest is guaranteed half that, while a bountiful harvest thanks to good growing conditions can reward as much as 2 grams per Watt.

Soil

Your harvest from cannabis grown in soil depends on a great number of variables but studies show that in controlled conditions whereby lighting, ventilation, and nutrients are precisely modulated, you’ll get about half the amount of weed from your plant.

Winner

While individual yields do vary, hydroponically grown cannabis wins with the most yield every time. Even a meager producing plant produces 1.2 ounces on average and that is enough to topsoil almost any day.

Final Recount

  • Hydroponics won growth rate and yield, 2/3 sections compared
  • Soil won difficulty, 1/3 sections compared

Pros and Cons

Hydroponics

Pros
  • Great results once up and running
  • Very low risk of pests/disease
  • Fantastic yield
Cons     
  • Fairly high setup cost
  • Mistakes can lose you multiple plants

Soil

Pros
  • Getting started couldn’t be easier
  • Enhanced flavor profile when expertly grown
Cons
  • Constant maintenance
  • Constant pest and disease control
  • Potential ill-practice issues (overwatering etc.)

Final Verdict

Soil is only a viable growing medium for those who don’t want to grow marijuana as a serious hobby or passion or those who have years of experience gardening and are experts in soil preparation and cultivation using traditions means. Hydroponic gardening gives everyone the chance to grow bountiful buds no matter how limited your space.

The results are always within a reasonable range of ‘good’ as long as you keep your wits about you and check diligently on your plants.

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Dillon Bodily - January 18, 2019 Reply

Nice post. Tried growing in the garden and that worked ok;) Hydroponics sounds sorta fun maybe a bit messy.

    VapeMaster - February 4, 2019 Reply

    Hey Dillon, I like gardening myself and growing plants in good ol’ fashioned dirt is satisfying and I like to see plants around a house. Nothing beats a great garden. That said, if you live in an apartment or have severe seasonal conditions, you really need to consider another method of growing your plants to get the maximum yield and soil in the outdoors creates other variables that you have to contend, such as mold, insects etc. Basically, hydroponics can seem a little messy and you need some out-of-the-way space but a compact kit can produce amazing results with a little effort and probably DOUBLE the yield than growing in soil – if you get everything set up right and maintain your hydroponic garden. That said, not hard to do and not that much maintenance or mess once you get going. If you look at the hydroponic system reviews post, there are some very compact units shown that can work fine for limited space. Wish you well with your growing 🙂

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