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The Complete Guide To Growing Marijuana Naturally

The Complete Guide To Growing Marijuana Naturally

Remember when growing and smoking marijuana was widely considered a “hippy” activity?

Cannabis has a rich history as part of a movement that was focused on living peacefully without harming the planet or other human beings. Yet today marijuana is grown using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, not to mention vast amounts of water. Indoor growers use large amounts of electricity to power grow lights and pumps.

These practices are damaging to the environment and to your health. Who wants to smoke chemical laden buds? If you grow your own marijuana, there are many simple changes you can make to reduce your dependency on chemicals and fossil fuels.

This guide will teach you how to grow marijuana naturally.



Why should I grow marijuana naturally?

Why should I grow cannabis naturally

Growing marijuana naturally will:

Save you money
Imagine you didn’t have to purchase nutrients, pesticides, algae tablets or mite sprays?

Keep your grow stealthy
A natural grow is a stealthy grow. You are purchasing fewer products that could link you to a marijuana grow, and you will need to make fewer visits to your grow site.

Result in better tasting bud
Growing naturally boosts the amount of terpenes and flavonoids in your final product. These molecules provide the rich flavors and smells of great buds.

Help the environment
Growing marijuana naturally will reduce toxic runoff, conserve water and lower your carbon footprint.

There is no need to sacrifice yield to grow naturally. With a little attention to detail and some practice you can enjoy high yields without the cost or effort of growing with chemicals.

Is growing marijuana naturally the same as growing marijuana organically?

Is growing marijuana naturally the same as growing cannabis organically

Let’s define a few terms here before we get started:

This is a loaded word. Organic certification of fruits, vegetables and meats require strict adherence to federal guidelines regarding the use of chemicals, pesticides and antibiotics, among other things. Growing organically is expensive and not necessarily the healthiest or most efficient system.

This article is not about growing marijuana organically. It is about growing marijuana in an efficient and environmentally conscious way. By natural I mean using sustainable, renewable methods to produce high yields and potent buds without breaking the bank or your back.

This is another approach to farming that is worth mentioning because it is gaining popularity. In addition to using compost and natural fertilizers, biodynamic farmers use more esoteric methods. They consider the cycles of the moon to time plantings and harvests, prepare homeopathic style remedies for the Earth and work carefully to improve the soil.

There are some biodynamic principles that are useful for growing marijuana, especially the considerations for the soil. These have been incorporated into this article.

Growing outdoors vs. growing indoors

Growing cannabis outdoors vs growing indoors

Ideally you should grow marijuana outside. The natural soil provides nutrients, the sun provides light, the rain gives the water and the entire life cycle of marijuana plants progresses naturally. This is not always possible, due to stealth concerns, climate and light cycles. After all, what if you need a crop to mature in the middle of winter?

Indoors or out, there are some things you can do to make your next grow more sustainable.

Tips for growing marijuana naturally outdoors

The two biggest environmental concerns with outdoor marijuana growing are pollution and water consumption. Excess nutrients and pesticides contaminate run-off polluting water tables, rivers and eventually oceans. Growing strains that require large amounts of water in arid or drought-stricken climates is an irresponsible and unsustainable choice.
What can you do?

- Use Natural Nutrients and Pesticides
- Use Nutrients Sparingly to Reduce Run-Off
- Use Drip Irrigation

Or water by hand to ensure that the water goes directly where it is needed. Sprinklers are incredibly wasteful.

Use mulch
A layer of leaves, straw, shavings or even stones around the base of each plant will help prevent evaporation and keep water in the soil.

Plant closely together
This shades the soil, reduces evaporation and makes it easy to water just the plants you want to grow. Keep in mind that marijuana planted this way will need ample nutrients to stay healthy and produce high yields. Check out the section below on natural nutrients for ideas on enriching the soil

Water smart
Be sensible about how and when you water your garden. Water at night or in the evening to reduce evaporation. Once the plants are three to four weeks old, start watering deeply just twice a week. This will encourage the plants to develop strong, deep roots instead of staying at the surface.

Choose the right strain for your climate
If you live in a dry, arid climate grow a strain that evolved for that climate like Durban Poison, Power Plant or Afghan.

Tips for growing marijuana naturally indoors

Obviously an indoor grow is going to use more resources. For good yields you need grow lights, you may need a ventilation system and a hydroponic set-up as well.

There are a few things you can do to decrease the environmental and the financial costs of an indoor grow:

Use full spectrum LED grow lights
Full spectrum LED grow lights are the best choice for a more natural grow. You will enjoy higher yields with less waste because the available light matches the wavelengths of light that plants can actually use. This means less light is wasted. LEDs stay cool, requiring less ventilation and fewer fans to prevent burning. They use about 50% less electricity than equivalent HID grow lights.

Choose feminized strains
You should be thinking about efficiency with an indoor grow. By the time you let male plants mature to the age you can identify them you’ve wasted 3-6 weeks of light, power and nutrients on plants you’re just going to throw away.

Grow fast finishing strains
Pick strains that finish flowering in eight weeks, not twelve or fourteen. Faster finishing means fewer resources invested.

Train your plants
Use marijuana training techniques to take full advantage of the available light. Techniques like Sea of Green, Screen of Green or Low Stress Training all strive to help more light access the entire plant. These techniques boost yields while reducing the energy requirements of the entire system.

Natural nutrients for marijuana

Natural nutrients for cannabis

Cannabis needs nitrogen (N), potassium (K), phosphorus (P) and a number of trace nutrients to grow well. Whether you are growing in soil or using a hydroponic set-up, there are natural sources you can use to provide these essential nutrients.

Using natural nutrients in soil

Growing marijuana in soil is the easiest way to provide abundant natural nutrients. Healthy soil has all the nutrients necessary for a marijuana plant to grow a beautiful crop of buds. Unfortunately, soil gets depleted over time. If you are planting in an area that has been farmed previously or you hope to reuse potting soil from a previous container grow, you will need to add nutrients back in.

The best way to improve soil is by adding compost. Compost is broken down plant material that is high in organic material. In addition to providing a rich source of nutrients, the organic material holds both water and air, providing a healthy environment for the roots of your plants.

There are several ways to go about producing compost for your cannabis garden or containers.

Traditional composting
Traditional composting means making a large pile (at least 3’ X 3’ X 3’) of dry and fresh plant material. You want to use about 60-70% “brown” material such as straw, hay, dead leaves or dried stems and fan leaves from your last grow and 30-40% green material. The green stuff can be kitchen scraps, grass clippings or fresh plant waste.

Keep the pile evenly moist but not wet. It will heat up to about 110°F, killing any weed seeds and providing a good environment for healthy microbes that will decompose the material. You will need to turn the pile every six weeks. In three to six months you will have a heap of rich, black soil that can be spread atop your garden, tilled in or mixed into a container.

Compost tea
If you have mature compost, you can soak it in water for ten days to make a rich compost tea. This solution can be sprayed on plants once a month to boost growth. You can also make a compost tea out of fresh plant material by soaking it for about a month. This works best if the solution is aerated or at least thoroughly stirred each day.

If you don’t have the space for a large outdoor compost pile, consider making a worm bin in your kitchen. All you need is a plastic tub with a lid, newspaper, kitchen scraps and red wriggling worms.

The worms will digest everything from kitchen scraps to plant waste, quickly turning it into rich worm castings full of nutrients. This works much faster than traditional composting, but on a small scale. A worm bin is also a convenient and stealthy way to dispose of trimmings from your marijuana grow.

Composting in place
If you are growing outdoors you can also compost in place to return nutrients slowly to the soil. This means simply leaving kitchen scraps or plant waste around the base of the plants and allowing them to break down over time. Keep in mind that this can attract unwanted rodents or pests to your garden. It is usually best to compost kitchen waste separately.

Using plants to add nutrients to soil
If you are growing outdoors in soil you can use other plants to enrich the soil. Here are a few common plants you can grow throughout your marijuana garden that will keep the soil full of nutrients.

- Chamomile
This popular tea herb brings up minerals from deep in the soil. It can be grown throughout the garden and easily reseeds itself.

- Borage
Like chamomile, borage pulls trace nutrients from deep in the soil and makes them available at the surface. Borage also grows quickly, providing lots of green leaves that can be added to the compost pile or cut and dropped to compost in place as a good mulch.

- Clover
Clover does double duty in your garden. Not only does it pull nutrients from deep in the soil to the surface where they are available to marijuana plants, it also forms a thick living mulch. This living sheet protects the soil from erosion and holds moisture by preventing evaporation.

Try planting clover around your cannabis plants in containers. They provide the same living mulch benefits, reducing the amount of water you use and stabilizing the soil.

You can also plant a cover crop before each new grow to replenish nutrients that have been used by your cannabis plants. Good cover crops to replenish the soil include nitrogen fixing legumes like alfalfa, beans or fast growing green manure plants like mustard or buckwheat that can be tilled in to boost the organic material content of the soil.

Also read my guide on the best compost and fertilizers for outdoor marijuana plants.

Using natural nutrients in a hydroponics system

You can use natural nutrients when growing marijuana in a hydroponic system. However there are some special considerations to using natural nutrients in a hydro set-up.

There are two types of hydroponic nutrients: synthetic and organic based. Synthetic nutrients are specially formulated to be available for uptake by plant roots. Organic fertilizer components depend upon natural microbes to break them down.

The end result of either process is the same: ions that the plant can absorb and use for growth. But the processes involved in making synthetic nutrients are often harmful to the environment. And those of the biodynamic gardening perspective would say that they also bear a less healthy energetic signature as well.

Problems with organic based nutrients in a hydroponic system
Synthetic nutrients do not interact with organisms in the water, so you can pour them directly into the tank and allow it to run without changing the water for two weeks or longer.Organic nutrients do interact with organisms in the water and break down, becoming a stinky mess in your grow room. They can also clog drippers and small pipes throughout the system.It’s not just organic nutrients that have a downside. Potent synthetic nutrients easily burn plants and are not forgiving of errors.

How to use organic nutrients successfully in a hydroponic system
There is a simple trick that will allow you to use organic nutrients in a hydroponic system without any problems: create a dual level hydroponic system.

This means building a set-up that allows you to add nutrients directly to the primary growing medium, which remains separated from the pure water reservoir below.The set-up actually mimics nature, as the cannabis plants roots typically absorb nutrients only in the top 1/3 of each root. The bottom of the root is for water absorption only. Some growers also incorporate natural nutrients like worm castings (from your vermiculture bin!) into a drip irrigation system.

Natural nutrient recipes for growing healthy marijuana
You can purchase organic nutrients for a hydroponic or soil grow, or you can make your own compost. These methods supply nutrients to the roots of each plant.
The leaves are also a great surface for nutrient absorption. Here are a few recipes for nutrient rich sprays that you can apply directly to the leaves of your cannabis plants.

- Calcium Phosphate Spray (Use a Calcium/Phosphate spray when you switch from vegging to flowering)
During this stage your plants need extra help. Calcium strengthens the stems so they can support heavy buds, while phosphorus enables the roots to absorb more water and nutrients. This simple recipe from the Unconventional Farmer makes a spray that you can apply directly to the leaves of your plants when you switch the lights over. Keep in mind that this spray needs to be made at least three weeks before you plan to start flowering. Here's how it's made:

Gather enough egg shells to make 1 cup when crushed. Thoroughly rinse egg shells. Cook shells in a dry skillet until some shells are black (calcium) and some are white (phosphorus). Place in a jar with 5 cups of vinegar and watch it bubble. When the bubbling stops, seal the jar, let sit for 20 days and strain.

When you are ready to use the spray, mix one tablespoon of the vinegar/egg shell mixture with one gallon of water.

- Simple, Fast Nitrogen Spray
This is the fastest, easiest recipe that you can use when your plants need a nitrogen boost. Some people think it is a little on the gross side, but I say take advantage of the resources at hand to grow the best buds ever. All you do is mix one part urine (yes, human urine) with 10 parts of water in a spray bottle and apply directly to leaves.

Remember, urine is sterile and very high in nitrogen. Many home gardeners use this recipe when they don’t have time to brew a compost tea. It is just as effective, much faster and a lot less work.

- Bokashi Fermented Stems
A Bokashi culture is a quick way to produce nutrient rich compost tea using fresh stems and leaves (or any other plant material). Simply add the culture to a bucket of plant material and cover with water. In just a week you’ll have a bucket of nutrient rich fertilizer that you spray on the leaves or add directly to the soil.

Some hydroponic growers use this or similar nutrient teas in their soil-less systems. Keep in mind that a reservoir containing any organic nutrient solution should be changed frequently to prevent decomposition and unpleasant odors.

Beating mold and pests without chemicals

Beating cannabis mold and pests without chemicals

Nutrients are not the only source of chemicals applied to marijuana plants. Both soil and hydroponic growers alike face the ravages of pests and mold. Here are some tricks and techniques for dealing with common marijuana diseases and pests naturally.

Companion Plant to Repel Pests
You can use other plants to fight pests for you. These easy to grow, common garden plants are perfect for combating the bugs that plague marijuana:

Repels aphids, spider mites and potato beetles

A popular flower, chrystanthemums contain pyrethrin, a natural insecticide that kills damaging insects and harmful root eating nematores.

Repels spider mites.

Foxglove and mullein both attract the insect dicyphus which eats whiteflies, aphids and spider mites.

A delicious aromatic vegetable, garlic is the most famous anti-pest companion plant. It accumulates Sulphur, a natural fungicide and repels aphids, root maggots and snails.

Mexican marigolds are best, though any variety will do. They release a stinky chemical into the soil that makes all the surrounding plants taste like marigold, a flavor repugnant to most damaging insects.

Repels aphids. Menthol, which is in all mint plants, repels harmful insects while attracting beneficial pollinators.

Attracts beneficial mites and pirate bugs to eat spider mites, fungus gnats and scales.

Attracts predatory wasps and ladybugs to eat harmful insects.

Natural pesticide sprays

You can mix your own natural sprays to repel most of the common pests that threaten your cannabis plants. Here are a few of the most effective recipes:

 Chili Spray for Spider Mites
Just put some hot chilies of any variety in the blender with water. Be sure to strain the mixture or it will clog your spray nozzle. Coat the entire plant, the grow medium and the surrounding area with the chili spray. Wear gloves and glasses to protect yourself from the spicy fumes.

You’ll have to repeat the process at least once as the eggs already laid by the mites hatch out.

Garlic Tea
If you don’t want to grow garlic around your plants, you can still enjoy its pungent pest repelling properties by making this garlic spray. Just boil roughly chopped garlic in water and steep till cool. Strain and apply to plant leaves.

Tomato Leaf Spray
Crush tomato leaves, soak in water for several days, strain and spray. This works best against grasshoppers and white flies. You can also experiment with your own pesticide spray. Common and useful ingredients include:

- Chilies
- Mineral Oil
- Garlic
- Onions
- Dish Soap (use very sparingly)
- Neem Oil
- Chrysanthemums
- Tomato Leaves
- Tobacco

Growing Marijuana Naturally is About More than Health or the Environment. Growing marijuana naturally requires a shift in your mind-set. You have to let go of many of your preconceived notions about cannabis cultivation. Start by incorporating just one of the ideas in this article into your next grow. See what happens.

Any step towards natural growing and sustainability will benefit not only you but the entire planet. Perhaps more importantly, it will make marijuana growing more readily accepted by the government and the community in general.

Right now cannabis is grown wastefully, squandering resources and generally pissing off the neighbors and communities near growers. Not only do we want cannabis to become widely legalized, we want it to be approved of so we don’t have to constantly battle for the right to grow. Be smart, grow natural and watch the world open up to the idea of widespread marijuana agricultural.

Thanks for reading. Please leave questions and comments below.

A note form the author: Rebecca James

Rebecca James went to the source to learn everything there is to know about growing marijuana. She currently lives in southern Mexico where she studies, grows and shares her ever-expanding knowledge with you in articles like this one.

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Comment Section

31 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To Growing Marijuana Naturally


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By f_fender on 21 January 2016

Thanks for a welcome intro to going natural. I can't wait to try some of this stuff out. To me anyway, the idea of using nature to improve nature is as cool as can be. The Creator has already provided the best solutions and going all natural (or at least as much as can be with an indoor grow) seems like a great way to show thanks for a great gift, marijuana.

By Lori on 19 March 2017

I would like to know how to get or make a mother plant ?

By Pierre Sobers on 21 January 2016

Thanks for a most informative post. Even though you said that organic and natural farming are different, use of natural pesticide sprays and bug repellent plants that you mention as natural farming are very much methods used in organic farming. I would also like you to explain how organic farming is more expensive and less healthy than natural farming.

By andy on 21 January 2016

I started reading this with a heavy heart. As an indoor/hydro grower by necessity I thought it would be of little use to me. Arguments about natural and organic nutrients and water use are now obsolete to me in the hydro v soil debate.. It may give people a feel good factor but you cant get any more natural than a bottle of 13 pure elements that a plant needs. However, as i read further into the article, things improved.
The ladybugs work in an indoor grow. I would put a couple in every grow after a borg attack i had once. Use as a preventative. Put a saucer of lemonade or sugar/water mix in a saucer with some pebbles (hydroton) so they don't drown trying to have a drink/energy hit in the case of an absence of aphids. I have tried all the garlic sprays in the past on outdoor plants (roses mainly) with no luck. Also it should be remembered that companion planting is of little use in an indoor grow room. It's all very well repelling insects but they have a job getting through the carbon filter! The good thing is though, same with the ladybirds! I had one for 18 months once. Called him bob! Good article though also of use to us hydro guys.

By Jennifer ILGM on 22 January 2016

Thank you for sharing andy!

By sense on 21 January 2016

I've got to say thanks for all the great info! Just to add to the chili pepper recipe... I prefer to use habenero. One pound to a gallon. Boil for an hour. Strain, spray. Mites I never saw again. ( mainly because I never took in another clone.

By ANTHONY on 22 January 2016

Thank you for sharing your information. Your staff has been very helpful with our grow, from learning, experimental, and now to the production level. Once again thank you and your staff! All the best.

By onivaldo neto on 22 January 2016

great article robert
thank you for sharing your knowledge
that jah always blesses him/it

By Lucky on 23 January 2016

Biodinamic grow is the best way for growing cannabis,it is healthy,good yielder and have tons of benefits via normal grow....Thank you Rebecca,thank you Robert on this intro!!!

By alaskachic on 2 February 2016

Hey just a quick but heartfelt deep thank you'd! My seeds came in 18 days to Alaska. You guys are awesome! I will order again soon! All legal here, like Colorado, wash etc. What a privilege to do biz! Thanks again! Much luv from the 61°st north.

By Jennifer ILGM on 2 February 2016

Hi alaskachic, We are glad you received your order properly. Come back anytime. Happy growing!!

By John W Cox on 14 February 2016

I am very interested in learning how to control bugs and mold that harm my plants with out chemical,s .I sure would love to lean how.Thank you so much John W Cox

By Sarah mills on 13 March 2016

I want to container grow outside any ideas

By perfectly flawed on 13 April 2016

This article was quite refreshing to read as a natural/organic gardener and farmer. I had been looking for good quick recipes for nutrient specific fertilizers and the info here gave me some great ideas to work with. The one thing I was surprised I did not see mentioned here was the many benefits of using aloe. I find it gets overlooked quite a bit, but cannabis absolutely loves it. I've had incredible sucess using the fresh meat from the leaves as a rooting gel. I've also used the fresh leaf juices to stop leaf damage in its tracks, heal damaged stems, increase overall leaf health in a spray, and encourage incredibly strong root growth with direct feedings. And because it is such a gentle plant, it can be utilized at full strength freshly harvested. It also keeps for quite a while in a clean jar dilluted with a little water. Let me just say,it is so effective that I have *never* purchased rooting hormone and I have had a very high success rate with cloning and rooting many kinds of plants, not the least of which is cannabis. Most recently, I transplanted a young plant from a hydro set up to soil. When potting it, I gave the roots a quick rinse of fresh aloe and included plenty of fresh leaf meat in the soil around the roots. One week later, the plant never went into shock and had strong roots established within a few days. Worth keeping a few of these plants with your grow. Just don't water them the same 😉

By Jennifer ILGM on 14 April 2016

Hi perfectly flawed, Thanks for sharing, These are some great tips.

By Robert on 7 March 2018

Thanks for sharing this will try it out

By Bud on 6 July 2016

Great tips, but I have a question about my plants. They are about 6' tall and big leaves and the steam broke at the base and I am trying to save it, I did replant in the ground without putting root stuff on it. Do you think it will die, it is about 4' tall with big heavy leaves.

By Cannubis on 21 October 2016

I'd like some references to the science supporting your claim:

"Growing naturally boosts the amount of terpenes and flavonoids in your final product."

By Melodix1 on 21 October 2016

I second the request for some science supporting the claims in this article. I also believe many claims are made without a basis in science and anyone interested in actually learning the physiological effects of natural vs. synthetic nutrients would like to know the science behind any claims.

By MFW120 on 22 October 2016

Common sense: everything we need to grow healthy plants are right at our fingertips. Many of the suggestions in this article have been used for hundreds of years and I'm happy to learn new ones as well. Scientific knowledge isn't needed when you have this kind of hands on experience from ILGM. I'm been a farmer for many years and nature supplies us with all we need. That's the science in it all!

By latewood.ILGM on 25 October 2016

Hey C.E.

Moisture is not the friend of lamp system. I would be wary of passing a mis tthrough my lamps.

Perhaps you enjoy sharing ideas and learning new ideas at our support forum. You are always welcome to join the most friendly Cannabis site on the W3

By sean on 22 October 2016

Very good article, this has everything you need to know for a natural grow. Thank you it was a pleasure to read!

By C E williams on 22 October 2016

I am building a space bucket using a ufo grow light and a fog mister. Am I in any danger of damaging my light from moisture exhausted through it. Love your show man. TKS for your help.

By latewood.ILGM on 25 October 2016

Hey C.E.

Moisture is not the friend of lamp system. I would be wary of passing a mis tthrough my lamps.

Perhaps you enjoy sharing ideas and learning new ideas at our support forum. You are always welcome to join the most friendly Cannabis site on the W3

By Chuckie on 23 October 2016

Does fish emulsion have all the necessary nutrients for a good grow/bud? I've hesitated using it b/c of the odor and attracting cats. I am curious- how much of the chemical fertilizer remains in the bud at harvest? I container grow outdoors and in a grow tent and always think I have to add nutrients to the soil, even if the soil is fresh out of the bag. The hot pepper spray has been a standard of mine in gardening for 30+ years and is very reliable. However, the tobacco can easily burn the leaves, so use sparingly. I used diatomaceous earth for spider mites and it actually worked; hosing them down first before applying the d.e. works best. Thanks for all the information!

By latewood.ILGM on 25 October 2016


NO. Fish emulsion is largely a source of Nitrogen. I suggest you join our support forum. We will be glad to clarify any issues or questions you have. We have many knowledgeable growers at the forum and a great staff to help you succeed in your grow.

By Henry Preston on 24 October 2016

Great info, Thank you! One question. Using natural sprays like hot pepper doesn't that affect how the bud tastes when the plane absorbs it?

By latewood.ILGM on 25 October 2016

Henry Preston,
You should always wash off any plant that is treated with any type remedy or spray. 🙂

By Brian Paxson on 26 October 2016

I have not received my order or heard when they will ship

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