What is companion planting and why is it good for cannabis?
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As more people begin to grow cannabis, they are looking for ways to maximize their crop and plant health. A great and cheap way to do that when growing weed outdoors is via a practice called “companion planting.”
With the rise of synthetic nutrients and pesticides, this is a practice that has also started to make its way into the mainstream again. The need for organic crops of all kinds is at a premium. Marijuana is no exception.
Companion planting is an old agricultural practice that works for all agriculture.
Companion planting is sometimes known as part of permaculture. This is the practice of utilizing natural resources – or mimicking them – to increase crop sustainability.
The idea is that plants do better in a sustainable ecosystem that is also created by biological diversity. Why? Other crops you plant or place near your cannabis plant can help protect the plant. They can also improve the soil and root structure. In addition, they can either attract beneficial insects or keep away pests.
It is super easy to do, with a little planning. And both you and your cannabis crop will be glad you did. Finding the perfect companion plants is also not hard. Cannabis has many friends and allies in the natural world.
HELPING THE SOIL GET HEALTHY
Obviously, the first place to consider what you might plant around your cannabis are those plants which improve the quality of the soil and root structure.
What works well with cannabis?
Cerastium is a short-lived ground clover with bunches of white flowers that appear in the spring and summer. It also creates terrific mulch.
Chamomile is another winner when it comes to helping the soil stay healthy. This small bushy plant is often used to make calming tea in its own right. When planted next to cannabis, it helps improve the quality of the soil. Pests like mosquitos and flies are discouraged by the plant.
White and Red Clover
White and Red Clover are terrific plants as companions to improve soil quality. Clover acts as a living mulch, carpeting the open spaces between other plants. The great news? Just this growth aids water penetration into the soil. Clover also has nodules on its roots which help fix stabilized atmospheric nitrogen. As the plant decays, the nitrogen is released into the soil.
Cannabis is always hungry for available nitrogen. This is the best and most organic fertilizer on the planet. In fact, planting clover can substantially reduce the need for commercial fertilizers of any kind.
Alfalfa is a deep rooted perennial that also helps “fix” nitrogen into the soil. In addition, it helps the soil accumulate iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. All five of these minerals are music to any organic grower’s ears. In addition, the plant encourages dandelion growth. These are also deep-rooted plants that help break up the soil and aid water penetration.
On top of that, the actual plant itself can be made into a simple spray tonic that encourages growth of your plants. Hard to go wrong with this one.
PLANTS THAT ENCOURAGE THE RIGHT VISITORS
There are a couple of go-to options for these brave soldiers that attract only the right crowd. Of insects that is.
For example Sunflowers attract many pollinators thanks to their prolific, bright and self-pollinating flowers. Sunflowers also lure destructive insects, like aphids away.
Yarrow is also a good plant to consider for this purpose. This is a very good border plant. Planting it near your cannabis will also encourage essential oil production. It also attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs, hoverflies and mini wasps so they won’t pay attention to your canna crop.
Lemon Balm is another good choice. This vigorous plant which is often the staple of organic apothecaries will surround your precious crop with heart-shaped lemon-scented leaves. It helps control mosquitos and gnats while attracting bees and other pollinators to your garden.
PLANTS THAT DEFEND YOUR CANNABIS
Then of course there are the defenders. These are plants that keep insects away. This is because of taste, smell or some other natural defence.
Plants like Dill are terrific for this purpose. Not only does the plant repel aphids, cabbage loopers, squash bugs and spider mites. It will also attract other destructive insects to it, drawing their attention away from your precious cannabis. Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, for example, love to munch on dill and prefer that to cannabis.
Coriander is another valuable part of your organic arsenal. This is a popular spice found in cuisines around the world. Not only will the plant itself keep many garden pests away. The tea made from its ground up seeds can be sprayed on other plants as a natural pesticide. Even better? It attracts tachinid flies, hoverflies and wasps, which will act as a front line of defence for other flying pests better kept away.
Peppermint is another “smelly” plant that works wonders as a companion defender. That starts with helping to mask the smell of cannabis, for those who are engaged in stealth grows. It also keeps mice away along with ants, fleas, aphids and flea beetles.
If you are looking for a companion who is also a little showy and colourful, think about Marigolds. Not only are they a gorgeous splash of orange in your garden. They also repel nasty invaders of the insect kind. Beetles, leaf hoppers and bad nematodes all stay away. Marigolds also bolster the strength of other plants around them. The roots themselves create a strong natural insecticide that can also linger for years.