Good soil, sunshine and water are important factors in any successful cannabis crop. Many farmers also believe in the power of three simple letters: N-P-K. Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium are chemical nutrients essential to any bountiful harvest: nitrogen stimulates photosynthesis and leaf growth, phosphorus promotes flower and root growth, while potassium boosts plant vitality and pest resistance.
However, nutrients alone can cause more harm than good. Crops can become dependent on expensive fertilizers, which are a leading cause of water pollution, and rapid growth can actually make plants more vulnerable to pests. When cannabis is planted alone as a monocrop (growing one type of crop in the same area, year after year) it can act as an invitation to pests and diseases.
It’s no surprise that Mary Jane is a social herb, best planted with other species. When planted as a polyculture (growing a diverse number of crops together), Mary Jane’s friends can naturally produce the nutrients she needs, as well as attract beneficial insects to fight pests. Moongazer Farms and Swami Select have highlighted some of their favorite companion plants and uses:
Moongazer Farms grows this ancient grain as a food source for their farmers, who then use a fermented amaranth extract to boost phosphorous levels during cannabis’ flowering phase.
Known as a relaxing tea to humans, chamomile has a high sulfur and potassium content, and flowers right before cannabis in the growing season. Swami Select uses the natural sulfur in chamomile as an anti-fungal tea for their cannabis plants.
With six-foot deep taproots, comfrey harvests nutrients located much deeper than cannabis can reach. Cut leaves are a natural source of N-P-K, as well as a great soil amendment. Its large leaves also act as living mulch, shading out weeds. Studies have found that comfrey tea, used as a foliar spray, can activate a plant’s natural defense system against powdery mildew.
Peas, beans, clover, vetch, buckwheat. Nitrogen-fixing plants can take nitrogen gas from the atmosphere, and with the help of Rhizobia bacteria, store nitrogen in nodule growths on its roots. When the plant dies, the nitrogen is released into the soil for other plants to use. Nitrogen fixers are great as a cover crop to prevent weeds and prep soil before planting.
A flowering California native that attracts beneficial insects to the garden. Its deep taproot mines the soil for potassium, phosphorus and copper, making it a nutrient-dense addition as a mulch or compost.
This is by no means a definitive list to cannabis companion plants; there are lots of beneficial plants, and effective strategies vary greatly, depending on each garden’s location and microclimate.
Plants that aren’t friendly to cannabis include tall plants that shade out their neighbors, plants that are also heavy feeders (corn, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, cabbage), plants that attract powdery mildew (zucchini, squash melons) and climbing plants that can take over their cannabis neighbors.
Adding cannabis companion plants will help create a living ecosystem that can better take care of itself, so let Mary Jane continue to be her social self!