Ever heard of killing mites with bleach or getting huge yields from Aspirin in your feeding cycle? Me too, and they’re both a dangerous lie! Thousands of neat tricks have been passed along through growers over the years, but unfortunately so have many misunderstandings and myths. While the absurd ones are obvious to anyone who’s ever grown a plant, there are a few that have crept by and brought down many a grower with them. Here are a few misconceptions to keep your eye out for:
It’s just a weed; it must be easy to grow!
I’m certainly not going to take the side that cannabis is one of the most difficult plants to grow, but growing something to survive versus growing something to thrive are very different things. I’ve seen cannabis seeds sprout just about anywhere. Achieving the yields and quality we have come to expect, especially here in Washington, takes a lot more time and dedication. First-time growers are often caught off guard by how much work, and money, it actually takes. If you’re thinking about growing, and I always encourage it, just know what you’re getting into!
Sativa, indica and everything in-between
The difference between cannabis indica and cannabis sativa seems to have led a lot of people astray over the years. Most people have it half right. The terms sativa and indica are called phenotypes, as in they’re named by physical traits. Sativas are long and lanky, while indicas have short leaves and a stocky build. When people speak of cannabis giving them a certain type of high or medicinal benefit, they’re referring to the plants chemotype, or unique chemical combination. This means that a sativa won’t always give someone a head high and an indica won’t always affect someone’s body. Grab a few strains side by side next time; I’m sure you’ll see what I mean!
My plant hermed, but at least I have seeds!
No. No. No. If you had the unfortunate experience of your plant producing male flowers and self-pollinating, I have no good news for you. All the seeds that are produced from this plant are likely going to produce intersexed plants as well. I know the magic number-one temptation still exists, but growing and flowering out 500 failures in the hopes of one success is a long, bitter road. Personally, I love clones and they’re pretty easy to get hold of. If you can’t find a good clone, buying seeds from a reputable local breeder is always a great choice. Plus, you’ll know every seed is unique.
It says I can apply pesticides until the day of harvest…
Far too many growers have fallen victim to this myth and, worse yet, some haven’t even realized it. You should not apply any pesticides on flowering plants, especially in the last two weeks. A lot of organic, and some nonorganic, pesticides state that you can apply them up until the day of harvest because they are meant for use on food crops. While this sounds fine, there is a drastic difference between eating something and smoking it. The natural oils and chemicals found in a lot of these products aren’t harmful when eaten, but are completely different when inhaled. Be sure to always do a heavy rinse of your plants before harvest to help rinse off any residuals. For the long-term, look into biological controls; you can use good bugs to your defense and minimize the need for any pesticides at all.
Understanding the flush
There has always been a lot of talk in the grower community about how to flush plants during flowering; I’ve heard everything from putting hydrogen peroxide in the water to purchasing crazy amounts of distilled water to help strip out the metals. The reality is that flushing isn’t the best word to use, and we’re not actually washing anything out of the plant. Once the plant has absorbed something, there’s no washing it out. When you drench the soil and drain out the previous nutrients, you’re taking away the plant’s active food source. Cannabis stores a lot of extra nutrients in the fan leaves and even buds in order to survive. When the plant stops feeding from the soil or medium, it begins to process some of its backup food to survive; this is why we often see such unique colors in the last few weeks of the plant’s life and why the plant loses a lot of its fan leaves. Regular pH neutral water and perhaps a little molasses is more than enough for a good flush; knowing your timing is the true key.
These days we all have a wonderful tool at our fingertips, the Internet. With a little time spent reading and crosschecking sources, you can save yourself hours of labor and tons of cash. If you want to experiment, which I encourage you to do, set aside a few plants separately to manipulate so if something goes wrong, they don’t all go down at once. Large medical and recreational grows often have entire rooms dedicated to research and experimentation. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover the next homegrown cure for cancer.