When growing Cannabis plants indoors or outdoors, the first signs of insect damage or any type of pathogen, can send a beginner grower into panic mode. Knowing that your precious plants are under attack, can cause anxiety and a desire to use the most potent chemical solutions possible. In this article we explain all about companion planting, how terpenes play a role, the benefits associated and provide a list of 10 companion plants that you can outsource immediately.
If you have never heard of cannabis companion planting, then it is a comforting fact to know that this culture is practiced worldwide, and has been done for centuries. A traditional and organic method of controlling pests and diseases without the concern over chemical elements or harmful and toxic pesticides.
Why use companion planting when growing cannabis?
Once you can get over the idea that keeping other plants in close proximity to your Cannabis garden is a bad thing, you will quickly learn why a cannabis companion, or a host of them are advantageous at protecting the crop and adding camouflage and stealth.
Companion plants for cannabis are cheap and can be purchased at the local garden center, or as seedlings that can be ordered online or found locally. Growing two or more types of crop in the same location is known as polyculture or intercropping and has a wide variety of benefits associated.
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Benefits of cannabis companion planting
Cannabis companion planting has many benefits associated and for a small financial investment, it is possible to reap the benefits immediately. Below are better explained how an outdoor grower can use companion plants to their advantage in the battle against nature.
As a grower, we need all the help we can get, so any type of defense is always welcome. There is nothing worse than checking on your Cannabis plants one day to find they are under attack. Between aroma and camouflage, you can rest assured your plants are well hidden and safe.
Thanks to the terpenes, esters, and plant alcohols, insects such as spider mites, white fly, and thrips will avoid your plants or anything close by. Interestingly, many plants will produce a scent that replicates dead insects, as a powerful tactic to repel soft-bodied insects.
- Plant development
Not only do Cannabis companion plants do their work with terpenes and pheromones, they also help plants obtain nutrients, as a result enhance plant development, vigor, and overall resistance and plant health. Companion plants can also offer shade from the intense heat.
The living soil food web is how the roots of any plant can thrive in the harshest conditions. The symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi, plant roots, and the surrounding soil structure is advanced, based on a harmonious relationship. The more plants there are in one area, the more efficient nutrient uptake and availability become for every other plant.
Cannabis companion plants may not be able to cover your large-sized outdoor plants, however will offer a good amount of camouflage as far as the nearest neighbor or helicopter is concerned. An array of different shapes, colors, and sizes will work well and blend in with your landscape or greenhouse.
- The important role of terpenes
In the same way that a Cannabis plant is able to produce an abundance of terpenes, esters, and alcohols such as ethylene, Cannabis companion plants also do the same. They may not be the type of plants and flowers that can be extracted in the same fashion a Cannabis flower can, however they each produce an aroma that provides group protection. The terpenes produced by garlic, peppermint, basil, and Lavender for example all have natural repellents that make insects think twice.
10 Different Cannabis companion plants
This plant will flower with a yellow center and white petals. They will flower in Summer and are native to Europe. Chamomile is rich in the terpene alpha-bisabolol, and chamazulene as well as glucoside.
A purple plant that has a very distinct aroma containing cineole. Camphor, borneol, linalool, and linalyl acetate. A small-size variety that has many benefits for plants as well as medical applications for humans.
A wispy green plant that has 36 different components within. Over half of the terpene produced by Dill is a-phellandrene. Other terpenes found within this species are carvone, limonene, and p-cymene.
Alfalfa is a small-sized perennial herb that grows like bean sprouts and produces a cluster of flowers. A great choice as a cover crop seed for growers who prefer a no-till style of gardening.
- Sweet basil
Sweet basil and basil are both similar and are packed full of anti-insect repellents such as cineole, caryophyllene oxide, linalool, myrcene, methyl chavicol, alpha humulene, thymol, methyl-eugenol, camphor, and gamma caryophyllene
A plant that is producing a high quantity of linalool and a great plant to blend in with seedlings or small-sized Cannabis plants.
Mint plants can become bushy and well established within a garden, providing camouflage and protection against insects. The mint plant comprises the terpenes alpha pinene, limonene, beta pinene, cineol, and octanol.
These easy to grow and tall-growing plants are great for offering stealth to flowering Cannabis plants and are high in terpenes α-pinene, limonene, sabinene, β-pinen and camphene. Sunflowers will also attract plenty of bees and other pollinators to the garden.
The main two terpenes found in Garlic are nerolidol and terpinolene, which give the plant its distinct aroma. Another green plant that can add a touch of camouflage and keep the right insects at bay.
A small but lovely plant that produces bright yellow flowers and the essential oils extracted from Marigolds are high in α-pinene, β-pinene, dipentene, menthol, and geraniol. They will add color to your outdoor garden and encourage bees to pollinate.
Other solutions to consider
If the idea of companion plants is not for you, then why not consider these other options.
A white stone that is available as a white powder. Rich in silica and calcium, this powder under a microscope will reveal a crystallized substance that will cover the exoskeleton of soft and hard-bodied insects and suffocate them. Diatomaceous earth is very useful for preventing ants and even cockroaches. It will kill soil mites also so be careful if using predatory or beneficial insects in your living soil.
Slugs and snails will come out in the night time and eat as much of your vegetative plants as possible. The easiest way to stop them in their tracks is to use copper wire or copper coins around the pots. The negative charge created when they come into contact with copper is very discomforting and will deter them away.
For those who suffer from caterpillars and cannot control the population, then using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will kill the caterpillars by infecting their stomachs. This causes their digestion system to shut down resulting in a quick death. Simply mix with water and spray onto the plants.
Trichoderma and Probiotic Bacillus
An excellent way to combat pathogens that may enter the garden and attack the soil and root system is to use Trichoderma, or probiotic bacillus. There are many types of Bacillus, however the most effective is Bacillus subtilis.