Hydroponic vs Soil Cannabis Growing: Which is More Efficient?

Growing cannabis is a complex process that involves many factors, including the choice of growing medium. Two popular options are hydroponic and soil-based cannabis growing. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, making it difficult to determine which one is more efficient. To shed light on this perplexing issue, in this article we will discuss the differences between hydroponic and soil cannabis growing, comparing key factors such as yield, growth time, cost, and complexity. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of which method is best suited for your needs.

What is Hydroponic Cannabis Growing?


What Is Hydroponic Cannabis Growing?
When looking for the most efficient method to grow cannabis, hydroponic growing may be one of the best options available. This process involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich solution, rather than traditional soil. Hydroponic cannabis growing is gaining popularity due to its ability to increase yield and speed up growth time. In the next section, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponic growing in more detail. For more information on the introduction of hydroponics, please refer to our introduction to hydroponics in cannabis growing.

Advantages of Hydroponic Growing

When it comes to hydroponic growing, there are several advantages that make it an increasingly popular choice for cannabis cultivators. Here are some key advantages of hydroponic growing.

Advantage Description
Efficiency Hydroponic systems are highly efficient in terms of water and nutrient usage. They allow for precise control over nutrient delivery, resulting in less waste and faster growth.
Faster Growth Hydroponic systems provide cannabis plants with all the nutrients they need to grow faster than in soil. This typically results in higher yields and lower growth time.
No Soil Required Hydroponic cannabis growing systems don’t require soil, allowing cultivators to grow cannabis in areas where traditional soil-based farming is not feasible.
No Soil-Borne Diseases One of the biggest threats to soil-based cannabis farming is soil-borne diseases. Hydroponic systems eliminate this risk, ensuring that plants are not affected by soil-borne pathogens.
Increased Control With hydroponic growing, cultivators have precise control over the nutrient composition and delivery system, allowing for greater control over plant growth and final product quality.
Higher Yields Hydroponic systems can produce higher yields than traditional soil-based growing methods due to the superior nutrient delivery system and faster growth rate.
Cleaner Plants Hydroponic systems allow cannabis plants to be grown in sterile conditions, which leads to cleaner and more pristine final products. The lack of soil also means that there is no need to worry about soil contamination.

Hydroponic cannabis growing provides cultivators with a controlled and efficient way to produce high-quality cannabis plants that are faster growing, higher yielding, and cleaner.

Disadvantages of Hydroponic Growing

There are a few disadvantages to hydroponic cannabis growing that are worth considering before diving into this method:

  • Initial Setup Cost: Hydroponic systems can be expensive to set up. They require proper lighting, a water system, and nutrient solutions that can be costly. Additionally, hydroponic systems require a stable environment to ensure proper growth, which may also require additional investments.
  • System Maintenance: Hydroponic systems require more maintenance than soil-based systems. Keeping the water and nutrient solutions at the proper levels requires regular monitoring and adjustments. Any mechanical failure in the system can have a significant impact on the plants, and troubleshooting these issues may require specialized knowledge.
  • Dependency on Electricity: Hydroponic systems rely on electricity to power the water pumps and lighting systems. Any power outage or interruption could cause damage to the plants or even lead to their death. Having a backup power source is essential for hydroponic growers.
  • Technical Knowledge Required: Hydroponic systems can be challenging to set up and maintain, requiring technical knowledge and experience. It may take time to learn the intricacies of nutrient solution balancing, and even small mistakes can have a considerable impact on plant growth.
  • Environmental Impact: While hydroponic systems use less water overall, they do require a constant supply of water and nutrient solutions, which may not be sustainable depending on the source of those resources. Additionally, the production of hydroponic systems and the necessary equipment also has an environmental impact that should be considered.

Hydroponic cannabis growing can be an effective method for maximizing yield and growth time, but it does come with some significant drawbacks that should be weighed against the advantages.

What is Soil Cannabis Growing?

What Is Soil Cannabis Growing?
Traditional cannabis cultivation involves growing plants in soil, which provides necessary nutrients and support for the plant. This method has been used for centuries, and many growers still prefer it to modern techniques like hydroponic growing. Soil cannabis growing involves using natural soil as a medium to grow cannabis plants. Unlike hydroponic growing, which uses a water-based nutrient solution, soil cannabis growing relies on microbes and other natural elements to support plant growth. While soil growing may take longer and require more maintenance than hydroponic growing, many growers believe that the final product is of higher quality and more environmentally friendly.

Advantages of Soil Growing

Soil growing has been the traditional method for cultivating cannabis for centuries. Here are some of the advantages of soil growing:

Natural Nutrients: Soil offers a rich source of natural nutrients that are essential for plant growth. These nutrients help in enhancing the potency and flavour of the cannabis plants.
Easy Availability: Soil is readily available anywhere, which makes it a cost-effective option for growers. It can be found in landscaping and gardening stores or even in your own backyard.
Low Maintenance: Soil is relatively easy to maintain and requires very little work. All it needs is regular watering and some organic amendment to enrich the soil with natural nutrients.
Natural Environmental Filters: Soil acts as a natural filter that helps to remove impurities and toxins from the water that is used to water the plants. This ensures that the plants receive clean and fresh water, which can further enhance their growth.
Better Terpenes: Soil allows the plants to grow at their natural pace, thereby developing better terpenes which are responsible for the aroma and flavour of the cannabis. These terpenes are key in enhancing the medicinal value of the plant.
Organic: Soil is a natural medium for growing cannabis, making the end result pure and organic. This makes the cannabis healthier and more appealing to many consumers.

Soil growing provides an easier and more natural way of cultivating cannabis. It’s a fantastic option for growers who are looking for a low-maintenance way of growing cannabis while still producing high-quality buds.

Disadvantages of Soil Growing

While soil cannabis growing has its advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider. These include:

Disadvantages of Soil Growing
1. More difficult to control nutrient levels: Nutrient levels in soil can vary widely and can be more difficult to control compared to hydroponic systems.
2. Susceptible to pests and diseases: Soil provides an ideal environment for pests and diseases to thrive, which can negatively impact plant growth and yield.
3. Slower growth: Because soil-grown cannabis plants must work to extract nutrients from the soil, they may grow more slowly compared to plants grown hydroponically.
4. Less control over pH levels: Optimal pH levels can vary depending on the specific strain of cannabis and the type of soil being used. Achieving and maintaining these levels can be more difficult with soil growing.
5. More maintenance required: Maintaining healthy soil conditions and preventing nutrient and water depletion can require more effort and time compared to hydroponic systems.

It is important to weigh these disadvantages against the benefits of soil growing to decide which method is best for the specific needs of a cannabis grower.

Hydroponic vs Soil Cannabis Growing

One of the most debated topics in the cannabis growing community is the comparison between hydroponic and soil cannabis growing. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and each has its own loyal followers. While hydroponic growing is gaining popularity due to its faster growth and higher yield, traditional soil growing is still considered a reliable and effective method. In this section, we will take a closer look at the differences between these two techniques and analyze their efficiency in terms of yield, growth time, cost, and complexity.


When it comes to yield, hydroponic and soil cannabis growing have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Let’s compare them in the table below:

Hydroponic Growing Soil Growing
Yield Generally, hydroponic cannabis has a higher yield than soil-grown cannabis. This is because hydroponic systems provide a more controlled environment for the plant, allowing for optimal nutrient uptake and faster growth. Additionally, hydroponic systems can be designed for high-density planting, meaning more plants can be grown in a smaller space. While soil-grown cannabis may not have as high of a yield as hydroponic-grown cannabis, it can still produce a high-quality product. Soil provides a natural and diverse range of nutrients that can help cannabis plants develop a complex and robust cannabinoid and terpene profile, which can result in a more flavorful and potent final product.

Hydroponic systems are known for producing a higher yield, but soil-grown cannabis has the potential to produce a higher quality product. It’s important for growers to consider their goals and priorities when deciding which growing method to use.

Growth Time

When it comes to growth time in hydroponic cannabis growing versus soil cannabis growing, there are several factors to consider. Here are a few:

  • Growth rate: Hydroponic growing typically results in a faster growth rate than soil growing. Since hydroponic systems deliver nutrients directly to the plants’ roots, they are able to absorb them more quickly, resulting in faster growth. On the other hand, soil can be more unpredictable in terms of nutrient availability and absorption, which can slow down the growth rate.
  • Propagation: When it comes to getting your plants started, soil growing can sometimes take longer. Seeds need to be planted in soil, and that soil needs to be kept moist until the seedlings emerge. With hydroponics, growers can use a variety of methods for propagation, some of which can be faster than traditional soil methods.
  • Vegetative stage: The vegetative stage is when your plants are growing stems and leaves, but not yet producing flowers. During this stage, hydroponic growing can result in faster, more vigorous growth. This is because hydroponic systems allow growers to fine-tune nutrient delivery, resulting in the ideal conditions for vegetative growth. Soil growers may need to adjust their soil mix or supplement with additional nutrients to achieve the same level of growth.
  • Flowering: Once your plants enter the flowering stage, the growth time becomes more comparable between hydroponic and soil growing. However, some growers have reported slightly faster flowering times in hydroponic systems.

While hydroponic growing may offer faster growth rates and easier nutrient management, there are a variety of factors that can impact growth time in both systems. Experienced growers may be able to fine-tune their techniques to maximize growth time and yield in either system.


When it comes to the cost of hydroponic vs soil cannabis growing, there are various factors to consider. Here, we will explore the different costs associated with each method, from start-up expenses to ongoing costs.

Start-Up Costs

Hydroponic setups generally require a higher start-up cost than soil setups. This is because hydroponic systems require specialized equipment such as pumps, reservoirs, and grow lights. On the other hand, soil setups are typically simpler and require fewer upfront costs.

Operating Costs

While the initial cost of a hydroponic system may be higher, the ongoing costs can be lower than those associated with soil growing. This is because hydroponic systems require less water and nutrients compared to soil setups. Hydroponic setups can produce higher yields, which may offset the initial start-up cost over time.

Electricity Costs

Another factor to consider when comparing the cost of hydroponic vs soil growing is the electricity costs associated with each method. Hydroponic setups require grow lights to simulate natural sunlight, which can drive up electricity costs. Soil setups, on the other hand, do not require as much electricity.

To summarize the costs associated with hydroponic vs soil cannabis growing, we’ve created a table below:

Hydroponic Soil
Start-Up Costs Higher Lower
Operating Costs Lower Higher
Electricity Costs Higher Lower

In general, the cost of hydroponic vs soil cannabis growing ultimately depends on the specific setup and individual needs. However, it’s important to consider all factors to make an informed decision.


When it comes to complexity, hydroponic cannabis growing can be a bit more challenging than soil growing. Let us compare the two methods based on the following factors:

Hydroponic Soil
Setup Can be complex and require specific equipment and materials (e.g. pumps, reservoirs, pH meters) Relatively simple and only requires basic gardening tools (e.g. pots, soil)
Maintenance Requires frequent attention to monitor nutrient levels, pH, and potential equipment malfunctions Less frequent attention required, primarily watering and occasional soil amendment
Expertise Required Usually requires a bit of knowledge or experience in hydroponic growing techniques and equipment No special expertise required, basic gardening knowledge is sufficient

It is worth noting that while hydroponic growing may seem more complex, it also allows for greater control over the plant’s environment, which can result in more efficient growth and higher yields. However, this control also means that any mistakes or malfunctions can have a more significant impact on the plant’s health and growth.

Ultimately, the choice between hydroponic and soil growing depends on the grower’s level of experience and comfort with the techniques and equipment required. While hydroponic growing may offer more efficient growth and higher yields, it also requires more attention to detail and can be more challenging for beginners.


After examining the advantages and disadvantages of both hydroponic and soil cannabis growing methods, it can be concluded that neither option is definitively more efficient than the other.

Hydroponic growing provides faster growth time, higher yield, and more control over nutrient levels but requires greater investment in both time and money. Additionally, hydroponic systems can be more complex and difficult to set up for beginners.

On the other hand, soil growing requires less initial investment and is generally easier to set up, making it a great option for beginners. Soil grown cannabis also tends to have a more natural flavor and aroma due to the nutrients present in the soil. However, soil growing may result in a smaller yield and longer growth time compared to hydroponic growing.

Ultimately, the choice between hydroponic and soil growing methods will depend on individual preferences and circumstances, including available resources, time constraints, and level of expertise. Both methods have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the grower to determine which method will work best for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of hydroponic system is best for cannabis growing?

There are various hydroponic systems available for cannabis growing, but the deep water culture (DWC) and nutrient film technique (NFT) are the most popular among growers. DWC involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solution, while NFT involves growing plants in a shallow stream of nutrient solution.

Is hydroponic growing more expensive than soil growing?

Hydroponic growing initially involves more costs compared to soil growing as it requires purchasing a specific nutrient solution, grow lights, and the hydroponic system. However, in the long run, hydroponic growing becomes more cost-effective over soil growing as it produces higher yields and faster growth times.

Can soil pH affect plant growth?

Yes, soil pH directly affects plant growth. The optimal pH range for soil is between 6.0 and 7.0. If the soil pH is too low or too high, plants cannot absorb nutrients effectively, leading to stunted growth and poor yields.

What nutrients do cannabis plants need for proper growth?

Cannabis plants require macronutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, for proper growth. The specific nutrient needs of cannabis plants vary depending on the growth stage.

How can I control environmental factors during cannabis growing?

Environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, can affect cannabis plant growth. To control these factors, it is recommended to invest in proper ventilation and climate control systems, such as dehumidifiers and air conditioners.

Does hydroponic growing eliminate the risk of pests and diseases?

No, hydroponic growing does not eliminate the risk of pests and diseases. Although hydroponic systems reduce the likelihood of soil-borne diseases, pests and diseases can still infect plants through the nutrient solution or by entering the grow room through ventilation systems.

What is the ideal light source for cannabis growing?

Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are the most commonly used light source for cannabis growing. LED lights are energy-efficient and produce the optimal spectrum of light for plant growth.

Can soil growing produce high-quality cannabis?

Yes, soil growing can produce high-quality cannabis. Many growers prefer soil growing because it creates a more natural growing environment for the plants, which can result in better taste, aroma, and overall quality.

What is flush and why is it important?

Flush is the process of draining the plants of nutrients and watering them with only clean water before harvesting. This process removes any excess nutrients from the plants, ensuring a smooth smoke and better taste. Failing to flush the plants can result in a harsh smoke and chemical taste.

What are the legal implications of cannabis growing?

The legal implications of cannabis growing vary depending on the laws of your country or state. It is important to research local laws and regulations before beginning a cannabis grow operation to avoid potential legal trouble.


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