All plants, including cannabis, evolved alongside a diverse ecosystem of microscopic living organisms. Although you may not see it, just below the surface of the soil, cannabis thrives within an immense microbiome. It enjoys a two-way relationship with bacteria and fungi, where each component builds a strong synergistic whole.
There are immense benefits to building up the soil with these healthy bacteria, fungi, and other microbes. A flourishing ecosystem below the soil promises well-established root systems, better nutrient absorption, and bigger buds.
What is the Microbiome?
Humans have a microbiome of beneficial bacteria in our digestive system, and cannabis has a microbiome around its root system. This complex network of creatures is called the rhizosphere, where bacteria, fungi, and other living organisms interact with the roots.
This invisible ecosystem of tiny living organisms helps plants absorb more nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium, than their roots could do alone. The microbiome also helps defend against pests and pathogens as well as improving overall soil nutrients when they die.
There are several common types of microbes that inhabit this region:
- Endomycorrhizae fungi live outside the roots but have a mutually beneficial relationship swapping nutrients for sugars.
- Ectomycorrhizal fungi work similarly but grow within the roots, offering an internal exchange network of nutrients.
- Bacteria and other microbes primarily work to decompose minerals for easier absorption by plants. They also protect against detrimental microbes and pathogens.
Certain elements within the microbiome are so entwined with your plants' health that it would be impossible to separate the two. Without the invisible fungal and bacterial forces, your indoor cannabis plants would die.
While humans have attempted to improve upon the system mother nature has developed, we have thus far failed to replicate these impressive multifaceted symbiotic relationships. Even with modern technology! Plants grow better with assistance from the microbiome, and it's your job to support this microscopic ecosystem.
Benefits of Bacteria, Fungi, and Other Microbes for Weed
It's simple enough to declare bacteria is good for growing weed, but when you peek under the surface — what's really going on? We now understand several of the critical roles these microbes play during the life cycle of cannabis:
- Nutrient Cycling and Nutrient Exchange
One of the essential roles of the microbiome is nutrient cycling. There are billions (yes billions!) of tiny organisms capturing and processing unavailable minerals in the soil. Naturally, they transform them into a format suitable for the plants.
For example, cannabis needs iron and phosphorus to thrive, but even when added as amendments, they immediately bind to chemicals and become unavailable. Bacteria unlock the chemical bond to improve access and absorption.
- Natural Biofertilizer
Scientists estimate there are anywhere from 100 million to one billion individual bacteria inside a single teaspoon of healthy living soil, not to mention the fungi. As these creatures go through their natural life cycle, they end up as natural biofertilizers for your plants to use.
- Accelerate Root Growth
Without microbes, the capacity and size of the root system are severely restricted. For example, fungi expand the nutrient absorption capacity by coating the outside of roots, and some even penetrate the roots. Fungi are made from structures called hyphae, which form long chains. These dramatically increase the surface area of root systems.
How to Add Microbes into Your Indoor Grow Room
A healthy ecosystem is one teeming with beneficial microbes. But If you've purchased your soil or are working within a hydroponics system, how can you give the environment an added boost of bacteria and fungi?
- Compost Teas
Compost tea is a liquid made from steeping composted organic materials in water. Whether you have a well-composted pile of your own or purchase a bag from a garden supply store, you'll need to soak it for several days. Once strained, the liquid contains nutrients, minerals, and a host of beneficial organisms. These are easily added to your cannabis at any stage of growth and boost the beneficial bacteria and microbes within the soil.
- Microbial Formulations
You can also buy cannabis-focused additives of beneficial bacteria and microbes. Importantly, these apply to both soil-based operations and hydroponics. Great White Premium Mychorizzae, as only one example, delivers a boost of microbes to promote a healthy root system, which in turn supports a healthy harvest.
- Cover Cropping (No-Till Method)
Recent films have popularized the No-Till farming method in commercial agriculture, but organic farmers have been practicing this technique for centuries. Tilling (or aggressive working) soil in between harvests breaks up these valuable microscopic networks of organisms. So long as the soil is fed, progressive plantings of cannabis do better with a no til method because they land in an already thriving ecosystem of bacteria.
Cultivators often combine No-Till with cover cropping as a means to feed a diverse ecosystem of creatures. Cover cropping is planting legumes, vetches, and grass underneath the larger plants (even indoors). This cover crop fosters a healthy environment for all these microbes to live within, with the added benefits of trapping nutrients and moisture.
Bring Beneficial Microbes into the Grow Room for Amazing Returns
Without bacteria, we are nothing. Unsurprisingly, the same holds growing weed. We need beneficial microbes within our indoor operations to improve the structure and nutrient composition of the soil. The microbiome living in and around cannabis roots delivers much-needed nutrients, protects against pathogens, and provides returns come harvest time.
And while the application may look a little different, even hydroponics systems need a thriving aquatic ecosystem. Compost teas cover crops, and products like Great White all elevate the available bacterial and fungi creatures that will help your crop flourish.