Green Thumb Academy 


Cannabis plants are resilient and resourceful. However, much like any other living organism, cannabis plants need nutrients. Also known as fertilizers, nutrients can be either organic or inorganic (chemical).

Organic Cannabis Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers are described as nutrients that come from organic sources such as animal and vegetable waste. They also extend to sediments like glacial rock dust and gypsum that contain beneficial minerals for the soil and plant.

The benefits of organic fertilizers:

  • Slow release of nutrients protects the plants from overfeeding/burning

  • Overtime organic fertilizers can improve the quality and diversity of life in your soil

  • Improved airflow and water retention in soil

  • Renewable and sustainable

  • Organics stay in the soil with a lower chance of nutrient run-off

When working with organic fertilizers, you are given the opportunity to improve your growing medium while at the same time improving the quality of your flowers. The benefit from organics largely comes from the ability to nurture this balance. Growers often find that growing organically increases the flavor profile of the cannabis as well as the yield.

Another substantial benefit comes from the fact that this fertilization process can repeat itself year after year as the soil continually improves. This makes using organic fertilizers a popular choice for outdoor gardeners who use the same soil repeatedly. Using organics is also preferred for those who want to be more aware and in tune with their natural environment. Organic fertilizers are readily available from renewable sources, and when applied, they ground down in the medium, preventing nutrient run-off and thus making organic fertilizers the earth-friendly option.

The disadvantages of organic fertilizers:

  • Take time to be absorbed by the plant

  • Require microorganisms to break down the nutrients which may slow in colder temperatures

  • Can introduce insects and pests

  • Costly

Chemical Cannabis Fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers are synthesized and extracted to a specific chemical form. The nitrogen comes from the aforementioned Haber-Bosch process. Phosphate and potassium are extracted from minerals, and other impurities that can harm the plants are removed. The results of these extractions are highly refined specific quantities of N-P-K nutrients.

The benefits of chemical fertilizers:

  • Exact nutrient ratios

  • Increased growth and THC production

  • Rapid nutrient uptake

  • Affordable and widely available

The main benefit of using chemical fertilizers lies in their precise ratios of nutrients that can deliver big results in terms of yield. When applied to your garden, they are readily available and can start to impact a plant’s health immediately. The specific ratios of different fertilizers allow you to customize what works best for individual strains, leading to higher yields and THC contents.


The disadvantages of chemical fertilizers:


  • Do not feed into the development of the soil

  • Can burn and kill plants by overfeeding

  • Leech from growing medium, impacting surrounding environment

  • Produced from non-renewable resources

Chemical fertilizers do have downsides. Because the nutrients are readily available, they can also burn and kill a plant by overfeeding. Also, these readily available nutrients do not add to the quality of soil before being used by the plant, leaving the soil quality diminished. Weakened soil quality allows for nutrient run-off to occur, which wastes nutrients and can negatively impact the surrounding environment.

Lastly, these chemical fertilizers are not produced by renewable resources. Producing nitrogen is an energy intensive process that takes a toll on the environment especially as climate change and environmental issues become more pressing than ever before.

Other Considerations

A good analogy for organic and chemical fertilizers is the comparison between baking and cooking. Organics are like cooking. You can take away, add, and alter the recipe and find a unique delicious meal at the end of the day. Chemical fertilizers are like baking. You know what you have, and if you know what you precisely need you will end up with a beautiful loaf of bread. If you stray from the recipe, however, problems will arise.