Thursday, July 6, 2017

Companion Planting with Cannabis:

A Dual Benefit For
You And Your Medical Cannabis Plants

Pests have the potential to plague almost all cannabis growers. Indoor growers typically encounter pests such as aphids, fungus gnats, spider mites, thrips and whiteflies, but they have the ability to control their growing environment more easily. Outdoor growers on the other hand have a greater time combatting nature’s pesky invaders such as caterpillars, slugs, snails, rodents, and basically any insect mother nature’s playground harbors.  This is why companion plants for cannabis are especially helpful for organic outdoor growers who do not want to use potentially harmful pesticides on their growing medicine.

Lots of companion plants that are beneficial for growing with cannabis also have healing properties. This will provide the grower with medical cannabis and medicinal plants that can be used with recipes for juicing raw cannabis or in cooking with cannabis infused oils.

Fortunately, there is a way to naturally protect cannabis seedlings and crops from pests while improving soil quality, supplementing nutrients and conserving grow space. This beneficial way of growing is called companion planting.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a process in which the conditions of a growing environment are improved by planting beneficial plants close to one another. Individual plants protect others against pests by emitting a strong odor (that will either deter pests directly or invite beneficial predators into the garden area). Other plants will actually improve soil conditions through aeration and nutrient promotion, while a select few will provide structural support and reduce the need for additional space.

For companion planting to be effective, however, complementary plants must be planted close together (but not too close) for the plants to benefit each other without having to compete for root space and other resources.

Companion Plants for Cannabis that Deter Pests

Some plants release chemicals that naturally repel pests and this can help prevent any neighboring plants from infestation.
  • Chrysanthemum flowers contain pyrethrin, a natural insecticide
  • Aromatic herbs such as basil release insect repellants from their foliage
  • Slugs typically steer clear of basil, fennel, rosemary, and mint (others)
  • Coriander repels aphids, spider mites and potato beetles
  • Costmary helps to repel moths
Basil is a common garden favorite because its strong scent repels garden pests like thrips, aphids, beetles and flies. It is also thought to increase the oil production and improve the flavor of nearby plants. The crushed leaves of basil when rubbed on the skin will not only leave you smelling fresh and fragrant, but they keep the mosquitoes away as well. First aid wise, it is also a good treatment for insect bites and stings. Crushed leaves when applied to the bite draw the poison out and offer some relief. A paste of crushed basil leaves and aloe make a potent topical treatment for stings from bees, wasps and hornets.
Mint is another plant with a strong odor that is less-than-appealing to most garden pests. It can also help mask the smell of freshly-blooming buds if privacy is a concern. Just remember that mint tends to be very invasive so planting it in pots near your cannabis, rather than directly in the ground, is highly recommended.
Garlic is a powerful addition to any garden because it deters both great and small pests and works as a natural fungicide to protect against disease. It can be planted near cannabis or used topically in a spray as a spot-treatment.
Chili peppers will deter large pests like deer, rabbits, and mice. The root system of peppers also exudes a chemical that protects against rot which is especially favorable in areas with excess rainfall or poor drainage.
Unlike many calming herbs such as chamomile and lemon balm, rosemary is actually a stimulant. It stimulates the central nervous system and blood circulation and can raise blood pressure. In some ways you could think of an infusion of rosemary as the first energy drink. A popular culinary herb often associated with poultry, pork and beef, it has been shown to relieve pains from sprains, arthritis, sciatica and neuralgia. As a hot tea it offer asthma relief and allergy relief because of its essential oils which block histamines. There is some indication that rosemary helps to manage diabetes, and the ancient Greeks believed that it helps with focus and concentration. It, too, is a natural insect repellent.

Companion Plants for Cannabis that Attract Pest Predators

If you can’t get a certain pest to stay away, then invite their predators to the party. Implementing these plants attracts the predators of the pests munching away at your garden. Good thing we’re at the top of the food chain!
The bright colors of marigolds and the fragrant scent makes them especially appealing to tiny pests who might otherwise be looking to chomp on your cannabis. Plant a few around the perimeter of your cannabis plot or around the perimeter of the container to entice pests to visit them instead of your sweet cannabis plants.
The leaves from dill are a traditional addition to dill pickles and it’s often used to accompany seafood, particularly salmon and trout. Both the leaves and seeds have been proven to aid digestion and bloating when made into a tea.
Beneficial Pollinator Attractors

Crops that entice helpful insects and winged animal friends support a dynamic and flourishing ecosystem. Try to use native plants that are indigenous to your area as these critters will gravitate to varieties they are familiar with. An easy way to start a companion-oriented garden is to use a beneficial pollinator mix. Dill, yarrow, parsley, hyssop, lavender, cumin, calendula, lemon balm, anise, dill, catnip, goldenrod, alfalfa, parsnip, thyme, chrysanthemum, fennel, chamomile, stinging nettles, tansy, buckwheat, fennel, comfrey, sage.

Companion Plants for Cannabis that Recycle Nutrients

Companion planting doesn’t only amplify health, oil production, and flavor, but also can be key players in the ever-recycling nutrient ecosystem.
Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc) are able to do a really, really cool thing– break the triple bonds of atmospheric nitrogen with the help of Rhizobium bacteria. In doing so, these companion plants are able to contribute to the pool of readily available nitrogen — these plants have been termed givers in some gardens.
Nitrogen is one of the most common deficiencies in cannabis cultivation, which can lead to a discoloration of the leaves followed by slow leaf death. Planting beans near a cannabis plant can help remedy that. With the ability to pull nitrogen out of the air and transform it into nitrites to be used by cannabis, growing beans amidst a cannabis crop can help the harvest grow vigorous and healthy, and can provide another healthy item for the kitchen.
  • Alfalfa: fixes the soil with nitrogen while also accumulating iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium
  • Beans: all bean enrich the soil with nitrogen, which is why they are perfect for heavy nitrogen users– think of that nitrogen thirsty strain in your stable
  • Chamomile: accumulates calcium, potassium and sulfur
The Chamomile flowers make an excellent garnish for salads and soups and the flowers and leaves also make a soothing and relaxing tea. Chamomile has a calming effect on the nervous system. It’s often used as a sleep-aid and is known to help with digestion. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Lots of companion plants have very beneficial healing properties. Yarrow, hyssop, chamomile, calendula, comfrey, lemon balm, milk thistle, anise, peppermint, borage, anise, goldenrod, alfalfa, chamomile, stinging nettle, tansy, sage, passionflower, cumin, parsley, red clover, alfalfa, mugwort, borage, lavender, catnips, hyssop, dill, chrysanthemum, basil, rosemary, and raspberry are some more common ones.
Companion plants can also change the composition of the medium itself, loosening compacted soils and making it easier for air and water to penetrate.
From rosemary for home-cooked-meals to colorful flowers serving to brighten up your garden– incorporating companion plants benefits the ecosystem surrounding your medicinal garden. Planting accompanying herbs and plants alongside your cannabis plants help recycle and to an extent buffer nutrient uptake, amplify flavors, and serves as leverage in pest management.
Cannabis Companion Planting Handout from Project CBD