Hydroponics vs. Soil

There’s no question that the soil vs hydroponics debate has been going forever, but the only truth is that both are viable options, so it’s up to you how you would like to grow. There are certainly pros and cons to both, and we’re going to cover some of that here.

While you can grow with soil or with hydroponics almost anywhere, things like geographic location, environmental conditions and your personal preference can dictate which method is right for you.

Before we dive in, while you can grow in soil and use artificial light and automation, we’re going to focus more on growing manually in soil outdoors with this article.

Let’s talk about Soil

You’re certainly going to talk to people who say soil is the only way to go, and that may be true for them. Yes, Mother Nature has been growing plants in soil and using the sun as an energy source since the beginning of time, and yes, you can grow fantastic plants and get decent yields growing in soil, but it’s not all glitter and rainbows.

If you rely on nature for growing, then you must adhere to it’s schedules. You can’t control the sun or other acts of God that could harm your plants. You’ve got limited windows that you can grow and come the end of the season, that’s it for your crop. You’re also doing more manual work with the likes of watering and testing things like pH, all of which are generally automated with hydroponics.

One of the biggest things you’ll content with when growing outdoors are pests and pathogens. Because of this, you’ll need to monitor your grow more closely and be ready to implement some remediation strategies.

Of course, it’s not all cons. Because soil is natural, it’s more sustainable. It also provides plants with beneficial fungi and bacteria that will aid in growth and keep the soil rich with nutrients. It’s also been said that soil grown weed is higher in terpenes, though the strain and overall genetic makeup will effect this too.

Lastly, soil generally costs less to get up and running, making it a popular choice among beginners, budget conscious growers and of course those that just enjoy getting right in there and getting their hands dirty!

Let’s talk about Hydroponics

Growing plants in water isn’t new, there’s examples of this method going back to the aqueducts of the ancient Aztecs, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that newer techniques like drip irrigation and NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) came into play.

These new methods brought increased simplicity to hydroponics, which brought increased attention to from growers. According to High Times, it was most likely Hawaiian pot growers that first started using these methods in the 70’s to grow marijuana on the island.

As better lights and better nutrient options became available, more and more people started turning to growing cannabis indoors with hydroponics. Hydroponic growing is now used worldwide for pot growers and vegetable farmers looking for more control, year round growing and higher yields.

Of course, once you introduce lighting, meters, automation, and all the other items you’ll need to grow with hydroponics, it can start to get expensive. Just the added costs can be a good enough reason for some growers not to go this route.

Growing weed with hydroponics is also going to take more work and skill. You’ll need to monitor things more closely to ensure that your plants aren’t getting stressed and that they are getting proper doses of nutrients. While you don’t need to deal with pests like you do in soil, there are water borne diseases that can seriously effect your plants with some hydroponics, so you’ll need to make sure you keep things clean.

Regardless of which hydroponics method you use, there’s good and bad things about them. Many feel that the pros outweigh those cons.

Yes, you need to be more vigilant in monitoring and feeding your plants, but that vigilance provides greater results. Hydroponics allow you to fine tune your feeding schedules and what nutrients your plants have access too.

With this type of control, you can give your crops specific nutrients at specific times in the grow cycle to ensure they perform their absolute best. Instead of just getting what nutrients the soil has to offer, you’re able to give them the right mix of what they need for the growth stage.

When done right, hydroponics results in bigger yields, year round crops (which in turn leads to more harvests and more product per year). Once you’re a bit more experienced with hydroponics, added automation for monitoring and feeding can actually reduce your workload.


As you can see, both options can be great. Both options can see big yields and quality product, but only you can decide what’s going to be right for you.

While there’s much more to consider than what was mentioned here, you now have a better idea why people choose between the different options. Of course, we’re pretty partial to hydroponics (specifically Deep Water Culture method), but that doesn’t mean you need to be too.