One of the biggest challenges to growing cannabis is that other species like it just as much as we do. Bugs, molds, mildew, and more will all try to take advantage of your plants at some point. Being prepared with a pest control system will save your harvests.
There are plenty of options on the market, but pest control products for use on cannabis have a specific rule: they can’t be washed off. Washing your cannabis plants removes most of the THC and CBD. That means that simple, non-toxic pest control options are the way to go.
There are a couple other things to consider as well. You might be looking for something fully organic and natural, for example. You might need a pest control that’s safe for the flowering stage, which poses its own challenges. If you grow outside, you’ll need a product that will stay put despite rain and wind. Knowing what you’re looking for is the first step to a successful pest control strategy.
Natural (Organic) Pest Control for Weed Plants
When you’re considering organic pest control, you have a couple options. For pest control to be considered organic, it can’t be made of manufactured chemicals. You can use sprays, but they have to be made from organic ingredients. Similarly, you can use manufactured objects, but they can’t go on the plants.
That gives a few options: natural pest-killing chemicals, physical pest removal objects, or introducing pest predators to the system. All of these are fully organic – just choose the one that works for you.
Organic Pesticide Spray: Neem Oil
Neem oil is the first tool most organic farmers use in the fight against pests. It’s the pressed oil of the neem tree, which is also known as Indian lilac. The neem tree produces a variety of compounds that kill both insects and molds, along with powdery mildew. It’s essentially nontoxic to other life, including mammals, birds, and fish, so it won’t cause problems later.
Neem oil can be bought as a spray, in granules, or as dust. Spraying or dusting your cannabis plants with neem oil is a great way to prevent pest problems from happening in the first place. Since it’s non-toxic to humans, you can apply neem oil all the way up to the day of harvest. That makes it a great choice of pest control for weed plants, which can’t be easily washed.
There are also neem oil extracts that use the primary component in neem oil. Azadirachtin, which is extracted from neem tree seeds, is a more concentrated form for more serious infestations. This can irritate the skin in large quantities, so it’s best used earlier in plant development.
Pest-Removal: Sticky Traps
If you have a flying-insect sticky traps are a great option. Many insects are attracted to the color yellow, and sticky traps take advantage of that. Flying insects run into yellow sticky traps and stay put. That keeps them from eating your plants, laying eggs, or causing further problems. Putting up a few traps is a smart preventative measure when it comes to pest control for indoor cannabis, since you’ll see bugs when they first appear.
With sticky traps, you will need to put up quite a few if you have a serious problem. You may also need to supplement the sticky traps with other forms of pesticide if you believe that eggs have already been laid. Sticky traps are great organic methods of preventative pest control, but they work best as an aid, not a sole strategy.
Pest Predators: Ladybugs and Mites
If pests are eating your plants, why not step up the food chain? Introducing predator insects to your plants will get rid of your pest problem in no time. This strategy works best in large grows, of course – you may not want to release a bunch of ladybugs into your apartment.
Ladybugs are the most useful predator ever when it comes to pest control for cannabis. Ladybugs love to eat aphids, thrips, leaf-hoppers, moth eggs, spider mites, whitefly, and more. Basically, if something is eating your plants, ladybugs will eat them.
You can order ladybugs for live delivery. Once they arrive, all you need to do is release them into your greenhouse. You’ll have a splash of color that organically removes your best problem in no time. Best of all, if you’re growing multiple generations of plants at once, you may never need to buy ladybugs again. You can nurture a breeding population and have a little ecosystem of your own.
If you’ve tried ladybugs for a spider mite infestation and they didn’t work, don’t fear. There’s another option. Predator mites that eat spider mites can be bought the same way. They feed on spider mites specifically, so they’re sure to take care of your problems. Just release them on your plants and let them go to town.
Pest Control During Flowering Cannabis
Flowering cannabis is a delicate time when it comes to pest control. You can’t really wash the flowers after harvest without losing all the trichomes, after all. That means that your pest control can’t stick to your buds if it’s going to make people sick. You need to look for other options.
Organic options like neem oil and natural predators both work well for this. You have other options, too.
BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) Spray
Not all bacteria infect humans. In fact, some specifically target pest insects. The handy microbe Bacillus thuringiensis specifically attacks caterpillars and other insects with a larval stage. They kill these bugs before they can make headway in your plants.
You can find these BT sprays in most organic stores. They’re premade mixes full of the microbe, which is completely harmless to humans. Some are labelled for caterpillars, while others work against mosquitos – get the one for the problem you have. A good BT spray will protect plants against cabbage loopers, inchworms, leaf miners, and moths too. It’s completely safe all the way until harvest.
If you need to attack a wider variety of pests, look for diatomaceous earth. Food-grade DE is safe for humans. However, it’s deadly to many insects and pests. DE is sharp on a microscopic level in a way that damages insect carapaces. A regular dusting of DE will keep your plants pest-free all the way through harvest.
Make sure you get food-grade, EPA-rated diatomaceous earth. There are other forms of this product that are not safe for people. Food-grade DE is safe to consume in small amounts, so people who use your weed will be fine. EPA-rated pesticidal DE is designed to kill insects specifically, so it will give you an effectiveness rating. Combined, these two aspects guarantee you’re not wasting your money.
Pest Control tor Outdoor Weed Growing
When you’re growing weed outside, you have some additional considerations. Your pesticides can’t blow or wash away in a rain, or they’re useless. They also need to handle a much larger potential pest population.
All of the previous pest control methods can be used outside in the right conditions. You may need to apply sprays more frequently, but they will still work. However, there are two additional tools that works particularly well outdoors.
Many plants have developed chemical signaling systems that work with their environments. They’ve evolved to summon help when they’re being attacked, basically. For example, dill attracts predatory wasps which eat aphids and spider mites, but ignore humans. Sunflowers attract ladybugs and predatory mites. Yarrow attracts all three!
On the other hand, other plants repel pests in the first place. Basil repels snails and slugs. Garlic repels everything from bugs to small mammals. Chrysanthemums produce a natural pesticide known as pyrethrum, which will kill all your pests organically.
Growing some companion plants between rows of weed will keep your weed safer. They act as bodyguards for your pot plants. When you’re looking for pest control for growing weed outside, it might be as simple as growing a more well-rounded garden.
Floating Row Covers
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, according to Ben Franklin. When you’re growing outside, the best thing you can do for your plants is to keep pests away from them in the first place. Floating row covers keep pests out, completely organically.
Hanging row covers over your plants is the simplest way to keep all sorts of pests from feasting on them. A fine mesh net draped over your plants will still allow sun and rain to reach them. However, animals and insects will be stuck on the other side. It’s a lot easier to treat minor problems and repair holes in your mesh than it is to kill off a caterpillar infestation. If you use screens on your windows, you should have row covers when you grow outside.
Cannabis is incredibly rewarding if you grow it well. The biggest hurdle is keeping pest from enjoying it before you can. With simple pest control options like neem oil, row covers, and some helpful predators on your side, you’ll have a successful harvest.