Every so often I get an email that stands out from the rest. Sometimes I give a chuckle, sometimes I scratch my head, and sometimes I can honestly see why such a question might be asked. I always say that there are no dumb questions, and it is true. Especially for the newer or first-time growers – we have all been there.
Recently I thought that it was probably best I start to answer some of these questions, especially as I see a pattern in occurrence and many are similar in nature. Horticultural texts don’t readily offer advice on speculative folklore or home hobbyist-experiments. The truth is, many “myths” start from some sort of half-truth, so let me see if I can shed some light on a few of these intrigues. I will attempt, every so often, to answer a few of the “crazy” questions I get in the old digital inbox. I will remove the names of those who submitted the questions so as not to embarrass anyone and to encourage anyone to write in without fear of ridicule from their peers. My hope is this will help out at least a few of you newbies out there. Stay well everyone & many thanks.
1) I was told to boil water and place the roots of my plant in it and it would help it be more potent. Is this true?
2) I hear that throwing a few bags of ice in with my nutrient solution two weeks before harvest will increase the potency of my buds. Possible?
I will answer these two questions together as I believe they were borne out of the same singular truth. To start with, it is not recommended to do either of these experiments with your plants! Plants are living organisms and, just like humans, will react to torture and stress in much the same way – which is to say negatively. Part of the process of horticultural is to understand and identify with your plants. It may sound cliché, but if you are not in tune with your plants they will suffer for it. (If your plants are suffering and you are not, you may want to rethink your purpose for growing.) So sticking them in boiling water or freezing them with bags of ice will not garner the long-term effects desired, which is to say happy and healthy gardens.
That being said, there is some truth to these myths. The notion of stressing out plants to create more potent buds is a controversial topic that is grounded in the believe that plants tend to produce more resin when they are nearing the end of their life cycle or dying due to some traumatic condition. Technically speaking, plants will divert energy into two areas when they feel their lives are threatened; First, they will try to regenerate the damaged part of the plant and, second, they will increase resin production in order to create stickier trichomes with which to catch pollen. The idea is that if the plant can quickly catch some pollen and generate a few seeds it can ensure its lifeline by passing on its genetic material to its offspring. Some might say that this is Mother Nature at her finest.
Still, there is limited research in this regard and, depending on the strain being grown, the plants may react very differently from one another when stressed to the point of a near-death experience. Some plants exhibit no increase in resin production when stressed; while other varieties might begin to form many more resin glands (or trichomes). However, when the latter does occur, it is always at the expense of higher yields, hence the idea of waiting until the very end of flower to try any stress-out tactics.
3) Is it true that I can bury fruits or veggies in the soil to impart flavors in the bud?
4) If I pour whiskey in my reservoir will the plants taste like whiskey?
Again, I’ll tackle these two together as they are closely related… In short, this is an easy answer: NO. And to be quite clear, there are no known methods for infusing more flavor artificially into buds during the grow cycle other than growing your plants well and maximizing their genetic potential.
Many growers attempt to impart flavors on their flowers using different nutrients, foliar sprays, or supplemental additives and none of them work (if they do, the taste is not good and people will know it). And even if they did, who wants synthetic flavor on their buds? Seems to me this would defeat the entire purpose of growing cannabis to begin with.
From extensive review of entry forms from Cannabis Cup entries and correlating this data with our winners over the past several years, High Times has found terpene profiles are much higher on flowers that have been grown organically. In fact, Kyle Kushman’s veganic line (Vegamatrix) brings out some of the strongest flavor in our favorite strains. This is likely because the synthetic nutrients are never flushed out well enough, and distort the naturally occurring flavors in cannabis. It may also be because true live organics give plants more of what they need and what is found naturally in nature, thereby allowing the full genetic potential of strains to be unlocked without any of the additives we use to pack on weight.
5) Do I need to water my plants every day?
Do you need to drink water every day? Yes. Plants, like humans, need to eat and drink everyday. Now, this not to say plants cannot go without water for a day or even two (in an emergency-type situation), but it is not recommended or healthy for plant development.
I do sometimes advocate for advanced and commercial growers to take a day off once a week from watering to allow their grow mediums to completely dry out and help aerate the substrate, however this recommendation is for large-format grows that utilize industrial irrigation systems that really soak mediums with nutrient solutions. What you want to avoid is an over-watered, saturated grow medium that starts to compress and obstruct airflow in the root zone. Remember, roots breath in oxygen during the dark cycle, and this function is extremely important to the size, development and yield of your plants.
However, for the home grower (which I imagine is who asked this question) – especially one who is hand-watering plants – it is ideal to water your plants daily. They will surely appreciate it and reward you for it. Just take care to not over-water. If you see water draining out of the bottom of the container, stop watering. And if your plants begin to wilt or flop over, water with lesser amounts each day.
Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!