By Adam Parsons Reviewed by: Gloria Payá

There are many invaders that can ruin your harvest and turn a fun experience into a total nightmare when growing cannabis. Spider mites are by far some of the worst, as they can be extremely hard to get rid of. Employing pest-management protocol helps minimise the risk of an infestation, but may call for the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. Although these help eradicate the invaders themselves, the chemical remnants can be toxic to humans and other animals alike. Luckily, diatomaceous earth is one great natural option that cannabis cultivators can count on to combat spider mites and other critters.


In a nutshell, diatomaceous earth (DE) comes from the fossilised remains of small marine organisms called diatoms. Over a 30 million year period, these hard-shelled algae collected on the bottom of bodies of water, eventually forming into a type of sedimentary rock. Fast forwarding, it wasn’t until around 1836 that a German peasant Peter Kasten discovered the ivory-coloured, powdery substance while drilling a well in northern Germany. Ever since, the usefulness of DE for multiple purposes, including industrial and horticultural applications, has been well-reported. Just sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on top of your soil and watch mother nature's secret weapon work its magic.

Diatomaceous Earth In Cannabis Cultivation



DE is an all-natural, safe-to-use substance that doesn’t harm the cannabis plant with toxic chemicals. The nature of diatomaceous earth makes it useful against most types of insect infestation you might be experiencing; and unlike chemical insecticides, insects can’t develop a resistance to the effects of DE. So once they’re gone, they’re gone for good. DE has abrasive and physico-absorbent properties. When used as an insecticide, DE absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of the exoskeletons of many insect species. This layer acts as a barrier that resists the loss of water vapor from the insect's body; DE thereby increases the evaporation, causing them to die from dehydration. However, as slugs live in humid environments, its effectiveness is very low. In this case, large and spiny diatoms work best to lacerate the epithelium of the mollusc.


When it comes to growing cannabis, everyone strives to provide the best soil to grow the best plants—but there’s always a way to make it even better. Making the soil a better medium is called soil conditioning, which is exactly what diatomaceous earth does. It works by improving the retention of moisture in your potting soil, holding a large amount of fluid and drying at a rate that’s much slower. This natural soil additive also helps to retain nutrients and allows for better oxygenation of the substrate.

Cannabis Soil Cultivation


When using DE in your soil, it can be especially beneficial as it frees up nutrients so that they are made available to the plants as needed. This works via the silica content of DE being absorbed into the plant tissue, which helps improve the plant’s ability to respond and receive more nutrients as DE activates. This in turn results in greater yields and better stability under small pH fluctuations.


For most any grow, it’s important to try to keep everything as clean as possible. Doing this not only helps prevent pests and pathogens, but also protects your precious buds from being covered in fibers and dust.

Spider Mites


As said before, spider mites are a big problem for growers, thriving more in some environments than others. Fortunately, the conditions in which your plants grow happily are not that great for their arch enemy.

Because spider mites flourish in stagnant air, it’s important to ensure proper airflow throughout the entire grow-op. Lots of fresh air going in and out will not only prevent spider mites but fungi and other pathogens as well.

Hot, dry weather is a spider mite’s cup of tea, so maintaining proper temperature and relative humidity levels is an absolute must.


It’s simple to understand why DE is pretty cool. It offers support and protection for cannabis plants and their soil, with no risk of toxicity; what grower wouldn’t love that? Although non-toxic, please be cautious when handling DE as it can be irritating to the skin, eyes, nose, and throat when inhaled, especially in large quantities.

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