By Max Sargent

Our plants are at risk of being devoured by bugs, slugs, and insects, just as they would be in the wild. When our plants are eaten at the leaf it removes their ability to process sunlight into energy, choking the plant of much needed resources and slowing bud production. As part of our blog series, we have listed some ways to identify common pests and how to deal with infestations here

A common pest is one we know well- the ant. These lovable little hive-minds cause problems with marijuana plants by creating nests in the substrate medium. This can damage the root system - stunting growth, delaying flower production, and putting all your hard work to waste.

Ants have also been known to arrive in tandem with aphid infestations. The ants squeeze the aphids and harvest their guts - a formulation of sugars made of nutrients taken from the leaves of your precious plants. The ants protect the aphids by warding off friendly predator bugs like ladybirds. Cultivating the aphid colony in this way allows it to multiply rapidly. A single aphid can give birth to up to 12 live offspring per day - this can wreck your plants, so of course you want to make sure any infestations are eliminated as quickly as possible.



When removing bugs, you want to keep harsh chemicals and pesticides away from your plants. Organic is always the best way- and so we use ordinary household cinnamon.

Look closely at your soil or potting medium. With any luck the ant infestation hasn't gotten too far and they're only beginning to colonise just one or two spots. Take a tablespoon full of powdered cinnamon and dump it on the soil, where the ants are building. The strong flavour of the cinnamon should be enough to scare of any ants that were thinking about colonising your plants.

If you find that this isn't enough to deter your new insect pals, dissolve a few more spoonfuls of cinnamon in some distilled water (the same amount you would use to water your plants) and pour it over your topsoil. Allow your cinnamon-water mixture to soak in. This strong-smelling concoction will absorb into the soil, tainting it's flavour. This method is a sure fire way to send ants packing.


Neem oil

Neem oil is a precious ally of the organic cannabis grower. This essential oil comes from the neem tree and contains powerful insecticide compounds. It has been used in horticulture, and also in ethnomedicine, for centuries. It can be sprayed directly on plants during veg as an immediate pesticide, or even every week or so as a preventative measure for spider mites, whiteflies, fungus gnats, nematodes, and all the other nasty beings who usually attack our plants. Neem oil doesn’t harm beneficial animals like ladybugs, bees, and earthworms, and it can also be added to irrigated water to prevent root rot.

A good pesticide mix can be prepared with 1 teaspoon of neem oil and just 5 drops of surfactant per litre of water. A surfactant, such as dish soap, is useful because neem oil does not mix well with water. Using warm water makes the mixing process even easier. Just allow the mix to cool off before applying it on your plants. A sprayer with the finest possible setting will be needed to mist the tops and bottoms of all the leaves. All ants targeted with the neem oil mist will suffer from serious respiratory issues, and all the others will flee as fast as they can. Avoid using neem oil directly on the buds of flowering plants.

Diatomaceous earth

The use of diatomaceous earth is a natural and safe pest control method that doesn’t harm plants or growers by releasing toxic chemicals. Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite, is a siliceous rock originating from fossilised remains of small beings with a hard shell. It can be easily crumbled into a powder and has many industrial applications. Diatomite is a beautiful mechanical insecticide, and this is what interests cannabis growers.

The abrasive nature of this “shell powder” scrapes away insects’ exoskeleton as they pass by, while its high porosity absorbs any critters’ vital fluids. Not exactly the environment ants will try to colonise, and not something a parasite can develop a resistance to, as opposed to chemicals. Plus, diatomite improves soil’s moisture retention, holding water, slowly drying, and increasing the oxygenation of the substrate. Some caution is needed when handling diatomaceous earth because it can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. 

Diatomaceous earth

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