Cannabis Pest Control for Outdoor Growing. Cannabis grown outdoors, although natural and vigorous, is at the mercy of natural elements. Pests, as well as strong winds and blistering sunlight all, threaten to damage to your plants if not kept in check. Sometimes the damage can occur over time but all too often the damage is caused overnight and can lead to massive loss of foliage especially to young plants. Pests come in many shapes and sizes, from largely visible caterpillars to teeny tiny aphids that are sometimes too small to spot. When these pests eat the plant’s leaves, it removes the plant’s ability to process light from the sun into energy.
Unfortunately, there are numerous different pests that could overrun your planting area in as little as a couple of hours, however, thankfully there are also many ways of dealing with it. What will work best for your crop will be dependent on location, ethics, and budget?
The first two months or so it’s important to pay close attention to your plants’ growth; meeting all her needs for a healthy, strong vegetative stage and ensuring that pests don’t take over. During the vegetative phase, any damage caused by insects or other pests can be quickly repaired by the plant’s own natural response to heal itself.
Pests may include:
- Mice and vermin
- Crickets and grasshoppers
- Caterpillars and cutworms
- Leaf miners
- Slugs and Snails
- Spider mites
USING NATURAL PREDATORS FOR CANNABIS PEST CONTROL
Spiders, geckos, praying mantises, and ladybugs are some beneficial predators that can be used to protect outdoor plants and keep pest numbers down. They are often bred specifically for this purpose and can be purchased commercially. If you have a small cannabis garden, this may not be the most effective method of controlling pests, as the predators won’t have enough food to maintain them. These will work very well in a greenhouse or simple shaded enclosure.
Other than insects, predator’s such as frogs, turtles, and lizards can be used if your growing near a river or stream. You can do this simply by leaving food for them near your grow site every once in a while. Birds are another predator that can be used in a similar way, encouraging them to visit with birdseed and bird feeders.
Due to today’s ‘organic movement,’ you can easily find both non-organic and organic insecticides. Organic insecticides work by copying the effects of a plant’s natural pesticides. A common organic insecticide used is pyrethrum, because of its superior strength. It can work against a large variety of different pests.
Even though organic insecticides don’t contain chemicals, they still can kill beneficial insects and mammals as well including your predators that you have been using to keep the pests away! Use with caution and only if your outdoor cannabis plants are being completely destroyed by pests.
When your cannabis plant begins to mature, the more effective its own natural defenses will be, you shouldn’t need to use any pesticides at all.
Another great option is homemade sprays and tonics to protect your young cannabis plants from harmful pests. You can find many recipes online, especially on homeopathic gardening sites.
Here are a few recommended home remedies for cannabis pest control:
ONION AND GARLIC SPRAY
Garlic is well-known for its pungent aroma, it is this strong scent that comes into play when used as a natural insecticide. These common kitchen ingredients can be used to combat insect infestations.
Mince two cloves of garlic with two medium-sized onions. puree them in a blender or food processor with about a litre of water. Wait one hour and then add two teaspoons of cayenne pepper and one tablespoon of plant-based liquid soap to the mix, spray liberally on infested plants. This spray will keep its potency for up to one week if stored in the refrigerator.
CHILLI PEPPER / DIATOMACEOUS EARTH
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural substance and is made from a sedimentary rock created by fossilized algae (diatoms). Diatomaceous earth has a number of uses in and around the home, and acting as a natural insecticide is just one of them.
Diatomaceous Earth works not by poisoning or smothering the insects, but instead by virtue of its abrasive qualities and its affinity for absorbing the lipids (a waxy substance) from insects’ exoskeleton, which then dehydrates them to death. It will help control snails and slugs as well as other crawling insects.
Grind two parts dry chilies with 1 part Diatomaceous earth, into a fine powder. Add to 2 litres of water and let set overnight. Shake well before applying.
NEEM OIL INSECTICIDE
Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree and is a very powerful natural insecticide, perhaps one of the most powerful, holding over 50 natural insecticides. This amazing oil is effective on insects at every stage of development, whether adult, larvae or egg. Neem oil acts as a hormone disruptor and as an “antifeedant” for insects that feed on leaves and stems. It is biodegradable and non-toxic to pets, birds, fish, and other wildlife.
To make your own neem oil spray, add about 15 grams of high-quality organic neem oil and ½ teaspoon of a mild organic liquid soap to two litres of warm water. Stir slowly. Add to a spray bottle and spray on the affected cannabis plant foliage immediately.
Neem oil can also be used preventatively by spraying the leaves of plants that are often ravaged by pests before they’re actually infested.
Apart from pesticides and insecticides, another great option would be to plant insect-repelling plants in and amongst your cannabis plants, for example, you could plant marigolds around your cannabis crop. Most pests are kept at bay naturally by marigolds. The pungent smell of the marigold acts as a repellent to many insects that are drawn to flowering plants.
Cannabis is vulnerable to insects and other pests; however, I would not recommend the use of pesticides on your cannabis plants. It is not environmentally safe and you would not like to ingest or inhale any harmful chemicals. Since you are going to be smoking the flowers of these plants later, you want to pay special attention to the chemicals with which you treat them. Consider using only organic treatments on your marijuana plants, however, if you are going to use pesticides, be sure that you are using a product that is labelled “safe for use on food crops.”
Remember to use any kind of pesticide, organic or not, as little as possible.
Happy Growing all!
Written by MJ, January 2018