Growing Marijuana in an AeroGarden
While serious growers may scoff at the idea of cultivating marijuana in an AeroGarden, they would be remiss to discount these mini hydroponic systems entirely. The truth is, many indoor gardeners have proven that AeroGarden is – in fact – capable of bringing a cannabis plant from seed to harvest. While there are a few notable drawbacks, there is little doubt that AeroGarden marijuana growing is one of the easiest ways to produce your own hydroponic weed.
Let’s start with an overview of the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden and why these compact systems are a fantastic gateway into the world hydroponic gardening. Next we will point out a few limitations that you should consider before embarking on your grow. And lastly, we will detail the best way to grow marijuana plants using an Aerogarden.
The Miracle-Gro AeroGarden is a smart, tabletop hydroponics system manufactured by Aerogrow International. They are quite popular these day, so it’s likely you have spotted them at big box retailers or maybe even in your aunt’s kitchen. Most people grow herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, and peppers, but they are quite adaptable at growing nearly anything – including cannabis.
Each AeroGarden comes equipped with a reservoir, pump, and grow light. Most new models are fully-automated with functionally to program the AeroGarden according to the type of plant you cultivate, as well as program the grow lights to turn on/off at pre-set times during the day. Additionally, every model come with a seed pod kit. These kits consist of sphagnum peat grow sponges (grow media), plastic baskets to hold the media, plastic humidity domes, fertilizer, and – of course – the seeds (usually herbs). Growers have the option of using a “Grow Anything” seed pod kit to customize a garden with their own seeds (ie, cannabis seeds).
In a nutshell, you simply snap the seed pods into the lid inserts, pre-set the grow light to your desired times, and add water and nutrients. With the exception of routine maintenance and harvesting your own freshly grown crops, the pump does most of the work from then on. Thus, AeroGardens are great for people who just want an small, hassle-free growing system in their homes. They are also a great system for first-time hydroponic gardeners.
Despite what its name implies, the Aerogarden is not an aeroponics system. It’s actually more like a top-feed drip system because it trickles the nutrient solution (water and fertilizer) onto the grow sponge to feed and hydrate the plant’s roots. Since drip systems are widely used in the cannabis cultivation, it will come as no surprise that this type of hydroponic system should work just fine for marijuana plants.
While a quick Google search of AeroGarden grows proves that cannabis can be successfully grown in an AeroGarden, some critics point to the system’s design limitations. For one, the grow lights (which come standard with each model) are really not powerful enough to produce significant yields. Another drawback is maximum height limitation of the grow lights: the light hoods extend 24” on some models and even less on others. This obviously limits how tall your plants can grow in an AeroGarden. Furthermore, the small reservoir is bound to become overgrown with root mass as the weeks pass by. Even with such challenges, you can still have successful cannabis grows using a standard AeroGarden setup.
So how can you successfully grow marijuana plants in an AeroGarden? Most indoor gardeners use an AeroGarden to germinate their seeds (weeks 0-2) before transferring them into a larger hydroponics system sometime during the vegetation period (weeks 2-5). This will allow more height for the plants and grow light, as well as a larger reservoir for roots to expand. Plus, you can add a more powerful grow light to produce better quality buds at this point. But their is little doubt that AeroGarden marijuana growing can be quite effective if done the proper way.
In our opinion, the best way to grow seedlings and clones in an AeroGarden is as follows:
Each and every AeroGarden model is capable of sprouting seeds. However, when you get to the seedling stage, you really need good lighting from there on out. We would advise you to choose an Aerogarden model which comes with an LED grow light that extends 24” in height.
Here are you best options:
The newly released AeroGarden Farm models will give you over 2.5x the growing capacity of any other AeroGarden. The system is fully automated to adjust to your specific requirements, features dual, energy-efficient LED grow light (60W) which can be independently adjusted to accommodate your grow. The unit measures 36” wide and 12” deep while the LED grow lights extend to 24”. It’s more expensive than the other AeroGardens, but the Farm models have the most functionality and accessories.
Among the smaller options, the AeroGarden Bounty (45W), Ultra LED (30W) and Extra LED (30W) are all great for cannabis grows. They are fully automated with energy efficient LED grow lights extending to 24”. While these models will allow you to continue through the vegetative stage of growth and into flowering, supplemental lighting is advised.
Do to their smaller sizes and less effective grow lights, we only recommend the Sprout, Harvest, and 6/7 LED models for seed starting, clones, and seedlings.
The Miracle-Gro AeroGarden “Grow Anything” seed pod kits are designed specifically for the AeroGarden, so they will work well. Just place your cannabis seeds in the media and start growing. To accelerate root growth, try some Rapid Rooter Plugs. You will need to snip them to size so they will conform to the plastic buckets (which act as a net cup holding the grow media), and then add your cannabis seeds into the pods/plugs.
If possible, use distilled water to fill the reservoir. As long as your room temperatures stays in the 60’s and 70’s degree range, you shouldn’t be overly concerned with adjusting the water temperature. Use a pH meter to continuously monitor the pH levels. Adjust accordingly so that it stays at roughly 5.8. For best results, change your water and clean root debris every 1-3 weeks.
Program your AeroGarden so that the LED lights follow this schedule:
Seedlings: 20 hrs on / 4 hrs off
Vegetation Period: 18 hrs on / 6 hrs off
Flowering Period: 12 hrs on / 12 hrs off
Once your seedlings have sprouted, we recommend that you add supplemental grow lights. Since total darkness is required for off hours, also consider using a grow tent as well. See our grow lights and grow tent pages for suggestions.
Miracle-Gro Aerogarden stock nutrients are sufficient for most grows, but we prefer using the higher-quality hydroponics fertilizers from FoxFarm, General Hydroponics, etc. Follow the mixing instructions on the label. Do not add more than the recommended amount, as this can cause nutrient burn.
Other AeroGarden Marijuana Growing Tips
–You may want to add a small concentration of Cal-Mag solution to your water (especially if you are using distilled water).
–While most growers find AeroGarden’s built-in pump to be sufficient, other growers may opt to use an external air pump with an air stone. Adding more bubbles to the root zone helps to prevent root rot and gives the roots plenty of oxygen for fast and healthy growth.
–Add Mylar reflective material around your AeroGarden to increase light intensity. Cover any holes on the lid that are not in use.
–Clones and seedlings do best when humidity is kept around 65-70%. During the veg stage, drop humidity down to 40-50%, with further reductions during the flowering stage.
–Use a fan to move air throughout your grow room. This will help to stabilize the air temperature and humidity so plants remain healthy. If you decide to use a grow tent, consider adding an exhaust fan and boosting the CO2.
–During the vegetative stage: When plants become too tall under the light hood – and the root mass become unmanageable inside the reservoir – you may opt to transplant into a larger hydro setup (like a DWC bubble bucket) and add higher output grow lights. If you wish to keep your plants in the AeroGarden for the entire grow, trim back the growth and maintain a well-trained plant until harvest. During the vegetative stage, add supplemental grow lights to increase your chances of developing buds.