Which Cannabis Growing Medium Is The Cheapest?

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Which Cannabis Growing Medium Is The Cheapest?

Growing cannabis on a budget? Let's examine the costs of different cannabis growing media to discover which is the cheapest. Hint: it's not just about the initial price tag.

Grow lights, quality cannabis seeds, nutrients, and much more. Growing weed can at times be an expensive hobby. But, if you know a couple money-saving tips and tricks, this can make things much easier on your wallet. In this post, we take a look at the different types of cannabis growing media and the costs of each. What is the cheapest medium for growing cannabis?


Put simply, a growing medium is the material in which you grow your plants. This can be your standard universal potting soil from the garden centre, special cannabis grow mixes, or “super soils” made from compost and other organic matter. You can also grow cannabis in coco coir, perlite, or vermiculite, which are so-called inert substrates that don’t contain any nutrients. It’s also possible to grow without any substrate at all, such as when growing hydroponically using only water and nutrients.

Yet, to find out which growing medium is the cheapest, it isn’t as easy as just looking at a price tag. There is more involved when it comes to your costs.


Here’s a quick rundown of the factors that can make one growing medium cheaper (more inexpensive) than another:

• Does the growing medium contain nutrients?

Let’s say you have two bags of substrate for growing weed. One is a cheap potting mix you found on sale somewhere for €5. The other one is the same size, but it’s a special organic super soil mix that costs a lot more. The thing is, with the expensive super soil, you may not need to add nutrients as the organic substances within the soil take care of your plant’s nutritional needs. The cheap soil, on the other hand, may not contain any nutrients at all—or, if it does, they may only last for 3–4 weeks and then you will need to start feeding your plants after that.

These things considered, the “expensive” organic soil will likely be cheaper in the long-run as it will save you money on nutrients over the duration of your grow.

• Can you reuse the medium?

Another factor that can influence cost is whether you can reuse the medium. You don’t normally reuse a typical soil mix as the nutrients will be depleted after one grow. For your next grow, you’d just start with a fresh batch.

But there are also substrates that you can reuse over and over, for example a perlite/vermiculite mix. In principle, you can reuse these for years, but then these substrates will also need nutrients as well. You see, things are a bit more involved when breaking down the costs associated with each substrate.

The same applies when you’re growing without any medium at all. Even if you only use water, you will still require hydroponic nutrients.

Organic Soil


Now, let’s look at some of the most common growing media and how they compare when it comes to cost and quality.


This is what most cultivators start out with when they’re new to growing: a typical soil-based potting mix. This can range from your bargain 50l garden soil bag from a discounter to fancy soil mixes made especially for weed. There are big differences in price, but this isn’t to say that a cheap, no-name brand is necessarily bad for growing, or that a very expensive mix will automatically give you great results. Here, it’s best to experiment a bit or get some recommendations for soils from fellow growers.

What’s important to know with potting mixes is that you can often find them pre-fertilised. But, there are also “light” potting mixes with few nutrients (good for autoflowers) and also special mixes (for seedlings, etc.) that do not contain any nutrients at all. With the common pre-fertilised types, your plants can usually go through the first 3–4 weeks of life without feeding, but after this time you will need to give nutrients.

Potting Soil


A bag or slab of coco coir costs about the same as decent potting soil, but there is a noteworthy difference: coco doesn’t have any nutrients, which means you'll need to feed your plants right away, unlike with soil. You will also need special nutrients for growing in coco, as this way of growing is somewhat between growing in soil and pure hydroponics.

On the other hand, growing in coco has the advantage of being less prone to bug infestations. This could save you some money on insecticides. Yes, there will be the initial cost of nutrients, but once you have everything, it can last you a good while. Likewise, you can reuse your coco up to 2–3 times. When it comes to the quality of your weed when growing in coco, results will usually be good to excellent.

coco coir


Super soils are special soil mixes made from a number of organic ingredients such as compost, worm castings, bone meal, bat guano, and other amendments. This makes super soil the most expensive type of growing medium. Even if you make your own, you will still need to obtain the raw ingredients. On the other hand, super soils have a massive advantage: you only need to water your cannabis plants. Over time, this can equate to huge savings, despite the higher initial cost. Furthermore, many growers swear that cannabis grown organically without chemical nutrients is more potent and has a better taste.

Super Soil


Growing hydroponically isn’t necessarily cheap. Even if your water is “free”, you will still need to spend on nutrients and the hydro setup itself—what with the pumps and special pots. On the other hand, once you have everything you need, including your nutrients, it may last you a while as you only need to refill your tank every few weeks. Whether such a setup will be cheaper compared to growing in soil depends on the cost of your nutrients and the number of plants. When growing hydroponically, the results will usually be excellent, with vigorous plants and massive harvests.



In addition to water, some hydroponic setups utilise an inert substrate like perlite or a mix of perlite and vermiculite. Aside from the initial costs of your perlite and vermiculite, you will have about the same running costs as a “water-only” hydroponic system—you will need to administer nutrients right away. On the other hand, perlite and vermiculite are not particularly expensive and can also be reused multiple times. A lower risk for bug infestations is another plus and can help you save some cash. Like hydro, the results of your harvest should be really good.



As you can see, which growing medium ends up being the cheapest ultimately depends on multiple factors. The initial cost of the medium itself is only a fraction of the total price. You will have to also think about nutrient costs and the costs of any additional equipment. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you achieve abundant, healthy harvests of top-tier bud. Which medium will render the greatest reward for the lowest cost will vary from grower to grower, so feel free to experiment and find out which one is best for you!

Happy growing!