Top 11 Mistakes To Avoid When Growing Medicinal Plants For the First Time

August 13, 2021

Almost anyone can grow legal medicinal plants. You can even grow in your backyard provided you have good quality seeds and understand how to take care of the soil, the proper germination methods, the correct watering process, lighting, humidity, and a few other issues. Whether you’re growing inside or outside, it’s important to understand how cultivation is done and what the best practices are.

However, many people still make critical mistakes, especially first-time growers. Pay attention to these eleven common medicinal plants gardening mistakes, to help insure you have a robust healthy harvest at the end of your labors.

1. Neglecting to prepare

So, you impulsively decided to buy some good quality seeds and now you think you’re ready to get planting. Rookie mistake. Growing plants is a full-blown botanical venture! You wouldn’t even plant a veggie garden unprepared.
You need to prepare the environment, whether it’s going to be indoors or outdoors. What nutrients are you going to need and how much of them? Do you have grow light? Have you got a good soil mix? How do you plan on dealing with pests – certainly not with pesticides!

Having an idea of what you need before you start prevents you from having to run around every day collecting all the items you need and potentially ruining your crop.

 2. Starting with bad genes

The seeds will not grow into plants if there are any germination mistakes. There are many ways of germinating the seeds, but the best is to do it in the soil directly so you won’t have to transfer the sprouted seeds, which can damage them.

This is what seeds need to sprout:

Provide a humid and dark (but not wet) environment.
The temperature should be between 22 and 25 C
Keep the humidity between 70-90%
The pH should be between 5.8 and 6.2
Don’t handle the medicinal plants seeds (risk of damaging and contaminating seeds)

 3. Not using the correct soil or fertilizer

Not using proper soil is another common mistake. Make sure that your soil is not contaminated with pests, fungi, and that there are adequate nutrients in it. Avoid using dirt from the garden and also reused or old soil. Such soil may already have contaminants. Like the seeds, you must also get high-quality soil from reliable sources. It is always best to use pre-fertilized soil because you will not have to add nutrients for many weeks. Add the nutrients only when you see the flowers beginning to bloom on your plants. Also, use soil that is airy and light.

The soil needs to have the correct pH, and it needs to have the correct nutrients in it. The ratio of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus in the soil is extremely important for your medicinal plants to flourish. Fertilizers are going to be needed for almost all growing stages of medicinal plants. However, different stages are going to require different fertilizers. Plus, depending on the nutrients available in the soil, there may be some fertilizers that will be better than others. Fertilizers can be differentiated by the NPK value, which stands for the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the fertilizer. Understanding what NPK value to use for which stage of growth can allow for a much healthier plant that produces more buds.

4. Using improper containers

To begin with, it should be of the right size. Grow pots that are too small will prevent the roots from growing, which will affect the growth of your plant. You may end up overwatering if the pot size is too large, which can damage the root.

The pot you use should have good drainage. Avoid using plastic pots because they will often not have a hole at the bottom. So you will have to make the hole yourself. There should be at least five holes, each about a coin in size. But make sure that the soil does not fall through the holes.

Recommended pot sizes:

  • 0–3 weeks: root cube
  • 2–6 weeks: 10cm pot
  • 6–8 weeks: 10l
  • Autoflowers: 12l
  • 2–3 months: 14l
  • 3–8 months: 22l
  • 8–16 months: 45l

5. Too little or too much water for the plants

The seeds are extremely sensitive. Improper moisture and humidity can cause severe damage. For best results, maintain a relative humidity of about 65 to 70%. The soil must also be moist. But it shouldn’t be wet.

Excessive moisture can also damage your seedlings. Many beginners will tend to overwater the plants, especially if the plant is in a larger pot, which will leave the plant sitting in water. When this happens, the roots can’t get the oxygen the plants need, and the plant can end up dying. If you notice signs of overwatering, like dropping leaves, don’t water for a little bit. The key is to check to see if the top inch of the soil is dry. If it is, it’s time to water. If not, skip watering and check the next day. By checking every time, you’ll give the plant the right amount of water and avoid issues from overwatering.

6. Overfeeding 

People love their medicinal plants, so they think giving them more must be a good thing. But alas, it’s not. Overfeeding can lead to nutrient burn, or worse, nutrient lockout caused by accumulated minerals in the soil. You can feed to get back the pH only after flushing the soil with water. In short: don’t overdo it on the nutrients!

7. Failing to manage pH

Always monitor the pH level because there is only a small window when medicinal plants can accept nutrients. If pH is in the correct range, the plants can absorb all the nutrients they need. If it falls outside the right range, they can no longer absorb all nutrients.

Correct pH levels

  • Soil: 6.0–7.0
  • Hydroponics and soilless: 5.5–6.5

In order to manage pH and keep it within the correct range you need to get yourself a pH meter kit.

8. Wrong ventilation

Especially when growing indoors, not having proper ventilation kit can lead to a host of maladies, including mould. For small grows, a simple standing fan or a clip fan blowing a mild breeze across your plants can be enough, whereas larger grow operations require sufficient outfitting to ensure air is constantly flowing and doesn’t become stagnant.

If you’re growing outdoors, air circulation shouldn’t be a problem; but then, there are other things to watch out for. For one, you’ll want to protect your plants from thieves. You can do so by planting companion species to hide your crop and mask the smell. You can also select medicinal plants strains that naturally remain short and hidden from view.

9. Heat-stressing your plants

Heat stress or temperature rise may cause serious damage beyond repair. Don’t keep the light source very close to your plants if you are growing indoors. Move it further away. Common signs of damage include brown, wilted, and curled leaves.

Of course, you don’t have this control outdoors. So if it is very sunny and hot in your place, then make sure to plant the medicinal plants seeds in a shady area. Or else, provide shade when the sun is directly overhead especially around midday.

10. Not harvesting at the right time

You cannot make the mistake of growing medicinal plants too late or early. Chop only when the buds have reached their peak potency. But they shouldn’t be hanging as well. Check the color of the trichomes, which look like small mushrooms.

How to tell when to harvest

The most reliable way to determine harvest time is to check the colour of the tiny, mushroom-like trichomes on your buds. For this, you’ll need a loupe or a microscope. Take a good look!

  • Clear trichomes – too early
  • Most of them have turned cloudy or white. THC production is just beginning to increase, and you’ll probably want to wait a little longer. – still early
  • They are mostly amber or reddish – too late
  • Harvest when the trichomes appear cloudy white. Small portions (10–20%) should start to turn amber. This is the best time for harvesting.

11. Inadequate Light

The plants will die quickly without light. Light will create carbohydrates, which the plants need for energy. You must provide enough light. Your medicinal plants won’t flower if there is too much light (plus, your energy bill will spike if you're growing indoors). Yield and growth will suffer if it is too little

Speaking of growing indoors, we recommended investing in a high-quality LED grow light and a timer. Set the timer to at least 18 hours on and 6 hours off during the vegetative phase. If you’re growing photoperiod genetics, you’ll need to reduce the schedule to 12 hours on and 12 off to initiate flowering.
You cannot change the lifecycle of outdoor plants. Plant the crops facing south so they get 8 sunlight hours at least every day.

Avoid these common mistakes and you can easily grow medicinal plants. This is one of the easiest plants to grow for beginners.

If you have more issues with your plants, do not hesitate could contact us freely.

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