Growing your own cannabis at home is incredibly rewarding, but without proper sanitization, the reward may be less than it could be. But by maintaining a sanitary grow environment for cannabis plants, home growers can maximize yield, improve cannabinoid production, and save a lot of headaches during the cultivation process.
How to Sanitize Your Grow Space
Proper sanitization should not be understated. Even if you’re really excited to get your clones or seeds into some dirt, we suggest pausing for a thorough cleaning first. If you have clones or seedlings that need to grow, keep them quarantined in a clean rubber tub (use CFLs for lighting if need be) until your grow room is ready for the show.
The sanitization process should always begin with a completely clean grow space. Tools are okay but anything that is or once was living must go – plant trimmings, dirt, water – as these are prime breeding grounds for pests and bacteria. Tools should also be cleaned after each crop rotation as well, and ideally kept off the floor. A work bench or peg board can help keep tools organized and a sanitizer solution will keep them disinfected.
After clearing out everything from a grow space, it’s time to clean! First, thoroughly sweep all debris from the grow space and consider the use of a wet/dry vacuum for difficult-to-clean areas. Though greenhouses and designated grow spaces may benefit from a pressure wash and vacuum, tents may be a bit less forgiving. In this case, skip the whole-room power wash and move on to the next step: sanitization. Use a spray bottle to evenly coat all surfaces with a sanitizer solution.
There are many great grow room sanitizers you can find online or else you can use a solution of one part bleach to five parts water or a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to two or three parts water.
You can also use the solutions above to sanitize hydroponic equipment like air stones, submersible pumps and net pots. Please note that these products can cause irritation to the skin so always protect the skin with proper clothing, the eyes with safety goggles, and the lungs with a respirator or dust mask.
Before bringing your plants into your grow space, ensure that the whole area is completely dry, otherwise you run the risk of moisture build up and encourage mildew growth. Also, be sure to clean up any spills promptly and keep any opened containers out of any highly trafficked areas. Lastly, replace all air filters and seal up your grow space as best as possible. The better seal your space has, the less likely you are to find pests or contaminants later on – unless you bring them in beneficially, that is.
Tips for Maintaining a Clean Grow Environment
You’ve put a lot of effort into ensuring your grow space is clean; it’d be a shame if it was all ruined during the grow cycle. Avoid introducing contaminants into your grow by diligently cleaning yourself off every time you enter – wash hands, change into clean clothing, wear hairnets and keep fingernails clean and trimmed. It may sound like a lot to do just to get a glimpse at your girls but it’s definitely worth it if you want to avoid common diseases like the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) which can transfer to cannabis from a pack of cigarettes or even a hand that just smoked one.
Also remember to keep dead leaves, stems, unused dirt or any other type or organic matter out of your grow room. Composting these things is great for outdoor grows and living soil grows but, generally speaking, keeping them indoors practically invites pests to pitch a tent there. Anything that’s been trimmed from a plant should be removed immediately and all garbage should be kept outside of a grow room.
It’s also important to keep air and water filters clean in your grow room. Many recommend changing air filters every two weeks to help keep air-born dust and debris out of the way. Water should also be changed regularly and no stagnant water should be left out at any time. Water and nutrients that are being used during the grow cycle should be capped when not in use.
Lastly, always remember to clean and sanitize a grow space after each cycle. We recommend keeping your plants separated by their grow cycle – seedlings/clones, vegging plants, and flowering plants – so you can sanitize rooms after transitioning them to different grow cycles. Mother plants should be kept in a room to themselves and carefully protected since they are the most prone to contamination (the longer a plant grows in a particular environment, the greater the likelihood that environment will adopt pests, diseases, or contamination). Plants that must battle pests, contaminants and diseases simply cannot reach their greatest potential if they have to spend the bulk of their energy protecting themselves. For the highest yield with the least amount of effort, proper grow room sanitization is key.