Today’s article is about (duh) indoor cannabis bugs and mold… Oh my! But I wanted to come at this subject from a couple different directions. I added the ‘Oh My’ to the article title because part of this article will be about the cannabis pests (parasites), “bugs,” and mold. The other part is about the good guys that are also “bugs” and mold. The ‘Oh My’ is for the knee-jerk reaction many have to freak out upon the sighting of any “bugs” or mold.
Cannabis Good Guys Often Mistaken for Cannabis Pests
Don’t automatically assume any bugs (insects/arthropods/etc.) you see on your plants or in your soil are bad. Same goes for molds. Soil Mites, Fungus Gnats, larva/worms, spiders, and basically all soil molds, including mushrooms and algae, are all good guys 99% of the time. See the Fungus Gnat link above for more information on Fungus Gnats and their larva.
If you see mold patches in your new soil mix, just spread it out on a tarp for a day exposed to mega air before using. This is not because the mold(s) themselves are harmful; it is rather their tendency to lower the pH, and none of them like high air exposure for a day. Seeing algae, or fungus/mold, or even mushrooms in your containers with living plants just means moisture levels are too high. Use the sighting of any of these as a red flag to address your damp situation. Air exchange and air movement issues, along with overwatering, are the most likely here.
Little mini-beasties in your soil are all pretty much fantabulous! Little soil mites, various types of larva/worms. Little “bugs” or worms/larva in your living soil is perfectly good. They are in the soil because that’s what they are interested in. Not the plants. Little spiders on your plants are all good, many beetles are good (like ladybugs), Fungus Gnats are fine, and they are only a problem for humans and not plants in living soil. But still, that link above explains how to handle them because they bug.
True Cannabis Pests and Tips to Avoid Them
It’s not likely at all that any “bugs” in your soil indoors are harmful to your plants in any way. There are some exceptions, of course, like root aphids. Cannabis pests like that only come into your garden from either tainted imported soil or from clones you imported. The real deal cannabis garden buzz killers, in my experience, are always found on the plant itself. Powdery Mildew, Bud Rot, Spider Mites, Russet Mites, also, Thrips and Whiteflies. These are all parasites that feed directly off the plant and can cause it significant damage.
In theory, these are all pretty easily avoided. In practice, it is part good habits along with some true discipline. Little tiny itsy bitsy cannabis parasites get into your garden via hitchhiking usually. They can also enter your garden through breaches like open cracks in windows or unfiltered powered air intakes drawing fresh air from outside. When I say hitchhiking, I mean on peeps, animals, and for sure cannabis, pests can very likely be introduced to your garden via imported clones.
Molds like Bud Rot and Powdery Mildew are hard to keep out of your gardens completely because these spores are always floating around in the air, just waiting for a desirable environment to spring forth. Spores are also hitchhikers as well; they are well adapted to spread. Parasitic molds for the most part like it damp and cool with little air movement. Their “golden time” is just as the lights come on before it heats up too much. That’s when they get their foothold.
For Powdery Mildew, once into flowering, you can use Serenade to keep it at bay until harvest. However, you don’t want to use any Serenade closer than ten days before harvest due to the negative terpene effects—yuk! For Spider Mites you can use End All II, and this will keep them at bay until harvest. As with the Serenade above, don’t use any of this within ten days of harvest. Lowering daytime temps by about 3 degrees and having your humidity above 45% both help to slow the progression of these mites. For their last ten days, this would be a good move if you run very hot and dry.
Those two combat methods above are fairly safe to use from my research. There are some pesticides that actually use neurotoxins that “sound” all good but are anything but, in my opinion. First of all, if the product says for ORNAMENTAL plants, that’s not good for cannabis almost for sure—I should say, not good for you. But just because they say good for fruits and veggies isn’t a free pass. You need to look much deeper. Myself, I wouldn’t fuck with poisons here. Both the Serenade and the End All II work well enough to get you to harvest without using any highly questionable ingredients. My .02.
Super Evolved Cannabis Parasites
Yikes! Okay, now if you bring in some Spider Mites from, say, your outdoor veggie garden into your indoor cannabis garden, these will be much easier to keep under control than parasites (mites, insects, and molds) that you may bring into your garden from importing clones. You see, these parasites have lived through generations being bombed over and over with many different poisons. So, these are the adapted survivors with very high resistances to multiple poisons. Don’t import clones; grow from seeds. That’s a no-brainer if you ask me, heh heh.
Proactive Moves to Avoid Cannabis Pests
Once Bud Rot has set in, those affected buds are lost. I remove the entire bud from the plant. You can stop its progression by tweaking up your air movement and air exchange and maybe watering less often. Thrips, Aphids, and Spider Mites can all be kept at bay by End All II. To irradicate Powdery Mildew or Parasitic mites, you either need to use potentially dangerous poisons (WRONG) or do a ‘Hard Restart’ in your garden. No living plants in the garden for ten days. Start over from seed and make your own clones. Below I’ll list some great proactive good habits to avoid cannabis pests entirely. I grow pest free and have for over a decade now. Occasionally I have a breach, like once every 3 or 4 years, and I do a hard restart.
The Top 10 List
- Don’t import clones. Full stop.
- Do everything you can to improve both your air exchange and air movement in your garden.
- Make sure not to overwater. This not only adds to humidity but stresses plants which make parasites very happy. Gnats especially love overwatered soil.
- If you see mushrooms, mold, or algae on your container soil, you are for sure overwatering or have extreme humidity issues.
- Don’t let any pets into your garden that also go outside, or they will basically be mass transit for hitchhiking parasites.
- Use passive intake venting that is filtered if drawing air directly from outside. I use my household air for passive intake venting.
- Don’t ever go working outside around plants, then go into your cannabis garden—nope.
- Friends should never be allowed in your gardens unless they have not been working outside around plants and not coming from their own indoor gardens that do have parasites.
- Do everything your garden needs first thing in the morning when you are fresh out of bed, and then try and stay out for the most part until the next morning.
- If you have been outside at all, remove your shoes before going into your garden. I have special garden slippers by the garden door to remind me to change into them before entering.
When I first came to this new town along the southern coast of Oregon 16 years ago, I went into a feed supply store that had gardening stuff too. I was asking about some End All, and the lady said no, but told me a lot of growers are using these for mites … She took me to the flea bombs—yikes, like holy hell yikes! Needless to say, I was very wary of any smoke I came across locally.
One time I hit a doobie just “dripping” with some kind of poisonous taint from chemicals. I was like, “fuck me, that sucks.” He replied, “I know, but it gets you really high.” I explained to him that I could drench a bud with Raid ant & roach killer, and he would for sure get super high, but, dayum. Those are a couple of memorable moments for me on this subject matter.
Grab a copy of my TLO book, and while you’re at it—start from good seeds, like over at Kingdom Organic Seeds, and work hard on your watering skills. This matters huge in the big picture. As in, how often and how much you water. Make sure your venting (air exchange) and air movement are good, really good. You’ll stay mold-free. Keep humidity always below 58%-ish, especially during darkness hours when flowering. Humidity can run a bit higher for vegging plants. L8r G8rs, I hope this helps you to be, cannabis pest free.
– REv 😊
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.