Since the techniques of marijuana horticulture grew up in the dark and with great repercussion for failure, much of what we think we know about marijuana growing comes to us in the form of little nuggets of insight or know-how, also called “heuristics”, that we promote and promulgate without perhaps subjecting them to the rigorous scientific scrutiny that they deserve. As a result there are a number of myths that get passed along from one grower to another, often enshrined in the textbooks that are celebrated as authoritative. Here is a list of my top 5 myths that have taken root and are passed along as gospel truth, but which have not been tested or–worse–which have no basis in science, and which in all cases we would be better off reexamining if not discarding altogether.
Myth #1: “Your bud will taste harsh without a final flush.”
This is just plain false. The root mechanism receives nutrient by way of ion transfer. The roots of your plant trade out either OH– (negatively charged “anions”) or H+ (positively charged “cations”) in exchange for the 16 nutrients found in soil. “+” trades for “+” and “-” trades for “-“. This is a uni-directional mechanism in that the plant is moving ionic nutrient against a pressure gradient into the plant. That pressure (turgidity) is what allows the plant to stand upright. Now, it is possible to reverse this transport, but only by damaging the plant. You would do this by increasing the overall ionic concentration outside the root to such a level that, in order to equalize the charge, the plant would have to give up its ions. In other words, you would have reversed the osmotic properties of the plant. This would wilt, then kill the plant and toxify your soil. So, you can starve a plant, but you cannot “flush” it without hurting or killing it. By the way, the way you make you smoke less harsh is by curing it slowly to allow the chlorophyl to degrade.
Myth #2: “Adding sweeteners will make the bud taste sweeter.”
Nope. Sugars will not improve the taste of your bud. For similar reasons as outlined above, they won’t even be absorbed–the sugar molecule is way too big to be transported into the root. Molasses, however, are a different story. Molasses are different are because they also contain iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium–all used by the plant.
Myth #3: “Plucking the fan leaves will cause the plant to grow bigger buds.”
Again, an unqualified false. The fan leaves are your plants’ solar panels! The more they have, the more they can conduct photosynthesis. This is why a large plant will grow faster and respire more than a smaller plant. More plant = more photosynthesis. This myth may arise from a mistaken understanding of plant energetics–the idea that a plant has only so much quanta of energy to “spend” and that if it’s not using it to grow leaves it will use it to grow buds. Energy comes into the plant from its light source, not from within the plant. If you want to get fewer large buds, pruning the plant is your ticket. Lots of small branches means lots of small buds; a few large branches means a few large buds. But leave the leaves alone.
Myth #4: “Splitting stems will create more potent buds.”
This is not true because wounding the plant creates an opportunity for pathogens to damage the plant. As a rule, the healthier the plant the more optimal its performance. A plant is only as good as its genetics will allow. Just as you cannot force, say a Kia Soul, to do a 4 second 0-60, you cannot force a plant to perform beyond its genetic limitations.
Myth #5: “More nutes means more/faster growth.”
Absolutely untrue. A plant needs a minimum threshold of nutrient to perform optimally. Past a certain point, the plant performs no better, and in fact, can be harmed by excess nutrient. Many new growers mistakenly believe that “optimal” means “one notch down from too much”. Optimal is better thought of as “one notch up from not enough”. Anything more wastes nutrient. Resist the urge to pour chemicals, teas, and other additives onto your plant: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.