Litmus paper and cannabis: how to use it to measure soil pH

How to use litmus paper to measure the pH of cannabis soil

Modified on: 20/09/2022

A journey to discover the importance of ph in cannabis cultivation

If you live in a country that allows this and is considering starting your marijuana cultivation, it would be good to find out more about soil pH and its fundamental role in plant growth. Understanding how pH works and managing it effectively is more accessible than said!

In this article, you will find some essential tips, starting with measuring the pH value.
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What is litmus paper? And how do they work?

Litmus paper is a special strip of cardboard designed to react to the pH of the substances it comes into contact with. The method for determining whether the pH reading is acidic, neutral or basic is straightforward: simply observe the strip’s colour after a specific waiting time and interpret the result with the help of the indicator. Measuring pH is an essential step in learning about the chemical properties of certain substances such as water, food or, as in this specific case, soil. This type of investigation will allow you to understand whether the soil condition you are about to use is optimal for achieving your goals. Potting soil with optimal pH From a chemical point of view, it is possible to classify all substances according to their pH:
  • substances with a low pH will be classified as acid;
  • neutral with an intermediate pH;
  • basic with a high pH.
Read on if you are interested in finding out what values your soil should have to ensure a flourishing harvest. For now, however, I want to dwell a little longer on how litmus paper works. These special instruments consist mainly of wood pulp, which is processed so that all kinds of contaminants are entirely eliminated. It is necessary to ensure the reliability of the measurements. The wood undergoes various chemical processes to remove all traces of unwanted materials to achieve this. At the end of this phase, the wood is left to ferment with ammonia and potassium carbonate and then left to dry. At this point, it is considered uncontaminated enough to ensure maximum reliability during measurements. Today’s primary uses of litmus paper are in the chemical, educational, and medical-scientific fields. But let’s get back to the soil… If you are thinking of growing cannabis plants where your country allows it, the information I am about to give you can be beneficial. Now let’s see how pH affects the soil and its performance.

What is soil PH? How to measure it?

The pH of the soil is a measure of its acidity. Considering this value is essential if you are thinking of growing cannabis plants, as it is crucial to the life (or death) of all those micro-organisms in the soil. It also has an essential effect on the chemical reactions that occur in nature. To put it simply, the soil’s PH level is crucial and plays an essential role in the root system of plants. In particular, it determines their ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. The reference values for measuring pH range from 0 to 14, where 0 indicates the highest acidity and 14 the highest basicity. In the middle of the scale are the neutral values. Now let’s take a look at the practical steps for measuring the pH of your soil. First of all, make sure that you do not choose soil that has been fertilised recently. This would alter the measurements. Ideally, you should locate a resting area and dig a hole of more or less 25 cm. Now take a small amount of material and place it in a glass jar together with distilled water. At this stage, it is essential to stir the solution for at least 15 minutes and then wait for at least half an hour, during which the soil will settle at the bottom of the jar. All you have to do is dip the litmus paper into the water solution and wait for its reaction, according to the seller’s instructions. Now that you have the pH value of your soil, you are ready to find out if it holds any promise for growing your marijuana plants. So how should the soil be if you want to grow beautiful cannabis plants that are strong and flourishing?
Read also: Plant photoperiod: what it means

Cannabis cultivation

Cultivation of cannabis When it comes to cultivation, the pH value is seriously crucial. Just ask the seller of your seeds for advice to confirm this. Anyone who has experience in this area can only tell you that the development and growth are always directly proportional to the quality of the soil in which they live. However, the optimum value for cannabis cultivation is between 6.0 and 7.0. Deviating too far from these reference values leads to a lack of nutrient uptake. This is because cannabis plants can only absorb the substances they need within the range mentioned above. So what should you do if you realise that your soil does not have the ideal pH levels? There are a few things you can do to solve this problem quickly. First, you need to determine whether the soil is too acidic or too basic for your growing needs. Then all you need to do is go to your local gardening supply store and let them advise you on purchasing specific chemical solutions designed to raise or lower the pH level. But don’t get your hopes up… You are unlikely to be able to change the value permanently. However, if the soil tends to a specific pH, it will restore it over time. This requires constant monitoring and, consequently, a lot of extra attention, which will take up your time. If this is your situation, I would advise you to change the soil or, better still, to opt directly for organic soil. By doing so, you will have several advantages.
  • You don’t have to worry about the pH of the soil. Using compost that is rich in organic matter or choosing natural soil conditioners will allow the micro-organisms present to work naturally so that the root system perfectly assimilates the nutrients;
  • Organic cultivation also guarantees a considerably higher quality harvest. If you choose this method of growing your seedlings, you can be sure of an abundant and terpene-rich harvest.

In conclusion, how do I measure the pH of the soil for cannabis cultivation?

As explained above, the pH level plays a crucial role in the success of your cannabis cultivation. Marijuana can only absorb nutrients from the soil if it has an acidity level of between 6.0 and 7.0. But how can you tell if your soil offers the right conditions for this to happen? In this case, there is a simple but effective method: litmus paper. If you find that the values are not optimal for growing marijuana, you can use certain chemicals designed to bring the pH values back to ideal levels. Bear in mind, however, that this is almost certainly only a temporary solution. Soil naturally tends to return to its original condition, so I advise leaving it alone and opting for naturally suitable ground, such as organic soil. If you are a true hemp fan, don’t just read about it. Buy the best cannabis seeds at Sensoryseeds to build a collection that would make anyone envious. Choose from our wide range of quality weed seeds to complete your collection: feminized seeds, auto flower seeds, fast growing weed seeds, there is something for every taste! We look forward to seeing you on!