The Ultimate Guide to Watering Cannabis Plants: Top vs. Bottom Watering

Watering Cannabis Plants

Watering cannabis plants might seem straightforward, but choosing the right method can make a big difference. Two popular techniques—top watering and bottom watering—each have their own perks and challenges. Let’s dive deeper into these methods and explore how they can be combined for the best results.

Top Watering: Advantages and Disadvantages

Top watering is exactly what it sounds like: watering your plants from above. It’s a common approach, but like everything, it comes with its own set of pros and cons.


  • Even Distribution: When you water from the top, it spreads across the soil evenly. This means all parts of the plant get their share of water and nutrients.
  • Flushing Capabilities: This method helps wash away salts and excess nutrients, which can build up and harm your plants.
  • Ease of Monitoring: You can see exactly how much water your plants are getting, making it easier to avoid underwatering.


  • Risk of Overwatering: It’s easy to give your plants too much water, leading to problems like root rot.
  • Water Runoff: Excess water can drain away, taking valuable nutrients with it.
  • Surface Crusting: Over time, the soil surface can harden, making it harder for water to penetrate.

Bottom Watering: Advantages and Disadvantages

Bottom watering involves placing your plant’s container in a tray of water, allowing it to soak up moisture from below. This method can be particularly beneficial for encouraging strong root growth.


  • Deep Root Growth: By encouraging roots to reach down for water, bottom watering helps develop a robust root system.
  • Reduced Overwatering Risk: Plants take up only the water they need, reducing the chance of waterlogged soil.
  • Improved Oxygenation: This method allows air to reach the upper soil layers, which is great for root health.


  • Nutrient Distribution: Nutrients can stay at the top of the soil, leading to uneven distribution.
  • Container Size Limitation: It’s best suited for smaller pots. Larger containers might not absorb water evenly.
  • Maintenance and Setup: It requires a bit more effort to set up and maintain.

Best Practice: Combining Top and Bottom Watering

Using both top and bottom watering methods can give your cannabis plants the best of both worlds. Here’s how you can combine these techniques effectively:

  1. Initial Nutrient Distribution: Start with top watering to ensure even distribution of water and nutrients.
  2. Encouraging Root Development: Occasionally switch to bottom watering. This helps roots grow deeper and stronger.
  3. Stage-Specific Adjustments: Adjust your approach based on the plant’s growth stage. Young plants might need more top watering, while mature plants can benefit from a mix of both.
  4. Monitoring and Adjusting: Keep an eye on soil moisture and plant health. Adjust your watering practices as needed.
  5. Soil and Container Considerations: Use well-draining soil and ensure containers have proper drainage.

Practical Tips for Effective Watering

  • Watering Schedule: Set a consistent schedule based on your plants’ needs.
  • Water Quality: Use clean, pH-balanced water. Filtered or distilled water can be beneficial.
  • Nutrient Management: Follow recommended dosages for fertilisers and flush the soil regularly.
  • Temperature and Humidity: Keep an eye on environmental conditions to adjust your watering frequency.

Going on Holiday: Watering Your Plants

Planning a holiday can be stressful, especially when you have cannabis plants that need regular care. Here’s how to ensure your plants stay healthy while you’re away:

  1. Automated Watering Systems: Invest in an automated watering system. These can be set up to water your plants at specific intervals, ensuring they receive the right amount of moisture. Drip irrigation systems and self-watering pots are great options.
  2. Ask a Friend or Neighbour: If you have a trusted friend or neighbour, ask them to water your plants. Provide clear instructions on the amount of water needed and the frequency.
  3. Water Reservoirs: Use water reservoirs or wicking systems. Place a large container of water near your plants and use wicks to draw water from the container to the soil. This method can provide a steady supply of water for several days.
  4. Soil Moisture Retention: Before leaving, water your plants thoroughly and mulch the soil surface. Mulching helps retain moisture and reduces evaporation.
  5. Move Plants to a Cool Area: If possible, move your plants to a cooler, shaded area to reduce water loss through evaporation. This can help them stay hydrated longer.

Combining top and bottom watering can lead to healthier, more productive plants. By understanding and adapting to your plants’ needs, you can optimise growth and achieve a bountiful harvest.

About the Author

Big Hippo Cannabis Seeds

Big Hippo supply top of the range cannabis seeds in the UK, including grow equipment, and CBD products - we also provide cannabis-related articles and information on our website at Big Hippo.

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