Understanding the Differences Between Hydro and Bush Weed

Cannabis, colloquially known as weed, has numerous strains and methods of cultivation, each of which impacts the plant’s potency, growth rate, taste, and overall quality. Two common categories often discussed in cannabis circles are hydro weed and bush weed, sometimes also referred to as outdoor weed. This article will delve into the differences between hydroponic and bush-grown cannabis, helping you understand their unique attributes, strengths, and drawbacks.

What is Hydro Weed?

Hydro weed refers to cannabis plants grown using a hydroponic system, a method of cultivation that replaces soil with water enriched with nutrients. The term “hydro” comes from the Greek word “hydor,” meaning water, reflecting the water-centric cultivation method [1].

What is Bush Weed?

Bush weed, also known as outdoor weed, is cannabis cultivated traditionally outdoors in the soil under natural conditions. This method allows the plants to benefit from natural sunlight and the rich nutrient profile of the soil. Bush weed is particularly common in Australia, where the climate is suitable for outdoor cannabis cultivation.

Hydro Weed vs. Bush Weed: 10 Key Differences

1. Growth Environment

Hydroponic cannabis is typically grown indoors in a controlled environment. This method allows growers to manipulate conditions like light, humidity, temperature, and nutrient levels to optimize plant growth and yield [2].

On the other hand, bush weed is grown outdoors, subject to the whims of Mother Nature. This means the quality and yield can be influenced by weather conditions, soil quality, and potential pests.

2. Nutrient Absorption

In hydroponic setups, plants receive nutrients directly from the nutrient-rich water, leading to quicker growth and potentially higher THC content [2].

Conversely, bush weed draws nutrients from the soil, which can vary in nutrient profile. While this can result in unique flavors, it may also lead to less predictable THC content due to variability in nutrient availability.

3. Growth Speed

Hydroponic weed typically grows faster than bush weed due to the direct access to nutrients in the water [2]. This faster growth rate allows for more harvest cycles per year compared to outdoor cultivation.

4. Yield

Hydroponic cannabis usually has a higher yield than bush weed. The controlled environment and nutrient delivery of hydroponic systems allow plants to focus energy on bud production, resulting in larger and denser buds [3].

5. Quality

Hydroponic weed tends to have a consistent quality because environmental conditions and nutrients can be controlled precisely. This control often results in higher potency weed [4].

Bush weed’s quality can vary depending on numerous factors, including weather, soil quality, and care taken during cultivation. However, outdoor-grown weeds may develop complex flavors due to their interaction with the soil and environment [5].

6. Pest Management

Hydroponic systems are generally less prone to pests and diseases because of the indoor, soil-less cultivation method. However, if pests or mold do infiltrate, they can spread rapidly due to the close quarters [6].

Bush weed is more exposed to pests and diseases due to its outdoor growth. However, natural predators can help manage pests, and the open space can prevent rapid spread.

7. Environmental Impact

Hydroponics requires a significant amount of electricity due to indoor lighting, temperature control, and water pumps, which can have a substantial environmental impact [7].

Bush weed has a lower carbon footprint as it relies on natural sunlight for photosynthesis. However, outdoor cultivation can potentially cause soil erosion and pesticide runoff.

8. Cost

Hydroponic cultivation requires investment in equipment and continuous energy use, making it more expensive upfront and to maintain [8].

In contrast, bush weed has lower setup costs and relies on the sun for light, making it a cheaper cultivation method in the long run.

9. Flavor

The controlled conditions of hydroponic cultivation can sometimes result in a less complex flavor profile compared to bush weed [9].

Bush weed, due to the terroir (soil and climatic conditions) it’s grown in, often has a more varied and nuanced flavor profile, much like grapes grown for wine [10].

10. Availability

Hydroponic weed is often more available, especially in urban areas, due to its ability to be grown indoors year-round [11].

The availability of bush weed can be more seasonal and dependent on outdoor growing conditions.

Final Thoughts

Whether hydro weed or bush weed is superior ultimately depends on individual preferences and considerations. Hydroponic weed is typically more potent, reliable, and readily available, but its cultivation process is resource-intensive. On the other hand, bush weed is subject to nature’s variability, leading to unique flavors but inconsistent quality. It’s more environmentally friendly but may be harder to come by in certain areas or times of the year.

Understanding the cultivation methods behind the cannabis you consume can enrich your experience and help make informed choices aligning with your preferences and values.


  1. Resh, H. M. (2012). Hydroponic Food Production: A Definitive Guidebook for the Advanced Home Gardener and the Commercial Hydroponic Grower. CRC Press.
  2. Chandra, S., Lata, H., Khan, I. A., & ElSohly, M. A. (2011). Photosynthetic response of Cannabis sativa L. to variations in photosynthetic photon flux densities, temperature, and CO2 conditions. Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants, 17(3), 295–306.
  3. Caplan, D., Dixon, M., & Zheng, Y. (2017). Optimal Rate of Organic Fertilizer during the Flowering Stage for Cannabis Grown in Two Coir-based Substrates. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 40(19), 2602-2611.
  4. Coffman, C. B., & Gentner, W. A. (1977). Responses of Greenhouse-grown Cannabis sativa L. to Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Agronomy Journal, 69(5), 832–836.
  5. Broeckling, B. E., Broz, A. K., Bergman, D., Amanor-Boadu, V., & Turner, P. E. (2016). Connecting Cannabis Varieties and Microbial Isolates: Characterization of Environmental Microbiome Impact on Flavor and Cannabinoid Profile. Biological Conservation, 199, 314-321.
  6. McPartland, J. M. (1996). A review of Cannabis diseases. Journal of the International Hemp Association, 3(1), 19-23.
  7. Mills, E. (2012). The carbon footprint of indoor Cannabis production. Energy Policy, 46, 58-67.
  8. Backer, R., Schwinghamer, T., Rosenbaum, P., McCarty, V., Eichhorn Bilodeau, S., Lyu, D., Ahmed, M.B., Robinson, G., Lefsrud, M., Wilkins, O., Smith, D.L. (2019). Closing the Yield Gap for Cannabis: A Meta-Analysis of Factors Determining Cannabis Yield. Frontiers in Plant Science, 10, 495.

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