Cannabis plants in fabric pots outdoor grow.

Black Pots vs. Tan Pots in the Same Outdoor Grow

A Case Study about the Wet-Dry Cycle with Sierra Family Grown

Tan fabric pots are becoming a favorite among cannabis growers because in warmer climates, the tan fabric stays cooler than black fabric pots.  When it’s hot, growers worry about root burn and other damage to their plants, so even the few degrees difference in tan is a big deal.  Read more about the difference between black and tan fabric pots on our main site.

Two colors, same grow

We sat down with Tyler from Sierra Family Grown to talk about the team’s 2016 outdoor grow in the Sierra Nevadas of California.  As you all have experienced, not everything goes exactly to plan when you’re growing.  Sierra Family planned to use all tan pots in their outdoor grow, since the average weather from May till Harvest time was traditionally 95°F.  They also liked that the tan pots blended in better with their terrain for concealment.  However, they ended up with twenty-six 100gallon tan pots, and four 100gallon black pots.

Difference in wet-dry cycle

Soon after starting their grow in the 100 gallons, they found that the black pots needed watering more often than the tan.  This was no surprise because the evaporation and drainage is faster with the black color.  Tyler shared, “We found in the hottest part of the summer (or any day over 100 degrees) that the plants in the black pots needed water every other day.  On the other hand, the tan pots could go three days in between watering.”

As you might imagine, this was a frustrating development for Sierra Family because they were planning to put in an irrigation system.  Since the black pots and tan pots needed to be on a different watering schedule, it required one of their team members to be hyper vigilant and available more often.  As they’re a family-run farm, they didn’t have hired hands to help out.

Deciding when to water and feed

Black pots and hot weather don’t have to result in root burn.  The Sierra Family team watched their plants super closely to catch that crucial pocket of time between the soil drying out and the roots burning.  They wanted to give their plants that full wet-dry cycle, and not water or feed too early.  But if the plant dried out and was left too long without water, the sun and black fabric combo would fry their roots.  How did they manage to tell when that perfect time for watering was?
Tyler described, “We watched our girls so carefully every single day to see if they were happy.  We had a personal relationship with each plant, and that’s how we could tell when they needed fed.  We had to learn the difference between the plant wilting and sleeping.  This was the first season I knew that sometimes the vegging plants sleep.  People get confused and think their plant is wilting when it’s really just sleeping.”

Sierra Family Grown added nutrients to their water every other time that they watered their plants.  They did this consistently for the plants in black and tan pots for almost the whole time of their grow.  The last two or three weeks before harvest, however, they switched to 100% water to flush the plants of residual nutrients, improving flavor and smell.

A difference in yield

As their plants grew, Sierra Family noticed something unexpected: the plants in the black pots seemed to be growing more vigorously.  Then, when harvest came, they noticed a slightly higher yield from the black potted plants than from the tan ones.  There were larger and denser buds on the plants grown in black pots.

Since all the plants were planted at the same time, they realized it must have been because the plants in black pots got more feedings than the tan ones.  Due to them drying out faster in the heat, Tyler said, “The plants in black pots ended up getting 8-10 more feedings than the tan pots throughout the full grow.”  That means they consumed more nutrients.

Even though Sierra Family will avoid a mixture of black and tan pots in the future, because it required way too much work, they were happy for the learning experience.

A theory about choosing black pots

Tyler shared a theory with us based on Sierra Family Grown’s experience:

“In theory, what if you purposefully chose black pots in a warmer climate to get more feedings and higher yields?  Especially if you are paying people to be present at your grow all the time, and they’re available to water on any schedule, I would say give black pots a try. Of course it would depend on your climate and the overall temperature of your grow, but it sounds like a cool idea.”


Sierra Family Grown logo.
You can find Sierra Family Grown on Instagram.  Comment below with any questions you might have for them, and we’ll try to get in touch for an answer.

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