In the world of cannabis cultivation, the art of pushing boundaries and thinking outside the pot has taken on a whole new dimension. Enter the Solo Cup Challenge – a test of skill, patience, and horticultural creativity that has gained traction among growers seeking to break the mold (quite literally) in their quest for thriving cannabis plants.
In this article, we dive into the remarkable journey of Brian, also known as FalcoBlack, as he shares his insights and techniques for thriving in the Solo Cup Challenge. But what’s the secret behind his success? The answer lies not only in Brian’s determination and expertise but also in a key ally he brought to the table: Reefertilizer.
Join us on an exciting adventure as we explore the unique world of Solo Cup cultivation, uncovering the challenges, the triumphs, and the crucial role that Reefertilizer plays in this groundbreaking pursuit. It’s time to unlock the secrets to cultivating remarkable cannabis in a container as humble as a Solo Cup.
Mike Drouin: I wanted to ask you a favor. Solo cup challenges are really fun and I think it might be fun to introduce the idea to our audience in case they’ve never heard of it.
Brian aka FalcoBlack: Hi Mike! Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to show some of my recent grow to your audience. I’d love to share more about a recent Solo Cup Challenge that I had a great time participating in.
For those who may be unfamiliar, some cannabis growers like to challenge themselves with unique cultivation methods. In the “micro” grow category, Solo Cup grows and cannabis bonsai grows are popular challenges. Earlier this year, I participated in a Solo Cup Challenge on the popular social media site “Reddit,” and finished in 3rd place using only Reefertilizer products for my nutrient choices!
The rules of the challenge are fairly simple, although growing the cannabis plant to harvest was not as easy. The plant must be grown in a typical 16 oz. Solo Cup, and not transplanted to anything larger. Each participant starts their plants from seed or clone at a set time, and proceeds to have 4 weeks of “vegetative” phase with which to shape and culture their plants. At week 5, growers adjust their lighting and initiate the “flowering” phase. 12 weeks were given for the contestants to finish the plant in flower, to account for variances in different cultivar flowering times. So in a total of 16 weeks, the cannabis plant must be grown to harvest while only residing in such a small container! Being a social media challenge, other users were then able to vote for the contestant that they felt grew the largest, most trichome-covered, and appealing buds.
Mike Drouin: Would you be willing to provide a few photos and your techniques for growing in solo cups?
Brian aka FalcoBlack: Absolutely! Growing cannabis to harvest in such a way presents a few difficulties that must be managed carefully. Keeping the plant hydrated can be a chore. With such a small root zone, a plant can dry out and wilt quickly. pH of the media was a challenge for many of the competitors, with some bowing out of the competition due to lockout situations. With a limited timeframe to grow vegetatively, cultural choices such as when to top may be different than you would normally prefer. And although small and lightweight, a Solo Cup is not really a good stable pot so thought should be put into supports as the plant gets top-heavy in its growth. Ultimately, successfully growing cannabis in a Solo Cup comes down to the choices that the grower makes.
Here are some of the choices I made that led to my success:
Choose your medium wisely: Soil can require irregular watering patterns, so I recommend a hydroponic solution. Professional mixes with peat moss and perlite, or coco coir are good choices as they can accept frequent waterings to keep the plant hydrated. During the peak of the plant’s growth, for example, I was watering them three times a day!
To accommodate watering them this often, I used a simple dripper system with tap water in the reservoir. The drippers were set to go off a few times a day, and I ensured to drill holes in the Solo Cups for drainage prior to the contest. Drainage is a must to prevent root problems, and I simply allowed my runoff to collect in a bin below the cup. A benefit here is that I could easily check my runoff pH if I suspected any issues.
I used Reefertilizer as my exclusive nutrient choice for a couple of reasons. It is an easy-to-use two-part system that did not add any complexity to the setup. This was appreciated! Knowing that the formulas contain all the required nutrients meant that I didn’t have to mix and measure multiple products or worry about their interactions with such a small root zone. Following a regular Reefertilizer schedule also meant feeding once a week, which I conducted by hand. This also kept the dripper system exclusively for water, simple and manageable.
Due to the short vegging timeframe of the contest, I topped my solo cup plants at the 3rd node and at 2 weeks from seedling emergence. This was a strategy to limit the number of branches post-top as well as to get as much time for these nodes to grow prior to flipping to flower. Perhaps a bit of an aggressive approach, but this was done with the overall aesthetics of the plant in mind. Some competitors didn’t top at all due to the time limitations.
I am also a fan of SCROG (SCReen Of Green) setups and thus utilized netting as a trellis to support the cups from falling over. I was able to stretch the canopy out a bit with some low-stress training, and each plant had plenty of space.
One choice I neglected was my seed source! I unfortunately used some “bag-seed” and had a male present himself early into flower. This caused some stress as I had to remove him and reset the others quickly upon discovery. For next year’s challenge, I’ll not compromise on feminized seeds! It was an additional hurdle that I could have done without.
Please check out this collection of photos from my journey: