Cannabis Cultivation

How to Win a Solo Cup Challenge?

Cartoon-of-a-happy-cannabis-seedling-in-a-solo-cup-waving-while-sunglasses-wearing-cannabis-plants-in-bigger-pots-look-on-with-slight-env

Don’t know what a solo cup challenge is? Never heard of it before now? If so this article will teach you what a Solo Cup Challenge is, and great tips on how you can win one!

Solo Cup Challenge

What is the Solo Cup Challenge?

Multiple colorful solo cups lined up, each representing a different stage of cannabis plant growth, depicting the progression from seedling to a more mature plant.
Multiple colorful solo cups lined up, each representing a different stage of cannabis plant growth, depicting the progression from seedling to a more mature plant.

Well the simplest explanation is that the solo cup challenge is people growing cannabis in Solo Cups. The grower enters a competition to see who can grow the best cannabis from seed to flowers in a cup. Then the growers submit their buds for the judges and they judge which plant they think is the best out of all of them. 

Growing a full cannabis plant from start to finish in a small cup does come with its challenges for sure. It takes skill when growing the plant, not to over water, give too many nutrients, make sure the plant has enough nutrients. We can say it’s not that easy and takes skills that we will teach you in this article.

Getting Started with your Solo Cup

Multiple colorful solo cups lined up, each representing a different stage of cannabis plant growth, depicting the progression from seedling to a more mature plant.
Multiple colorful solo cups lined up, each representing a different stage of cannabis plant growth, depicting the progression from seedling to a more mature plant.

First thing you will want to do is get the cup for your challenge. Once you have that you are pretty much set for a container to grow in. We recommend getting one that is not clear, one that is red, will work much better for you. The reason being that you will want to keep your plant roots in the dark the entire growth. Roots will grow much better in dark cups so going this route is important here. 

Next add some good drainage to your solo cup. Take a nail and heat it up with a lighter and make five or six holes in the lowest part of the cup. It is also a great idea to add a few holes along the bottom sides of the cup as well for some extra bonus drainage. As you can see drainage will be very important in your cups as the growing progresses.

Choosing the Best Soil for Your Cups

An illustration showcasing a comparison chart of three different soil types: sandy, loamy, and clayey. A cannabis plant is depicted as thriving best in the loamy soil.
An illustration showcasing a comparison chart of three different soil types: sandy, loamy, and clayey. A cannabis plant is depicted as thriving best in the loamy soil.

We recommend always going with organic soil growing mixes with growing in the solo cup challenge. We believe that soil is far more forgiving for growers trying this method of growing. Picking the correct soil is one of the most important things that you will do, it can make the difference in winning or losing. 

Finding a soil that is neutral in PH, has a good supply of starter nutrients, and has great drainage is of utmost importance when growing in these smaller cups.

Amendments we Recommend adding to the Soil

A photograph showcasing a small cannabis plant growing in a solo cup under a compact LED light panel.
A photograph showcasing a small cannabis plant growing in a solo cup under a compact LED light panel.

Why can you win the solo cup challenge growing organically? We because you are able to feed your plants very well organically without burning the plants with salt nutrients. These are the organic nutrients we suggest adding to make the soil for your cups. 

You can also read this article about organic fertilizer for cannabis growing here.

A photo capturing a small garden trowel as it scoops up a mixture of perlite, vermiculite, and compost. This mix is essential for ensuring good drainage in cannabis cup grows.
A photo capturing a small garden trowel as it scoops up a mixture of perlite, vermiculite, and compost. This mix is essential for ensuring good drainage in cannabis cup grows.

Worm Castings (#1 Recommend to Win)

A vector image of a pile of worm castings accompanied by a shovel, ready for gardening applications.
A vector image of a pile of worm castings accompanied by a shovel, ready for gardening applications.

Worm castings or worm vermicompost is our highest recommendation if you are looking to win your solo cup challenge. It is an amazing nutrient additive for your cups and we recommend using half soil and half worm castings for your mix. 

You can grow very large cannabis flowering in small pots using worm castings with your organic soil mix. It will also add bacteria to your cups to help break down all the organic nutrients. You can read more about Worm Castings in this article.

Organic Calcium

One of the most important nutrients to keep you plant healthy throughout its growing stages in the cups. When growing in small containers this is one element that the plant can run out of quickly however it only needs a small amount to grow at a time, and is taken up into the plant with water. 

There are a few different types that you can use for your soil, we like ground oyster shells, ground snail shells, lobster shells, eggs shells. You can grind any of these up and add it to the soil. You can add a good amount as it will not burn or hurt the plants in any way. It will also feed the plants slowly with a great calcium supply.

Organic Nitrogen

Another very important nutrient element to get your plants off to a fast and healthy start. Nitrogen will help to keep your plants green and growing well. Depending on how long you expect to keep your cannabis plants in the solo cup before flowering it is a good idea to have a supply of nitrogen that will last at least a month in the cups. You can add more, we will address how to amend the nutrients later in this article.  

Good sources of organic nitrogen are, blood mealfish meal and bone meal. These can all be added to your solo cup soil and will provide a good nitrogen supply throughout and until the plant is in flowering.

Lighting for your Solo Cup Plants

A vector representation displaying different light sources, namely LED, CFL, and incandescent bulbs. The emphasis is on a cannabis plant in a solo cup benefiting most from LED lighting.
A vector representation displaying different light sources, namely LED, CFL, and incandescent bulbs. The emphasis is on a cannabis plant in a solo cup benefiting most from LED lighting.

Getting a strong grow light, with a great lighting spectrum is a great way to fatten up your flowering. The good news is you can get a very good LED light for cheap as it will not need to cover a very large area, just one plant in a cup. You can easily get away with a LED light that is made for a 2X2 growing area for your cup. As long as you keep the plant directly under the cup it will get more than enough light to grow large flowers. Read more about Cannabis Lighting here.

An oil painting of an indoor grow environment, presenting several cannabis plants in solo cups, all in the flowering phase, under ambient grow lights.
An oil painting of an indoor grow environment, presenting several cannabis plants in solo cups, all in the flowering phase, under ambient grow lights.

Win a Solo Cup Challenge Secret Tip

An artistic representation, in the style of an oil painting, captures a moment where a gardener whispers a secret to a flourishing cannabis plant within a solo cup, amidst a backdrop of other plants.
An artistic representation, in the style of an oil painting, captures a moment where a gardener whispers a secret to a flourishing cannabis plant within a solo cup, amidst a backdrop of other plants.

When you make the recipe below it is most important to make sure the soil you are going to use is either containing Mycorrhizal Fungi, or you use an additive around which you are going to plant the seeds. There are too many mycorrhizal benefits to list in this article. However this fungi is some of the most important. It will help your plant uptake nutrients, water and keep your plant very healthy. Mycorrhizal works with the plant roots to help with all these things. 

If you want to win a solo cup challenge adding or amending with mycorrhizal is a must for the competitor. 

Here is our Soil Recipe for Winning Solo Cup Challenges

  • Two Cups of Ground up Eggshells
  • Three Cups of Blood Meal
  • One Cup of Fish Meal

This recipe will provide your plant with all the nutrients it will need in the soil for the growing period, next we will review what should be added as the plant grows in the solo cup. 

An illustration showcases a sprouting cannabis plant inside a solo cup. A magnifying glass hovers over, emphasizing the plant's healthy roots, symbolizing a hidden tip.
An illustration showcases a sprouting cannabis plant inside a solo cup. A magnifying glass hovers over, emphasizing the plant's healthy roots, symbolizing a hidden tip.

Getting the Plant off the a Fast Start

An illustration showcases a sprouting cannabis plant inside a solo cup. A magnifying glass hovers over, emphasizing the plant's healthy roots, symbolizing a hidden tip.
An illustration showcases a sprouting cannabis plant inside a solo cup. A magnifying glass hovers over, emphasizing the plant's healthy roots, symbolizing a hidden tip.

The faster and bigger the grower can get the plant in the first month is something not to be overlooked. The first month of growth is just as important as the months that it will be flowering. Without a strong start the plant will not be able to grow to its full potential when it comes time for flowering the plant.

First Month Pruning the Solo Cup Plant

An oil painting representation of multiple solo cup cannabis plants, with one of them prominently showcasing recent pruning.
An oil painting representation of multiple solo cup cannabis plants, with one of them prominently showcasing recent pruning.

Once your plant has its first true cannabis leaves, it will start to grow side branches from its main stem. It will be time to start pruning these branches at every node as the plant grows taller. In a solo cup it is important to grow one, single main strong stem, with one large bud. Every node (where the leaves and branches meet the plant’s main stem) will use some of the plant’s energy to grow. 

Removing every side branch while leaving the leaves is fine. The plant should never have any side branches growing from the main stem and should be removed as soon as you see them growing out from the stem.

How to Water your Solo Cups

A vector representation detailing a step-by-step watering process for a cannabis plant in a solo cup, emphasizing the correct technique and amount of water.
A vector representation detailing a step-by-step watering process for a cannabis plant in a solo cup, emphasizing the correct technique and amount of water.

Early on when you start your seeds, make sure not to water in the cups too often. Even with good cup drainage the plants can still get overly wet in the cups. If this happens growth will suffer, and slow down. You can read more here about watering Cannabis Plants. Make sure the cups dry out well before adding more water to the cup. 

We very much recommend adding seaweed, (Kelp Meal) in your water for the complete growing time of the plant. We also recommend making a nice organic tea for every third watering of the plants. You can read more here about making an awesome cannabis tea. Teas are a great way to fertilize your cannabis when growing in the solo cups. It will provide all the nutrients that the plants will need in the cups and keep your plant leaves from turning yellow and dying.

A photo showcasing a hand carefully pouring water into a solo cup where a young cannabis plant is growing.
A photo showcasing a hand carefully pouring water into a solo cup where a young cannabis plant is growing.

Top Dressing Your Solo Cups with Nutrients

An illustration displaying a variety of nutrients and organic matter placed beside solo cups that contain thriving cannabis plants.
An illustration displaying a variety of nutrients and organic matter placed beside solo cups that contain thriving cannabis plants.

After your first month of growing in your cups, it’s time to start flowering. Before you do it is a good idea to start adding a top dressing of organic nutrients to your cups.

Bat Guano Top Dressing

A vector diagram outlining the process of top dressing a cannabis plant in a solo cup, detailing the nutrient layers and their distribution.
A vector diagram outlining the process of top dressing a cannabis plant in a solo cup, detailing the nutrient layers and their distribution.

Add about two tablespoons of high phosphorus bat guano around the tops of your cups. Sprinkle the guano all around the base of the plants. Do this every two weeks around the tops of the solo cups. This will provide a great supply of phosphorus and will not burn your plants. It will slow water in as you water your plants each time.

Adding Ground Fish Meal

A photo showcasing a person's hand sprinkling organic fish meal on the top layer of soil in a solo cup where a cannabis plant is growing.
A photo showcasing a person's hand sprinkling organic fish meal on the top layer of soil in a solo cup where a cannabis plant is growing.

Another excellent top dressing to add for your solo cups. Fish meal is high in phosphorus and has enough extra nitrogen to get your plants through the flowering period in their cups. You can add this every other week that you will add the bat guano. Fish meal will also not burn your plants or roots.

Flowering in Solo Cups

A photograph showcasing a cannabis plant in a solo cup at the early stages of flowering with buds forming and trichomes shining.
A photograph showcasing a cannabis plant in a solo cup at the early stages of flowering with buds forming and trichomes shining.

Now comes the fun part of flowering and winning the solo cup challenge. Your plant will start to require more water each day or every other day. Pay close attention that the cup doesn’t dry out as now that the plant will be using more water this can happen very quickly. If you see the bottom leaves start to droop, this is a good sign your solo cup will need watering. 

Keep your plant directly under your light, but not so close that it risks burning the top of your plant. You only have one growing tip, so you want to keep it healthy and not too hot.

An illustration depicting a sequence of cannabis plants in solo cups, each at a distinct stage of flowering, highlighting the growth progression.
An illustration depicting a sequence of cannabis plants in solo cups, each at a distinct stage of flowering, highlighting the growth progression.

Solo Cup Grow Yield

A detailed illustration showing the act of pruning a small cannabis plant inside a solo cup.
A detailed illustration showing the act of pruning a small cannabis plant inside a solo cup.

The best part of the Solo Cup Challenge is harvesting your winnings! Even growing in these small cups you can harvest a couple of ounces of quality cannabis buds from your one main cola. Using all the tips above you may even be able to harvest even more. 

Growing in a Solo Cup Challenge is fun for all growers alike, and learning to grow in smaller containers is a really valuable skill that you can learn from this challenge. We hope this article can help you win and we wish you the best of luck with your Solo Cup Growing!

An oil painting representation of multiple solo cup cannabis plants, with one of them prominently showcasing recent pruning.
An oil painting representation of multiple solo cup cannabis plants, with one of them prominently showcasing recent pruning.

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