Curious about how to grow weed for the first time? There is plenty of information out there about how to grow marijuana, but weeding through all the marijuana growing tips – pun intended -can be exhausting.
This growers guide and infographic from Alan Wood will teach you how to grow weed indoors so that you can become a pro in no time.
Set Up Your Grow Box
The first step when growing weed is to set up your space. If you are growing weed outdoors, you have the luxury of the climate on your side, but you also have the challenge of the climate to deal with. That’s why the vast majority of growers tend to produce their marijuana indoors instead.
Here are some general tips for getting started with growing weed indoors.
How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors vs. Growing Weed Indoors
Cannabis has long been cultivated outdoors – in fact, it’s one of the oldest agricultural crops.
But is it right for you? While knowing how to grow marijuana indoors vs outdoors is more or less the same, there are numerous considerations to make.
Growing outdoors presents several benefits, including:
- Stronger plants
- Greater access to a better spectrum of light
- Protect against pests with natural predators and environmental controls
However, when you grow indoors, you can:
- Control your temperature, light, CO2 production, and humidity
- Offer a more stable growing environment
- Receive plants with higher THC percentages
Ultimately, the choice is up to you – but this guide to growing marijuana will tell you more about how to grow weed indoors, specifically. You can use a storebought grow room, grow box, or grow tent, or you can create a DIY unit.
Growing Weed 101: What Are the Environmental Requirements for Growing Weed Indoors?
Good lighting is essential because it will determine the growth cycles of your plants, allowing for photosynthesis and good plant health.
When setting up your grow room indoors, light needs to be your utmost concern. When you are using indoor light, you should have white walls to help reflect light back onto the plants.
-talk about the different stages
Inside your grow room or grow tent, you will need a controlled environment where pests and pollutants cannot get inside.
Most commercially produced tents are built with air ports and vents so that you can easily pull in fresh air by adding a strong exhaust fan.
Many people overwater their cannabis plants, and the growing medium you choose can make a big difference. However, in general, you will want to use lukewarm water that is filtered and has a balanced pH on your plants. Providing ample water while growing weed is truly your secret to success!
Monitoring and maintaining good metrics is vital when you are growing pot. Most plants will need to remain between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit when the lights are turned on, and between 58 and 70 degrees when the lights are off. There are some strains that require different temperatures, so make sure you familiarize yourself with these growing requirements first.
Most people grow marijuana in soil, as it’s the most forgiving and often the least expensive.
Any kind of high-quality potting soil will get the job done, but you should make sure it doesn’t contain any synthetic extended release fertilizers. An organic option that is pre fertilized is a better choice, which will allow you to grow your plants from beginning to end.
If you don’t have this kind of soil available near you – or you don’t want to spend money on it – you can easily make your own by combining bat guano, compost, worm castings, or other organic matter with soil.
You can also grow in a hydroponic grow room. This requires no soil and instead allows you to feed your plants via concentrated solutions of nutrients. It allows for quicker uptake but also requires a more expensive grow room setup.
You may use various mediums, like the following options, in a soilless setup:
- Coco coir
- Expanded clay pebbles
Humidity needs to be controlled between 40 and 60% to help your plants grow faster. You also need plenty of good circulation to guard against pests.
Start small with your grow room. You can always get bigger from there. Plus, it will be much easier to monitor a couple of plants than hundreds. And remember that, in addition to your plants themselves you’ll also need to account for space for your lights, fans, ducting, and other equipment.
You’ll need three types of lights for each of the three stages of marijuana growth. They are:
- Metal Halide (MH): These lights produce bluish-white light for the vegetative stage. These lights require bulbs.
- High-Pressure Sodium (HPS): HPS lights produce light that is a reddish-orange color and is perfect for the flowering stage. They require bulbs along with a ballast and a hood/reflector.
- Light-Emitting Ceramic: Also known as ceramic metal halide, LEC, or CMH, these lights can be used from seed to harvest. You won’t have to switch out your bubbles between stages.
When you run your lights, make sure they are guarded by air-cooled reflector hoods to help control the temperature.
The timing of your light and dark cycles are very important when you are growing weed – in general, you will need your lights to be on for around sixteen to twenty hours during the vegetative growth stage, then only about twelve hours when you want them to bloom.
If you aren’t good about turning the lights on and off at the same time every day, invest in a timer. This will help you stay on top of your controls.
Your marijuana plants need plenty of fresh air to thrive – after all, CO2 is a key factor for photosynthesis. As a result, you should include a fan near the top of the room to keep moving warm air out and cool air in.
Hydrometer and Thermometer
A combination hygrometer/thermostat can help you save some money. It will not only show you the temperature and humidity in the room but also the high and low readings at the last time you checked.
Select the Right Seeds
What Makes a Good Seed?
Seeds are the most common way for people to start growing marijuana. Since they can easily be purchased from an online seed bank, they can be delivered just about anywhere in the world.
A good seed will have the following characteristics:
- Can be stored in the fridge until you are ready to use it
- Will remain viable for five years or more when stored properly
- Purchased from a reputable seed source
Just keep in mind that if you purchase seeds, there’s a chance that some will end up being male. You can sometimes purchase seeds online that are feminized, which will eliminate this concern.
What Are the Different Types of Seeds?
Indica seeds produce plants that have wide, broad leaves with a deep color. The buds tend to be dense and tightly packed with a purple hue.
Indica plants produce more of a relaxing, calming high – best for nighttime use.
Some of the most popular indica strains include:
- Northern Lights
- Big Bud
- Blue Cheese
Sativa plants produce growth that consists of long, light-colored leaves. These tend to be quite narrow and lead to buds that are wispy and long. They have a red or orange hue.
Sativa is known to be energizing, not producing the same kind of “couch lock” high as indica. It can improve your creativity and has more THC and less CBD than indica.
Some of the most popular Sativa strains include:
- Sour Diesel
- Purple Haze
- Durban Poison
- Jack Herer
Hybrid strains combine the best of both Sativa and indica strains for a super potent, super productive plant. Here are some of the top hybrid strains:
- Three Blue Kings
- Larry Bird Kush
- White Widow
Auto-flowering strains are those that will begin flowering regardless of their light schedule. They are famous and a perfect choice for growers seeking a low-maintenance option. These will be marketed with the word “ruderalis.”
A high-yield strain is one that you can rely on to consistently perform. Several high yield strains can be grown both indoors and outside.
Should I Go With Seeds or Clones?
You might see the word “clone” thrown around from time to time while you are shopping for marijuana strains. When it comes to learning how to grow cannabis, it’s important that you know the benefits of growing from a clone.
A clone is an exact copy of another plant. Clones will grow in the exact same way as the mother plant – this can be helpful in letting you know what to expect. In addition, clones present the following benefits:
- Give you a head start on the growing season
- Guarantees the gender of your plant
- You can clone your own plants without requiring sexing or seeds
- Can be grown in warm, wet conditions
- Need to be treated very gently
- Cannot be purchased online
- Often require a recommendation for marijuana from a local doctor
- Are sensitive to heat and light in the early days
How to Grow Weed: A Growers Guide
Step 1: Germination
How to Do It:
During the germination stage, you will wait for your seeds to sprout. This can take one to two weeks.
How do you know if your seeds are ready for germination – or if they have gone by? They will be brown, dry, and hard.
Light: 18-24 hours
Dos and Don’ts:
- DO encourage sprouting by watering your seeds in a paper towel
- DO consider placing your seeds in a starter cube or seedling plug.
- DON’T be afraid of germinating directly in the final growing medium, as with nature.
- DON’T move your seeds until they’ve sprouted.
- DO use a light or heating pad to keep things warm.
Stage 2: Seedling Stage
How to Do It:
At the seedling stage, it is now time to move your seeds into the growing medium. While they are in this stage, they will need appropriate levels of water and maximum light. This is when the cotyledon (or seed leaves) will begin to form.
Light: 18-24 hours
Dos and Don’ts:
- DO avoid too-hot temps with high humidity.
- DO supplement with COs if your temperatures are too high.
- DON’T forget to cool things off at night.
- DON’T ignore your plants while they’re becoming established.
Stage 3: Vegetative Stage
How to Do It:
During the vegetative stage, your plants will need plenty of dry air with lots of movement. You will also need to supply warm water and extra nutrients (particularly nitrogen). This stage lasts for roughly two to eight weeks depending on the train and your grow room conditions.
Light: 12-18 hours
Dos and Don’ts:
- DON’T forget that you can control how long your plants stay in the vegetative stage by providing light.
- DO keep electricity costs down by maintaining an 18/6 light schedule.
- DON’T forget about water – the top inch of soil should feel moist.
- DO add nutrients starting at ½ strength.
- DO provide plenty of good air circulation.
- DO be vigilant for strange colors or spots – these indicate mold and nutrient deficiencies.
- DO train your plants now so that they are easier to manage – and provide enough light – during the flowering stage.
Stage 4: Flowering Stage
How to Do It:
During the flowering stage, you will reduce light exposure to your plants, allowing them to produce medicinal qualities. Extra fertilizers can help stimulate bud formation. This stage lasts about six to eight weeks – and when you’re learning how to grow pot, the flowering stage can be one of the most difficult to master.
Humidity: 40 – 50%
Light: 12 hours
Dos and Don’ts:
- DO remember that your plants will flower in response to how much light they receive.
- DON’T forget that your plants will reveal their gender during this stage.
- DO separate your female and male plants before they pollinate – this will prevent female seeds from producing seeds instead of trichomes.
- DO increase phosphorus.
- DON’T forget to decrease nitrogen.
- DO expose your bud sites to more light and air.
Stage 5: Harvesting Your Marijuana
How to Do It:
And now for the best time of the year – harvesting your marijuana! You will need to trim and dry the buds and let them cure. Your plant is ready to go!
Dos and Don’ts:
- DO familiarize yourself with the signs of a ripe plant.
- DON’T try to harvest until at least 70% of the pistils are browned.
- DO wait until the buds have begun to turn from white to orange.
- DO reduce nutrient levels as you approach harvest.
- DO expect to wait at least two months to harvest.
- DON’T forget to flush your plants before harvest.
- DO look at the pistils and trichomes to know when the plant is ready to harvest.
- DON’T forget to trim, dry, and cure your buds.
Helpful Tips and Hints for Growing Weed
Understand the Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant
In order to be an effective grower and to fully understand how to grow weed, you need to know exactly how a cannabis plant is designed. Here are some of the basics.
Commercial cannabis comes from only the females of the plant, which have skinny, long stems and telltale fan leaves. The plants are trimmed into buds, which come together in a cola at the very top of the stem.
The trichomes are the frosty blanket of resin that you will see coating the cannabis plant – these trichomes are where the terpenes and cannabinoids of the plant are found (which is what you are after).
While there are a whole host of cannabinoids that work together in your plant, joining to produce what’s called the “entourage effect,” the two most important cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
THC is known for its ability to cause psychoactive effects, or a “high”. Here are some of its benefits:
- Sleep aid
- Pain relief
- Appetite stimulant
- Mood enhancer
CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, and is, as a result, legal for use just about everywhere. It includes benefits such as:
- Pain relief
- Seizure reduction
The plant also contains cannabinoids like CBC, CBN, and CBG, all of which have therapeutic properties. Marijuana plants contain terpenes as well, which are aromatic compounds that are found in all flowers, but in marijuana, lead to distinct smells like pine, citrus, or earthy aromas. These also have significant medicinal values.
Know Your Timeline
Depending on your strain, it can take anywhere from eight weeks to seven or more months for you to enjoy your final product. Of course, this timeline includes every stage including:
Do Your Research
Do your research before you decide to start growing marijuana! This is not a task for the faint of heart. You need to make sure you understand exactly how to save money, make money, and produce the right growing conditions for your plants in order to thrive in this endeavor.
Keep a good pH test meter on hand to monitor the pH level of your water, soil, and nutrient solution. Cannabis prefers a pH between 6 and 7 (5.5 and 6.5 if you are growing in a hydroponic solution).
If your pH slips out of this range, you risk nutrient lockout – this means that your plants won’t be able to absorb the nutrients they need for good growth. Invest in a good pH test kit to make sure your plants are growing in adequate pH.
Your plants will need a variety of nutrients in order to thrive. These are similar to the nutrients required by many other plants, and include macro- and micro-nutrients like:
These can be supplemented with either an organic or synthetic fertilizer.
Mind Your Electric Bill
Most of your expenses when it comes to growing marijuana, particularly in subsequent seasons after you’ve purchased your growing equipment, will have to do with the electric bill related to light usage.
On average, in the United States, electricity costs $0.12/kWh. In general, MH/HPS grow lights can cost anywhere from $20 to $135 per month, while LED grow lights can cost between $12 and $50 per month.
That being said, LED grow lights tend to have a higher purchasing price. You will need to weigh out the logistics of each type of light before you purchase – and only one of those logistics is your electric bill, as the type of light you use can also affect growth and productivity.
Don’t forget that other products you use will raise your electric bill, too. These include:
- Exhaust fans
- Hydroponic pumps and accessories
- Air conditioners
You can save some money by:
- Choosing strains with short flowering stages
- Keeping your plants healthy
- Placing your fans where they will be most effective
- Keeping your exhaust system short and straight
- Keeping your lights on only during the cheapest times for electricity during the day
- Putting the plant on 18/6 lighting during the vegetative stage
- Getting a small grow room
- Growing outdoors
More and more growers are turning to hydroponics as a way to grow cannabis. Here are some of the benefits:
- Faster growth
- Larger yields
- Does not require soil
- Can be done in an automated setup
- No dry spots or root drowning
- Water is reusable
- Does not require you to repot plants
- Pests are easy to spot
And the challenges:
- Requires more precision and maintenance
- Takes more power to operate
- pH must be more closely monitored
- More expensive to start up
- Plants can be subjected to nutrient lockout or burn
Here’s to a healthy, happy journey for both you and your plants! Hopefully, our marijuana growing tips in this growers guide have been helpful for you in your quest for more information.
Congratulations on your decision to grow your own marijuana- and here’s to many years of productivity.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Hacks category on Running Wolf’s Rant.