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how to grow marijuana

How to Grow Marijuana: An Introduction

Have you ever wanted to know how to grow marijuana? Have you ever thought about growing your weed at home? If you have then we are here to help you. This is a guide to give you a simple, easy to follow steps to grow cannabis.

We know how overwhelming growing marijuana could be but we reassure you that it’s no different from cultivating vegetables, flowering plants, or ornamental plants. As long as you consider the needs of the particular cannabis strain you’re growing and you give your plants plenty of TLC, you’re good to go. 

How to Grow Marijuana – Easy Steps to Grow Cannabis

Whether your goal is to grow good quality recreational or medicinal cannabis, growing the cannabis plant is still the same. Everything starts with the right marijuana seeds. You will notice that towards the middle and end part of this guide, we will refer to the steps according to the different cannabis growth phases as every phase of cannabis growing is unique. 

Also, we will be focusing on indoor growing. We recommend indoor growing as it makes it easier for you to monitor your plants and to deal with any kind of problem. Indoor growing is much more intensive and thus, learning more about this will help you become a more efficient grower. 

Select the Best Cannabis Seeds

The very first and probably the most important thing to do is to find a good supplier of cannabis seeds. This is crucial because you need good quality cannabis seeds to grow healthy, productive plants. 

Choose the type of Strain you want to Grow

Do you prefer a medical strain or a recreational strain? Do you need a soothing and calming indica or a stimulating sativa? Or would you prefer a bit of both worlds with a hybrid strain? Also, you can choose between a high THC strain or a high CBD strain. The strain you will grow depends on what you need, what you want to get out of cannabis.

Choose the kind of Seeds you want to Cultivate

Now that you have an idea as to what kind of cannabis strain you want to grow, you must now decide on what type of seed to grow. In large seed banks, different types of cannabis seeds are available: 

1. Regular Marijuana Seeds

Regular marijuana is also called photoperiod marijuana and this means these seeds will grow into plants that rely on a special lighting schedule to flower. Photoperiod plants need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness (with no interruptions) to start blooming. Also, you can’t tell if regular marijuana seeds are male or female. You will only be able to find out the gender of your plants after they flower.

2. Feminized Marijuana Seeds

Feminized marijuana seeds will grow only female plants. You don’t need to wait till flowering time to find out your plants’ genders because all of the seeds you germinate are female. Feminized seeds still need a 12/12 lighting schedule to start flowering. 

3. Autoflowering Marijuana Seeds

Autoflowering or automatic seeds are cannabis seeds that will grow into auto marijuana. These plants will not require a 12/12 lighting schedule to start flowering. Also, autoflowers flower quicker than any other type of cannabis at just 7 to 9 weeks even earlier. Finally, autos are small plants, the smallest of all cannabis types. These qualities make these plants a good candidate for stealth growing. 

4. CBD Seeds

CBD seeds are cannabis seeds that will grow into marijuana plants with high CBD content. CBD or cannabidiol is the therapeutic compound of cannabis; it’s the reason why cannabis can be used to treat different medical conditions. 

5. THC Seeds

THC seeds are cannabis seeds that will grow into cannabis plants that have a high CBD. These plants will have buds that produce high THC levels which means your plants are psychoactive. You will experience psychedelic effects.

6. Medical Seeds

Medical cannabis seeds are similar to CBD seeds as these will grow into plants with high CBD. These are ideal for medicinal use. 

7. Landrace Seeds

Landraces are ancestral cannabis strains that have unaltered genes. These are mostly used to create new strains as the genes of these plants are very stable. Not all seed banks have landrace strains so you need to look far and wide in search of these strains.  

Check for Seed Viability

It’s important to use only viable seeds or seeds that are guaranteed to bloom. There are many ways to identify if a cannabis seed is viable or not. 

  • Seed appearance – viable cannabis seeds are slightly round seeds, with a smooth appearance and dark colors. Seeds that are dark brown to black are viable; don’t germinate green-white or yellow seeds because these will never sprout.  

Most cannabis seeds have markings or patterns on the surface. These patterns mean that the seed is viable and is ready to sprout when you germinate them.   

  • Feel or smoothness of the seed cover – feel the seed in between your thumb and forefinger. Viable seeds are tough and won’t crack or break even when you press the seeds slightly. Also, check for any bumps, scratches, or openings. If you find any of these, the seed may not sprout at all.
  • Any openings or cracks – noticeable cracks with or without the taproot (large white root) out of the opening are signs that the seed may not sprout. 
  • Weight of the seed – you can’t tell if the seed is light or heavy just by looking at them or holding them. But one way to do it is to place the seeds in water. Let the seeds remain in the water for about an hour. After the designated time, check which seeds sunk or which ones have floated because seeds that have sunk are heavy and have heavy viable insides. Meanwhile, seeds that continue to float are light and don’t have any viable insides. Discard the seeds that float because these are non-viable seeds while heavy seeds that have sunk may be germinated.
  • Age of the seed – well-preserved cannabis seeds can last for years but despite this, fresh seeds will sprout faster than old seeds. So as much as possible, use fresh seeds. Leave mature cannabis seeds to experts. 

Consider Cannabis Growing Basics

Because you’re growing cannabis indoors, you need to mimic how Mother Nature does it. Keep in mind that cannabis plants can survive all odds. You’ll find marijuana plants growing in hot and humid areas as well as in cold and dry climates. Yes, cannabis can adapt but this will dramatically affect the plant’s health and yields. So your goal as an indoor cannabis grower is to provide the right growing environment where your plants can grow properly and in good health to produce the best yields. Here are the most important growing needs of your marijuana plants:

Cannabis Lighting

Lighting is a very huge deal with indoor cannabis growing. As you know, light is life to plants. You need to provide the best amount of lighting so your plants can grow, develop food, and grow good buds. There are different types of lighting, each one with corresponding pros and cons. Choose one that matches your plant’s needs and your budget. Consider the following.

  • For the best vegetative growth, place your plants under 12 hours of light per day.
  • Lighting may be controlled by timers to ensure that you have correct lighting daily.
  • Depending on the type of lighting you selected, the lamps must be placed closer to the plants. It must be close enough but avoid burning the leaves. 
  • Consider even, intense lighting on all parts of your plants. 
  • Reflectors should be in place. This is any kind of reflective material like white sheets, white paint, or Mylar sheets. 
  • Lighting should be adjustable using ropes, beams, and pulleys. These help you provide the right amount of light that will benefit your plants according to their height and growth phase.

Growing Medium

There are many types of growing mediums: soil (the most common), hydroponics, aeroponics, and using any inert growing medium. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. The two most common are soil and hydroponic growing.

  • Soil growing – this can be growing cannabis directly on the ground or growing in a pot filled with soil. In this guide, we will focus on growing cannabis in pots filled with soil. 

In soil growing, the medium has to be healthy soil, with nutrients that will benefit cannabis. The pH level of the soil should also be considered as this should be pH balanced at 6.6 pH. The soil must also be free from toxins and chemicals which can affect the growth of your plants. Consider using soil that’s recommended by experts with organic components. This will help boost plant health and enhance yields. 

  • Hydroponics – this is growing plants where the roots are placed in nutrient-rich water. Because there is no soil, nutrients are absorbed by soil directly and these are directly used by plants. Hydroponics growing setups can be as simple as plants in a vase filled with water or as complicated as systems with moving nutrient-rich water.

Air

In a natural outdoor growing area, cannabis plants get nice moving healthy air which helps improve growth, deliver fresh CO2, and dispel oxygen to the environment. But in an indoor setting, air movement should be controlled very well for your plants to survive.

A good indoor set up for proper air circulation is a system composed of fans, ducts, and switches. A simple set up for a small indoor growing area would be opening a window or door but to prevent rouge pollen, mold, and pests to enter, growers make use of intake and outtake ducts and fans. A fan would blow in into the growing area from an in intake opening located somewhere at the bottom part of the room while an outtake fan blows stale, warm air out of the growing area through an outtake opening located at the top of the growing room. The size and the number of fans depend on the size of the room and the number of plants you’re growing. 

Leaving a fan that will provide low moving air through the plants’ lower canopies can help dry up soil and prevent molds. Also blowing slow air can train plants’ stems and branches to grow stronger.  

Temperature

Keep tabs on indoor growing temperatures using a digital thermometer for proper accurate monitoring. Ideal growing temperature is 27 degrees Celsius and anything below or higher can affect your plants’ health and survival. 

Take note that many factors can affect the temperature inside the growing area. The lighting system is the most common culprit for heat and increasing humidity levels inside the growing area. Hot and bright lamps will do your plants good but too much can already dramatically increase the temperature inside and this can affect your plants’ growth. 

Also, incorrect air circulation, poorly constructed ducts, and air circulation systems can affect temperature. Consider all these factors to improve indoor growing temperatures.

Humidity

Humidity levels can be controlled in the most precise way indoors using special equipment like humidifiers/dehumidifiers. But for small and simple indoor growing rooms and tents, it’s a matter of just opening a door or a window to adjust the humidity.

When your plants are still in the seedling phase, humidity levels are higher at around 70% + or -. As your plants grow taller and stronger in the vegetative phase, humidity levels eventually decrease from 60% to 50%. Plants in the blooming phase require 50% to 40% humidity to support bud growth and to avoid molds. You should use a handy digital hygrometer to accurately measure humidity inside your growing area.   

Water

In soil growing medium, water helps promote the movement of nutrients to the roots. Therefore, water must be clean, pH neutral (6.6), and should be adequate in the medium. We recommend testing your water source first before you grow your plants. 

Nutrients

Marijuana plants require the right type and amount of nutrients for every phase of their lives. Although most soil growers, especially those who grow cannabis directly from the ground, prefer to add minimal fertilizers, or don’t use any nutrients at all. But we all know that adding nutrients supports your plants’ growth and development plus, nutrients can also improve your plants’ chances of producing more yields. 

During the growing phase, your plants are actively vegging out and growing taller and wider and for this, these plants require fertilizers with higher nitrogen but lower potassium and phosphorus. But during the blooming phase, everything changes as your plants cease to grow and focus all their energies to blooming buds. Therefore, it’s time to use fertilizers with low Nitrogen and higher phosphorus and potassium instead. You can purchase cannabis nutrients and fertilizers from online shops or local gardening shops as well. 

Using compost and homemade nutrients is a good way to enhance your plants’ growth and save money however, make sure you’re adding correct nutrients and at the right amounts. 

Cabinets, Cupboards, and Tents

You need equipment to keep your potted plants on so you can properly care for them. Many growers use a ready-made cabinet or tent where they can grow only a few plants but away from prying eyes. Some tents available in the market require minimal assembly and come with all the basic things you need to grow your plants. In most cases, when a spare room or area in a home is used, a rack or shelf is used to keep plants. This will keep the growing area well-organized, clean, and easy to maintain.

Germinating Cannabis Seeds

As you have all your supplies ready and assembled, you will now focus on germinating the seeds you purchased. Germination is typically just a few days, the longest can be at 5 to 7 days. Usually, the supplier or seed bank where you purchased your seeds have their recommended germination technique and most consider the moist paper towel technique. Here are steps to use the moist paper towel technique:

Ready the Materials Needed

  • Viable seeds
  • Pieces of paper towels
  • Bottled water
  • Two plates
  1. Wet a few pieces of paper towels, wait till these are damp (not to wet).
  2. Place a few seeds in the middle of the damp paper towels. 
  3. Cover with another piece of damp paper towel. 
  4. Place the seed sandwich on a large plate and cover it with another plate.
  5. Place the plates inside a dark and quiet place like in a cupboard.
  6. Don’t open the plates. Just do so once a day to inspect if the paper towel is still damp, 
  7. The seeds will sprout in just two to five days. When you finally see the taproot, remove the seeds from the damp paper, and transfer them to your preferred growing medium.

The Seedling Phase

The seedling phase is very short. This is a right after the seeds sprout and until these are strong enough to be transplanted to a pot with soil. 

Right after the taproot emerges from the seed, it will take a few more days before the young plant emerges from the seed and grow new leaves. Once you find the taproot, transfer your sprouted seed in peat cubes.

Peat cubes are small cubes of inert material that contains all your seeds need to survive. To use peat cubes, place these in water, and let these expand for a few minutes. Once these have expanded, place one sprouted seed in one cube. Seal the cube and place it in a small container with water.

The sprouted seed inside the cube will continue to grow. The taproot will continue to grow downwards and will soon have complex roots from the taproot. The plant will soon emerge with a set of rounded leaves. These leaves are the cotyledons and soon a set of serrated leaves will grow. 

Once you have two sets of serrated leaves and complex roots have emerged, transfer the young plants in a pot with soil. Remember to never touch the taproot. This root is very frail and can easily fall off if you’re not careful. Here are some steps: 

Ready your Materials

  • The seedlings you want to transplant
  • A good-sized pot with good drainage
  • Good quality soil 
  • A small spade
  • Water
  1. Place soil in the pot and leave some space from the brim.
  2. Make a hole in the middle of the soil where the seedling will go.
  3. Water the hole in the dirt until water runs off the drainage holes. 
  4. Place the seedling in, careful not to touch the taproot.
  5. Place water and allow the excess to run off the drainage holes.
  6. Place the newly transferred young plants under bright lamps

During the seedling phase, a lighting schedule of 20 hour light and 4-hour darkness is ideal but some growers say that you can go up to 18/6.

Take note of the following things during the seedling phase:

Values Seedling Phase
Temperature 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, 4 to 5 degrees lower when lights are out
Humidity 65 to 70% humidity
Nutrients No need, nutrients from peat cubes and new soil
Water Water daily when soil is dry
Lighting Schedule 12/12, 18/6, 20/4

The Growing/Vegging phase

During the vegetative phase, your plants will be completely focused on growing taller and wider. During the early phase of the vegetative phase, consider adding plant supports (pegs, trellises, or stakes) especially when you expect to grow a taller and bushier plant.

At this phase, your plants will be growing like crazy especially when you give your plants correct care. Consider the following:

  • Adjust lighting to accommodate taller plants. Too little light can cause stretching and this is not good for plants. Enough distance is around an inch or two from the leaves. 
  • Consider darkness periods mimicking natural nighttime conditions. Roots grow best during the dark.
  • Add nutrients or fertilizer accordingly. The correct fertilizer at this phase is the one with more nitrogen and less phosphorus and potassium. Follow product instructions carefully. 
  • Water only when the soil is dry and not when it’s wet or moist.
  • Be alert of pests as these can strike anytime. Common pests are spider mites, aphids, fungus gnats, thrips, grasshoppers, crickets, snails, slugs, and many more. The moment you see one, there are plenty nearby. Remove pests using natural methods or pesticides that are safe for plants, pets, and humans.
  • Consider training your plants to improve yields and control growth. Some training methods that you can use during the vegetative stage are the sea of green (SOG), the screen of green (SCROG), trimming, and pruning.
  • Be on the lookout for molds and mildew. Control these ASAP before these become worse.

How long the growing phase depends on the marijuana strain. In autoflowering cannabis strains, plants move from the vegetative to the flowering phase automatically but regular or photoperiod plants grown indoors will depend on you to stimulate the flowering phase. 

Take note of the following things during the growing phase:

Values Growing Phase
Temperature 22 to 28 degrees Celsius, 4 to 5 degrees lower during lights out
Humidity 40 to 70%, should be lowered 5% every week
Nutrients Fertilizer with more nitrogen 
Water Water only when the soil is dry
Lighting Schedule  18/6

The flowering phase

When you’re growing regular plants, you have the say when to flip the switch and go from growing to bloom. Usually, growers proceed to the blooming phase once they run out of space to grow their plants as cannabis plants cease to grow once they enter the blooming phase.

As we mentioned before, changing indoor lighting to a 12-hour light and 12-hour dark schedule will trigger the flowering phase. BUT you must be strict! 12/12 lighting schedules for several days until your plants show their pre-flowers. If this schedule is disturbed, your plants can revert to the growing phase and may take longer to flower.

It will take several days for your plants to begin the flowering phase as you use the 12/12 schedule. For regular or photoperiod strains, this is the only way to find out if your plants are male or female.

Female plants

Will grow white, wispy flowers called pistils on the junctions between the stems and branches. These will accept pollen from male plants and will grow seeds after. 

Male plants

Will grow green sacs or bags. These will contain pollen which will soon burst. 

If you want to grow seeds, let the males remain in the growing area with your females. If you want buds with weed, remove all the males and let females be. 

During the flowering phase, remember the following

  • The plants will stop growing so you will now concentrate on growing larger and denser buds. 
  • Add nutrients or fertilizer accordingly but slowly reduce your supplements days before harvest. The correct fertilizer at this phase is the one with less nitrogen and higher phosphorus and potassium. K and P are needed to develop larger and denser buds. Always follow product instructions carefully. 
  • Water when the soil is dry and not when it’s wet or moist.
  • Your flowering plants are very vulnerable to pests and these can render your buds useless if you overlook them. Common pests are spider mites, aphids, fungus gnats, thrips, grasshoppers, crickets, snails, slugs, and more. Remove pests using natural methods or pesticides that are safe for plants, pets, and humans. Never spray any kind of fertilizer on the buds because this can change the flavor and smell of buds.
  • Protect your precious buds from molds and mildew. Control these ASAP before these become worse. Maintain low humidity, remove moisture, and always check for any signs of molds or mildew daily. 

Take note of the following things during the flowering phase:

Values Flowering Phase
Temperature 20 to 26 degrees Celsius, please avoid very high temperatures
Humidity Strictly 40 to 50%
Nutrients Products with higher Potassium and Phosphorus, low Nitrogen
Water Water when the soil is dry, avoid watering days before harvest
Lighting Schedule 12/12 throughout

The harvesting phase

The harvesting phase is the final phase and determining when to harvest depends on your expert eye. Growers use some harvesting cues to find out if their plants are ready or not. We recommend that you use a magnifying glass or a good camera with enhanced magnification power to closely examine if your plants are ready for harvest. 

Pistils

The pistils are hairs that stick out from the buds. These may appear intermittently all over the buds and their appearance can help tell if your plants are ready for gravest. 

Pistils may fall off but those that remain during the flowering phase will also curl back. Your buds will be ready to harvest when half of the pistils in a plant are dark and have curled up. At this point, your buds will have a milder high. 

When 70 to 90% of the pistils have turned darker then you can harvest buds with a very strong high. Anything past 90% will have buds that have lower THC levels. When you overlook the color of the pistils and harvest later, THC will degrade to CBN and you won’t get any psychoactive effects at all. 

Trichomes

Aside from the pistils, take a good look at the trichomes. These are very small crystal-like structures that are found all over the buds and also on the sugar leaves (leaves that are found directly under the buds). The trichomes give marijuana strains their taste, aroma, and cannabinoid profile.  

When the trichome is shiny, clear, and sticky, it may take a few more days to harvest your buds. The best time to harvest is when around 30% have turned from clear to milky-white or have a cloudy appearance. 

Remember the following 

  • Be patient, harvesting early will give you buds with low CBD and THC. Your buds will have a low high and a mild flavor. Harvesting too early will give you a lower yield and weed with unwanted side effects. 
  • Don’t harvest too late! Harvesting too late can lead to weed with a very strong taste and narcotic high. Your plants will also develop a very strong smell that can attract pests and mold.
  • Harvesting times vary from strain to strain. Usually, indica strains are ready in just 8 weeks of blooming while sativas can take longer at 10 weeks. Automatic strains will be ready for harvest in 10 weeks. 
  • If you want an energetic high – harvest your plants when 30% of trichome heads have turned cloudy and half of the pistils are dark.  
  • If you want a relaxing high – harvest when the trichome heads are 90% cloudy and 90% of the pistils are darker.
  • If you want an intense and euphoric effect – harvest at 60% of the trichomes are cloudy and 70% of the pistils are dark. 

Right after harvesting is the delicate process of drying and curing your weed. It can take a total of 15 or more weeks from seed germination to curing before you can finally taste all your hard work. Now that you know how to grow marijuana, consider cultivating only a few plants. Taking care of only a few plants can help you carefully apply your newfound knowledge and skills to grow cannabis at home. 

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