Below, we're going to answer a selection of the questions that we see most often.
We'll be answering these common questions:
1.) My plant is sick, what's wrong with it?
There can be a myriad of reasons for a plant to show signs of sickness. You can have nutrient deficiencies, nutrient over-abundance(toxicity), pest problems, over-watering, under-watering, pH issues, and/or poor environment control to name just a few.
People growing in hydroponics tend to deal with pH issues more than any of the others mentioned.
However, growers in all groups tend to have the same frustrating problem: pH issues that show themselves as nutrient deficiencies. Many growers - old and new alike - at some point will find markings or defects on some of their leaves. Many times, it looks as if your plant needs more of a specific nutrient like as calcium or phosphorus. And so many of those times, the real problem is that the pH is in a range that doesn't allow the plant to uptake that specific nutrient even if there's a lot of it.
Short Answer: If you're having a problem with a nutrient deficiency, check your pH levels before making adjustments to how you feed your plants. If you're having any other problem, check out the link below for help!
View pictures of common marijuana plant problems:
2.) Why do I have to pH my plants nutrients?
The answer for this one actually ties into the last point. Your plants need a variety of nutrients, just like people do. Even if you give your plants all the nutrients they need, they will only be able to uptake nutrients if their pH is at the right level. To state that a different way: pH is what determines - amongst other things - which nutrients your plant will be able to uptake.
For example: Pretty much all cannabis plants need magnesium. If you grow hydroponically, your plants can easily uptake magnesium at a pH level of about 5.5-6.5. If your pH is at 4.0, your plants wouldn't uptake magnesium and thus give you the impression that it needs more magnesium. In this case, your plant roots are surrounded by magnesium, but can't uptake it due to the pH levels.
Short Answer: Having proper pH levels will make it so your plant can uptake the nutrients it needs at any given time. If you don't manage your pH, your plant will show you how hard it can be to take care of.
How to Manage pH:
3.) Where can I buy marijuana seeds?
You can be stealthy about everything you do whilst growing, but many people feel like the act of getting seeds is the least secure part of their grow.
It doesn't have to be!
Many growers choose to start their first grow with seeds they find in their buds (bagseed). This can be a convenient way to test out your growing skills with little investment, but sometimes you get unexpected results as you often don't know very much, if anything, about the strain or how the plant is going to grow. I've grown bagseed that was out of this world, and I've also grown bagseed that produced tall, spindly plants with low yields and weak buds. It's all part of the bagseed lottery.
If you happen to know another grower or live near a medical marijuana dispensary, it's sometimes possible to get seeds or clones from them. Several dispensaries and collectives will offer free or cheap clones/seeds to medical marijuana patients. If this option is available to you, you'll probably be able to choose your strain and talk to the breeder about how the plant grows. That way you'll have a better idea of what to expect.
But what about ordering seeds online? Is it safe?
Several trusted companies have been delivering seeds to customers for many years, and many more will start to do the same as marijuana becomes more and more mainstream.
If you need to find a specific strain for your needs, or desire a strain that grows a certain way (for example if you have a small grow space and need a strain that grows short/bushy), you will probably want to look into ordering seeds directly from a breeder or online seed bank.
Almost every grow I've ever done has been started with feminized seeds from a trusted seedbank, and I will continue to do for the foreseeable future even though I can produce my own seeds.
Short Answer: Use bagseed (seeds that you find in your buds), get seeds/clones from a fellow grower, or order seeds online from a secure online seedbank.
Learn where and how to buy seeds online with safety:
Note: Because many of you have asked, this is the company where I buy my seeds (I've been happily using them for years): Nirvana Seeds. They breed their own seeds so they have a relatively small selection of strains, yet I keep going back because the strains they do carry always exceed my expectations (and I've grown most of them by now). Nirvana has been breeding seeds for decades, and they are known for their responsive customer service, an iron-clad satisfaction guarantee on all seeds sold, and the ability for customers to leave and read reviews for all their strains. The buds I've grown from them are beyond medical-grade. I highly recommend Aurora Indica (great yields and very easy to grow) and Wonder Woman (HUGE yields).
4.) What is Hydroponics?
So basically, if you're growing your marijuana plants in any non-soil medium, you're growing hydroponically. Some people get confused because there are soil-less mediums look like soil, but are technically hydroponics(such as coco coir). It's important to know if you're growing in soil or not since most nutrients and additives are made specifically for one or the other.
Short Answer: Hydroponics is the act of growing plants in any medium that is not soil.
5.) Soil vs Hydroponics: Is one really better than the other?
There is a lot of debate about which of these two methods are better, and ultimately, it comes down to the opinion of the grower. Some feel that growing in soil helps to align certain intangibles(like good taste) while others feel that hydroponics are the next evolution in growing.
With that being said, let me give you my opinion...hydroponics is better overall since it outperforms soil in numerous ways:
Short Answer: This question is up to the grower, but it is GWE's opinion that hydroponics outperforms soil growing in pretty much every measurable category.
Learn more about growing with soil vs hydroponics:
6.) How can I hide my grow from my parents/roommates?
This is a question that we were initially surprised to get, but now it's one we see pretty frequently. Many people live in a situation where they would like to grow cannabis, but live with a person who makes it so that they need to hide the grow from them.
Generally, you want to adopt the rule that no one should know about your grow. In order for you to be able to effectively enforce that rule, you need a living situation that won't give away the fact that you're growing marijuana.
No matter how sly and stealthy you are, it will be extremely difficulty to hide a grow due to the fact that you would need to keep every part of it hidden for 100% of your entire grow!
If you live with your parents or roommates, how would you deal with:
* To neutralize the smell of a grow, you could attach a carbon scrubber to your exhaust fan, use an odor-neutralizing product like an Ona Block to neutralize smells in your living spaces (though Ona products should never be put in with or near your plants). The more plants you have making buds at the same time, the bigger the smell you have to cover up. The smell usually gets most intense the last 2-4 weeks before harvest.
These problems may seem surmountable, but it's ultimately not worth it when you realize that you're putting your life and happiness in someone else's hands!
So unless the person you live with is your clone with whom you have some sort blood-pact, don't grow with roommates/parents!
Short Answer: If you live with your parents/roommates, or if you live in a place that can be inspected without warning(i.e., apartment buildings, college dorms), we strongly advise you to NOT grow until your living conditions have changed.
7.) How do I know when to harvest?
This question is tough because there are many factors that go into judging when to harvest, and some plants behave differently when it comes to flowering signs.
A good general rule is to wait for the pistils (white, wispy hairs on the buds) to turn brown and curl back in towards the bud. However, keep in mind that this method isn't always accurate since pistil color and trichome development aren't tied to each other.
For those who are serious about choosing the exact right time, you may want to invest in a magnifier so you can look at the glandular stalked trichomes (the "glitter" that grows on your buds), which gives you more information about when your buds are "ready."
Using a magnifier might seem tougher, but it's actually easy once you get the hang of it! More importantly, it ensures you're picking the right to to harvest your plants instead of just getting it 'in the ballpark'. This means that you're harvesting your bud at its highest potency in addition to getting the most yields.
Okay Method: Wait for the white hairs on your buds to start turning brown and curling in.
The Best Method: If you want to choose the perfect harvest time, get a magnifier and look at the trichomes.