Growing Cannabis Basics
Cannabis plants are weeds with simple needs. Your cannabis plants will grow as long as you give them the right amount of the following resources..
In order to thrive and grow, your weed needs…
Whether growing marijuana plants indoors or outdoors, you will need to ensure that it gets the proper amount of these six resources. You will be rewarded with big colas!
What’s The Most Common New Grower Mistake? Lack of Research
One of the most common mistakes made by new weed growers is to conduct spur-of-the-moment experiments and hurt or even kill their plants.
You should always at least do a quick google search before you try any new technique.
For example, it may seem like a good idea to give your growing cannabis Miracle-Gro nutrients, or plant your seeds in the original Miracle-Gro soil you have laying around the house. Unfortunately the standard Miracle-Gro formula does not contain the right ratio of nutrients for cannabis, especially during the budding stage. Using original Miracle-Gro nutrients during flowering can hurt your plants and dramatically reduce yields.
But how could you possibly know that unless you look it up first?
Suggestion: Harvest Your First Plant Before Trying Any Experiments
You don't want to lose your entire crop to something that has already been tried before and proven not to work, so make sure you do a little research and experiment with caution and moderation.
Another common problem new growers have is the tendency to skip crucial steps like maintaining a proper pH or getting the right kind of nutrients. While you can get lucky and succeed at growing weed without taking these steps, you are a lot more likely to end up plants that die or just never produce any buds.
It can actually be really easy to grow marijuana with the right info. It’s like growing any other plant. You follow a proven set of steps, and before you know it, you’ll be harvesting your first buds.
Start by reading this simple cannabis grow guide and you will soon have all the knowledge you need to start producing your own potent buds today!
Light Needs (Cannabis needs more light than most houseplants)
Many cannabis growers like to grow outdoors. Outdoor growers need a accessible, private space that gets 8+ hours of direct sunlight a day for the best results.
Outdoor growers need 8+ hours of direct sunlight a day
Cannabis plants grow very fast in a short amount of time, and need a lot of energy from the light to grow and produce buds. In the wild, a cannabis plant can grow to the size of tree in less than a year, and it uses energy from light to power that growth.
Many new growers who want to grow indoors like the idea of growing their cannabis plant in a sunny window, like a houseplant. Usually the light from a window won’t be enough. While young cannabis plants seem to be able to grow in bright, sunny windows, cannabis plants usually don’t ever produce more than a few wispy hairs during the flowering stage, and may not produce any bud at all. Without any flowers/bud, you’re out of luck.
Indoor growers almost always need grow lights to get buds
Indoors, nearly all growers will need some type of grow light for successful cannabis growth.
Indoor growers usually put their grow lights with a timer to simulate the sun. This makes it easy to turn on and off the lights for each “day” so grow lights are more automated. There are many different sized grow lights, from the CFL light bulbs you already use in your house to bigger, more specialized grow lights that produce pounds of bud at a time.
There are indoor growing options for nearly everyone, even if you're on a budget or only have a small space to work with, whether you want to grow in a bucket or a whole room.
Indoor growers need a private space and grow lights
Two Stages of Life: Vegetative & Flowering
Here’s the cannabis life cycle in the wild...
Why is this important?
Cannabis plants go from seed to death in just one year, and they have a certain order for their life stages. This is very important for you to understand as a grower.
As far as a grower is concerned….
Young/Vegetative ⇒ Budding/Flowering ⇒ Harvest
A plant will keep growing vegetatively (just stems and leaves) as long as the plant “believes” it is early spring or summer. Outdoors this happens naturally as the seasons change. Indoors, growers put grow lights on a timer to “tell” the plant when to start flowering.
Cannabis Life Stages
Vegetative - stems and leaves
Flowering - making buds / flowers
It seems simple, and it is! Just remember that there are two stages of life for cannabis, first the vegetative stage, and then the flowering stage (which is followed by harvest).
Male & Female Cannabis Plants
Cannabis plants have a gender. Each plant grows into a “male” or “female” plant. Although about half of plants are male or female, only female cannabis plants produce bud. Getting rid of male cannabis plants also prevents pollination (and seeds).
Most growers are only interested in growing female plants so they can harvest the bud.
Female Cannabis Plants Produce Buds
Cannabis plants first show their sex at the end of the vegetative stage or at the beginning of the flowering stage.
Male cannabis plants only produce pollen sacs, no buds, and few male plants produce a significant amount of THC or other cannabinoids.
That's worth repeating. Male weed plants do not produce buds with THC. Most growers throw them away on sight.
Male Cannabis Plants Do Not Produce Bud
There is no way to determine the gender of a plant initially, just by looking at the seeds, or even by looking at young plants.
Both male and female cannabis plants look exactly the same until they start flowering. There used to be myths and tricks on how to tell male from female plants from a young age, but none actually works 100% of the time. To this day, even scientists are not exactly sure what causes some plants to become male, and some plants to become female.
For most growers, you will need to identify the gender of your plants as soon as possible and remove any males promptly, before they contaminate your females.
How to Get Seeds or Clones - Choosing the Right Strain
The two most popular ways to get cannabis seeds or clones is in person or via online seed banks.
If you want to to reduce the uncertainty and make sure you always grow incredible-quality cannabis, you need to start with great genes.
Just like with animals, the way your cannabis plants turn out will have a lot to do with the genetics they started life with. Each cannabis plant is a mixture of the traits from its two parents.
Because genetics have such a huge impact on your results, it is important to know a little bit about the genetics of the plant you're working with.
There are three main strains or types of cannabis: indica, sativa, and hybrid strains (hybrid strains are a mix of indica and sativa).
These types are not set in stone. Nearly all cannabis strains you run into with be some sort of hybrid. Some strains lean more indica, others lean more Sativa. Some are a class of their own. I’ve heard some people consider "Haze" to be a strain type, though it's sometimes considered part of the "Sativa" family.
There is also a very important other type of cannabis; “Ruderalis” or “auto-flowering” strains.
Let me explain...
Indica, Sativa & Hybrids (plus Auto-flowering) Strains
Indica strains tend to cause more of a body high and tend to grow shorter and bushier.
Sativa strains tend to cause more of a cerebral or mental high. Sativas grow larger, have higher light requirements, and take longer to mature than indica plants so a sativa strain of cannabis may need special plant training to be suited for growing indoors. Sativas often have thin, finger-like leaves while indicas have fatter, rounder leaves.
It is often simplest to grow marijuana plants that are a hybrid strain because they have been bred to carry the best traits of both sativa and indica.
Auto-flowering or “Ruderalis” strains
Auto-flowering means these strains will start flowering regardless of its light schedule. These strains are usually a famous strain that has been bred to carry the “auto-flowering” characteristic. When growing with Ruderalis-based cannabis strains such as the Lowryder, you can give the plant up to 18 hours of light a day for the whole grow, and your plant will be ready to harvest in about 3 months. Because of their short lifecycle, Ruderalis cannabis stains generally do not grow taller than 1-2 feet.
If you're researching what strain of cannabis to grow, pay close attention to the light requirements, grow times, etc. to make sure that it is a good match for your grow area.
Viable cannabis seeds are usually hard and dark colored. If you have cannabis seeds which are small and white, they are often immature and won't germinate.
Example of Good Cannabis Seeds
Healthy seeds can be stored in your fridge until you're ready to use them, but it is not recommended that you freeze your seeds. Seeds which are kept in a cool, dry place away from light will remain viable for five years or even longer!
Sometimes you will find good seeds in marijuana that you have purchased (these seeds are called "bagseed") which can definitely be used to start growing.
The downside of using seeds that you find in the bud you got from your local weed dealer is that about half of the seeds will end up being male, and only half will end being female. You also don’t know what to expect as far as how the plant will tend to grow.
Still, many growers also start growing cannabis with bagseed that they’ve collected. This is a greatway to get started growing, and many growers have happily made it to harvest with bagseed.
Some growers get very lucky with bagseed, and end up with great results. But sometimes growers end up growing buds that are nothing like the ones the seeds were found in.
Already have your seeds? Get started with germinating your cannabis seeds.
Whenever possible, get a trusted strain for best results!
It is actually safe and reliable to buy your marijuana seeds online from a reputable seed source. The biggest problem for USA residents ordering online is the long wait time - nearly all cannabis seed sources are located overseas. I’ve had seeds take a month or longer to make it through customs and arrive to my door. Yet as long as you choose to get guaranteed delivery from your seed source, you know that they will always eventually come, even if it takes twice as long as expected.
Getting seeds online will allow you to purchase feminized (all-female) seeds and will also let you pick the exact strain to match your size and time requirements. This can be helpful when setting up your grow space.
Clones are an exact copy of another plant. When starting with a clone, you can expect the plant to grow and produce buds in a very similar way to the mother plant it came from. This can be helpful to growers because they know exactly what to expect.
In order to get cannabis clones, you will need to know someone who already has cannabis plants. As far as I know, there’s no way to consistently order cannabis clones online. The only online way to get cannabis plants is by ordering seeds.
You may be able to buy cannabis clones from your local medical marijuana dispensary if you have a recommendation for marijuana from your doctor in a medical state. Unfortunately this option isn’t available for a lot of new growers. One of the great things about starting with seeds is anyone can do it..
Starting with a cannabis clone can save you a couple of weeks to a month compared to starting with seeds because they have a head start on growth.
Using clones instead of regular seeds guarantees the gender of your weed plant because the clones have the exact same genetics as their parent plant including gender.
If you already have female plants, you can clone them to make more plants (copies) without ever having to worry about sexing your plants or creating seeds.
If you're starting out with a clone, you want to treat it gently for the first day or two that you have it. If your clone hasn't established roots yet, then you want to make sure that it stays moist and gets gentle light (like from fluorescent tubes) until it develops some roots.
New cannabis clones like warm, wet conditions. Think springtime.
Before your clones have made roots, they to get water through their leaves right until roots have formed. A humid cloner works great for getting clones to root, or you can mist your plants a few times a day until they start forming roots. Some growers will use a heating pad under their clones to help keep things warm. A little warmer than room temperature 72-77 °F (22-25 °C ) is perfect. Many automatic cloners come with a heat setting.
If your clone has already established its roots, then you can put it in its new home with your grow lights a bit further away than normal.
Only give your clone just a little bit of water at first with either no nutrients or a highly diluted nutrient solution. It's tempting to want to put your lights close to the new baby and give it nutrients because you want to do everything you can to make sure it does okay.
However, in the very beginning, less is more for your clone. Your recently-moved clone is more sensitive to heat and light than an established plant, and putting it in a completely new environment can be stressful. It's important to check on your clone frequently during its first 24 hours to make sure there isn't any unforeseen problems such as it tipping over.
Once the clone has started really growing (usually after a couple of days) then you can put your lights closer and start feeding it with full-strength nutrients. At this point you basically treat the clone like a cannabis plant in the vegetative stage (first stage of life).
Electricity Use (For Indoor Growers)
For small-scale growers, the difference in your electric bill might not be that noticeable. For some of the bigger grow lights, the electric bill can grow quite a bit, especially when using AC units. Yet even with the cost of electricity, it’s usually far cheaper for people to grow their own cannabis indoors than to purchase it.
A 600W grow light (one of the larger types of grow lights) uses about the same electricity as a refrigerator.
Each person has different electricity rates depending on where they way to live, but let me give you an idea with my grow setup. I live in an expensive city in California and have a 600W light, carbon filter, AC unit and a powerful fan. All that uses about $100/month in electricity, and can produce more than a pound of buds at harvest more than twice/year. That’s more than 3 ounces (85 grams) each month for just $100. And I live in a hot area with expensive electricity.
For me, growing indoors saves handfuls of money compared to buying buds, even with the cost of electricity.
For growers who want smaller amounts of cannabis, it’s easy to scale down your growing operation to suite your needs. A space bucket can cost just $100 to set up, a few bucks of electricity each month, and produce up to an ounce of buds at harvest. For some growers, this is more than enough.
It’s important to understand what you want and get in touch with your growing expectations. This will help you choose the right growing setup.
Outdoors, the starting cost is generally less than indoors - no grow lights or electricity, just soil and sunlight - but the hard part about growing outdoors is finding a good spot that’s private, convenient for you to get to, with easy access to water, and 8+ hours of direct sunlight every day.
Outdoors: Free - $200
Indoors, your cost depends on your setup and what you’re looking for. If you want to harvest an ounce here and then, it may cost very little to get started, even just $100 (check out space buckets).
For a premium indoor setup with a grow tent, grow light, fan, plus growing supplies, you’re looking at spending $800 - $1500 to grow a few plants. A setup like this can yield several ounces or even a pound of bud at harvest.
Indoors: $100 - $1500+