As most of us are tinkering away indoors during quarantine it’s only natural to consider trying out your green thumb on your favorite plant: cannabis. Dispensaries are scrambling to meet demand as people are opting to stay indoors during Coronavirus and smoking more Mary Jane than ever before. It’s hard not to notice, especially when interruptions in the supply chain caused by the pandemic leave you with a limited variety, even more so when your favorite strain is not at your tried and true dispensary.
This makes it all the more appealing to try to grow marijuana yourself so you have a steady supply. There’s also nothing more satisfying than smoking your own bud, having nurtured it from just a seedling to a bushy canopy of resinous buds. Learning how to grow cannabis can be challenging since there is an overwhelming amount of material online and how-to guides on growing marijuana from seed that never seem to quite match up which is why we’ve tried to hit up the key points in this marijuana growing guide.
We’ll cover how to grow marijuana indoors, marijuana seeds, weed growing kits, marijuana grow tents, marijuana grow boxes and helpful marijuana grow books and videos worth checking out so you can finally smoke your very own homegrown Sour Diesel! Of course, this content is intended for adults of legal age and we do not condone any illegal activities.
Benefits of growing weed indoors over outdoors
Although growing weed indoors is more expensive than outdoors and requires more maintenance overall, the main advantage of growing marijuana indoors is that you’ll have full control of your environment, reducing the risk of contamination and generally producing buds with higher THC.
Factors that impact the plant quality and yield like temperature, light, humidity and CO2 levels can be easily adjusted indoors so it doesn’t matter if you live in Alaska or other environments that aren’t ideal for growing weed outdoors. Plus, you won’t have to worry about pests like raccoons munching on your delicious Cream & Cheese CBD flower. Likewise, you will benefit from multiple harvests since you can grow through winter and don’t have to fret about cloudy days.
If you don’t have a backyard or live in an apartment, it’s not a problem, weed grows pretty much anywhere as long as you’ve got a green thumb and give it the love, attention and nutrients it needs to stack up nicely with milky trichomes. People tend to prefer growing marijuana indoors since you’re building the optimal environment from the comfort of home where you have the utmost privacy and don’t have to worry about your judgy neighbors looking into your bushes or worse, a thief stealing it after you’ve nursed your marijuana plants to flower after weeks of nurturing.
How long does it take to grow weed
On average, it takes between 3-5 months to grow marijuana from seed but fast strains can take as little as 6-8 weeks.
In legal states like California you can find marijuana seeds for sale at a cannabis seed bank like the Seedsman where they provide details on genetics and THC content for each strain. You can choose between feminized cannabis seeds, autoflowering seeds, regular seeds. Most sites will also provide lists of high THC seeds, high CBD seeds along with Indoor and Outdoor varieties so you can get the perfect type for your specific grow setup.
Although you can go with standard seeds we highly suggest trying feminized seeds especially for first-time growers as they are designed to only produce females so you don’t have to go through the manual process of identifying the sex of your plant making cultivation that much easier. More importantly, all of your plants will be female instead of 50% male and 50% female with regular seeds so feminized seeds ensure higher yield in your available grow space, produce plants with higher amounts of THC and CBD and reduce the risk of fertilization which can ruin your crop.
Autoflowering seeds are used for multiple harvests and autoflowering strains can even be feminized. No matter which type of seed you go with, you’re going to want a plant that’s resilient to nutrients, easy to grow and ends up with a nice bud structure.
Marijuana grow lights
The most expensive part of your setup will most likely be lighting since marijuana plants need a light schedule change to induce flowering which by around week 6 is roughly 12 hours a day. There are three main grow lights for weed: fluorescent, HID and LED.
While you can most definitely opt for cheaper fluorescent lights, specifically ones with high output like T5 bulbs, these are significantly less efficient than the industry standard HID grow lights which produce more light per unit of electricity. Fluorescent lights generate nearly 30% less light per watt and require much more space to house so this is not ideal if you are working in a small space like a spare room or closet. On the upside, they do not require the cooling system like HID lights which need to be properly ventilated using exhaust fans to maintain a cool, optimal environment in your marijuana grow room for high quality flower.
Interestingly, there are two types of HID lights, one that’s best for vegetative growth and another for the flowering stage. Metal Halide (MH) used mainly in early cannabis growth gives off a blue-white light while High Pressure Sodium (HPS) produces a red-orange light that activates more growth as your plant starts to produce buds. While some people choose to use just one type of lamp, normally MH lights, their flowers tend to be smaller than when both lights are used together as these lights are imitating the light spectrum of the sun. Using both can give your flowers will not only produce larger buds but also give off a better taste and aroma.
On the other hand, LED lights generate a fuller spectrum of light than HID lamps, give off less heat and use less electricity overall but they are nearly 10x the cost and you may get duped into a deal that’s too good to be true so if you do decide to invest absolutely do your research ahead of time before throwing money down! Although LED are the best lights for growing weed, our pick is using both types of HID lights as they are the best quality for the cost.
Marijuana grow tent
Grow tents are relatively cheap around $70-$150 average, easy to set up, stealth, keep plants clean and help prevent pests from getting into your plants. Tents also allow for perpetual harvest if you want to keep one grow space for plants in the vegetative stage and another for flowering plants. In order to set up, you’ll put your weed grow tent in an ideal location, hang your grow light and exhaust fan, connect a carbon filter and check that everything is secure then you’re ready to get started!
Marijuana grow box
If you are looking for an all inclusive marijuana grow kit, many grow boxes come with chambers made for different stages of plant development, lighting, programmable lighting timers, irrigation system, filters, fans and pumps. Some even include the nutrients and grow mediums, simplifying cultivation. However weed growing kits like these are normally much more expensive than a grow tent, ranging from $1,500 – $4,000.
Marijuana grow books
There are thousands of grower’s guides but the best is from 1983 when people still had massive brick cell phones. Cervantes is the leading expert on cannabis cultivation and his marijuana grow bible is as relevant today as it was then. He covers everything from germination, lighting, soil, plant life cycle, tips for harvesting, cloning, creating cannabis extracts, cannabis strains and growing indoors versus outdoors. Great for hobbyists and commercial growers alike, Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible, is a book that should be on every true stoners shelf.
How to grow marijuana plant from seed steps
This guide is for two marijuana plants using the strain of your choice. We highly recommend checking out this amazing video tutorial which goes through each step in detail: From Seed to Stoned. You can find the measurements below under the heading Hydroponics Measurements Schedule.
There are numerous methods to germinate seeds; however, one of the easiest is the paper and towel method. First, you will place seeds in a glass of water in a dark and relatively warm room for 18-24 hours. You’ll know that the seeds are ready once they have drifted to the bottom of the jar. Take a few paper towels and pour out seeds on top. It’s important to moisten the seeds evenly without drowning them. Every 4-8 hours check to make sure that they are moist, not dry. As in the first step, keep them in a dark room for 2 days. After day 2 you should see the sprouted taproots and once these are ¾-inch long, they are ready to plant.
Fill starter pots with the medium of your choice. You can use soil which is the most traditional or hydroponics (soilless) which instead uses concentrated solutions whereby plants absorb nutrients by osmosis through their roots. This is a good option if time is of the essence and you’re looking for fast growth along with higher yields; however, you’ll need to be much more exact with your measurements and timing.
We suggest using coco coir mixed with perlite at a 70/30 ratio. Use your finger to create a small hole, place the seeds inside with the taproots down, gently cover with coco coir and moisten with water at a pH of 6.1.
Place inside marijuana tent
Since young cannabis plants love high humidity we suggest using a cannabis tent with a humidifier. If you’re not looking to break the bank on a humidifier, you can alternatively place a plastic cup or bottle over the seed. It’s really important not to feed your seeds nutrients for the first week as they are highly sensitive to these powerful concentrated solutions and don’t require feeding until the second week or so once they start to get bigger and appear to have reached what is called a “hydroponics florabloom”.
Transfer plants to larger pots (Wk 2+)
Once the plants are two weeks or so old transfer them to the final 5 gallon sized pots. Water young plants once every 2-3 days whenever you notice that your medium begins to dry out. Since Coco coir is a hydroponic medium it is hard to over water but extremely easy to overfeed so don’t overdo it! One of the additional benefits of using Coco coir is just how easy it is to flush out when the toxicity is high so keep this in mind if you notice that your plants’ growth is stifled.
Low stress training (Wk 3+)
Begin low stress training to expose lower growth sites and create more tops on plants which will help build an even canopy. Start by drilling a hole through the side and bend over the main stem securing it down with wire tie. You will bend the main stalk in circular shape around the pot while pushing down the new shoots, making sure to do so in a way that doesn’t stun your plants.
Water and tend to branches (Wk 5)
Every 2-3 days when watering your plants develop the canopy by moving branches without defoliating anything.
Lighting to induce flowering (Wk 6)
Your plants need a schedule change by around week six in order to induce flowering with 12 hours light followed by 12 hours of darkness. We suggest using a plug timer so you’re consistent. Make sure that the light hangs just 4 inches above the canopy which will help your flowers bloom faster. If you run into overheating issues, you can run the light at night when temperature is lower. Within a week you should notice pistols popping from nodes which means that your plants are female.
Change your humidifier out for a dehumidifier if you have one. Using a method called lollipopping you’ll remove the lower branches and leaves which forces your plants to focus its energy on upper growth. This is beneficial because buds lower on your plant tend to be smaller and don’t ripen up by time the plant is ready for harvest. One week later you should see bud sites starting to pop up, trichomes on the sugar leaves and canopy filling with nicely sized cannabis colas.
Flush out nutrients (Wk 7)
When using synthetic nutrients we highly suggest that during the last two weeks of the flowering to only feed pH balance water without any nutrients. Plants eat what is already been stored in its leaves and flush out these solutions naturally.
You’ll start to see the fan leaves fade out and turn yellow which is completely normal and means that the flush has been successful; however, branches may start to flop over because they are not able to support the weight of buds. To combat this, you can use hemp twine to tie up colas to a line above at the top of the tent similar to a clothesline.
Check the trichomes (Wk 8)
We recommend using a usb microscope which will allow you to see the trichomes closeup. It’s also insanely cool to see the trichomes in detail! Remember to harvest based on trichome color, not pistol color. When trichomes are milky that means that the plant is the strongest for THC and when they begin to amber it means that CBD levels are increasing. The blend is ultimately up to you but 70% milky, 30% amber generally is optimal but make sure to check both the tops and bottoms of plants thoroughly before you decide to harvest.
Harvest time baby (Wk 8)
By week eight your flower should be ready for harvest. Use garden loppers or a good pair of scissors to clip stem from medium. Once cut, release the lines attached to the cannabis colas and hang your plants upside down. Make sure that your plants are getting enough ventilation by placing a fan closeby to circulate air through the tent and help the plant dry. Do not blast the plant with air directly.
If you can, add a humidifier to help maintain 55% relative humidity. It can take about 14 days for your plants to fully dry and you’ll know that they are ready when you bend a branch and it snaps without completely breaking off.
Take plants down to trim. First remove the fan leaves by hand, then use sheers as you progress.
Once your bud is trimmed, place them into jars lightly packing each to the top to begin curing. Feel free to add a temp monitor so that you know the humidity levels. Chlorophyll breaks down and release gases as cannabis cures so if it isn’t properly vented moisture can build up and buds can become moldy, giving off a bad smell. Each day for 15 minutes open the lid so that it can breathe. The following week open jars once a day.
Keep in a cool environment shaded from light. If the buds start to smell like hay it means that there is still moisture inside and they need more dry time so remove for an hour before sealing back into jars. Now light one up to celebrate!
Hydroponics measurements schedule
Our hydroponic nutrient program includes Cal-mag, Micro, Gro and Bloom. All solutions are added together into one gallon of water. It’s important to break up feeds from time to time with plain watering so we suggest watering every other feeding to reduce salt build-up which can be caused by synthetic nutrients.
Additionally, the pH levels are also important to consider, in particular, coco should have a pH between 5.5-6.5 although 5.7-6.1 is optimal and soil should be slightly higher between 6.0-6.8. Week-by-week breakdown:
- Cal-Mag – 2ml
- Micro – 1ml
- Gro – 1ml
- Bloom – .5ml
- Cal-Mag – 2ml
- Micro – 2.5ml
- Gro – 2.5ml
- Bloom – 1ml
- Cal-Mag – 2ml
- Micro – 2ml
- Gro – 1ml
- Bloom – 2ml
- Cal-Mag – 2ml
- Micro – 2ml
- Gro – .5ml
- Bloom – 2ml
- Cal-Mag – 0ml
- Micro – 2ml
- Gro – 0ml
- Bloom – 4ml
Now you have an idea of the marijuana growing supplies you’ll need to start and detailed steps on how to grow a weed plant so you’re well on your way to growing bud yourself! If you have any suggestions based on your personal experience please let us know in the comments! More stoner guides to come!