Growing cannabis is highly rewarding and cost efficient compared to purchasing it yourself once you get the process down pat. Once you have the process and get some experience you can go from seed to joint in about 9 weeks. Although the time is based on a NUMBER of different factors, this is roughly the SOONEST you can through the entire process.
However, fastest isn’t always the best since they often lead to shorter yields. The ideal time frame tends to be about 4 months for a good combination of speed and yield. We’ll take you through an ideal growing process, hitting each important part and referring to other articles for more detail and for further reading and rsearch.
Selecting Your Space
Table of Contents
- 1 Selecting Your Space
- 2 Choosing your Plant & Strain
- 3 Seeds vs Clones
- 4 Germination
- 5 Growing Lights
- 6 HID Grow Lights
- 7 Cannabis Grow Mediums
- 8 Necessary Nutrients
- 9 Watering your Cannabis Plants
- 10 Vegatative State
- 11 Flowering State
- 12 Harvesting
- 13 Wrapping Up
When choosing your space you need to take a LOT of different factors into consideration. While space is key, it’s also not the important thing to consider.
Selecting a space where these are easily controlled (such as a grow tent or room) are always top choices.
One of the most important to consider is the lighting. You need a room that is light-tight – where you can easily control light coming in and out so basements are often great choices. Improper lighting can introduce light leaks which cause your plant to produce male flowers.
Other environmental aspects such as temperature and humidity are important to understand to maximize the growth of your plant. You want a dry and cool area with access to fresh air. You can learn about the ideal humidity here.
You’ll want a space that is easy to clean that has an easy to clean surface such as tile. Carpet or wood can be difficult to clean and therefore are less than ideal.
Choosing your Plant & Strain
Choosing your strain is important because it determiens the most important thing – what you’re somking! Now, if you know growers in real life then you can pretty easily get a plant. Or, if you know of dispensaries they are usually willing to sell you clones or seeds.
ALWAYS buy from a trusted source sot hat you can be sure of the genetics of the plant you’ll be growing. However, this isn’t always possible or feasible so ordering online from a breeder or seed bank is also a good option. Believe it or not, ordering online is safer than you think considering the fact that nobody has been jailed for purchasing seeds online from overseas.
Indica strains are known for acusing the body high. As for growing Indica they have a shorter flowering period and have high yields. They tend to mature faster and produce bud quicker than Sativa strains. Their leaves are fat and round.
Sativa strains are known for causing a mental high. They take longer to mature and therefore grow larger, but have more light requirements. You can also tell they are sativa because the plants have thin leaves that spread out like a hand.
Unfortunately, they tend to have lower yields and because of their height they are not ideal for growing indoors.
Hybrid Strains have a lot of variance as you might expect. They are bred to carry the best of both worlds of sativa and indica. However, when growing they’ll typically exhibit traits closer to one type over the other.
These strains come from the Ruderalis based strains and are easiest to grow since they will flower regardless of the light schedule. This makes them great for beginners or those who don’t necessarily have the time to rotate the lights.
They tend to have short life cycles and thus only grow to a few feet which means fast maturity rate, but generally low yields.
Seeds vs Clones
There are a lot of pros and cons of both seeds and clones. We won’t go over it in a lot of detail, but we’ll provide some basic information about both.
Buying from a reputable seed bank will get you a good idea on what you can expect from your plant.
You cou can also get them from almost anywhere – from other countries or your current one if you don’t know anyone in person. If you’re a first timer not knowing anyone in person is often a limiting factor, and seeds are good to get started with.
Getting feminized seeds means you’ll get 100% seeds and won’t have to worry about male plants that you’ll just throw away since only female plants actually produce bud.
One of the biggest cons is that you may have difficulty growing seeds. For example, not all fo them germinate (become plants) and if they are old or incorrectly stored then they may have issues growing as well.
Growing from seed also takes longer than if you grew from clones which makes sense since clones are existing mature plants and are already established.
One of the biggest cons involve cost – purchasing seeds for every crop can be expensive – especially if you’re going after a particular strain. This can be combatted with creating your own seeds from male + female plants, but there it still takes time and effort to cross plants together to make seeds.
With clones you get guaranteed gender – the clone will be whatever the parent plant was. Since the clone is an existing plant they have an edge on seeds in terms of growht and production since they are ready right away.
They’re also genetically identical to the mother plant so you know what exactly what to expect. There can be some very small differences between clones, but tregardless they will be very similar.
The biggest issue with clones is that they are hard to find. You can’t order them online, so you’ll have to know someone in real life to provide a clone.
Being genetically identical is a pro and con itself. Because they’re identical if the mother plant has issues such as disease the clone is likely to get it as well.
Not great for beginners since they are very sensitive to light.
Although this step isn’t needed for clones, not everybody is so unfortunate to have them. If you started with a seed you’ll need to germinate your seed to get to plant. This step is not easy and a mistake can cost you a plant.
Mastering germination is important so that you can have a successful crop. There are several methods, but we’ll discuss the 2 most popular ones.
Both have their pros and cons, but either one will work. However, we recommend the first if you are growing for the first time as you are less likely to make a mistake while the second one is a cheaper option better for those experienced.
The easiest way to germinate a seed is to use a special starter kit such as Rapid Rooter. They come with seeds so you don’t have to buy seeds in addition to nutrients. Once you have your Rapid Rooter just keep the cube damp (don’t soak the damn thing!) and warm. From there, it typically takes 2-10 days to germinate.
They tend to have an almost 100% success rate and work with both hydroponic or soil methods of growing. Once the cubes give sprout you can put them into the soil or your hydroponic system.
You’ll monitor closely as they get to the vegetative state, but Rapid Rooter will contain enough nutrients to get them there.
Paper Towel Method
If you’re looking for a free method beyond purchasing your seeds then the paper towel method is easy and affordable. All it requires are seeds, plates, paper towels, and soe water.
Just wet your paper towel (not soaking wet, but thoroughly wet) and fold your seeds in the paper towel, placing it all in a warm area.
Unfortunately, if you use this method then you can hurt the tap root, which is the initial sprout that comes from the seed. To prevent this be sure to be as careful as you can when you’re checking the towel and not to distrub the seeds.
Another risk of this method is if the towel dries then this can kill your new seeds. However, if you place the towel between 2 paper plates it will keep the moisture within and help to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Check every 10-12 hours to see if any have sprouted and to plant them right away.
Understanding the light your cannabis plants need is one of the most important factors to a good crop. Here, we’ll discuss which type of lights there are which ones you should choose (go with either HID or LED). However, it’s also exremely important to establish a light schedule before you start. This way, everything is organized and clear to you, making it great for new beginners.
Setting up lights themselves is a whole separate art. We suggest you go to this page to see the best way to set them up.
HID Grow Lights
High indensity discharge (HID) lights are what’s considered indusry best because they are affordable, efficient, and have good output.
-Metal halide Lamps produce a blue-white and are often used during vegetative growth
-High pressure sodium lights have a red-orange light and are used during the flowering stage of the plant.
Both are necessary to produce a healthy yield, but if you can only have one select High Pressure Sodium options since they are more efficient.
Although they are a bit more expensive than other options (such as incandescent or foluorescent) they are much more efficient, making them great options to save on long term costs. Despite this, the lights produce quite a bi tof heat so having ducting and exhaust fans are vital to properly control your temperature and keep the room from getting too hot.
Fluorescent Grow Lights
Although they aren’t the most efficient, fluorescent grow lights have low initial costs making them perfect for first time growers or those working on a smaller operation.
Despite the low start up costs their inefficiency causes them to produce roughly 25% less light per watt compared to other options, so these can cause large electricity bills. Another issue is that because they aren’t as efficient they require more space to provide the same amount of light.
LED Grow Lights
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights have been for a long time, but lately have become increasingly popular options to use for gardening. They are extremely efficient, but this comes at a cost – literally. A proper set up can cost x10 as much as a HID setup so the start up costs are not the most attractive if you go with LED Grow lights.
However, LED lights last a lot longer, use much less electricity, create less and heat, and can produce all types of light ( a full spectrum ) so you don’t have to buy multiple types of lights (like you do for LID) for a high yield.
While LED lights are seen as high quality lights make sure to do your research. Low quality LED lights are flooding the market to take advantage of the trend, so only buy those with a good reputation.
Induction Grow Lights
Induction Grow lights are moer efficient versions of the fluorescent bulb. However, they are more expensive (I hope you’ve noticed the trend that more efficient lights are more expensive) and they aren’t widely available. These issues cause them to not be very popular options.
Cannabis Grow Mediums
There are a TON of ways to grow your cannabis plant and some of them involve choosing different grow mediums. If you’re planting in the back yard make sure they aren’t treated with specific fertilizers that can impede growth.
Soil is the first and classic way to growing cannabis. It’s the most forgiving and flexible so if your’e a beginner or still getting the hang of it we suggest going with soil.
The best type of soil is getting organic pre-fertilized soil that is made specifically for cannabis plants. This “super soil” helps growers with their plants by providing as much nutrients a plant can ask for.
You can use a regular soil mix which is cheaper, but again – if youer’ a first time this can add another difficulty in growing your plant since you’ll have to manually maintain the soil and watch for nutrient depletion.
Experienced growers are starting to use hydroponic growing methods for cannabis cultivation. They typically involve a concentrated combination of easily digested mineral salt nutrients . This allows the roots to feed of them directly through osmosis.
Because the plants are getting the nutrients directly this causes faster growth and bigger yields. However, this is NOT the method for beginners since this requires a lot of attention. Plants grown hydroponically can react quickly and violently over/underfeeding and can be a victim of nutrient burn (being overfed) and lockout.
If you’re looking to venture into hydroponics we suggest using a commercial mix that can be purchased. This way, there are less things you need to test – you know it’s a well designed mix for your first crop of hydroponic Marijuana plants!
There are several key nutrients that are vital to high quality cannabis and a good yield. They are, in no particular order:
While these are the key 3 you also should not forget about:
If you’re using a purchased nutrient or soil mix then you won’t need to worry about these since they are enough to provide all necessary elements. However, for those who don’t will need to to adhere to a regular feeding schedule – typically about once a week or more. It’s best to purchase the aforementioned elements in wholesale, so that you can mix your own (if you go down that route, though we still encourage using commercial mixes if you’re new).
This way, you’ll be able to produce different types of compounds based on the plant stage. This is vital because early on in the plant’s life it’ll need more nitrogen, but later when it starts creating buds you’ll want to provide more phosphorus and potassium for a good yield.
To create your solution identify the stage of your plant and mix the nutrients with water. Go easy at first, since overfeeding tends to have more severe consequences such as experiencing nutrition burn. Provide less than necessary, and with experience you’ll slowly be able to determine when to add more when you need to as you learn how the plants express deficiencies or when they are being overfed.
Watering your Cannabis Plants
Naturally, watering your cannabis plants is crucial. However, the process isn’t as easy for cannabis plants as it is for other plants. For example, you can’t just use high quality water and expect it to be perfect for your plants. Depending on where you are, some tap water (such as hard water in Los Angeles) isn’t ideal cannabis since the plant roots might begin to absorb some of the elements in the water instead of soaking up key nutrients.
If there are a lot of minerals in your water this essentially changes your chemical compound, making it less than ideal for reasons we just talked about.
On the discussion of excess, you’ll also want to make sure you aren’t overwatering your plants. Like with overfeeding, overwatering can kill your plant by potentially getting root diseases, caused by overly humid or wet conditions. Overwatering is a top mistake beginners make, so be sure to not be too heavy handed with the water.
After germination and with your little love, your plant will soon grow its first set of leaves, which means it will be in its vegetative state. To quickly grow your plant you’ll want to expose it to lots of light (see the aforementioned light scheduling section/link) – about 18-24 hours of light a day if you’er growing indoors.
According to https://www.growingmarijuana.com/temperature-of-cannabis.php giving the plant lots of light will help it grow fastest, especially when temperature gets warmer (around 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal). That’s not the required temperature as your crop will grow in a wide range, but it is ideal.
Keep feeding your plant the necessary nutriets, making sure to prevent burn or nutrient lock out. When the plant starts growing rapidly you can introduce more nutrients, but look to provide only 1/2 to 3/4 depending on how it’s growing. If there are signs the plant is not getting enough nutrients (and you haven’t ruled out nutrient lock out).
Now that your plant has grown and has been getting tons of light, you’er going to want to reverse the cycle and give it more darkness so that it can start to flower and your plant will begin to make bud.
Your plant will now go through puberty and reveal it’s sex.
Female plants will have wispy white hairs at the top of branch joints, which are the pistils of her flowers and calyxes. Keep these.
Male plants will start growing balls or sacs that have no white hairs. If you keep yoru male plants they can impregnate the female plants, making them produce less bud and more seeds. That’s why most farmers will remove males – so that it won’t hurt the yield.
You may want to keep one male and female together if you want to create your own seeds, but leaving male plants with your whole creep of female plants will cause a bad yield.
Now that the plant is flowering you’ll want to keep the temperature cooler, around 65-80 degrees. This temperature will produce the best buds provided that you can give the plant the nutrients they need.
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for – harvest. But don’t harvest quite yet! You’ll want to make sure she’s ready. There’s a couple of ways to do this. While monitoring bud trichomes is the better of the two, combining both methods is really the best way to figure out when to harvest.
The best way to do this is to make sure new white hairs aren’t being produced. If they are, it means she’s still not fully mature. As she does mature though the buds will get quite fragrant.
Once you see roughly 4/10 of the originally white hairs are beginning to become darker and start curling in, you can expect to harvest soon as this is the beginning of the time. However, you’ll still want to wait a little bit.
When about half to 7/10 of the hairs are darker then this is when you’ll want to harvest for the highest THC levels.
However, if you are harvesting to reduce the anxiety effect you’ll wait a little longer for when 80%-90% have darkend and curled in.
Monitoring Bud Trichomes
Another, more precise method is to monitor the bud trichomes. A magnifying glass of 50x is ideal, and will allow you to watch and study how the trichomes grow and developed.
Once you see them begin to turn milky and some of them turn amber this is another indication that the plant is ready for a perfect harvest according to Dark Heart Nursery.
There you have it. The ultimate guide to growing cannabis detailing every step of the way. Have anything to add or have any questions? Drop a comment here!