A Guide to Growing Cannabis
Do you consider yourself a cannabis connoisseur? Are you constantly filling your shopping cart with new products? There are so many awesome types of cannabis on the market that you will never run out of options. But as you've browsed a dispensary's inventory, perhaps you've thought about growing some of your own plants. After all, there's something incredibly gratifying about nurturing plant life. It could be a fun experiment. But where do you even begin?
Where you begin is right here. Are you excited to work your green thumb? If so, roll up those sleeves and keep reading, because we've got the tips you need to start growing cannabis.
Whether you're a gardening expert or you've never planted anything in your life, you should be able to grow your own cannabis without breaking a sweat. Well, maybe you'll get a little sweaty. But it's pretty simple to cultivate cannabis with a little bit of practice. Just know that depending on size, growing method, and strain, you'll be looking at anywhere from 10 to 32 weeks for your plants to be ready for harvesting.
A good place to start is, well, finding a place to start. Growing outside won't require nearly as much money or equipment, as it's the most natural way to raise cannabis plants. Of course, not everyone has enough outdoor space, nor does everyone live in an area where their crops will receive adequate sunlight. Growing inside, however, puts you in command, so you can cultivate however and whenever you want. This is also an ideal method, as cannabis tends to be more potent and of a higher quality when it's raised indoors. Regardless, some strains thrive outside, while others are better suited for the conditions of an indoor environment. The size of your space is something you need to consider as well, as this will help you figure out what type of cannabis you should plant.
Purchasing a grow tent is a wise investment, as it's easy to assemble and designed to turn any space in your home into the perfect greenhouse for cannabis. Having the right grow light is also important. Look for a solid HID, CFL, or LED lighting setup and pick up a timer to maintain a consistent on/off schedule. We prefer LEDs because they don't get as hot as other lighting options. Whatever you buy, keep in mind that your lights shouldn't exceed 1000 watts. An exhaust fan that's compatible with the size of your tent, along with activated carbon filters, will control the smell and keep things from getting too hot. Because wind and air circulation are vital for growing cannabis, it's important to use a clip-on circulating fan when cultivating indoors. You'll also want a hygrometer and thermometer to measure heat and humidity.
You're going to need a lot of power to run all this equipment, so check outlet availability and maybe even invest in an additional subpanel to support the extra energy consumption. We recommend consulting with an electrician for such an installation.
Last — and most importantly — you'll need some seeds and soil. You can go with a hydroponic system or large buckets (about 3 to 5 gallons each should do) with a nice, loose soil mix. If you go with the latter option, make holes in the bottoms of the buckets and place planter saucers underneath.
Cannabis seeds can be purchased from a dispensary or ordered online, and buying the right nutrients will be essential for growing healthy plants. You can also use what's called a clone, which is when you chop off a piece from a cannabis plant and use it to grow your crops. Naturally, as the term suggests, this will yield a genetically identical strain. Like seeds, clones can be purchased from dispensaries.
Germinate Your Seeds
Once you have everything you need, you're ready to germinate. To begin, dampen a folded paper towel on a plate with clean, filtered water. Put the seeds on the towel about an inch apart from each other, then cover with another damp paper towel. You don't want it too wet, so check underneath to ensure there isn't excess water on the plate. After that, keep the seeds in a warm, dark enclosure for one to five days. At that point, taproots should sprout from your seeds, meaning they're ready for planting.
Carefully place your seeds into the soil with the taproots toward the ground and cover them up. Bring your lighting setup close, gradually raising it as the plants grow. They'll need 18 hours of light a day, which you can regulate with your timer. The ideal temperature will be anywhere from 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity should be 50% to 70% (invest in a humidifier/dehumidifier to ensure this percentage). It's usually better to have temperatures on the lower end, so you may want to keep an open tent with your fan blowing cool air inside while allowing hot air from the lights to escape.
Feeding and Watering
So, your equipment is all set up and your seeds are planted. Now you'll need to give your seedlings water and vegetative nutrients.
Cannabis doesn't like to be overwatered or overfed. With that said, it’s better to underestimate than overestimate. Follow the instructions that come with your nutrients package for proper serving amounts and frequency. As for water, it's good to let the plants get thirsty (but not too thirsty) to encourage stronger roots. Different environmental conditions will largely determine how much you should water your plants, though you'll want to adjust this amount throughout the growth cycles.
They Grow Up so Fast!
As your plants continue to grow, you'll want to prune them for maximum yield. Begin early on and trim frequently right above where you see fresh shoots. Cut away excess leaves under the top two layers, which will be pointing toward the cannabis' inside. You will also want to trim the branches below the halfway point, as they don't really get a lot of light and will draw energy from the main buds. Focus on the three nodes at the top of every branch and cut the rest. Clip the primary central branch's tip, as it will not only double when it regrows, but it encourages nice, even growth. Keep pruning until your plants reach the flowering phase, and as your cannabis grows taller, make sure to bend it away from the light to prevent the buds from burning.
The amount of time you allow your plants to vegetate depends on the size of each container, though this tends to be the longest phase within the growth cycles. In general, it's a good idea to give it a week for every gallon. After that, you can induce the flowering stage by reducing your plants' time in the light to 12 hours each day. Once you've reset your timer to this pattern, you must commit. Any deviation from the 12-hour on/off cycle will negatively affect their growth.
You'll want to switch the nutrients you feed your plants to a formula designed for blooming. The watering and feeding schedule should be altered during this phase as well. When your plants are about two weeks from maturing, it's time to start flushing them with fresh water. And when they've got one or two days left before they're ripe for picking, you'll stop watering completely — though you don't want them to dry out entirely.
Ready to Harvest
How do you know when your cannabis plants have fully matured? Usually, they will go through the flowering stage for about two months before they're ready to go. Look to the trichomes, which give cannabis a frosted appearance. You'll want to use some sort of magnifying tool to see them clearly, and if they are cloudy white with a very small amount of amber (around 5% to 10%), your plants are ripe for the picking. If you wait too long, all the trichomes will turn amber.
Once you've harvested your crops, you'll want to trim, then dry, then cure for some buds that are ready for the pipe. Cannabis has an annual lifecycle, so you'll have to plant new crops every year.
A word of warning: Before you get too excited and start purchasing all your supplies, remember that you can't just grow cannabis anywhere. Such a practice is illegal in some states, so before you begin sewing those seeds, make sure to familiarize yourself with state law. Even if it's legal to grow cannabis where you live, there are certain rules you have to follow.
Once you've reviewed the cannabis laws in your state, so long as it's legal to do so, start planting those seeds and get to work! When you're finished, you can reward yourself by enjoying the fruits of your labor!