Growing Marijuana: Step-by-Step Guide
So, you wanna learn how to grow your own pot? Well, you’re in luck! Despite popular belief that cannabis a hard plant to grow, there’s a reason cannabis is called ‘ weed ’! Soon, you will be growing your own recreational or medicinal marijuana easy.
Steps to Growing Your Own Pot
This guide was written for marijuana enthusiasts who want a cheap way of growing cannabis plants without the tents, timing, and grow lights . It’s a small step towards greater accessibility for marijuana home growing. So, flip a middle finger to big corporations, break up with your dispensary, and step into the world of DIY weed growing at home– OG style. Growing sticky, smelly cannabis buds is easier and way more rewarding than you think!
And there are grow kits that make it easy and accessible. The truth is that there are more ways to cultivate cannabis than there are names for the plant. And every method can grow great, healthy plants. For example, hydroponics might yield more , while soil will grow stronger buds, aeroponics will grow the fastest, and there’s no replacement for growing marijuana outdoors. It’s as easy to overload yourself with options as it is to add too much fertilizer to your nutrient mix. Below, we describe how to do it naturally and with little work on the grower’s part.
Of course, if you can’t be bothered to read this entire guide, check out aPotforPot.com . They have a complete marijuana grow kit designed to make the weed farming life easy for you. Get started immediately, and if you get lost during your grow, email the stellar support team for a helping hand at [email protected] .
Step 1 – Pick the Best Marijuana Seeds for You
Cannabis genetics are important to consider when planning your grow. Most cannabis consumers are familiar with the idea of Cannabis indica vs. Cannabis sativa . They understand how an indica -dominant strain is typically more relaxing and that sativa -dominant strains are known for their abilities to energize the mind and aid your creativity superpowers.
However, many people don’t understand the difference between autoflowering cannabis and photoperiod cannabis , aka regular flowering cannabis. Understanding these two options makes a big difference when selecting a 1st time strain based on how easy it is to grow. For beginners, we love autoflowers !
Autoflowering Cannabis vs. Photoperiod Cannabis
The key difference between autoflowering and regular flowering cannabis is how (and when) the plant’s flowering cycle begins. Simply put, autoflowering cannabis automatically starts its flowering cycle, while photoperiod waits for the correct light vs. dark period (12 hours light / 12 hours dark) to flower.
Autoflowering is Easy for Beginners
By far, the easiest and cheapest plant to grow for beginner growers is autoflowering cannabis . It comes from the species Cannabis ruderalis . This type of cannabis flowers, as the name suggests, automatically.
Once the cannabis plant is a few feet tall, or about 30 days after she pops out of the dirt, she starts her flowering cycle. Autoflowering cannabis is typically ready to harvest in 80 days from seed— regardless of her light schedule. This means the autoflowering cannabis growing season is year-round! Autoflowering cannabis seamlessly integrates into your home and plant family. Make it easy on yourself and go this route.
We love these types of seeds so much that our Grow Kits include a $40 discount coupon on autoflowering seeds from our friends at ILGM.com .
Photoperiod Cannabis Can Produce More Marijuana
Commercially – grown marijuana or those grown by seasoned growers are typically regular flowering marijuanas plants. More specifically, they are photoperiod cannabis. These, under the right growing conditions, are the giants of the pot world– with the potential to grow 16 feet (or taller) and harvest 10 pounds of dried pot off a single plant.
This species of cannabis starts her flowering cycle when she starts receiving equal hours of sunlight and darkness. This means if you are growing this type of pot indoors, the plant needs to consistently receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to release the necessary hormones to begin flowering. This is why many people that grow photoperiod cannabis indoors opt for grow tents or dedicated grow rooms.
Before flowering, these plants savor what is known as the vegetative stage. This is when the plant enjoys more hours of light than darkness. Indoors, this is typically 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. During this phase and light cycle, a photoperiod plant will continue to grow in size without flowering.
Growing Photoperiod Cannabis Requires More Work and Investment
Growing marijuana outdoors, this specific lighting need is why photoperiod plants flower in the fall and can grow to such staggering heights. They grow all summer long in a vegetative stage until the start of fall, when there is less light, which triggers them into flowering. Indoors, a grower needs to control this light cycle to avoid confusing the plants. Addling light when the plant thinks it is nighttime can ruin a whole crop. Light leaks are a common mistake. If it’s your first time growing cannabis, this will be a bit more of a challenge to keep up. It’s also going to be a bigger investment to start growing, as well as a lot more work.
Take it from a seasoned grower: If this is your first time learning how to grow, autoflowering strains are more stress-free, cheaper, and easier to maintain. Autoflowering cannabis seeds are the best way to grow yourself some weed at home — without all the fuss.
Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
Grow with the Sun
Grow Year Round
Seed Coupon Included
Online Grow Support
Harvest up to a pound
Indica vs. Sativa Growing Styles
Cannabis ruderalis and photoperiod cannabis both have strains that lean towards either indica or sativa dominance. The experience post-consumption and their growth traits are the same for both photoperiod cannabis and autoflowering cannabis.
For example, Jack Herer Autoflower genetically is a predominantly sativa plant . This plant will grow larger and might take a little longer to finish than her indica-dominant counterpart. Indica-dominant plants, like Wedding Cake Autoflower , tend to stay relatively short, reaching 4 feet tall at most. They are squat, stubby little weed plants with wide leaves. Sativa plants tend to be tall, stretchy plants with thin, narrow leaves.
If your goal is to grow one small cannabis plant, you should grow some of the best autoflowering strains, such as OG Kush, Cheese Strains, Northern Lights or Girl Scout Cookies. Indica-dominant autoflowering cannabis plants typically grow to around 2 to 4 feet tall. This makes them great for growing in gardens adjacent to nosey neighbors!
Autoflowering sativa plants grow much taller. Many will grow past 4 feet, and some reach 6 feet tall. If you grow sativa-dominant plants outdoors, plan on sharing these amazing plants with your neighbors!
Step 2: Select Your Grow Location
Cannabis grows well in a variety of environments, and they are remarkably tough plants. As a grower, you just need to keep your grow space clean and let the plants do the work.
When learning to grow autoflowering weed strains, the number of factors that can go wrong dramatically decreases compared to photoperiod cannabis. If your goal is to grow a single cannabis plant, then the number of locations you can grow without risking your crop increases with autoflowers. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a $1000 grow tent setup to grow some good cannabis – all you need is sunlight and good water.
Growing Your Plant Inside
You can grow the best cannabis indoors or outdoors. A good indoor setup for weed provides total control over the growing conditions. Indoor growers have a lot of responsibility — you become Mother Nature! Your cannabis plants depend entirely on you to meet all of its needs – including light, humidity, airflow, temperature, food, and water. Unfortunately, it can be expensive to get all the right equipment, plus you must consider the cost of ongoing electricity.
Growing Your Plant Outside
Alternatively, you could grow your cannabis plants outside. This option is less expensive because nature does most of the work, such as providing sunlight. And cannabis plants love the natural sunlight because it boosts their immune systems. There is no replacement for the sun. If you are just getting your feet wet, doing a combination of indoors and outdoors is a great way to start.
There are some drawbacks to an outdoor plant, however. Growing marijuana outdoors isn’t as private as many people would prefer, and growers often have to contend with the risk of stolen plants, animal attacks, or the wandering eye of your neighbor, who is now working from home.
In summary, you’ll need to consider your budget. Weigh the pros and cons of growing pot indoors or outdoors before you start growing. Then, select the option that works best for you and your specific situation.
Growing Cannabis as a Houseplant
Autoflowering cannabis can be grown as a houseplant, just put her in the sunniest spot in your house and let her rip. This method of growing cannabis is best if you are just looking to grow and don’t have high expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect something.
With 4 to 6 hours of direct sun, you can yield a surprising amount of cannabis. And since the cost of starting with just a pot is just some soil, a seed, and the sun, the investment will for sure payout in the green.
Cannabis in a Grow Tent
People typically grow marijuana indoors in a grow tent or dedicated grow room. The goal is to optimize the plant’s environment and blast the plant with as much light as she can handle so you can yield the most amount of cannabis per square foot. Although, as most cannabis growers will tell you, locking a 600-watt HPS grow light in a 5x5x7 grow tent will give you more problems than you’d expect. Heat, humidity levels, airflow, and pest management practices are all things to consider and plan for. (Yes, indoor grows are just as likely to get bugs as outdoor.)
If you plan to grow in one of these environments, we suggest setting aside no less than a $700 budget for the tent, lights, fans, timers, and control boxes you will need, plus an extra $80 a month in power bills. Keep in mind this is a pretty hefty investment if you’re just looking to grow a small amount of cannabis. However, if you are looking to make some cheddar from the cheese you are growing, this is a good way to learn to grow your own sticky icky before scaling up. We all know that commercial cannabis will never be as good as homegrown goods grown with love and detail to attention.
Things to Consider When Growing Cannabis Outside
Autoflowering weed will grow year-round outside. As long as the temperature does not get below 43 degrees fahrenheit, your plant can survive. And when it does get cold, you can just bring her inside. Because autoflowering cannabis will flower no matter the light cycle, you can get up to 4 harvests a year outside on your balcony or in a garden. Plants grown in the winter will have a beautiful purple coloring to them by the time they are ready for harvest. Plants in the summer will grow bigger and bushier, reaching C. ruderalis full height potential of up to 6 feet tall and yielding up to 8oz of dried marijuana.
On the other hand, growing photoperiod cannabis outdoors is a one-time a year thing; she’s a seasonal crop. You put her outside in late spring; she grows all summer and then flowers once the days start losing light. Timing when this occurs can get tricky, depending on your latitude and how cold it gets. So plant a lot and clear your social calendar because those plants will run your life for most of the year.
Step 3 – Pick the Best Grow Light for Pot
Light is how your plant gets all her energy to convert the nutrients in her soil into more plant matter. So, the quality of that light is vital to your final yield.
If you grow indoors, you’ll need to think about your plant’s light source. Keep in mind, one of the biggest benefits of growing a single plant is that your plant won’t need much light. You can place your plant on a windowsill and have enough natural sunlight for it to thrive in many cases. However, if you’d like to grow your plant in a more discrete location, away from natural light, or have limited natural light, you’ll need to think about grow lights . In that situation, how to grow a small weed plant quickly becomes how to select the best lighting.
The general rule of thumb is that the more light you give a cannabis plant, the more you will harvest. Autoflowering cannabis plants like to have some dark cycle to do their nighttime activities; we suggest around 4 to 6 hours of darkness a day.
Growing Weed with the Sun
The ultimate, cheapest grow light for cannabis is the sun. Sunlight is the most powerful light us earthlings have access to, so i f you are lucky enough to live somewhere that allows you to take advantage of the giant fireball in the sky, we suggest you use it. Even just as little as 4 hours of direct sunlight will do wonders for a small autoflowering pot plant.
When growing marijuana outdoors in full sun your plant can yield up to 8 oz. Cannabis grown outside will always yield more and be more potent than any indoor grow light. You just can’t beat the power of the light spectrum of natural sunlight, and cannabis plants love it!
If you opt for natural sunlight and you aren’t using autoflowers, you’ll need to ensure that your plants receive at least 18 hours of sunlight during the vegetative stage of their growth. Unfortunately, that means unless you are growing during the correct season and in the right area, this may not be obtainable without supplemental lighting. In other words, even if you are growing outdoors, investing in an LED lamp for those cloudy and or ‘short’ days might be a good idea.
Growing Weed with LED Lights
LED lighting is a great option for giving your plant everything she needs or just an extra boost. Natural colored LED lights using a COB LED are our preferred choice because you can see the correct color of your marijuana leaves and most closely resembles natural sunlight . While the pink and purple LED lights do a fine job, they also miss specific spectrums that contribute to the robustness of your plant. We’ve found that a more complete light spectrum develops a more complete terpene profile and produces more hearty plants.
For a single plant, a 75 watt COB LED grow light is ideal. LEDs are a popular choice for growing marijuana and are perfect for producing healthy marijuana buds on a single plant. They are also optimized to prevent your plants from receiving too much light, which could cause a condition called ‘light burn.’ Another huge benefit of LEDs is their cost. The bulbs are inexpensive and readily available. Best of all, they don’t require much energy, so you are not going to spike your electricity bill. The casual observer will never suspect that you are growing marijuana indoors just by seeing the light shining from your home.
We discourage using HPS grow lights mostly because they tend to generate a lot of heat for indoor use. Plus, HPS lights can easily burn cannabis plants. For hobbyist growers, LED technology will grow great buds at a significantly reduced electricity cost.
There are, of course, other cannabis lighting options, but for a single plant, they can be much more than necessary. However, it is still a good idea to research your options to make an informed decision based on your wants and needs.
Related : 10 Best Grow Lights for Growing Weed Indoors for specific grow lights to best suit individual grower’s needs.
Step 4 – Picking a Pot Size for Autoflowering Weed
Some say cannabis got the name ‘pot’ because early growers would move the pots they’d planted in as needed. With marijuana restricted and illegal in some places, people who grew (and in some cases still grow) had to be creative! The pot provided the freedom to create the best environment depending on what was available.
This is even more the case with autoflowers. Autoflowering cannabis is a really smart plant! She can sense her environment and grow accordingly. Much like a goldfish in either a fishbowl, aquarium, or ocean, your plant’s size depends on the size of its container. An autoflowering seed has the same potential– it just depends on what you plant it in—the bigger the pot, the bigger the plant (which means more pot).
To help you decide how much autoflowering cannabis you’d like to grow, we made our grow kits in three different sizes:
If you want to grow a tiny little cannabis plant that will be perfect for your desk or just as a little experiment for the kitchen windowsill, a ½ gallon pot will grow an autoflowering marijuana plant less than 2 feet tall. These little plants are adorable! How much you harvest will largely depend on the genetics and how much light you give the plant. It will need more frequent watering due to its small size.
A 2-gallon pot will support a small marijuana plant that yields about 4oz of pot. This size provides more space for your cannabis plant’s roots. When growing outside during the summer using organic soil, water every couple of days, especially on hot days. Your cannabis plant will stay a reasonable size.
This size is the gold standard for autoflowering cannabis plants. If you go much bigger, you start to get diminishing returns as autoflowering pot plants don’t grow massive root structures. With a 5 gallon pot, your plant will grow to her genetic potential of about 4 or 5 feet tall on average. A 5 gallon pot is a great size for growing outside under direct sun or indoors inside a grow tent.
Step 5 – Selecting the Best Grow Medium for Pot
When thinking about how to grow a small weed plant, one of the most important things that should be on your mind is what you will grow the plant in. Your plant will need a medium that provides the required nutrients for developing picture-perfect buds. And, just like grow lights, there are numerous options for best grow mediums. Each medium will have its own set of requirements for best growing conditions, such as how often you’ll need to water, but in the end, every option is equally capable of producing high-yielding cannabis plants.
Super Soil is Superb.
The most common (and easiest to use) grow medium is soil. Ideally, you should use well-composted organic soil rich with nutrients designed for growing cannabis and formulated for commercial cannabis specifically. A Pot for Pot’s Superb Soil is an excellent example of this. Superb Soil is what professional growers refer to as “hot soil.” This means it has a surplus of bioavailable organic nutrients that are alive and working for you!
It’s also the plant equivalent of rocket fuel, so adding nutrients isn’t really necessary. If you do not start with soil that has been optimized for cannabis growing, you’ll want to ensure that the soil includes perlite so that it drains well. Mixing your own super soil for cannabis requires over 17 ingredients and some heavy lifting when mixing it all. If you would like to learn how to mix your own, download our full guide below.
Save Money – No Tent Needed
Organic Cannabis Soil Recipe
Avoid Common Mistakes
Hydroponics grows are hard.
You could also go soilless and buy vermiculite, coco coir, or rockwool. These mediums require constant feeding and flushing to keep the root zone moist and free of nutrient buildup. While these may be more expensive than soil, they come with some advantages, including yielding a lot of cannabis. Hydroponic growing is a super fun and rewarding process that grows great cannabis.
A disadvantage of hydroponic growing, though, is that they do not contain nutrients for your plant, so you’ll need to carefully measure and distribute the proper nutrients in the right proportions and at the right time. Worst of all, one over-feeding can ruin a whole crop. You can produce very high yields with this method, but there is a steep learning curve, and it is a bit expensive (both time and money-wise) for a single plant. If this is your first time, we suggest keeping it simple and letting the plant do the hard work in an organic soil mix.
Step 6 – Select Your Nutrients for Marijuana
With marijuana, you want to use specific nutrients that help your plant thrive during the different stages of plant growth. Choose nutrients formulated for the particular medium you’re using – that doesn’t mean Miracle Grow. (Please don’t use Miracle Grow aka Miracle No-no) Certain nutrients will only work in hydroponic systems, while others work best with soil. There are even organic nutrients if you are so inclined!
No matter what nutrients you use for your pot plants, we suggest using ⅓ of the strength of whatever the manufacturer suggests (hint: they want you to use more than you need so you buy more faster). Marijuana plants can be very sensitive to too many nutrients. Lock-out from too many nutrients results in stunted, stressed plants that may flower too early.
You’ll also need to consider the pH of your water source. Water is an important factor to consider in your plant’s growing conditions because it is how nutrients get to your plant. If the pH is incorrect, your plant cannot absorb those nutrients – think of a square block moving up a round pipe. The pH should be appropriate for the medium that you choose. When growing in soil, the pH of your water should be slightly acidic, between 6.5 and 7.0 ideally. This allows the plant to absorb the nutrients in the soil efficiently. (Growing hydroponically, your pH should be lower, preferably in the 5.5 – 6.5 range.)
To be honest, nutrient and pH levels can be complicated and a definite hassle when you only want to grow a single plant. A much easier solution is a Pot for Pot Grow kit . Not only are these kits designed to make growing a single plant simple and easy, but they also provide the best organic nutrients and growing medium for your plants so that you don’t have to spend any time on this step.
All you need to do is add water (in that sweet spot pH range) and let your plant do the heavy lifting. As you get more experienced with growing cannabis, you can start adding nutrients to maximize your yield. But, if you are just trying to grow one amazing cannabis plant, a Pot for Pot does a great job of empowering you to grow your own. You simply need to know how to follow instructions, provide sunlight, and add a little water!
Step 7 – How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Autoflowering cannabis can only be grown from seed. There are plenty of ways to germinate a seed, but a seed germination kit is the easiest option. We like the method of soaking your seed in water for up to 48 hours; when it sinks, or you pop a tap root, she is ready to come out. And no matter what, after 48 hours, transplant your seedling to your germination medium.
Another easy germination method is to place the seed inside a damp paper towel. Then place the moistened paper towel inside a clear Ziploc back and close the bag. Place the baggie in a warm environment to help the seed germinate.
After one to three days, the seed should have a tiny white tail growing out of the seed. If the seed hasn’t sprouted a tail within five days, the seed isn’t viable.
To use a Jiffy Pellet , moisten the peat-based medium, insert your seed, and water as needed. Once your seed sprouts, you can place the entire medium into your pot for easy transplanting.
These steps produce the best results when germinating seeds:
1. Soak seed in a cup of pH neutral water in a dark place (like a kitchen cupboard) for 24 hours
2. Prepare jiffy pellet by soaking in pH neutral water
3. Gently squeeze any excess moisture out of the jiffy
4. Use your seedling or scissors to poke a ¼ inch hole into the expanded jiffy and plant the soaked seed
5. Place planted jiffy pellet in a seedling cup under direct light until your seedling makes an appearance topside.
Plant Your Germinated Seeds in Seedling Pots
When germinating cannabis seeds, you’ll want to germinate multiple seeds. This is critical because not all seeds will germinate, and you can’t determine which seeds will be female or male until the plant has grown. While male plants produce pollen, they do not flower, which is what you want. So you’ll want to ensure you’ve grown a female plant.
Once your seeds have germinated, you’ll want to plant these seeds about one inch deep into your planting soil in seedling cups. If you don’t have seedling cups, you can use plastic cups. You’ll want to poke holes in the bottom of the cup for drainage.
Then place your seedling cups where they can get direct sunlight or from a grow light. You’ll want to water your seedlings by keeping their soil moist. The best way to water your seedlings is by misting them with a squirt bottle . Within a couple of days, your seedlings should sprout a few baby leaves.
Getting your seeds to sprout is one of the most challenging steps of the growing process. If you’ve made it this far in the growing process, then you’re in a good spot. Now you just need to provide the necessary water and light to help your tiny plants grow.
Step 8: The Cannabis Vegetative Stage
Once your marijuana seedling develops a pair of leaves, she has officially entered the vegetative stage. This is when pot plants have the singular purpose of growing bigger and stronger in preparation for the coming flowering stage.
During the vegetative stage, marijuana plants need plenty of light . You’ll need to give them around 18 hours (or more) of light during this phase. Also, ensure that the temperature in your grow room (or wherever you are growing your plants) is a bit warmer than room temperature. That means between 68°F and 82°F. The long hours of light and higher temperature mean your cannabis plants will need plenty of water , so monitor the moisture level and adjust accordingly. You don’t want your plants to be too thirsty. But, overwatering is more deadly than under-watering.
How well your plants grow during this stage will directly impact their yield. Smaller plants will yield fewer and smaller buds. Bigger plants, however, are stronger and can support denser,
more plentiful buds. So, remember to provide the best care for your plants in the vegetative stage!
Your cannabis plant will need to grow during this stage for at least three weeks for it to reach its sexual maturity. If you’ve given your plants enough light and nutrients, the plant leaves will be dark green and won’t have any brown spots.
Want an easy-to-use starter kit for Cannabis seedlings? Check out our Seedling Starter Kit, perfect for nurturing your germinated seeds into viable, healthy plants.
Transplanting Your Young Plant into its Flowering Container
At this point, your plant is ready to be transplanted into its final flowering container. Your final container is a personal choice based on how big a plant you want to grow . Whatever size container you choose, you’ll want to fill it with about one gallon of soil per foot of anticipated plant growth.
You may want to add some bloom fertilizer to the soil to give your plant a growth boost. Bloom fertilizers have higher phosphorus and potassium levels and lower nitrogen, which provides ideal growing conditions for your young plant.
Be very gentle when transplanting your plants into larger containers because the roots can damage easily. To remove the plant from the seedling pots, squeeze the bottom sides of the cup to help loosen the roots and soil. Then gently flip the plant into your hand and be careful to support the root mass as you place it into its new container.
Ready to move your seedlings into their final flowering containers? Shop our best selection of growing kits to nurture your plant into a bountiful harvest.
Step 9: The Cannabis Flowering Stage
When flowers start to form, you’ve entered the flowering stage. Only female plants produce flowers. The first sign is thin flowers with white hair-like structures called pistils. Those little pistils are pre flowers and will eventually produce buds – which you can eventually consume. This important phase in the life of your pot plant lasts until you harvest the mature buds. Here’s what happens during this stage:
Your plants will get large and bushy. You may want to ‘train’ them by trimming and/or bending the leaves to form a flat canopy on top. This pruning allows light to reach all parts of the plant for maximum yields. Pruning is an advanced technique, so you’d want to read up on it first before trying it.
If you did not purchase feminized seeds , or you are unsure of the sex of your pot plant, you’ll need to confirm that it’s female as only female plants produce flowers.
How can you know if your pot plant is male or female?
Easy. Just look at the junction of the branches and observe whether you see wispy white strings emerging from the buds. If these wisps (pistils) are present, that plant is female. If pistils aren’t present, then what is growing is a pollen sac, and the plant is male. Male plants do not produce the buds that you wanna consume. Female plants are prized for their ability to grow the yummy flowers we all love.
Depending on what type of cannabis you are growing, you may need to change the light schedule to initiate the flowering stage. If you are growing photoperiod cannabis, you will need to increase the amount of darkness your plant receives to 12 hours daily. That means 12 hours of light and 12 of darkness each day. Respecting the light schedule is an absolute necessity for regular flowering cannabis seeds. Autoflowering marijuana doesn’t depend on a change in the length of daylight hours to start flowering, so this step is unnecessary with autoflowering seeds.
For all types of marijuana, you will want to consider adjusting the temperature. The flowering stage requires cooler temperatures, so keep it between 64°F to 78°F. Ideally closer to 65 degrees Fahrenheit if possible! If you used any nutrients, make sure you’ve stopped and are providing plenty of water. This helps with taste, aroma, and potency when it’s time to enjoy your cannabis.
You’ll need to carefully monitor your plants for the next eight to nine weeks as they grow. Watering during this stage means adding tap water to the soil whenever the top three inches of soil are dry. Flowers will finish blooming around the end of eight or nine weeks in a 12/12 light cycle.
You’ll also want to keep your plants in a grow space that has airflow. Air circulation is critical to the plant for photosynthesis. If growing outside, this won’t be an issue. If growing indoors, you’ll want to ensure the room has adequate air movement.
The most important thing to remember about this stage is to watch your plants. Marijuana plants in the flowering stage are rather sensitive to the conditions under which they are growing. Look for signs of a problem, such as brown leaf tips. This could signify a problem with watering, lighting, or nutrients.
Step 420: How much Cannabis will you Harvest
Harvesting pot at home is really exciting! You watch weed plants develop and blossom amazing, pungent flowers. Soon, you’ll start to wonder when you can reap what you’ve sown. But how do you know when to make the cut? How do you know when to harvest your weed?
Cannabis gives clear signals as to when she’s ready to move on to the most exciting time of her life — consumption!
Two things to look for when determining if your marijuana flowers are ready to harvest:
1. The color of the stigmas (the hair-like structures coming off the buds). You want 80% or more to have turned from white to orange/red/brown.
2. The color of the trichomes (the yummy crystals on the buds). You want these to turn from clear to milky.
You will know the buds have matured from the color of the stigmas. You will see wispy white hairs growing out of the buds. These wisps will change color gradually until they become amber at the peak of maturity. This is a great first sign to look for. Cannabis can be tricky, though, and can keep producing stigmas way past her prime. This tendency is why it is important to look at more than just the stigmas for cues.
Your plant’s trichomes’ color and shape are a more reliable way to gauge readiness for harvest, but this will often take magnifying lenses to see properly. You’ve reached peak THC when the trichomes are cloudy in color and have rounded mushroom-like shaped heads. Premature trichomes have flat heads.
A good time to harvest is when most trichomes are cloudy or milky in appearance, with one or two trichomes appearing amber. Too many amber trichomes, and you’re past peak THC harvest. At this point, a significant portion of the THC is now CBN (a cannabinoid that relaxes and calms the mind). So, you will still get some medicine from over ripe buds– just a different cannabinoid.
How do you harvest the buds?
Simple, take some scissors (there are some in the a Pot for Pot Complete Kits ) and start cutting. First, remove fan leaves and pre-trim. Extra leaves hold water, and we want our weed to dry efficiently! You can leave the fan leaves but know that drying will take longer. Grower’s choice!
Sometimes, the top-most buds are ready before the bottom buds. This is a normal occurrence because of the relative light exposure between the top and bottom of the plant. In these cases, harvest in stages– take the top buds first and circle back for the bottom buds in a few days.
Using your scissors , cut each branch just below the bud and hang it upside down (buds facing downward) in a dark closet for a few days until dry. If you lay your buds flat to dry, they will get smooshed and dry unevenly. It’s best to have humidity levels around 50%, temperature around 65 degrees fahrenheit. Drying can take up to a week, but most finish in about 5 days.
Test for dryness by bending the stems– when they snap instead of bend, it’s time to cut the buds off! Don’t test for doneness by touching the buds because if the buds are still wet, they’ll get smooshed. Finally, give them a proper trim job and store them in glass jars. It’s best to keep these jarred-up nuggets out of direct light, as sunlight can bleach your buds. Open the jars everyday day to burp them for a few minutes (this allows fresh oxygen in and other stuff out.)
You can smoke your weed as soon as it’s dry. Some impatient growers throw a few fresh flowers in a brown paper bag for two days (a flash dry method) and then grind them right into a rolling paper. The curing process really just brings out the flavor, terpene profiles, eliminates chlorophyll and makes for a smoother smoke. We recommend curing your buds if you plan to smoke or vape your harvest. You can cure for ten days, two weeks, four weeks, two months, or even up to 6 months – how much patience do you have? (This is coming from some impatient stoners but, hey, we appreciate a quality experience!)
Related : The Ultimate Guide to Harvesting Cannabis to go in-depth on cannabis harvesting tips and tricks!
Knowing that you can grow a small weed plant yourself is likely the hardest part of actually growing it. Now that you know what to do with your plants and how to create ideal growing conditions, you are well on your way to enjoying hassle-free, home-grown marijuana. When you’re ready to start growing, see what a Pot for Pot has to offer!
FAQs about Growing a Small Weed Plant
What’s the difference between feminized and autoflowering seeds?
Autoflowering seeds bloom automatically without having you do anything, while feminized seeds need a change in the light cycle to start the blooming process.
What pot sizes should I be using for Autoflowers?
The ideal pot size for autoflowering cannabis plants are 0.5 to 5 gallon pots. The size of the pot determines the size of the plant! Bigger pots = bigger plants.
Do I need to add nutrients to my marijuana grow?
Not in an organic, general-purpose Superb Soil mix! It has a complete nutrient load for an autoflowering plant. You should add nutrients if you’re growing in hydroponics or any nutrient-less medium.
How much light should I give my autoflowering plant?
Autoflowering cannabis is great because she can grow under any light conditions. Ideal conditions outdoors are a minimum six hours of direct sunlight. When sunlight is not available, supplementing with a grow light (or a high wattage regular light) will keep your plant happy. We recommend giving her 20 hours light / 4 hours darkness each day for those growing entirely indoors.
How Do You Manage the Plant Smell Right Before Harvest?
Just before harvest, your plants are going to start smelling very distinctive. Depending on if you want your neighbors and friends to smell your sweet stinky weed, you may want to try different products to manage the smell.
The most common method to manage the smell is using a carbon filter. A carbon filter utilizes mesh tubes filled with charcoal so that when the fan pulls the air through, the charcoal absorbs the particulates and leaves the air smelling clean and odorless.
Why is My Weed Plant Not Growing Taller?
Unfortunately, many factors can stunt your plant’s growth:
- Watering and Pot Size : If you overwater or underwater your plant, it will affect the development. If seedlings are in too big containers, they can drown in overwatered soil. Make sure your container and watering are appropriate for your plant’s size.
- Nutrient Toxicity : If there are too many nutrients in the growing medium, the plants will react. The leaves will have burnt tips on dark green leaves. If the leaves turn yellow, brown, and then crispy, the soil is deficient in nitrogen and needs more nutrients.
- Temperature : If temperatures are too hot or cold, it can also stunt growth. Leave tips will turn up or curl if temps are too hot. It’s essential to keep the growing environment between 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Too Much or Too Little Light : Both too much and too little light can also affect your plant’s growth. If the plant has too much light, then the plant’s leaves will curl or appear burnt. If this happens, you’ll want to move your lights up or adjust your plant’s position to direct sunlight.
Can a Weed Plant Grow Forever?
No. Cannabis is an annual flowering plant, which means its life cycle is only one season. So your plant will grow, flower, and die. Some plants have several harvests before their cycle ends, but you will need to start again once it completes its life cycle.
Some growers can force a cannabis plant to revert to its vegetative stage, but that’s a more complicated process. For beginners, you’re better off collecting the seeds from your plant and germinating your seeds.
Are you ready to get started on growing your first small marijuana plant? We have the best selection of Cannabis starter growing kits from small to large pots.
MARIJUANA POTS: TYPES AND SIZES
Choosing the type of pot is one of the first decisions we must face when starting our cultivation. To make this choice, we must look at the characteristics of our crop and our plant to choose the one that best suits our needs.
The type of pot directly affects the health of the root system, which in turn is decisive for the correct development of the plant. Healthy roots allow the plant to feed and hydrate properly.
Therefore, in this post we will describe the types of pots that exist and the different capacities that we can find of them so that your choice is much simpler.
Pots for cultivation
Pots for cannabis cultivation could be basically classified into two main groups: plastic and cloth pots.
Plastic pots are the ones that have traditionally been used in the cultivation of cannabis, there are different shapes and sizes, so we can choose the one that suits us best according to our priorities.
Fabric pots are relatively new and less frequent, but they have been well received due to their advantages: greater aeration of the substrate and root system and natural pruning of roots.
Before starting your pot cultivation, you will have to clarify what type you are going to use and, although it may seem a rather irrelevant subject, it is much more important than we can believe a priori and can be a determining factor when it comes to succeeding in growing because, a correct choice of the type of pot that we are going to use, directly affects the health of the plant as well as the efficient use of the space dedicated to the crop.
Black square pot:
Black square pot
Are the classic plastic pots available in different sizes. They are the most common and are made of rigid plastic, so they are easily washed for reuse.
The black pots are especially suitable for indoor or outdoor cultivation in cold months as it absorbs heat and during the summer months outdoors will damage the roots due to excessive temperature.
White square or round pot:
White square or round pot
White pots are specially designed for outdoor growing during the season and the hottest months because the white color reflects light and prevents the root system from getting too hot.
These pots can be found square or round, with and without handles. The shape of the flowerpot influences the structure that the plant will have when it grows, but we must take into account that in indoor crops, as a general rule, it is advisable to use square pots to make better use of the space.
White culture bag:
White culture bag
Of different sizes, the culture bags are a very convenient and practical alternative because they can be stacked, are very easy to transport and allow a quick and easy transplant, the bottom of the bag is cut and introduced in a larger size, which generates very little stress to the plant.
Once the culture is finished, we can clean the bag very easily or directly dispose of it. Recommended for both indoor, where we will take advantage of the space and outdoor.
The colorful pots allow us to identify the variety of marijuana that we are cultivating without the need to place identifying labels, they are sold in packs of 90 units. These pots have a capacity of 0.30L so they are ideal for the germination phase and for cuttings.
Is a pot containing orifices so that the roots of the plants do not spiral and, in turn, when they protrude through the holes, the air will prune the roots naturally. This natural pruning causes the root system to develop permanently, which has a direct impact on the plants, accelerating their growth and giving them a denser and more compact structure. They are ideal to avoid that our plant acquires a too high bearing, as well as for mother plants.
This type of pots is specifically indicated for hydroponic and aeroponic crops. The gratings in this pot allow the roots to leave without problems while keeping the clay balls inside. They are comfortable and economical and can be washed and reused again.
It is the classic black plastic square flowerpot in which there is an elevation that allows greater aeration. It is easily washable and reusable.
Fabric pots can be found in both black and white, as well as in different sizes to suit the needs of the crop.
The great novelty of the cloth pots is that they are made of a material that allows the aeration of the substrate as well as performing a natural pruning of roots using a method similar to the one used in the aeropot pots. In addition, once the crop is finished, we can wash them and use them again.
- Small pots (between 0.5 and 2L): these pots are usually used for planting once the seeds are germinated or for rooting cuttings, so they will be the first pot of our plant’s life cycle.
- 3.5L pot: used for the growth phase indoors or directly after germination of the seeds outdoors. Once the root system has occupied the entire pot, one of greater capacity must be transplanted.
- 5.5L pot: used mainly for indoor crops and for the first stages of outdoor growth.
- 7L pot: one of the most common in indoor growing, where they are also used for flowering stage. It is also used to perform transplants from 3.5 pots in outdoor culture.
- 11L pot: this is the maximum size that we should use for indoor crops. It is used outdoors to perform transplants from 7L pot during the growth stage. It can also be used for growing autoflowering strains.
- Flowerpot of 18,19 or 20L: it is the ideal capacity for the culture of autoflowering plants since these should not be transplanted and its capacity leaves enough space for a correct development of the root system. They are also used outdoors for transplants from 11L pots.
- 40L pot: these pots/containers have a larger capacity and are intended for outdoor cultivation of the best strains. They are equipped with handles for easy transport.
- 50L pot: For those who are outgrown by the other pots, you can choose the 50L pot, made primarily for growing season varieties outdoors, where you will get plants of medium / high structure.
The pots must be the right size for your plants: if they are too small, the root system will not be able to develop and the plant will not grow properly and if they are too large and use more substrate than we need, which will increase the cost of cultivation, the root system of the plants tends to occupy the bottom and edges of the pot so it would leave a lot of space unused.
The roots tend to grow downward, sideways and deep, so most pots have an elongated rather than wide shape, which will guarantee a more extensive root system.
Remember that all the pots must have a drainage system to eliminate excess water. You can complement your pots with other accessories such as plates and trays to help collect the leftover water.
Always make sure you always choose the right products for the crop you are going to grow a correct decision helps to avoid future problems.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that transplants can only be performed during the growth phase, NEVER during the flowering cycle.
santiago 13 September, 2019, 1:31 am
I have a micro=organism that I can not eliminate,Its a red dot on the trichome that devours the trichome and leaves no potency. I have been trying for 3 years to rid of it, I can not get any help. I do not know what it is. I see it ubder the microscope . but thats all . I tried everything possible . insecticides.miticides,hydro peroxide. nothing works. where can I gat help?
GeaSeeds 13 September, 2019, 8:03 am
We need more details to know but it looks like red spider.
We have a post that explain how to kill red spider.
Cheap Way to Grow World-Class Weed (Start with $130 + Seeds)
You want to try growing weed but refuse to spend a fortune. You don’t need the biggest harvest ever, but your time or effort must be rewarded with a good amount of high-quality buds the very first time. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to grow world-class weed, you’ve come to the right place.
The method in this tutorial will give you…
- Up to 5 oz per harvest with high-yielding strains (average 2-4 oz)
- Potent high-grade buds of your chosen strain
- Seed to harvest in under 90 days
- As little as $130 to get started (supplies list with links below)
- Electricity: $12/month (for USA average electricity cost of $0.14/kWh)
Total Cost of 1st Grow: $130 plus seeds and $12/month electricity
This is the basic setup (total estimated cost includes seeds, grow light, grow medium, plant containers, and nutrients)
Example of buds produced (strain is Auto Amnesia by MSNL)
Here’s an overview of all the supplies you need to start growing cannabis via this method:
Grow light – Starting at $80
The average cost of electricity in the USA is $0.12/kWh. At 18 hours/day, that’s an electricity cost of about $10/month for the 150W HPS, and $7/month for the HLG 100.
- Cheapest: 150W HPS grow light ($10/month for electricity) – $80
- Premium Alternative: HLG 100 v2 3000k Quantum Board LED grow light ($7/month for electricity, yields the same or more, less heat, no need to replace a bulb every 3-4 grows ) – $150
This $80 grow light can produce up to 5 oz (average of 2-4 oz). It gets warm but produces good yields and excellent bud quality. The best grow light to start growing a little weed for as cheap as possible.
This $150 LED grow light produces similar yields for less electricity and less heat, plus it has no bulbs to replace so it’s cheaper in the long run.
Plant pots or containers – Starting at $10
- 2 or 3-gallon pots with saucers for 1-2 plants, 5-gallon size take up more room and would be suitable for 1 plant under this size grow light
- $5-10 for a plastic nursery pot with a saucer at a garden store or plant nursery. If you try to buy plastic nursery pots online, typically you can only find multiple pots at once ($35) as opposed to individually like at a physical store.
- Fabric pots are easier to find in smaller numbers online. Fabric pots are excellent for growing cannabis with the one downside being they need to be watered more often than hard-sided pots as they tend to dry out fast due to losing water from the sides. Sizing up to 3-gallon or 5-gallon is recommended for fabric pots. Every brand of fabric air pot I’ve ever tried works great so don’t worry too much about the brand. Examples:
- Six 3-gallon fabric pots ($10) + six 12″ saucers ($17) = $27
- Five 5-gallon fabric pots ($18) + five 14″ saucers ($17) = $35
- You may be able to find these cheaper in person at a plant nursery, especially if you get fewer pots.
Plastic nursery plant pots are usually sold as a set online, but garden stores sell individual posts for cheaper
Or DIY your own pot for free! A container or bucket with holes drilled in bottom works great when combined with a way to catch water that spills out.
Grow medium (soil, coco, hydro, etc) – Starting at $30
Your plants need a place to put their roots. You have lots of different grow medium options for growing weed, and the most common is good old-fashioned soil.
- Just about any organic potting mix or light airy soil mix can work. Avoid any soil with “slow-release” nutrients unless they’re organic and have been composted into the soil.
- Examples of great cannabis soil:
– organic, one 1.5 Cubic ft bag will fill about 10 gallons worth of pots, like three 3-gallon pots or two 5-gallon pots – $40 – rich, effective soil. One 1.5 Cubic ft bag will fill about 10 gallons – $30 – This is my favorite soil mix. Although it’s called “Coco Loco” it is actually soil that’s just mixed with some coco to make a beautiful airy soil mix My cannabis plants absolutely love this stuff. One 2 cubic ft bag fills about 15 gallons – $40
Coco – More expensive to start than soil
- Coco potting mix of 70/30 Coco to Perlite recommended (50/50 is better for high-frequency fertigation)
- Examples of great coco potting mixes for growing cannabis
– one 2 cubic ft bag fills about 15 gallons – $45 – one 2 cubic ft bag fills about 15 gallons – $45
– $25 – $30 – $40
Adventurous alternative: Growing cannabis in hydroponics
Nutrients – Starting at $10
If you’re starting with soil, you may be able to avoid using nutrients at all. Yet if plants use up the nutrients in the soil you’ll start seeing nutrient deficiencies and slow growth. To help ensure the best yields and bud quality, I recommend you get at least a Bloom nutrient (low in Nitrogen and high in Phosphorus/Potassium) for plants that are actively growing buds.
- Recommended: Dyna-Gro Grow & Bloom – $25 (great for cannabis in any setup, any grow style) – although originally developed for orchids, this simple nutrient duo excels at growing cannabis and is now marketed directly to pot growers.
- If you are growing in soil and can’t afford both bottles, get just Bloom and use it in the flowering stage. Your plants should be able to get most of the nutrients in the vegetative stage from the soil. The smallest bottle usually costs $10-12 so it lets you start ultra-cheap.
- If growing in coco or hydro, you need to use nutrients from beginning to end, and Dyna-Gro Grow + Bloom excels at that.
- Follow the included instructions at 1/2 strength (same with almost any nutrient system for cannabis plants). Only increase the amount if you notice the plant is getting lime green or pale all over, which is the main symptom when a plant needs overall higher levels of nutrients.
If you can’t get both bottles and are growing in soil, at least get a bottle of Bloom so you don’t run into deficiencies during the crucial bud-building phase. For coco, you absolutely need both bottles.
In a pinch, you can use Shultz cactus/succulent nutrients 2-7-7 (available at most garden stores and online for under $7) in the budding stage since they typically have similar nutrient ratios. However, cactus nutrients don’t contain many micronutrients, which means they may not perform as well as something more complete like Dyna-Gro.
A place to grow weed
You can put your plants almost anywhere as long as you have access to water, fresh air, and a way to hang the light. Some common examples:
- closet (common)
- spare bathroom (easy access to water and a drain)
- spare room
- garage, basement, or attic
This is one of my first grows (circa 2008). I put the plants right on the floor in a walk-in closet and hung the light from the bar you hang clothes from. This setup produced great weed, though I highly recommend putting something down to protect your carpet!
I’ve seen some growers DIY some pretty amazing grow spaces
Possible upgrades for your grow environment (all are optional but nice)
– super convenient way to set up a “pop-up” grow area, costs $50-100 on average or small table fan – if you need extra air movement
- A carbon filter and exhaust fan for smell control (the more weed you grow, the bigger the smell) – use sheets of mylar, paint walls white, etc. – helpful for raising/lowering your grow light, carbon filter, or anything else you’d like to hang in the grow area. Much more convenient than using rope. to measure the temperature and humidity. I like models that let you hang a probe in the grow area so you’re measuring the exact spot you want.
It’s hard to beat the convenience of a grow tent. While not necessary to success, grow tents can be put anywhere for an instant “pop-up” waterproof grow space that helps contain heat, light, and smells. Also great for keeping multiple grow spaces at the same time.
Seeds or clones – Starting at $40 for 3 seeds
My recommended strains start at ~$40 for 3 seeds. There are cheaper strains, but these are ones I know and recommend.
3 Main Ways to Get Plants
- Buy seeds online
- Get seeds or clones in person
- Use seeds you find in buds (bagseed)
Did you know you can buy cannabis seeds online and get them shipped to you?
For the best results with this tutorial…
- Order from a reputable breeder to ensure you get the results you expect.
- Choose auto-flowering seeds to harvest in under 90 days. I like auto-flowering strains for first-time growers because plants are ready to harvest quickly, tend to stay on the smaller side, and automatically make buds without you doing anything special. They are simple: give water, nutrients, and light, then wait for harvest. However, you probably won’t run into any auto-flowering seeds unless you get them from a breeder.
- Choose feminized seeds to ensure all plants are female and grow buds. Save yourself the trouble of dealing with male plants or the possibility of seedy buds. Learn more about feminized seeds. Just about all auto-flowering seeds are feminized unless they specifically are listed as “regular”.
Choose autoflowering feminized seeds from a trustworthy breeder to ensure every plant grows buds and is ready to harvest in under 90 days. This Cinderella Jack Auto by Dutch Passion produced many dense potent buds and was harvested 79 days from germination
Looking for auto-flowering seed recommendations?
by Seed Supreme – This easy-to-grow Zkittlez autoflowering strain is popular because buds are potent, smell surprisingly sweet, and taste fruity. Great for someone who wants high potency combined with the taste and smell of new genetics – $55 for 4 seeds by MSNL – This may be the best autoflowering version of the trendy and euphoric Gelato strain. Plants tend to stay on the shorter side and buds occasionally turn purple. For someone who wants STRONG mental and physical effects above all else – $50 for 5 seeds by MSNL – Forgiving and easy to grow, buds always come out glittery and potent. I’ve grown this strain multiple times and it responds remarkably well to every light I’ve tried including cheap “blurple” LEDs that stressed out many of the other plants. In fact, Auto Amnesia almost seems to perform best in extreme conditions as some of the best buds came from a plant that grew too close to the light. The one downside is that plants tend to grow a bit stretchy/tall compared to the others on this list (though they respond well to bending/LST to keep them short and are resistant to light stress) – $40 for 5 seeds by MSNL – I’ve had really good experiences with all of the MSNL autoflowering strains. This particular strain often turns purple and buds come out dense with stellar effects and a spicy-sweet smell. You can help promote purple coloring by giving plants warm days and cool nights in the last 2-3 weeks before harvest – $55 for 5 seeds by Bomb Seeds – I’m super impressed by this strain every time I grow it. It thrives under many different types of lights and plants grow fast and bushy. Good-to-great yields and the buds get encrusted in trichomes/glitter. I actually got two of these plants lab-tested (as part of a different project) and buds measured between 18-20% THC, exactly as advertised – $70 for 5 seeds by Dutch Passion – I first grew this strain after a representative from the company told me it was Dutch Passion’s most potent autoflowering strain. I was beyond pleased with the results I got every time I grew it. Dense and glittery buds, high-yielding, ultra-high potency (couchlock) and plants are overall forgiving to growing mistakes – $50 for 3 seeds by Dutch Passion – easy to grow, very high yielding (usually yields more than any other plant in the tent), and has responded well to multiple different grow lights. The smooth-smoking buds promote relaxation and good vibes. The perfect daytime strain (not too heavy) and well-loved by those looking for more classic mental effects. The potency has been described as reminiscent of California weed from the 1990s and early 2000s – $50 for 3 seeds
- I hope that list helps you get started!
This Zkittlez Auto plant was harvested 85 days from germination
Glossary of Most Important Terms When Shopping for Seeds or Clones
- Auto-flowering Strains – Auto-flowering plants grow buds automatically and are usually ready to harvest in under 90 days from germination. Can be a good choice for a first grow, but auto-flowering seeds are only available from specialized breeders.
- Photoperiod Strains – Most cannabis seeds are photoperiod. If you find seeds, they are likely photoperiod seeds. Photoperiod plants need daily 12-hour dark periods to grow buds (usually done by putting grow lights on a timer). Photoperiod plants typically take between 3-5 months to grow from seed to harvest. Read more on how long it takes to grow weed. Don’t worry if you’ve got photoperiod seeds. This tutorial recommends auto-flowering strains, but I’ve also included instructions for photoperiod plants in the step-by-step directions.
- Feminized seeds – All resulting plants are female, which means they grow buds. I highly recommend starting with feminized seeds for your first grow so every plant produces buds for you.
- Regular seeds (non-feminized) – Half the plants will be male, which grow pollen sacs instead of buds. Male plants are non-potent and make nearby buds seedy. If growing with regular seeds, you should identify and remove male plants as soon as possible.
- Clones are basically small plants and don’t need any special treatment. A clone is usually known to be male or female (ask to be sure it’s female if you want to grow buds!). You can also take clones of your plants and use them as free plants in future grows.
- Bag seeds (seeds you randomly find in buds) can be hit or miss. Some growers get lucky with bagseed, but unknown genetics can be a confidence killer if buds turn out poorly even though you did everything right. Start with trustworthy genetics to help ensure plants are predictable and produce the results you want. Learn more about starting with “found” seeds.
Now that you’ve got everything, it’s time to start growing!
Here’s an HPS-grown bud from a THC Bomb Auto plant. This strain always makes beautiful buds but for some reason they got especially glittery under the small HPS. One of my favorite smokes from that grow!
Quick Step-By-Step Grow Guide
The hardest part of growing is choosing a good setup. Once you create a nice growing environment, nature will do a lot of the work for you.
1.) Set up your grow space
- Get the items listed above if using one
- Hang your grow light. Both the HLG 100 and 150W HPS recommended for this tutorial should be kept about 12″ away from the tops of plants.
- Fill your plant pots with potting mix
- Assemble your area and turn the grow light on for 24 hours before germinating seeds (make sure everything works before you actually start your grow)
- Temperature should stay be between 70-85F (20-30C) day and night. If it feels comfortable to you, it’s probably comfortable for your plants.
Whether you’re using a grow tent or a closet, the main idea is to first hang your grow light
Then get your plant pots ready (or set up your hydroponic reservoir). If you plan on setting up an exhaust to remove heat and/or get rid of smells, now is the time. A venting system can be as simple as adding a fan pointing out.
If you want to ensure you never smell your plants when the tent is closed, you’ll also have to connect the exhaust fan to a carbon filter with ducting.
Don’t forget to turn everything on for at least 24 hours before you start germinating! You want to know what to expect from the environment before you have live plants on your hands.
2.) Germinate Your Seeds
I like this germination method, but there are many ways to germinate seeds (including planting them directly in the soil). If starting with rooted clones, you can skip directly to the next step.
It’s always a good idea to germinate at least one extra seed in case you happen to have a dud. I recommend growing 1-2 plants for your first grow to keep things small and simple, so start by germinating 2-3 seeds.
There are tons of ways to germinate seeds and they all work. The most important thing with any germination method is to make sure seeds stay moist and warm.
3.) Vegetative Stage – Plants Grow Only Stems and Leaves
At first, your cannabis plants will only grow new stems and leaves (no buds yet).
Your main tasks in this stage are:
regularly (or tend to the hydroponic reservoir)
- Give nutrients at half the listed strength (if using nutrients)
- Watch for plant problems and react quickly if you see anything odd
- (Optional) Get familiar with plant training to increase yields
Your plants will only grow stems and leaves at first. In the vegetative stage, plants keep getting bigger but don’t grow any buds
Most cannabis plants naturally grow in a “Christmas tree” shape in the vegetative stage unless you take action to change it
For example, these autoflowering plants are bushy and short because I trained them to grow in that shape (starting when they were just 3 weeks old). This bushy shape forces cannabis plants to grow many bud sites as opposed to just one main bud site at the top of the “Christmas tree”.
There’s nothing wrong with letting plants grow naturally, especially for your first few grows. But if you plan to keep growing inside under grow lights, plant training is important to achieving the best yields.
4.) Flowering Stage – Buds Start Growing!
This is the stage where plants start growing buds. It’s exciting! You’re getting closer to harvest every day.
If you started with auto-flowering seeds…
- Auto-flowering plants will automatically start growing buds around 3-4 weeks from germination
- Besides switching to using flowering nutrients, plant care doesn’t really change from the vegetative stage.
- Buds are typically ready to harvest 2-3 months after germination
Auto-flowering plants start making buds when they’re 3-4 weeks old from germination. You don’t need to do anything special. This autoflowering plant is 4.5 weeks old.
If you started with photoperiod seeds…
- Photoperiod plants require you to put grow lights on a timer and give them 12-hour dark periods every day in order to grow buds. The term “photoperiod” actually refers to the fact they respond to light periods (“photo” can mean light + “period”). Photoperiod plants won’t make buds until you initiate the flowering stage with a 12/12 light schedule.
- Since you “tell” the plant when to start flowering, the vegetative stage can be as long as you want.
- While auto-flowering plants naturally tend to stay relatively short, photoperiod plants can easily get huge and out of control if you wait too long to initiate the flowering stage. On average, plants about double in size after the switch to 12/12, so you should initiate the flowering stage when plants are about half the final desired size.
- Be careful to not let any light get to the grow space during the “night” period or plants may revert to the vegetative stage (which takes time to fix) or herm (causing seedy buds).
- Photoperiod plants typically have an 8-14 week flowering stage (length of the flowering stage depends on strain)
- Example photoperiod timeline: 6-week vegetative stage + 8-14 week flowering stage gives a total grow period of 3-5 months from seed to harvest.
Photoperiod plants typically take 1-3 weeks after switching to 12/12 before they start making buds. At first, the buds look like bunches of leaves in a star shape, then white hairs start growing from the middle
After plants start flowering, double-check to make sure all your plants are only growing white hairs at the joints. This ensures your plants are female and forming buds.
If you see what looks like little bunches of spade-shaped balls with no hairs, that means the plant is male and should be removed from the grow room so it doesn’t pollinate your female plants.
If you see pollen sacs (look like bunches of pointy grapes), remove the plant immediately from the grow area. Why?
Nutrients – Switch to flowering nutrients
- Once you see buds forming, it’s time to start using the Dyna-Gro “Bloom” bottle for nutrients (or whatever Bloom nutrients you’re using)
- Start at half strength compared to the suggested dosage. Supplementing your plant with extra nutrients can help produce the biggest and most potent buds possible, but it’s easy to overdo it.
- Note: Suitable flowering nutrients are low in Nitrogen, and rich in Phosphorus/Potassium.
An example of untrained autoflowering plants (notice how they have a “Christmas tree” shape)
These autoflowering plants were trained to grow short and bushy
5.) Harvest Time
If you have followed the instructions so far, you’re now approaching harvest! I’ve created a complete guide to harvesting your weed but here’s a quick summary of when to harvest:
- Wait until the buds on your plants stop growing new white “hairs” (pistils). At this point, you probably still have a few weeks left.
- When 90% of the pistils have darkened and started curling in, your buds should be fat and ready for harvest.
- You can get even more accurate results by looking at the glittery “trichomes” on the buds under a magnifier, as these turn cloudy white when the buds have reached their highest potency.
This bud is ready to harvest. All the white hairs have darkened and curled in. If you click the picture and zoom in, you can see that nearly all the sparkly trichomes are milky white, indicating that this bud has reached the highest level of THC.
Another bud that’s ready to harvest. Notice how most of the hairs have darkened and curled in
Different strains may have a different bud appearance at harvest, but the general idea is the same (hairs darken and curl in, buds are fat)
At that point, buds only need to be dried and cured before they are ready to be enjoyed.
Example yield from 150W HPS – 2 Autoflowering Plants – 3.5 oz
Each plant produced just under 2 ounces and height was about 1 foot (30 cm) at harvest. Left plant was Critical Jack Auto by Dinafem (unique smell and thoroughly enjoyable effects) and the right was Sour Diesel Auto by Humboldt Seed Organization (classic sativa effect in auto-flowering form). I grew these in my bedroom (didn’t have an available closet) so I kept them in a 2x4x5 grow tent to contain the heat/light. Other than the tent, there weren’t really any upgrades compared to the base supplies list. I didn’t use an exhaust fan and it stayed about 80F (27C) in the tent.
This is a good harvest but does show what’s possible for growers who follow all the steps in this article including the optional plant training to create multiple main buds instead of just one.
This is the final yield of the 2 plants pictured above (about 3.5 oz)
Closeup of the Critical Jack buds
Example yield from HLG 100 LED Grow Light – 4 Autoflowering Plants – 5.5 oz
Here’s an example harvest from the HLG 100 Quantum Board Grow Light (the premium $150 alternative to the HPS). Instead of Dyna-Gro nutrients, this grow used the General Hydroponics Flora trio + Calimagic as nutrients. Grow medium was Mother Earth Coco + Perlite mix (my favorite pre-made coco mix).
The total yield under the HLG 100 was 156.12 grams or about 5.5 ounces.
These 4 autoflowering plants were kept in a 2x2x3 grow tent with a carbon filter/exhaust fan (lower right) to remove smells. I later upgraded the fan to an Infinity Cloudline so it would run silent (this was also kept in my bedroom so I want zero light and sound when I’m sleeping). These plants could have been grown in a closet or spare room as long as the smell didn’t bother you.
Main upgrades: A grow tent, carbon filter, and exhaust fan to contain light and smell.
I first harvested the Auto Amnesia (absolutely love this strain every time I grow it)
Closeup of the Auto Amnesia buds. Pretty thick for growing under a 100W light with 3 other plants!
A bud from the Auto Amnesia after being dried and cured
Next was the Gorilla Glue Auto plant. I’ve never been happy with this strain and I wouldn’t recommend it. Bud effects and smell are good, but plants grow weird and buds are ugly and airy. Two other examples of Gorilla Glue Auto plants I grew for comparison.
The THC Bomb Auto plant made fat sticky buds, as usual
This is the Ultimate Auto plant. This strain also yields well no matter how you grow it
Those last 2 plants at harvest (THC Bomb Auto and Ultimate Auto)
You got this! Even if you follow just 80% of the directions in this tutorial, if you can keep your plant alive you should easily be able to yield at least 1 ounce!
6.) Prepare for next grow
You’ve already got some of your growing supplies, so your second grow will be cheaper than the first one.
Possible ongoing costs:
- $5/grow to replace HPS bulb – The 150W HPS bulb needs to be replaced every 3-4 grows as they begin to lose brightness over time (not applicable if using an LED grow light) – $15 for a new bulb every 3 grows, or ~$5/grow
- $8-20/grow for soil – Unless you’re growing in hydroponics, you will need to replace your grow medium after each harvest. The cheap soil mix recommended above costs about $20/grow. Pre-made potting mixes tend to be cheaper at garden stores and nurseries than anywhere else, especially if you buy in bulk, but if you’re serious about cutting costs then buying pre-made soil becomes one of your main ongoing expenses. Some growers reuse their grow medium (remove the root ball after harvest and keep the rest) but even in that case, you still have to “top off” with fresh potting mix. It’s not too hard to create your own mix, and that can cut costs dramatically if you choose the right ingredients. For example, a 70/30 coco/perlite mix creates a beautiful soilless potting mix that works great with Dyna-Gro nutrients. Rehydrate a 10-lb block of coco and mix with 18 quarts of perlite costs for about $40 to get about 3 cubic feet of mix (22 gallons). That’s enough for 5+ harvests if using 4 gallons per grow, or $8/grow. That gives you some serious savings over time, and you don’t have to send huge bags of potting mix through the mail. Some growers take the next step and actually mix and compost their own soil at home.
- $5-10/grow for nutrients – Growers can spend hundreds of dollars on expensive nutrients and supplements, but oftentimes less glamorous nutrients seem to work just as well. Dyna-Gro (the nutrient recommended in this article) is an example of an inexpensive but surprisingly effective cannabis nutrient system. Another economical option is the General Hydroponics Flora trio. The Flora trio costs about $35 for the quart size, and the 3 bottles will give dozens of plants everything needed from seed to harvest. For this size grow, the 3 bottles will last for years.
- $30/grow for electricity – If using the 150W HPS, the average cost of electricity is about $10/month. For a 3 month grow, that equals a total of $30. (The HLG 100 only uses about $7/month for electricity so it would cost $21/grow).
Future grows: As little as $48/harvest (for electricity, nutrients, mixing your own coco/perlite mix, and a new HPS bulb every few grows) – only $34/harvest if using the suggested LED grow light (it uses less electricity and you don’t have to replace any bulbs).
What about buying seeds?
If you’re buying new seeds every grow, it becomes an ongoing cost. Buying seeds can get expensive! If you stick to auto-flowering strains, you’ll probably have to buy seeds every new grow. However, after your first grow, you’ll have experience under your belt and be prepared to grow photoperiod strains. Initiating the flowering stage can be a little trickier but overall care is basically the same. Photoperiod plants give you the ability to take clones, which is the easiest source of basically free plants. Another way to get basically free plants is to breed your own seeds or even make your own feminized seeds at home.
As time goes on, your costs go down while your yields go up
Other differences after first grow
- Better yields and bud quality – It’s common for growers to get higher yields and better buds on their 2nd and 3rd grows, even if the setup stays exactly the same. That’s because a little time and experience help you dial in your personal grow style. It’s also common for indoor growers to learn about plant training, which is a free technique to dramatically increase yields under grow lights.
- More confidence – If you decide to upgrade your grow (get a grow tent, bigger light, better strains, etc.) you’ll actually have the experience to know what’s needed to accomplish your goals.
IMPORTANT: Always keep learning!
After a few grows, many growers become convinced there’s nothing left to learn about growing. Believe me, there is always more to learn. I learn something new almost every day. A lot of “common” grow knowledge that’s been passed down for generations is being proven wrong. People are learning about better cultivation practices, developing new strains, and creating new techniques to get better yields and bud quality. Never mind all the new growing equipment aimed at home growers. Keep your mind open and remember to question everything. That’s the only way to ensure each harvest is better than the last!
Check out GrowWeedEasy.com’s friendly growing forum to chat about growing weed and ask growing questions