How much weed can you get from growing one plant?
As states legalize weed and the plant becomes more accepted, more people are trying out their green thumbs by growing their own weed at home. Most states with legal weed allow one person to grow six plants at their residence and an entire household to grow 12 plants. Some allow less, and some allow more.
(To see how many plants your state allows you to grow at home, check out this table).
But how much actual weed is that in dried buds that you can smoke? An ounce? A pound? Two pounds? The tricky thing is, all weed plants aren’t the same size, and many factors affect how big a plant will get and how dense its buds become.
We’ll go through those factors and talk a little bit about the harvest process to estimate how much weed you can get from one plant.
How much bud from one weed plant?
Many factors affect how big a plant gets, but generally speaking, if you are growing a healthy plant, you can expect these yields from one weed plant:
- Outdoor plant: ½ pound of buds, or about 224g
- Indoor plant: ¼ pound of buds, or about 112g
Note that these are estimates. When growing outdoors, plants can usually get massive because they aren’t restricted to space—it’s not uncommon to get closer to a pound a plant or more.
When growing indoors, you’re often limited by space—a plant can’t get as big in a grow tent as in a big, open basement. You’re also limited by how powerful your grow light is. For example, Leafly editor David Downs harvested 150g from one indoor plant with one 200W Black Dog LED light. The company said that light maxes out around a half-pound of buds, or 224g.
Also, these estimates are for healthy plants. If a plant becomes nutrient-deficient, gets bugs or mold, or doesn’t receive enough light, expect a lot less.
How long will one plant’s worth of bud last you?
However big your plant gets, you’ll likely have more flower than you know what to do with. Many people will save a certain amount of flower for smoking, and make edibles, concentrates, and other weed products with the rest of their harvest.
Consider how much weed you smoke in a day, week, or month. For reference, a gram is about two medium joints or 3-4 bowls. Do you smoke a gram a day or a week? Two grams a day or a week?
Using the above yield estimate of ¼ lb., or 112 grams, for one medium-to-large-sized indoor plant, if you smoke one gram a day, that one plant would last you 112 days, or just under four months! Two grams a day would last you just under two months, and half a gram a day—or an eighth a week—would last you eight months.
This will help give you a sense of how many plants you should grow. If you’re growing indoors, you can grow one plant at a time, harvest it, and start another, keeping a continuous cycle of growing.
If growing outdoors, you may only get one harvest a year. Remember, check out how many plants you can legally grow in your state here.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to growing
Factors that determine a weed plant’s yield
The amount of dried buds you harvest from a weed plant is called its yield, just like any crop, such as corn, wheat, fruit, etc. Ideally, when growing weed, you want high yields and high-quality buds. Getting both takes a little practice.
A weed plant will lose about 75% of its weight to moisture loss and trimming after being cut down. A considerable amount of moisture leaves the plant during the drying process, and trimming removes all the stems, branches, fan leaves, and trim from the plant.
So if you weigh a freshly cut plant at three pounds, don’t get too excited—you’ll likely get ¾ lb. of finished buds (which is still a lot of weed).
A big plant doesn’t necessarily mean big yields, as buds can be thin and wispy. A medium-sized plant with quality, dense nugs could yield more than a six-foot tree. Also, if growing multiple plants, they can grow over each other and shade one other out, reducing yields. Make sure to give plants plenty of space.
Some major factors that contribute to a weed plant’s yield include:
- Grow duration
- Soil type/amount
Certain weed strains grow big or tall or are high-yielders simply because of their genetics. Traditionally, indicas grow short and stout, and sativas grow tall and lanky. That’s not always true across the board, but it is a good rule of thumb.
For example, Lemon Skunk is famously a tall, lanky strain, so you’re likely to get high yields from it. Blue Dream and Chemdog are also known for their high yields.
Aside from its candy-like flavor, Runtz gets its name because its buds grow small, like the runt of the litter. It might be a low-yielder, but you’ll usually get high-quality buds.
How long you allow a plant to grow, or the length of time from seed germination to harvest, is one of the most significant factors determining weed yield. If you start growing seeds in March rather than May, those plants will have two extra months to get big.
When growing outdoors, the local climate is the main determining factor of when you can put seeds in the ground. Some regions are too cold to put plants outside until May, but you can start growing plants indoors with the right setup.
Some regions get rain early in the fall, so you’ll want to grow plants that are ready to harvest by the beginning of October. In tropical climates, you can practically grow weed outdoors all year round.
When growing indoors, growth duration is determined by how much space you have to work with. If you have a spacious basement or shed, you can let plants grow for months and get as big as you want before forcing them to flower. If space is tight, like in a grow tent or other small areas, you may only be able to let your plants get a few feet tall.
How much light a plant receives is highly variable. When growing outside, it all depends on where a plant is located to receive the most light throughout the entire season. Weed plants like full sun—at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. If a plant is in the shade or gets shaded as the light changes throughout the season, it can affect yields.
Indoors, it depends on how powerful your light is. A small 200W LED is great for a small grow tent, but you’ll need something bigger for a bigger space, which also means a more expensive light.
Be sure to prune your plants to remove dead leaves and buds, and branches that won’t turn into sizable buds. Clearing out plant matter will allow the quality buds to get more light.
Weed typically likes warm, temperate climates—think of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle region—but certain strains thrive in different temperatures. Traditionally, indicas like cold, dry climates and sativas like warm, humid climates.
Sudden extreme changes in temperature can affect a plant’s growth and yields, such as a sudden cold snap, which can slow a plant’s growth, or a heatwave, which can dry out a plant.
Different soils have different nutrient levels and some nutrients can promote plant growth. You can also add nutrients to soil or water to help plants grow big and strong.
Additionally, if growing in containers, the size of the container, or the amount of soil the plant’s roots have, will affect the size of a plant. Growing in too small of a pot can stunt a plant’s growth.
Check out guidelines on how big of a container you need for different sized plants here.
Growing directly in the ground will give your plant’s roots plenty of space, but you may need to add nutrients depending on the soil’s quality.
Is 12-12 From Seed Worth It?
Will the “12/12 from seed” cannabis growing technique give you huge yields? In a word, no… but there are benefits to initiating the flowering stage as soon as possible. Giving a 12/12 light schedule from seed germination is a great way to create tiny “bud stick” cannabis plants, which may be perfect for a small stealthy marijuana garden. When modified slightly, the same basic technique can create bigger plants and bigger yields while adding little to no extra time before harvest. And then there is the matter of genetics. Certain strains give better results than others.
The “12 /12 from seed” technique aims to initiate the flowering stage immediately after germination. Learn about cannabis light schedules.
This creates small “bud stick” plants that are typically ready to harvest in 3-4 months. Check out this beautiful example of “12/12 from seed” by Fuel.
If you haven’t heard this term before, “12/12 from seed” means giving your cannabis seedling 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day from the moment of germination. Providing a 12/12 light schedule initiates the flowering stage and causes cannabis plants to start making buds. The idea of this technique is to get seedlings to start flowering as quickly as possible to reduce the time to harvest. Once a plant has started flowering, most strains are ready to harvest within 12 weeks. The sooner you get a plant to start flowering, the sooner you get to harvest.
There’s just one major problem… 12/12 from seed often causes stunted growth and small yields. This results in yields that are often less than 1 ounce per plant, even under strong grow lights.
This seedling took nearly 4 months from seed to harvest under about 150W of fluorescent lights and yielded only 1/2 of an ounce.
I think it looks kind of cool, but 1/2 ounces is not a great harvest after waiting so long. I’ve found you can tweak the light schedule to double or triple your total yield per plant without necessarily increasing time-to-harvest or plant height. More on that below!
12/12 from Seed – What You Need to Know
Something that’s a bit confusing about 12/12 from seed is it seems like seedlings should start flowering immediately. They don’t. I’ve found that photoperiod seedlings won’t start flowering until they’re 3-4 weeks old no matter the light schedule. That means your harvest won’t come any sooner if you initiate 12/12 before seedlings are 3 weeks old. When you give the plant 3-4 weeks of 18+ hours a day, THEN switch to 12/12, you often get better results because plants are quite bigger when buds start forming, without adding much (if any) time to harvest.
Most seedlings won’t make buds until they’re at least 3 weeks old from germination. There’s nothing you could do to get this little seedling to start flowering.
You often get better yields by giving plants 18+ hours of light a day for the first 3-4 weeks. These plants got 18/6 until they reached this size.
I started the 12/12 light schedule right after the above picture. They ended up yielding a lot more than my plants that were given 12/12 from seed in the same setup. Yet they didn’t get much taller or take longer to harvest.
Here are those same plants a month later after they started making buds (plants double or triple in height after the switch to 12/12, especially young plants)
A few weeks of extra light, in the beginning, seems to achieve plants with longer and fatter buds (why was this plant defoliated?)
Plants reward you for giving them a little more time to grow. For example, a solid 4 weeks of 18/6 before 12/12 creates plants that are ready to harvest around the same time as a plant given 12/12 from seed (3-4 months, depending on the strain), but significantly bigger yields.
If you’re worried about plants getting too big, you can gain complete control of plant shape by topping and bending plants to stay flat when they’re young. This increases the amount of bud produced without raising the overall height.
Many people who give 12/12 from seed have chosen this technique to ensure plants stay as small as possible. That’s why it’s common to see these plants in very small pots (like solo cups). Just like with bonsai trees, restricting root space is an effective way to reduce overall plant size. Plants kept in solo cups rarely get bigger than one long bud stick, especially when given 12/12 from seed.
Restricting root size reduces plant size dramatically, especially when combined with 12/12 from seed. Look how big this plant is in relation to the lighter!
12/12 From Clone – When You Want TINY Plants
If you want to grow the absolute smallest plant possible, “12/12 from clone” may be a better choice than 12/12 from seed. A clone is a piece of a bigger plant that was removed and forced to grow roots. Since a clone is technically the same “age” as its mother plant, it’s pretty much a mini mature plant as opposed to a seedling. Because they’re already mature, clones start flowering almost immediately after getting 12/12. That can result in some REALLY small plants at harvest.
Unlike seedlings, clones will start flowering almost immediately after getting 12/12. If you start with small clones in miniature pots, you end up with short buds on sticks at harvest.
These “12/12 from clone” plants are cute and fun! Though not necessarily the most productive when it comes to actual yields.
Auto-Flowering Strains – When Time is of the Essence
Some growers want to use 12/12 from seed to get to harvest as soon as possible, but it’s not actually the best option for a quick harvest. If you’d like to be able to harvest plants even sooner than 3 months, consider giving autoflowering plants a try. Most autoflowering strains are ready to harvest just 2-3 months from germination. That’s less time than almost any photoperiod plant will take, no matter what light schedule you provide. Even better, autoflowering plants on average yield 1-2 ounces each (more if you care for them well), which is better yields than most “12/12 from seed” plants.
The “modern” version of 12/12 from seed is simply using an autoflowering strain. They don’t need special light schedules and are ready to harvest in just 2-3 months from germination.
Autoflowering plants are typically given 18-24 hours of light a day their whole life, which allows them to get bigger in less time than plants under a 12/12 schedule.
Auto-flowering strains are ready in 2-3 months from seed, and yield an average of 1-2 ounces/plant. You can yield even more with low stress training (LST) and great care.
Use “Sea of Green” (SoG) to Maximize Photoperiod Yields
If you want to grow photoperiod strains (or can’t get your hands on autoflowering seeds) but still want to produce big yields as fast as possible, the “Sea of Green” grow style may be a good option. Sea of Green is simply the idea of growing many small plants instead of just a few bigger plants. It works great for photoperiod strains to produce a quick harvest and great yields. It’s kind of halfway between “12/12 from seed” and a typical grow.
For this grow style, growers usually switch to 12/12 when plants are 4-6 weeks old. Since adding a little extra time to the vegetative stage often increases yields, you need to find a balance between getting to harvest as quickly as possible versus harvesting the biggest yields.
For SoG, wait to switch to 12/12 until plants are about this size or a little bigger (note: young plants like this can and will double or triple in height after the switch to 12/12)
SoG in Action – Make sure to fill the entire space under the grow light with plants and you will get a sea of buds!