I’ve put together this page as an easy to follow guide to growing marijuana. The majority of these tips are for beginner to intermediate hobby growers. Where appropriate, I have linked to reddit threads that I think might be helpful.
I’ve split this page into 5 steps:
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Last update: Jan 17, 2021
1. Research Options & Gather Supplies
Planning is the first step to a successful grow. First, what are your goals? Do you want to grow for fun? For a particular kind of weed? For medicine?
Your goal might be as simple to successfully grow a cannabis plant. Keep your goals mind, as it’s easy to get carried away buying things you don’t need.
Here are answers to common questions about getting started.
How hard is it to grow cannabis?
Growing marijuana from seed is fun and can be accomplished by complete novices on limited budgets. Modern cannabis seed banks offer feminized auto-flowering strains that greatly reduce barrier to entry.
How much will it cost to grow?
Less than you’d probably expect in some ways, though like any hobby — there are always new and cool toys that can add up quick. I’ve done very well spending less than $100 to get started on a budget grow, here is an example of a low-cost minimalist set-up.
|Bag of soil + peat pucks||$10||simple potting soil for vegetables will work|
|Plastic pots||$5||easy to find used / free (clean them first!)|
|Fertilizer||$10||compost tea a free alternative|
|CFL / LED Bulbs||$20||low-cost lighting via ebay|
|Lighting adapter||$5||changes 1 socket to 3. easy to find online|
|Light fixture on chain||$10||found in kit-form at any big box store|
|USB fan||$2.5||dollar store purchase|
|Emergency blanket||$2.5||dollar store purchase|
|Seeds||$20-$100||autoflowered & feminized for ease|
Type of grow? small, medium, large?
Growing one or a few plants at a time is my recommendation for beginners. Learn from your mistakes on a small scale and take that knowledge to a bigger grow over time if that is your goal.
Micro Grows & House Plants
Some varieties (strains) of marijuana grow particularly well as houseplants with no special lighting needed (though additional lighting can often be a helpful boost).
Alternatively, there are a few companies offering “Grow your own” DIY Kits like this for beginners that come with everything (except seeds) for less than $100… also looks like a nice gift option.
Reddit groups for “micro grows” and “nano grows” at r/microgrowery and r/NanoGrowery are worth browsing.
Grow Box, Tents and Closet Kits
If you are looking for something a bit more serious, but still budget-minded — a grow tent or grow closet system are good options. For a small grow box or tent system with lighting, ventilation, soil seeds, etc: budget about $400-800 to get started.
For a full-sized grow cabinet with lighting you’ll be starting at closer to $2000, and fancy lighting options can add up to extra costs very quickly. I suggest starting small, and seeing how much you actually enjoy the hobby before going big.
Growing medium and methods?
Soil, coconut, hydroponic, etc. So many options! Unless you plan on investing in an automated watering system, hydroponics or other fancy gear regular potting soil available from any large store is completely valid way to grow marijuana.
Growers supplement with some sort of fertilizer. Some people prefer to use only natural fertilizers (compost tea being a common option), while commercial growers often use very specific fertilizing routines to increase yields.
For hobby grows I recommended being very restrained with fertilizers, the taste will be so much better vs a heavily fertilized flower (even taking into account flushing).
Indoor or Outdoor?
If you can grow tomatoes where you live, you can grow cannabis outdoors. The cultivar (strain) you choose will be different for indoor vs outdoor. Greenhouses are great ways to grow, but just a few plants on your porch will work with the right varieties.
Some places in Canada or the United States have long been growing some of the best marijuana available for decades. (examples include Texada Timewarp from British Columbia, Canada and strains of Kush from California USA.)
What Kind of Lighting?
If you are growing indoors, lighting is key. Cannabis needs lots of strong light with specific frequencies and specific times during it’s growing cycle to get optimal results.
HID, CFL, and LED lights made specifically for marijuana is what many commercial growers use. For small single plant grows I recommend CFL or LEDs. They are cooler and consume less energy.
Warning: High wattage lights can run up your electricity bills.
Note: Most LED grow lights on Amazon/eBay suck, and are a waste of time. If you want to go ultra cheap — a regular, low-wattage CFL would be better and cheaper. If you want something higher-end, look at suppliers like SuperCloset.
Where can you buy Cannabis seeds?
Seeds – an important pre-requisite 😉 First, check locally with growers in your area, or dispensary or smoke shop. Maybe they will have seeds, but often not.
If you can’t find seeds at your local dispensary, or want a better/specific variety: there are plenty of online seed suppliers. Pre-feminized, auto-flowering varieties are a great way for beginners to produce excellent results.
What kind of cannabis to grow?
There are so many cultivars (aka strains) of cannabis these days.
If you are brand-new to growing a few types I personally recommended for a casual house-plant type grow are autoflowering dwarf varieties such as: Lowryder, Low-fly, Easy Bud, Royal Dwarf — as these are short & can be grown without any fancy equipment.
Other popular beginner cultivars like Blue Dream, Northern Lights, Blue Cheese, Papaya and many “skunk” varieties are known for being particularly hardy — meaning less susceptible to pests, mold and mildew.
Another option is to get a beginner “variety pack” from a seed bank. This will give you a few types to grow and experiment with to find what kinds work best for you. ILGM offers a beginner’s variety pack and many other themed variety pack deals worth looking at if you have a hard time choosing just one kind 🙂
$5-10+ per seed might seem expensive, but the quality of the seed is vital, and the most expensive seeds are usually feminized and auto-flowering — which takes the majority of the difficulties of the past (sexing & light manipulation) obsolete.
Seedbanks offer free seeds on social media, so have a look – follow me on twitter @seed2bud to find lots of seed banks.
I recommended organic fertilizers. When I grew gorilla-style outdoors, I would use chicken-manure based fertilizer when seedlings were strong enough to put into the ground, compost tea mixed in with waterings during vegetation, and then organic pellets that are specialized for outdoor flowering.
For babied one-plant hobby grows, I like using compost tea and then flushing (using only water with no fertilizer) for the last few waters. For more serious hobby-grows there are many great fertilizer kits (often organic) available.
Air circulation & filtration
Give your plants plenty of air. At minimum, I suggest a small fan, and running it for the majority of the time if possible. I’ve used very small usb fans for single plants, even!
Air is needed to prevent mold and mildew and keep pest away. In addition. I’ve been told that fans make plants stronger and grow thicker stems, and the inverse: plants in a room of “still air” will be weak and thin. I have found this true in my own experience.
Grow tent kits generally have some sort of fan and filtration system.
2. Germinate your seeds into seedlings
Sprouting (germinating) seeds is easy — to mess up. So, be mindful. Follow the instructions specific to the variety you are growing. This often comes with the seeds themselves, but if not – these are general guidelines that I use myself:
Get a piece of non-bleached brown paper towel. Fold a few times into a rectangle about 2-4 inches square. Wet the paper towel with room temperature tap water that has been left out over night. Place the seeds in the wet (but not dripping wet) paper towel. Keep paper towel moist.
The seeds will start opening in a few days. Next up: transfer the seeds to the their first pot (follow the manufacturers’ instructions). Growers often use a small pot (red plastic beer cups are a great size), before transferring to the final full sized pot. Important: Shell side up, root down.
Some growers recommend using a glass of water to germinate cannabis seeds. I’ve never tried this method, but assume it would work just fine.
Troubleshooting – tap water left out overnight is probably the best outside of PH balanced water.
3. Vegetative stage (pre-flowering)
This staging of growing is when the majority of leaves and bulk of the plant will grow. Lighting, watering & fertilizer be the biggest factors along with avoiding disease and pests.
When should you first fertilize? If you have given your seeding a good start with good soil. It’s common practice to give a “half-feed” dose
Watering seems like it should be easy, but any houseplant grower knows it’s not always simple, and an easy way for beginners to kill plants. For cannabis the PH of water is very important, so make a point to understand and measure it.
Tap water is better than purified water, as purified water has the wrong PH.
Keep a schedule. For soil: Do not overwater. Do not overwater! (did I mention not to over water?) Wait for the soil to dry out between waterings.
Transplanting is traumatic for cannabis plants. There are ways to minimize this. Every grower has their own special methods, but here are a few of my own that seem to have worked for me and other growers I’ve known over the years.
- Water a few days before transplant, so your soil is neither dry or too moist.
- Do not bury the top of the small pots existing soil with new potting soil when transplanting
- While, you can transplant a seedling straight to the final pot, this requires a lot of thoughtful pampering when watering to insure you don’t stunt it’s growth — or kill it.
- It is best to transition your marijuana through multiple containers. The most common method I know is 3 steps:
- Paper towel -> 2. Small pot -> 4. Full size pot
Sexing (if not growing feminized seeds)
Only the female plants flower, which is what we call bud. In other words, only female plants produce buds. Additionally, if you grow a male plant with a female plant — the male plant will fertilize the female, and which will make the female produce seeds.
That’s how you get seedy bud. (also some cultivars tend to turn into hermaphrodites under shock or environmental factors). So, it’s important to remove any males from your female plants before they are mature enough to produce pollen.
Female plants have “hairs”, male plants do not. (illustration coming soon)
Pruning, Cropping, Topping
There are various ways growers encourage growth including pruning, cropping and topping along with other methods like: “sea of green”, tying down, SCROG , etc. I won’t go into too much detail in this page, but you’ll find lots of great information on reddit threads.
Pests, mold, mildew and deficiencies are all potential headaches, and easier to control the earlier to catch them.
Have a look through /r/cannabiscultivation/ for helpful guides, and this guide to pre-flowering is very detailed.
4. Flowering stage
In the wild, flowering is triggered by the sun. When the hours of sunlight lessen in the late summer, cannabis will begin to flower. For indoor plants that are not auto-flowering this means adjusting lighting to mimic nature.
If you have given your plants the correct right lighting and your plant will start flowering on the schedule specific to the strain (cultivar).
Avoiding pest, mold and mildew at this stage is vital. So keep a close eye on your plant during this final phase of the grow.
For inspiration, have a look at the auto-flowering & cannabis growing reddit communities.
5. Harvest, Cure and Enjoy!
It is tempting to harvest too early because of impatience and too late because of greed.
Each cultivar (strain) will have it’s own length of time for seed->harvest… but these are only estimates and many factors (esp. lighting) effect maturity. Experienced growers use their discernment or will judge by examining the trichomes of the plant. Ideal trichomes are often described as “amber” in color.
Trimming tip – it’s important to get close to the main stem, if not the leftover leaf stems can 1) summon mold and 2) also not as tasty & smooth for smoking.
After trimming, you’ll need to dry and cure your weed. I recommend this very detailed video guide to harvesting if you are interested in the details.
This guide is a work in progress, I will be adding information, illustrations & links to in-depth guides in the weeks and months to come. Have your own tip? Leave a comment, thanks!