Hemp: What it Is & How to Grow It
Lately, you might have been seeing a lot of articles and social media posts about people growing their own hemp, and getting into at-home potted plant adventures. So, how does one grow their own hemp? And, is it legal to grow hemp?
Many online articles and testimonials are popping up from all kinds of folks – maybe even in your own circles — who are now growing their own hemp gardens.
You’re probably hesitant to try growing your own hemp. That’s not surprising. For many years, hemp has been classified in the same manner as marijuana has been. Not only is it legal to grow hemp, but we’re here to teach you how to grow hemp, starting with discussing what hemp is and how she’s different from her sister, marijuana.
What is Hemp?
Both “marijuana” and “hemp” are the cannabis family. Their differences lie in their chemical composition and their uses. Hemp is marijuana, minus the famed (and highly-controversial) cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)., the chemical compound causing psychoactive effects that get you “high.” Hemp has remained in a legal grey area since marijuana was first criminalized in the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.
Where Does Hemp Come From?
Hemp is part of the cannabis family, and contains trace amounts of THC — though smoking it (or consuming it in other ways) will not produce a psychoactive buzz. Hemp may look and smell like marijuana, but it grows much taller and skinnier than marijuana, and is not as rich in aromatic terpenes. Mature plants look more like stalks of sugarcane than the bushy, full look of a marijuana plant’s foliage.
Is Hemp Legal?
With the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), hemp was considered the same as cannabis.
However, it still was not legal to grow it, since it was technically part of the marijuana family and a Schedule I drug. That left hemp illegal to grow even for research purposes, despite considerable evidence showing how beneficial the plant was.
This all changed with the 2014 Farm Bill’s passage, aka the Agricultural Act of 2014. This made hemp legal to grow on an experimental basis. It became fully legal in 2018 with the passage of the farm bill in 2018. That bill legalized hemp for cultivation in all 50 states, including those where marijuana was still illegal for medical and recreational use. Now hemp can be grown everywhere.
So, how can you grow hemp legally?It’s much easier than in the past, thanks to both the Farm Act and handy grow kits like a Pot for Pot.
Now, the novice user, hobbyist, or farmer for profit can now grow a personal hemp plant without paranoia of a bust. Where once you had to have a hidden field with everything kept under wraps, it’s now easy to grow your own hemp for personal and medical use right in your own house or apartment. You don’t need a large greenhouse, field, or a backyard to grow your own hemp. You can do this in your own bedroom if you wish!
How to Grow Hemp
So, how do you grow hemp? How do you take advantage of growing this extremely versatile renewable resource?
This is easy and inexpensive thanks to grow kits like a Pot for Pot. Our all-inclusive grow kits have everything you need to grow your own hemp seeds in the comfort of your own home. Now you don’t have to hassle with unreliable sources for information on growing hemp. Everything you need is in this kit. Simply supply your own hemp seeds and water!
Finding Hemp Seeds
Finding hemp seeds to grow your own hemp is becoming easier. But the seeds you need are not the ones packaged up in the health food aisle at the grocery store. Those are for eating and exactly like what you can grow yourself. To get viable seeds you will need to look a little harder.
Because hemp was in a legal timeout for a few decades, reliable genetics are now emerging as hemp is now legal nationwide. It is best to buy seeds from a reputable company like I Love Growing Marijuana.com so that you may grow hemp with the characteristics you are looking for whether that be for hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, hemp CBD flower, or whatever hemp your heart desires.
How to Grow Hemp Indoors
Get some seeds from an online seed bank as well as organic soil, nutrients, and some lighting. Once you have your seeds, it’s time to germinate.
We usually recommend germinating seeds by soaking in water for 24 hours then planting in Jiffy Pellets as they are designed to be the perfect environment for starting a seed with no risk of damaging the fragile first root. Jiffy Pellets mean less mess and less handling– less stress! Alternatively, you can start seeds by soaking them for 24 hours and then placing them in a damp paper towel until they form their little tails. Just be careful as sometimes they can catch on the paper towel. If you start with one of our Complete Kits, you’ll have everything you need to quickly sprout your seeds.
Place your seedlings somewhere they will get plenty of light. We recommend a window sill that will be sunny throughout the day if you are growing indoors. Our grow kit has everything you need, but for extra lighting, purchase a Light for Pot. Once your hemp plant begins growing, the fun has begun!
When your plant reaches the next stage of its life, and it has sprouted 4-5 sets of leaves, then it is time to transplant your plant into its final resting place, aka its finishing pot. Transplanting ensures that your plant does not become rootbound and will be able to properly take in water and nutrients.
Don’t have a lot of space in your house, or don’t have a grow room? You can still grow hemp outdoors or in your backyard! Hemp can grow quite tall, and thus prefers to stretch to its maximum size, outside. Just ensure your plants get plenty of sunlight on a back patio or deck.
The felt fabric pots in our grow kit make it easy for you to move your plant to the areas in your backyard that get all the sunlight, or inside when it rains!
How to Harvest Hemp
Thanks to a Pot for Pot, you have everything that you need to harvest your hemp when the time comes. However, how and when to harvest your hemp depends on what your growing goals are; If growing hemp to harvest the fibers, begin harvesting before your plants produce seeds.
Growing hemp for the seeds? The time to harvest will be when the plant has seeded. Your stalks should be cut down and dried, a process called “retting,” which can take up to 5 weeks.
Pro-Tip: When growing hemp for the seeds, ensure seed husks are hard; if you wait too late, your seeds will start dropping as your plant dries — the longer you wait, the more seeds you lose!
Harvesting Home Grown Hemp
When growing hemp for its CBD, you need to be extra careful at harvest time. You’ll know when it’s time to harvest when the trichomes on your buds start turning from solid white to a milkier white color when looking under a microscope.
Safety first: Make sure to send it to a certified lab for analysis to run a THC test on your hemp to ensure it meets the 0.3% legal threshold.
You would not want to destroy all your hard work over just a few percentage points! Trim off your buds using the bud trimming shears you received with you’re a Pot for Pot grow kit. Dry and cure them by hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated area that’s not warmer than 65 °F and not more humid than 63%, to prevent mold and mildew from ruining your buds!
How Long Does it Take to Grow Hemp?
Hemp is an annual plant that needs at least one season of the year to reach full maturity. Most plant it after the last frost, and harvest it in October if growing outdoors. For those growing indoors, we can grow hemp year-round, with multiple harvests each year if you grow hemp autoflowers.
Autoflowering hemp plants mature in less than half the time of a regular photoperiod hemp plant. They also do not need a lighting adjustment once they begin flowering. If you get your timing just right, have the right conditions, and use the right tools, you can grow up to 100 ounces per year.
Now, you too know how to grow hemp, and you know how to grow hemp legally yourself, from the comfort of your home. We’re here to help you with the right tools for making your hemp growing project a success!
Industrial Hemp & What to Expect From Your Garden
Most good patriots know that even George Washington grew hemp at Mt. Vernon. Our first president established a profitable relationship with the plant because of hemp’s versatile industrial uses, mostly by making ropes, sail canvases, fishing nets, and thread for clothing.
Washington was an enterprising farmer with acres of hemp. You, dear reader, may not harvest enough fibrous material to sew your own Betsy Ross flag from your one or two backyard or kitchen window plants. Although, if your plants are really stalky, why not harvest the stalks too? If there is not enough fiber for clothing, you could use the material to make pulp for paper.
But, you most likely can expect a more than satisfactory haul of hemp seeds, rich in essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals as well as totally delicious in smoothies, salads, and on top of your morning avocado toast.
Or maybe you’re in it for a healthy harvest of CBD-rich flowers which you can smoke, vape, or use to make your own hemp oil. And juicing the fresh hemp leaves is a fun and nutritious way to utilize your ‘waste’ and get a bigger health payback from your plant.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
Let’s be clear: Cannabis is a plant.
“Hemp” and “marijuana” are not really plants, but words used to broadly classify variations of the cannabis plant.
In an attempt to distance themselves from the antiquated association of your new favorite garden plant with red-eyed teenagers and incense, many well-mannered farmers will discuss how hemp has a unique biological structure.
They may tout that hemp is long, lean, and fibrous while marijuana is shorter, leafy, and displays robust flowers or buds.
This oversimplification is simply not true.
With the cultivation of any plant, selective breeding results in variations that display the most desired phenotype, or observable characteristics.
Cannabis has a long relationship with human cultivation. Perhaps the longest of any plant that humans have grown, with evidence of hemp-based agriculture going back thousands of years. This is due to the plant’s wide spectrum of applicable uses.
As a result, cannabis comes in all shapes and sizes. And you may find that it grows just like any other house plant!
The hemp vs. marijuana classification comes down to one major difference: can this variation of the plant get you high (or not)?
Or, to put it more scientifically, what is the percentage of the main psychoactive cannabinoid, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, in the mature cannabis product?
This distinction was defined legally with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill that classified cannabis as “hemp” when the plant does not contain more than 0.3 percent of THC by dry weight.
This places all cannabis plants containing more than 0.3 percent of THC, by dry weight, into the “marijuana” category.
So, it could be argued that any cannabis plant is “hemp” until the plant is harvested, cured, and tested by a laboratory to determine the THC percentage.
Does Hemp Have “Buds” Like Marijuana Does?
Like female marijuana plants, female hemp plants also produce buds. To the uninformed, they look exactly the same as marijuana buds, with trichomes. The difference is that they will not get you high if you smoke them but their CBD content is famed for its support with anxiety or chronic pain.
All buds are trimmed and cured the same way , by properly inspecting each bud for caterpillars, bud rot, mites, mildew, and mold. You certainly don’t want to be smoking moldy hemp or using it to make edibles or oil for your friends and family!
What Does Hemp Look and Smell Like?
Hemp looks so similar to marijuana, most people cannot tell them apart while experienced growers can tell the difference right away. Hemp grows much taller and skinnier than a traditional cannabis plant, with long, hollow bamboo cane-like stalks.
Hemp does have a smell, but it is not nearly as aromatic as marijuana. It has more of a fresh piney smell, with a hint of citrus. You don’t have to worry about your garden attracting unwanted attention like you would if you were growing marijuana!
Hemp Uses and Benefits
Hemp has boundless uses— over 50,000 and counting.
Hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world and hemp products span across multiple different categories: everyday and industrial textiles, building materials, paper, fuel, body care, food, wellness products, plastic substitutes, and more. It truly is a magical plant.
Top 8 Uses for Hemp:
- Textiles and Clothing
- Dietary supplements
- Housing materials
- Plastic replacements
Moreover, hemp demonstrates clear superiority when matched against comparable materials like cotton, flax, trees, soybeans, and petroleum.
Hemp has a unique ability to be strong, durable, and flourish in relatively small growing areas, with light to moderate needs in terms of soil quality and water consumption, and a speedy turnaround time from seed to harvest. Plus, every growth cycle it renews the soil.
The time to normalize this plant is now. If not for its everyday use and versatility, then for the greater environmental positive impact on this planet.
What is Hemp CBD
CBD seems to be everywhere these days— grocery store checkout lines, gas stations, pet stores, the gym, the salon… Even my ophthalmologist has asked me to clarify some of his personal CBD questions.
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, almost all this CBD is from hemp plants.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is just one of countless cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.
Discovered in 1940, CBD is one of the first cannabinoids to gain notoriety. CBD is present in varying percentages in every species of cannabis. It is possible to purchase CBD products from marijuana in states that have legal recreational or medical marijuana, but if you do not live in one of those 33 states, your CBD will come from hemp.
CBD occupies an elevated status currently in the mainstream marketplace because of its proven medical uses while not having psychoactive effects or dependence or abuse potential. The exciting thing is that we are still discovering cannabinoids and we are still learning how they interact with each other and with other things we add to our bodies.
Okay so CBD doesn’t get me high, why use it?
CBD is medicine!
It is a proven treatment for epilepsy, especially with specific syndromes that typically do not respond to anti-seizure medications.
For the greater population, CBD is an answer to anxiety and insomnia.
CBD is one of the best treatments for chronic pain management, as it has been shown to block, or inhibit, neuropathic and inflammatory pain responses– both of which are difficult to treat with traditional western medicine. Many suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis have experienced relief from utilizing CBD products.
Best Uses for CBD:
Because we don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD, it’s best to start small and tune into the feedback you receive from your body. It also may be helpful to consult your physician, especially if you are taking other medications.
CBD as a supplement is a hot topic. You may have seen CBD sodas or coffees in your neighborhood grocery store. These may have less CBD than advertised as the FDA is cracking down on CBD as a supplement. We recommend growing your own cannabis for CBD so that you can be sure of what you are consuming.
Frequently Asked Questions about growing hemp
Is it legal to grow Hemp at home?
Surprisingly – Yes! but only up to six cannabis plants (in California). Adults 21 and above are allowed to grow in the privacy of their homes.
How much water does a hemp plant need per day?
It depends on the climate, but two to three gallons per day, per plant at peak consumption, is an average amount.
How tall does hemp grow?
Usually, hemp plants grow very tall (up to 16 feet) and seeds germinate very quickly which is amazing.
Cannabis seeds 101: How to grow marijuana from seed
Cannabis is grown from one of two sources: a seed or a clone. Seeds carry genetic information from two parent plants and can express many different combinations of traits: some from the mother, some from the father, and some traits from both.
In commercial cannabis production, generally, growers will plant many seeds of one strain and choose the best plant. They will then take clones from that individual plant, which allows for consistent genetics for mass production.
If cannabis is legal in your state, you can buy seeds or clones from a local dispensary, or online through various seed banks.
Cannabis seeds vs. clones
For the typical homegrower, it may be easier to obtain cannabis seeds rather than clones. Growing from seed can produce a stronger plant with more solid genetics.
Plants grown from seed can be more hearty as young plants when compared to clones, mainly because seeds have a strong taproot. You can plant seeds directly into an outdoor garden in early spring, even in cool, wet climates.
If growing outside, some growers prefer to germinate seeds inside because they are delicate in the beginning stages of growth. Indoors, you can give weed seedlings supplemental light to help them along, and then transplant them outside when big enough.
Most seeds that you will buy are regular seeds as described above, but here are a couple more types.
How weed seeds work
Cannabis can be either male or female—also called “dioecious”—but only females produce the buds we all know and love. For reproduction, males have pollen sacs and pollinate females, causing female flowers to produce seeds.
Once cannabis seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die, and seeds are either dropped to the ground where they grow into new cannabis plants next spring, or the seeds are harvested for processing into seed oil or food products, or stored so they can be sown in the ground later and become the next generation of plants.
To get the buds found in medical and recreational stores, female cannabis plants are grown in an environment without males—or the males are removed from the area before they release pollen—so the females don’t create seeds. Females can then focus their energies on producing buds and not seeds—this high-potency marijuana is traditionally known as “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”
Some varieties of cannabis can produce male parts alongside female flowers on the same plant, especially if exposed to environmental stressors. These plants are known as hermaphrodites, and sometimes they can self-pollinate to create seeds.
Pros and cons of using cannabis seeds
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
If buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank, growing from seed is the best way to ensure your plants will have solid genetics and start clean, meaning they won’t come with diseases or pests.
Also, buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank will give you a sense of what a particular strain will look and smell like, how it will grow, and how much it will yield at harvest.
The main drawback to growing from seed is there is no guarantee as to what you’ll end up with—if you buy a regular pack of cannabis seeds, it will be a mix of males and females. You’ll need to sex them out (more below) to identify the males and get rid of them, because you don’t want your females producing seeds.
Sexing marijuana plants can be a time-consuming process, and if you don’t catch males, there is a risk that even one males can pollinate your entire crop, causing all of your female weed plants to produce seeds.
One way to avoid sexing plants is to buy feminized seeds (more below), which ensures every seed you plant will be a bud-producing female.
You can also minimize headaches and avoid the hassle of seed germination and sexing plants by starting with clones.
How weed clones work
Aside from producing cannabis through seeds, or sexual reproduction, you can also reproduce the plant through cloning, or asexual reproduction. A clone is a cutting that is genetically identical to the plant it was taken from—that plant is known as the “mother.”
Pros and cons of using cannabis clones
Through cloning, you can create a new harvest with exact replicas of your favorite plant. Because genetics are identical, a clone will give you a plant with the same characteristics as the mother, such as flavor, cannabinoid profile, yield, grow time, etc. So if you come across a specific strain or phenotype you really like, you might want to clone it to reproduce more buds that have the same effects and characteristics.
With cloning, you don’t have to get new seeds every time you want to grow another plant—you just take a cutting of the old plant—and you don’t have to germinate seeds or sex them out and get rid of the males.
One drawback of clones is they need to be taken during the vegetative stage of a plant—flower is too late—so if you have a small setup with only one light, it can be hard to keep clones alive while flowering other plants, because the two need different amounts of light.
Another drawback to clones is they can take on negative traits from the mother plant as well. If the mother has a disease, attracts pests, or grows weak branches, its clones will probably have the same issues.
Additionally, every long-time grower will tell you that clones degrade over time.
What are feminized cannabis seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds will produce only female plants for getting buds, so there is no need to remove males or worry about female plants getting pollinated. Feminized seeds are produced by causing the monoecious condition in a female cannabis plant—the resulting seeds are nearly identical to the self-pollinated female parent, as only one set of genes is present.
This is sometimes referred to as “cloning by seed” and will not produce any male plants. This is achieved through several methods:
- By spraying the plant with a solution of colloidal silver, a liquid containing tiny particles of silver
- Through a method known as rodelization, in which a female plant pushed past maturity can pollinate another female
- Spraying seeds with gibberellic acid, a hormone that triggers germination (this is much less common)
Most experienced or commercial growers will not use feminized seeds because they only contain one set of genes, and these should never be used for breeding purposes. However, a lot of beginning growers start with feminized seeds because they eliminate the worry of having to deal with male plants.
Top feminized cannabis strain families
A lot of classic weed strains that have been around for a while come in feminized form. Some popular fem seeds are:
- OG Kush
- GSC (Cookies)
What are autoflowering cannabis seeds?
Autoflowering seeds are also popular with beginning growers. They are easy to grow because you don’t have to worry about light cycles and how much light a plant receives.
Most cannabis plants begin flowering when the amount of light they receive on a daily basis reduces. Outdoors, this happens when the sun starts setting earlier in the day as the season turns from summer to autumn. Indoor growers can control when a plant flowers by reducing the daily amount of light plants receive from 18 hours to 12 hours.
However, a type of cannabis called Cannabis ruderalis, which developed in extreme northern conditions without much sunlight, will begin flowering once the plant reaches a certain age—they automatically start flowering regardless of the amount of light they receive, hence the name “autoflower.”
Pros and cons of growing autoflower
Because they grow and flower quicker, growers can fit in multiple autoflower cannabis harvests into the span of one regular harvest.
Autoflowers can be started in early spring and will flower during the longest days of summer, taking advantage of high quality light to get bigger yields. Or, if you get a late start in the growing season, you can start autoflowers in May or June and harvest in the fall.
Also, autoflower plants are small—perfect for closet grows or any small grow, or growing outdoors where you don’t want your neighbors to see what you’re up to.
A couple big drawbacks, though: Autoflower strains are known for being less potent. Also, because they are small in stature, they usually don’t produce big yields.
However, potency in autoflowering varieties has increased significantly since their initial introduction, with some breeders crossbreeding the low-THC ruderalis with other more potent varieties.
Tips for growing autoflower marijuana seeds
Autoflowering strains require some preparation, as they will grow quickly and start to flower whether or not you’re ready for them.
Many marijuana growers start autoflowers early in the season, and at a different time than a regular crop, so keep the season and climate in mind when growing and harvesting—your plants still need warmth to grow, and rain can give them bud rot. Consider growing in a greenhouse to protect them.
Because training happens during vegetative growth, for autoflowering plants, this period could be as short as a few weeks, which means time is limited. Try topping your autoflowers after they have three nodes, and stop once they begin to flower. You will want to prune them lightly.
Go easy on nutrients
Autoflowers don’t need lots of nutrients because they’re small and don’t spend much time in the vegetative cycle. They won’t need as much veg nutrients—such as nitrogen—but will need more bloom nutrients.
What are high-CBD cannabis seeds?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemical components—known collectively as cannabinoids—found in the cannabis plant. Over the years, humans have selected plants for high-THC content, making cannabis with high levels of CBD rare. The genetic pathways through which THC is synthesized by the plant are different than those for CBD production.
Cannabis used for hemp production has been selected for other traits, including a low THC content, so as to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. Consequently, many varieties of hemp produce significant quantities of CBD.
As interest in CBD as a medicine has grown, many breeders have crossed high-CBD hemp with cannabis. These strains have little or no THC, 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, or some have a high-THC content along with significant amounts of CBD (3% or more).
Seeds for these varieties are now widely available online and through dispensaries. It should be noted, however, that any plant grown from these seeds is not guaranteed to produce high levels of CBD, as it takes many years to create a seed line that produces consistent results. A grower looking to produce cannabis with a certain THC to CBD ratio will need to grow from a tested and proven clone or seed.
How to germinate marijuana seeds
Germination is the process in which a seed sprouts and begins to grow into a new plant. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your weed grow.
Marijuana seeds can be acquired from an array of sources and can vary in quality. For more info on how to buy marijuana seeds, check out our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.
Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. There are many methods to germinate seeds, but for the most common and simplest method, you will need:
- Two clean plates
- Four paper towels
- Distilled water
Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The towels should be soaked but shouldn’t have excess water running off.
Take two of the paper towels and place them on a plate. Then, place the marijuana seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two water-soaked paper towels.
To create a dark, protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds, like a dome.
Make sure the area the seeds are in is warm, somewhere between 70-85°F.
After completing these steps, it’s time to wait. Check the paper towels once a day to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they are losing moisture, apply more water to keep the seeds happy.
Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take a while, but generally, seeds should germinate in 3-10 days. If it’s been two weeks and a seed hasn’t sprouted, it’s probably a dud and won’t sprout.
A seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears. The sprout is the taproot, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of successful germination.
It’s important to keep the delicate seed sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as it begins to split.
Transplanting germinated cannabis seeds
Once you see the taproot, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium, such as soil.
- Fill a 4-inch or one-gallon pot with loose, airy potting soil
- Water the soil before you put the seed in; it should be wet but not drenched
- Poke a hole in the soil with a pen or pencil—the rule of thumb is: make the hole twice as deep as the seed is wide
- Using a pair of tweezers, gently place the seed in the hole with the taproot facing down
- Lightly cover it with soil
Keep a close eye on the temperature and moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy. It’s very delicate at this stage. Use a spray bottle to water it—over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.
Within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.
Germinating cannabis seeds doesn’t always go as planned. Some seeds will be duds. Others will be slow and take longer to sprout. But some will pop quickly and grow rapidly.
This is the beauty of seeds—often, you can tell which plants or genetics will thrive right from the get-go. This will help you determine which plants you want to take cuttings from for clones or for breeding if you want to create a seed bank of your own.
How to sex a pot plant
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
As we’ve mentioned, cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning male and female reproductive organs appear on different plants.
Because only female cannabis plants produce buds and you want them to focus all their energy on producing buds and not seeds, it’s important to identify and get rid of male weed plants so they don’t pollinate females. If females are pollinated, it will give you buds filled with seeds, making your weed harsh and unpleasant.
Cultivating males is important for breeders trying to cross new strains and genetics, but most people growing for buds will want to remove the males.
As mentioned above, you can skip the processing of sexing weed plants by growing with feminized seeds or clones.
If growing male and female cannabis seeds, they’ll start to show their sex organs, or “pre-flowers,” after 8-10 weeks from germination.
Cannabis plant sex organs appear on nodes, the points where branches grow off from the main stalk.
Males will have round balls—these will develop into pollen sacs, which will release pollen into the air when mature.
Females will have a round structure with long hairs—these hairs will develop into pistils, which will catch pollen in the air.
Pre-flowers can initially be extremely small and hard to identify with the naked eye, but you can use a magnifying glass to get a better look.
Can I grow a seed I found in a bag of weed?
Finding a cannabis seed in your stash is not ideal, but we’ve all been there before. Although much less common than it once was, it still happens. Sometimes you’ll notice one when grinding down some flower, or you’ll see one pop, spark, and crackle from the heat of a lit bowl.
These are referred to as “bagseeds” and whether or not you can grow one will depend on where it came from.
Is a bagseed good or bad?
Seeds found in finished cannabis buds can develop for a number of reasons. For example, a male plant may have accidentally pollinated a flowering female during the growing process. But more commonly, they’re a sign of stress and can be attributed to high temperatures during the final stages of flowering or an exaggerated spike in climate or environment.
Seeds can also form in plants with genetic disorders or instability, like hermaphrodites—plants that develop both male and female reproductive parts. Generally, stress and genetic disorders are viewed as bad, so temper expectations with any plant you start from a bagseed.
But sometimes you get lucky and find a mature seed in some really nice herb. Strains like the legendary Chemdog wouldn’t be possible without adventurous smokers planting and proliferating the seeds they found in a bag of kind bud.
So don’t discount bud because it has a seed or two in it. While not ideal, it could be the origins of the next great weed strain.
Ask yourself a few questions to decide if it’s worth the time and energy to grow the seed.
Was the seed found in good weed?
If you don’t like the flavor, effects, or even the look of the bud, then it’s probably not worth growing.
Are you ready to grow?
Growing marijuana takes a certain level of commitment: time, energy, and financial resources, so be sure you can commit to the whole process.
Is the seed viable?
For a seed to be viable, it must be mature enough to have a completely formed genetic blueprint, and it must be strong enough to germinate and pop through its hard casing and sprout its crucial taproot.
There are a few indicators that will give you a sense of whether the seed is worth germinating.
- Tiger stripes—dark stripes on the seed which resemble veins on a leaf are generally good
- Solid shell—a seed should be able to withstand a little pressure when pinched between your fingers; if it crumbles or cracks, it’s no good
Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell.
In some cases, even if a seed isn’t completely mature, there’s still a chance it could be viable. But often these are extremely weak, take long to develop, and express other unfavorable characteristics. Growers usually discard weak plants to free up space.
You might also find a mature seed that has been physically damaged through poor handling, like rough trimming. In those cases, it probably isn’t worth the effort to try and germinate the seed.
But if the seed you found looks decent, you might as well germinate it and see what sprouts.
Time to germinate
Viable or not, there’s only one sure way to find out if a bagseed will grow. If you’re simply curious to learn and not as concerned with the overall outcome, you can plant a couple of bagseeds outside and see what happens.
If you’re ready for a more serious approach, make sure you have the space for a proper garden and pop the seeds to see what fruit they bear.
Even if your seed sprouts fast and grows vigorously, it still has roughly a 50/50 chance of being female and producing buds, instead of turning out to be a male.
Remember, once a seed germinates, the real work begins. Sexing, selecting, vegetative growth, flowering, and the eventual harvest all lie ahead.
How to buy cannabis seeds
Cannabis seeds can be found on numerous online seed banks, but note that it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person. In legal and medical states, you may purchase seeds at a dispensary.