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How to grow marijuana from seeds step by step

Grow Weed Starting From Seed

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

Growing your own cannabis plant starting from seed is a remarkable journey. Understanding the biology of the plant is one thing, but comprehending how a little miracle bean can turn into a gigantic tree producing flowers that can affect your body and mind is nothing short of an evolutionary miracle. Or rather a co-evolutionary story of plant and human.

Start Growing Weed From Seed

Our favorite thing about growing your own weed starting from a seed , rather than a clone, is that you get to see the full life cycle and enjoy a plant that is unique, just like you. An entirely new genetic makeup will enter the world for the first time, and if you’re lucky, something remarkable might be born.

Raising a cannabis seedling , however, requires some patience, gentle hands, and a smidgen of luck. Thankfully pot seeds are remarkably vigorous because they are what’s called endosperm seeds , which means they have almost pre-formed cotyledon leaves before you even add water. Below is a brief guide on the techniques we have found yield the most success when starting seeds and raising your seedling to a healthy plant ready for transplanting. And, don’t forget, a Pot for Pot’s Complete Grow Kits take the guesswork out so you always wind up with a splendid harvest!

1) Germinating Your Cannabis Seed

To accelerate germination, soak your seed in a small container with lukewarm water and place it in a dark and warm place (like a kitchen cabinet) for 12-24 hours, but no longer. By drenching the seed, it absorbs the water thoroughly, activating the germination process on a physical and chemical level. Doing this helps to loosen the shell as it becomes a little softer making it easier for the embryo to crack it open. When your seed sinks to the bottom, it is ready to be planted, and sometimes the seed will pop out a small taproot. A seed can still be planted though if it does not sink or put out a taproot. When a seed pops a taproot (often called a tail), it becomes more vulnerable and it is better to plant it before this root emerges.

2) Planting Your Weed Seed

We see best results with seedling pellets that are made of a mix of compressed peat moss and coco husk. To expand, soak it in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Using warmer, lukewarm water, instead of cold water, will speed up the time the pellet takes to fully expand. Once your seedling pellet has absorbed enough water and has expanded to its maximum size, gently squeeze to remove excess water. The growing medium should be like a damp sponge that would not leave streaks on the table. Dig a small hole about 1/4 inch deep for your seed. Use a spoon to lift the seed out of its bath. If it has popped out a taproot be careful not to damage it. Gently place the seed into the hole and lightly cover it with dirt from the pellet. Now that you have started the germination process, your seedling will come above ground within two weeks. The older the seed, the longer it takes for it to germinate.

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.

3) Weed Seedling Sprouts

Perhaps the most exciting stage, your plant baby will come above ground in 1-2 weeks, with the average popping up in 5 to 7 days after planting. As your seedling comes above the soil, its shell might take a few days to fall off. It’s best to leave it alone, nature has the job covered. If it does not come above ground after about two weeks, the chance of success is dramatically reduced, and it’s best to try again. Even the best seeds have an 85% germination rate. When your seedling comes above ground, it is going to want to see a direct light source.

Save Money – No Tent Needed

Organic Cannabis Soil Recipe

Avoid Common Mistakes

4) Lighting for Your Cannabis Seedling

Marijuana seedlings require a medium amount of light — enough to get energy to grow, but not too much light that to get burned. Leaving your seedling in direct sunlight will cause the leaves to curl, while too little light will cause the seedling to stretch. If growing outside, seedlings want to see a direct light source to stop them stretching. If inside, a sunny windowsill with more than half a day of sunlight works wonders. Otherwise, 24 to 30 inches from a grow light is an excellent supplement. Your seedling should not stretch more than 6 inches at most.

5) Watering Your Cannabis Seedling

For cannabis plants young and old, it’s best to use bottled, distilled, or filtered water as these are without chlorine. If using tap water, let it sit for 48 to 96 hours before watering to dissipate any chlorine. Chlorine can also be eliminated by boiling for 20 minutes. Under normal conditions, after soaking your seedling pellet, it should contain all the moisture your plant needs before it comes above ground. As it grows, it will only need about a shot glass worth of water at most per week to keep the medium damp. Seedlings don’t drink a lot of water, which makes sense given their size. Your plant will do better in a growing medium which is damp but not soaking wet. Overwatering is just as deadly as drying out!

Damping off happens when the seedling is in too moist of an environment. The young plant’s immune system is not strong enough to ward off a fungus that results in the plant rotting from the bottom of the stem. When this happens, the plant will bend over and die if not treated. To help fight the infection, lightly spray a 0.5% solution of hydrogen peroxide around the affected area. However, the best option is to avoid this by not exposing your seedling to too much moisture.

6) First Cannabis Seedling Leaves & Hardening Off

The first set of leaves to come above ground are called the cotyledons . These little leaves are packed with energy and will grow to about 1/4 in in size before eventually falling off. Your second leaves to emerge will be single blades and will be serrated, looking like regular pot leaves.

They will become several inches in length. During their growth your first actual set of leaves will appear. These are typically three blades. Around this time is when your plant is “hardening off”. You will notice that the stem will start to develop a thicker skin and harden off. As the leaves of the plant get bigger, they can gradually handle more sunlight, so move it into more direct light– the more light the better!

7) Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings

About 10 days after germination, when the baby cannabis plant has hardened off, roots will start emerging from the bottom of your seedling pellet and the plant is ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot. Be very careful not to damage the roots during this stage. Any stress will slow its growth.

Dig a small hole in your bigger pot for the seedling, sprinkle some rooting booster in the bottom of the hole then carefully plant the whole seedling pellet holding your weed baby.

Now bury so the base of its stalk is level with the topsoil. Give it a watering to set the roots in the ground, then hold off watering until you pick up the pot and it feels light in weight.

Are you ready to transplant your seedlings? Shop our best selection of Cannabis starter growing kits from small to large pots.

8. Separating the Girls from the Boys

At about 4-6 weeks into your plant’s growth , you’ll be able to determine the sex of the plant. You’ll want to separate and dispose of any male plants. This is an important step for growing marijuana because the female plants are more potent and valuable. You also don’t want male plants to compromise the growth of your female plants.

Why Do You Only Want Female Weed Plants?

Only female marijuana plants produce THC buds that are high in potency. You want to make sure your Cannabis plants are all female. If you have a male plant, it can fertilize the other female plants, and they will work to produce seeds instead of flowers and nugs.

It’s essential as a grower to know the difference between a female and a male plant so that you can remove the male plants before they contaminate your crop . Unfortunately, you have a 50/50 chance of getting a male plant when growing a plant from a seed from a nug.

There is a massive market for seeds that will only grow into female plants. But even these seeds are not a 100% guarantee you’re going to get a female plant. To ensure a good crop, you’ll want to germinate and plant many marijuana seeds and then separate the females from the males when the plants begin to show their sexuality.

How to Tell if a Weed Seed is Male or Female

As your plant matures sexually, it will develop between its nodes. Nodes are the area of the plant where the branches connect to the plant’s stalk. The distinguishing characteristics that will help you identify your plant’s gender:

  • Male Plants : Small pollen sacs will cluster in the nodes.
  • Female Plants : Stigmas will develop in the nodes. The stigmas can catch the pollen of male plants. Stigmas have hair-like veins that will extend from the sacs in the nodes.
  • Hermaphrodite Plants : These plants have both the stigmas and pollen sacs in their nodes. These are female plants that develop both sex organs when exposed to a lot of stress.

Once you can identify the sex of your plants, you’ll want to remove the male or hermaphrodite plants because they can negatively affect the harvest of your female plants. That’s why it is crucial to germinate and grow several cannabis plants to this stage to ensure you get at least one healthy female plant.

9) Grow Weed Plant, Grow!

Suddenly, before your very eyes, the plant will transform. She will grow in height and branch out, putting off leaves and a network of branches. It is your job as the grower to meet her needs so that she can reach her full potential. With a good grow kit, this means as much light as possible and lightly watering only when she is thirsty.

This is considered your marijuana plant’s vegetive stage. The goal in this stage is to keep her healthy and allow the plant to grow as big and strong as possible so that she can hold many, many flowers.

Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.

How to Grow Marijuana from Seed

If you’re in a location where cannabis (another term for marijuana; short for the plant cannabis sativa) is illegal, growing it is probably illegal too. Bringing in seeds or cuttings to your location can very well be a felony, and reputable sellers won’t ship to you.

You can probably purchase and grow hemp seeds and plants, which have a negligible amount of THC, but these plants won’t produce the psychoactive effects of plants that contain higher levels of THC. Check with your seller to be certain you’re getting what you think you’re purchasing. If you buy seeds for CBD-only hemp plants by mistake, you can end up being very disappointed post-harvest.

How to acquire seeds or cuttings

You can usually find cannabis seeds for sale at most dispensaries in areas where growing cannabis for personal use is legal. You may also find growers who sell cuttings/clones. You can expect to pay $50 to $100 for a pack of ten seeds. When shopping for seeds or cuttings, read the labels and any other information the manufacturer provides on its website or in its catalog to make sure you’re getting the right seeds or cuttings (the strain) for the plants you want to grow.

One way to get your mitts on some seeds is to collect seeds when you find them in flowers you purchased, or get some from friends if they’re collecting.

  • Feminized seeds: Nearly all seeds sold by reputable companies are feminized, but make sure they are. These seeds are specially treated to grow into female plants.
  • Auto-flowering or photoperiod: Auto-flowering plants are easier, because they enter the flower stage after a certain number of weeks regardless of the light/dark cycle. If you’re a beginner, seriously consider going with auto-flowering plants.
  • Genetic background: If seeds are from a well-established strain, such as O.G. Kush, Bubble Gum, or a cross-breed, the genetic background should be stated.
  • Blend: The blend represents the percentage of the three species — sativa, indica, and ruderalis. All auto-flower strains contain some percentage of ruderalis, which is responsible for the auto-flowering nature of the plant.
  • Yield indoors: The number of grams of bud per square meter of plant when grown indoors.
  • Yield outdoors: The number of grams of bud per plant (after drying) when grown outdoors.
  • Plant height indoors: Shorter than when grown outdoors.
  • Plant height outdoors: Taller than when grown indoors.
  • Time to harvest: Approximate number of weeks after germination the flower should be ready to harvest.
  • Potency: Percentages of CBD and THC.
  • Effect: The type of experience you can expect when consuming product from the plant.
See also  Marijuana seeds feminized shipped to usa

Know the laws about buying cannabis

  • In some European countries, laws prohibit growing cannabis, but seed is legal, which is quite confusing. You’re allowed to buy and eat cannabis seeds because they’re non-psychotropic, but you can’t buy them to grow cannabis. Other countries in Europe, such as Germany, have their own seed laws.
  • In Canada, where cannabis is federally legal, seeds can be shipped across provincial lines.
  • In the U.S., in some states in which cannabis is legal, you can purchase seeds from some dispensaries or other locations to grow plants as long as you keep them in the state. Other states may bar selling to non-licensed growers. Shipping or transporting seeds across state or international borders is illegal, although a few reputable online seed stores ship to individuals with success.

Cuttings are typically treated in a similar manner as seeds in legalized locations. They may be available from some dispensaries or outlets for pick up or delivery with a fee. They’re prohibited from crossing U.S. state lines or international borders. You can buy individual plants and mix and match strains. Prices vary and are often determined by plant size.

Buy cuttings (clones) only from a reputable source who understands proper back-crossing of strains for stability. Back-crossing involves pollinating a plant with one of its parent plants to promote sexual stability, so that when you have a female it won’t hermaphrodite into a male during flowering.

Both seeds and clones are often able to be purchased from commercial locations already in your state.

In the U.S., transporting any part of the cannabis plant over state lines is illegal. This applies to seeds and clones and, technically, even to tissue samples.

How to germinate cannabis seeds

Germinating seeds requires a dark environment that is around 70 degrees. There are many ways to germinate seeds (in soil, in a wet paper towel, in starter plugs) You can also sow them directly into soil in a garden or container, as long as the soil is light and fluffy, so the roots can easily grow down and the stalk can break through the soil. Plant the seeds about 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep and cover them loosely with soil.

Most importantly, seeds need a moist environment; they won’t germinate if they get too dry. You can use a heat mat to increase the success of germination in colder climates.

How to transplant marijuana plants

When transplanting any plant, whether it started from seed or a clone, handle it gently, being very careful not to damage the roots. Center the plant in the pot, and plant it deep enough to cover the root ball completely in soil. If the plant is root bound, you can gently tease the roots apart to encourage outward growth.

Pack your soil or other grow medium down around the roots well enough to support the plant while new roots grow, but not so tight that the soil restricts outward root growth. Water the soil around the roots.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Kim Ronkin Casey has been a communications professional for more than 20 years and recently took a year-long leap into the world of cannabis as the communications manager for one of the leading dispensaries in North America. She now consults for companies in the industry on internal and external communications. Joe Kraynak is a professional writer who has contributed to numerous For Dummies books.

How to Grow Cannabis in 10 Easy Steps


Your Growing Cannabis Information Kit:

Get to Harvest in 10 Steps!

Cannabis legalization is spreading like wildfire across the US, Canada, and in many other countries around the world. Many people are finally allowed to legally grow their own supply of cannabis!

Are you ready to start growing weed?

Growing cannabis can seem like it’s complicated, but often it only seems that way because you haven’t been given the right information. A lot of people unintentionally make growing harder than it needs to be, but that ends now!

This cannabis growing guide will help you discover the best way to grow cannabis, for your unique situation.

Find a grow style for…

  • Your grow space
  • Your budget
  • Your desired yields

Growing cannabis plants is actually pretty straightforward, and almost anyone with a few extra minutes a day and a spare closet or a garden in the backyard can grow their own professional-quality buds at home.

What does a cannabis plant need to thrive?

In order to thrive and grow, every cannabis plant needs:

  1. Light – whether you’re using sunlight or grow lights, you must understand the light needs of a cannabis plant to get the best bud quality & yields.
  2. Growing Medium – the stuff your plants grow in; soil isn’t your only choice!
  3. Air – a well-ventilated space with good air exchange and a slight breeze is best.
  4. Temperature – A good rule of thumb for cannabis plants is if it feels too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your plants. Just like humans, cannabis plants can die if exposed to extreme temps.
  5. Nutrients – you can buy pre-formulated nutrients that you just add to your water, or you can compost your own super soil so that it already includes all the nutrients you need.
  6. Water – like all plants and living creatures, cannabis needs water to survive and grow. Is my tap water “good enough” for growing cannabis?

When growing cannabis indoors or outdoors, you will need to ensure that it gets the proper amount of these 6 resources.

How long does it take to grow cannabis?

If you planted a cannabis seed today, when is the soonest you could be actually smoking your harvest? Probably about 9 weeks with a quick-finishing autoflowering strain.

Indoor grows tend to be shorter than outdoor grows since you have more control over when the plant starts budding. Auto-flowering grows also tend to be very short. But with shorter grows, you also tend to get smaller yields. Certain strains and certain outdoor grows can take up to 7 months or more.

On average, I’d say it takes a grower about 3 – 5 months to grow, harvest, and cure their own buds.

Don’t Make the 3 Most Common Cannabis Growing Mistakes!

  1. One of the most common mistakes by new cannabis growers is conducting spur-of-the-moment experiments that hurt or possibly even kill their plants. Always take a second to google your idea before you try it. Luckily when it comes to growing cannabis, there is a good chance that someone has tried it already!
  2. The next most common problem new growers have is the tendency to skip crucial steps like understanding light schedules, or why root pH levels are important for reducing nutrient deficiencies. While you can get lucky and succeed at growing weed without taking these steps, you are a lot more likely to end up with plants that are sickly or don’t produce well. Make sure you follow all the steps listed in this guide – you deserve to harvest your own top-quality bud!
  3. Don’t re-invent the wheel! You can benefit from the mistakes of others by learning how not to make the same mistakes. Don’t be afraid to look something up or ask a fellow grower!

10-Step Beginner’s Guide to Growing Cannabis

Step 1: Choose Where You Will Grow (Indoors or Outdoors)

Indoor Growing

Growing indoors is much more private than growing outdoors and you also get more control over your grow.

Indoor cannabis grow can be surprisingly cheap to get started and maintain, especially if you plan on growing just a few plants.

Take a look at a few completed indoor grow journals to get an idea of how much you can expect to harvest in different types of indoor setups. My lastest 315W LEC grow yielded over a pound (497g) of dried and cured cannabis.

You have more control over everything in an indoor growing environment, which means that indoor growers can consistently produce dank buds. However, this dank weed-growing power comes with more responsibility. As an indoor grower, your plants are 100% reliant on you your care if they are to survive. If you don’t provide everything your plants need, they will die.

What space works best?

You can grow cannabis almost anywhere that has easy access to water and fresh air…

  • a spare room
  • a closet
  • garage
  • grow tent
  • extra bathroom
  • even the inside of a computer case!
    (though I recommend a Space Bucket instead

When thinking about where to grow indoors, you should also consider the temperature (also referred to as ‘temps’) of your grow space and remember your temps will rise once you have your grow lights running!.

Young growing cannabis plants grow fastest when temps a bit warmer, in the 70-85°F (20-30°C) range.

When plants are a bit older, in the budding/flowering stage, it’s best to keep temps slightly cooler, around 65-80°F (18-26°C) to produce buds with the best color, trichome production and smell.

Because temps are so important, it’s best to be able to have some amount of control over the temperature of your grow area. When growing indoors, your grow lights will give off heat. Generally, the more powerful your lights, the more heat they give off.

If you want to install a lot of bright lights in a small space, you will likely have to install an air conditioner in addition to your exhaust system to make sure you keep your temps in the right range.

If you’re growing just a few plants in a grow tent or box, usually you can install a fan to pull hot air away from the hot lights and out a window to keep things cool enough.

Some lights tend to cause more heat problems than others, and we’ll help you find the right lights for your space in Step 2.

Outdoor Growing

Growing outdoors is cheaper to get started since you don’t have to get grow lights or create an indoor grow area, though you will have to worry about privacy/stealth, possible pollination, people stealing your plants, bugs, deer and other unexpected outdoor visitors.

However, if you pick the right strain and live in a good environment, it can be much cheaper to grow outdoors, since you don’t have to provide everything for your plants. The sun will do a lot of the most cost-heavy work for you by providing a free grow light.

Of course, when you’re growing outside, it’s not always possible to control the environment perfectly. If it’s dry, you will need to water your plants. If it’s too rainy, you need to protect your plants from getting overwatered.

When it comes to temperatures, a good rule of thumb about cannabis plants is if it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your plants. And just like humans, cannabis plants can die if exposed to freezing or too-hot temps.

So if you know it’s going to be extremely hot or cold where you live, you may need to take extra steps to protect your plants from the elements, like setting up a small greenhouse.

Step 2: Choose Your Grow Light – What kind of light do you need to grow cannabis successfully?

There are lots of different grow lights for cannabis, including:

The Sun

When you’re growing with the sun, you need to make sure that your plants are getting at least 8+ hours of direct sunlight each day for the best results.

It’s best that your plants get direct sunlight from at least 10am-4pm, and more light is better. Because of the high light needs of the cannabis plant (it needs more light than many other types of plants), it is not well suited to growing in a window (though I’ve seen plenty of growers start their seeds in sunny windows before moving their plants to a more suitable final location).

Household Lighting: Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) & Household LEDs

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) & household LEDs are what people commonly use to light up their homes. They aren’t really made for growing plants, but can be a good way to get your feet wet in the growing world without a significant investment. They lack the power of dedicated grow lights, but can get the job done. CFLs and home LEDs like these are dirt cheap, and you can usually buy them from any big-box store without arousing suspicion. In fact, growing with CFLs is what I did for my first grow and I got them from a local Home Depot. I imagine that my first grow would’ve ended the same (or even better) had I used small household LEDs instead of CFLs, though they weren’t available back then. Learn more about growing with CFLs.

Other Fluorescent Lighting (T5/T8)

These lights are traditionally made for seedlings and plants that need lower light intensity than cannabis. If you do get other fluorescent lighting, I recommend sticking with a High-Output T5 light since they are the brightest option in this group. Even so, I generally recommend changing to stronger grow lights for the cannabis flowering stage unless you do major plant training (to keep plants very short) since these lights have a short light brightness range and must be kept very close to the tops of your plants. Learn more about growing cannabis with fluorescent lighting.

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LEC (CMH) grow lights

LEC (Light Emitting Ceramic) is a brand name for a type of light (CMH – Ceramic Metal Halide) that has existed for quite a while. This type of light has come back into vogue after some rebranding, partly because it has some very positive traits for growing cannabis compared to HPS lighting. For one, LECs have a more natural color that makes it easier to care for and diagnose plant problems. Plus, it’s a lot better for security to have a light that doesn’t scream “WEED GROWING HERE!” like the unearthly yellow hue of an HPS. They produce significant levels of UV light, which can possibly increase trichome production. Additionally, they don’t seem to emit EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference) as much as their noisy HPS cousins which means you’re less likely to have a HAM radio enthusiast accidentally tracking down your grow. The plants grew surprisingly fast under a 315 LEC and we were impressed by the yields we achieved on our first grow.

LED grow lights

LEDs are much more powerful than CFLs or any other fluorescent lighting. They are top-tier grow lights on par with HID lighting (HPS, LEC) when it comes to how much bud they can produce. They’re visually attractive and tend to be more appealing to growers because they’re not as ‘old-fashioned’ (though they tend to cost more). In fact, LEDs are the only grow lights that have seen major technological research and development in the past 10 years.

LED grow lights work great for growing cannabis and some companies have been refining their models for years (the combination of parts is almost like a company’s recipe). Each LED model is different and needs to be kept a different distance away from your plants. It can sometimes be hard to find any “standard” advice about growing with LEDs, yet these days there are quite a few brands which are well-tested and trusted by cannabis growers and these brands tend to have good support for questions. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to just ask the manufacturer about how far away the lights should be kept, as that’s where new growers are most likely to mess up.

Metal Halide (MH) & High-Pressure Sodium (HPS)

MH/HPS grow lights (like the light pictured here) are a type of “HID” light like LECs. A combination of MH/HPS is what most commercial growers use when growing cannabis indoors. They are surprisingly cheap to buy and set up, especially considering how incredibly powerful they are.

HID lights work very well for growing cannabis and produce consistently good results indoors. However, the higher wattage HID lights tend to run hot and can leave a big mark on your electricity bill. You definitely want to make sure you’re getting the exact right lights for your space so you don’t pay for more light than you really need. HID lighting (HPS in particular) has another problem in that it’s been less popular over the last few years. This has made it increasingly difficult to find quality models if you’re not looking for a huge 1000W.

That being said, the smaller MH/HPS grow lights are actually really well suited to a small grow and don’t produce nearly as much heat as their bigger cousins. Check out a grow under a 250W HPS in a 2’x4’x5′ tent. I didn’t even use an exhaust!

See another grow under the same 250W light (with autoflowers), and yet another grow we did with 2 plants under a 600W HID grow light a while back. Learn more about HID grow lights.

Don’t know what type of lighting to pick? Choose your grow type based on your starting cost…


    Setup Cost: ~ $100
    Setup Cost: ~ $30
    Setup Cost: ~ $400- 1000+
    Setup Cost: ~ $600-1000+
    Setup Cost: ~ $400-1300+

Step 3: Choose Your Growing Medium

Each growing medium that you can use has different care and watering requirements.

These are the most common grow mediums:

  • Soil – grow in organic composted super soil for the easiest growing experience, or start with the popular Fox Farms Ocean Forest soil mix (FFOF already contains enough nutrients to last the first month of your young plant’s life).
  • Soilless Mix – anything besides soil including coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, etc. (all soilless mixes are technically considered hydroponic growing since there’s no soil).
  • Directly in Water / Hydroponics – Get some of the fastest plant growth and biggest yields possible, especially when combined with HID/LEC/LED grow lights.
  • Less Common Types of Hydro – Some people grow with plant roots suspended in misted air (aeroponics) or in a tank with fish (aquaponics), but these are relatively less common for cannabis growers.

What’s the Best Soil? Your absolute best option would be to compost your own soil (or purchase composted soil) which gets incredible taste results but does take a little more work (or money if you buy it).

For those of us who prefer pre-made mixes, I recommend starting with the popular Fox Farms Ocean Forest soil (often referred to as FFOF) since it’s already supplemented with plenty of nutrients that work very well for young cannabis plants. It’s a rich yet still somewhat airy soil that is made for plants just like cannabis and has been used by growers for years.

If you have limited soil options, choose an organic potting mix which is usually available in some form in the gardening section of any big-box store. As long as you use good cannabis nutrients (more on that below), a regular organic potting mix will work just fine.

Common cannabis-friendly potting mix brands in the US:

    (top-tier) (another top-tier soil that’s mixed with coco for faster growth and less chance of overwatering) (good) (okay) (worst) – If you say you’re growing in Miracle-Gro soil, a lot of cannabis growers will wag their fingers at you. In addition to poor drainage, the original Miracle-Gro soil contains slow-release Nitrogen which is good for vegetative plants but bad for bud growth in the flowering stage and you can’t really rinse it out. Too much Nitrogen in the flowering stage can lower yields as well as possibly add a green or chemical “taste” to buds. However, if you’re going to use Miracle-Gro, their Organic Choice Potting Mix doesn’t have slow-release nutrients, which makes it a better option for growing cannabis than their standard version. It still drains poorly even with perlite, but if you’re desperate it does the job and you can get good results if you use good nutrients. The truth is that many growers have made it to harvest over the years with Miracle-Gro, despite some problems along the way, and even though it’s definitely not optimal, sometimes you have to do what you have to do!

Pick up a bag of perlite (found in the garden section) to help the soil drain better unless it already contains perlite. Perlite looks like little white rocks and should be mixed in so you have about 70% soil and 30% perlite. Should you add perlite to your soil?

If you’re having a tough time deciding on a grow medium, you might want to think about starting with a mix of coco coir and perlite. It’s easy and low-maintenance. That’s how I got started growing (with CFLs as grow lights) and it’s also what I used in my 1-pound 315W LEC grow. Growing with coco coir can be a good choice for beginners because it’s cheap, holds water well, and doesn’t have as many of the problems associated with soil (bugs, root problems, etc.). Yet since it’s hand-watered, it’s intuitive and has a lot of the ease of soil growing.

I’ve heard many people recommend against growing cannabis hydroponically for your first time because it’s “too complicated,” yet I’ve seen growers succeed at every grow type even on their very first grow. If you really want to grow hydroponically, I recommend you don’t waste your time doing something else first. If you’re passionate about hydroponic growing and do your research before you get started, there’s no reason you won’t be able to do incredibly well your first time. Read our bubbleponics tutorial to see how GrowWeedEasy.com co-creator Sirius got started growing cannabis with top-fed DWC on his very first grow.

Step 4: Choose Your Nutrients

Soil growers – unless you’re growing with composted super soil, you will need to get cannabis nutrients made for soil to make sure your plants produce at their best. Even if you started with an amended soil like FFOF, you will still need to start adding nutrients once you reach the flowering/budding stage as cannabis plants are heavy feeders and your plants will have already used up most of the nutrients in the soil by the time budding begins.

One nutrient system to rule them all…

Looking for a suggestion? One of the simplest (yet inexpensive) nutrient systems that work extremely well for beginning cannabis growers is Dyna-Gro (Grow, Bloom)

Dyna-Gro can be used at half-strength in soil, water, coco coir, or any growing medium and works amazingly well for growing cannabis. It does not build up salt in your growing medium like many other inexpensive fertilizers, and it will never clog your hydroponic system.

Just use the “Grow” bottle during the Vegetative stage and the “Bloom” bottle during the Flowering stage. You can actually follow the instructions on the bottle. It’s super simple.

Like all nutrient systems, avoid starting at full strength or it can burn your plants! Learn more about nutrient burn. Only raise the dosage if you notice that your lower leaves are turning yellow and falling off (except in the last 2-4 weeks before harvest, when yellowing lower leaves is a natural part of the maturation process)

Is my tap water “good enough” for growing cannabis?

Before I address pH, let’s talk about the “hardness” of your water…

The “hardness” of water describes how much extra “stuff” (like minerals and/or impurities) is contained in your regular tap water. You can contact your local water supplier for more information (ask for a “municipal water report”), or you can test the PPM of your water at home. Generally, as long as your water has less than 200-300 PPM (parts per millions) of extra stuff, it should be okay to use it for growing. If you are worried about the quality of your tap water, you can choose to use purified or Reverse Osmosis (RO) water, but you may then need to add extra Cal-Mag and possibly a few other supplements to help make up for the random minerals and nutrients that are normally found in tap water. I’ve personally always grown with straight tap water (in a big city in California with a natural PPM around 370, which is pretty high), and I’ve never had a problem. However, some places have very hard water or tap water with unacceptable impurities, and growers in these areas will likely need to use purified water to get the best results.

Step 4B: Nutrients, continued: The Importance of Root pH

It’s important to maintain the pH of your root environment to prevent nutrient problems.

The easiest way to do that is to test the pH of your water before you water your plants or add water to your reservoir.

There are certain types of grows (such as when growing cannabis in organic composted super soil) where you don’t need to test your pH unless you run into problems. This is because with a properly composted super soil, you actually have a microbial colony living in the soil that will take care of the pH and hand-deliver the nutrients to the roots of your plants for you. However, this is a rare exception to the pH testing rule, and almost all growers need to regularly test and maintain pH for a successful grow. If you’re not growing in super soil that you have amended and composted (or purchased) yourself, testing and maintaining pH is a MUST.

Some growers will always get lucky and successfully grow weed without testing the pH of their water, but most people who don’t test for pH will start seeing signs of nutrient deficiencies and other nutrient problems.

If the pH at the plant roots is too high or too low, your plants won’t be able to absorb nutrients properly.

Even if plants do fine in the vegetative stage, cannabis plants tend to be more picky and prone to problems in the flowering/budding stage. Many growers have written in to tell me they got all the way to the flowering stage without testing pH, then were surprised that they start running into nutrient problems as soon as the plants start budding. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, it’s important to get in the habit of testing pH right from the beginning!

Even if the right amounts of nutrients are present, your cannabis plants simply cannot absorb them if the pH isn’t in the correct range.

It’s actually really easy, quick, and cheap to learn how to check and adjust the pH of your water, and there are “pH test kits” specifically made for this purpose.

See also  Boulder marijuana seeds

After you get the hang of it, checking and adjusting the pH and will take you less than 3 minutes each time you water your plants. And your results (monster yields with huge buds and healthy plants) will speak for themselves.

Soil: Maintain 6.0 – 7.0 pH
Hydroponics: Maintain 5.5 – 6.5 pH

Getting the pH exactly right isn’t nearly as important as checking regularly and making sure it stays within these ranges.

Step 5: Get Your Cannabis Plants (& Choose Your Strain)

For those growers lucky enough to know other cannabis growers in real life, getting plants is usually pretty simple. Many cannabis collectives and dispensaries will happily sell you clones though they tend to be a little less liberal when it comes to selling seeds. A great advantage of purchasing clones or seeds from a trusted source is that you know you can trust the genetics you are receiving.

Yet many people do not know any other growers in real life. For these soon-to-be growers, the best option may be to purchase cannabis seeds online from a breeder or seed bank.

Surprising Fact: No one in the US has ever gone to jail or prison for simply ordering cannabis seeds online from overseas.

If you are considering this for the first time, you may be surprised to learn that, because of the way the laws about customs work in America, it is actually reliable and safe to buy your cannabis seeds online from a reputable seed bank as long as you get it from outside the US (sending seeds from one place to another in the US can get you in big trouble though!).

Get Seeds – View a list of tested & trusted seed vendors: https://www.growweedeasy.com/seeds

Get Clones – You need to know someone with live female cannabis plants if you want to get clones. Many cannabis dispensaries and collectives will sell clones to prospective growers, or you might know someone who can give you a clone. Learn how to make your own cannabis clones!

Step 6: How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

  • If you have already a rooted clone (a live cannabis plant) please skip right to Step 7.

There are many methods for cannabis seed germination.

Personally, I think one of the easiest ways to germinate a cannabis seed is to place it directly in a specialized starter cube like a Rapid Rooter.

Just keep the Rapid Rooters moist (but not soaking) and warm. It can help to put your tray on a seedling heat mat. Seedlings should pop in a few days to a week.

So far Rapid Rooters with a heat mat have given me the best germination rates of any method. They work with any growing medium, too – once the seedling has emerged, you can stick the cube directly into your growing medium or hydroponic system.

Another popular way to germinate seeds is via the paper towel method.

Paper Towel Method:

  • Cannabis seeds
  • 2 plates
  • Paper towels
  • Water
  • A place to plant sprouted seeds

NOTE: If seedlings seem to be “stretching” upwards or growing very tall, usually it’s because they want more light.

Step 7: Vegetative Stage – Grow Your Plant Big and Strong

Once your plant grows the first “regular” set of leaves, it’s pretty much officially in the vegetative stage. How long is the vegetative stage?

Cannabis plants keep getting bigger and bigger with long days (vegetative stage) and start making buds when they get long nights (flowering stage).

Young growing cannabis plants grow fastest when the temperature is a bit warmer than a comfortable room temperature, around 70-85°F (20-30°C). But as long as it doesn’t get freezing cold or burning hot, your plants should be able to grow in a wide range of temperatures.

In this stage, your plant will focus ONLY on getting big and strong. Buds and flowers are not part of the plant’s vocabulary yet.

If you’re feeding your plant with additional nutrients, start at half strength as it can be easy to burn your young cannabis plants. Bring to 3/4 strength one plant starts growing vigorously and if your plant displays signs of needing more nutrients even though the pH is in a good range.

Only feed nutrients at full strength if the plant is showing signs that it needs more nutrients (lower leaves are turning lime green, then yellow, then falling off – the first sign of a nitrogen deficiency, the most common type of deficiency – if the plant is not getting enough nutrients).

At this stage, you can’t tell if one of your cannabis plants is going to be a boy or a girl yet. Wait, why do I care if my plant is a boy or a girl?

Light

  • Give plants 18-24 hours/light a day in the vegetative stage when growing indoors. 18 hours of light a day is preferable, 24 is for the experimental type of grower.
  • If growing outdoors, try to make sure your plant gets strong, direct light for most of the day, at least from 10am-4pm, and more if possible.

The size your plant gets in this stage will have a huge impact on the final size of your plant.

Step 8: Flowering Stage

This is the stage where your plants start making buds. This stage will last until harvest!

During this stage, you will need to…

  • Change to 12-12 Light Schedule
  • Identify Gender of Cannabis Plants
  • Get Rid of any Males

We’re getting to the exciting part!

Most strains of cannabis begin this stage once they’re getting at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness a night. Autoflowering cannabis plants will start the flowering stage without needing a lighting change.

  • Indoors, you must change to a 12-12 light schedule, with 12 hours of light & 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day (usually accomplished by putting your lights on a timer) to get your cannabis to start flowering (making buds). When should I change my light schedule to 12-12?
  • Outdoors, your weed will naturally start flowering when the days get short enough, usually a few months before winter.

The flowering stage is where your plant goes through “puberty” and basically reveals whether they are a boy or a girl.

Unfortunately, for regular seeds, half your plants will end up female and half will end up male. That’s why a lot of growers prefer starting with clones or buying feminized seeds – all the resulting plants will grow into females.

As cannabis growers, we’re only looking for females as female plants are the only ones that make buds. Male plants just make pollen sacs (balls) that cannot be used for smoking.

A week or two after you initiate the 12-12 light schedule (or naturally in the wild), your plants will reveal their gender…

Female plants start growing wispy white hairs at the tops of branch joints. These are the pistils of her flowers/calyxes. You’ll get bunches of these calyxes growing on top of each other to make buds, and each calyx will have a few white hairs coming out of it. This is great news! It means this plant will eventually grow beautiful weed with buds/flowers/ganja that you can smoke.

Male plants start growing balls/pollen sacs with no white hairs/pistils. Unfortunately, most male plants do not develop psychoactive properties like girls do in their flowers. Plus, male plants can pollinate your female plants and cause them to make less bud and more seeds. Therefore, most serious cannabis growers choose to remove and dispose of male plants as soon as they show their sex.

Note: The sturdy green growths are not pistils, they are always there on both boy and girl plants. When looking for gender, you’re specifically looking for white wispy hairs (pistils).

Ok, so you’ve gotten rid of your male plants. Your female plants will be growing more and more white hairs and before you know it, actual buds/flowers/trees are forming. Woohoo!

Now that you’re fully in the flowering stage, it’s best to keep temps slightly cooler, around 65-80°F (18-26°C) to produce buds with the best color, trichome production and smell. Learn more about what you need to do in the flowering stage to produce top-shelf buds.

It’s important to pay close attention to your cannabis plants during the flowering stage. This is because in this stage your plant is much more likely to suffer from nutrient problems as they’re focusing all their energy on growing buds.

Step 9: Harvest Your Weed

When to Harvest Weed? Is She Ready for Harvest?

  1. Wait until your buds stop growing new, white hairs. By this point, your buds should be fragrant (the whole grow room or area will likely smell strongly of cannabis), plump, and ‘filled out’.
  2. Wait until at least 40% of the white hairs have changed color (darkened) and are curling in. This marks the beginning of the harvest window. Buds harvested now will have more of a speedy effect and are not at full potency.
  3. Harvest when 50-70% of the hairs have darkened for highest THC levels
  4. Harvest when 80-90% of the hairs have darkened for more a couchlock, anti-anxiety effect (some of the THC has turned into the more relaxing CBN)

The hardest part of growing cannabis for many new growers is waiting for the right time to harvest.

There are additional cannabis harvest methods that are much more precise – such as using trichomes to know when to harvest your buds.

I sometimes get asked how to harvest weed… (i.e. cut it down from the plant)

Just get a sturdy pair of scissors and cut the plant down in the most convenient way possible. Seriously…that’s it!

Trimming comes next; it’s one of the most rewarding and physically taxing parts of the entire grow, but it’ll be worth it!

Step 10: Dry and Cure Your Newly Harvested Buds

After you have cut off and trimmed all of your glittery, beautiful fat buds, you will want to hang them upside down in a cool, dark place with plenty of ventilation so that they can dry out.

Dry buds slowly for best results and check often for mold or overdrying. You’ve worked way too hard to lose your crop now!

After your cannabis buds have dried (thin stems snap, but the thicker stems are still a bit bendy), it’s time to start curing them so they’re smooth, taste good, smell good, and have the best effects.

To cure your buds, put them in tightly closed quart-sized mason jars in a cool dark place. Fill each jar loosely about 3/4 of the way full.

For the first 2 weeks of curing, open the jars once a day for several seconds to get fresh air in your jars and release any moisture.

If your buds feel moist when you check on them, leave the tops of the jars off until the outsides of the buds feel dry to the touch. Too-moist bud is what causes mold!

Special products like “Boveda 62% Humidipaks” will make curing a lot easier, as they will naturally regulate the humidity in your jars.

After your cannabis has been curing for at least 2 weeks, and they haven’t felt wet every time you’ve checked the jars for at least a week, you can start opening the lid once a week instead of once a day.

Some people only cure their bud for 1-2 weeks total while others cure their bud for 30 days or more. Because you need to open the jar regularly, you can always sample some as it’s curing to get a feel for whether it’s done or not.

I personally think that cannabis tends to be more potent if you cure it for at least a month.

Curing for longer than 6 months doesn’t do anything, and cannabis can become less potent over time as THC turns to CBN. Keep your harvest in a cool, dry, airtight space for long-term storage.

That’s it! 10 Simple Steps and You’ve Got Your Very First Cannabis Harvest!

FOR SERIOUS GROWERS ONLY

Are you interested in… LED Grow Lights?

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe most models of LED grow lights are suitable for first-time growers.

Unless you know someone who has experience growing with a particular model of LED light, you’ll often spend a grow or two trying to get your light model “dialed in” so you know how far away to keep the lights from your plants for best results.

But when you do know someone who has experience growing cannabis with a particular brand of LED grow lights, you know that the lights will work for growing cannabis. And if you have access to their grow notes, you’ll also know exactly how to use the LED to get the best results.

And you’ve probably heard the incredible benefits of LEDs… low electricity usage, low heat, no ballast… you just plug the LED panel directly in the wall. Fans are built right in, and many high-quality models don’t need any additional cooling.

Want to see a successful grow journal featuring LEDs?

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