Wondering how to grow big buds indoors? Our simple and easy to follow guide will walk you through the entire process, from picking your seeds to a harvesting your crop!
Table of Contents
Why Grow Your Own Weed?
Growing cannabis is a very rewarding experience. Many people think that growing indoors is difficult. However, with the right guidance and and mindset, it's actually pretty simple. Here are some of the best reasons to grow your own cannabis:
Glossary of Terms
When growing cannabis, you’ll come across a few terms that are confusing. Here is a brief explanation of the most common ones…
Cannabinoids - Chemical compounds secreted by cannabis buds that interact with receptors in our cells and produce cause different effects in the body
THC ( Tetrahydrocannabinol ) - A psychoactive cannabinoid produced by cannabis buds that is responsible for an energetic, uplifting high.
CBD ( Cannabidiol ) - A non-intoxicating cannabinoid responsible for the medical benefits of marijuana, treating everything from arthritis to epilepsy.
CBN ( Cannabinol ) - Another cannabinoid that is found in the finished product. It is psychoactive, but not as much as THC. It can make you feel sedated, or “stoned”.
Pistils - These are the long ‘hairs’ that stick out from the buds of female marijuana plants. They can be used to tell males and females apart. They’re often white, but some strains have different-colored pistils.
Trichomes - These are tiny, translucent glands that give buds their ‘sugary’ appearance and contain the most cannabinoids of any part of the plant.
Strain - The specific type of weed that you choose to grow. Different strains have different characteristics that are important to know for growers and consumers.
Yield - The size and quantity of the buds that you harvest from your plants.
Training - Manipulating the stems of your plants to get the kind of shape that you want.
Nutrients - The substances that plants need for healthy growth. Plants can get these from soil, or growers can buy nutrients to feed their plants.
PH - This is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. The pH of soil and water is important for growing marijuana.
Hydroponics - methods of growing plants indoors without the need for soil.
Germination - This is when the first root and leaves of a plant break through the hard case of a seed and start to grow.
Vegetative Growth - The stage of growth where plants add structure (stems and leaves) and get bigger and stronger. It’s important for weed growers because plants need to be big, strong and healthy enough to support the buds they will develop later.Flowering - The stage of growth where plants grow the flowers they need to reproduce. For marijuana growers, the flowering stage produces the buds that contain most of the psychoactive substances.
How To Grow Big Buds Indoors
This step-by-step grow guide will teach you everything you need to know about growing cannabis indoors. Every stage of the process if covered, from picking and germinating your seeds, to harvesting and storing your buds.
Follow this guide and you will have your first harvest in as little as 12 weeks!
If you have any questions or feedback, please let us know in the comments at the end!
Ok, let's get started!
Step 1 - Set Up Your Grow Space
The first thing you need to do is to plan out the space you’re going to grow in.
This will be different for everyone. Some people will be growing a single plant in a cupboard, while others will be growing multiple plants in a dedicated room.
Grow Space Requirements:
Before deciding on your grow space, let’s take a look at some of the requirements for a good grow space:
How many plants will fit in my grow space?
Ideally, one Marijuana plant requires 1 sq foot of space to grow in. This ensures that it has enough space to grow tall and wide without disrupting the growth of the plants around it.
Beginners tip: If you are just starting out, we highly recommend that you start with a single plant. Growing a single plant means that you can give it your full attention and you can try to maximise its yield. Once you are confident with the process, you can add plants to your second grow.
Measure the length and width of your grow space and multiply them. This will give you your grow space in square feet.
Then, take this measurement and divide it by 1. This will give you the number of plants you should grow in that space.
Example: I measure my grow space and it's 3ft wide and 4ft long. That means It's 12 square foot ( 3ft x 4ft ) I then divide my 12 sq ft grow space by 1 ( the number of square feet each plant needs ) which gives me 12.
In this example, I would want to grow no more than 12 plants in my grow space.
Why you should invest in a grow tent
In our opinion, grow tents are a must have for any efficient grow space. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider investing in one:
Top 3 recommended grow tents:
Last update on 2018-08-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Step 2 - Select A Strain
After you have your grow space figured out, you need to select the kind of weed ( strain ) you want to grow.
Each strain has its own distinct characteristics and offers the user different benefits. Marijuana strains are usually grouped together according to these characteristics.
There are 5 strain groups you should know about before selecting your strain. The strain you pick should depend on what characteristics you want it to have.
Indica and Sativa are the two main strains that produce the mental and physical effects that we are looking for from our buds.
Indica strains usually...
Our favourite Indica strains…
Afghan Kush - This pure Indica strain has very compact plants, a fast flowering stage and high yields.. The taste reminds people of Afghani hashish and the high is strong, relaxing and great for insomnia.
Black Sugar - Good news for growers and for people who want to relax at the end of the day. Black Sugar plants will produce REALLY high yields of buds that will help anyone to forget their troubles.
Sativa strains usually...
Our favourite Sativa strains...
South African Kwazulu - These plants won’t stink out the place while growing, and are extremely mould-resistant. The high is very long-lasting and energetic
Kilimanjaro - These plants won’t need perfect conditions to grow well, and the buds will give you a potent, energetic high.Cannelope Haze - These tall plants will produce beautiful, melon-tasting buds that give a really thought-provoking high
Hybrids are a mix of both Indica and Sativa strains and have been carefully bred to inherit the best characteristics of both. Hybrids can be created to be Sativa dominant, Indica dominant, or an even split.
When purchasing from an online seed bank, make sure to check the descriptions carefully to know what characteristics your plants will have.
Our favourite Hybrid strains…
Northern Lights - One the most famous cannabis strains. Known to flower very quickly and produce lots of resin, it’s also easy to grow for beginners . The taste is sweet and the high is very relaxed.
Gelat.OG - This mostly indica strain is famous for it’s ‘happy’ high and great citrus taste. The yields are pretty good too.Pineapple express - This hybrid gives fantastic yields. The aromatic buds will give a high perfectly-balanced between energy and relaxation.
These strains are extremely low in THC and CBD, making them useless for consumption on their own.
However, Ruderalis strains have a unique trait in that they will automatically flower after 20-30 days without long periods of darkness.
This makes them appealing to breeders who mix them with Indica or Sativa strains to create quick fast growing, bud-producing auto-flowering strains.
Ruderalis key features…
Bud-producing auto-flowering strains are created by crossing high THC or CBD strains ( Indica or Sativa) with auto-flowering strains like Ruderalis.
They are popular with beginners due to their fast growing cycle and the fact that there is no need to alter your light-cycle to start flowering.
Ruderalis key features…
Our favourite Auto-Flowering strains…
Auto Bubblelicious - Will give you decent yields of sweet-tasting buds in as little as 12 weeks after germination. The euphoric high is great for stress relief.
Auto Lemon OG haze - For those who want a clear, uplifting sativa-style high from a fast-growing strain.
Northern Lights Auto - All the great characteristics of Northern Light in a faster-growing package.
BEGINNERS RECOMMENDATION: If this is your first grow, we recommend that you pick an auto-flowering strain. Due to their Ruderalis genetics, they are more resilient to common mistakes!
Step 3 - Get some seeds ( or clones )
Now that you've chosen the type of cannabis ( strain ) you want to grow, you need to get hold of some high quality seeds.
It's important to select high quality seeds if you want to grow high quality bud.
What do good quality seeds look like?
Mature seeds: Mature, healthy seeds are usually dark brown with darker stripes or spots ( see image above ) Mature seeds will give you the best chance of growing productive, bud producing plants.Immature seeds: Pale green seeds are immature and have much less chance of growing into bud-producing plants. Immature seeds will still grow, but they will just end up occupying some of your grow space with weak plants.
Unlike most plants, Marijuana has separate male and female plants. Seeds are usually around 50% male and 50% female. Only the female plant are capable of producing the buds that we’re after, so you want to make sure that you purchase female seeds.
You can guarantee you purchase female seeds by buying feminized seeds
These seeds have been specially treated through a chemical processes to force two female plants to breed. This guarantees that the seeds they produce will be all-female.
Feminized seeds are a little more expensive than regular seeds. However, they are definitely worth the extra cost as you won’t waste your time accidentally growing a male plant that doesn’t produce any buds.
NOTE: If you want to experiment with breeding or producing your own seeds, you’ll need male plants as they are required for pollination of the female plant.
Where do I get seeds from?
Ordering from a good online seed bank is the best option. Online seed banks usually have lots of useful information about the strain and what to expect from your plant during its lifecycle.
Three popular and reliable online seed banks to use are:
All of these seed banks offer fast, discreet shipping. If you buy online, make sure that the seed bank ( a lot are based in the UK and the Netherlands) will ship to your area.
Isn't it illegal to buy cannabis seeds online?
In the USA, buying seeds online is Illegal at Federal level. However, each US state has its own laws and many allow you to purchase cannabis seeds online. In the UK, it is legal to buy and sell cannabis seeds, but illegal to germinate them.
Using clones instead of seeds
Cloning is a technique where you take a cutting of a successful plant and let it develop its own root system, creating an exact replica of the original plant.
Let's look at some reasons why you might want to use a clone:
However, there are also some downsides to using clones...
Step 4 - Select A Growing Medium
Now that you’ve picked the type of cannabis you want to grow and have ordered some seeds, you need to select a growing medium.
The growing medium is simply what your plants will be grown in.
Soil vs Hydroponics
There are two main ways you can choose to grow your cannabis plants indoors; with soil or with hydroponics.
Hydroponics are simply different ways of growing your plants without the need for soil. If you are a beginner, we recommend growing in soil. It’s much more forgiving to newbie mistakes and keeps things simple.
However, let's take a look at the pros and cons of using soil and hydroponics, as well as some frequently asked questions about both.
Growing In Soil
Pros of growing in soil
Cons of growing in soil
Growing in Soil FAQ
Which soil should I use?
You have two options when it comes to your soil:
- 1Mix your own super soil - This is when you buy some regular organic potting mix soil and add the required nutrients throughout your plants life cycle. Fox Farm have a great trio of fertilizers that are perfect for cannabis growth. They also provide a very handy feeding schedule to ensure you’re adding the right nutrients at the right time. This option gives you more control over your nutrients.
- 2Buy premixed super soil - This is when you buy a soil that has already been been mixed. You don’t need to add any extra nutrients, you just add water! Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil is the best premixed soil we know of. If you choose this option, we also recommend that you purchase a less “nutrient intense” premixed soil such as this for your seedlings, so that they don’t get exposed to nutrient burn ( more on this later ) This option is better for beginners.
We’ll discuss more about monitoring nutrients when we move on to the growing section of this article.
TIP: Don’t buy miracle-grow or any other product that uses 'extended release nutrients'. This will damage your plants when they reach flowering.
What soil containers should I use?
Any plastic or ceramic plant pots like these ones can be used to grow with soil indoors, as long as they:
Are there special containers for growing cannabis indoors?
Yes, here are some of the most commonly used for growing cannabis:
What size containers should I use?
There are two methods you can opt for when it comes to containers
Option one: Keep your seedlings in the pots you plan to use for the plants entire lifecycle - This will avoid the risks (and the work!) of transplanting. However, your seedlings will grow more slowly this way. This is because your seedlings roots will get less oxygen in a large pot of soil.
Option two: Grow your seedlings in small containers and transplant them to larger pots as required - The roots of your plants will get more oxygen oxygen this way. This will make them grow faster, so use this method if you want to save time. You should transplant to a bigger container when the leaves grow past the edge of the original container (looking from above).
How to select the right sized container
A good seed bank will usually provide you with your plants expected height.
Take the plants expected height and use the table below to determine the correct container size for your plant:
2 gallons (8 liters)
4 gallons (6 liters)
6 gallons (24 liters)
8 gallons (32 liters)
There are a lot of different ways to grow hydroponically, but nearly all of them share two main characteristics:
- 1The soil which holds the roots of your plants is replaced by another medium (substrate).
- 2All the nutrients needed by your plants are dissolved in the water you give them.
Pros of using Hydroponics
Cons of using Hydroponics
Here are the most common hydroponic systems you can use, with a brief explanation of each:
Wick System - Plants are put in pots that are filled with a substrate (alternative to soil). An absorbent fabric wick extends down into a reservoir of nutrient solution. Roots absorb the nutrients that they need and fresh solution flows up the wick.
Drip System - A tank with an electric pump (either continuous or on a timer) that delivers nutrient solution through tubes to your plants in their substrate (individual pots or large tray). Can also be used with soil.
Nutrient Film Technique ( NFT ) - A step up in complexity and the initial cost is quite high. Your plants are held in a really small quantity of substrate above a tray. A pump delivers nutrient solution from a reservoir to one end of the tray. The tray is slightly sloped so that the nutrient solution runs slowly down over the roots of all your plants.Deep Water culture ( DWC ) - In DWC systems, the roots of your plants are submerged in your nutrient solution, but the oxygen they need is supplied by bubbles created by a pump and an 'air stone'. The extra effort to set this up is worth it if you want REALLY big yields.
Step 5 - Choose A Grow Light
Light is THE most important part of your grow setup.
It’s what feeds your plants, giving them the energy they need to grow big, flower and produce tasty buds.
Unfortunately, you can’t use standard house bulbs. There are 3 main types of grow lights that are suitable for growing marijuana indoors:
The twisted bulbs that light your home (compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs) can also be used for growing marijuana indoors.
You can also use other types of fluorescent lighting, such as long tubes (T5s), for growing marijuana. These lights can often be found in garden supply centers.
Pros of using Fluorescent lighting
Cons of using Fluorescent lighting
OUR VERDICT: If you're just looking to experiment with one small plant and aren't too worried and yield or quality, fluorescent lights are a good, cheap option.
HID Grow Lights
High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights have been popular for indoor growing for a long time, and they are still the most common lights used by growers.
Two common types of HID light are Metal Halide (MH) lamps and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps. A lot of growers use a combination of these two types ( more on this later )
Pros of using HID lighting
Cons of using HID lighting
OUR VERDICT: HID’s are a better fit for the intermediate to experience growers due to their setup and management. However, they do produce great results.
LED Grow Lights
Marijuana growers have been using LED’s ( light emitting diodes ) as an excellent alternative to fluorescent bulbs and HIDs for a few years now.
The technology has improved so much that many experienced (and commercial) growers are replacing their 'classic' HID setups with LEDs.
Pros of using LED grow lights
Cons of using LED grow lights
Our 3 favourite LED Grow Lights
Last update on 2018-08-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
OUR VERDICT: In our opinion, LED grow lights are hands down the best grow light for your grow setup. They are easy to setup, manage and they provide great results!
What power of grow light do I need?
Generally speaking, you need at least 50w of light per square foot of canopy.
In the example at the start of this article, we worked out that I had a grow space of 12 sq ft ( length x width ) and could grow 3 well-spaced plants in this space.
Therefore, we need to take our grow space sq ft calculation and times it by 50w, which gives us 600w
Therefore, for a 3ft x 4ft grow space and 3 plants, I would need a 600w grow light for my grow space.
Ok, Let’s Get Growing!
You should no be prepared to start growing. Here’s a checklist of the items you should have ready:
This part of the guide will take you through exactly what you need to do at each stage of your plants' growth cycle ( whether you've decided to grow in soil or by another method ) Here’s what we’ll cover:
How long before I can enjoy my buds?
The time it takes from planting your seed to harvesting your buds can vary quite a bit due to 3 common factors:
- 1Genetics - The genetics of the strain of marijuana that you are growing. The strain of the plants you grow will determine the time they take to go through the flowering stage. A good online seed bank will provide you with this information.
- 2Growing method - You're growing medium and method ( soil or hydroponics ). Hydroponic methods will generally lead to faster vegetative growth. You could save 2-4 weeks (for a similar yield) vs growing in soil.
- 3Your patience - patience is key if you want to produce a good yield. If you want your plant to be able to support a lot of buds, you need to have patience. You take measures to speed up the process by forcing your plants to flower early, or by using an auto-flowering strain, but this won't give you the biggest and best buds.
Depending these factors, an average time ( from germination to enjoying your buds ) can be anywhere from 12-20 weeks.
Step 6 - Germination
It’s now time to get our newly bought seeds to start growing roots and sprouting a new cannabis plant.
This process is called germination
This process is when the hard case of a seed breaks and a root ( or radicle ) appears and heads downwards. A shoot then appears and heads upwards. This shoot will have a few small leaves ( cotyledons ).
How do I make my seeds germinate?
In nature, germination happens when a mature seed finds itself in the right conditions for growing. For most plant species ( including marijuana ) the conditions are the correct levels of moisture, air and warmth (light is not needed for the seeds of most plants to germinate).
So, you need to provide your seeds with the correct conditions for germination.
There are a few ways to do this..
Method 1 - Seedling plugs ( highly recommended )
The absolute best way we’ve found to germinate your cannabis seed is with a seedling plug such as these excellent and highly recommended Rapid Rooter Plugs .
Seedling plugs make germinating seeds simple. They are basically a lump of soil with the perfect mixture of nutrients for germination. They have a hole in the middle that you pop your seed in, cover and then water as instructed.
Pros of using seedling plugs:
Cons of using seedling plugs:
How to Use Seedling Plugs To Germinate
Step 1 - Soak your seeds and rapid rooter in some purified water for one hour
Step 2 - After an hour, take the seeds and plug out of the water. Shake the excess water off the plug. You want it to be most but not soaked.
Step 3 - put one seed in the hole that is provided in the middle of the rooter plug. Pinch the hole shut. Making sure that it is completely covered. No light should get in.
Step 4 - Place the plug in a humidity dome ( or something homemade that will act as a greenhouse, such as empty plastic packaging from the supermarket )
Step 5 - Place the box by a bright window, or ideally under some fluorescent bulbs. LED grow lights and HID's can be used, but must be kept far enough away that you can keep your hand on top of the box for over 10 seconds without it burning.
Method 2 - Germinate In Standard Potting Soil
This is similar to the way nature does it. You germinate your seed directly in your plant pot with standard organic potting soil. The soil should have no added nutrients as they will make the soil too "hot" for germinating.
While this might seem like the easiest method, it has some pretty big drawbacks:
Pros of using potting soil:
Cons of using potting soil:
How to Germinate In Potting Soil:
Step 1 - Prepare your pot/container and add your potting soil. Push seeds just below the surface (1-2 cm)
Step 2 - Keep the soil moist (NOT wet) and warm. You can keep the soil warm with a standard incandescent light bulb in a desk lamp pointed at your seedling.
Step 3 - Wait! It might only be a few hours, or it might be a few days before you start to see shoots. Older and harder seeds might take longer, but any seeds that take much longer than a week have probably failed to germinate.
Method 3 - Germinate With A Paper Towel
Yup, Marijuana seeds can be germinated on a wet paper towel. There are a couple of reasons you might want to try this method, but there’s also a drawback:
Pros of germinating with a paper towel:
Cons of germinating with a paper towel:
How to Germinate With Paper Towels
Step 1 - Wet a paper towel and spread a few of your seeds on one half, then fold the other half on top of the seeds.
Step 2 - Wait! Check on your seeds every few hours to see which have germinated (you'll see the white root pushing through the seed case) and make sure the paper towel hasn't dried out.Step 3 - Transplant your germinated seeds (do this for each seed when you see the white root sticking out, don't wait for the others to catch up) to their growing medium. Try not to touch the root with your fingers, and carefully push your germinated seeds into your moist growing medium 2-3 cm deep, with the root pointing downwards.
How many seeds should I germinate?
If you've already decided how many plants you want to grow (based on your needs and the space you have), then how many seeds you should use for germination is a pretty simple calculation.
It depends on both the type of seeds that you have and your germination method.
Use the following table to determine how many seeds you need to germinate. The numbers in this table depend on you handling your germinated seeds with care:
Desired number of plants
Number of seeds to germinate
Once you’re seed has germinated ( sprouted green shoots and white roots ) it is now officially a seedling. Transfer your seedling to your chosen grow medium ( soil or hydroponics )
Step 7 - Seedling Stage
Seedlings are tiny plants trying to establish the roots and leaves they need to develop into adult plants.
Marijuana seedlings are extremely delicate and need to be treated carefully. They can easily be damaged or killed if you don't look after them properly.Special treatment should given to seedlings for about 2 weeks. Here, we'll go through a few of the special requirements of seedlings:
Lighting ( Seedling Stage )
Seedlings need light to grow, but higher-intensity lights with more heat will damage them at this early stage.
There are two possible solutions to this problem:
- 1Use lower-intensity lights - Cheap fluorescent lighting is very useful for young seedlings. You should keep these lights about 6 inches from the top of your young plants. If the lights are too hot for your hand after 10 seconds, you should move them further away.
- 2Use an LED Grow light - Many LED grow lights come with a setting that optimise them for the vegetation stage. Again, once you’ve hung your light, hold your hand above your seedling. If it’s to hot on your hand after 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your seedling - move it further away.
PRO TIP: If you're growing clones instead of using seeds, you clones can tolerate higher-intensity light than regular seedlings.
How much light do my seedlings need?
You should give your seedlings 18+ hours of light per day (the same as you will give your plants during vegetative growth). Make sure to check them often, because seedlings can grow really fast. They could get damaged if they grow too close to the light.
You can leave your lights on for 24 hours a day if it’s easier for you.
Humidity (Seedling Stage )
Humidity is important to your seedlings health. Here’s why:
Basically, keep your seedlings warm and moist!
Nutrients & Watering ( Seedling Stage )
If there’s one key thing to remember about watering and nutrients for seedlings, it's not to overdo it.Too much watering can stop the tiny, delicate roots of your seedlings from getting oxygen and can even kill them. Your plants can also be ‘burned’ by too many nutrients at this stage.
Growing with Hydroponics
Water - If your growing in a hydroponic system, this will supply all of the water your young plants need. In some systems, your plants' roots will need to grow down to meet the water supply. Before they reach it, you'll need to hand water your plants to stop them from drying out (you'll be amazed how quickly the roots grow!)Nutrients - As for nutrients, seedlings need the same ratio of NPK (a common one is 3-1-1) as your plants will need in their vegetative stage, but at about a 1/4 of the overall strength. Too many nutrients can easily damage seedlings. Most nutrient packs will give a feeding schedule to follow.
Growing with Soil
Water - If you're growing in soil, the rule of thumb is that if you poke your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle and it feels dry, you need to water. Seedlings in large pots need watering much less often than seedlings in small pots that you plan to transplant later
Nutrients - Your seedlings will get all the nutrients they need from the soil you planted them in at this early stage, so it's NOT necessary to feed your seedlings with extra nutrients.
Step 8 - Vegetation Stage
When your seedlings start growing leaves with a larger number of fingers (5-9), they have officially reached the vegetative stage of their growth.
This is when your plants develop the structure and the root system they need to produce big healthy buds during flowering.
Most indoor growers will keep their plants in the vegetative stage for 1-2 months.
If you have limited space or time, You can make this shorter by forcing your plants to flower early, but allowing your plants more time to get bigger and stronger will increase the size of your harvest.
A lot of things happen during this stage, and there are a few actions the grower may need to take. Some of these actions are optional, depending on the amount of time you have to invest in getting the best out of your plants.
1. Transplanting (Vegetation Stage)
Transplanting is when you move your plants from their original container to another one.
This could be either to 'plug them in' to your hydroponic system, or to move them to a larger soil container one the plant is too big for the current one.
Growing with Hydroponics
For hydroponics, you'll want to transplant your seedlings into your system as early as possible.
Try not to disturb them at all for some time after transplanting.
In some systems, the roots are exposed and are very easy to damage.
Growing with Soil
If you're using soil and started with small containers, your plants' roots will quickly grow to the edges of the container. You don’t have to transplant them, but a bigger container will let your plants grow more. This will lead to a better yield..
How to transplant in soil:
- 1Prepare a big enough hole in the soil in your new container, and make sure the soil is moist
- 2If you started in a disposable cup, just carefully cut away the whole thing. If not, you'll need to gently pull your plant and soil out of the old container.
- 3Put the plant with its attached soil into the hole in the new container.
- 4Gently move it around to make sure there is a good contact with the new soil.
- 5Cover the old soil with a thin layer of the new, and gently push it down (not too hard- remember that roots need access to air).
Done right, multiple transplants to bigger containers can speed up vegetative growth. Done wrong, it can 'shock' the plant and cause it to stop growing or even die. Some growers won't have the time (day-to-day) for this process and will just use a big container to start with.
2. Promoting Good Growth (Vegetation Stage)
As you already know, the best buds are fat and dense. We'll talk more about how to get dense buds in the next stage (flowering), but good vegetative growth is also important for the final product.
Dense buds are heavy, so you'll want your plants to develop:
Paying attention to the following things will help vegetative growth:
3. Lighting ( Vegetation stage )
You should give your plants 18-24 hours of light per day during their vegetative stage.
24 hours can lead to faster growth, but a lot of growers will give their plants a short 'night' (6 hours maximum). Saving electricity and maintaining the temperature of your space are two practical reasons why you might want some dark periods.
4. Watering & Nutrients ( Vegetation stage )
Let's take a look at the watering and nutrient needs of vegetating plants in different mediums:
Growing with Hydroponics:
Watering Your plants roots should be well established now and have access to all the water they need from whichever hydroponics system you decided to use.
Nutrients - As for nutrients, you should be using a 'vegging' at this point which will have more nitrogen (N) than phosphorus (P) or potassium (K) (3-1-1 is quite common) Most good nutrient packs come with instructions of which nutrient to use, when to use it and how much.
It's important not to change brands during a grow or mix products from different brands together. This is usually a disaster because you can’t be sure of the balance of nutrients in different brands’ products.
Growing with Soil
Watering - As your plants get bigger, they'll obviously need to be watered more often. You should regularly check if the soil is dry up to the first knuckle of your finger. If it is, then you need to water it. Overwatering won't kill in a plant in vegetative growth like it would a seedling, but too much water can slow your plants' growth right down.
Nutrients - For the first 4 weeks after germination, your plants are unlikely to need extra nutrients. Beyond this, you can start using nutrients dissolved in the water you give to your plants. (remember you WON’T have to do this if you made or bought an organic super-soil).
This should have a similar NPK ratio to the ones that hydroponic growers will use (see above). Soil growers also have the option of fully-organic nutrient solutions.
Problems to watch out for
Nutrient Burn - If you notice that you vegging plants' leaves have discolored tips (yellow or brown), this means they're suffering from 'nutrient burn'. To solve this you can ‘flush’ some of the nutrients by using a larger quantity of plain water in your next watering. Make sure not to use too much and that your containers are draining well.pH problems - If you notice that the leaves on your plants have unusual coloring (very light green, very dark green, yellow or brown) it can be a sign that your plants are not happy with their environment. Although the discolorations are signs that your plant isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, the problem is FAR MORE LIKELY to be caused by incorrect pH than by you not giving your plants enough nutrients. This is because the wrong ph can stop your plants’ roots absorbing nutrients.
How can I check for and solve problems with pH?
Remember that using the best organic soil as your growing medium means that you probably won’t have to worry about pH problems.
However, If you’re growing with ‘ordinary’ soil or hydroponically, checking and adjusting pH isn’t complex or difficult, and can save you the disappointment of weak and dying plants. Here’s how to do it:
How to check ph
In soil - Using a pH testing kit or digital pH pen (see the ‘soil FAQ’ earlier in the guide), test the water that runs out of your containers after you next water your plants. You’re looking for a pH of 6-7Hydroponics - Test the water from the tanks in your system (try to do this just after the next time you add nutrients to your system because they can affect pH level) You’re looking for a ph of 5.5-6.5
How to adjust pH
Growing with Soil - If your pH was too high (alkaline), mix a tiny amount (a few drops) of ‘pH Down’ into the water for your next watering. Test the runoff water again and repeat if necessary. If pH is too low (acidic) add a small amount of ‘pH Up’ to your water. It’s important to remember that ‘pH down’ has a stronger effect than ‘pH Up’ so follow the instructions they provide carefully.
Growing with Hydroponics - The same as for soil, but you’ll be adding you pH adjusters to the water in your tanks.
5. Temperature & Humidity (Vegetation Stage )
Plants in vegetative growth are less sensitive to temperature and humidity than seedlings and flowering plants.
There are just a few things to remember:
6. Remove Any Male Plants ( Vegetation Stage )
The big, sticky seedless buds (sinsemilla) that you want from your grow are only produced by female plants, and they won't do this if they are pollinated by the males.
If you've germinated non-feminized seeds, about half of your plants will turn out to be males.
Unfortunately, you'll also have to double-check your plants for their sex if you used feminized seeds. These seeds are not always 100%-guaranteed to grow into female plants.
The best way to guarantee all-female plants is to use clones, since they will basically be copies of the female plant they came from.
How do I tell males and females apart?
Method 1 - identify using pre-flowers
Pre-flowers are the beginnings of both your male (if you have any) and female plants' reproductive organs. They will appear on your plants where one stem joins another, and they'll generally do this 3-6 weeks after you germinate your seeds.
Identifying your plants' sex this way involves less work than the other method, but you'll be spending more resources (light, space and nutrients) on growing male plants before they reveal themselves.
How to identify male plants
How to identify female plants
You can now continue nurturing your 'ladies' so that their preflowers will develop into the big, healthy buds that you'll harvest later!
Can I use my male plants for anything?
Yes. Some experienced growers use their male plants for:
Extracts - Male plants DO contain small amounts of psychoactive substances, and can be used to make (or help make) extracts.
Breeding - Some growers have their own breeding programs and need males to pollinate females.
To begin with, just throwing male plants away can be a good idea, especially if you're only growing a few plants, or if you just want to focus on getting your females to produce a good crop.
Training & Pruning ( Veg stage )
Training - this involves manipulating the direction of your plants' growth to suit your space or other requirements. Humans have been training valuable plants (fruits, vegetables, weed) for centuries for various reasons.
Pruning - this involves removing sections of your plants to manipulate their growth. Like training, pruning has existed as long as people have grown crops.
Using these techniques are a good idea because they keep your grow space efficient and can improve your yield. Here are a couple of the simplest techniques you can use:
Main Stem - This simple training technique involves just bending the main stem over (and securing it with ties) so that it grows horizontally. New stems will grow upwards towards the light, but be spaced out so they don't block the light from each other.Low stress training (LST) - this involves bending each new stem over and securing it. This produces a wider, flatter plant where all the stems have access to the light.
Topping - This pruning technique involves cutting the top off plants so that they will grow more colas (bud-producing stems). You should wait until your plants have 4-6 nodes (places where new stems grow off the main stem) before doing this. This technique can increase your yield dramatically.
When are my plants ready for the switch to flowering?
This is a very good question with many possible answers, and it's almost entirely the grower's decision (unless you're using an auto-flowering strain).
There are a few things to consider when you're deciding on the best time to make the switch:
Step 9 - Flowering
Finally, you're now at the most exciting stage!
Flowering is when your plants begin producing the large, potent buds that are the end goal of your grow. It ends when your buds are ready to harvest!
Most growers will tell you that plants in the flowering stage are a bit more difficult to look after than in the vegetative stage. Flowering plants are more sensitive and don't recover as well from problems.
This next part of the guide will take you through flowering stage and the things you will need to do to support your plants during this time.
How do I make my plants start flowering?
Outdoors, marijuana plants automatically begin to flower when the days start to get shorter. Indoors, the grower decides when they want their plants to start flowering (unless you're growing an auto-flowering strain)
To force your plants to start flowering, you simply change the light cycle you have been using for vegetative growth. You need to change the light cycle from 18-24 hours of light per day, down to 12 hours of light per day, with another 12 hours of complete darkness.
It really is that simple! However, there are some things you should be aware of to do with the light cycle for flowering:
Dark means Dark!
Marijuana plants respond to increased periods of darkness by flowering. They are NOT responding to reduced periods of light.
This means that you need to make sure that your dark periods in your space are as close to pitch black as possible, and that they are NOT interrupted. Even a small amount of light for a short time during dark periods can cause plants to delay their flowering.
This is easiest to do if you're growing in a good grow tent. These have flaps that cover all the places where any light could get in. It's also relatively easy if your grow space is in an underground room.
However, rooms with windows are more of a problem. You'll need to make sure that all your windows are covered in materials heavy enough to block out all light. Even light coming through cracak under doors and keyholes can affect your flowering plants.
All the way to the end
You need to maintain your new 12/12 light schedule right up to when you harvest. Any less than 12 hours of darkness at any stage of flowering can slow down or stop the process
Flowering plants like red light
When you're plants start flowering, you need to expose them to a lot of red spectral light to promote the bud producing process. The optimal amount of red light fo the flowering stage is wave lengths of 660nm.
Depending on the grow light you are using, make sure your plant is getting plenty of red wavelengths during this stage:
Fluorescents - If you're growing with fluorescents, you might want to consider switching to a warm white 2700K for flowering.
HID grow lights - A lot of growers use the Metal Halide ( MH ) type of HID lamps for vegetative growth because of their blueish light. If you were using these, you can make the switch to HPS for flowering if it's possible ( some HID lamps allow you to switch between MH and HPS bulbs )
LED grow lights - Most good LED grow lights give you the option of optimising the light spectrum for flowering. Do this if you can!
Watering & Nutrients ( Flowering Stage )
Flowering is the 'critical' stage of bud production and your plants won't forgive mistakes like they did in the vegetative stage. So it's even more important to give your plants the correct amount of water and nutrients
Growing In Soil
Nutrients - Super soils are just as good for flowering as they are for vegetative growth, so you won't need extra nutrients for flowering in super soils. If you're using ordinary potting mix, you should change the nutrients you are are adding to your water to ones suitable for flowering. You can use a similar ratio to the nutrients used in hydroponics ( see above ), but with the added option of using fully-organic nutrients.Watering - In the early stages of flowering, your plants will grow really quickly. Make sure that you're watering often enough to keep up with this growth. Check regularly with your knuckle for signs of dehydration.
Growing with Hydroponics
Nutrients - The nutrient mix you add to you hydroponic system will change in the flowering stage. You can you use the same high-nitrogen mix for the first part of flowering when your plants grow like crazy ( more on this shortly! ) However, when they start to focus on bud production, your plants need a nutrient mix with lower levels of nitrogen ( N ) and higher levels of phosphorus and potassium ( P and K ). An NPK ratio of 1-5-6 is quite common. Flowering plants are a bit more sensitive to 'nutrient burn', so you should reduce the strength of your solution if you notice any curling or discolouration at the tips of your plants' leaves.
Watering - You should completely replace the water in your tanks every 1-2 weeks during flowering and clean your equipment as you do this. If possible, replace with water that you’ve let sit for a few days.
pH during flowering
Your plants’ roots are especially sensitive to the pH of their environment when they are flowering. Depending on your growing medium, here’s what you should do to maintain the correct ph at this critical stage:
Organic super-soil - Your soil will continue to maintain the correct pH for flowering plants and you shouldn’t have to adjust it.
‘Ordinary’ soil - Instead of waiting for problems to become visible, you can test and, if necessary, adjust pH ( see the guide above in the vegetative stage for how to do this ) every week or so during flowering.
Hydroponics - We definitely recommend being more proactive about your plants environment during flowering. You should regularly test and, if necessary, adjust the Ph of the water in your tanks.
Temperature & Humidity (Flowering Stage )
When your plants start to flower, they'll become more sensitive to temperature and humidity.
The important things to remember are:
Different stages of flowering
The changes that your plants go through during flowering are really amazing and we're pretty
sure you'll enjoy spending time with them during this stage.
Spending a bit more time with your plants when they're flowering is also a good idea because there are a few things that will need to be done.
Let's take a look at some of the things that happen and things you should watch out for at different stages of flowering
Flowering Stage 1 ( 1-3 weeks after switching your light schedule )
During this time your plants will grow. A lot. This is known as 'flowering stretch', and your plants can double in size. They will also start to grow single leaves from the top of their main stems (colas). These will eventually become your buds
You might have just one cola on each plant or many, depending on whether you 'topped' you plants during the vegetative stage.
You might even start to see white pistils grow from these sites
Things to watch out for:
Flowering Stage 2 ( weeks 3-4 after switching your life cycle )
The extreme growth should slow down a bit at this stage ( but not stop ) Your plants will be putting more energy into producing their flowers ( buds )
Things to watch out for
Flowering Stage Stage 3 ( weeks 4-8 after switching your light cycle )
This is when your buds will start to get a lot bigger and fatter, and ( depending on your strain ) start smelling truly like marijuana.
Your plants will stop growing any taller and focus all their energy on growing buds.
Things to watch out for:
Be ready to solve these problems quickly because they can harm buds:
How do I know when my buds are ready?
When you're plants have been flowering for a few weeks, you'll start to ask yourself when they'll be ready to harvest. Most growers will want to wait until their buds reach their maximum potency.
There are basically two ways for you to tell if you're buds are ready:
1. Looking at pistils
Pistils are the long 'hairs' ( usually white to start with ) you can see on the buds of your plants.
You might already have used pistils to tell female from male plants, since they appear early before the main flowering. The pistils are the parts of the female plant that receive the pollen from male plants ( you won't have let this happen if you want the best sinsemilla buds! ).
You can watch the pistils on your plants to identify when your buds are ready to harvest.
Here's how to use this method:
- 1You'll see the light-colored pistils on your plants turn dark and start to curl in towards the bud.
- 2If you harvest before most of the pistils have changed, you're missing out on the highest yield and potency your plants can produce.
- 3Harvesting when 60-70% of the pistils have changed will give you buds with a more active high ( highest levels of THC ).
- 4Harvesting when 70-90% of the pistils have changed will give you slightly heavier buds with a more relaxing high ( some of the THC will have turned to CBN ).
This method is less accurate than the following one, but you can do it with the naked eye. It's also worth checking out your strain online ( if you know it! ). Some strains will have pistils that stay light-colored even when the buds are ready to harvest.
2. Looking at trichomes
Trichomes are what give mature buds their 'frosted' appearance, and they're the part of the bud where a lot of its potency is concentrated.
Trichomes look like tiny mushrooms growing from the leafy parts of your buds. Like pistils, they change when your buds are ready to harvest. Looking at trichomes is more accurate than looking at pistils, but it's more difficult because trichomes are so small.
You'll need some kind of magnifier to look at the trichomes. This is possible with a regular magnifying glass, better with a special magnifier called a jewellers loupe, and even better with a digital microscope that you can hook up to your phone or laptop.
Here's how to use this method:
If you harvest when most of the trichomes have turned amber, you'll get buds with high levels of THC but also higher levels of CBN, which will give you a more relaxing, 'sleepy' high.
Step 10 - Flushing
Flushing is when growers stop giving nutrients to their plants about a week before they harvest.
The idea is to give the plants time so that there are fewer nutrients in the final buds that you harvest and consume.
It's difficult to prove, but most growers say that flushing will make your final product smoother to smoke.
Do I need to flush?
The short answer is no, because leaving high levels of nutrients in your buds is not dangerous and doesn't affect potency.
Whether you decide to flush or not can depend on your growing method and medium:
Organic Super-soil - you don't need to flush because you won't be using liquid nutrients in the first place.
Liquid nutrients for soil - Stop feeding your plants liquid nutrients in their water about 5-7 days before you harvest.Hydroponics - Stop mixing nutrients into your tank(s) about 5-7 days before you harvest
Step 11 - Harvest
It's not quite at simple as picking apples, but harvesting marijuana buds IS really easy.
You can use sharp scissors, but secateurs are better. A pair of Fiskars is a cutting tool that springs open automatically after cutting, and is a favorite tool for most growers.
Wearing a pair of latex gloves is also a good idea as it stops your hands getting sticky
Correct harvesting technique:
Here's a great video overview of the harvesting process 🙂
Pro Tip - Make sure to leave a fair bit of the stem with the buds because this will help regulate the drying process which comes next.
That's it! It's now time to dry and cure your buds.
Step 12 - Drying and Curing
After you've harvested your buds, you'll want to dry and cure them. ALL of your best smoking experiences have been with buds that have been dried and cured properly.
Why should I dry and cure my buds?
Mold and bacteria - Buds that contain a lot of moisture are much more likely to be ruined by mold and bacteria. It's not just the taste that will be spoiled either; smoking moldy buds can make you sick.
Smoothness - If you've ever felt you were going to cough up your lungs when smoking, it's pretty likely you were smoking uncured or badly-cured buds. Curing leads to a smoother smoke ( a big part of this is the breaking down of chlorophyll, which causes harshness )
Effects - It's not clear exactly why, but experienced growers and consumers have reported for decades that well-cured buds have fewer negative side-effects like anxiety.
Your strain - Curing will bring out the unique characteristics of the strain that you used for your grow, including nuances of flavor and high.Potency - Growers disagree about the effects of curing on potency, but some say that potency is improved by curing.
Drying is the first step of curing, but you can do this in your grow space without the need for containers. The good news is that it's really easy!
Step 1 - Trim the leaves off your stems and buds
This includes the big 'fan' leaves, and the smaller leaves on the buds themselves. Wearing gloves is a good idea because they will stop your hands getting covered in sticky residue.
Step 2 - Hang your buds upside down
You can do this from clothes hangers, string, the struts of your grow tent if you used one, or any other method you can think of.
In humid climates, a drying rack might be useful, but this will dry your buds too quickly in normal conditions.
When hanging, make sure the is space for air to flow around each bud.
Step 3 - Wait and check
This initial drying will take around 3-10 days, but a little faster or slower shouldn't be a problem.
You can speed up the process a bit with some fans ( DON'T point them directly at your buds) if your buds are not drying.
If they're drying too quickly, you can try raising the humidity in your space or moving them to a more humid spot.
Step 4 - Check for the ‘snap’
You should notice the green colour of your buds and stems fading as they dry. They're ready for the next curing stage when the buds feel dry on the outside and when you can snap smaller stems cleanly. Larger stems should still bend.
After your buds are dry, the next stage is curing, which is the process of storing your buds in airtight containers for 2 - 4 weeks.
During this process, your buds will continue to slowly lose moisture, but this is also when internal processes that improve the flavor and effects of your buds take place.
A lot of growers use mason jars for this stage because they have a good seal but are easy to open and close. You can also use screw-top jars or large Tupperware boxes.
How to cure your buds
Curing Step 1 - Add your buds to the containers
Take your buds from where they have been drying and put them into your containers.
It can be tempting to remove stems so that more buds fit into less space, but big stems will still contain a little moisture that will help produce the perfect humidity for curing inside your containers.
Each container should only be about three-quarters full.
Curing Step 2 - Open once a day to check
At the beginning of curing, you'll need to open your containers at least once a day.
This is because you'll need to check the level of moisture and also give your buds the fresh air they need at this stage of curing.
If your buds feel wet, or they clump together when you shake the container, you'll need to take them out to dry for a few hours before putting them back in the jar. This is because there is a high risk of mold at this stage which could quickly ruin all the buds in a container.
Buds that feel dry or crumbly will cure way too slowly.
There is a specialist product called a HumidPak which is the best method of rehydrating dry buds in a controlled way.
If you're buds don't clump together and don't feel brittle or dusty, then you know the're curing properly.
If the smell gets better each time you open your container, it's a good sign that the curing process is going well.
Curing Step 3 - sample your buds
After 2 weeks you should sample your buds to see if curing for longer would be beneficial to you.
Curing can continue for up to six months. However, most growers between 2 - 4 weeks is a good time-frame.
You'll end up with a more mellow product the longer you leave it (some of the THC will convert to CBN, leading to a more relaxing high)
Long Term Storage
After curing, you'll want to store your buds in the best conditions so you can continue to enjoy them for as long as possible.
The simplest option is to use the same containers you used for curing.
It's a good idea to transfer buds from one container to another until they are as full as possible. You should then keep lids tight and store your buds in a cool dark place until you need them.
Freezing - Buds will keep for longer in your freezer. You should make sure that your buds are not too moist before freezing. In fact, it's better for them to be a little 'too dry'. Tightly-packed containers are best.Vacuum sealing - This is a great way to extend the life of your buds. You can use easily-available bags or canisters for this job ( bags are cheaper but there is a risk of crushing your buds ). You can combine vacuum sealing and freezing for the ultimate long-term storage.
Thanks For Reading!
We really hope you found this guide useful and that it helps you to enjoy growing your own buds!
If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this article, we would really appreciate if you could share it 🙂