Due to the fact that medicinal cannabis started to become legal in an increasing number of states, interest around this plant and its potential grew as well. Numerous studies are emerging, confirming what many people already experienced. Thus, it is expected for the market around cannabis to develop a lot in the coming years. Of course, this market niche is far from being regulated, attention and perseverance are required every step of the way. If you’re interested in learning how to grow cannabis for your own benefit or to start a business, this guide will show you how to do it.
Decide where you will grow the plants
The first detail you need to consider is the future growing environment of cannabis plants. Where do you plan to grow the cannabis? Depending on the space you have available, and other factors, cannabis can be grown indoors or outdoors. Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. You should be familiar with both so that you choose the best method in your case.
Growing cannabis indoors
One of the biggest advantages of growing cannabis indoors is that you have complete control of the environmental factors. You can control temperature, humidity, and even the level of light. Also, your culture will be more private and protected.
Indoors, the plants won’t be affected by the weather, pests, and pollutants. Besides all these, you’ll be able to grow the plants regardless of season, as long as you make sure they have everything they need for proper development.
The indoor method is recommended if you want to start with just a few plants. This way, you will keep your attempt in the affordable range and make things very easy for you. These few plants will give you the change to learn all about growing cannabis, giving you the experience required for a larger culture.
However, when growing cannabis indoors, the plants depend entirely on you. They need your constant care and attention, risking to die if are not watered properly, fed, or exposed to a sufficient amount of light. So, if you consider this option, you will need to care for your plants every day of the week, checking on them and providing them the best growing environment.
Choosing their area for development
Growing cannabis indoors is similar to growing almost any kind of plant indoors. They just need a bit of space for their pots. Ideally, they should have access to fresh air as well. Regarding the light the plants need, if you can’t place them near a window, you can always use artificial light sources. This may even be recommended, giving you the chance to control the amount of light the plants receive.
You see, the cannabis is not a sophisticated plant. As long as it is watered properly, receives the right kind of fertilizer, enough light, and oxygen, it will grow and thrive.
When it comes to growing it indoors, you can choose any available space you have. Whether it’s a room, closet, garage, or improvised tent, you can make it happen. Just make sure to provide the right kind of environment for your plants. This often means to adjust the environmental conditions until the best levels are reached. We will talk about them in the lines that follow.
Most recommended indoor conditions
Like any other plant, cannabis develops best when a certain temperature is reached. However, indoors, you will have to pay attention to this factor because you’ll be using artificial light bulbs. When these bulbs will be on, they will raise the temperature level with their incandescent light. So, you may need to adjust it, avoiding a high and dry air temperature around your plants.
In terms of temperature, cannabis plants love values ranging between 70- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit or 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. These values are ideal for their developmental stage. Once the plants reach maturity, when budding or flowering happens, the temperature should drop a little.
During this period, cannabis enjoys temperatures between 65- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit or 18 and 26 degrees Celsius.
So, when growing cannabis indoors, always keep an eye on the temperature, especially when the lights are on. You should be able to air the room if it gets too hot. If that’s not possible, installing an air conditioning unit is recommended.
For small rooms or a small number of plants, a fan will do. Just make sure to have a thermometer in the growing area, so you’ll always know what the values are.
Growing cannabis outdoors
In the right environmental conditions, cannabis will easily grow outside as well. If all goes well, this method can be cheaper than growing the plants indoors. But there are some potential problems you will need to consider. Privacy could be an issue if you’re in an area with easy access.
Pests and bugs can also create problems in your cannabis plantation. Some people may try to steal your plants or you could risk having them eaten by deer and other herbivorous animals. Also, cannabis is a plant known for cleaning the soil. Thus, if there are toxins in the soil, they will end up in the plant as well. Testing the soil first may be a very good idea.
If most of these risks have a very low level of happening and you get the right kind of cannabis strain, growing the plants will be an affordable activity. Nature will provide the plants with everything they need.
The sun will provide light and rain will water them. However, growing conditions may be trickier to manage in the outdoors. In case there are too many days with sunlight, it will get hot and you’ll need to water the plants.
Also, if it rains too much, you will need to find ways to protect your plants from too much water. Controlling the temperature and watering frequency may be an issue in this case.
Selecting the best growing environment for your plants
When you about the fact that cannabis is actually a plant, the soil might be your first option. The reality is that soil is the most common growing environment for cannabis. You can use any high-quality soil mixture for your plants, but you can also opt for soil especially made for cannabis plants.
If you intend to use soil for your plants, pay attention to its level of nutrients. In many cases, the soil itself will provide the nutrients needed for a whole month. This means that you don’t need to fertilize your plant. Too many nutrients can harm the plant, so it’s recommended to keep every parameter in balance.
What’s the best type of soil you can use for your cannabis plants?
Composted soil is probably an ideal choice. The soil in which the plants grow can influence the flavor of the buds and oil, so it’s worth investing time and effort in finding the best soil. You can make your own composted soil, but you can also purchase it if you don’t have time for such projects. If you don’t find composted soil, an organic mix for potting is also a great choice.
Just make sure to add perlite to the mixture, if the mix doesn’t already come with perlite in its composition. The best mix should contain potting soil in a proportion of 70% and perlite in a proportion of 30%.
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Other cultivation medium
But you should also know cannabis can be grown without soil as well. A soilless mix, which is usually composed out of perlite, coco coir, rock wool or expanded clay. Some prefer this option because it is easier to control in terms of nutrients and potential pathogen agents.
However, a soilless mix won’t contain any kind of nutrients. In this case, you will have to dose the nutrients yourself and provide it to the plants accordingly. This method gives you more control over the development of the plants, but it also obliges you to keep an eye on them every day of the week.
Using water as a support
Quite a good number of people choose hydroponics or growing their plants directly in water. While a certain degree of experience is needed in this case, these methods can provide the most impressive yields. Of course, the results are also influenced by using the right kind of grow lights.
LED, HID, and LEC grow lights are most recommended when using hydroponics. You can try this method with several plants and see how it goes.
Other used methods imply aquaponics or aeroponics, which means that the plants are suspended in air enriched with a mist containing water and nutrients. However, these two methods are less common in the case of cannabis.
What’s the best nutrient combination for cannabis
If you find composed super soil, you should know that it contains all the nutrients required for the growth of your young cannabis plants. But, even so, by the time your cannabis plants will start forming buds, you’ll need to add nutrients to the soil. This because the plants would have depleted the soil’s nutrients by the time they reach this stage.
If you’re not using composted super soil, but another type of soil, you’ll have to add nutrients to it. Without a sufficient amount of nutrients, the cannabis plants won’t develop well and the yield will be small.
When feeding your plants, you need to know that nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most important.
During the first phase of the plants, the growth phase, a general-purpose fertilizer will do. When they start forming buds and prepare to flower, a fertilizer that encourages flowering is recommended.
For those growing cannabis in soilless mixtures and hydroponics, there are special fertilizers. Yet again, choose a “grow” fertilizer for the development of your plants, and switch to a “bloom” fertilizer once they get ready to form buds and flowers.
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pH values at the root level
This is an aspect that is often disregarded by many that are starting out their ventures in the cannabis cultivation area.
The pH values at the root level can trigger a set of issues, those connected with nutrient absorption being most frequent.
So, this is definitely a factor you need to consider. When the pH value is inadequate, your cannabis plants won’t feed right, no matter what fertilizer you use.
How to keep an eye on the pH? That’s rather simple. Perform pH tests to the water and the soil you’re about to use for watering the plants.
You can find pH strips in most garden or pet stores, as they are also used for testing pH in fish tanks. To avoid pH-related issues, you should use a composted super soil as growing support for your plants.
This type of soil is colonized with microorganisms that will regulate the soil’s pH value. So, you won’t need to do it, unless you notice something is wrong with your plants. But, as a general rule, pH testing is a must, no matter what type of soil or growing environment you use.
As guidance, you need to know that proper soil pH values should range between 6.0 and 7.0. For hydroponics, the right values range between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. According to these values, adjust the pH of the plant’s growth support with adequate products. There are liquid products meant to lower or raise the pH, as needed.
Getting your cannabis plants
Now that we covered the basic rules of growing cannabis plants, let’s move on to choosing the plants. The easiest way to get cannabis plants is to know someone that grows the plants. Even if you don’t personally know someone, dispensaries that sell medicinal cannabis may be willing to share clones or seeds.
So, in order to start your culture, you need plant clones or seeds. Getting these from a reliable source will get you closer to success.
Also, it is worth mentioning that ordering cannabis seeds online won’t get you into trouble, contrary to what you may believe. However, sending cannabis seeds to another location in the US, from a US address, could transform into trouble.
So, if you find a reliable provider outside the US, you can order cannabis seeds and have them shipped to your home. Still, make sure you become familiar with the regulations concerning cannabis cultivation and use in your state.
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How to obtain plants from seeds
If you got your hands on some clones, you’re already one step further as clones can be potted. But, if you have seeds, you need to make sure they germinate right. As a beginner, using products like Rapid Rooter can be very helpful.
Rapid Rooter is a small block of material, packed with nutrients, meant to help a seed develop roots fast. All you need to do is to keep the block moist at all times. Of course, you can also use the traditional paper towel method.
Wrap the seeds in a paper towel and put it on a plate. Spray water on the towel until it’s damp and cover everything with another plate. Keep the paper towel moist until you see roots emerging. This will may take up to 7 days to happen.
Once the seeds grew a little root, it’s time to plant them. Prepare a pot with adequate soil and make a 1-inch hole in it. Gently place the seedling in that hole, being careful not to break the root.
Bear in mind that not all seeds germinate at the same time. Some may grow roots faster than others. So, give the seeds that haven’t germinate a bit more time. Maybe they will germinate eventually.
When you see the first two leaves of the plants emerging, make sure the plant has sufficient light for the coming period.
At this stage, lights should be on for 24 hours a day. Also, the small plants should be placed 2 to 6 inches away from one another. This will ensure sufficient development space for each.
When the plant has four leaves, two of them appearing like normal cannabis leaves, it’s a sign that the plant started its vegetative stage. It’s time to treat it like a regular cannabis plant. Continue separating the plants for more room, if necessary.
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Growing the cannabis plant
As soon as you notice the first two mature leaves of the plant, it’s a sign that your little cannabis entered the vegetative state. At this state, long days, with plenty of hours of light will help it develop well. On the other hand, during its flowering stage, the plant does better with longer nights.
During its vegetative state, the cannabis plant enjoys a warmer temperature. If you want to help your plant grow nice and vigorous, you will have to increase the temperature to values ranging between 70- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. The plant will grow at lower or higher temperatures as well, so don’t worry to much about it. But, if you can control its environment, we provided the ideal temperature range.
Watering your cannabis plants is extremely important. The plant just wants to grow during this state, so providing it adequate amounts of water and nutrients is a must.
How often to water the plants?
When the soil feels dry to touch, it’s time to water the plants. If you grow cannabis on materials that drain fast, like coco coir, you will need to water the plants every 1 or 2 days. If you notice the coco coir stays wet for 3 or more days, reduce the watering until the plant gets bigger.
Adding fertilizer to the plant’s water is something you need to do. You can skip this part for a month only if you’re using composted super soil, which already has nutrients in its composition.
When using fertilizer, half the strength of the product to avoid getting your plants burned. So, take the recommendations from the bottle of the product and use half of the recommended amount to feed your cannabis plants. You can get the strength of the fertilizer to ¾ once the plant has a faster growth rate or when it shows signs of needing more nutrients, in spite of enjoying an adequate pH in the soil.
You should not give your plant a full-strength fertilizer unless it requires it. This should be applied only if the plant is showing nutrients deficiency. Lime-green leaves, which are eventually turning yellow and falling is a sign of nitrogen deficiency. Measure the pH in this case and if everything looks good, it means your plant needs more nutrients.
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- Cannabis Seedlings Care – How to care for Marijuana Seedlings
- Transplanting Cannabis correctly – How to transplant Marijuana
When plants are in the vegetative state, they should enjoy 18 hours of light per day, if growing them indoors. 24 hours of light should be adopted by experimented cannabis growers only. If growing the plants outdoors, make sure they enjoy light between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., even more, if it is possible.
The budding and flowering stage
Once the plant starts developing buds, it will require a slightly different set of conditions. Now, the vegetative or developmental stage is over and the plant will invest its resources into making buds and flowers.
The light schedule at this stage should allow 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. The 12 hours of darkness should not be interrupted. In the case of plants growing outdoors, they usually start flowering when days are getting shorter, which means a few months before winter.
This is also the stage when you should tell “girl” plants from “boy plants”. Within one to two weeks from changing their light schedule, the plants will unravel their gender.
This step is important, as only female plants should be kept, being the only ones that produce buds. Female plants will start showing white hair at the joints of top leaves, while male plants will start developing small balls or sacs of pollen.
Many cannabis growers choose to remove the male plants entirely because once pollinated, the female plants will grow a smaller number of buds. So, you only need female plants for a rich yield.
When buds are formed and ready to flower, reduce the temperature between 65- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. A lower temperature will enhance the flavor, smell, and color of the buds. As a piece of advice, pay attention to your plants during the flowering stage, as they tend to show a nutrient deficiency.
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Harvest cannabis plants
The best time to pick up the buds is when they stopped growing white hairs and approximately 40% of the hairs on the buds turned to a darker color and have a curlier aspect. If you want more potency, you can wait until 90% of the hairs turned to a darker, amber-like color. But, you can harvest them anytime in between, depending on how potent you want them to be.
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