As you may know, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana across several states has enabled many consumers to become accustomed to purchasing cannabis from a dispensary. Even more intriguing though is the opportunity that legalization has created for adults and medical patients to cultivate cannabis in their own homes.
While the laws,
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Don’t let the lack of ambition from others discourage you though. If done correctly, growing cannabis at home can be fun, simple and cost-effective! We believe everyone should have access to their own clean cannabis. That’s why we have teamed up with our friends at WeGrow to bring you a comprehensive guide to growing marijuana, created specifically with beginner growers in mind.
With essential grow knowledge, you’ll learn the benefits and tips of different grow methods, how to maximize plant yields and grow times, the best harvesting, drying, curing methods and much more! Who’s ready to start their cannabis growing journey?
Part 1 - Understanding Marijuana Grow Mediums
Deep Water Culture Hydroponics
Before starting your cannabis grow, you must decide if you want an indoor growing system or an outdoor growing system. When it comes to indoor growing mediums, DWC, or deep water culture, is a type of hydroponic growing method where each plant’s roots are growing in a tub of water.
One of the main benefits of a DWC system is that it promotes faster growth. Unlike growing cannabis in
Plants have an unlimited supply of oxygen because of added oxygen from the air stone in the reservoir. Since the plant is spending less energy finding what it needs to grow, it channels that energy to plant growth. In addition, with proper guidance and a quality set up, DWC takes less time to maintain than an average grow.
When implementing a DWC system, a bubbler bucket reservoir system is recommended.
A bubbler bucket reservoir is a simple system that suspends the
The most important growing tip is to check on your cannabis plants daily. As with many processes, the easiest way to fix a problem is in the beginning stages! If something is wrong with your plant in a DWC system, your first step in remedying your plant should always be to change out the reservoir. It is common for root rot to occur when roots are consistently in water, therefore, it is imperative to establish a preventative routine of changing out the reservoir every seven days. Adding beneficial bacteria to the reservoir is also effective in avoiding and combating root rot.
Keeping air and water temperatures under control are also very important measures to take. Air temperature should be 75-85°F when the lights are on and will drop by 10 degrees when the lights are off. Water temperature should remain at a constant temperature at all times. Your empty portholes can be used to change out the reservoir water by using a pump, allowing you to easily inspect what’s going on inside.
A common mistake to avoid when growing with DWC is not checking the pH levels of the water. This is important for any grow! Dirty reservoirs or not using an aerator 24/7 are two additional crucial mistakes, as roots must have excessive oxygen so they don’t drown. While some people like to maintain a completely sterile reservoir with just nutrients and water and no traces of anything alive, there are some good sources of beneficial bacteria that can be added. Bad bacteria is obviously, bad, but we wanted to emphasize the possibility of bacteria that can benefit your grow. To avoid potentially harmful bacteria, be proactive about changing the reservoir water.
In addition, having too many plants in one reservoir can lead to problems such as white powdery mildew. Don’t cramp your plants, instead, we recommend growing one plant per reservoir to allow the roots to spread out and give the leaves and buds more space.
Flushing your plants by removing any nutrients and salts improves the quality and taste of your final product. By simply draining your bubbler bucket reservoir and adding plain (pH neutral) water for two-three days before harvest, the plant will use all its existing nutrients contained in the stems,
Growing Cannabis with Coco Coir
Coco coir is another great growing method, especially for beginners. It provides the ease of soil gardening with the rapid growth of hydroponics by using fibrous coconut husks instead of a potting mix. Compared to just soil growing, it absorbs moisture much easier, allowing plants to take up more nutrients and retain oxygen more efficiently because of its lighter texture. It also provides a forgiving buffer by reducing shock stress when human errors are made, such as adding too many nutrients, a common mistake.
Coco is much easier to flush than DWC because you aren’t changing an entire water reservoir. In fact, watering coco coir is very versatile. You can use a flood and drain hydroponic system, which is when the nutrient system temporarily floods from beneath the plant, controlled by a pump and timer, instead of dripping from above like most hydroponic systems. You can also use the most recognized top water to waste system, which is simply taking a water pail and watering your plant until water comes out of the bottom of the pot.
When growing cannabis with
For more experienced growers, a one-to-one coco to perlite ratio is recommended as you are able to water more frequently, giving the plant more nutrient uptake and allowing more aggressive root growth.
Some common mistakes can occur when growing with
It’s also very important to use Cal-Mag, or Calcium and Magnesium, in your coco growing medium. Calcium plays a direct role in a plant’s root development, nutrient
Outdoor soil growing is a common gardening technique that most people with
To make organic soil, you need a mixture of
A benefit to outdoor soil growing is that if you have a good base-soil built up, it’s not necessary to add nutrients throughout the plant’s life cycle. That means less work for you! It is also likely that the smell and flavor profiles of your buds will increase as well.
A common mistake when growing outdoors is overwatering. Wait to water your plants until the first three inches or so, or about knuckle depth, of soil is dry. You can gauge your soil by pulling the container it is in slightly outwards. Not checking the pH after mixing nutrients, or using nutrients too frequently are also common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.
Don’t use miracle grow or other similar slow release soils. Your plants will not get the correct amount of nitrogen needed during vegetation and they will receive too much nitrogen during flowering.
Part 2: Learning Cannabis Grow and Plant Maintenance Techniques
Growers have recorded a plethora of marijuana growing techniques over the years to ensure you make the most of your crop. If you want to maximize yield and maximize the amount of light your cannabis plant receives, it is important to practice bending and securing parts of the
Bending & Securing Your Cannabis Plants
Screen of Green (ScrOG)
One technique for bending and securing parts of marijuana plants is
ScrOG is designed to optimize the energy from a light by creating an even canopy space where
Steps to ScrOG:
- Top the plant (See Removing Parts of Plants section below) when the plant is approximately 10 inches tall in the vegetative stage
- Top again at the second set of new node growth after your first top. At this stage, for soil or soil-less, a five-gallon pot will work
- Repeat for each new growth. If you are growing your plant larger, you must switch to at least a seven-gallon pot for soil or soilless
- Place a screen just above the topped height
- Once the growth of the new tops are long enough to move to the next square, gently bend them down under the ScrOG trellis to the next square, tucking them under to the next square
- Continue this process as the plant continues to grow - tucking the tops horizontally under each ScrOG trellis square to achieve your preferred size of the canopy for your grow space
- About a week and a half into the flowering stage, stop forcing the plant horizontally
Another bending and securing method is super cropping. This is more of a
Cannabis plants are very resilient and can pop right back up if super cropping isn’t done properly. Because of this, it is a favorable choice to tie down the branch after you have super cropped (a technique known as low-stress training).
Steps to super cropping:
- Grab the stem with your thumb and index finger and squeeze it, slightly wiggling the stem between your fingers - kind of like you’re rolling it between your fingers. This will weaken the inner tissue to assist in making your bend
- Continue the above step until the inside of the stem feels soft and pliable
- Gently bend the stem over in the direction that you want it to be in. When you bend it over, it should be sitting at approximately a 90-degree angle
LST, or low-stress training, is less harsh than
Photo Courtesy of Royal Queen Seeds Cannabis Blog
With LST, the main goal is to bend taller stems down and away from the middle of the plant so that the plant starts taking a flat and wide shape. Eventually, your plant will begin to utilize its light source more effectively. LST can also be used to remedy cannabis plants that are growing taller than other ones in your grow by helping you maintain complete control over the height,
Removing Parts of Plants
Removing parts of a cannabis plant can also help maximize yields when growing. Some of the most common techniques include topping, FIMing, and
By simply pruning the tops of your cannabis plant, you can grow a bushier plant with more buds. Topping will reduce the height instantly as well, which could be beneficial if you’ve let your plant get too tall while increasing the number of colas. If done correctly, effective topping will improve your final yield, meaning more bud for you at harvest.
How to top your plant:
- Cut off the newest node on your marijuana plant’s main cola, directly above the leaves of the second node. Cut through the stem, right above its second set of leaves from the top
- Use your thumb and index fingernails to squeeze and pluck away the new growth above, down to the first set of nodes. There should not be any more than a half inch of new growth to pinch off
Often, lower branches rise to become new main colas; this is especially true if you combine topping with LST to open the plant and allow the lower branches to receive more light.
FIMing is very similar to topping, but you’re
Begin pinching or cutting your plant when it has three to five nodes in total. From there, use discretion based on the
Photo Courtesy of Royal Queen Seeds Cannabis Blog
To FIM, follow these steps:
- When pinching, pinch a small amount on the tips of the leaves of the newest growth on the main cola that hasn’t elongated yet
- The new leaves should look “crushed,” and your plant may look odd, but this is normal
- You will know your plant is doing well when the stems begin to thicken at the base.
We recommend FIMing and pinching over cutting your plant because it allows more room for error, is less stressful on the plant and leaves the damaged foliage on the plant. There are a couple cons to FIMing, however, such as failing to break apical dominance or the creation of asymmetrical colas.
Lollipopping is a useful pruning technique. Pruning is the process of selectively trimming plants so that they produce the most flowers or buds. For marijuana growing, this means ensuring even the smallest amount of plants obtain the maximum yield. Pruning techniques are often used by professional growers seeking to maximize results in a limited indoor growing space.
With pruning, there is no reason to keep small branches that will produce tiny buds. Pruning helps the plant focus its energy
While pruning has beneficial effects when growing marijuana plants, it can also cause dangerous levels of stress. Similar to humans, plants respond to stress with a hormonal release. In the case of cannabis plants, the response includes the release of jasmonic acid, a growth inhibitor. When jasmonic acid is released, plants stop growing and focus on healing. This is the reason why over-pruning can lead to stunted growth and should be conducted with great care.
Work smarter, not harder! If you’re beginning to decide whether you want to start from seeds or clones and you want results quickly, clones are the way to go!
The Benefits of Cloning
Clones are essentially the exact duplicate of a plant with the same genetics and have a
If you keep a mother plant, you can keep growing cannabis with the same genetics and cannabinoid profiles if you take advantage of its clones. A mother plant is a plant that you keep in the vegetative
How to Take a Clone Cutting
The process is simple. A clone is simply a
It’s also important to apply a growth hormone to the bottom portion of the cutting to promote root growth.
Once you have taken your cut and dipped into a growth hormone, take your cutting and place it in a
Part 3 – Tips & Tricks for a More Fruitful Cannabis Grow
Sea of Green (SOG)
Using a technique like Sea of Green (SoG) (not to be confused with ScrOG), you can easily manipulate timelines to get faster yields with your cannabis plants. SoG is a strategy of naturally growing many little cannabis plants and putting them into the flowering stage when they are still small, resulting in a “sea” of plants. They will harvest quicker because they don’t have to be as big to support the same total number of bud sites.
Ultimately, it is up to the grower to decide how big you would like your plants to be before you initiate the flowering stage.
Considering that SoG requires no training, this technique is popular with those growing auto-flowering strains since these strains are tough to exemplify most of the traditional plant-training methods. Auto-flowering strains automatically switch from vegetative growth to the flowering stage with age, rather than differentiating vegetative and flowering environments.
If you are living somewhere with legal plant limits, SoG is more difficult because you are growing many small plants instead of training fewer big plants to fit your space. If you can grow as many plants as you want, it is a faster harvesting choice, and you can grow different strains at once.
How to Create a Sea of Green
To make your own sea of green, start by growing seeds or clone cuttings using 18 to 24 hours of light until they reach around one to 12 inches in height. Space the plants out about one or two plants per square foot. Change the lighting to 12 hours on and 12 hours off when they are about four to six weeks old to force flowering.
Once complete, all that’s left is to harvest your plants when they are ready!
Using Enzymes to Maximize Fertilizer
Another tip to speed up your harvest is to use enzymes to maximize fertilizer for your cannabis plants. Mycorrhiza, literally meaning “fungus root,” is a cannabis treasure! It helps your cannabis plant with nutrient and water absorption by increasing the surface-absorbing area of the roots and releasing enzymes which help dissolve nutrients that are more difficult for the plant to capture. These nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus,
Azos is a beneficial bacteria used in the rooting stage of clones. It promotes growth while boosting natural root development by converting nitrogen into a usable form for the cannabis plant. You simply mix it into
Mykos is sprinkled on the roots and
Drying and Curing
Finally, it’s harvest time! To start drying your cannabis plant, the temperature should be set to 70°F and the humidity to 50% with absolutely no light!
The hanging method is the most popular when it comes to drying cannabis. Cut your branches into one to
If you are using a dehumidifier, also be careful not to hang the drying buds above the exhaust of the dehumidifier.
Once the stems of the individual buds start to snap when you bend them, the drying process is complete.
Once drying is complete, it’s time to cure your buds. We recommend using glass jars and to fill them about ¾ full of bud. Keep the jars stored in a cool, dark place around 70°F to properly cure your buds. This process takes about four weeks and should not be rushed.
For the first week, burp the jars for one hour each day. For the second week of curing, burp the jars for 30 minutes each day. For week three, burp for fifteen minutes a day for the first half of the week and add humidity packs, such as Boveda, during the second half of the week. In week four, you will not need to burp, and it will be about time to enjoy some fresh, tasty, homegrown buds!
Thanks for growing cannabis with us! We hope you found this grow guide to be a useful tool on your journey to becoming a better grower.
For more grow resources, check out WeGrowapp.com, and download the app, WeGrow, to meet Elle, the Growbot™. She’s available round-the-clock to help you with step-by-step growing instruction, equipment
Happy Growing, See you next time!