So you live in a state where marijuana is legal and want to start up your own grow. But what does that really entail? Setting up a home grow can be much more challenging than expected and takes patience, persistence and a strong desire to solidify and refine your craft. Sound like a challenge you’d like to embark on? Then you’ve come to the right place; we’ve collected some great tips and created an expert overview of how to grow marijuana at home.
For those who haven't tried their hands at growing yet, don't expect your first trip around the block to result in big yields and epic bud production. Most cannabis growers have been refining their crafts for years, so new cannabis growers must be patient and really work at it to have high cannabis yields of nice buds.
It is important to understand this article is simply a basic overview of the different stages and aspects of growing and is not a sufficient source for in-depth tutorials. In combination with other resources and hands-on practice, though, this overview will be a great jumpstart to your growing journey. Gaining a baseline understanding will help tremendously as you advance in skill and move along your cultivation career.
Understanding the Law
Before you purchase anything or begin to plan the implementation of your grow, some thought must go into the legality of growing marijuana at home. While there are many states that allow home grows, the laws differ individually. For example, in Colorado, you may grow up to six plants per adult. In Washington state, however, home growing is actually illegal – even though marijuana is legal.
Because there are many different laws and stipulations at play, be sure to research the limitations of what you can and cannot do legally to ensure you avoid run-ins with law enforcement and are always operating within the confines of the law. Remember, just because marijuana is legal in your state does not mean there aren’t rules!
Selecting the Right Growing Set-Up/Medium
When starting a home grow from scratch, there are a few things to consider right off the bat. First, you must select a grow space and decide if you want to grow marijuana indoors or outdoors. If you’ve chosen indoors, then the next aspect to consider is the housing, or set-up, that will contain your plants and grow lights. Currently, there are seemingly endless options for those looking to purchase a grow box to cultivate their marijuana plants indoors. From ready-to-go grow tents to fully-equipped hydroponic kits, the retail marijuana growing industry is just about as expansive as any other market. Some boxes even come with automated electronics and nutrient delivery systems. Obviously, these products come at varying prices but generally are not cheap. However, they do offer a certain convenience that is worth noting.
With that being said, your first decision before growing weed indoors at home is to choose whether you want to buy a grow environment or create your own. Creating your own growing environment will obviously be more time-consuming and involve a degree of manual labor, but in the end will be marginally cheaper than a retail set-up. Plus you get the added satisfaction of having created something with your own hands – which is always nice.
Once you have decided on your environment, you now must decide if you want to grow hydroponically (hydro) or with soil. Each option has its benefits so be sure to do some research on which will be most economical for your situation. Hydro growing offers easier nutrient level monitoring and cuts down on harvest times while soil provides more robust flavor and requires less attention to detail during feeding.
If you select hydro, be sure to research different growing mediums. From coco to rockwool, there are many options to choose from. So do some research and pick which option works best for you and your cannabis grow.
After selecting your ideal environment/set-up, it’s time to start growing. The following sections provide an overview of the different stages your plants will undergo during their lifespan. Understanding these stages will allow you to better plan out your growing cycle and effectively produce healthy plants.
Choosing Seeds or Clones
As many of you know, there are two ways to start a grow: marijuana seeds or clones. Each option has pros and cons and ultimately it’s up to you to decide which method you want to pursue. Starting from seed is a classic way to cultivate marijuana and gives you the satisfaction of growing something from the ground up. Starting from seed does take a bit longer and there is a chance of ending up with a male or other problematic characteristics, but if done correctly can produce a great plant to take clone cuttings from in the future.
Clones are a much quicker option and can reduce the development period from 6-8 weeks to about 7-21 days. Clones are an exact replica of the mother plant they were taken from, ensuring consistency in the purity and potency of the strain. Starting from clone helps reduce the sexual identification process and labor early on, but if the clone was stressed or taken from an unhealthy plant, you will have issues moving forward. Our best advice is to google some additional research and figure out which option is best for you. Either route you embark on will yield excellent results if done properly. If you do choose to start from seed, be aware that they must first be germinated into sprouted seedlings before entering the propagation process.
Photo credit: "thöR
Stages of Growth
Technically speaking, there are three stages when growing a marijuana plant: propagation, vegetative and flowering. Harvesting could also be considered a stage but since the plant is no longer growing after it is cut down it can go either way. For our purposes, we have left out harvesting from the stages of growth section.
Attention to detail in each stage is crucial for growing high-quality cannabis, as errors or neglect will lead to issues down the road throughout the entire process. It’s also important to make educated decisions when performing plant work during each stage. Understanding what actions need to be done when will help your plants remain healthy and allow you to have a much easier time growing your cannabis.
During propagation, the plant begins its journey to becoming what is commonly known as marijuana flower. In this stage, the seed or clone begins to develop a stable rooting system for proper nutrient intake and the leaves, or foliage, begin to flourish. A plant in propagation is very fragile and must be regulated very carefully. Lighting, temperature and humidity must be controlled intently to ensure proper plant health and vigor before moving into the vegetative stage.
The vegetative stage is when the plant really begins to take form. During vegetative growth, the leaves of the plant will start looking more like a traditional cannabis plant and the roots will continue to build a more robust system. In turn, the plant will grow taller and become more able to absorb nutrients. During the vegetative stage, a plant may grow up to two inches per day. This rapid growth is one of the more exciting stages in the process and the duration depends on the amount of light exposure the plant receives. Plants grown outdoors is highly dependent upon the region you live in and the amoun of direct sunlight they recieve. Hypothetically, you could keep an indoor cannabis plant in the vegetative stage for pretty much as long as you want. Ideally, you want to strictly monitor and regulate the light exposure your plant receives during the vegetative stage. Once your plant has completed the vegetative stage, it is ready to start flowering.
The flowering stage is the final stage for your plant and is responsible for producing the final product of dried marijuana that we have come to know and love. When a plant reaches the flowering cycle, it is sexually mature and will produce resin on the epidermis of the leaves and become denser and centered on the buds, or flowers. This is when the classic looking nugs come into form. The length of the flowering stage depends on many variables, such as strain and species, but generally will last about 7-10 weeks. The longer the flowering stage, the more likely you will have bigger yields.
Once your plant has finished the flowering stage, it is ready to be harvested, meaning the entire plant gets chopped down. You’re not quite ready to start smoking your bounty just yet though, as there are still a few more steps. The first step will be to conduct a quick wet trim to remove larger fan leaves from the plant. After that, the plant must dry and cure for a calculated amount of time. Bigger buds will take slightly longer to cure than smaller, popcorn nugs so be aware of the differing rates. During the curing stage is when the harvested flowers dry out and start looking more like the cannabis you can buy in a dispensary. After curing, the last step is a dry trim to remove all of the excess leaves from the flower of the plant. Trimming is a very meticulous process and is really up to the grower to determine how thorough of a job to do. Be sure to save your trimmings though so you can make some delicious edibles or bubble hash!
After your buds are cured and trimmed, you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the form of some good cannabis. So gather your favorite smoking apparatus, light up and enjoy the satisfaction of consuming something you have grown with your very own green thumb.