It’s possible to grow marijuana at home, both indoors and outdoors. However, there are many things you need to know before buying your first cannabis seeds. Growing marijuana starting from seeds can be a daunting task. Luckily we've put together the ultimate guide for growing weed from seeds! The expert source on how to grow marijuana by Robert Bergman, Amsterdam. Grow successfully with our guides and helpful experts!
How to Grow Marijuana: The Essential Guide for Beginners
Growing your own marijuana is possible, whether you’d like to cultivate an outdoor garden or choose an indoor grow medium. Learn how to grow marijuana indoors and outdoors in our step-by-step guide for beginner cultivators.
Determine Legal Status
One key step to take before starting your marijuana garden is to determine the legal status of cannabis cultivation in your state, including how many plants you are allowed to grow . Some states place a limit on just two cannabis plants, while others may allow as many as 16. Stay informed of the ever-changing laws in your jurisdiction.
How Much It Costs
The start-up costs for cannabis cultivation include materials like nutrition for the plant, grow lights (if indoors), basic gardening tools, and more. For some people, the start-up costs may range in the thousands, but if you’re on a budget, it’s possible to start growing marijuana at home for as little as $200 .
Choose a Location: Indoors vs. Outdoors
Many new growers choose to cultivate marijuana indoors, for practical reasons including discretion. However, there are benefits and drawbacks to indoor and outdoor set-ups.
Growing Marijuana Outdoors
Growing cannabis outdoors can be quite the challenge, even if nature’s doing a lot of the work (i.e. providing light, water, and soil, although you can use your own pots and soil as well). This is because you need to take many more variables into consideration, and you also have to be in the right geographic location to grow cannabis outdoors to its best. Those who do not live in equatorial, Mediterranean, or temperate climates with a well-defined spring and summer season may find it extremely difficult if not impossible to grow outdoors.
However, there are few things more satisfying than cannabis grown outdoors, and many people prefer the effects it can give. Also, if you live in the right environment, have an understanding of your local climate, and have the right space to do so, growing cannabis outdoors can become rather simple, on top of producing bumper yields due to the amount of space available. Assuming there are no drastic weather changes, you merely have to watch your cannabis grow and do nothing but give your plants a little TLC along the way (e.g. a little pruning).
Best Strains for Outdoor Growing
- Early Queen / Early Skunk Feminized
- Gorilla Glue #4 Autoflower
- Kyle’s Skywalker OG
- Skywalker Haze by Dutch Passion
- Nikki and Swami’s Lemon OG Feminized
- Steve’s Dream Queen Feminized
- CBD Mango Feminized
Growing Marijuana Indoors
Indoor growing is usually best suited for beginners as you can control all the variables. Using soil or a mixture of coco coir and organic nutrients as the medium, a set of 400- to 600-watt lights, a grow tent and some pots, you can successfully grow cannabis indoors without too much hassle.
Best Strains for Indoor Growing
Here are some of the best strains for beginners interested in growing cannabis indoors:
- Northern Lights (NL)
- Skunk #1
- Blue Dream
- Cheese/Blue Cheese
- OG Kush
In addition to these hybrid strains, autoflowering strains and ruderalis strains are recommended for novice indoor growers.
Using a Greenhouse
The greenhouse can meld together the advantages of both indoor and outdoor cannabis growing. Greenhouses can be covered to produce true dark time, and the cannabis is kept in a protective environment which can reduce the chances of pests (though not as much as an indoor grow).
On top of this, greenhouses allow in natural light, allowing for the full development of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes. Greenhouse growing also uses far fewer resources compared to indoor grows, so less energy is spent on lights and fans. The enclosed environment can also make it easier to hide from prying eyes, and you can use other plants to camouflage the cannabis.
However, greenhouse grows are prone to the seasons, and a good amount of natural light is required. Temperatures and humidity levels are also harder to control. Still, those who want to step into the world of outdoor growing, and who are in a suitable environment, ought to consider a greenhouse.
Decide How You’ll Grow
You have a number of choices for a cannabis grow medium. Here are some of the most common ways to cultivate cannabis, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.
With outdoor grows, you can use natural soil and sunlight to do most of the work, and many people prefer the results of outdoor cannabis with regard to its smell, taste, and effect. However, growing outdoors can be legally risky, and there are many more variables to consider.
Indoor grows can also utilize soil, and many prefer to use soil as it is a natural source of nutrients and you do not need to add too many extra nutrients from other sources. Good soil is also quite readily available at many gardening stores.
- Cannabis has better taste, smell, and effects.
- Weather issues.
- Legal issues.
- Wild animals.
- Requires careful balance of water and sunlight.
- Potentially only two yields per year (depending on your climate).
- Overall challenging.
Coco coir is a natural fiber extracted from the outer husk of the coconut. It’s a growing medium that combines elements of both soil and hydroponic growing. It can be combined with soil or used on its own and is an ideal growing medium for beginners.
- Excellent water retention.
- Reliable drainage.
- Lots of air.
- Roots spend less time searching for food, as you are providing it via nutrient water.
- Coco coir has a neutral pH range of 5.2-6.8 — ideal for growing cannabis.
- Reduces the risk of pests, fungi, and other harmful pathogens attacking your plant.
- Environmentally friendly, and can be reused if prepared properly for your next growth cycle.
- Coir bales are often treated with chemicals to ensure that they don’t get infected with harmful pathogens, so read the label or check the manufacturer’s website for information on the coir you’re using to ensure that the chemicals won’t interfere with your plant growth cycle
- You’ll need coco coir-specific nutrients to boost calcium, magnesium, and iron levels in the plant
- Some types of coco coir may have a high salt content due to being rinsed in saltwater – ensure the coir has been rinsed with fresh water if this is the case
- You’ll need to feed the plant nutrients yourself
Hydroponics is where you grow cannabis using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. Basically, the plant will usually be in a pot surrounded by an inert growing medium (e.g. perlite, vermiculite, clay aggregate, gravel, or sand) and have a nutrient solution pumped through the inert material and into the plant (continuous-flow solution culture). In some methods, the plant is kept in a reservoir of nutrients (static solution culture).
- Large, powerful yields.
- Precise nutrient requirements.
- Knowledge of different strains is required for optimum growth.
- Aerated water is necessary.
- Better-suited to experienced growers.
Aeroponics is similar to hydroponics in many ways, except the plant’s roots are kept in an aerated chamber saturated with fine drops of nutrient solution. The roots are periodically wetted with a fine mist of atomized nutrients.
Aeroponic grows require fewer nutrients and less water compared to hydroponic grows, and unlike hydroponically-grown plants can be transferred to soil mediums without shocking the plant.
- High, efficient yields.
- High initial cost.
- Constant supervision is necessary.
- Excessive time and stress.
Aquaponics is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture which is the growing of fish and other aquatic creatures in a tank. Aquaponics is a symbiotic environment where the aquatic animals’ discharge or waste feeds the plants growing on top, and the plants remove toxic levels of waste from accumulating in the water. Aquaponics systems have been in use for many years, but it is arguable that they weren’t perfected until relatively recently.
- Low water usage.
- No plant feed needed.
- Little to no chemical usage.
- Less susceptibility to pests and diseases.
- Cannabis plants grow quite well in aquaponic systems.
- Smaller area, so fewer plants.
- High electricity outputs.
- High maintenance.
- More complex, so a greater number of points of failure.
- High costs.
Growing Marijuana From Seeds Step by Step
There are several steps to follow to grow marijuana from seeds. After you select your marijuana seeds, you will carry the cannabis plant through each stage of growth, from germination through to harvest.
Spray two to four sheets of paper towels (kitchen towels) with some water so it’s damp but not soaking, put a seed in between them and onto a plate, and wait for a taproot to emerge. Keep the room temperature somewhere between 70 and 90˚F.
Transfer the germinated seed to a small pot of soil or whatever growth space you are using. During the seedling stage, it will produce two leaves that open outward from the stem to start receiving sunlight.
This is when you start seeing a mini cannabis plant. Seedlings should be kept at 77˚F with a humidity of around 60%. Cannabis likes a light cycle of 18-hours of white light per day once the leaves have emerged. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at this point.
By this time, you will need to transfer your mature seedling to a larger pot. You can tell when the seedling is ready to be transferred, as the roots will outgrow the plant pot. Cannabis plants grow rapidly at this stage as they take on more nutrients and carbon dioxide.
You can also do some vital checks at this point. One is checking for the sex of the plant. Female plants will start developing two white pistils. Male plants grow pollen sacs. If you see these sacs, remove the plant from the vicinity before it pollinates the females and ruins your harvest.
Keep the temperature between 68 and 77˚F, and the humidity between 50% and 70%. 18 hours of light and 6 hours of dark. Light wattage of around and 125 Watts. Cannabis ruderalis skips this stage entirely and moves onto the next stage (flowering). More nitrogen (N) than phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
This is when the vegetative plant is fully mature and is ready to start growing buds/flowers, and you begin to see the trichomes (little white hairs that are the powerhouse of cannabinoid and terpene production).
Transfer the plant to a larger pot. The plant now needs 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. Indicas tend to finish flowering in about six to nine weeks and Sativas 10 to 14 weeks. Most growers tend to go for a maximum of 14 weeks’ flowering.
Prevent light leaks during dark times during the flowering stage. Light leaks can cause the plant to get stressed and produce both male and female organs (called “hermaphroditism”, “hermying”, “hermied” or “hermies”), even in feminized varieties.
Keep the temperature somewhere between 68 and 77˚ F, with the humidity at around 50 percent. Stop giving the plant nitrogen (N) now, but up the intake of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Once the plant is in the last week of flowering, flush the soil with distilled water and refrain from adding any more nutrients.
Once your plant is mature enough, it needs to be chopped and dried. But first, you need to know when to chop the plant. Some say you should harvest the plants when 70 to 90 percent of the pistils have browned.
Others look at the color of the trichomes, which start off white, then turn amber, and finally brown. Many say the ideal time to harvest is when around half (50 percent) of trichomes are amber. Too clear, and it can be too soon (but can produce a more energetic effect). Too brown, and the cannabinoids lose their potency (although some may prefer slightly less psychoactivity).
Dry your cannabis plants in a dry room away from sunlight for about seven to 14 days. Your cannabis plant will be ready for chopping into smaller buds for jarring once the plant stem snaps when you bend them. This is an extremely important stage, as a good drying process will prevent your cannabis from developing mold or mildew.
After you’ve chopped, pruned, and dried your cannabis, it is usable, but it is not at its best. You will want to put your cannabis into a mason jar (no more than 3/4 full) with an airtight seal. You will then leave it in there for two weeks to one month, opening the jar once a day to let the cannabis breathe. This will break down the sugars and chlorophyll in the bud/flower, and you will get a far more flavorsome product with a well-defined effect.
Growing Tips and Tricks
There are many helpful strategies you can employ to help your cannabis plant thrive. You can even save a dying cannabis plant . Here are some basic tips for growing cannabis to help you get the most abundant yield possible:
- Do your research and choose the right strain.
- Monitor daily conditions, especially light and temperature.
- Provide adequate water.
- Understand the life cycle of the cannabis plant.
- Harvest at the optimal time.
How to Store Homegrown Marijuana
Storing your homegrown cannabis properly is essential to keep the harvest fresh.
Airtight containers stored in dark, cool places are ideal. Be sure to avoid exposing your cannabis to excessive light, heat, or moisture, as these elements will degrade the freshness and potency of the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to fully grow a marijuana plant?
From seedling stage to harvest, the approximate time to grow a marijuana plant is 16 weeks, but this timeframe will differ depending on the strain you are growing as well as your grow medium.
Is it legal to grow marijuana?
State laws vary widely, so investigate the legal status of growing marijuana in your area before you plant your first seeds.
Is it better to grow marijuana inside or outside?
Growing cannabis indoors is easier for many beginner cultivators, as you are able to control the conditions. Growing cannabis outdoors poses more threats, including pest infestations and challenging weather conditions.
Explore the world of cannabis with a medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s doctors are here to meet with you online in our virtual clinic and get you started on the process.
Article written by
Tina Magrabi Senior Content Writer
Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women’s health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero’s Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.
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Grow Weed Starting From Seed
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Growing your own cannabis plant starting from seed is a remarkable journey. Understanding the biology of the plant is one thing, but comprehending how a little miracle bean can turn into a gigantic tree producing flowers that can affect your body and mind is nothing short of an evolutionary miracle. Or rather a co-evolutionary story of plant and human.
Start Growing Weed From Seed
Our favorite thing about growing your own weed starting from a seed , rather than a clone, is that you get to see the full life cycle and enjoy a plant that is unique, just like you. An entirely new genetic makeup will enter the world for the first time, and if you’re lucky, something remarkable might be born.
Raising a cannabis seedling , however, requires some patience, gentle hands, and a smidgen of luck. Thankfully pot seeds are remarkably vigorous because they are what’s called endosperm seeds , which means they have almost pre-formed cotyledon leaves before you even add water. Below is a brief guide on the techniques we have found yield the most success when starting seeds and raising your seedling to a healthy plant ready for transplanting. And, don’t forget, a Pot for Pot’s Complete Grow Kits take the guesswork out so you always wind up with a splendid harvest!
1) Germinating Your Cannabis Seed
To accelerate germination, soak your seed in a small container with lukewarm water and place it in a dark and warm place (like a kitchen cabinet) for 12-24 hours, but no longer. By drenching the seed, it absorbs the water thoroughly, activating the germination process on a physical and chemical level. Doing this helps to loosen the shell as it becomes a little softer making it easier for the embryo to crack it open. When your seed sinks to the bottom, it is ready to be planted, and sometimes the seed will pop out a small taproot. A seed can still be planted though if it does not sink or put out a taproot. When a seed pops a taproot (often called a tail), it becomes more vulnerable and it is better to plant it before this root emerges.
2) Planting Your Weed Seed
We see best results with seedling pellets that are made of a mix of compressed peat moss and coco husk. To expand, soak it in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Using warmer, lukewarm water, instead of cold water, will speed up the time the pellet takes to fully expand. Once your seedling pellet has absorbed enough water and has expanded to its maximum size, gently squeeze to remove excess water. The growing medium should be like a damp sponge that would not leave streaks on the table. Dig a small hole about 1/4 inch deep for your seed. Use a spoon to lift the seed out of its bath. If it has popped out a taproot be careful not to damage it. Gently place the seed into the hole and lightly cover it with dirt from the pellet. Now that you have started the germination process, your seedling will come above ground within two weeks. The older the seed, the longer it takes for it to germinate.
Want an easy-to-use starter kit for Cannabis seedlings? Check out our Seedling Starter Kit, perfect for nurturing your germinated seeds into viable, healthy plants.
3) Weed Seedling Sprouts
Perhaps the most exciting stage, your plant baby will come above ground in 1-2 weeks, with the average popping up in 5 to 7 days after planting. As your seedling comes above the soil, its shell might take a few days to fall off. It’s best to leave it alone, nature has the job covered. If it does not come above ground after about two weeks, the chance of success is dramatically reduced, and it’s best to try again. Even the best seeds have an 85% germination rate. When your seedling comes above ground, it is going to want to see a direct light source.
Save Money – No Tent Needed
Organic Cannabis Soil Recipe
Avoid Common Mistakes
4) Lighting for Your Cannabis Seedling
Marijuana seedlings require a medium amount of light — enough to get energy to grow, but not too much light that to get burned. Leaving your seedling in direct sunlight will cause the leaves to curl, while too little light will cause the seedling to stretch. If growing outside, seedlings want to see a direct light source to stop them stretching. If inside, a sunny windowsill with more than half a day of sunlight works wonders. Otherwise, 24 to 30 inches from a grow light is an excellent supplement. Your seedling should not stretch more than 6 inches at most.
5) Watering Your Cannabis Seedling
For cannabis plants young and old, it’s best to use bottled, distilled, or filtered water as these are without chlorine. If using tap water, let it sit for 48 to 96 hours before watering to dissipate any chlorine. Chlorine can also be eliminated by boiling for 20 minutes. Under normal conditions, after soaking your seedling pellet, it should contain all the moisture your plant needs before it comes above ground. As it grows, it will only need about a shot glass worth of water at most per week to keep the medium damp. Seedlings don’t drink a lot of water, which makes sense given their size. Your plant will do better in a growing medium which is damp but not soaking wet. Overwatering is just as deadly as drying out!
Damping off happens when the seedling is in too moist of an environment. The young plant’s immune system is not strong enough to ward off a fungus that results in the plant rotting from the bottom of the stem. When this happens, the plant will bend over and die if not treated. To help fight the infection, lightly spray a 0.5% solution of hydrogen peroxide around the affected area. However, the best option is to avoid this by not exposing your seedling to too much moisture.
6) First Cannabis Seedling Leaves & Hardening Off
The first set of leaves to come above ground are called the cotyledons . These little leaves are packed with energy and will grow to about 1/4 in in size before eventually falling off. Your second leaves to emerge will be single blades and will be serrated, looking like regular pot leaves.
They will become several inches in length. During their growth your first actual set of leaves will appear. These are typically three blades. Around this time is when your plant is “hardening off”. You will notice that the stem will start to develop a thicker skin and harden off. As the leaves of the plant get bigger, they can gradually handle more sunlight, so move it into more direct light– the more light the better!
7) Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings
About 10 days after germination, when the baby cannabis plant has hardened off, roots will start emerging from the bottom of your seedling pellet and the plant is ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot. Be very careful not to damage the roots during this stage. Any stress will slow its growth.
Dig a small hole in your bigger pot for the seedling, sprinkle some rooting booster in the bottom of the hole then carefully plant the whole seedling pellet holding your weed baby.
Now bury so the base of its stalk is level with the topsoil. Give it a watering to set the roots in the ground, then hold off watering until you pick up the pot and it feels light in weight.
Are you ready to transplant your seedlings? Shop our best selection of cannabis starter growing kits from small to large pots.
8. Separating the Girls from the Boys
At about 4-6 weeks into your plant’s growth , you’ll be able to determine the sex of the plant. You’ll want to separate and dispose of any male plants. This is an important step for growing marijuana because the female plants are more potent and valuable. You also don’t want male plants to compromise the growth of your female plants.
Why Do You Only Want Female Weed Plants?
Only female marijuana plants produce THC buds that are high in potency. You want to make sure your Cannabis plants are all female. If you have a male plant, it can fertilize the other female plants, and they will work to produce seeds instead of flowers and nugs.
It’s essential as a grower to know the difference between a female and a male plant so that you can remove the male plants before they contaminate your crop . Unfortunately, you have a 50/50 chance of getting a male plant when growing a plant from a seed from a nug.
There is a massive market for seeds that will only grow into female plants. But even these seeds are not a 100% guarantee you’re going to get a female plant. To ensure a good crop, you’ll want to germinate and plant many marijuana seeds and then separate the females from the males when the plants begin to show their sexuality.
How to Tell if a Weed Seed is Male or Female
As your plant matures sexually, it will develop between its nodes. Nodes are the area of the plant where the branches connect to the plant’s stalk. The distinguishing characteristics that will help you identify your plant’s gender:
- Male Plants : Small pollen sacs will cluster in the nodes.
- Female Plants : Stigmas will develop in the nodes. The stigmas can catch the pollen of male plants. Stigmas have hair-like veins that will extend from the sacs in the nodes.
- Hermaphrodite Plants : These plants have both the stigmas and pollen sacs in their nodes. These are female plants that develop both sex organs when exposed to a lot of stress.
Once you can identify the sex of your plants, you’ll want to remove the male or hermaphrodite plants because they can negatively affect the harvest of your female plants. That’s why it is crucial to germinate and grow several cannabis plants to this stage to ensure you get at least one healthy female plant.
9) Grow Weed Plant, Grow!
Suddenly, before your very eyes, the plant will transform. She will grow in height and branch out, putting off leaves and a network of branches. It is your job as the grower to meet her needs so that she can reach her full potential. With a good grow kit, this means as much light as possible and lightly watering only when she is thirsty.
This is considered your marijuana plant’s vegetive stage. The goal in this stage is to keep her healthy and allow the plant to grow as big and strong as possible so that she can hold many, many flowers.
Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
How To Grow Marijuana
You came to the right place! Maybe you’re here because you’re tired of paying way too much for overpriced weed. Or perhaps marijuana helps relieve ailments. Regardless of the reason why you want to learn how to grow marijuana, we’re here to help!
Our Grow Guides section is divided into several topics: Beginners, Plant Biology, Grow Stages, Indoors, Outdoors, Grow Mediums, Plant Care, Troubleshooting, and Advanced Guides
Buy Marijuana Seeds
Good grows start with great seeds! We’ve got you covered with our high-quality marijuana seedbank.
Commonly, growers look for Feminized seeds, but if you’re starting out, you may want to buy Autoflowering seeds instead. If you’re looking for diversity, our Mix Packs provide a seed variety pack for everyone. Don’t want to think too much and just get growing? Grab a complete Grow Kit and you’ll be sprouting in no time!
- Grow With My Quick Start Guide
- Discover Secrets To Big Yields
- Avoid Common Grow Mistakes
Keep track of your grow! Combine details like grow stage, temperatures, feeding and more to get a good perspective of your plants. Not growing yet? Learn from other people who are growing the same seeds that you will receive.
Since the sixties, hippies have trailed across the Hinu Kush mountains to Thailand and beyond to bring heirloom indica and sativa strains to Amsterdam. Every since, thousands of marijuana strains have been developed. Find our take on the best marijuana strains out there.
State by State
A lot has changed in past decades. Many states have decriminalized marijuana or allow medical use and more states start to allow recreational use. Here you’ll find the current situation in your home state. Additionally, we explain how to handle an outdoor grow in your state, or how to set up a commercial venture.
Growing a Single Plant
A good place to start is with simply growing a single weed plant. No high-tech grow room. No massive expenses. Just you, a pot, some soil, and a high-quality seed. In this guide Robert Bergman takes you by the hand to take those first steps into the hobby and sharing his love for growing marijuana.
Outdoor Grow Calendar
Growing outdoors means you’re dependent on the weather. Climates vary from place to place and from time to time. With our grow calendars for the northern and southern parts of the USA, we remove the guesswork and give you the tools to properly plan out your outdoor grow.
How Much Can I Yield?
Still considering your grow? Or are you having trouble getting the most out of your plants? With the proper preparation, equipment, skills, and knowledge, you too can grow a massive yield. Don’t just wing it, turn your hobby into a science and fill up those mason jars with gloriously heavy nuggets.
Even the best growers out there can have a stroke of bad luck. Airy buds, stretching stems, hanging or yellow leaves, I’ve seen it all! With my Symptom Checker, you can easily match what’s wrong with your plant and find an appropriate way to fix it. No matter if you’re having trouble with pests, environment, or nutrient deficiencies, we’ll help you get through it.
Besides growing marijuana, we have loads of other cannabis related content, like cannabis lifestyle blogs. The usage of marijuana. Setting up a canabusiness. Grow diaries. Repices for edibles, and much, much more. Find all our latest articles below
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Hello! I’m Robert Bergman. I’m a marijuana growing enthusiast and the founder of ILGM. I’ve spent the last 25 years learning everything there is to know about growing marijuana. When I started growing I was in a home-based setup where 5-plants were all I had space to grow!
I’ve grown a lot since then (pun intended). I’ve run industrial-sized plantations and labs where we bred newer,
better, and more reliable strains. Then, after years of large scale growing, I had an idea. I wanted to share my knowledge of growing weed-and I had a lot (nearly two decades worth). In that time I’ve dealt with every issue imaginable. Now it’s time to share everything I’ve learned with you!
We ship marijuana seeds daily to all of the United States. No exception. For FREE!
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