The marijuana industry is currently enjoying an air of legitimacy that it has never had before, following the formal legalization for the entire country of Canada, only the second country to enforce federal legalization.
This prominence means a lot more interest from newcomers in growing to meet demand. Growing marijuana is not a simple task, so the proper knowledge on how to care for plants and increase yields is a necessity. This will serve as your starter guide on how to grow weed easily.
The Different Stages of Growing
Stage 1: Germination
The initial stage when the plant grows from its seeds.
- Generally takes 1-7 days, at which point the tap root emerges.
- In some cases, people do this in a separate area or container, before moving them after they become seedlings.
When it comes to this initial stage, your top priority is keeping the seeds safe as well as removing the sprouts without damaging rootlets. In some cases, expert growers will do this by hand, but you can also buy kits to make this process easier.
Stage 2: Seedling
- Starts when plants first sprout
- Lasts around 2 weeks
- Represents the plant growing to become able to absorb chlorophyll
- At the end of this stage, resembles smaller versions of marijuana plants
Note that this is not the same thing as vegetative growth, even though the seedling is technically growing and they can even have similar light requirements. Best practices here include keeping the seedling safe from pests and the elements if you are growing outdoors. Ideally, indoors, you want to keep these around 70% relative humidity, under white CFL lights or LEDs.
Stage 3: Vegetative Growth
- Top priorities are developing strong roots and added branches for more yield
- Last 2 to 8 weeks depending on plants
- Plant will likely outgrow starter medium at this point
At this point, you will see ideal relative humidity numbers go down to 50% for indoor growers, but care at this stage is a lot more dependant on the strain you are growing. For example, autoflower cultivators may start flowering after only 2-3 weeks in this stage, while it’s possible to keep photoperiod strains in this stage indefinitely. This requires keeping the plant in ideal conditions, with 18 or more hours of light daily.
Stage 4: Flowering
- Focus shifts to production of buds
- Lasts 6 to 12 weeks
- Sex of plant can be determined within first two weeks of flowering
For photoperiod strains, flowering is induced by changing the light schedule to a 12-12 hour setup indoors. Outdoors, plants will flower as summer turns into fall and the amount of natural daylight hours start to drop. While watching your flowering plant, you will be able to determine when you are ready to harvest based on looking at the resin buds. It’s a good idea to invest in a small scope to look closely and see when the resin is milky and amber-colored as opposed to clear. At this point, you are ready to harvest your crop.
The Cost To Grow Weed Easily
There can be a minor cost of entry, and as the industry grows, cost will continue to get lower and lower. For example, if you want the absolute basic setup for growing your plants, you are going to need to pay from $200-$500 for the smallest prepackaged grow box or tent. However, if you want to have a little more control over what you end up growing, you’re better served actually installing a light system and building your own space.
We’ll get more into what this entails in a bit, but this is generally going to cost closer to $1,000, for a smaller size, and much more for a larger operation. In addition, you also want to keep in mind the costs of running electricity for lights roughly 12 hours a day.
Another thing we should mention in this discussion revolves around what plants you should start with. Unlike a lot of other plants, it’s not the best idea to start with marijuana seeds, especially for novices. Only female seeds provide the flowers that we associate with the effects of marijuana, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between these and the useless male seeds.
The alternative to seeds are clones, which are cuttings from a plant that are already proven to flower. This skips a step out of the process and helps you grow weed easily.
Choosing And Staging A Good Grow Space
So, at this point, we have an idea of what the budget is behind a grow space for your marijuana. But, is there a way for you to grow weed easily with that space? It’s all in the construction.
There are a few factors that you need to keep in mind right from the start:
Smaller growing spaces are easier to monitor and less expensive, but you also want to have enough space to accommodate your fully-grown plants, and also any additional equipment.
At this point, you may be curious about where the best place to set up this growing space is. As you may know, there are three different options to choose from, each having their own pros and cons.
Gives you the most control over your growth (room temperature, air circulation).
Certain modern strains are designed to grow better indoors.
No need to worry about outside pests and animals.
Can provide highest yields if grown correctly.
At greater risk of toxins due to constrained space.
Costs the most due to needing to purchase planting space, lighting installations, etc.
May be difficult to find a planting space in a small home/apartment.
The least expensive of all options.
Generally only requires a tent, soil, and sunlight.
Is the most “natural” way to grow weed.
Some strains grow differently in natural sunlight than they do in artificial light.
Only works in certain climates.
Exposes your plants to animals, pests, and the elements.
Plants may look less appealing aesthetically when grown outdoors.
Allows you to use natural sunlight while keeping your plants protected.
Can be an intermediate cost between indoor and outdoor if you already have a greenhouse available.
Lowers energy costs.
Makes it possible to manipulate light exposure to trick plants into flowering earlier.
If you don’t already have a greenhouse, can be a major investment.
Greenhouse growing is only possible at certain times of year, and is somewhat climate dependent.
Indoors: On paper, indoor growing seems like the easiest way for you to get started growing your own plants due to the amount of control you have over the situation, and there is a layer of truth to this. Indoor installations give you the opportunity to have complete control over key factors like the room temperature and air circulation. In addition, some of the more modern strains out there are specifically designed to grow better in indoor environments.
However, with that control comes added responsibility and cost. For example, if you fail to keep the area clean and get toxins in your grow space, it can be a bigger problem than other grow settings due to the constrained area. So, you may be able to grow weed easily with an indoor setting, but you need to pay attention.
Greenhouse: Greenhouse marijuana growing is basically built around using the sun along with some light deprivation. The major benefit of this compared to growing indoors is that you have the benefit of natural sunlight to promote a more diverse terpene profile. In addition, there is a far smaller environmental footprint than indoor growing. Compared to outdoor growing, using a greenhouse provides a bit of protection from pests, while also allowing the grower to essentially “trick” the plant into flowering earlier using certain tactics. The issue with greenhouses, besides the expense of setting one up, is that your plants are still, to a degree, subject to the outside climate in a way that indoor growers don’t have to deal with.
Outdoors: The idea of harvesting marijuana outdoors holds a lot of appeal to many would-be growers, and there are plenty of reasons why this is the case. For example, not only do you get to grow the plants naturally, but you also manage to avoid a lot of investments like grow lights, fans, and tarps. Generally, a tent, appropriate soil, and sunlight are the main components that you need. However, while it is possible, it’s not necessarily easy to grow outdoors. The main issue is the number of different variables that you don’t have control of in this setting, from temperature fluctuations to animals. For example, while you may be able to save money on grow lights, you may need to use some of those savings to find a way to keep animals out. In addition, it may not be possible to grow weed easily outdoor growing may not be feasible in every garden nor in every climate.
Installing an exhaust fan is essential to make sure that your plants have the regular flow of fresh air that they need. Ideally, the temperature range you want to reach is between 70 degrees and 85 degrees with the lights on, and 58 degrees and 70 degrees with the lights off.
Experienced growers can implement even more control with dehumidifiers and air conditioners, but if you want to grow weed easily, it’s best to keep things simple.
The two main options you have to grow weed easily are organic soil or a “soilless” method using hydroponics.
The latter method involves using concentrated mineral salt nutrients and feeding the plant via osmosis. The tradeoff is that this can lead to bigger yields than growing in soil, but it requires a lot more precision. In general, the soil is more beginner-friendly.
These are all key factors that you need to keep in mind, but there’s also one that’s so important, we want to give it its own specific time to shine (no pun intended).
Light And Your Marijuana Plants
Light is the single most important aspect of caring for your marijuana plants, and is directly correlated with how large your yield is. For this reason, it’s important not just to know your full breadth of options when it comes to grow lights, but also what the best match is for your grow space and budget.
As a start, there are three main types of grow lights on the market that you can look at. HID lights, also known as high-intensity discharge lights, are considered a favored standby because they can get the most intensity per watt. LED lights are the more modernized alternative, and are popular because they run cooler and are easier to set up than HID lights. The major drawback is that these are more expensive to buy outright, and generally require added space between the light and your plants, which can be difficult to manage in some situations. Fluorescent lights are a cheaper option, and are very popular for growing clones and seedling plants. They are also a great match for smaller grow spaces.
After choosing your lights, there are a few key things you need to decide, for example, your wattage and coverage. As a general rule, 400-600W per m² is a good rule to stand by, though some commercial growers may push the wattage even higher. In terms of how many plants you put into one space, it can be at the grower’s discretion, just make sure you’re not trying to plant more than you can effectively manage. You also want to plan a light schedule for your plants. This will vary based on strain, but 18 hours on and 6 hours off during the growing stage and 12 hours on and 12 hours off for the flowering stage is a good start point.
The Costs Of Lighting Your Marijuana Plants
With this said, one of the factors that may end up truly determining your lighting setup is your budget. The good news is that there are viable options at every level of budget to grow weed easily, from low-priced kits to high-priced custom installations. Here’s a chart that will explain all the different options:
At this point, you have the perfect stage for your marijuana plants, but you also want to make sure that they are healthy as they grow from seeds or clone plants. Whether you are planting a seed or taking a clone, one of the first things you need to be mindful of is where you place these in a bucket. In order to ensure you get the most grow possible, it’s important to make sure that you are maximizing the space. For example, for every 12 inches of plant, you should have around 2 gallons of soil. This can mean a lot of space if you are planning on growing multiple plants.
The best way to make sure this happens is through constant vigilance, especially early on. The earlier you catch any issues with your setup or the health of the plants, the sooner you can act. One of the best examples of this is when it comes to watering. There’s a fine line when it comes to watering marijuana plants, as using too much can cause “root rot,” a condition where the plant is not able to get enough oxygen. Not watering enough will stunt the plant’s growth. So, with this said, how do you strike a proper balance?
The major issue is that there’s no single set amount that you should water your plants, as factors like the plant’s age, the surrounding humidity, and temperature always weigh in. However, there are some things you can do to check and see if your plants are ready for some water. Check the top inch of soil every now and again, and ensure that it is dry before watering to avoid overwatering. It’s also important to take a look at the plants to see if they are showing signs of overwatering or underwatering. Some people recommend using sprays to help your plants grow faster through direct nutrition in the leaves. Generally, these are best used when your plants are in their initial stages of growth or if they are showing signs of nutritional deficiency.
As an additional note, cannabis flowers require more nutritional support than other crops. Some of the prime nutrients you want to focus on include phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
Weed In The Harvesting Stage
Finally, the harvesting stage is a chance for you to recoup on the investment that you’ve put in, but you still want to be careful, as the wrong decision here could reduce your final yield.
The good news is that harvesting is far easier than everything that leads up to it. The best way to see if your plants are ready are looking at the buds through a magnifying glass. If you see and feel a stickiness, that represents the THC, and you are ready to harvest.
The basic steps for harvesting include:
- Removing the large fan leaves and identifying each strain with a marker, if you are growing different strains.
- Drying out the area with a combination of ventilation and lowered humidity until the stems are no longer rubbery.
- Cut off the flowers, then place them in an airtight container for curing.
One of the biggest questions that weed growers have at this stage, especially as first-timers, is whether or not they are truly getting a good yield from their plants. It’s one thing to grow weed easily, but are you growing it properly? There’s no concrete answer to this, but a good starting point to understand is that a talented grower can roughly get one gram of weed for every single watt of lighting that they use. For example, 1000 watts would mean around 2.2 pounds. This, of course, will vary based on the nutrition and care that you give, but some key things to keep in mind are that you get a better yield with a smaller amount of plants per lamp, and not to try and grow more than you think you can manage.
Ultimately, as marijuana is legalized in more and more places, and business interest in it grows, we are going to see an increase in knowledge designed to help people get the most from their yields, and grow weed easily. And, there will also be more help and information on how to take care of different strains.