How to Start Growing World-Class Weed for $135
You want to try growing weed but refuse to spend a fortune. You don’t need the biggest harvest ever, but your time or effort must be rewarded with a good amount of high-quality buds the very first time.
The method in this tutorial will give you…
- 1+ ounces per harvest (2-4 ounces is average)
- Potent high-grade buds of your chosen strain
- Seed to harvest in under 90 days
- As little as $135 to get started (supplies list with links below)
- Electricity: $10/month (for USA average electricity cost of $0.12/kWh)
Total Cost of 1st Grow: $135 plus $10/month electricity (as little as $20/grow for supplies after that)
This is the basic setup (total estimated cost includes seeds, grow light, grow medium, plant containers, and nutrients)
Example of buds produced (strain is Auto Amnesia by MSNL)
Here’s an overview of all the supplies you need to start growing cannabis via this method:
Grow light – Starting at $70
The average cost of electricity in the USA is $0.12/kWh. At 18 hours/day, that’s an electricity cost of about $10/month for the 150W HPS, and $7/month for the HLG 100.
- Cheapest: 150W HPS grow light ($10/month for electricity) – $70
- Premium Alternative: HLG 100 v2 3000k Quantum Board ($7/month for electricity, yields the same or more, less heat, no need to replace a bulb every 3-4 grows ) – $150
This $70 grow light can produce up to 5 oz (average of 2-4 oz)
Plant pots or containers – Starting at $4 for one
- 2-gallon pots with saucers
- Recommended 1-2 plants
- Usually $3-4 for a 2-gallon pot with a saucer at a garden store or plant nursery
- Buying pots online is cheaper if you get multiple pots at once
- Free alternative: you can use almost any container or bucket to hold your plants as long as you drill holes out the bottom to let extra water drain through. You also want some sort of tray to catch runoff water and make sure it doesn’t spill on your floor.
Plant pots are usually sold as a set online, but garden stores sell individual pots. Or DIY your own pot for free!
Grow medium (soil, coco, hydro, etc) – Starting at $18
Your plants need a place to put their roots. You have lots of different grow medium options for growing weed, and the most common is good old-fashioned soil.
- Just about any organic potting mix will work. Avoid any soil with “slow-release” nutrients unless they’re organic and have been composted into the soil.
- Example: Black Gold Organic Potting Mix (one bag will fill 4 gallons worth of pots, or two 2-gallon pots) – $18
- Premium Alternative: Coco Loco – This is my favorite soil potting mix. My cannabis plants absolutely love this stuff and it’s actually pretty economical. One bag fills 12 gallons, so even though it costs double the cheap option, each bag lasts 3 times as long – $35
- Often cheaper to buy soil in person than online (especially with shipping costs)
Learn more about growing in soil or coco. Adventurous alternative: Hydroponics
Nutrients – Starting at $10
If you’re starting with soil, you may be able to avoid using nutrients at all. Yet if plants use up the nutrients in the soil you’ll start seeing nutrient deficiencies and slow growth. To help ensure the best yields and bud quality, I recommend you get at least a Bloom nutrient (low in Nitrogen and high in Phosphorus/Potassium) for plants that are actively growing buds.
- Recommended: Dyna-Gro Grow & Bloom – $21 (great for cannabis in any setup, any grow style) – although originally developed for orchids, this simple nutrient duo excels at growing cannabis and is now marketed directly to pot growers.
- If you can’t afford both bottles, get just Bloom. The smallest bottle usually costs $10-12.
- If growing in coco or hydro, you need to use nutrients from beginning to end, and Dyna-Gro Grow + Bloom excels at that.
- Follow the included instructions at 1/2 strength (same with almost any nutrient system for cannabis plants). Only increase the amount if you notice the plant is getting lime green or pale all over, which is the main symptom when a plant needs overall higher levels of nutrients.
If you can’t get both bottles, at least get a bottle of Bloom so you don’t run into deficiencies during the crucial bud-building phase
In an absolute pinch, you can use cactus/succulent nutrients in the budding stage since they typically have similar nutrient ratios. However, they don’t usually contain many micronutrients, which means they may not perform as well as something more complete like Dyna-Gro.
A place to grow weed
You can put your plants almost anywhere as long as you have access to water, fresh air, and a way to hang the light. Some common examples:
- closet (common)
- spare bathroom (easy access to water and a drain)
- spare room
- garage, basement, or attic
- Read more about choosing the right spot
This is one of my first grows (circa 2008). I put the plants right on the floor in a walk-in closet and hung the light from the bar you hang clothes from. This setup produced great weed, though I highly recommend putting something down to protect your carpet!
I’ve seen some growers DIY some pretty amazing grow spaces
Possible upgrades for your grow environment (all are optional but nice)
- Grow tent – super convenient way to set up a “pop-up” grow area, costs $50-100 on average
- Clip-on fan(s) or small table fan – if you need extra air movement
- A carbon filter and exhaust fan for smell control (the more weed you grow, the bigger the smell)
- Reflective walls – use sheets of mylar, paint walls white, etc.
- Rope ratchets – helpful for raising/lowering your grow light, carbon filter, or anything else you’d like to hang in the grow area. Much more convenient than using rope.
- Thermometer/Hygrometer to measure the temperature and humidity. I like models that let you hang a probe in the grow area so you’re measuring the exact spot you want.
It’s hard to beat the convenience of a grow tent. While not necessary to success, grow tents can be put anywhere for an instant “pop-up” waterproof grow space that helps contain heat, light, and smells. Also great for keeping multiple grow spaces at the same time.
Seeds or clones – Starting at $30 for 3 seeds
My recommended strains start at
$30 for 3 seeds. There are cheaper strains, but these are ones I know and recommend.
3 Main Ways to Get Plants
- Buy seeds online
- Get seeds or clones in person
- Use seeds you find in buds (bagseed)
Did you know you can buy cannabis seeds online and get them shipped to you?
For the best results with this tutorial…
- Order from a reputable breeder to ensure you get the results you expect.
- Choose auto-flowering seeds to harvest in under 90 days. I like auto-flowering strains for first-time growers because plants are ready to harvest quickly, tend to stay on the smaller side, and automatically make buds without you doing anything special. They are simple: give water, nutrients, and light, then wait for harvest. However, you probably won’t run into any auto-flowering seeds unless you get them from a breeder.
- Choose feminized seeds to ensure all plants are female and grow buds. Save yourself the trouble of dealing with male plants or the possibility of seedy buds. Learn more about feminized seeds. Just about all auto-flowering seeds are feminized unless they specifically are listed as “regular”.
Choose autoflowering feminized seeds from a trustworthy breeder to ensure every plant grows buds and is ready to harvest in under 90 days. This Cinderella Jack Auto by Dutch Passion produced many dense potent buds and was harvested 79 days from germination
Looking for auto-flowering seed recommendations?
- Zkittlez Auto by Seedsman – Seedsman is both a breeder and a seed bank. They carry pricey high-end strains from many breeders but also use their connections to offer new and celebrated genetics at reasonable prices. A few years ago, Seedsman started focusing on their in-house auto-flowering breeding program, and have built an impressive autoflowering strain library. Their easy-to-grow Zkittlez autoflowering strain is popular because buds are potent, smell surprisingly sweet, and taste fruity. Great for someone who wants high potency combined with the taste and smell of new genetics – $30 for 3 seeds
- Gelat.OG Auto by Seedsman – This may be the best autoflowering version of the trendy and euphoric Gelato strain. Plants tend to stay on the shorter side and buds occasionally turn purple. For someone who wants STRONG mental and physical effects above all else – $30 for 3 seeds
- Auto Amnesia by MSNL – Forgiving and easy to grow, buds always come out glittery and potent. I’ve grown this strain multiple times and it responds remarkably well to every light I’ve tried including cheap “blurple” LEDs that stressed out many of the other plants. In fact, Auto Amnesia almost seems to perform best in extreme conditions as some of the best buds came from a plant that grew too close to the light. The one downside is that plants tend to grow a bit stretchy/tall compared to the others on this list (though they respond well to bending/LST to keep them short and are resistant to light stress) – $40 for 5 seeds
- Auto Grand Daddy Purple by MSNL – I’ve had really good experiences with all of the MSNL autoflowering strains. This particular strain often turns purple and buds come out dense with stellar effects and a spicy-sweet smell. You can help promote purple coloring by giving plants warm days and cool nights in the last 2-3 weeks before harvest – $52 for 5 seeds
- THC Bomb Auto by Bomb Seeds – I’m super impressed by this strain every time I grow it. It thrives under many different types of lights and plants grow fast and bushy. Good-to-great yields and the buds get encrusted in trichomes/glitter. I actually got two of these plants lab-tested (as part of a different project) and buds measured between 18-20% THC, exactly as advertised – $50 for 5 seeds
- Cinderella Jack Auto by Dutch Passion – I first grew this strain after a representative from the company told me it was Dutch Passion’s most potent autoflowering strain. I was beyond pleased with the results I got every time I grew it. Dense and glittery buds, high-yielding, ultra-high potency (couchlock) and plants are overall forgiving to growing mistakes – $42 for 3 seeds
- Ultimate Auto by Dutch Passion – easy to grow, very high yielding (usually yields more than any other plant in the tent), and has responded well to multiple different grow lights. The smooth-smoking buds promote relaxation and good vibes. The perfect daytime strain (not too heavy) and well-loved by those looking for more classic mental effects. The potency has been described as reminiscent of California weed from the 1990s and early 2000s – $35 for 3 seeds
- I hope that list helps you get started!
This Zkittlez Auto plant was harvested 85 days from germination
Glossary of Most Important Terms When Shopping for Seeds or Clones
- Auto-flowering Strains – Auto-flowering plants grow buds automatically and are usually ready to harvest in under 90 days from germination. Can be a good choice for a first grow, but auto-flowering seeds are only available from specialized breeders.
- Photoperiod Strains – Most cannabis seeds are photoperiod. If you find seeds, they are likely photoperiod seeds. Photoperiod plants need daily 12-hour dark periods to grow buds (usually done by putting grow lights on a timer). Photoperiod plants typically take between 3-5 months to grow from seed to harvest. Read more on how long it takes to grow weed. Don’t worry if you’ve got photoperiod seeds. This tutorial recommends auto-flowering strains, but I’ve also included instructions for photoperiod plants in the step-by-step directions.
- Feminized seeds – All resulting plants are female, which means they grow buds. I highly recommend starting with feminized seeds for your first grow so every plant produces buds for you.
- Regular seeds (non-feminized) – Half the plants will be male, which grow pollen sacs instead of buds. Male plants are non-potent and make nearby buds seedy. If growing with regular seeds, you should identify and remove male plants as soon as possible.
- Clones are basically small plants and don’t need any special treatment. A clone is usually known to be male or female (ask to be sure it’s female if you want to grow buds!). You can also take clones of your plants and use them as free plants in future grows.
- Bag seeds (seeds you randomly find in buds) can be hit or miss. Some growers get lucky with bagseed, but unknown genetics can be a confidence killer if buds turn out poorly even though you did everything right. Start with trustworthy genetics to help ensure plants are predictable and produce the results you want. Learn more about starting with “found” seeds.
Now that you’ve got everything, it’s time to start growing!
Here’s an HPS-grown bud from a THC Bomb Auto plant. This strain always makes beautiful buds but for some reason they got especially glittery under the small HPS. One of my favorite smokes from that grow!
Quick Step-By-Step Grow Guide
The hardest part of growing is choosing a good setup. Once you create a nice growing environment, nature will do a lot of the work for you.
1.) Set up your grow space
- Get the items listed above
- Set up your grow tent if using one
- Hang your grow light. Both the HLG 100 and 150W HPS recommended for this tutorial should be kept about 12″ away from the tops of plants.
- Fill your plant pots with potting mix
- Assemble your area and turn the grow light on for 24 hours before germinating seeds (make sure everything works before you actually start your grow)
- Temperature should stay be between 70-85F (20-30C) day and night. If it feels comfortable to you, it’s probably comfortable for your plants.
Whether you’re using a grow tent or a closet, the main idea is to first hang your grow light
Then get your plant pots ready (or set up your hydroponic reservoir). If you plan on setting up an exhaust to remove heat and/or get rid of smells, now is the time. A venting system can be as simple as adding a fan pointing out.
If you want to ensure you never smell your plants when the tent is closed, you’ll also have to connect the exhaust fan to a carbon filter with ducting.
Don’t forget to turn everything on for at least 24 hours before you start germinating! You want to know what to expect from the environment before you have live plants on your hands.
2.) Germinate Your Seeds
I like this germination method, but there are many ways to germinate seeds (including planting them directly in the soil). If starting with rooted clones, you can skip directly to the next step.
It’s always a good idea to germinate at least one extra seed in case you happen to have a dud. I recommend growing 1-2 plants for your first grow to keep things small and simple, so start by germinating 2-3 seeds.
There are tons of ways to germinate seeds and they all work. The most important thing with any germination method is to make sure seeds stay moist and warm.
3.) Vegetative Stage – Plants Grow Only Stems and Leaves
At first, your cannabis plants will only grow new stems and leaves (no buds yet).
Your main tasks in this stage are:
- Water your plants regularly (or tend to the hydroponic reservoir)
- Give nutrients at half the listed strength (if using nutrients)
- Watch for plant problems and react quickly if you see anything odd
- (Optional) Get familiar with plant training to increase yields
Your plants will only grow stems and leaves at first. In the vegetative stage, plants keep getting bigger but don’t grow any buds
Most cannabis plants naturally grow in a “Christmas tree” shape in the vegetative stage unless you take action to change it
For example, these autoflowering plants are bushy and short because I trained them to grow in that shape (starting when they were just 3 weeks old). This bushy shape forces cannabis plants to grow many bud sites as opposed to just one main bud site at the top of the “Christmas tree”.
There’s nothing wrong with letting plants grow naturally, especially for your first few grows. But if you plan to keep growing inside under grow lights, plant training is important to achieving the best yields.
4.) Flowering Stage – Buds Start Growing!
This is the stage where plants start growing buds. It’s exciting! You’re getting closer to harvest every day.
If you started with auto-flowering seeds…
- Auto-flowering plants will automatically start growing buds around 3-4 weeks from germination
- Besides switching to using flowering nutrients, plant care doesn’t really change from the vegetative stage.
- Buds are typically ready to harvest 2-3 months after germination
Auto-flowering plants start making buds when they’re 3-4 weeks old from germination. You don’t need to do anything special. This autoflowering plant is 4.5 weeks old.
If you started with photoperiod seeds…
- Photoperiod plants require you to put grow lights on a timer and give them 12-hour dark periods every day in order to grow buds. The term “photoperiod” actually refers to the fact they respond to light periods (“photo” can mean light + “period”). Photoperiod plants won’t make buds until you initiate the flowering stage with a 12/12 light schedule.
- Since you “tell” the plant when to start flowering, the vegetative stage can be as long as you want.
- While auto-flowering plants naturally tend to stay relatively short, photoperiod plants can easily get huge and out of control if you wait too long to initiate the flowering stage. On average, plants about double in size after the switch to 12/12, so you should initiate the flowering stage when plants are about half the final desired size.
- Be careful to not let any light get to the grow space during the “night” period or plants may revert to the vegetative stage (which takes time to fix) or herm (causing seedy buds).
- Photoperiod plants typically have an 8-14 week flowering stage (length of the flowering stage depends on strain)
- Example photoperiod timeline: 6-week vegetative stage + 8-14 week flowering stage gives a total grow period of 3-5 months from seed to harvest.
Photoperiod plants typically take 1-3 weeks after switching to 12/12 before they start making buds. At first, the buds look like bunches of leaves in a star shape, then white hairs start growing from the middle
After plants start flowering, double-check to make sure all your plants are only growing white hairs at the joints. This ensures your plants are female and forming buds.
If you see what looks like little bunches of spade-shaped balls with no hairs, that means the plant is male and should be removed from the grow room so it doesn’t pollinate your female plants.
If you see pollen sacs (look like bunches of pointy grapes), remove the plant immediately from the grow area. Why?
Nutrients – Switch to flowering nutrients
- Once you see buds forming, it’s time to start using the Dyna-Gro “Bloom” bottle for nutrients (or whatever Bloom nutrients you’re using)
- Start at half strength compared to the suggested dosage. Supplementing your plant with extra nutrients can help produce the biggest and most potent buds possible, but it’s easy to overdo it.
- Note: Suitable flowering nutrients are low in Nitrogen, and rich in Phosphorus/Potassium.
- Learn more about cannabis nutrients
An example of untrained autoflowering plants (notice how they have a “Christmas tree” shape)
These autoflowering plants were trained to grow short and bushy
5.) Harvest Time
If you have followed the instructions so far, you’re now approaching harvest! I’ve created a complete guide to harvesting your weed but here’s a quick summary of when to harvest:
- Wait until the buds on your plants stop growing new white “hairs” (pistils). At this point, you probably still have a few weeks left.
- When 90% of the pistils have darkened and started curling in, your buds should be fat and ready for harvest.
- You can get even more accurate results by looking at the glittery “trichomes” on the buds under a magnifier, as these turn cloudy white when the buds have reached their highest potency.
This bud is ready to harvest. All the white hairs have darkened and curled in. If you click the picture and zoom in, you can see that nearly all the sparkly trichomes are milky white, indicating that this bud has reached the highest level of THC.
Another bud that’s ready to harvest. Notice how most of the hairs have darkened and curled in
Different strains may have a different bud appearance at harvest, but the general idea is the same (hairs darken and curl in, buds are fat)
At that point, buds only need to be dried and cured before they are ready to be enjoyed.
Example yield from 150W HPS – 2 Autoflowering Plants – 3.5 oz
Each plant produced just under 2 ounces and height was about 1 foot (30 cm) at harvest. Left plant was Critical Jack Auto by Dinafem (unique smell and thoroughly enjoyable effects) and the right was Sour Diesel Auto by Humboldt Seed Organization (classic sativa effect in auto-flowering form). I grew these in my bedroom (didn’t have an available closet) so I kept them in a 2x4x5 grow tent to contain the heat/light. Other than the tent, there weren’t really any upgrades compared to the base supplies list. I didn’t use an exhaust fan and it stayed about 80F (27C) in the tent.
This is a good harvest but does show what’s possible for growers who follow all the steps in this article including the optional plant training to create multiple main buds instead of just one.
This is the final yield of the 2 plants pictured above (about 3.5 oz)
Closeup of the Critical Jack buds
Example yield from HLG 100 LED Grow Light – 4 Autoflowering Plants – 5.5 oz
Here’s an example harvest from the HLG 100 Quantum Board Grow Light (the premium $150 alternative to the HPS). Instead of Dyna-Gro nutrients, this grow used the General Hydroponics Flora trio + Calimagic as nutrients. Grow medium was Mother Earth Coco + Perlite mix (my favorite pre-made coco mix).
The total yield under the HLG 100 was 156.12 grams or about 5.5 ounces.
These 4 autoflowering plants were kept in a 2x2x3 grow tent with a carbon filter/exhaust fan (lower right) to remove smells. I later upgraded the fan to an Infinity Cloudline so it would run silent (this was also kept in my bedroom so I want zero light and sound when I’m sleeping). These plants could have been grown in a closet or spare room as long as the smell didn’t bother you.
Main upgrades: A grow tent, carbon filter, and exhaust fan to contain light and smell.
I first harvested the Auto Amnesia (absolutely love this strain every time I grow it)
Closeup of the Auto Amnesia buds. Pretty thick for growing under a 100W light with 3 other plants!
A bud from the Auto Amnesia after being dried and cured
Next was the Gorilla Glue Auto plant. I’ve never been happy with this strain and I wouldn’t recommend it. Bud effects and smell are good, but plants grow weird and buds are ugly and airy. Two other examples of Gorilla Glue Auto plants I grew for comparison.
The THC Bomb Auto plant made fat sticky buds, as usual
This is the Ultimate Auto plant. This strain also yields well no matter how you grow it
Those last 2 plants at harvest (THC Bomb Auto and Ultimate Auto)
You got this! Even if you follow just 80% of the directions in this tutorial, if you can keep your plant alive you should easily be able to yield at least 1 ounce!
6.) Prepare for next grow
You’ve already got some of your growing supplies, so your second grow will be cheaper than the first one.
Possible ongoing costs:
$5/grow to replace HPS bulb – The 150W HPS bulb needs to be replaced every 3-4 grows as they begin to lose brightness over time (not applicable if using an LED grow light) – $15 for a new bulb every 3 grows, or
Future grows: As little as $48/harvest (for electricity, nutrients, mixing your own coco/perlite mix, and a new HPS bulb every few grows) – only $34/harvest if using the suggested LED grow light (it uses less electricity and you don’t have to replace any bulbs).
What about buying seeds?
If you’re buying new seeds every grow, it becomes an ongoing cost. Buying seeds can get expensive! If you stick to auto-flowering strains, you’ll probably have to buy seeds every new grow. However, after your first grow, you’ll have experience under your belt and be prepared to grow photoperiod strains. Initiating the flowering stage can be a little trickier but overall care is basically the same. Photoperiod plants give you the ability to take clones, which is the easiest source of basically free plants. Another way to get basically free plants is to breed your own seeds or even make your own feminized seeds at home.
As time goes on, your costs go down while your yields go up
Other differences after first grow
- Better yields and bud quality – It’s common for growers to get higher yields and better buds on their 2nd and 3rd grows, even if the setup stays exactly the same. That’s because a little time and experience help you dial in your personal grow style. It’s also common for indoor growers to learn about plant training, which is a free technique to dramatically increase yields under grow lights.
- More confidence – If you decide to upgrade your grow (get a grow tent, bigger light, better strains, etc.) you’ll actually have the experience to know what’s needed to accomplish your goals.
IMPORTANT: Always keep learning!
After a few grows, many growers become convinced there’s nothing left to learn about growing. Believe me, there is always more to learn. I learn something new almost every day. A lot of “common” grow knowledge that’s been passed down for generations is being proven wrong. People are learning about better cultivation practices, developing new strains, and creating new techniques to get better yields and bud quality. Never mind all the new growing equipment aimed at home growers. Keep your mind open and remember to question everything. That’s the only way to ensure each harvest is better than the last!
How to Start Growing World-Class Weed for $135 You want to try growing weed but refuse to spend a fortune. You don’t need the biggest harvest ever, but your time or effort must be rewarded with a
Best Way To Grow Weed Indoors (KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid)
Last updated October 28, 2020 By Steven 5 Comments
The best place to grow cannabis is indoors.
You have complete control over everything when growing weed indoors, which allows you to really maximize rapid growth and huge yields with incredible potency.
But to get the perfect buds, you need the perfect environment.
The good news is: even if you make mistakes and don’t provide the perfect environment, you will still be harvesting buds. Marijuana is very resilient.
That said, the more things you get right, the better the result.
If you follow the instructions here, you will get all the basics right, while still keeping everything as simple as possible. To me, this is the best balance between great results and not over-complicating things to the point where it becomes stressful and no fun.
So let’s get started, by going through the whole growing process step by step, beginning with the preparation and ending with harvest.
Indoor Marijuana Growing
1. Find A Grow Space
The first thing you need to do is figure out where you will grow your cannabis plants. Are you setting up in the basement, in a closet, etc?
Once you have the space, you want to get it ready for growing marijuana indoors. The easiest way to do this is to get a grow tent. You can find tons of inexpensive tents on Amazon and these cheap tents are good enough for most of us.
Check them out here and just pick one that fits into your grow space and has enough room inside to fit your planned number of plants. If you need especially small grow tents, those can be a bit harder to find. Our article on mini grow tents will help.
2. Get Pots And Soil
Sure, you can grow hydroponically or in a soil-less growing medium without using hydroponics, but in my quest to keep it simple, I recommend growing indoors with soil. It’s easy to find and easy to use.
Any good quality potting soil will work, but avoid anything with artificial extended release fertilizer or that otherwise contains chemicals. Miracle Gro is a good example of a soil to avoid.
The Ocean Forest Potting Soil from Fox Farm is a great option. It contains a lot of nutrients, so you won’t need to any any for the first week or so. If you keep re-potting the cannabis plant, you may never have to add any.
If you start your seedlings in this soil (which I do recommend for simplicity), they will suffer some nutrient burn at first. This is not a huge deal, but you can avoid it if you like, by putting some less nutrient-rich soil on top of the Ocean Forest soil for your seedlings.
When it comes to pots, I recommend the fabric variety. They are by far the best option for growing cannabis.
If you want to use pots you already have, that works fine, too. Just make sure whatever container you use has some holes in the bottom for drainage. If you use a regular bucket, for example, make sure to drill a few holes in the bottom.
When it comes to pot sizes, you’ll want a small pot (1 gallon or less) for seedlings, but you can also just use a plastic cup. After that, you want to transplant the plants into ever larger pots.
Once their roots have expanded throughout their new pot, it’s time to give them a larger one so they have room for growth. An easy way to tell they are ready to move is when the roots start coming out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
At some point, you want to stop giving them larger pots, to keep them from growing ever larger. A good rule of thumb for the largest pot size is this: you need about 2 gallons of container per 12″ in plant height.
Thus, if you want your plants to reach a height of 3 feet, you would need a 6 gallon pot. If you are using fabric pots (as I recommend) go twice as big. In this example, get a 12 gallon pot (or at least 10).
The reason is that the soil dries out much faster in a fabric pot. Making the pot larger, increases the time it takes for the soil in the middle to dry out.
4. Add A Grow Light
There are ton of options for grow lights, but we’re keeping it simple. Just get an LED grow light. They cost less to operate and they’re easier to use. Nowadays, they actually cost the same or less than an equivalent HID system, once you account for all the equipment you need to run HID grow lights.
Those lights will work great for a grow of one weed plant. If you have a bit of a larger grow space, I highly recommend these Spider Farmer lights. They are the best value lights on the market right now and work great for growing cannabis plants.
Spider Farmer only makes lights in four sizes, though. If you need a different wattage, check out the Phlizon COB lights. They are also excellent grow lights and actually cost even less than the Spider Farmer fixtures. Plus, they use COBs, which some still prefer, despite the industry moving more to quantum board lights like those from spider Farmer.
Weed plants love fresh air. They achieve the best growth when they get a slight breeze. It also serves to prevent mold. The best way to give your plants the breeze they need is with a fan on the lowest setting. You can also remove larger leaves or lollipop your plants to improve air flow.
There is no need to spend a lot of money on a specialized “grow tent” fan. You can basically use any fan you may already have. If you don’t have one, you can buy them anywhere.
If you need a recommendation, this one works great.
It is small and comes with both a clip and a stand. That means you can clip one to the tent pole above the canopy and have a second one standing on the ground, blowing fresh air below the canopy. It does not oscillate, but that is not really necessary in a smaller grow tent or grow space.
7. What Else Do You Need For The Growing Process?
Since we’re keeping the process simple, I’ll leave it at the bare necessities. If you’ve only got a cannabis plant or two, you’ll be fine with that.
I do recommend a few additional things, though.
The most important additional items for ideal growth are: a nutrient solution, a pH meter or pH strips, and pH up and down solutions.
If you only have a plant or two, you can get by with just the fan for ventilation. You’ll just have to leave the tent door open at times to replace the air inside.
And you can get by without a charcoal filter to remove the odor as well. Ideally though, you want to ventilate your tent and you want to remove the odor from any air you ventilate out.
8. Start Growing Cannabis Indoors
Now that you have all your equipment gathered, it’s time to start growing cannabis. Well, there is one more thing you need. The most important of all. The actual cannabis plants.
The Best Places To Get Cannabis Seeds
If you know someone who is growing marijuana plants and can hook you up with seeds or clones, lucky you! You can skip this section. If you have clones, head here to learn how to get clones to root faster.
If not, your best bet is to buy seeds online from a seed bank. Most people prefer to buy from a bank located outside the US, though this really doesn’t matter much anymore.
The thinking is that having seeds sent across state lines could get you in trouble, since growing marijuana is a federal crime. But it is highly unlikely that anything will happen. In the highly unlikely event that your seeds are discovered, they will most likely only get confiscated.
But if you buy from outside the country, the worst that will happen is that they are confiscated at customs. That’s it. You don’t even get put on a list. Then you just contact the seed bank and they will send you a replacement shipment (if it’s a good seed bank).
These days, however, this is basically the same thing that happens when you ship inside the US. That is why our favorite online seed banks are both headquartered in Europe, but they have warehouses in the US. This cuts down on shipping times considerably.
Our favorite bank to buy from is I Love Growing Marijuana. They are based in Amsterdam, but they have a distribution center in the California. As mentioned, this cuts down on shipping times. Their seeds are high quality and they even have their own unique strains.
The biggest plus is their germination guarantee. If your seeds do not germinate, they will replace or refund them. The primary drawback is that they currently only ship to the US or Australia. If you do not live in either of those locations, read the next paragraph.
Crop King Seeds is another great option, especially if you are not in the US or Australia. They are headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and they actually have physical stores in Canada as well. They ship anywhere in the world.
For the US, we prefer ILGM, due to their germination guarantee and the free shipping. Crop King has a guarantee, too, but they only guarantee that 80% of the seeds will germinate. They also charge for shipping, with rates in the US being the lowest at $20 and international rates as high as $40.
You can read more about ILGM here and about Crop King Seeds here.
I would always spend a bit more and buy feminized seeds.
Only the female cannabis plants make buds that can be smoked. Buying feminized cannabis seeds saves you the trouble of identifying and removing male plants later on during the flowering stage. It also means you don’t waste time of seeding and vegging male plants, only to have to eliminate them.
I know many beginning indoor cannabis growers want to spend as little as possible, so they start by growing bag seed. I did this myself, so I won’t tell you not to, but you should be aware of the problems you may face.
This article covers all the possible issues and also guides you in maximizing your chance of success if you want to grow weed with bag seed.
Germinating Your Cannabis Seeds
The easiest way to germinate seeds of marijuana plants is to use a starter cube (or seedling plug). Rapid Rooters are great. You can find them here on Amazon. There is even a version that comes with a tray.
You simply put the seed inside, keep it warm and slightly moist and when the sprouts and root appear after a few days, put the whole plug, seed and all, into the soil in your seedling pot. That way you also don’t have to worry about handling the delicate seeds once they have sprouted.
If you don’t want to bother with the Rapid Rooters, you could also just germinate your seeds in the same container that you plan on using for your young seedlings. It could be a plastic cup or a 1-gallon fabric pot or whatever.
To do this, plant them the cannabis seeds about 1/2 to 1 inch deep (1.3 to 2.5 cm). The soil should be moist, but not soaking. Keep it that way during the entire germination process by adding water whenever it begins to dry out. You also want to keep the seeds warm, either with a heating pad or with a light that gives off some heat.
If you are using the Ocean Forest potting soil, you might want to mix it with a lighter potting soil for the seedling pot. If not, the seedling will suffer some nutrient burn, but it is not really that serious. I’d probably mix it, to avoid the nutrient burn, but it will not cause permanent damage to your plants.
Try to keep the temperature during seeding around 73° F (23° C) and the humidity around 70%. Give them 18 hours of light per day, followed by 6 hours of darkness.
You don’t need a powerful LED grow light during this stage, but you can use it. Just hang it higher, to keep from harming the delicate seedlings.
Many growers prefer using a weaker light for seedlings to save on power costs. If you have a lot of seedlings, a T5 light fixture is best. I prefer T5 LED lights. If you prefer fluorescent, you’ll find the best options here.
If you’ve only got a few, a CFL bulb will work just fine. This article tells you what you need.
Once your marijuana plant grows its first set of regular leaves (i.e. not the seedling leaves), it has officially entered the vegetative stage.
Vegging Your Cannabis Plants
The vegetative stage is when your marijuana grow starts to get exciting. The plants grow fast, but do not yet produce any buds or flower. The great thing about growing marijuana indoors is that you get to control everything, meaning you can provide the ideal conditions for maximum yields.
The first and most important thing you have control over is lighting. During vegging, you want to keep your grow lights on for at least 18 hours per day.
Some growers like to give a full 24 hours of light, but I recommend going with a schedule of 18 hours on and 6 hours off.
You also control the air temperature and humidity. For vegging you want the keep the grow area between 70 and 85° F (20 and 30°C), with a relative humidity of 40 to 60% (I’d stay over 50%).
If you don’t have a thermometer or humidity monitor, don’t worry too much. As long a your cannabis plants are not freezing or scorching, they will grow. Keeping the environment in the ideal range just means faster and better growth.
Make sure you water your plants regularly. Whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, give them more water. Water them until you see around 20% extra runoff water come out of the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to water too often. Always wait until the top one inch of soil is dry.
If you use a nutrient rich soil, your plants will be getting a good amount of nutrients, at least for a while. Eventually, you will need to provide more, by adding them to your plants’ water.
Begin by adding half the amount indicated on the nutrient schedule that came with your nutrients. If plants are growing rapidly and need more nutrients, up the dosage to 3/4 of the indicated amount.
I highly recommend training your plants during vegging.
Left on their own, they will grow tall and end up in a Christmas tree shape. This is not ideal, because it means one large bud at the top and not much else.
You want your plants to grow short and fat, with multiple peaks that are all about the same height. That way, each peak gets the same amount of light and grows the same large bud.
There are a number of ways to achieve this. I prefer bending the young main stem downward and tying it down, forcing it to grow horizontally. Then multiple other stems will grow upward from it. You can find much more on training your plants here.
Whenever your plants grow too large for their pots, but you want them to keep growing, you need to repot them. If you fill the new pot with fresh soil (assuming you are using a nutrient rich soil), remember to stop adding nutrients to the water until the plants have used up the nutrients in the soil (about a week).
How long should cannabis plants stay in vegging?
This is entirely up to you. You can keep them in this stage indefinitely, if you like. This is actually what growers will do with a female plant, if they use her for quality clones.
When you should take your plants from vegging to flowering depends on how large you want them to get. An average strain will double in size during flowering, so you want to take it out of vegging when it is about half the size you would like it to end up having.
This does depend on the strains, though. If the strain is labeled as short, you can expect it to not double in size during flowering. If it is labeled as tall, you can expect it to more than double in size.
Flowering Your Weed Plants
To get your plants to enter the flowering stage, simply adjust the amount of light they get every day. Change the lighting schedule to 12 hours on and 12 hours off and your plants will begin to flower.
Marijuana plants also need a lot more light during bloom, so you want to make sure you give them what they need. Powerful LED grow lights are best, but I also highly recommend CMH lights. HPS works well too, as it always has, but I don’t recommend it anymore, since LED and CMH are better. Assuming quality LED grow lights, of course.
During flowering, plants become more sensitive to humidity, so you want to keep it lower to prevent mold. Keep the temperature between 65 and 80° F (18 and 26° C) and maintain a relative humidity between 40 and 50% during the beginning of the flowering stage and 40 and 45% during the final weeks.
A week or two weeks after you switch to the flowering light schedule, you can finally see the gender of your plants. If you used feminized seeds, they will all be female and you have nothing to worry about.
If you used non-feminized seeds, you can expect about half of your plants to be male. Now that you can identify the males, you need to remove them from your grow room and get rid of them immediately. If they pollinate the females, you end up with buds full of seeds.
You can tell the difference by the pre-flowers they grow at the tops of branch joints (the “V” where the stems meet the trunk):
- Female plants start growing longer and thinner pre-flowers that are often fat on the bottom. Eventually, wispy white hairs emerge from the top.
- Male plants start growing balls/pollen sacs that have no white hairs or pistils. You can get a lot of them, which looks like a bunch of small grapes.
Sometimes the male and female growths look very similar, but if you see white hairs, it is female.
Even after removing the males, you should keep a close eye on the females. It is possible for them to become hermaphrodites, which usually happens if they are stressed. If that happens, you can try removing only the section of the plant that has begun forming male parts, but I recommend removing the entire plant, just to be safe.
If you don’t want to destroy it, you can continue to grow it separately from your other plants. That way you don’t loose the harvest (though it will be full of seeds), but the hermie plant also can’t pollinate the rest of your females.
The other important task during flowering is to make sure your buds are all getting sufficient light. If you see a bud in the shadows, try to get it light so that it can grow and give you extra yield.
The best way to do this is with supplemental lighting. Another reason to add supplemental lighting is if your primary fixture is not heavy in red spectrum light. In that case, some smaller all-red LED lights would really help boost yields.
Some growers will trim off large fan leaves that are blocking light. I would caution against this for your first grow, since those fan leaves are what turn light into energy. If you remove too many fan leaves, your buds don’t get the energy they need to grow big.
Instead, you can try tucking away some of the fan leaves, if they are impeding the light and causing shadows on your buds.
When is comes to actual nutrition, cannabis plants need much less nitrogen during flowering. If you bought a nutrient set made specifically for cannabis, it will contain a ‘bloom’ or ‘flower’ bottle. Switch to that one now, since it contains the right mix for flowering.
For the first month of flowering, your marijuana plants need a lot of nutrients. After that, they need less and less. Reduce the nutrients you give them gradually, starting around the halfway mark of flowering.
During the last two weeks before harvest, it is a good idea to flush your plants. This means you should give them plain water, with no nutrients. This ensures that the nutrients do not impart a flavor on the buds.
Your plants will look like they are slowly dying during this time period. That’s because they are. As the near harvest time, they will look pretty rough, because they stop taking in nutrients and everything they have is funneled into bud growth.
This is normal, so do not panic and give them more nutrients. They do not need them and the nutrients will only harm the flavor of your bud.
In general, the flowering stage lasts a minimum of 2 months (or 8 weeks) and some strains of cannabis need to be flowered for 3 to 4 months. Then it is time to harvest.
Harvesting Your Weed Plants
How do you know when to harvest?
It depends a lot on what you want.
Harvesting a bit early results in buds that give you a buzzed, heady experience. They cause anxiety and headaches in some people.
If you harvest later, you get more of a stony, relaxing bud. Harvesting very late results in weak bud that makes you extra-sleepy (why would anyone want this?).
The good news is: there is a fairly large window of time for when you can harvest your bud. Everything really depends on the strain and your personal preference. Just make sure you don’t harvest too early. That is the biggest mistake people make, so you can usually wait longer than you think you should.
There are two main methods for determining when to harvest. The first is easy, but less accurate. The second requires a magnifier.
Method 1: Check the Pistils
The quick way to determine when to harvest is to look at the little white hairs that grow out of your bud. These are the pistils and eventually they start to curl inward and darken. They can turn any number of colors: red, yellow, purple, pink, brown, etc.
To know when it is harvest time, you first need to wait until your buds stop growing new hairs. This is where many inexperienced growers jump the gun. Make sure they are done growing white hairs, because sometimes they just pause for a bit, then grow more.
Once new white hairs have stopped growing, wait until 40% of them have darkened at least. 40% is the beginning of your harvest window, but you should wait longer.
Harvest when 50 to 75% of the hairs have darkened for maximum THC levels. Wait until 80 to 90 % have darkened for some of the THC to turn into CBN, which is more relaxing and gives you that “fuse-you-to-the-couch”, anti-anxiety effect.
Method 2: Check the Trichomes
This method is more accurate, but you need a magnifier of some kind. A digital microscope works best, since it gives you a more accurate image. That said, a jeweler’s loupe like this one is much cheaper. I’d pay more and go with the microscope.
Use the magnifier to examine the trichomes. These are the crystals, or the frosty-looking stuff you see accumulating on your buds.
You only care about the ones with the ball on top, that look like little mushrooms. These are the ones that give weed its potency. The color of these trichomes determines when to harvest your weed.
- You get more of a heady high when some trichomes are clear and some are cloudy or milky white
- You get the highest THC levels when most of the trichomes have turned milky white or cloudy
- When the trichomes have become darker (generally amber or gold, but sometimes pink or purple) you have reached the end of the harvest window. Harvesting now means more CBN for a more relaxing and anti-anxiety high.
Here is a graphic that shows you what to look for:
Image courtesy of Grow Weed Easy
Once you have harvested your bud, it is time to dry it and cure it. I will cover that in a separate article, since this one is about growing weed indoors.
If you have any questions about growing, please feel free to leave a comment below. I read them all and will answer any questions I can.
Growing marijuana indoors does not need to be as complicated as many make it seem. Follow these steps and you will get all the basics right and end up with great yields.