How to Grow Small Cannabis Plants in Tiny Spaces
Do you want to grow tiny cannabis plants? Would you like to build a “microgrowery” for your marijuana garden? This tiny plant tutorial will teach you how to grow cannabis plants that stay small yet still produce an abundance of weed! I’ve grown a lot of cannabis plants of all sizes, and I’ll share the most helpful tips and tricks to make cannabis plants grow in the exact shape and size you want.
Small plants are easy to hide, yet can still produce a surprising amount of weed. Here are some short cannabis plants I’ve grown:
LEDs are probably your best choice in a small space. This tent is only 3 feet (90 cm) tall.
Here is that tent just before harvest. Notice the size of the slinky compared to the plants. This tutorial will show you how to create short plants with rows of buds in a small space like this.
This autoflowering plant grew into a tiny bud ball as a result of blue-spectrum LEDs and being topped after buds started forming (typically a no-no because it stunts autoflowering plants, but can be a good technique if you want to keep plants tiny)
I grew these plants in the same waist-high grow tent, but this time using a T5 fluorescent light. A T5 is another great choice for small spaces since they can be kept just inches away from plants. The downside is they produce more heat than LEDs. If you’re struggling with cold (for example growing a tiny garden in a garage or basement), fluorescent lights can help keep plants warm. If you want to minimize heat, LEDs are the way to go.
Then there’s the incredible world of solo cup plants. Restricted roots keep plants small. This autoflowering plant I’m growing now is just over a foot (30 cm) tall and buds are getting bigger every day.
Quick Summary (how to keep plants small without sacrificing yields)
Here’s a quick overview of the tutorial, then I’ll go into the detailed instructions below.
- Choose a strain that naturally stays small – Today you have access to almost any genetics, almost anywhere in the world. Quick-to-harvest autoflowering strains are often the best choice for producing small plants, though short stature photoperiod strains can work, too. This tutorial shares several strains that have performed great for me in short spaces, and then I’ll share instructions on how to grow your plants so they stay as small as possible.
Certain strains like this Black Jack Auto naturally stay small, while still producing great yields!
2.) Grow Setup
- Use the right grow light – Fluorescent lights (like CFLs or T5s) and certain LEDs are great choices for small grow spaces. I’ll break down the pros and cons of each and share the specific models that have kept plants short for me.
- Light spectrum – Grow lights with more blue in the spectrum tend to keep plants short, while grow lights with more red can encourage stretching.
- Restrict root space – Plants in big pots can become the size of trees! Keeping plants in smaller pots tends to keep them from getting as big (like a bonsai tree with restricted roots), but buds will still get fat as long as the plant is receiving plenty of light and nutrients.
- Pick a “short” grow style – Short plants are often created through one of these grow styles: “Sea of Green” (many small plants in small pots), “Screen of Green” (using a screen), Manifolding (massively manipulate plant shape at a very young age), or other types of plant training (more on that below).
Restricting root size also restricts overall plant size
3.) Growing Practices
- Keep grow lights as close as possible – Make sure your grow light is as close as possible without stressing plants. Strong light helps keep plants shorter.
- “Top” your plants – Cut off the top tip of the plant when it’s just a few weeks old. This technique is known as “topping” and causes plants to grow bushy and spread out as opposed to tall like a Christmas tree. As a bonus, you create extra bud sites for free.
- Plant training – Learn how to get any plant to stay the exact height and shape you want via “plant training” techniques. Even if your plants are already too big, this can help. Especially techniques such as LST (low stress training) and supercropping (extreme bending) can come in handy if you need to change your overall plant shape or reduce the height.
- Don’t wait too long to initiate flowering – This doesn’t apply to auto-flowering strains, but if you’re growing a photoperiod (regular) plant, initiate the flowering stage when the plant is half the final desired size. Plants typically double in size after receiving a 12/12 light schedule. Plant height can get out of control if you wait too long. I learned this one from experience!
Bending and tying down stems can be used to keep a cannabis plant almost totally flat
Choose a strain that naturally stays small
Some cannabis strains tend to grow really big and tall no matter what you do. If a strain is labeled as “XL”, stay away! However, some strains stay super small without you having to do much of anything.
Auto-flowering strains start making buds in about 3-4 weeks from germination and are typically ready to harvest in 2-3 months. Due to this quick life cycle, nearly all auto-flowering strains stay on the smaller size. However, look for autoflowering strains listed as being short if you want the smallest possible plants.
Recommended short auto-flowering strains
- Amnesia Auto by MSNL – I’ve harvested 3 of these plants and highly recommend the strain. They stayed small, grew sparkly buds with cerebral strong effects, and produced good-to-great yields
- Berry Auto by G13 Labs – Fruity strain that stays short, grows easily, and is ready to harvest quickly
- Black Jack Auto by Sweet Seeds – These plants naturally stay small while still producing great yields. If any branches get tall, they respond well to training. I really enjoyed the bud effects of this strain. They’re strong yet kind of unique. It reminds me of a sativa/haze with more of a body stone.
- Blue Critical Auto by Dinafem – The Blue Critical I grew stayed small, bushed out on its own, responded extremely well to training, and buds came out fat and super potent! A joy to grow.
- Cinderella Jack Auto by Dutch Passion – When I grew this strain, the plant stayed small and produced solid, dense buds. The buds ended up being popular because the effects were curiously strong and long-lasting.
- Cream Cookies Auto by FastBuds Seeds – The bud quality is out of this world. And look beautiful in pictures! Each plant stays short, is easy to grow, and yields well.
- Cream Mandarin Auto by Sweet Seeds – This strain tends to stay very small, sometimes almost runty. Although the citrus-smelling buds aren’t the biggest, they’re ready to harvest quickly and produce captivating effects.
- Pineapple Express Auto by G13 Labs – An extremely popular autoflowering strain; plants stay short, are quick-to-harvest even for an auto, and the sparkle-encrusted buds smell like heaven.
- Pink Kush CBD 30:1 by Seedsman – Medicinal strain with under 0.5% THC, beautiful buds, quick-to-harvest
- Red Poison Auto by Sweet Seeds – This breeder has created several epic autoflowering strains, but the Red Poison Auto may be my favorite. I love the crazy red/purple color (which shows up on most plants, especially if the plant gets cool nights close to harvest), good yields, and dreamy bud effects.
- Tangerine Dream Auto by Barney’s Farm – The intoxicating smell of citrus on a tiny, high yielding plant. What more could you want?
- THC Bomb Auto by Bomb Seeds – I’ve grown 5 different plants of this strain over multiple grows in different setups, and every one came out excellent. Easy to grow, great yields, beautiful sparkly buds, and potent. Highly recommended!
- Wedding Cheesecake Auto by FastBuds Seeds – Stays pretty small, quick to harvest, and buds produce powerful effects.
This Amnesia Auto by MSNL stayed small but produced a surprising amount of bud!
Decent sized buds for the compact size
THC Bomb Auto grows thick buds without needing a lot of height, and buds are POTENT
You can also choose photoperiod plants listed as “short” strains. Strains listed as “FAST” or “Express” may be candidates for a short grow space because they have a quick flowering period, but it’s good to read the description to learn more about what height to expect. Photoperiod plants typically get bigger than autoflowering plants, but they can be a great choice for a small space as long as you get a suitable strain and make sure to initiate the flowering stage when plants are 3-4 weeks old. Don’t let them get too big before you initiate 12/12 or they’ll overgrow your garden!
Recommended short photoperiod strains
- Aurora Indica by Nirvana – Plants are fast-growing with dense, potent buds, yet they stay short and are ready to harvest quickly.
- Candy Kush Express FAST by Royal Queen Seeds – Easy to grow and quick to harvest. Buds smell divine and effects are extremely relaxing.
- Cream Caramel FAST by Sweet Seeds – Great yields on such a fast-flowering plant, tantalizing bud smell, and lovely effects.
- Original Amnesia by Dinafem – This strain isn’t particularly quick to harvest but doesn’t get very tall. Plants respond positively to plant training including manifolding. Buds are big and beautiful, with effects that live up to the name “amnesia”
- Peyote Critical by Barney’s Farm – Trippy effects on this strain. Plants stay short with training. Try to initiate the flowering stage before 4 weeks from germination and it shouldn’t get too big.
- Romulan – This strain is extra popular where I live right now. Romulan plants stay short and buds are high in THC. Although it doesn’t have the best yields, the bud quality is worth it.
- Royal Cookies by Royal Queen Seeds – Created from the extremely popular Girl Scout Cookies Forum Cut, this strain delivers beautiful American genetics with a punch, and plants stay small enough for a stealthy garden.
- Speedy Chile FAST by Royal Queen Seeds – Grow ultra sparkly buds on a tiny plant. The effects are relaxing and may help with anxiety.
- Sweet Russian by Garden of Green – Nice looking buds, stays small, yields well, good effects.
- Sweet Tooth by Barney’s Farm – I’ve grown this strain a few times over the years, and it always stays short with good effects. However, BF seems to be improving and refining this classic strain for potency because when I grew this strain again last year, the buds felt more powerful than ever. Highly recommended!
- THC Bomb by Bomb Seeds – Stays small, yields big, with excellent potency and sparkly buds. Can’t go wrong with this one.
Aurora Indica stays short and produces tons of buds
Original Amnesia responds well to plant training such as being manifolded
2.) Grow Setup
Use the right grow light – CFLs, T5s, and certain LEDs are great choices for small grow spaces. I’ll break down the pros and cons of each and share the specific models that have kept plants short for me.
CFLs give a lot of flexibility in tiny spaces because they’re small and can be kept just inches from plants. How to grow with CFLs.
This is my very first short plant, grown under a few big CFLs.
The plant was less than 1′ tall at harvest yet produced 1.5 ounces of bud. CFLs can produce good yields with small plants, but CFL bulbs that are big (or a lot of small CFLs) get hot and expensive. If you have space, I recommend upgrading to more efficient grow lights than CFLs.
T5 fluorescent lights are low profile, can be kept close to plants, and produce surprisingly good yields if you train plants to grow wide and flat like the plants here. The downside is they get much hotter than LEDs for the same electricity, and the yields aren’t as good per watt. How to grow with a T5 grow light.
LEDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so they can fit almost any setup. LEDs tend to be low on heat and electricity usage, which makes them great for small stealthy gardens. LED yields are excellent, too. On average, LEDs produce about twice the amount of dried flower as fluorescent lights like CFLs and T5s for the same electricity. The newer models of LEDs can yield even more. How to grow with LEDs in a mini tent.
These plants were grown in a 2’x2’x3′ tent under a 100W Quantum Board LED like this MarsHydro TS 600 (which is “600W equivalent” but actually only uses 100W)
Here is an example of the buds produced! (This was Auto Amnesia by MSNL)
Light spectrum – Grow lights with more blue in the spectrum tend to keep plants short, while grow lights with more red can encourage stretching. LEDs or bulbs labeled with a spectrum of 4000k, 5000k, and 6500k are great choices with plenty of blue to keep plants short.
This graphic represents the colors in visible light. Blue light encourages plants to stay short and bushy. Red light tends to cause marijuana plants to stretch and grow tall.
Restrict root space – Plants in big pots can become the size of trees! Keeping plants in smaller pots tends to keep them from getting as big (like a bonsai tree with restricted roots), though buds will still get huge as long as the plant is receiving plenty of light and nutrients.
Keeping plants in a small container causes them to stay smaller on average by restricting root size. This autoflowering plant grown in a solo cup barely grew to a foot tall.
These autoflowering plants were all germinated at the same time and even share 4 of the same strains. The little tent had 1-gallon pots, while the bigger tent used 3-gallon pots. The smaller pot size is a big part of why the plants in the mini tent stayed so much shorter and smaller.
Here’s another example showing how pot size makes a difference to plant size. These plants were all germinated at the same time in Rapid Rooters. Right before this picture I planted some of the seedlings in 3-gallon pots, and the others in solo cups. They were all about the same size at this point.
Within a week, the plants in bigger pots overtook the plants in solo cups. Most actually had an extra set of leaves compared to their solo cup siblings. The size difference would only have kept getting more vast if these plants were allowed to continue growing together. Small pots make small plants! Here’s a timelapse of that week if you want to check it out.
Pick a “short” grow style – Short plants are often created through one of these grow styles…
- Sea of Green (SoG) keeps many small plants in small pots
- Screen of Green (ScrOG) trains plants to grow along a screen or net, which forces them to stay about the same height
- Manifolding is a process that massively manipulates plant shape at a very young age for a bushy, symmetrical plant
- Other types of plant training such as Low Stress Training (LST) and Supercropping (extreme bending) can also be helpful to keep plants short
Sea of Green (SoG) – Many small plants
Screen of Green (ScrOG) uses a screen or net
Here’s another example of a net being used to help keep plants short and flat
Manifolding creates a solid main trunk with several symmetrical branches. This allows you to achieve monstrous yields on a relatively small plant.
Other types of pruning and manipulation such as Low Stress Training (LST) and Supercropping (extreme bending) can be used to create almost any size or shape plant
3.) Growing Practices
Keep grow lights as close as possible – Make sure your grow light is as close as possible without stressing plants. Strong light helps keep plants shorter. How far should I keep my grow lights?
“Top” your plants – Cut off the top of the plant when it’s just a few weeks old. This technique is known as “topping” and causes plants to grow more spread out as opposed to tall. You want a short bush, not a tall Christmas tree. Learn all about topping.
“Top” your plants when they’re 3-4 weeks old
A good time to top a plant is when it has about 6 sets of leaves
To top a plant, you cut off the top by clipping through the main stem
Topping makes plants grow more wide and bushy instead of tall. As a bonus, it increases the total number of main bud sites and improves yields!
Autoflowering Tip: Top an autoflowering plant after it’s already started making buds to keep it shorter. Topping in the flowering stage is normally considered a bad idea because it stunts most autoflowering plants, but can be a good tactic if you want to stunt the plant on purpose.
Topping after buds had already started forming caused this plant to stay extra small.
Here’s another example of a plant that was topped after it had already started making buds
Plant training – “Plant training” techniques give you ultimate power to create plants of nearly any size or shape.
Training techniques such as LST (low stress training) and supercropping (extreme bending) are especially handy if you need to change your overall plant form or reduce the height.
The grower wants to keep plants as short as possible
As the plants grew, she regularly bent all the top branches over and tied them down
That’s how these tiny plants were made!
Use bending to reduce the height of tall branches. Don’t forget to tie the branches down or they’ll turn back up! (I like plant twist tie for hooking around stems)
The arrow points to the twist tie that was used to hold down the branches as this plant grew
Use supercropping to bend at right angles without breaking your stems. This can be especially helpful if you’re plants are already too tall for your space.
Some growers take plant training to extreme levels
Check out the “skeleton” of the above plant after harvest. The grower basically trained the main stem to grow in a flat spiral around the base. So much bud in such a small area!
You can produce impressive buds on a small plant with a powerful grow light and high-yielding genetics
It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a little bending and tying down as your plant grows!
Don’t wait too long to initiate flowering – This doesn’t apply to auto-flowering strains, but if you’re growing a photoperiod (regular) plant, initiate the flowering stage when the plant is half the final desired size. Plants typically double in size after receiving a 12/12 light schedule, so plant height can get out of control if you wait too long.
Initiate 12/12 when your plant is about half the final desired size
Plant about double in height before harvest, though some strains “stretch” more or less (notice how the back left plant from the above tent got taller than the rest). Genetics make a huge difference! Learn more about the flowering stretch.
You should now have a solid understanding of what it takes to grow marijuana plants in any size or shape you want!
How to Grow Small Cannabis Plants in Tiny Spaces Do you want to grow tiny cannabis plants? Would you like to build a “microgrowery” for your marijuana garden? This tiny plant tutorial will teach
Shortest Cannabis Grow Guide Ever
Are you looking for the shortest and most simple marijuana grow guide ever? Or maybe you just want a quick overview of the growing process. This super condensed version of the 10-Step Quick Start Grow Guide is probably the quickest grow guide out there. You may also enjoy our marijuana life timeline or complete beginner’s guide to growing cannabis. The following tutorial is very basic, but if you follow just these steps you will be harvesting your own weed in 3-5 months! Choose an auto-flowering strain for the fastest harvest (harvest in as quickly as 3 months).
Easiest Cannabis Grow Tutorial Ever!
Table of Contents
Step 1: Choose Your Place to Grow
Indoors or outdoors? A spare room? A closet? Learn more about different places to grow weed indoors. One simple way to get started is to put your plant inside a cheap grow tent.
I personally think grow tents are a cheap (under $100) and easy way to set up the perfect grow environment, but there are lots of great places to grow!
The main thing to remember about your growing environment is that when the temperature, humidity and overall airflow feels nice to you, it’s probably good for your plants, too! Learn more about setting up the perfect environment.
Step 2: Choose Your Grow Light
If your goal is to harvest…
Step 3: Choose Your Growing Medium
There is no best way to grow pot! Each option has its own pros and cons.
- Soil – Close to nature, especially if growing in amended and composted soil without any liquid nutrients. Slightly slower growing but buds tend to have a stronger and more complex taste/smell.
- Coco Coir – Coco is a hand-watered medium that looks and acts a lot like soil, but is actually made out of broken up coconut husks. Plants grown in coco grow a little bit faster than in soil, and coco has properties that soothe plant roots. As a result, coco tends to be more forgiving than most other grow mediums, and plants are more resistant to heat. Another advantage is pests are much less likely to attack plants in coco because many bugs need soil to live. If you’re not sure which medium to start with, I highly recommend starting with coco! That’s what I did and I’m so happy because it was also a perfect way to train for moving on to either soil or hydro ?
- Hydroponics – Setting up a hydroponic reservoir takes more work than soil or coco but hydro grown plants get the fastest growth of all grow mediums, meaning you get to harvest more quickly with the same amount of electricity. Hydro-grown buds tend to be very potent.
Step 4: Get Nutrients
If you’re starting in composted, amended soil, you don’t need to worry about adding extra nutrients. For regular soil growers, you want to supplement your plant with extra nutrients after it starts using up the nutrients in the soil. For coco and hydro growers, you provide all your nutrients directly to your plants from the beginning. Luckily all quality nutrients come with an easy schedule to follow, so you don’t have to think about it!
What Nutrients to Get for Each Stage of Life
- Vegetative Stage – In this stage you should use nutrients that are high in Nitrogen (N). Almost any general plant food will work. The extra nitrogen will provide what your marijuana plant needs in the vegetative stage
- Flowering Stage – Plants need a low-Nitrogen (“Bloom”) formula that is high in Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) in the flowering stagea. In a pinch you can use cactus or succulent nutrients, because they use a similar nutrient ratio.
Step 5: Get Your Cannabis Seeds
If you don’t have access to live plants or seeds, the best way to get started growing is to order seeds online. You can get seeds delivered anywhere in the world, including Canada, Australia, the UK and every state in the USA.
Learn more about researching strains to figure out which one you might like best! Choose an auto-flowering strain for the fastest harvest (harvest in as quickly as 3 months).
Step 6: Germinate Your Seeds
One of the simplest ways to germinate your seeds is to plant them in a starter plug like a Rapid Rooter. These already moist when you get them and are designed to give your seed everything it needs for the first few days of growth. Just put your seed in the pre-cut hole and leave in a warm place until your seedlings appear! (Here’s more info if you would rather germinate the seeds first, and then put them in the Rapid Rooters). Add a few teaspoons of water if they start to dry out but don’t add so much water the rooters actually look shiny wet. You don’t want to drown your seedlings! Unless your air is really dry, seedlings like the open air and don’t need a humidity dome like clones do. They get all the water they need through their roots.
Simply put your seeds in the pre-moistened plugs and wait for seedlings to appear ?
After germination, you place your Rapid Rooter directly into soil/coco, or insert into a net pot if you’re in hydro. The Rapid Rooters make it so you can’t really mess up transferring seedlings!
If you see roots out the bottom, it’s time to transfer plant into its next destination!
There are other ways to germinate seeds if you don’t have or don’t want to use Rapid Rooters. For example you could use the popular “paper towel method” or even plant your seeds directly into the growing medium! Learn about other ways to germinate your seeds here.
Step 7: Vegetative Stage
Your Main Duty: Water Plants & Adjust Grow Light
In the vegetative stage a marijuana plant really does grow like a weed! It can recover from a lot even if you mess up. You can almost even think of it as a regular houseplant, just a really fast growing one!
At this point your main job is to water your plants and check the pH regularly (to prevent nutrient problems). If you are using high levels of nutrients and supplements, try to give plain water sometimes to prevent nutrient build-up.
When it comes to nutrients, follow the nutrient schedule or recommended dosage for “vegetative” growth. However, it’s a good idea to start at half-strength at first since most nutrient recommendations are often a bit too strong for marijuana right away.
When the top inch feels dry to the touch, water your plants well and remove runoff water. Avoid watering too often! You should be watering vegetative plants every few days. If they’re drying out in less than a few days, transplant to a bigger pot or give more water at a time. If they’re taking more than 3 days to dry, give less water at a time until they’re drinking faster.
During the vegetative stage your plant only grows new stems and leaves, and overall the plants will keep getting bigger and bigger.
Many indoors growers choose to train their plants in the vegetative stage to grow in a flat, table-top shape, as this will increase your yields under indoor grow lights in the flowering stage. But even if you don’t do anything your plants will still grow just fine.
Try to make sure you keep your grow lights a good distance away so they’re not burning your plants, and other than that just wait until your plant has reached half the final desired size.
Plants in the vegetative stage only grow stems and leaves, no buds!
Plants in the vegetative stage can grow several inches a day after they get going!
pic by Froctor Dankenstein
If you don’t watch out, your grow space can get out of control ?
If want to know more about what to expect (and what to look out for) in the vegetative stage, check out the complete vegetative stage tutorial!
Step 8: Flowering Stage – Buds Start Growing!
When your plant has reached half the final desired size, it’s time to tell it to start making buds! After you do this step, your plant on average will about double in size (more or less depending on the strain), so don’t wait too long!
Switch to the flowering stage when your plant has reached half the final desired height. Your plant can double in size after the switch!
You “tell” your plant to start making buds by putting your grow lights on a timer that is set on a 12/12 light schedule. This means the grow light is on for 12 hours, but the plant spends the other 12 hours a day is in uninterrupted darkness.
This daily dark period is like a message that tells your plant winter is coming. Plants will typically start growing buds within 2-3 weeks after the switch to a 12/12 light schedule.
The first few weeks after the switch to 12/12, your plant will be growing fast! This extra fast growth period is known as the flowering stretch.
Here are two plants right after they are given a 12/12 light schedule. Notice how both get taller, but one gets far taller than the other. The amount of “stretch” after the switch is determined by strain/genetics. Hopefully this animation gives you an idea of how plants develop in the flowering stage from 12/12 to harvest. Learn more about growing different strains together.
Male vs Female
When your plant starts making flowers, you need to double check that they’re all making buds (female) and not pollen sacs (male). Learn where to look on the plant to figure out the plant gender as soon as possible.
You can skip this step if you started with feminized seeds (since all plants will be female and make buds).
If your plants are female they will start growing wispy white hairs that eventually turn into buds. If your plant is male, it will grow pollen sacs that look like little bunches of grapes, and these will open up into flowers that can pollinate your buds and make them full of seeds.
It’s important to identify any male plants as soon as possible and remove them from your grow room so your female buds don’t produce seeds from being exposed to pollen.
Around 6 weeks after the switch to 12/12, your plant will stop growing bigger and focus completely on bud growth. Although that’s true for most strains, some long-flowering or Sativa strains can continue growing taller for longer.
Your Main Duty After Week 6 : Watch Buds & Leaves Closely For Problems
It’s hard to be patient for harvest after week 6 because eventually the plant stops making much new vegetative growth while buds fatten and mature. You usually aren’t seeing a lot of new growth any more, so it might seem like buds are done. But even though you might not see it, your buds are getting bigger and more potent each day!
Although plants mostly stop growing around Week 6, buds still need time before they’re “ripe” enough to have reached peak potency. Buds will continue to fatten and get more dense right up until harvest.
Watch plants closely so you can react to any problems quickly so you cruise to the finish line ?
Most plants are ready to harvest about 9-13 weeks after the switch to 12/12 though some strains take more or less time.
Next, learn how to determine when your plant is ready to harvest!
Step 9: Harvest Your Cannabis
When plants are ready to harvest, the white hairs on the buds will have darkened and will have mostly curled in. What if my plant keeps making new white pistils over and over?
Here are examples of marijuana buds that are ready to harvest
This is a super-condensed version of our Beginner Guide! The following tutorial is very basic, but if you follow the 10 steps you will get to harvest!