Proper transplantation is vital to your plant’s health. When using container gardening, you will need to transplant your plant more than once.
Container gardening is straightforward. You can grow successfully using a few handy tips and tricks. Below, we cover the essentials and provide a step-by-step guide to beginning your cannabis container garden.
There are also other types, but these are the most common. Growers these days tend to opt for plastic or fabric containers. The fabric option is a little better for a larger growing operation, but plastic plant pots are cheap and easy to find.
Container gardening is a viable option for cultivators with limited space. In this guide, we look at how it works for cannabis plants.
At the start of the cannabis plant’s life as a seed, you will need to germinate it . Following this process, you must carefully transplant the germinated seed(s) without breaking the fragile taproot. Place the seed carefully in the soil using a pair of tweezers. At this stage, you should be using a small plant pot – or even a solo cup!
Learn How to Pot and Transplant Correctly.
At this point, you need to consider your budget again. Those with cash to burn might want to invest in a whole lighting set-up. Otherwise, you can make do with a small room or greenhouse but must accept a smaller yield.
Yes! You can quite easily run a small growing operation using container gardening. There are pots available in various sizes, so you can determine how many plants you want to cultivate. As a wild plant, many cannabis strains thrive best outside. However, this isn’t a practical option for many growers. Advanced growers can produce even higher yields than outdoor crops using indoor gardening methods. Yet this often requires an expensive set-up with intricate temperature and lighting control.
Novice growers can use container growing, too, but don’t expect your first crop to produce a record-breaking yield . You can produce a decent yield with essential methods and a standard set-up. This is especially the case if you only plan on growing a couple of plants.
Plastic Containers: A plastic plant pot is a much cheaper option. The holes in the bottom are perfect for drainage. However, you need to be wary of temperature fluctuations.
It might take some trial and error, but a few minor mistakes will eventually lead you to a great harvest.
Here are some pro tips we have acquired from expert growers:
Here are some of the most common types of container:
Now that you have everything to hand, it is time to start the marijuana container gardening process.
Most novices begin with soil unless they’re looking to start a hydroponics grow. It’s a good idea to fill the container’s bottom with gravel or stones to improve drainage, too.
Is Container Gardening Appropriate for Cannabis Plants?
It is a method of cultivating plants that involves a container. You fill the container with your preferred growing medium . Then you put the seeds into the medium and care for the plant until it flourishes.
As far as growing the medium goes, many growers opt for soil . Both regular and composted soil works fine. Other growers decide to use a soilless medium like coco coir, but this is typically the preserve of the advanced cultivator.
There are several types of plant pots , and selecting the right one is vital. Your choice will depend on your available indoor space and budget.
As the plant grows, you must transplant it into exceedingly large containers. When the leaves reach the edge of the pot, it’s time to transplant again.
Container gardening is a good method of growing cannabis for cultivators lacking space and novices. It isn’t remarkably challenging to run a container garden, but you know what they say: Practice makes perfect!
Clean Your Gardening Tools: The same applies to your gardening tools. The trichomes on marijuana can get sticky and jam up your shears, so make sure you’re cleaning all your tools regularly.
What About the Growing Medium?
You can quite easily run a small growing operation using container gardening.
Indoor growing requires some special know-how. You must know how to control the lighting and temperature so that your cannabis plant thrives. You also have to deliver the right nutrients.
Terracotta Containers: When you think of a traditional plant pot, you probably think of a terracotta, or ceramic, container. These provide excellent temperature control but may struggle with airflow and drainage. They’re also heavy and can only hold one plant.
Incidentally, if you’re growing a single plant in a pot indoors, you’ll need a way to catch water drainage. Keep the container on a tray or plate to catch the run-off.
Remember that Your Pots Are Portable! One of the beauties of container gardening is that you can move the pots around. They don’t have to stay on the windowsill forever! If parts of your house get different temperatures and drafts than others, consider moving the containers around occasionally. This simple step could increase your final yield.
If you are an MMJ cardholder in a legal state, you might have the chance to cultivate cannabis at home. Indoor growing requires planning, however. Ideally, you will only need to dedicate a small space to your plants.
You also need to consider the pot shape. Taller, leaner plants are better suited to taller, narrower pots, such as sativa strains. Indica species, meanwhile, require sturdier and broader containers.
These are just some examples of amendments commonly used in different types of soils. Heavily amended soils will have long lists that break down all organic nutrients they contain. Some companies create soils that offer a great structure with base nutrients, but allow you to fill in the gaps as you desire.
Weed plants will need full, direct sun for at least 6 hours a day. You may have a backyard, but it might not be great to grow there if it doesn’t get full sun every day.
The best way to identify loamy soil is by touching it. How does it feel? Sandy soil should be difficult to compact while clay should compact into a tight ball that won’t crumble. When squeezed, loamy soils should form a loose ball that will hold its structure momentarily before breaking apart in large chunks.
Soil has three basic consistencies, in various ratios:
You can make this yourself by combining worm castings, bat guano, and other components with a good soil and letting it sit for a few weeks, or it can be purchased pre-made from a local nursery or grow shop.
Growing marijuana outdoors is great because you won’t need to spend a ton of money on it and you can rely on the power of the sun. If you have access to a sunny spot in a private yard or even a balcony, terrace, or rooftop, you can grow weed outside. You will be tied to the sun and the seasons and local weather, but you won’t have to spend a bunch of money on equipment and utilities like indoor growers.
For most first-time gardeners, we recommend buying a quality potting soil that will provide your plants with enough nutrients to get them through most of their growth cycle without having to add many amendments. This pre-fertilized soil—often referred to as “super-soil”—that can grow cannabis plants from start to finish without any added nutrients if used correctly.
Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of gardening. It’s relaxing to spend some time outside, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty for a while. And there’s nothing better than smoking something you grew yourself.
Some growers plant in containers on balconies or rooftops that are shielded from view, while some build heavy-gauge wire cages to keep thieves and animals at bay. Whatever you decide, think about how big you want your final plant to be—outdoor cannabis plants can grow to 10 feet tall or even more, depending on how much you let them go.
Sandy soil is easy to work, drains well, and warms quickly, but it doesn’t hold nutrients well, especially in rainy environments. You’ll want to dig large holes for your plants and add compost, peat moss, or coco coir, which will help bind the soil together.
Most outdoor weed growers will either dig a hole and add fresh soil for the plant, or grow their weed in pots. This will allow you to better control the growing medium and the amount of nutrients your plants receive.
For first-time growers, we recommend avoiding commercial fertilizers like long-release granular fertilizers. These can be used, but you need to have a good understanding of how they work and what your plants need.
Silty soil is the ideal growing medium. It’s easy to work, warms quickly, holds moisture, has good drainage, and contains a lot of nutrients. The best silty soil is dark, crumbly loam—it’s fertile and probably won’t need any amending.
If you don’t have a suitable patch of earth to make a garden, containers can be placed on decks, patios, rooftops, and many other spots. If needed, you can move them around during the day to take advantage of the sun or to shield them from excessive heat or wind.
You may need to put all of your plants in containers if you don’t have great soil. Also, if you’re unable to perform the heavy labor needed to dig holes and amend soil, containers may be the only way for you to grow your own cannabis outdoors.
It’s crucial to have a good understanding of the climate in the area you’re going to grow. Cannabis is highly adaptable to various conditions, but it is susceptible in extreme weather.
Most potting soils used in gardening are loam soils. If you’ve ever worked with potting soil, you’ll know that its composition is rich and diverse, and it looks dark and hearty. Beyond texture and color, the soil should smell rich and alive.
While shopping for soil, you might be overwhelmed by the options available at your local garden store. The soil type is the basic structure of your soil. From there, look at nutrients, microorganisms, and other amendments that improve the soil. Your choices will be flooded with words like:
However, plants grown in pots, buckets, or barrels will likely be smaller than those planted in the ground because their root growth is restricted to the size of the container. In a broad sense, the size of the pot will determine the size of the plant, although it’s possible to grow large plants in small containers if proper techniques are used.
Sustained temperatures above 85°F will cause your plants to stop growing, while continued temperatures below 55°F can cause damage and stunting to plants, even death.
How to set up your outdoor marijuana grow.
Soil, at a basic level, is defined as the topmost layer of earth in which plants grow—it’s a mixture of organic remains, clay, and rock particles. Cannabis plants thrive in soil rich with organic matter, and they need good drainage.
Here are some important considerations before starting an outdoor marijuana grow.
Start off with fertilizers that are inexpensive and readily available. Some release nutrients quickly and are easily used by the plant, while others take weeks or months to release usable nutrients. If done correctly, you can mix in a few of these products with your soil amendments to provide enough nutrients for the entire life of your plants. Most of these items can be purchased cheaply at your local nursery.
If you’re growing weed outdoors, it’s great to find a community of cannabis growers in your area to see how others are growing in your specific climate. Local climates vary, so it can be helpful to see what strains thrive where you are, and also when other growers are popping seeds, harvesting, and more. You can also join online forums or Social media groups, but a great place to start is your local grow shop.
Cannabis plants require a large amount of nutrients over their life cycle, mainly in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. How much you need to add to your plants will depend on the composition of your soil.
Indoor grows can be wasteful, using a ton of electricity to power all those lights, fans, and other equipment. The sun and the wind are free!
While some plants thrive in their native soils, which are usually one of the compositions listed above, cannabis plants are best grown in soil that includes a combination of the three consistencies above—this mixture is known as loam.
Balcony: This can be a great spot if it gets good light—ideally, it faces south—and will usually get good wind. However, you may need to cover your balcony from peeping neighbors.
Since clones come from plants that have been grown indoors, let yours chill in a shaded area for a week before exposing them to full sun, Johnson says. “The clone hasn’t tasted sun like that, and the transplant itself will be stressful.”
That said, when your plants are fully flowering, you might find yourself watering them daily, based on these indicators. When you do water them, keep going until you see water running off the soil, to ensure the water reaches all of the soil in the pot.
Don’t go overboard, though, he warns. Start with growing three plants in five-gallon pots. This way, if one dies, you’ll still have two plants, and the pots will limit their growth. A general rule of thumb is that they’ll grow one foot for every gallon of soil. He recommends mixing your own organic soil, which he explains how to do on his website and will save you the headache of adding nutrients or pH testing. “The soil is what we call alive,” he says. “It’s always breaking things down to replenish nutrients that are missing.” But if you can’t mix your own soil, or don’t feel like it, you could buy organic Pro-Mix soil, which Johnson says many outdoor growers use.
There are different harvesting methods, but Johnson cuts the whole plant at the base and hangs it upside down with some twine in a dark room at a temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a fan for airflow — you definitely don’t want the room to be humid, which will cause mold to grow, rendering your crop unusable. It’ll probably take around a week to dry.
Do your homework and read up on the laws in your state. Some states prohibit growing cannabis, while others, like my home state of California, permits anyone over age 21 to grow cannabis, but only up to a certain number of plants. NORML has a pretty in-depth guide to the laws in each state. Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont, and Maine also allow cultivation, but again, the specifics depend on the state. Definitely clarify what your rights are before you start the glorious path to at-home bud gardening.
Your cannabis will be ready to harvest at around October. You’ll know they’re ready when the buds “start to get really, really swollen and packed pretty tight,” Johnson says. But it can be hard to tell if you’re a beginner. Many growers say that if you think your plant is ready to harvest, wait two weeks, since many newbies tend to harvest too early. Or, you could share a photo of your crop on a forum and ask more experienced growers to weigh in.
Whatever you do, don’t plant your clones in the ground. They’ll run rampant, and “you’ll have pounds of weed in your house,” Johnson says, recalling the trays of weed atop his kitchen table when his crop grew wild. “You don’t need the stress of plants getting out of control, growing over your fence.” If your neighbors can see them, they might complain about them, and having too many plants could get you arrested.
While you can absolutely grow cannabis indoors, outdoor cultivation is much simpler and cheaper, says Ron Johnson, author of How to Grow Organic Cannabis: A Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Marijuana Outdoors , who also runs the website The Cannabis Gardener. “The sun is free,” he tells Mic. “You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars a month in electrical bills.” An outdoor garden probably won’t allow you to turn over product fast enough, but it’ll suffice if you just want to grow weed for yourself. Plus, it’s gentler on the planet.
When the pandemic hit, many of us turned to quaint pastimes to soothe our existential dread, whether it was baking sourdough, knitting, or doing jigsaw puzzles. If you want to expand your repertoire of distraction methods with an activity that still has that quiet, homey vibe, but with a bit more of an edge, consider growing your own weed.
To check if your cannabis is ready for trimming, perform a break test on each branch. If it bends so much it nearly breaks, then it’s ready, and if it breaks right away, it might be overly dry, but still totally usable. Trim off the buds and seal them inside a mason jar for curing, opening it periodically over the course of about four weeks to let moisture escape. Johnson outlines a detailed schedule on his website, including instructions on how to look for mold.
Johnson notes that the outdoor grow season lasts from around April to October, meaning if you plant seeds now, they’d still yield flower, but not much. Since it’s late in the season, he suggests buying a large clone, which will have more branches and therefore yield more flower.
Cannabis cultivation laws vary widely state-by-state. Also, we can’t stress this enough: Growing cannabis is illegal in a lot of places, and the penalties — which include steep fines and prison time — can be much worse than possession, since growing can imply an intent to distribute. Black and brown folx need to be especially scrupulous about heeding these rules, since law enforcement targets us way more than white people for weed-related charges, even if we consume it at similar rates.
Cannabis plants can be either male or female. Female plants yield the plump flowers, a.k.a., “buds,” that we know and love, brimming with psychoactive compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, which gets you high), Modern Farmer explains. Male plants yield much smaller flowers, which people typically don’t consume. In other words, if you want to actually indulge in your crop, you’ll want female plants.
If you buy seeds from a seed bank, look for those labeled “feminized” to ensure they give rise to female plants, Johnson says. But if you’re a total newbie, he suggests buying clones, which are cuttings from a “mother” female plant, available at some dispensaries, as well as at nurseries. Not only are they easier to obtain, “they’re easier to grow. You get a clone, and you transplant it to some soil.”
If you use organic soil, all you’ll really need to do is add water, Johnson says — but don’t overdo it. The number one mistake he sees new growers make is watering their plants too often. In general, “watering every day is too much. The rule is, if you pick up your plant, and the pot is heavy, then it has a enough water. If it’s light, it’s dry, then you need to water.” You could also stick your finger knuckle-deep into the soil; if it feels dry, add water.
Once you’ve cured your cannabis, sprinkle some bud in a bowl, or whatever your preferred method of imbibing might be, and savor your hard-earned crop.