growing cannabis for beginners

The Arizona Republic asked two experts to share their tips for beginners: Noah Wylie, master grower at The Mint Dispensary based in the East Valley, and Josh Sundberg, farmer and co-owner of Community Roots AZ in Cornville, southwest of Sedona.

Wylie said most people will likely grow indoors, in a closet or garage, for example. About 75 degrees, more or less, is an optimal temperature, he said. In a small space with stagnant air, he suggested using a fan to move air in and out. A beginner can start in a closet with a 100-watt grow light and oscillating desk fan, and it’s enough to get going, he said.

Ryan Jerrell, co-owner of Dig It Gardens in central Phoenix, also said his nursery plans on selling cannabis seeds in the future, as well as “starter kits” for first-time growers.

How many cannabis plants can I grow?

He recommended adding mulch to keep the soil cool. For a pot, the bigger the better for creating a buffering zone — five gallons is a good minimum, he said. Putting the pot in another pot or putting some sort of insulation barrier around it can also prevent the pot from directly baking in the sun.

Some people use grow tents, which look like black boxes, but cannabis can really be grown most places as long as people are able to adapt to the environment, Sundberg said.

“We don’t see any difference between growing cannabis and growing vegetables and growing lavender, they’re all plants,” said Ryan Jerrell, co-owner of Dig It Gardens in Phoenix.

Adults can grow six cannabis plants at home or no more than 12 plants in a house with more than one adult.

Both Wylie and Sundberg said the key items you need to grow cannabis are nutrient-rich soil, water and light.

At local supplier Phoenix Seeds & Clones , people can purchase a grow consultation ranging from $75-200, including 5 to 20 seeds. Strains offered include Gorilla Cake, Tangie Cookies and Kino Vision, a high CBD strain.

Where is the best place to grow my cannabis plant?

Eddie Smith, co-owner of The Plant Stand of Arizona , confirmed his south Phoenix nursery would be selling cannabis seeds in the future.

Buyers should go with vetted sources to avoid fraudulent sellers. Sundberg recommended Canna Genetics Bank, a retailer that sells seeds from various breeders, and Neptune Seed Bank, both based in California.

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While it may be tempting to spray your plants in the middle of a burning, sunny day, the water droplets on the leaves can act like tiny magnifying glasses. As with other types of plants, it’s best to water early morning. If you have to water in the middle of the day, first discharge the hot water from your hose if that’s what you’re using, and water the soil around the plant, not the leaves, he advised.

Where can I buy a cannabis clone?

People can also purchase cannabis seeds on websites such as Leafly. Sundberg warned that quality seeds can be pricey. Seeds are also a gamble because only female plants flower, and there’s no guarantee how many female seeds are in a packet. Feminized seeds are genetically engineered to grow only female plants, but tend to cost more.

Other hybrids he suggested for beginners include Green Crack, Grape Diamonds and Cherry Garcia.

Wylie suggested first-time growers start with a hybrid strain and stay away from strains that have OG in the name or are labeled “exotic,” which tend to be finicky. Popular 50/50 hybrid Blue Dream, for example, is a resilient plant that can take higher and lower temperatures, he said.

Phoenix Seeds & Clones also sells clones.

Wylie said that after switching to the 12 hours light, 12 hours darkness stage, it takes about 50 to 60 days until it’s time to harvest. People can additionally purchase an inexpensive jeweler’s loupe if they want to look at the trichomes, or crystals, on the flowers. The plant will be ready to harvest when the majority of the trichome caps turn from translucent to milky-looking and about 10% of the caps turn an amber color. The plant can still be harvested a little earlier or later, however.

You might be surprised which states don’t allow homegrowing—only five medical states and one medical territory allow homegrowing at all, and some adult-use states require a medical card.

Before you get started growing, you’ll need to see if you even can grow in your state. Below is a list of states in which it is legal to grow your own marijuana at home, both states with medical and adult-use legal status. If your state does not appear on this list, it is not legal to homegrow in your state .

*Illinois and Washington are adult-use states but require a medical card to homegrow.

Quick overview of the basics of growing marijuana.

Because the plant was illegal for so long, a lot of grow info has been passed down by word of mouth. There are many myths and traditions about growing weed, so it can be hard to sort good, sound advice from hearsay. Also, because it was illegal, there’s ample information on indoor growing and how to get the most out of a small space by maximizing harvests and training plants.

At the end of the day, you want to grow a strain you like. A single plant can yield between a half-pound and a full pound of dried buds, depending on how big your plants get, so you’ll have a lot of it come harvest time.

Growing weed is super easy—it’s called “weed” for a reason—so don’t worry if you haven’t grown anything before. Our clear, easy-to-digest guide will help growers of all kinds, especially first-time ones.

Enjoy, have fun, and learn a tip or two—growing weed is therapeutic and relaxing, and there’s nothing better than smoking weed you’ve grown yourself.

The best way to get quality buds and big yields is to grow strong, healthy plants. Here’s a quick rundown of the most important things you need to know about growing weed:

These are all great resources but not all growers want to put in that amount of time and effort to get a ton of weed—some growers just want to have fun, grow a little weed, and smoke something they grew themselves.

Below are all the topics covered in our growing guide. That is followed by a list of where it’s legal to homegrow in the US and a quick overview of the growing process.

Where is it legal to homegrow cannabis?

Whether indoors or outdoors, growing marijuana is fun and rewarding, but it can also be challenging and takes a certain amount of patience, time, and money. We’ll walk you through all the steps of growing, from preparation, to seed germination, plant growth, and harvesting, as well as best practices and how to troubleshoot common problems.

Growing outdoors is the cheapest and easiest way to grow, because you can utilize the power of the sun and other natural resources, but you need the proper space to do it, and the space needs to be able to get ample sunlight throughout the growing season. Often, you can let plants grow large and get big yields with more space outdoors.

Growing weed indoors is more expensive because you’ll need to spend money on equipment and utilities, but you can control every aspect of the grow environment and set up an indoor grow almost anywhere. Expect to grow some killer weed—indoor is known for its potency and quality.

Note that “mature” plants are those in the flowering stage, when plants begin to produce buds; “immature” plants are those in the vegetative stage, before they produce buds. A “household” is defined as two or more people living at a single residence.

Your homegrowing journey starts with the question: indoors or outdoors?

What does a marijuana plant need to survive and thrive?

Check out our Guide to marijuana legalization for more details on homegrowing in your state.

The last thing you want is to put a ton of time and effort into growing weed and end up with a strain that you don’t like. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, and strains affect people differently.

Outdoor cultivators take what Mother Nature gives them and turn it into the best possible harvest. Many cannabis consumers prefer marijuana grown outdoors under the full spectrum of natural sunlight. That unique spectrum creates a greater variance of cannabinoids and terpenes than artificial lighting.

Most cultivars will begin to flower once they receive fewer than 15 hours of sunlight per day. The latitude of your garden has a direct impact on how many hours a day your plants receive light.

Whether using seeds or clones, many cultivators start growing their plants indoors to ensure they are not exposed to damaging weather conditions as they develop their initial root system. The plants can be transitioned outdoors when the weather and light conditions are ideal. Extending the indoor vegetative growth period can help increase yields and allow growers time to select the best plants to be moved outdoors.

How to grow marijuana outdoors.

Plan to put plants in the ground based on the temperature, season, and light where you live so your cannabis plants have time to finish flowering before cold, rainy weather sets in.

During the first half of the season, the daytime period increases until the summer solstice, which occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on or around June 21 and in the Southern Hemisphere on or around December 21. While the daylight hours increase, the plant’s vegetative stage takes place. During vegetation, the plant will develop the roots and stems that will serve as the foundation for growth until flowering.

Some cannabis genetics have adapted to specific climates and are capable of growing more easily in certain conditions than others, so pay very close attention to the cultivars, or strains, that you choose. A little research will go a long way in ensuring you have a successful harvest.

If you decide to use seeds, make sure you start them about a month before you would typically start clones to give them time to germinate and adequately develop their taproot.

Determining the optimum location is another important factor that can affect the yield and quality of your plants. Cultivators in the Northern Hemisphere should attempt to place their plants in an area with southern exposure to ensure their plants are getting the most available sunlight. The opposite is true for the Southern Hemisphere.

Timing is key. A short vegetative phase can cause cannabis plants to flower early, while a long vegetative phase can prevent your plants from finishing their flowering cycle if the weather takes a turn for the worse. The Farmer’s Almanac is a reliable source for planning around the seasons and preparing your crop for success.

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Avoid all-in-one fertilizers as they can be too high in nitrogen for the flowering cycle and damage any beneficial microorganisms that may be present in the soil. Instead, choose a line of nutrients created specifically for cannabis, and use its suggested feeding charts to avoid over- or under-feeding. Organic sources of nutrients are best, as they are a great source of beneficial microbes, but they may take longer to break down and become available to the plant. Both types of nutrients can be found in dry, pre-blended powders or liquid emulsions, but can also be made from scratch with the right ingredients. Organic compost tea, which includes nutrient-rich ingredients, like molasses and earthworm casting compost, is a popular homemade brew for cannabis farmers.

For a small garden, hand-watering is the easiest, cheapest way to go. It also allows you to get familiar with each cultivar’s needs, and gives each plant the exact amount of water it requires. Irrigation systems can be convenient for a large number of plants or for times when you cannot be in your garden.

Deciding whether to start with seeds or clones will change the timing and manner by which your plants are introduced to the outdoors.

Cannabis is a hardy plant that has adapted to climates all over the world. From the cool and arid mountains of Afghanistan to the humid regions of Colombia, over time the plant has been forced to adapt its defenses against a host of problems. But cannabis is still susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Whether it is heavy winds breaking branches or excessive rain causing mold, the great outdoors presents challenges to growers that can be mitigated with sufficient planning.

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To grow cannabis outdoors, the bare minimum required is basic gardening tools, soil, water, and a spot in your backyard that receives ample sunlight.

The amount of water a plant needs largely depends on its size, the size of its container, the soil type, and general environmental conditions such as the weather and the intensity of the sun. Larger plants in warmer environments tend to use more water than smaller plants in cooler weather. The amount of water needed will change throughout a plant’s life cycle.

Even if it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors where you live, you should still take some precautions to hide the plants from public view. And it’s often required by law. You can grow your cannabis plants among other plants in your garden to hide them in plain sight. Cannabis can easily grow taller than your average fence, though. Training techniques can help keep your plants shorter. The fewer people who know you are growing cannabis, the better. The ideal situation is to have your grow tucked away on a piece of land where your plants can truly flourish away from prying eyes and nosy neighbors.

Beneficial insects, fungi, and bacteria can also be used to protect your plants from their parasitic or predatory counterparts. Jumping spiders, ladybugs, and other native, beneficial predatory insects can clear your crop of insects such as aphids and whiteflies. When sourcing beneficial insects, fungi, or bacteria, it’s important to research those which are native to your region.

Quality soil is crucial to the success of your crop and one of the few factors that you have control over when growing outdoors.