growing marijuana indoors for dummies

Your cannabis wants a safe, healthy place for root development. Without healthy roots, your cannabis will never thrive. Roots are in charge of water retention, nutrient absorption, anchoring the plant, and they also facilitate vegetative growth.

Drainage is key, as cannabis plants can get waterlogged and develop root rot . If you repurpose containers, be sure they have holes in the bottoms and set them in trays.

Standard plastic containers are a popular option for growers operating on a budget. These pots are inexpensive and provide the essentials for your plants.

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 or liquid nutrients. 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.

Terra cotta pots offer a unique set of benefits to growers in hot climates.

What to look for in a pot.

You’ll also want to take this time to check over your weed plants for pests, mold, or nutrient deficiencies.

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.

Because the amount of light a plant receives is so important, you’ll need to make your indoor grow space light-tight. Light leaks during dark periods will confuse your plants and can cause them to produce male flowers or revert to a different stage.

Every space is different and there will be a learning curve to growing in yours.

Many growers will start plants in a one-gallon pot and then transplant up to a bigger pot as plants get bigger. A lot of growers will transplant once, from a one-gallon to a five-gallon pot, and harvest from there. If your plants get bigger, they may need a seven- or ten-gallon pot.

These are quickly becoming the standard. Roots in fabric pots grow to the outer edges and attempt to bypass the porous fabric wall but are cut back, allowing new growth to occur. This process, called “air pruning,” results in a denser root composition which promotes healthy growth and development.

Weed plants need different amounts of light during their vegetative and flowering stages. You don’t have to worry about this in an outdoor setting—the sun and the season dictate this—but when growing indoors, you will be controlling it.

Although it’s more resource-intensive than growing outdoors and you will likely have to spend more money on utilities to power equipment, you can control every aspect of your grow environment and what you put in your plant, allowing you to dial in your setup to grow some primo weed.

Different lights produce different colors of light. Here’s a brief rundown of the most popular types of cannabis grow lights used for indoor growing.

Traditional plastic containers.

Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from 10-32 weeks, or about 3-8 months, to smoke what you’ve grown. (It’ll be quicker if you start with a clone or an autoflower seed.)

The main drawback is fluorescent lights are less efficient, generating about 20-30% less light per watt of electricity used; space is another concern, as it would require approximately 19 four-foot long T5 bulbs to equal the output of a single 600 watt HPS bulb.

For a root system to develop and thrive, they will need the following:

But the benefits are great: LEDs last much longer, use far less electricity, create less heat, and the best designs generate a fuller spectrum of light, which can get bigger yields and better quality.

When starting with clones or seedlings, you’ll want to check your plants every day because they’re delicate and sensitive to environmental conditions. You may need to adjust temperature and humidity levels in your indoor grow space at first to hit the sweet spot for your plants.

Examine the tops and undersides of leaves for pests or discoloration—spider mites live on the underside of leaves—as well as stalks and branches. Also, check the soil for pests.

Fabric containers.

Before watering, check the pH of your water and add pH Up or Down if needed.

Plants need fresh air to thrive and carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential to the process of photosynthesis. This means you will need a steady stream of air flowing through your grow room, which will allow you to move hot air out of the space and bring cool air in.

Even in legal states, you may want to conceal your crop from judgmental neighbors and definitely from potential thieves. Growing indoors allows you to grow discreetly behind a locked door.

When designing your space, you’ll need to take into account room for your plants, as well as space for lights, fans, ducting, and other equipment. You’ll also need space to work on the plants. Cannabis plants can double in size in the early stages of flowering, so make sure you have adequate head space!

Light emitting diode (LED) technology has been around for a while, and they are getting more efficient all the time. The main drawback to LED grow lights is their cost: well-designed fixtures can cost 10 times what a comparable HID setup would.

Unlike outdoor growing, you aren’t tied to the sun and the seasons. You will be providing the entire environment the plants need to grow, including the grow medium—soil, rockwool, etc.—and regulating the amount of water and nutrients they receive, as well as controlling temperature, humidity, and more for them.

For growers who have a little extra money to spend and want full control over their indoor garden, environmental controllers will allow you to automate the process. These devices are essential for if you’re away from the garden for a long period of 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.

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 .

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.

Leafly’s complete marijuana growing guide.

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.

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:

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

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.

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.

Quick overview of the basics of growing marijuana.

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

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.

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

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.

Indoor vs. outdoor marijuana growing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A key part of learning how to grow weed is mastering drying and curing techniques. You do not want marijuana to dry too quickly or too slowly, as the ideal drying time for a healthy and flavorful marijuana plant is 10 to 14 days. In this video, you will learn the perfect temperature and humidity to dry and cure weed, as well as pro tips that will teach you how to grow weed and trim your plants like an experienced veteran, leaving you with a grade-A product.

Post-harvest, you will trim and hang up your buds to dry. This process should take about a week or two depending on the humidity and heat in your area. It’s always best to keep this process slower than 3-4 days in order to ensure you aren’t locking in that “green” chlorophyll taste. Add a humidifier to your drying room if you think your nuggets are drying out too quickly. Never leave a fan blowing directly onto your drying colas but make sure air is circulating to avoid mold and bud-rot.

Avoid overfeeding and overwatering your plants at all costs. Err on the side of caution as it’s always easier to add more nutrients or water than it is to take them away. Marijuana roots prefer a wet/dry cycle so lift up your buckets and you’ll get a better idea for if they need watering or not by the weight. The first sign of overfed plants is burnt leaf tips. The first rule of how to grow weed is to learn to stay off of its way sometimes.

If you don’t have access to marijuana seeds or clones from a dispensary or friend, you’ll need to get some cannabis seeds mailed to you. Don’t have them mailed to the same place you plan to grow if you’re not growing legally. Don’t just learn how to grow weed, learn how to be discreet and not brag or bring attention to yourself.

Use a loupe or a strong magnifying scope to take a very close look at the trichomes; the tiny glandular stalk and head sometimes referred to as “crystals”. Up close, they resemble little glass mushrooms with a stem that forms a bulbous round clear top. Inside that gland head resides the psychoactive compounds (THC, CBD etc). Harvest when the majority of the gland heads begin to go cloudy white and before they’ve gone completely amber. Harvest when they’re mostly amber if you desire a more lethargic stone.

Tips on How to Grow Weed: The Hydroponic Garden.

Attention to detail is essential if you are a beginner who is trying to learn how to grow weed. Even the most inconsequential detail could be the difference between a healthy plant and a dud. In this video, learn about the best type of container to use to grow your marijuana plant. We recommend a “smart pot,” which is a container that is made of breathable fabric that allows the roots of your plant to grow much larger. Larger roots mean a larger marijuana plant, which means a more bountiful weed yield when the time comes.

Indoors, The decision of when to induce flowering in your plants is entirely up to you. If you want to learn how to grow weed, it’s important to determine how much space you have and to factor in the fact that your plants will stretch for at least a few weeks after flowering is induced. I usually recommend one week per gallon of container, so a plant in a five-gallon bucket should get approximately five weeks of vegetative time.

Knowing when and how to harvest your buds is as important as knowing how to grow weed.

As with any garden, when growing marijuana, pests are a constant concern. For anyone learning how to grow weed, it is important to become well-versed in pest management. The last thing you want is for the marijuana crop that you have been working so hard on to be eaten away by a pest infestation. This video teaches you how to ward away pests from your precious plants with integrated pest management, stopping an infestation before it can even happen. Just a few simple steps can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

The first thing you’ll need is a place to grow. I recommend getting yourself a decent grow tent. They’re cheap, made to grow inside of and can be put up and taken down quickly by one person. Some tents come with packages that include all kind of complicated hydroponic equipment. Your best bet is to purchase only what you need inside the tent and to learn how to grow weed without the expensive plastic. Some even have separate chambers for vegetative growth and cloning, making them perfect for people living in one-bedroom apartments or studios with limited room to grow.

When pruning, start early and often. Cut or pinch branches just above the node where two new shoots will emerge. If you stay on top of this process, you’ll have plants that look like bonsai bushes, with plenty of bud sites but not a lot of stretching out and big gaps between nodes. This is the efficient way to get bigger yields out of small spaces but your vegetating time will increase so factor that into your schedule.

After you’ve planted your seeds or rooted your clones, it’s time to get them growing. Lower your reflector so that it’s closer to the plants rather than making them stretch to reach for light. Raise the lighting system as your plants grow. Set your light timer to be on for 18 hours per day and off for 6 hours. During this vegetative stage, the plant will grow leaves and branches but no flowers (unless it’s an auto-flowering plant).

A simple loose and airy soil mix in 3-5 gallon buckets are great for beginners and much more forgiving than any hydroponic system. Be sure to cut holes in the bottom of the buckets and use saucers under them to catch any overflow. You’ll need to purchase nutrients to feed to your plants as they grow and a watering can as well.

You’ll also need an exhaust fan and activated carbon filter to reduce heat and eliminate odors. Be sure to get one that’s rated for your tent’s size with the proper ducting size. A clip-on circulating fan will keep air moving and stop it from being stagnant. A thermometer/hygrometer is also a must for keeping track of temperature and humidity.

When you’re ready to begin the flowering stage, switch your timer to a 12 hour on/12 hour off light cycle. Be sure never to interrupt the 12-hour dark period with any light. This confuses your plant and can cause serious problems.

Tips on How to Grow Weed: The Smart Pot.

Change your feeding regimen to one suited for flowering. Plant nutrients generally come in vegetative or flowering formulations so switch over to a “blooming” solution. Depending on the flowering time of your strain, determine when you have two weeks or so left and begin the flushing process. If you’re growing a 60-day flowering strain, start to flush your grow medium with only plain water around day 46.

After you’ve determined that your buds are sufficiently dried you’re ready to jar them up for the cure. The stems should snap instead of bending and the outside of the flowers should feel bone dry to the touch. The truth is there is still plenty of water stuck in the bud and the curing process will slowly “sweat” out the remaining liquid.

Anytime space is limited for growing, some basic rules apply: Since square footage is at a premium, plans must take full advantage of each available inch. This means choosing between growing indica-dominant strains such as Hashplant, Afghani #1 or planning on using drastic trellising and training techniques if growing out sativas such as Super Silver Haze, Jack Herer or Kali Mist.

Don’t prune or pinch plants at all once they’ve begun flowering – you’ll only be decreasing your harvest at that point. If the branches are threatening to reach the light, bend them or tie them down to keep them from burning. A trellis system constructed from chicken wire at canopy level (aka the ScrOG or Screen of Green system), will further spread out bud sites and increase your yields considerably. Simply train growing shoots to grow horizontally along the bottom of the screen to fill empty spots.

A hydroponic garden, also known as a “hydro” setup, is a very popular implementation to grow high-quality weed. In this video, an expert takes you through the ins and outs of a typical hydro setup, allowing you to see what it takes to successfully implement your own hydro setup at home. For those who are beginners just learning how to grow weed, a hydroponic garden may seem way too complicated to even consider. However, with some assistance from the experts at High Times , you can easily set up a hydro system that will give you an epic yield!

Always use opaque jars (ones you can’t see inside) and place them in a cool dark place. Open up the jars to determine the level of moisture and leave them open if there’s any condensation forming on the inside of the glass. Slowly but surely, if you open and close the jars once or twice a day, the moist air will be replenished by dry air and the water that’s stuck in the middle of your bud will work its way to the outside and then out into the air altogether. After three weeks to a month or so curing, your buds should burn and taste perfectly.

First, you’ll need a growlight. I like HID (High-Intensity Discharge) lighting – HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) or MH (Metal Halide) systems with ballasts, bulbs and reflectors. If heat from these lights will be an issue, there are also LED (Light-Emitting Diode) and CFL (Compact Fluorescent) systems you can employ. Be sure to get a light that covers your tent’s footprint and invest in a decent timer to control when your light turns on and off.

Pruning For Higher Yield.

Looking for the basics of how to grow marijuana? Here are the tools and information on how to grow weed affordably and effectively. All you need is a small discreet space and a little bit of a budget to get started on your indoor pot production.

Now you know the basics of how to grow marijuana from seed to harvest. It’s time to get yourself the tools you need and get started today. And remember to take notes, or even better, start your own anonymous online Grow Diary.