growing marijuana indoors in soil for beginners

Soil is less expensive, easier, and offers a higher margin of error. However, you need to carefully select the soil you use because quality can vary enormously.

Whether you’re using an organic soil mix or growing hydroponically, your cannabis plants need the “super seven” macronutrients. In no particular order, these are:

The 24-hour timer is just as important. When the marijuana plants are in vegetative growth, you need the light supply on for around 16-24 hours per day. Once they mature and reach the flowering stage, your plants need 12 hours light and 12 hours dark.

This is when you can extract the male plants and eliminate them. Male plants will have what look like little clusters of bananas; these are the pollen sacs. Female plants will have sharper early-stage calyxes with white hairs (pistils). Those growing from female clones or pre-purchased feminized seeds should have no concerns about male plants.

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

Step 4: Develop a Control System and Monitor the Growing Process.

Also, watch out for male plants in your crop. If you wish to grow high-THC buds, the only thing you want in your crop is female plants. If you have a male in your crop, REMOVE IT. Once it reaches maturity and its pollen sacs burst, it fertilizes the females. At this point, they’ll start developing seeds rather than growing buds. While the plants won’t die, their ability to yield buds is ruined.

There’s no doubt a bit of a learning curve involved. You’ll make your fair share of mistakes. However, trust us when we say it’s all worth it in the end.

The most commonly used lights for DIY-style growing are probably HID (high-intensity discharge) grow lights. They typically represent the best overall value in terms of cost, efficiency, and ease-of-operation.

Lastly, consider using an RO filter as excess levels of chlorine and unfiltered minerals could harm the plants. You may want to choose a distilled option or at least filter it before adding it to your soil. Mineral-laden tap water can cause unwanted build-up in the cannabis root systems, which can lead to detrimental root disease.

While this is true to an extent, there is such a thing as “too much water.” Overwatering your indoor cannabis plants can prove detrimental to their productivity, and potentially stunt or kill them!

Fluorescent lights are generally much cheaper and easier to use than the other options. They represent an excellent option for propagation of young plants or those with extremely low yield expectation. And remember: watts = grams. Low wattage will not prevent you from growing potent little flowers. They also don’t require a connection to an external ventilation system. Fluorescent lights are far less powerful than the other options. However, for novice DIY growers with a single plant or two and little space, they might be your best bet.

Make sure there are holes drilled into your growing container so the water can drain out. When watering, try, and only moisten the soil rather than saturating it. This allows you to fully saturate the pot without overwatering. Try not to water until they’re almost dry. This is called cycling.

Make sure your cultivating space is sanitized and clean. There’s an inherent risk posed by pests and contaminants. A messy space invites pathogens, harmful bacteria, and mold. A good idea is to plan a bi-weekly cleaning routine and stick to it.

Another idea is “all-in-one” automated hydroponic setups, which may help you experience faster growth and more abundant yields. This is only the case if everything is done correctly – all the time, every time (unlike soil which has natural buffers to give you some wiggle room).

Soil vs. Soilless Growing.

Enjoy, and more than anything else; remember to HAVE FUN!

Think about how big you ultimately want to grow your plants when deciding on pot size for their final home. I suggest one-gallon of soil for every foot tall you intend to grow them. Regardless, plants don’t like waterlogged conditions so perforate the bottom of the bucket so the water can drain as needed.

Since warmer air rises, mount your exhaust fan(s) high so they can suck out hot, stagnant air. On the flip side, your intake fan should be mounted low so it can provide a good supply of cool, CO2-filled fresh air. This technique allows for a constant supply of fresh air for your plants. It also helps keep temperatures to a manageable level.

The main drawback is that they require numerous accessories to run correctly. As a consequence, the overall cost can ramp up pretty quickly, depending on how much you’re willing to splurge.

DIY indoor growers are unable to perform a 24/7 watch over their plants. However, you can provide adequate care by setting aside a few minutes a day. Routine checks, such as ensuring things like temperature, humidity, pH, and water levels are correct, are essential.

There are some outstanding pre-filled soil kits specially designed for increased airflow. Keep these in mind when deciding what to grow your first cannabis plants in.

Fluorescent grow lights.

If you’re growing from seed, you need to wait until the flowering stage. After a week of nighttime photoperiod, the plants will start reaching maturity and will develop reproductive parts at the nodes.

Some people like to grind the sugar leaves and use them. However, it is all about the clean, leafless nugs if the goal is to fully enjoy an intoxicating high. You can use the sugar leaves to make cannabutter, however. After trimming, you should hang the buds up to dry. After 7-10 days, you can place them in airtight containers to cure. The more patient you are, the better the buds will taste. They are also more potent!

If you don’t know how to tell a male cannabis plant from a female , we’ve got a great article on the topic.

We also recommend investing in a pH meter to check on the quality of your water and soil regularly. If you’re growing in soil, try to keep the pH between 6 and 7, with the sweet spot being 6.2-6.5. If you’re growing hydroponically, 5.5 to 6.5 is an appropriate range with the sweet spot of 5.8-6.0.

Make sure you have consistent airflow across your entire plot. Depending on the size of your grow room, you can achieve this easily. Utilize several types of fans, including oscillating wall mount, stand fans, and box fans. Place them strategically to create good air flow throughout the space.

As a potential first-time grower, getting started is the biggest roadblock you’ll likely face. First, you have to find the right place to cultivate and obtain the proper growing equipment. Then, you need to buy cannabis seeds and spend a lot of time checking and maintaining your crop.

Lastly, some strains indeed require more calcium than others to produce robust, healthy nugs. Perform a little research on the particular strain you are growing. This process enables you to become more familiar with the kind of “food” it needs and prefers the most.

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.

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.

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.

Before you get started.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Planting.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Upkeep.

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.”

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.

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.

Many Already Have Soil Experience – Growing cannabis in soil is similar to growing plants like tomatoes or corn – soil growing may be the most intuitive option for you, especially if you already have gardening experience.

Bigger containers hold more water and therefore give growers more time away, since constant watering isn’t needed. In the best-case scenario, it is always best to check on your plants at least once a day. You never know when a pest infestation will take hold, a plant will fall over, or some other unexpected event will happen.

Don’t want to use nutrients? Learn how to mix up your own super soil so it has all the nutrients your cannabis plants will need! Bonus: With composted super soil made using the recipe in the link above, you don’t need to worry about maintaining your pH! your super soil will automatically manage the pH for you.

Many of us have seen Miracle-Gro used around our homes, so we know that it works for ‘regular houseplants’. Cannabis is just a tough weed, so Miracle-Gro nutrients should work great for it, too… right?

There are three different bottles that you will need to grow cannabis, “Grow Big,” “Big Bloom,” and “Tiger Bloom.” They are often sold together. Simply follow the included nutrient schedule (here’s a PDF, here’s a JPG) from Fox Farms.

Say “No” to Miracle-Gro soil for growing cannabis!

First-time growers often start by growing cannabis in soil. If you’ve grown other plants in soil and/or have maintained a soil garden, this may be the best choice for you because you will already be familiar with a lot of what you need to understand to grow cannabis in soil.

No. Not really. Well kinda.

Start watering your plants and continue to add water until you see at least 20% extra runoff water drain out the bottom of your pot. Go back to step 1.

Option 1: Store-Bought Soil + Nutrients – Growers can buy soil online or at a store, and simply add nutrients throughout their grow while watering for thriving, happy cannabis plants.

Simple – hand-water your plants in containers.

The most common mistake made by beginners growing cannabis in soil is they water their plants too often . Overwatering is almost never a case of giving your plants too much water at once. Instead, overwatering cannabis in soil is almost always caused by giving the plant water too often.

Many growers feel that cannabis grown in organic super soil has the best smell/taste profile, though this is highly disputed among hydroponic growers 🙂

Outdoor Growing – most outdoor growers choose to grow with soil. In the wild, cannabis grows in soil, so growing outdoors in soil is most like a cannabis plant’s natural environment. Many people find that when growing cannabis outdoors, soil is the simplest and most intuitive way to grow. Growing with composted “super soil” gives the grower the ability to grow outside without needing to add synthetic bottled nutrients or manage the pH of the soil.

This plant was grown using the House & Garden Line-up listed above.

Soil Pros for Growing Cannabis.

Get Soil and a Container for Your Cannabis Plants.

Add nutrients to your water (if needed), then adjust the pH. The most common reason growers get nutrient deficiencies is because they don’t adjust the pH of their water. Most soil growers only add nutrients every other watering (or even less often), but even when giving just plain water you still need to adjust the pH of your water to prevent deficiencies.