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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
A weed plant will lose about 75% of its weight to moisture loss and trimming after being cut down. A considerable amount of moisture leaves the plant during the drying process, and trimming removes all the stems, branches, fan leaves, and trim from the plant.
Sudden extreme changes in temperature can affect a plant’s growth and yields, such as a sudden cold snap, which can slow a plant’s growth, or a heatwave, which can dry out a plant.
Certain weed strains grow big or tall or are high-yielders simply because of their genetics. Traditionally, indicas grow short and stout, and sativas grow tall and lanky. That’s not always true across the board, but it is a good rule of thumb.
Factors that determine a weed plant’s yield.
Some regions get rain early in the fall, so you’ll want to grow plants that are ready to harvest by the beginning of October. In tropical climates, you can practically grow weed outdoors all year round.
This will help give you a sense of how many plants you should grow. If you’re growing indoors, you can grow one plant at a time, harvest it, and start another, keeping a continuous cycle of growing.
If growing outdoors, you may only get one harvest a year. Remember, check out how many plants you can legally grow in your state here.
When growing indoors, you’re often limited by space—a plant can’t get as big in a grow tent as in a big, open basement. You’re also limited by how powerful your grow light is. For example, Leafly editor David Downs harvested 150g from one indoor plant with one 200W Black Dog LED light. The company said that light maxes out around a half-pound of buds, or 224g.
So if you weigh a freshly cut plant at three pounds, don’t get too excited—you’ll likely get ¾ lb. of finished buds (which is still a lot of weed).
We’ll go through those factors and talk a little bit about the harvest process to estimate how much weed you can get from one plant.
Many factors affect how big a plant gets, but generally speaking, if you are growing a healthy plant, you can expect these yields from one weed plant:
Some major factors that contribute to a weed plant’s yield include:
When growing outdoors, the local climate is the main determining factor of when you can put seeds in the ground. Some regions are too cold to put plants outside until May, but you can start growing plants indoors with the right setup.
When growing indoors, growth duration is determined by how much space you have to work with. If you have a spacious basement or shed, you can let plants grow for months and get as big as you want before forcing them to flower. If space is tight, like in a grow tent or other small areas, you may only be able to let your plants get a few feet tall.
For example, Lemon Skunk is famously a tall, lanky strain, so you’re likely to get high yields from it. Blue Dream and Chemdog are also known for their high yields.
Check out guidelines on how big of a container you need for different sized plants here.
Aside from its candy-like flavor, Runtz gets its name because its buds grow small, like the runt of the litter. It might be a low-yielder, but you’ll usually get high-quality buds.
Different soils have different nutrient levels and some nutrients can promote plant growth. You can also add nutrients to soil or water to help plants grow big and strong.
Be sure to prune your plants to remove dead leaves and buds, and branches that won’t turn into sizable buds. Clearing out plant matter will allow the quality buds to get more light.
Also, these estimates are for healthy plants. If a plant becomes nutrient-deficient, gets bugs or mold, or doesn’t receive enough light, expect a lot less.
(To see how many plants your state allows you to grow at home, check out this table ) .
Consider how much weed you smoke in a day, week, or month. For reference, a gram is about two medium joints or 3-4 bowls. Do you smoke a gram a day or a week? Two grams a day or a week?
These come in different shapes and sizes and are a great way to get rid of odor in an indoor weed grow. Also known as “carbon scrubbers” for their ability to get contaminants out of the air, these employ activated and highly ionized carbon to attract particulates responsible for carrying odor, such as dust, hair, mold spores, and volatile organic compounds, and traps them in a filter.
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.
Fans are a must in a grow space to move air around, so buy some of those before an AC unit. If you find that fans aren’t bringing down the temperature enough, then you may want to invest in an AC.
When growing weed indoors, you’ll likely have to add nutrients to your plants. You won’t need to add nutrients every time you water, but get on a schedule where you water every other time, or two on, one off.
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:
Odor absorbing gels may help.
You’ll need to ensure that temperatures remain within a comfortable range for your plants, between 70-85°F when lights are on and between 58-70°F when off. Some varieties of cannabis—generally indicas—prefer the colder side of the range, while others—typically sativas—are more tolerant of high temperatures.
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.
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.
As your plants get bigger and especially when they start flowering, they’ll start to smell more. Outfitting your grow with a dehuey or AC can help bring odor down.
You can connect a controller to fans, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, heaters, or air conditioners, and set thresholds whereby each device will power on and off based on your ideal environmental settings. Some units run autonomously, making changes based on set parameters, while others allow you to control each element via an app on a phone, tablet, or computer.
You’ll need a dedicated space for your marijuana plants—you won’t be able to move them around. Ideally, the space is next to a window so you can vent air from the grow space outside. Growing weed plants smell! Especially when flowering kicks in, you’ll want to redirect air so your house doesn’t reek of weed.
Check out our buying guide on indoor lights for more info.
The first step in odor control is making sure temperature and humidity are under control in your grow space—high temperature and humidity will perpetuate odors.
Carbon filters usually work best when positioned at the highest point in your grow space, where the most heat accumulates.
That’s a big variance, but it really depends on how big you want your plants and how often you want to harvest—you can have multiple harvests of smaller plants, or less harvests of bigger plants.
What to look for in a pot.
Plants in the vegetative stage maintain a low odor as they haven’t begun to produce terpenes, the plant’s aromatic compounds. As weed plants transition into the flowering phase, trichomes will start to develop and produce terpenes, causing them to smell more.
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.
Here are some ways to mitigate odor when growing weed indoors.
Controlling temperature in your indoor grow room or cannabis garden can be achieved by manipulating these factors:
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.
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Here are some ways to control it in your marijuana grow room:
The two factors you need to control to dial in the environment are temperature and humidity.
Dehumidifiers and ACs.
Equip yourself with these cheap and easy-to-use tools to take measurements in your indoor cannabis setup:
Standard plastic containers are a popular option for growers operating on a budget. These pots are inexpensive and provide the essentials for your plants.
Although you’ll be controlling the climate inside the grow space, climate outside the grow space will affect your plants. If the environment outside your grow space is very warm or humid, you’ll have issues controlling your grow space. Choose a cool, dry area with ready access to fresh air from outside.
There are many different media to choose from, including good ol’ fashioned pots full of soil, rockwool cubes, a hydroponic tray, and more.
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.
Most dehumidifiers and ACs have built-in thermostats, but if they don’t, you’ll want to buy an external one.
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.
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.