how to grow weed in a container

Plants grown from seeds are typically heartier and more vigorous than clones, as they produce a sturdier taproot that clones are not able to replicate. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.

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.

During the vegetative stage, water your plants thoroughly, then not again until the top 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) of soil has dried out. This can be every day or every four days, depending on conditions, but the time between watering will become shorter as the plant grows its roots. Container gardens tend to dry out faster than soil beds, so they’ll need to be watered more frequently.

Planning your garden.

During the vegetative phase, plants need more nitrogen in order to create the roots and leaves that serve as the base for flowering. During the start of the flowering cycle, the plants will require more phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen. Towards the end of the flowering cycle, once the majority of the nitrogen has been depleted, the plants will focus their attention on using the remaining nutrients. The lack of nitrogen is largely responsible for the vibrant purple and orange hues that can be seen on large fan leaves and throughout the plants’ colas.

Pests and wild plants are an inevitable occurrence when cultivating cannabis outdoors. Most issues can be avoided with proper planning. Clearing a buffer area around your plants can go a long way, but your first line of defense is a healthy plant that can defend itself naturally.

Becoming intimately familiar with your local climate and seasons is one of the most important steps in producing high-quality outdoor marijuana. Before you grow, you’ll need to know the ideal temperature your plants require in order to thrive, the best site, optimal timing of planting and harvesting, and the season’s photoperiod — the amount and intensity of light available through the duration of the growing season.

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.

When possible, use natural structures and formations in your garden as windbreaks to prevent excessive stress on your plants that could lead to branches breaking.

Planting directly into the ground or a raised bed requires a bit more preparation but has its benefits as well. Without a container to restrict growth, roots can grow deep and thick to support a strong plant. The added surface area also allows the plant to access a greater quantity of nutrients and water in the soil, compared with a container garden. The major downside is that the plants cannot be moved and could require additional structures to protect them in the case of extreme weather.

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.

Nutrients.

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

Container gardens can be convenient as plants can be moved around the garden to maximize sunlight or protect them from harsh conditions such as rain, heavy winds, or extreme temperatures.

Daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 to 25.4 degrees Celsius) are ideal for cannabis, while temperatures above 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31.1 degrees Celsius) or below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) can delay growth. Cannabis is considered heat-tolerant, but sustained highs and extreme lows will usually lead to complications that could eventually kill your plants.

Depending on your location, you may need to plan for rain. In most regions, the rainy season is typically aligned with the end of the flowering stage and the start of the harvesting period, but this may not always be the case. Rain can be detrimental to an outdoor flowering crop so being prepared to cover or move plants can help ensure a successful harvest. If it does rain on your plants, make sure to immediately shake off any excess water, as lingering moisture can lead to the formation of mold and nobody likes moldy weed.

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.

Containers vs. in-ground.

Pests come in many forms, from large deer and gophers to small slugs and spider mites. Larger animals and pets can be kept out of the garden with fencing, while gopher wire beneath your soil beds can keep rats and gophers from eating the plants’ roots. Weeds will not damage cannabis, but they will compete for the nutrients in the soil and reduce the quality and yield of your crops. A light layer of mulch on top of your soil can prevent weeds from sprouting in the middle of your plants’ cycle.

There are also many advantages and disadvantages of using clones. They can often be found at your local dispensary, are from a proven genetic lineage, and typically do well outdoors, making them the perfect choice for inexperienced growers. On the other hand, clones develop a fibrous root system, as opposed to the deep taproots that seeds develop. Fibrous root systems can reduce the plant’s ability to deal with environmental stress and predatory insects.

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.

After the solstice, the available daylight hours decrease, allowing the plant to naturally transition into the flowering period. Cannabis is a short-day plant, meaning it will begin to flower as the nights get longer and the hours of sunlight decrease.

Organic sources of nutrients include alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, bat guano, fish emulsion, dolomite, and earthworm castings. Each contains different ratios of nutrients that can be used for different phases of the plants’ growth cycle.

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.

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.

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.

Below is a list of things to consider and equipment you will need to purchase to get started growing marijuana indoors.

The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative stage—after the seedling phase and before flower.

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

Check for pests, mold, or nutrient deficiencies.

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.

A lot of people these days buy grow tents for their weed, but they aren’t necessary. You can grow in a closet, tent, cabinet, spare room, or a corner in an unfinished basement. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to tailor your equipment (and plants) to fit the space.

You will definitely want to invest in a timer for your lights. Because the amount of light a plant receives dictates its vegetative or flowering stage, it’s important to give it a consistent amount of light every day, and that’s done with a timer. It’s a good idea to check your timer at least once a week to make sure it’s working properly.

Unless you’re growing in a large, open space with a lot of ventilation, you’ll need air-cooled reflector hoods to mount your lamps in, as HID bulbs produce a lot of heat. This requires ducting and exhaust fans, which will increase your initial cost but make controlling temperature in your grow room much easier.

Proper air circulation will help maintain temperature and humidity, and also bring down odor. Ideally, air needs to move through a garden every few minutes, and you should create a vent to the outside. Oscillating fans, and intake and exhaust fans can move air through your garden quickly, taking odors out with them.

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.

As much fun as growing marijuana indoors is, having a home that perpetually smells like fresh weed can be a serious inconvenience, if not to you than possibly your neighbors. Although weed odor from a small indoor grow in a closet is much easier to manage than a large grow with several flowering plants, both can produce pesky odors that will permeate an entire home if left unattended.

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.

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Here are some ways to control it in your marijuana grow room:

Fans should be positioned to provide direct, even airflow throughout the garden. This typically involves using multiple fans that work together or fans that have oscillation capabilities.

Check temperature and humidity levels.

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.

For the most part, weed prefers these temps at each growth stage for optimal health:

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.

For example, it takes less time to grow 3′ weed plants than 5′ plants; in the span of a year, you can maybe grow four harvests of 3′ plants, or two harvests of 5′ plants.

Inexpensive options include standard plastic pots or cloth bags, while some growers choose to spend more on “smart pots” or “air pots”—containers designed to enhance airflow to the plant’s root zone.

Most dehumidifiers and ACs have built-in thermostats, but if they don’t, you’ll want to buy an external one.

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.

Adaptability.

If your space is too humid, you may need to invest in a dehumidifier—also known as “dehueys.” However, keep in mind that while dehueys will reduce humidity, they typically increase temperature—you may need more fans or an AC when adding a dehumidifier.

Controlling temperature in your indoor grow room or cannabis garden can be achieved by manipulating these factors:

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.)

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.

You’ll likely yield about the same amount of weed in both cases, but more harvests mean you’ll have fresh weed to smoke more often and have more opportunities to grow different strains. But more harvests also means more work in cleaning up the space between harvests, trimming, etc.

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.

Here are some ways to mitigate odor when growing weed indoors.

The two main types of HID lamp used for growing are:

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.

Here are some of the most common types of container:

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 isn’t rocket science, so even novice growers can get started with this technique. As long as you have the right equipment, you can nurture a cannabis plant using indoor growing methods.

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.

What About the Growing Medium?

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 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.

Every beginner grower needs to…

You can quite easily run a small growing operation using container gardening.

Sterilize Your Pots Before Reuse: Before you start over again with a new crop, always clean your containers by rinsing and draining them. A bleach solution with a 1:9 ratio of bleach to water can get the job done.

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.

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!

Here are some pro tips we have acquired from expert growers:

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.

How to Container Garden Cannabis Successfully.

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.

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.

It might take some trial and error, but a few minor mistakes will eventually lead you to a great harvest.

Fabric Containers: A big fabric sack or bag works well as a container. These are huge containers that can contain multiple plants, and they provide excellent airflow and drainage. However, you need to monitor the plants carefully to ensure they don’t dry out. Plus, the flimsy structure is a cause for concern.

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.

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.

Learn How to Pot and Transplant Correctly.

Now that you have everything to hand, it is time to start the marijuana container gardening process.

Proper transplantation is vital to your plant’s health. When using container gardening, you will need to transplant your plant more than once.

Don’t Re-Use Potting Soil: Although you might think you’re recycling by using your potting mix again, it’s not a good idea. First of all, all the soil nutrients are gone because the previous crop has used them. Secondly, plant pathogens can lurk in the soil, damaging your new crop.

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.

The more experience you have, the more successful your garden will be. It might take some trial and error, but a few minor mistakes will eventually lead you to a great harvest.

Container gardening is a viable option for cultivators with limited space. In this guide, we look at how it works for cannabis 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.