The size of your plants is going to make a difference in when you decide to start. This has to do not only with the strain you choose (and therefore the time it takes for that particular strain to go from seedling to flowering ) but also how large you want your plants to be.
You can also check if your plants need more water by weighing the pot since the water in the soil is not always noticeable from the top. Have a pot filled with dry soil (and no plant) next to your plant, and compare their weights. If they are similar, it’s time to water. If not, don’t water yet.
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Companion plants can also be planted to help keep the soil free of pests of all kinds. Planting basil nearby, for example, will keep away whiteflies, mosquitoes, asparagus beetles, and aphids. Parsley, on the other hand, attracts beneficial insects and birds that pollinate plants (which will at least help the plants around your weed to thrive, which in turn boosts your weed’s ability to thrive).
Avoid Common Mistakes.
Since you’re growing outdoors, you’re going to want to think about the sunlight. If you’re growing in Southern California, your plants will likely have no shortage of access to direct sunlight. That simply means that they can get a combination of direct sunlight and indirect sunlight (shade) without having any negative effects. In fact, it could even be better, so they don’t get overheated and lose too much water.
In general, you’re probably going to want to plant your pot at the beginning of May if you are growing a really big plant. The latest you should plant your pot is late August.
Test whether you should water your plants again with the finger test. Simply stick your finger into the soil – down to the first knuckle – and pull it right back out again. If the soil is sticking to your finger (and is wet), you don’t need to water yet. If it comes out soil-free and dry, you should water now.
If you are growing in California, you may be wondering when the perfect time to plant your marijuana outside is. Of course, the answer is never exactly simple – there are a variety of different factors that you should consider before deciding. Or you could always do a trial and error method… But we’ll leave that up to you to decide.
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Growing marijuana outside means you’ll need to think about some things ahead of time, even if you are simplifying the process with a Pot for Pot’s growing kits . One of the main questions people have is timing, especially if you live somewhere that doesn’t have four seasons that are quite as distinct as other places. California is one of these places .
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While California isn’t known for its torrential rainstorms, on the occasion that it does rain, it’s a good idea to bring in your plants if possible (such as if they are planted in a pot). If they are planted in the ground, you can use a plant umbrella or else a black trash bag to protect them. While it might seem like rain would be a good thing for plants, in fact, it can make your plants get far too damp, and take a long time to dry. That would then encourage mildew or mold to develop. Check out our kits if you’re ready to get started.
At this stage, the plant is vulnerable to disease and mold. Keep its environment clean and monitor excess moisture. Be sure to give it plenty of light.
The growth stages of marijuana can be broken down into four primary stages from seed to harvest:
Be very careful to not overwater the plant in its seedling stage—its roots are so small, it doesn’t need much water to thrive.
If you’re growing outdoors in the Northern Hemisphere, growers usually get their seeds between February and April, and you should start your seeds by the end of April. Some growers will start their seedlings inside in a more controlled environment because seedlings are more delicate, and then put their seeds in the ground outside once they’re a little bigger. If you’re growing clones or autoflowers, you have a grace period of another month or so. Plants usually need to be outside, in the ground, by the end of June.
Marijuana light cycle: indoor—16 hours a day; outdoor—at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (“full sun”), plus several hours indirect sunlight.
Marijuana light cycle: 16 hours a day.
Seedling stage length: 2-3 weeks.
Vegetative stage length: 3-16 weeks.
It’s important to know these stages and how long each lasts to know what the plant needs and when. Knowing where your cannabis plants are in their life cycle will dictate when to prune, train, and trellis your plants, and when to harvest.
If you’re growing indoors, you can force a weed plant to flower after only a few weeks when it’s small, or after several weeks when it’s big. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until the sun starts to go down in fall for it to flower and then to harvest.
As the sun reaches up high in the sky, your cannabis will want to as well. Make sure all of your plants are outside by the Summer Solstice.
Flowering stage length: 8-11 weeks.
If you’re growing weed indoors, you can grow whenever you like. Keep in mind that the outside environment will affect your grow space—you may need to add heaters in the winter or fans and ACs in the summer. Other than that, you can start seeds whenever you like and flip them into flower whenever you like, depending on how big you want the plants.
Once your seed has germinated , or sprouted, it’s ready to be placed in a growing medium, like soil. The tap root will drive down while the stem of the seedling will grow upward.
Notes on marijuana growth phases.
Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from 10-32 weeks, or about 3-8 months, to grow a weed plant from seed. It’ll be quicker if you start with a clone or an autoflower seed.
Cannabis plants go through a series of stages as they grow and mature, and those different growth stages call for different amounts of light, nutrients, and water.
As roots develop, the stalk will rise and you’ll begin to see the first iconic fan leaves grow, at which point your cannabis plant can be considered a seedling.
If you buy a clone from a grower or breeder it will be a seedling, so you can skip the seed germination phase.
Vegetative plants appreciate healthy soil with nutrients. Feed them with a higher level of nitrogen at this stage.
Marijuana light cycle: 12 hours a day.
There are a number of changes to consider once plants go from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage:
Seed germination length: 3-10 days.
The weather will start to turn and the sun will begin descending in the sky as your plants fatten up with sweet, sticky buds. It might be tempting, but wait until around the Fall Equinox to start harvesting.
If you need to determine the sex of your plants (to discard the males), they will start showing sex organs a few weeks into the veg stage. It’s imperative to separate males so they don’t pollinate the females.
Everything should be cleaned up, dried, and curing well before the Winter Solstice. Now’s a good time to make your own cannabutter, topicals, or tinctures with all that trim from the harvest. Kick your feet up, relax, and hunker down for the cold, it’s been a long growing season!
Within the flowering stage, there are three subphases:
When your marijuana plant becomes a seedling, you’ll notice it developing more of the traditional cannabis fan leaves. As a sprout, the seed will initially produce leaves with only one ridged blade. Once new growth develops, the leaves will develop more blades (3, 5, 7, etc.). A mature cannabis plant will have between 5 or 7 blades per leaf, but some plants may have more.
Detailed pest control is beyond the scope of this page, but you’ll need a small hand-pump sprayer and some organic pesticide. Any good grow shop can advise you. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to do basic preventative control. At the nursery, we use various organic pest control sprays preventatively about twice/week, but most home growers won’t need near that often of a spray schedule. If you are diligent with your microscope inspections, you may not need to do much at all if you don’t see any mites.
Night and Day Cannabis is an annual plant and has two seasonal growth phases: vegetative and flowering. During spring and summer (“veg” phase), the plant puts on extensive leaf and stem growth, often in massive amounts.
The process of identifying which plants are male and which are female is known as “sexing”. It is an important part of cannabis cultivation that takes an experienced eye. At the nursery, we take the guesswork out of it and guarantee that our plants are all female.
Pest Control Cannabis is relatively pest-free, but there are a few that can ruin your entire crop, particularly mites and molds. Detailed pest control descriptions are available online, in books and through cannabis-centered grow shops. Below is a quick overview of what to look for. We recommend getting a 100x pocket microscope and checking your plants regularly, especially the undersides of the leaves where mites live. These are available at most grow shops for about $20.
Fertilizer You can spend $100 on a bottle of plant fertilizer with a fancy label, but there’s no need to. Any organic fertilizer will do. Some commercial potting mixes, especially those formulated for cannabis, have significant amounts of plant nutrients included. In vegetative phase, cannabis likes more nitrogen (marketed as “grow” formula fertilizers). Once your plants switch to flowering phase they need lower nitrogen but more phosphorus and potassium (“bloom” formula).
Soil We recommend all first time growers use commercial potting soil, not native garden soil. Master gardeners can grow cannabis successfully in natural dirt, but beginners will have much better results with bagged soil.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both seed-grown and clone-grown starts. Seed-grown plants tend to be more vigorous, but can sometimes show variation in their production, and they need to be sexed properly to exclude males (something we take care of at the nursery). Clones, being genetically identical to the mother plant, will produce bud with consistent look, smell and potency, but are often less vigorous plants and have specific light requirements that can be tricky for beginning growers (see below). Clones are only cut from known female plants, so all clones are female from the start.
First, some basics about cannabis plants. Cannabis is a “genus”, a taxonomic unit used by biologists to classify living organisms, that contains several species: Cannabis indica , Cannabis sativa and Cannabis ruderalis . These interbreed freely, resulting in “hybrid” species that contain features of both parent species. (Note that Cannabis nomenclature is changing. Stay tuned.)
Brown/gray mold, also called “bud mold” or “stem mold” is a systemic fungus that rots buds from the inside out. The best way to prevent it is to keep the plants from getting rained on during flowering phase and to provide extensive dry airflow. Once mold is identified in a bud, remove and discard the infested part and harvest the adjacent bud to limit the spread.
But, with clones there’s a catch. Clones are cut off of a mother plant that is kept indoors under artificial light for 18 hours or more per day, so the mother plant and the little cutting “think” they’re living in an endless summer of long days and therefore remain in vegetative phase. If you put that rooted cutting outside in the spring under natural daylight, when the days are short, it thinks it’s fall and time to flower. A seedling, on the other hand, will wait till the light naturally fades again in the fall to go into flower.
Who can grow their own? With passage of Proposition 64, anyone in California over 21 years old can have up to six plants. If you’re a medical marijuana patient with a doctor’s recommendation, you can have as many as you and your doctor decide you need.
The proper dryness is when the buds are dry, but not crispy to the touch. A good rule of thumb is to bend the stems below the flowers. If the stems snap but don’t break clean through, the flowers are probably about the right dryness. If the stems merely bend, let the cannabis dry some more. If the stems snap clean through into separate pieces, the flowers are probably too dry. If needed, they can be placed in a slightly more humid environment briefly to rehydrate so they don’t crumble when handled.
Others prefer starting from rooted cuttings, known in the industry as “clones”. Clone plants start as small branches cut from a “mother plant” and rooted in trays indoors in a controlled climate under artificial lights.
Cultivation Basics Cannabis is as easy to grow in your garden as a tomato plant, but there are some rules of thumb that will dramatically improve your yield and quality.
Mites Spider mites and russet mites can destroy your plants and buds. Spider mites leave white “stippling” spots where they suck the juice from the leaves. Large infestations will build up webs on the plants. (Learn to distinguish from the webs of actual spiders, which are beneficial!) Spider mites are barely visible to the naked eye, but easy to identify with a pocket microscope. There are many available organic treatments.
While you can grow both male and female plants together, you will end up with low-quality “bud” that is packed full of seeds. By excluding the males, the female flowers will never be pollinated, allowing the clusters to grow bigger and more potent. Male plants, once identified at the nursery, are composted.
Along with seed-grown plants, we sell clones in 4” pots that are well-rooted and acclimated to natural light and air, so they are ready to plant in your garden straight from the nursery.
Russet mites are microscopic, but visible with a 100x pocket microscope. The reason they are so feared among growers is that by the time damage becomes visible, the crop is often irrecoverable. That is why it’s important to do preventative pest control and maintain constant vigilance. Don’t wait till your plants look sick! Russet mites look like tiny milky colored maggots with four legs in front. They are much harder to spot at first and, unlike spider mites, are literally microscopic and can only be seen with a 100x pocket microscope. Growers are still struggling with organic control methods. Natural insecticides based on essential oils, neem and yeast enzymes all seem to work to varying degrees. Check with your local grow shop. We recommend doing routine preventative control even if you don’t see russet mites with your microscope. The good news is that anything you do to control russets will also control spider mites, thrips, fungus gnats and most other cannabis pests.
As the days get shorter and nights get longer in late summer (August in the Northern Hemisphere), the plants are triggered into flowering phase (“budding”). If you’re an outdoor grower, you will typically plant in the spring and harvest in the fall, whether you’re starting your plants from seed or clone.
Trellising/staking Modern cannabis strains have been bred for heavy flower (“bud”) production, often to the point where the branches will break under the weight if not supported. As the branches grow out, gently tying them to thin bamboo stakes with plant tie wire (available at garden stores) will keep them from breaking off later during flowering phase.
That said, all non-commercial cultivation for recreational use (called “adult use” in California) and medical use is subject to local regulations. Many cities and counties require permits even for personal use and many ban outdoor growing entirely, requiring you to grow indoors under lights. Check your locality’s rules.
To harvest, cut the branches, remove all the large leaves by hand or with a scissors and hang the branches in a cool, dry place with plenty of airflow but minimal heat. There is an art to proper curing and it takes some experience to get it right. The main mistakes are drying too fast with too much heat, which causes the buds to crumble, and drying too slowly, which can cause mold. A cool, dry (not damp and moldy!) basement with a small fan blowing on a string full of branches is ideal unless you want to invest in specialized climate control equipment like commercial growers do.
Cannabis has been the subject of such intensive breeding that there are virtually no “pure” sativa or indica strains. Virtually all are hybridized.
At the nursery, we add a few hours of supplemental light with low-wattage LEDs in order to trick the clones into thinking it’s endless summer and therefore keep them in vegetative phase. After about June 1st, you can plant a clone in your garden and it will grow normally, with no extra light needed. Before June 1st, you will need to add supplemental lighting for a few hours each evening (or early morning) or the plant will go immediately into flower and you’ll end up with a tiny plant with one little bud on it. Supplemental lighting can be as little as a single low-wattage bulb on a timer next to the plant. You don’t need expensive horticultural grow lights because all you’re doing is tricking the plant a little.
Growing any plants indoors under artificial lighting, but especially cannabis, requires some research, skill and practice. There are many books and websites dedicated to it.
Fungi Powdery mildew, also known as “powder mold” or “PM”, is a fungus that grows as a white powdery coating on the leaves and buds. In small amounts it will not hurt the plant, but you don’t want to be smoking it if it gets on the flowers near harvest. It is easy to control with dilute hydrogen peroxide, potassium bicarbonate, bacterial anti-fungal solutions (e.g. Actinovate, Serenade) and many other off-the-shelf and DIY concoctions. Look online, in books or ask at a grow shop for detailed information.
Where can I grow my plants? The best place is outdoors in sunshine and fresh air, where plants are happiest. Plant them in the spring or summer and harvest in the fall. However, if you don’t have access to garden space or your local jurisdiction doesn’t allow outdoor cannabis growing, you can grow them indoors under high-powered “grow” lights. Check with your local city or county officials to see if there are specific limits on where you can grow.
Seed-grown or clone? Plant Humboldt is one of the very few cannabis nurseries to offer female plants grown from seed. This is the original Humboldt grow-your-own tradition. Many cannabis farmers—old-timers and first-timers, medical users and commercial growers—still prefer seed-grown starts.
Boys and girls Cannabis is also “dioecious”, which means male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. This may seem weird, but it is quite common in the plant world. Pistachios, date palms, stinging nettles and Gingko trees all have male and female flowers on separate plants. Just as only female pistachio trees produce nuts, only female cannabis plants produce the useful flower clusters commonly called “buds”. Male flowers are tiny and fall off once they’ve bloomed and shed their pollen.
While we can sell plants to you and you can legally drive them home, you may be subject to restrictions on how and where you grow them.