Ten Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Cannabis Cannabis sativa is the scientific name of the plant that includes both hemp and marijuana. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in Want to control budget or have trouble finding clones? Learn how to grow cannabis from seed with this 10-step guide. Knowing how to grow high-quality cannabis is a treasured skill. Our growing marijuana 101 guide can help you. Learn how to grow a marijuana with us.
Ten Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Cannabis
Cannabis sativa is the scientific name of the plant that includes both hemp and marijuana. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in human history and has been grown for seed, fiber, oil, and medicine. There are generally three recognized subspecies (C. sativa subsp. sativa, C. sativa subsp. indica, and C. sativa subsp. ruderalis) and hundreds of varieties within Cannabis, each with unique characteristics.
1. What is the difference between cannabis, hemp, and marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana are closely related types of Cannabis that are often referred to as high and low THC cannabis. The difference between them is similar to the difference between sweet corn and field corn. Both are Zea mays, but sweet corn makes high-sugar kernels, and field corn makes starch-filled kernels. Sweet corn and field corn differ by only a few genes. Similarly, hemp and marijuana differ by only a few genes.
Cannabis varieties of both hemp and marijuana differ in outward appearance and in the production of over a hundred compounds in the class called cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” often associated with Cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive sibling of THC with a unique set of characteristics and reported medical benefits (Nahler, 2019). These cannabinoids are the major difference between marijuana and hemp.
High THC Cannabis: Marijuana
Marijuana is the common name for Cannabis varieties that have been bred to have high THC levels, often containing 15–30% THC by weight. Marijuana is grown exclusively for the unpollinated female flower, where THC concentration is highest. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government, but some states have legalized it for medical and recreational use. Where marijuana is legal, growers benefit from a remarkably high value for their crop. Recent marijuana prices range from about $750 to $1,750 per pound, depending on the quality and method of production (U.S. Cannabis Spot Index, 2018).
Figure 1. The anatomy of Cannabis sativa,
including both male and female reproductive
structures. Typically, these structures occur
on separate plants, but they can occasionally
occur on the same plant (hermaphroditic).
CBD is produced in trichomes, tiny
structures that occur in the highest density
on unpollinated female flowers. Image
used with permission from Leafly.
Low THC Cannabis: Hemp
Hemp is the common name for Cannabis varieties that have been genetically selected to have a THC content less than 0.3%. Since this THC level is low, hemp does not provide the psychoactive effect that marijuana does. Instead, hemp is grown primarily for CBD and other cannabinoids, and to a lesser extent, for its durable fiber and nutritious seed. The value of the crop varies depending on the intended use and the supply. Prior to the 2018 hemp market boom, gross returns were about $12,500, $1,300, and $750 per acre for CBD, fiber, and seed, respectively (Schluttenhofer & Yuan, 2017). Prices for CBD increased in 2018 to about $4.00 per percentage CBD per pound but then crashed to about $0.75 in 2019 to the present (personal communication with Utah hemp processors). Still, many in the industry predict that prices will stabilize in 2021. Due to this volatility, it is difficult to report current average prices. Prices vary greatly according to the intended end use, region, and specific contracts with buyers. Furthermore, state and national hemp prices are not tracked like other commodities, so it is difficult to find published reports of prices over time.
2. Why does plant gender matter?
Hemp differs from many other crops because it is primarily dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female plants. In addition, hermaphroditic plants with both male and female reproductive structures do occur. This creates unique issues for growers hoping to produce a high CBD crop because CBD is most concentrated on unpollinated female flowers (Figure 1). Pollination significantly reduces crop value, so an all-female field is important when hemp is grown for CBD. The pollination of hemp plants can reduce the essential oil yield from 2 to 0.9 gallons/acre, a 56% decrease (Meiner & Mediavilla, 1998). Male plants produce pollen that fertilize female plants, which causes seed production, lower flower counts, and decimates CBD levels (DeDecker, 2019). The distance that hemp pollen can travel is unknown, but due to cross-pollination risks, fields should be at least 3 miles apart (Small & Antle, 2003). However, some recommendations suggest up to a 15-mile isolation distance to be safe (DeDecker, 2019).
3. How and when can I detect plant gender?
Both male and female plants can be identified at the pre-flowering stage. Female flowers have two white fuzzy hair-like structures protruding from them, differentiating them from males early on. Male flowers are round, lack the white hairs, and generally occur in dense clusters (Figure 2). Cannabis is a short-day plant (requires longer periods of darkness than daylight to flower), so they will start to flower when day and night lengths are approximately equal. Male plants will produce pollen for a span of two to four weeks (DeDecker, 2019). If a male is identified in a hemp field grown for CBD, it should be removed and buried, burned, or carefully stored to prevent pollination of the females.
Figure 2. Sexually mature female plants produce “pre-flowers” (left). The white hair-like structures can distinguish females from males, which produce dense oval-shaped clusters (right). Photos by Mitchell Westmoreland.
4. Should I purchase seed or clones?
There are two ways to produce a cohort of all females in hemp: clonal propagation and feminized seed. Clonal propagation involves taking a cutting from a mother plant and allowing it to establish roots. This method results in genetically identical, all-female plants with excellent vigor and predictable traits.
Feminized seeds are produced by treating female plants with chemicals such as silver thiosulfate, which can cause a female plant to develop male flowers that produce genetically female pollen (Lubell & Brand, 2018). The female pollen is used to pollinate a female flower, resulting in seeds that can be over 99% female. Feminized seeds are less expensive than clones but result in genetically different plants. They have a greater chance of producing male and hermaphroditic plants. Hemp grown from feminized seed requires careful and repeated scouting to remove male plants, increasing the total cost of production. This scouting should begin at the pre-flower stage when males can be distinguished (Figure 2) and continue throughout the entire flowering period. Plants grown from seed have the added benefit of potentially producing a stronger taproot if sown directly into the field, while plants grown from clones develop a more fibrous root system (Horner et al., 2019). This is generally true for many types of seed vs. clones and is not specific to feminized seed. However, germination rates in the field can be poor, and often seeds are germinated in trays and transplanted into the field. When this happens, the taproot may not get a chance to penetrate deep into the soil early on and negate the potential agronomic benefits of using seed.
In summary, both feminized seed and female clones have advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before growing hemp. It is critical that growers use extreme caution when purchasing feminized seed because there is currently no certification program for feminized seed in the United States.
5. Which varieties for cannabinoid production do best in Utah?
Figure 3. Frequency of help cultivars produced in 2019
in Utah. Data provided by the Utah Department of
Agriculture and Food Industrial Hemp Program.
When selecting varieties to plant, consider the number of frost-free days, labeled cannabinoid production, and other factors of interest such as plant size, vigor, and growth habits. Several varieties grow well in Utah, but CBD and THC levels are highly variable among them (Figure 3). There is little testing of varieties, so evaluate information about a preferred option before selection, and consider planting several varieties. In general, focus on varieties that have a high CBD concentration and a low THC concentration. Avoid varieties that are prone to “going hot,” or exceeding the 0.3% THC limit. The field containing plants that are tested above this level by the state’s agriculture department must be destroyed.
In 2019, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) tracked all varieties that were registered by licensed growers that year (Figure 3). ‘Cherry Wine’ and ‘Cherry Blossom’ were the most planted, and ‘Sour Space Candy’ and ‘Tokyo’ were among the least. Of the samples collected and tested, 10% exceeded the legal THC level of 0.3% and had to be destroyed. The varieties that most frequently went hot were ‘Abacus,’ ‘Lifter,’ and ‘Wife.’
6. What yield and CBD/THC ratio might I expect?
According to UDAF records, there were over 3 million industrial hemp plants grown in Utah in 2019 when hemp was first legalized. Growers harvested an estimated 800,000 pounds of biomass that year. The dry flower yield of the plants typically ranged from 0.75 to 1.5 pounds per plant. State tests determined an average CBD content of 5.3% and average THC content of 0.28%. This means the average CBD/THC ratio was about 20 to 1. Most varieties that have been studied in controlled environments have a similar ratio.
7. How much fertilizer and other inputs should I apply to my hemp?
Hemp can be grown in a wide range of environments and soils. In general, growers have found success growing hemp under field conditions favored by grain crops such as wheat and corn (Kaiser et al., 2015). Like many crops, hemp does best in soils with a pH ranging from about 6.0–7.0 (Harper et al., 2018). Most Utah soils have pH levels above this ideal range, but hemp produced in 2019 and 2020 tolerated higher pH levels. Well-drained soils are preferred, and due to its high sensitivity to compaction, avoid growing hemp in soils with high clay contents (Baxter & Scheifele, 2009).
The suggested fertilizer recommendations vary depending on region and initial soil fertility. Perform a soil test in the prior fall or early spring before planting to determine fertilizer needs. Fertilizer recommendations for corn or winter wheat (Cardon et al., 2008) provide a good baseline for fertilizer amounts that will help maximize hemp yield.
For pest management, there are currently few pesticides labeled for industrial hemp, so control weeds, insects, and diseases through careful planning and preventive practices. When hemp is grown in the same field year after year, pest pressure can increase, so crop rotation is the centerpiece of any pest management strategy. Only grow hemp in fields where weeds have been actively and successfully managed in previous years so the amount of weed seed in the soil seedbank is minimal. A stale seedbed technique for weed management is common, where the soil is prepared for planting and pre-irrigated, allowing weeds to germinate and be removed before planting hemp. After hemp plants are established and actively growing, limited pesticide options may necessitate hand-weeding or between-row cultivation. The hemp canopy closes quickly, helping reduce weed growth, but is dependent on row spacing and planting method.
8. How does frost affect CBD and THC levels?
Once mature, hemp is a relatively hardy plant and can withstand frost well. A study at the University of Vermont in 2018 tracked the difference in temperatures and resulting CBD levels of hemp plants between those with fabric row covers and those left uncovered. They found that though the uncovered hemp plants experienced below freezing temperatures several times throughout the study, the overall CBD concentration was unaffected. They also found that frost and cold weather can cause the plants to change color, but this has little to no impact on CBD or THC levels (Darby, 2019). Some have found that frost’s ability to change the color of hemp plants also varies depending on the cultivar or variety of the plant (Bolt, 2020). Like almost every other annual crop, hard frosts will stop plant growth and cause hemp plants to begin senescence.
9. How do I harvest hemp?
The harvesting methods for industrial hemp vary greatly depending on the intended uses for the plants. The major uses include oil, seed, and fiber.
Because no equipment exists on the market specifically to harvest CBD hemp, most of the harvesting process must be done by hand or by retrofitting existing equipment. The hemp is ready for harvest when the trichomes on the hemp buds shift from white to milky white. It is important to routinely monitor and test the plants to avoid exceeding the 0.3% THC limit while still maximizing the CBD content.
When harvesting hemp for oil, plants are commonly cut down at the base using a machete or blade of some kind (Figure 4).
After they are cut, hang the plants upside down to air or heat dry (Figure 5). Breaking the plants down and separating them into individual branches will allow for better airflow and quicker drying. Ideal drying temperatures reported by some growers are between 60–70°F with humidity levels around 45–55%. Higher temperatures, as well as light and oxygen, can degrade cannabinoids and reduce flower quality. Therefore, maintain a cool and dark storage environment.
After the plants dry, growers strip the buds and leaves from the stems, either by hand or custom-built equipment (Figure 6). Bag the dried flowers and leaves and send them to a processor to have the oil extracted and dispose of the remaining plant.
When growing hemp for the fiber, harvest plants between early bloom and seed-set or when about 20% of the male plants are flowering (William & Mundell, n.d.). Large parts of this process can occur using traditional hay-harvesting equipment, making it much simpler than other hemp harvesting methods.
The hemp is windrowed with a swather when mature, leaving about 4–6 inches of stubble in the field, where the hemp will then need to go through the retting process. Retting consists of leaving the cut hemp out in the field to dry for anywhere from two to five weeks. Retting helps break the bonds between the two types of hemp plant fibers: the bast (long outer fibers) and the hurds (short inner fibers). Rake the hemp two to three times throughout retting to keep the plants from rotting and remove leaves, making it easier to transport.
When the plants reach a moisture content of 15%, bale them using traditional baling equipment. The bales should have a moisture content of about 10%. Bale the hemp into either round or square bales, but round bales are less compact and therefore less susceptible to rotting.
Hemp Seed or Grain
Conventional grain harvesting equipment also accommodates harvesting hemp grain or seed. Use a combine to cut and chop the hemp plants. The hemp plants must be at 70–80% grain maturity at harvest to avoid seed shattering. The combine settings will be similar to those for grain sorghum, with the cutter bar raised about 40 inches off the ground. This decreases the amount of plant material going through the combine, thus reducing the risk for plants getting wrapped up in the machinery.
When harvest-ready, the hemp plants’ moisture will most likely be in the 15–30% range, making the seed or grain very susceptible to spoilage soon after harvest. It is best to clean the seed and dry it down to 7–10% shortly after harvest.
10. Who can process my hemp and where can I sell it?
This is a difficult question to answer as it varies greatly from place to place. Many growers have recently reported difficulty in finding places to sell and market hemp grown for oil. Hemp prices plummeted in 2020, and many frustrated growers could not process or sell their product. Some growers turned to specialty or direct marketing for income. Many lost large investments. Like any other specialty crop, it is wise to consult with an attorney to develop legal and binding contracts with hemp processors and buyers prior to investing in and growing hemp to guarantee that markets exist for harvested hemp. We recommended starting small to ensure that you do not lose more investment than you or your farm can afford. Unfortunately, we have received reports of farm failures due to large investments in unprofitable hemp acres. Thus, we suggest that growers use extreme caution when investing in production of hemp for CBD oil.
- Baxter, W. J., & Scheifele, G. (2009). Growing industrial hemp in Ontario. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-067.htm
- Bolt, M. (2020). Frost and hemp, should growers worry? [Fact sheet]. Purdue University Extension. https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/newsletters/pestandcrop/article/frost-and-hemp-should-growers-worry/
- Cardon, G. E., Kotuby-Amacher, J., Hole, P., & Koenig, R. (2008). Understanding your soil test report [Fact sheet]. Utah State University Extension. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1825&context=extension_curall
- Darby, H. (2019). 2018 Cannabidiol cold tolerance trial [Fact sheet]. University of Vermont Extension. https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/2018_Hemp_Cold_Tolerance_Trial.pdf
- DeDecker, J. (2019). Weighing the risk of cannabis cross-pollination [Fact sheet]. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/weighing-the-risk-of-cannabis-cross-pollination
- Harper, J. K., Collins, A., Kime, L., Roth, G. W., & Manzo, H. E. (2018). Industrial hemp production [Fact sheet]. Penn State University Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/industrial-hemp-production
- Horner, J., Ohmes, A., Massey, R., Luce, G., Bissonnette, K., Milhollin, R., Lim, T., Roach, A., Morrison, C., & Schneider, R. (2019). Missouri industrial hemp production [Fact sheet]. University of Missouri Extension. https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/mx73
- Kaiser, C., Cassady, C., & Ernst, M. (2015). Industrial hemp production [Fact sheet]. University of Kentucky Extension. https://www.uky.edu/ccd/sites/www.uky.edu.ccd/files/hempproduction.pdf
- Lubell, J. D., & Brand, H. M. (2018). Foliar sprays of silver thiosulfate produce male flowers on female hemp plants. American Society for Horticultural Technology, HortTechnology, 28(6), 743–747. https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/28/6/article-p743.xml
- Meiner, C.H. & Mediavilla, V. (1998). Factors influencing the yield and quality of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) essential oil. Journal of the International Hemp Association, 5(1) pp. 16–20.
- Nahler, G. (2019). Cannabidiol and contributions of major hemp phytocompounds to the “entourage effect;” possible mechanisms. Journal of Alternative, Complementary & Integrative Medicine, 5(2), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.24966/ACIM-7562/100066
- Schluttenhofer, C., & Yuan, L. (2017). Challenges towards revitalizing hemp: A multifaceted crop. Trends in Plant Science, 22(11), 917–929. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2017.08.004
- Small, E. & Antle, T. (2003). A preliminary study of pollen dispersal in cannabis sativa in relation to wind direction. Journal of Industrial Hemp, 8(2). https://www.votehemp.com/PDF/Small2003JIH.pdf
- U.S. Cannabis Spot Index. (2018). Cannabis benchmarks. Retrieved October 11, 2019, from https://reports.cannabisbenchmarks.com/
- Williams, D.W., & Mundell, R. (n.d.). An introduction to industrial hemp, hemp agronomy, and UK agronomic hemp research [Fact sheet]. University of Kentucky Extension. https://hemp.ca.uky.edu/sites/hemp.ca.uky.edu/files/uk_ih_information_for_agents3.pdf
Published June 2021
Utah State University Extension
Peer-reviewed fact sheet
Matt Yost, Megan Baker, Mitch Westmoreland, Tina Sullivan, Jody Gale, Cody Zesiger, Earl Creech, and Bruce Bugbee
How to Grow Cannabis From Seed In 10 Easy Steps
Whether it’s to control budget or because it’s hard to acquire clones, many are interested in learning how to grow cannabis from seed. Growing marijuana has never been easier or more accessible. Our guide to growing cannabis takes you from the planning stages to the final stages of your harvest. If you’re ready to start growing your favorite strain, keep reading.
Step 1: Sourcing and Germinating Seeds
If you can’t or don’t want to grow from clones, seeds are a great (and some may say better) alternative. Finding high-quality seeds is easier said than done. Dispensaries in states with medical or adult-use cannabis may carry cannabis seeds. In states without cannabis laws, finding seeds is strictly limited to online cannabis seed banks.
Do your research on the many available seed banks that ship to the U.S. While many say they ship worldwide, they may exclude the U.S. in the fine print. Seed banks differ in seed selection. They also offer a variety of payment methods and discreet shipping. Some of the most popular seed bank sites include Attitude Seed Bank, True North Seed Bank, Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds, and Seedsman.
Cannabis seeds require germination to jumpstart the growing process. The simplest way to achieve this is through the paper towel method. During this process, the germ in the seed breaks through the outer shell forming a root, also known as a taproot. Germination can take a day or up to a week. Germinated seeds can be placed in the growing medium.
Step 2: Location and Light
Cannabis can be grown indoors or out. However, most towns that allow for home cultivation require gardens to be secured and away from public view. Regardless of where you choose to grow, your space must have the right amount of light and space to grow.
If you’re growing outdoors, consider any large trees that may cast a shadow or shrubs and bushes that can limit its space. North American growers should plant their garden in a space that faces the South to increase the amount of light it gets.
Growing indoors? Consider the height of your space and garden. Don’t forget about including the hanging lamp height in your calculations. Grow lights need to be a certain distance away from lights to prevent burns and avoid stretching if the light is too weak.
Indoor growers can grow in basements, garages, rooms, and even closets. Many growers start off with a grow tent, which provides a contained space for cannabis gardens. Many tent options come with all the necessary pots, lighting, filters, and fans needed to start growing from seed.
Once you’ve chosen your preferred space to grow your garden, it’s time to consider lighting, an integral part of the process. Most growers choose metal halide (MH) lamps during the vegetative stage. They switch over to high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs during the flowering stage.
Others may stick to their fluorescent and LED options. These can provide the right level of supplementary lighting for HID lamps. If you’ll be depending on LED lamps for your garden, make sure they have a full spectrum of white light. Full-spectrum LEDs are a bit more expensive than conventional HID lights, but they can save you money on energy bills. 250 to 400-watt HID lights can work for small gardens.
Step 3: Medium and Container
The medium of your plant refers to the base structure of your plant’s roots. A container keeps your medium, nutrients, and water contained when needed. Outdoor growers can use dirt, topsoil, compost, and other soil amendments to create a thriving microbiome needed to feed the plant’s roots.
Indoors growers, on the other hand, are increasingly preferring soil-less growing methods. Mediums made from peat, sphagnum, and coco act like soil. They hold the moisture and air needed to absorb the necessary nutrients.
Many smart pot options have holes around the sides and bottom of the container to improve water drainage. These breathable pots allow roots to get oxygen during the dark cycle. The pots prevent water build-up, which can lead to root rot and mold.
Step 4: Nutrients
Choosing the right nutrients is important for the best growth possible. Cannabis plants require certain nutrients to grow its roots, foliage, and buds. Nutrient solutions usually include an N-P-K ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Nutrient solutions come in grow and bloom formulas for vegetative and flowering stages, respectively. Grow formulas have higher ratios of nitrogen compared to bloom formulas due to their differing needs.
Start off by reading your nutrient solution’s instructions and create a diluted solution at ½ to …” the recommended dosage. Starting off with a lower-than-recommended dose ensures you don’t overfeed and ruin your crop. If within a week or 10 days you don’t see any signs of nutritional deficiencies, you can increase the dosage to the listed levels on the packaging. If however, your plant looks healthy, you can continue your feeding levels.
Ideally, you want to use organic fertilizers to avoid salt build-ups in the medium. Organic and veganic nutrients are pricier than synthetic fertilizers, but they produce a far better product. Organic nutrients are helpful to bring out the cannabinoid and terpenes from your strain.
Some outdoor growers choose to feed their gardens through a composted medium that has many of the minerals needed for the plant’s growth. Others use time-release pellets that contain nutrients that are slowly released into the medium.
Step 5: Vegetative Stage
A plant’s vegetative stage is the first (some might say most important) part of the growth process. Much of the plant’s size and yield are produced during this time. Some may say that longer vegetative periods can lead to bigger yields. Vegetative periods can last between a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Plants will remain in a vegetative stage when the light-dark cycle has more light than dark hours. Indoor growers set light timers to provide their plants with a minimum of 18 hours of light per day during this stage. During its dark cycle, the roots develop, so every hour of light and darkness matters.
Many growers use MH bulbs during this stage. MH bulbs have blue wavelengths, which are necessary to keep your plants from growing tall and wild. Indoor growers may prefer this set-up to keep their plants short and bushy. MH bulbs can produce plants with short internodal lengths (the distance between the main stem and the branches).
During this stage, you can employ different training and pruning techniques to maximize growth and yields. For instance, topping a plant involves removing the top shoot of the main stalk near the end of the vegetative stage. When cut, the plant produces additional shoots under the shoot’s cut, where buds can form during the flowering stage.
How To Grow High Quality Plants
Are you in one of the many states that has legalized cannabis? If yes, then you may have found yourself with a new crop to plant in the garden this summer. Growing a new crop can be challenging even for veteran gardeners, but with a little help from your friends at Impello you can avoid some of the common mistakes that lead to a poor crop.
Pick Reliable Cannabis Seed Banks
When purchasing cannabis seeds, you might often choose the cheapest ones to save some bucks. However, the quality may be compromised, and you’ll end up spending more than you have to. That’s why you should pick cannabis seeds with the best genetics. Conduct your research so that you can buy from trusted cannabis seed banks. Cloning can be a good start too — just make sure to get the clones from reputable sources.
Provide Enough Lighting
One essential element for growing cannabis is proper lighting. It’s not only the quality that will be affected but also the speed and size. While marijuana grown outdoors gets natural light, indoor cannabis needs extra care. This means that your usual lightbulbs are not enough to make up for the absence of lights.
Invest in more premium lights, hoods, and reflectors. Get high-intensity (HID) lights, like high-pressure sodium (HPS) or T5 fluorescent lights. You can also use LEDs to save on energy costs. Just make sure to choose full-spectrum LED lights that allow you to modify the wavelength based on the marijuana plant’s needs as it grows.
Enhance Water Quality
Dissolved solids from water can cause adverse effects on your marijuana plant. For instance, domestic water contains chlorine and fluoride. While they will not kill the plant, maximum yield can’t be expected. So, consider using a reverse osmosis system or filtration. Make sure to change the filters regularly. It’s also best to test the water from time to time to check whether the parts per million (PPM) of dissolved solids remain the same.
Secure Enough Spacing and Ventilation
Wondering how to grow high-quality marijuana? Allow enough spacing between the cannabis buds. Make sure no leaves or branches block the airflow. You can apply low stress training (LST) where you tie the plants down while they’re still young to ensure that the light is well-dispersed, improving the plant’s overall health. Using other tools like filters and fans will also help you maintain the airflow.
Provide Sufficient Amount of Nutrients
One of the 10 steps to growing weed is providing just the right amount of nutrients per growth stage.
Tribus Original is the perfect seedling to harvest cannabis growing products on the market today and it’s very versatile. Usage rates are 1 ml per gallon and with a price tag under $60 for a 250 ml bottle, and a little goes a long way. Because it consists of beneficial bacteria you really can’t overfeed your cannabis plants with it, and it creates stronger plants from the inside out. For best results apply it to your grow media at least once a week. Tribus is compatible with all grow media, including hydroponics and even field application.
In addition to Tribus, these nutrients are necessary when feeding cannabis plants.
Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus may be the three main nutrients that your cannabis plants need. However, they also need other nutrients like:
During the flowering stage, various supplements can be beneficial too. These include:
Prune Cannabis Properly
While low stress training does not involve cutting, you have to perform pruning to promote yield increase in plants. It also helps you get rid of buds that are not in their best condition. This way, buds become fewer but larger and healthier. Consider removing the lowest branches to ward off pests. To ensure that the plants recover and grow faster, prune during the vegetation stage.
Keep the Right Room Temperature and Humidity
Cannabis can grow well under several conditions, but you need to ensure that the room’s temperature and humidity satisfy the weed’s needs. Even small changes can affect its growth, so focus on the temperature and humidity in each stage.
For seedlings and clones, the preferred humidity levels range from 65% to 80%. This way, they can take up enough water and have stronger roots. In terms of temperature, keep it at 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
In the vegetative stage, moderate humidity levels are necessary. Every week, you can decrease it by 5%. Around 40% to 70% will work. Given that the roots are stronger during this period, they can absorb more water, so lowered humidity levels are preferred. For the temperature, you can raise it a bit — around 71 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and around 64 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Reducing the humidity levels to 40% to 50% is needed during the flowering stage. You can make it 55% but never 60%. Also, the temperature can decrease to 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, in the latter part of the flowering period or one to two weeks prior to harvest, reduce humidity levels from 30% to 40%.
Meanwhile, the temperature can fall between 64 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 to 24 degrees Celsius with lights on and 16 to 20 degrees Celsius for several nights before harvest. To monitor the humidity and temperature, use a hygrometer and thermometer.
If you aim to lower the temperature, you can do the following:
- During the day, keep the lights off; during the night, on.
- Add an air conditioning unit. This can also help reduce humidity.
- Use a cool tube if you are growing marijuana with HPS lights.
To raise the temperature, you can:
- Utilize a quality space heater with a thermostat.
- Use grow lights with higher watts.
- At the bottom of your grow room or tent, place a heating mat.
If you want to drop the humidity levels, perform these steps:
- Water your marijuana plants immediately after switching on the lights. Given the quick absorption, humidity levels will decrease.
- Get a humidifier.
- Have an airflow fan upgrade to increase the supply of cool air.
Enhancing humidity levels can be possible through the following:
- Use a humidifier that has enough water reservoir to avoid frequent refills.
- Using a spray bottle, mist your marijuana plants. However, this shouldn’t be done to flowering plants as it can result in bud rot.
- Bring larger plants inside the room. Compared to seedlings, they perspire more, raising the humidity levels in the grow room.
- Consider hanging wet towels inside your grow room.
Maintain Enough CO2
Did you know that providing your marijuana plants with sufficient carbon dioxide (CO2) helps improve their growth by 20%? CO2 is crucial in photosynthesis, where cannabis absorbs light and turns it into energy. Excessive CO2 or a lack of it can be detrimental to your cannabis plants. So, you should know how to provide them with the right CO2 levels. Ideally, it should be above 250 PPM.
To supplement your plants with extra CO2, you can use the following:
- CO2 generator: To produce carbon dioxide, the CO2 generator burns natural gas or propane. It automatically turns on or off if a certain CO2 level is reached. However, burning the gasses can create heat. So, it’s advisable to use one in a larger grow room.
- Compressed CO2: With this option, the manufacturer produces the gas and compresses it into a tank. No heat is produced once gasses are released, so you won’t have issues with the temperature and humidity levels. It can also be set to automatic using a controller. Note, however, that both CO2 generators and compressed CO2 can be relatively costly.
Know When To Harvest the Cannabis Plants
Harvest time keeps growers excited, especially given all the efforts exerted to produce healthy and quality buds. However, cutting them too soon will defeat the purpose and waste all your hard work as the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content will be low. So, harvest them at the right time based on the following indications:
Dry and Cure Cannabis Properly
You may think you’re done once you harvest your cannabis. However, drying and curing are important steps to producing quality and tasty buds. First, drying helps reduce the bud’s moisture content to 15%. It also enables you to maintain its taste and the natural compounds in it, including THC. To dry cannabis properly, follow these steps:
- Cut down your cannabis plants. While most growers prefer to cut off the branches, some want to cut until the base and hang them upside down. Others will also cut off each bud and then place them on a drying rack.
- Trim to remove larger fan leaves. Doing so will contribute to your buds’ improved look. If you’re residing in a place with less than 30% humidity levels, trim fewer leaves.
- Begin the slow drying process. A temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity is preferred. If it exceeds 80 degrees, the terpene content will go away. While hanging the buds upside down is the most common method, you can use a drying rack or cardboard to lay them out. Generally, you need three to seven days to dry the buds well.
After the drying process, you can now proceed to curing to preserve the plant’s cannabinoids or compounds and terpenes. Simply perform the following:
- Put the cannabis buds into mason jars with a wide opening. Other alternatives include plastic or wooden vessels.
- Secure the container in a dark and dry area. Humidity levels should range from 60% to 65%.
- Check the containers regularly. Open them at least once a day for two weeks. Doing so will remove extra moisture and accommodate fresh air.
While your cannabis should be ready for use in two to three weeks, keeping it for around two months is recommended for maximum results. Commercial grow operations may prefer to use chemicals to hasten production. However, the whole experience of users may be compromised.
There are multiple factors to consider when growing cannabis on your own. However, growing cannabis indoors step by step with our guide above will help you produce quality buds that you’re proud of.