Legal marijuana has come to many parts of the U.S., but high prices and taxes discourage some consumers from shopping at legal dispensaries. This easy-to-follow guide for beginners will help you in each step as you grow your own marijuana at home.
Marijuana is legal in some capacity in over half of the country, which means every day more consumers become interested in how they can grow weed in their own home, saving money and reducing trips to the pot shops. Growing at home also ensures that the cannabis you consume is safe and genuine marijuana.
A common misconception is that growing marijuana is challenging. It is not. Marijuana will often grow on its own outdoors from discarded seeds, often popping up in city parks and flower beds. While growing your own marijuana at home does take a little bit of planning, set-up, and care, even beginners will find that cannabis grows easily.
Generally, to grow marijuana at home you only need to follow these three steps:
- Decide on a Grow Area
- Gather Your Supplies
- Take Care of Your Plants According to Their Growth Stage
Now let’s dive into each of these three steps a little more to show you how to grow your own marijuana.
Decide on a Grow Area
The first step in growing your own weed is figuring out where in your home to grow it. Really, though, it can be almost anywhere, provided that the space is dry and cool, and that you can seal it from outside light. When growing marijuana indoors, common grow areas include:
- A closet
- A cabinet
- A corner in a spare room
- A special grow tent
Beginners may want to start with a small area. A small grow space constructed for one to a few plants is easier to manage and less expensive to set up than a large room.
You can also grow your marijuana outdoors, using the sun’s power to grow your marijuana plants naturally. Choose a place with plenty of light to maximize growth. Growing outdoors saves money on lighting fixtures and electricity, but comes with problems of its own, including pests like insects and nosey neighbors. Check your local laws first to see if you are able to grow outdoors in your community before planting outside.
Gather Your Growing Supplies
Once you have an idea of the size and location of your grow space, you’re ready to gather all of the supplies you’ll need.
Cannabis seeds or clones
While cannabis seeds are available from an array of sources, including some dispensaries, you’ll likely have better success getting quality seeds from an online seed bank. Your cannabis seeds need to be matured before they’re ready for germination. This means they should feel hard and appear dark brown with light accents, rather than feel fresh and look green.
You can also buy marijuana clones in many legal marijuana dispensaries. These clones are already rooted and ready to plant in your garden at home, bypassing the sprouting stage for seeds. Clones are also a great way to ensure you get a female plant, saving you many weeks of work and time if your seed turns out to be a male.
Organic potting soil
Growing your marijuana in soil is ideal for beginners. Compared to hydroponics, a medium used by some advanced growers, soil is more forgiving. Any high quality potting soil will work, provided it doesn’t contain artificial extended-release fertilizers. You may want to consider organic pre-fertilized potting soil, sometimes tagged “super-soil,” which can save you from having to buy nutrients to feed your plants later on.
Marijuana growing outdoors can be planted in pots or directly in the ground. If putting them in the ground, you will still want to surround them with quality soil to ensure they have the best growing conditions.
You’ll need two sizes of containers for your marijuana plants. Pots about 2 inches in diameter are ideal for when your marijuana plants are seedlings. Later on, you’ll move your weed into bigger, 3-gallon containers. Ones that offer breathability like fabric pots are ideal, but plastic or terracotta pots or buckets with holes drilled into their bottoms for drainage also work just fine.
If you are growing inside, your lighting setup will be the most expensive part of the process. Beginners growing just one or two plants at home can get away with using almost any type of indoor grow lights.
HID (high intensity discharge) lights are the most widely used because of their efficiency, although they’re more expensive and require specialized HID ballasts (fixtures). Fluorescent light fixtures are more economical, but are less efficient. There are also all-in-one HID and fluorescent light kits available that are designed for indoor grow spaces.
Beginners and experienced growers alike also take advantage of indoor growing systems that include lights, watering systems, and fans, making it easy to set up a marijuana grow. Some indoor growing systems even have smartphone connectivity to adjust settings on the go and a camera so you can see your marijuana plants from anywhere.
If you aren’t using a pre-fertilized organic soil mix, your marijuana plants will need to be fed throughout the vegetative stage. Nutrient solutions are sold in either a concentrated liquid or a powder, both designed to mix with water. Feeding your plants these nutrients can prevent nutrient deficiency to help ensure big, healthy buds.
You’ll need a bottle of macronutrients containing:
You’ll also need a bottle of micronutrients containing:
Take Care of Your Marijuana Plants According to Their Growth Stage
Like all plant life, cannabis plants go through a life cycle of growing stages. Each stage of growth requires different care, so it’s important to adjust the amount of both light and nutrients your marijuana plants receive accordingly. Overall, it takes about 3-5 months from germination to harvest, depending on growing conditions.
The life cycle of cannabis is made up of four stages:
- Germination (1 week)
- Seedling (2-3 weeks)
- Vegetative (3-5 weeks)
- Flowering (6-8 weeks)
Germination (1 Week)
Once your cannabis seeds have matured, they’re ready for germination.
- Wet four paper towels, soaking them with distilled water.
- Lay two paper towels on a plate. Place the cannabis seeds atop the wet paper, with at least an inch of space between them. Cover them with the remaining two paper towels.
- Take a second plate, flip it on its face and cover the seeds, creating a small dome to keep out the light.
- Keep the seeds in a warm area.
- Periodically check the seeds, looking for them to split and produce a single sprout. This process could take from a couple of days to two weeks. Wet the paper towels as necessary to keep them saturated.
- Once you see tap roots sprout from the seeds, transfer them into the small 2-inch pots filled with soil. In a couple of days, you’ll see the stem sprout from the soil and two rounded cotyledon (embryonic) leaves emerge.
Keep in mind that some cannabis seeds will be duds and not sprout. Others will take longer to sprout.
Seedling (2-3 Weeks)
Once your cannabis plants emerge from the soil, they are considered seedlings. During this period, the stem will produce more healthy green leaves with multiple fingers. The plants are considered seedlings until their leaves each develop five to seven fingers.
Throughout this 2-3 week stage, you’ll want to give your marijuana plants 18 hours of light or more if growing inside. Water only periodically, because the cannabis plant’s roots are small and don’t need much.
Once your plants’ leaves develop five to seven fingers, transplant your cannabis plants into your larger, 3-gallon pots or place them in the ground in your organically boosted soil.
Vegetative (3-5 Weeks)
Ready for your cannabis to really grow? Now’s the time.
During the vegetative stage, you’ll see the plant’s foliage rapidly flourish. Within the soil, the roots will also continue developing.
For these next 3 to 5 weeks, begin by providing your plants 24 hours of light and then gradually decrease the light cycle each week until your marijuana plants are getting 13 hours of light.
Water regularly, but don’t overdo it, as cannabis plants are susceptible to fungal root diseases when they’re overwatered. Some growers wait until the lower leaves of their plant start to droop slightly before watering. Additionally, water further away from your marijuana plants’ stalks to encourage the roots to continue growing outwards.
If you’re not using pre-fertilized organic soil mix, feed your plants with your nutrient mixes about once a week.
When growing from seeds, keep an eye on your plants toward the end of the vegetative stage to see if they are exhibiting as male or female. You will want to pull males from your garden as soon as possible to prevent the females from becoming fertilized. Female plants that are fertilized have a lower potency and produce seeds.
Flowering (6-8 Weeks)
It’s during the flowering process that your female marijuana plants produce resinous buds, which will eventually become useable cannabis flower. At this point, you’ll want to cut down the light your weed receives to less than 12 hours per day. This will stimulate your marijuana plants to flower.
Keep your watering steady as before. Avoid feeding your plants the nutrients used during the vegetative stage. You may want to add a trellis or other type of support to your plants to help buttress the plant (the buds can make it top heavy).
Learn More about How to Grow and Harvest Weed
As the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana reaches more states in the U.S., more people are looking into how to grow their own marijuana. While growing your own cannabis can at times seem overwhelming, beginners with a little bit of patience will soon get the hang of it.
You can learn more about growing your own weed, and drying and curing your cannabis flower, by visiting our Cannabis 101 Page.