Published: Aug 31, 2021
Top 7 Tips For Growing Cannabis At Home
Before we get into the tips, it is essential to understand the life cycle of cannabis. It is important to know the various stages of growth to nurture their specific needs at different stages of the life cycle.
The Lifecycle Of Cannabis
Cannabis seedling is the first stage in the lifecycle of a plant. Cannabis plants grow from seeds, typically small and dark.
There are three main types of the cannabis plants: Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. Sativa plants are tall with narrow leaves. They mainly grow in hot, tropical climates such as Mexico and Thailand. Indica tends to be short and produces wider blades of leaves. It is primarily grown in cooler temperatures such as those found on the hillsides of Afghanistan or Morocco. Ruderalis strains tend to also be small like Indica; however, they do not contain any THC. These plants are usually found in colder climates and are often harvested for hemp fiber.
Each plant has distinct needs at each stage of its lifecycle. To ensure that your cannabis grows into healthy mature plants, you will need to understand their needs.
Cannabis plants have two main stages while growing; vegetative growth and flowering/budding (also known as fruiting). Vegetative growth occurs when a cannabis plant is exposed to high light and nutrient-dense food levels, causing rapid growth. During this stage, the stem is short, with leaves emerging from each node (section) in an alternating pattern along its length. This balanced arrangement maximizes exposure for photosynthesis without exposing any part of the plant to too much light or legginess. It also ensures that the plant is sturdy and can handle its size without toppling over.
The flowering stage begins when a cannabis plant experiences an extended period of darkness, usually between 12-16 hours per day. During this time, the length of the night causes hormonal changes within the plant that set it up for peak growth in preparation for budding/fruiting. Two phases of flowering occur during this stage; early and late. Early-phase plants will produce small buds with very few leaves, while the later phase produces large, heavy colas covered in trichomes (glittery crystals) rich in cannabinoids such as THC or CBD.
Once cannabis reaches full maturity, it begins to produce tiny white hairs called pistils which extend from the plant's buds. These hairs on a cannabis flower indicate when to harvest your plants; as they begin to turn brown and curl inwards towards their leaves, it is time to cut them down! Another critical observation to make is to look at the trichomes (tiny glittery crystals) if possible. Once they change from a clear to a milky color, it's time to harvest. However, some enthusiasts prefer leaving them to flower a little longer until the trichomes change to an amber hue, often increasing potency.
The stems of the plant with the colas are hung to dry in a dark, ventilated space. The flowers are ready to be smoked or used in foods once dry and have lost their "fresh" green coloring. Once the stem has lost just enough moisture and snaps under a bend test, they are ready to be trimmed and cured to deliver the highest quality bud.
Here Are 7 Top Tips For Growing Cannabis At Home:
The genetics of cannabis seedlings significantly influence how your plant will grow and its final yields/potency. Make sure to choose a reputable breeder for the best results! Most seed banks have tons of data available on their strain offerings, so think about what you need from your grow. Many first-time growers have failed and never tried again due to a bad first experience planting a bag seed a friend gave them. Purchasing quality genetics is key to growing cannabis at home.
Grow In The Right Growing Medium
Cannabis can be grown in soil, coco coir, or hydroponically. Each of these methods has its pros and cons, but it is important to find the growing medium that works best for your setup before planting! If you're a beginner looking to grow cannabis at home, we recommend starting with good quality potting mix (peat-based). Ensure optimal airflow from the very beginning by using fine mesh pots/containers filled with either perlite, vermiculite, or clay pebbles. This will ensure excellent drainage during vegetative growth while at the same time allowing plenty of air through without interfering with water retention too much once your plant starts flowering. Cannabis plants love water but hate soggy roots! Unless you're running a hydroponics setup, of course. The pH of your medium plays a significant role in the health of your plant. Cannabis plants prefer pH ranges between acidic and neutral. A pH of about 6 is ideal. Soil made for cannabis typically contains enough nutrients for 3 - 4 weeks of growth. Keep that in mind for later in the process. If you prefer to grow organically as many people do, you can make soil mixture from materials such as compost, worm castings, or manure to provide your medium with beneficial microbes and nutrients.
Know When To Water Your Plants
This is probably the most important part of growing cannabis at home, ensuring that your plants have adequate water during their vegetative growth and flowering phases. Ensure enough time has passed between watering so that excess moisture drains from the bottom layer before giving it another drink! You can test your soil's moisture level by sticking a finger in the top few centimeters of soil to look for dryness. If it feels moist, hold off until about an hour before you water again! As mentioned in the medium section above, cannabis plants prefer slightly acidic conditions. The best way to monitor your cannabis plant growth through their growth cycle and harvest time is using a digital pH Pen or electronic sensor that measures the pH level of the water you are giving your plant. You can purchase pH up or down balancing supplements to correct your water pH level if necessary.
Consider Training Your Plant
There are various cannabis plant training techniques such as topping, low-stress training, and screen of green to maximize your yields. Keep in mind that training your plant is not necessary, but it can increase your yields! Growing Cannabis at home will allow you to experiment with various training techniques.
This is the process of cutting off or "topping" the top part of your cannabis plant to encourage it to grow into a bush instead of being tall and stringy. This will result in more even light coverage across all parts of your plants, great for indoor growers! This isn't necessary if you're growing outdoors as there's plenty of room between branches for the sun to reach everywhere.
Low Stress Training (LST)
Low-stress training is a technique that involves bending and tying down your cannabis plants' branches and limbs during their vegetative growth phase. LST encourages them to grow into thick bushier shapes with more colas to maximize yields! This can be done by either using wire or soft ties made from plant material.
Screen of Green (ScrOG)
A mesh screen is placed over the top of your cannabis plants, and then either wire or soft ties are used to tie down branches so that they weave in and out of the netting. This will encourage your plant to grow into a flat bush with even coverage across all parts of the plant for maximum light coverage and improved yields.
Nutrients Make A Big Difference
Cannabis plants need to be given the correct nutrients during their vegetative growth phase to produce healthy yields. Overfeeding your cannabis plant can result in nutrient burn, which will damage and even kill your plant if left untreated! Therefore, it's important to ensure that you use a water pH calculator when mixing up the nutrient solution; keeping it within 0.50pH on either side of neutral is ideal for cannabis.
Nitrogen (N) - Promotes healthy leaf growth; used in green proteins that helps with photosynthesis during the flowering stage. It is also found in chlorophyll, which is essential for your plant's growth.
Phosphorus (P) - Needed to help strengthen cell walls and triggers root development so plants can absorb more nutrients; promotes flowering during the later stage of the life cycle. It creates energy using ATP molecules.
Potassium (K) – Boosts the production of flowers and fruit; regulates the uptake of other nutrients. It is also found in cell walls, chlorophyll, as well as proteins.
During the vegetative growth stage, cannabis prefers a high:low:medium NKP mixture such as 3:1:2.
During the flowering stage, the plant stops growing and focuses its energy on producing buds. Therefore, they need a low:high:medium NKP mixture such as 0:3:3.
The micronutrients include Zinc, Iron, Boron, Copper, Manganese, and others. They all assist in improving the effectiveness of various plant growth and development functions.
When growing Cannabis at home, you should carefully choose a nutrient system or fertilizer with these macro and microelements as overfeeding your plants may lead to toxicity. In this case, make sure you check the label of your fertilizer for instructions on how much to add and when.
Your Cannabis Plants Need Light
Your cannabis plant needs light. It is vital to find a place where your plant can get plenty of sunlight. While there are cannabis plants that will grow without direct access to the sun, these strains tend not to be as potent. If you do have an outdoor space available, make sure that this spot gets at least six hours of morning sun exposure so that your plant has time to process all its nutrients throughout the day. When growing indoors, you will need to make sure that your cannabis plant receives at least 18 hours of light exposure per day. This means you should position the lamp, or lamps – if you're using more than one – so they are about six inches away from your cannabis plant. Be careful not to place the light any closer because this may result in burning and yellowing leaves, which is harmful to your plant's health.
Look Out For Parasites and Diseases On Your Cannabis Plant
One of the biggest problems that can affect growing cannabis at home is parasites. There are many types of pests and bugs that love to live on cannabis, but there are many more species of non-cannabis bugs who will also enjoy it very much! The good news is these insects could be removed from your plant with pesticides like pyrethrin or neem oil - make sure you follow the directions carefully.
Another problem most commonly found in indoor grow rooms is powdery mildew fungus. It's easy to spot this disease because white spots start appearing all over leaves and buds once it starts growing. If left untreated for too long, powdery mildew destroys whole branches causing them to die back entirely; immediately remove any infected plants you see.
To inspect the health of your cannabis plant, carefully examine it for signs of pests or diseases and take action against any problems you find right away! If left untreated even for a short period, these parasites could end up killing an entire crop, so make sure to keep on top of things as much as possible!
Prevention is always better than cure in this case because once actual bugs are living on your plant, they're much easier to spot - but remember that many species mimic each other, so don't get them confused, or you might kill off ones that aren't harmful at all. To prevent problems from happening in the first place, though (like powdery mildew), ensure proper ventilation within your grow room.
Bonus Tip: Cure Your Cannabis Buds
Curing your buds is a critical part of your growing cannabis at home journey. It's a way to preserve the terpenes and cannabinoids that give cannabis its smell, taste, and psychoactive effects.
Curing your buds takes time because it lets you control how long each bud spends in the jar to ensure the even distribution of moisture throughout all parts of every nugget. The goal is for every aspect of every bud to have the same moisture content, or else some will turn out too dry or even moldy while others are still moist and smokable.
Here you need to hold out for a bit, be patient and give your bud the final quality aspect it needs before it's ready for you to enjoy.