As cannabis grows more popular (and legal, in an increasing number of states), so does interest in cultivating the herb. As largely urban and suburban living spaces lack the acreage necessary for an outdoor grow space, leading most would-be individual gardeners to grow weed indoors rather than out.
Indoor growing offers some advantages over outdoor gardens, but also creates some unique challenges of its own. Many cannabis novices dream of growing their own marijuana, but lack the necessary knowledge and experience to do so successfully.
Growing marijuana plants inside (and therefore away from natural sunlight) might sound like a tough job, but trust us: it’s not that hard. With some specialized tools and a bit of know-how, growing your own cannabis can be surprisingly simple — not to mention rewarding. That said, you will need a complete set of equipment and a solid plan before you can set up your indoor cannabis growing operation.
This post aims to lay out a complete beginner’s guide to growing weed indoors. Here, we have compiled a brief informative collection of information to help you grow marijuana indoors, right in the comfort of your own home (and away from prying eyes). We’ll break down where to grow, what you’ll need, how to get the most out of your grow space, and more. By the end of this post, you’ll have all the crucial information you need to grow your own delicious buds.
Where to Grow Weed Indoors
The first step to get growing is to choose the right location to grow cannabis indoors. You’ll want to choose a place where the plants will not be disturbed as they grow, away from major fluctuations in temperature, lighting, and humidity. These inconsistencies can harm delicate young plants and hurt the quality of your finished herb.
Many people choose to use a closet or cabinet like an armoire to set up their grow spaces, but you can also purchase such spaces ready-made. These might include something like a specialized grow tent or stealthy cabinet. We like these options best because they create a private space to grow weed indoors discreetly.
Grow tents offer lots of adjustability, allowing beginner growers lots of control over factors like light, humidity, temperature, airflow, etc. The enclosed space of the grow tent provides an added benefit as well: it prevents insects and other pests from feasting on your cannabis plant and hampering your harvest.
Grow cabinets are another great option if you are looking to grow cannabis indoors without anyone knowing about it. These grow boxes are designed to look like your average cabinet, preventing them from arousing suspicion.
Selecting Your Seeds
Perhaps the single most important factor of growing your own cannabis is selecting quality seeds. If the seeds you plant are of poor quality, then all your hard work and preparation will yield, at best, mediocre results. For the dankest nugs, you’ll need the best seeds you can find.
The legality of buying cannabis seeds varies from state to state depending on the legal status of marijuana where you live. With that in mind, be cautious when ordering seeds from seed banks or attempting to cross state lines with cannabis seeds, as they could be confiscated.
The best seeds for your personal use will depend on what you enjoy most about cannabis. Every strain has differing flavors, effects, terpenes, and cannabinoid profiles that will affect the final flower. We recommend researching the differences between strains in order to get a better idea of what you like best. You might also consider your grow space: indica strains tend to be short and bushy, while sativas are usually taller and lankier.
If you are able to, we suggest purchasing your seeds from a seed bank, such as Southern Humboldt Seed Collective or Exotic Genetix. These US-based seed banks offer quality seeds for strains from around the globe. If you live in a legal state, you may also consider asking your local dispensary for recommendations.
Germinating Cannabis Seeds
This is where things start to get real. For this step, you’ll a bit of patience and some basic knowledge of horticulture. It’s not that germinating cannabis seeds is hard (it’s called weed for a reason!), but they’re delicate at this stage and need some extra attention.
To make germination as easy as possible, we suggest purchasing seedling plugs or starter cubes from an online retailer or garden center. These little blocks of soil are intended to give your seed everything it needs to thrive as it germinates, yielding a healthier plant. There are even rapid-root plugs available for a speedier germination. However, you can also DIY your own with some soil in small containers, like old egg cartons, with a bit of compost for nutrients.
Whether you choose ready-made starter cubes or a homemade version, insert one cannabis seed per cube and hydrate thoroughly with water. Keep the cubes moist and out of direct sunlight (a windowsill is a good spot) until they begin to sprout. Then, place the entire cube into your growing medium, being careful not to disturb the sprout.
Choose a Growing Medium
While you’re waiting on your seeds to germinate (which can take a week or longer), you should put together your final grow space. This includes selecting a growing medium, or the substrate in which you plan to cultivate your cannabis plants. There are many different options available, including classic soil, deep-water culture, coco coir, hydroponic setups, and others. The most common growing mediums are soil and hydroponic indoor grows, which we’ll discuss separately below.
Organic Soil Grow Method
A perennial favorite for a reason, soil remains one of the best, most tried-and-true ways to grow strong, healthy cannabis plants. Why buy organic? Well, all plants pick up the nutrients in the soil they grow in, along with any residual nastiness that might be there. Cannabis and hemp do this especially well, meaning that any yuck in the soil ends up concentrated in the plant. It’s important, then, to choose a soil that’s safe and free of heavy metals, pesticides, toxins, and other potentially harmful compounds.
While a bag of organic potting soil from your local garden center will do the trick, you can also customize your own soil blend with relatively little effort. You might include things like worm castings, compost, coco fiber, or peat moss alongside perlite or loam for drainage. Ingredients like crab, blood, or kelp meal can add soluble hydrogen to help your indoor cannabis plants grow their best.
If you just can’t get behind soil growing (or simply want to do something different), we suggest trying a hydroponic setup. Hydroponics are widely used by commercial growers and are surprisingly easy to set up in a home grow as well.
Marijuana grown hydroponically tends to yield more flower more quickly compared to soil. It also allows you to add select nutrients directly to the water rather than risking disturbing the plant to add a solid fertilizer to soil. We find ready-made hydroponic kits (available at garden centers) are well-suited to growing cannabis indoors at home.
LED Grow Lights for Indoor Use
Since your indoor grow won’t be getting much natural sunlight, you’ll need to supplement your plants with plenty of light from other sources. There are a couple of different options here: high-intensity bulbs (HID), CFL, fluorescent, or LED lighting are all appropriate. That said, we strongly prefer the best LED lights, for a couple of reasons:
- Low warmth – Many older varieties of lighting tend to release a lot of heat when used over long hours. This heat can build up in your grow chamber, damaging your plants — no good! LED bulbs have the lowest available heat emission today, even when they’re on for hours on end.
- Full Spectrum Light – LEDs offer multiple frequencies of light to provide your cannabis plants with all the energy they need to be healthy and vibrant. Most LED bulbs allow you to customize the frequency of the light they emit, allowing you to adjust the light quality as your plants grow.
- Discretion – LED bulbs tend to be much smaller and more portable than their incandescent and fluorescent counterparts. This allows them to fit more readily into small spaces like a grow tent or cabinet. They’re also more energy-efficient, so your grow won’t eat up too much power.
Light Timing for Indoor Growing
Alright, you know what kind of light to use, but how much light will your plants need, and when? Not to fret, we’ve got you covered.
The timing schedule outlined below is a regular time schedule that’s pretty representative of common practices among cannabis growers worldwide. However, it may be adjusted as desired according to personal preference. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with it — as long as their schedule stays regular, your plants will be flexible with you.
The vegetative phase of plant growth is the period between germination and flowering. During this time, your plant is doing lots of photosynthesis to build up energy stores in preparation for flowering. It’ll also be growing quite a bit to make space for plenty of flowering sites — yaay!
During this period, a bulb with a cool temperature can help spur growth. We suggest lighting with a blue-based tone, as this is closest to natural daylight. Healthy plants will produce plenty of leaves and shouldn’t appear “leggy,” a sign the marijuana is searching for a better light source.
Generally, the best timing during the vegetative stage is to provide light for 18 hours per day, followed by 6 hours of darkness. Recently, however, a different schedule has been proposed. While it is still being tested, some growers prefer to provide light in six-hour bursts, with each light period followed by a two-hour period of darkness.
Also called the bloom phase, flowering indicates that the plant is finally putting its resources toward creating those delicious buds. Its efforts shift away from putting out new leaves and stems and towards reproducing. Warm temperature lights with a red cast to them will help to spur flowering and create larger, more luscious flowers.
During this time, the light should be on for 12 hours per day and off for another 12 hours. This cycle encourages the plant to flower, as it mimics the shortening of daylight hours leading into the winter months (when the plant normally goes dormant).
Nutrients to Grow Weed Indoors
Giving your marijuana plant the appropriate nutrients in the proper amount is vital in determining if you will get a meager, skimpy harvest or an impressive load of dense, luscious buds.
A common beginner-grower misstep is giving your marijuana plants too little (or way too much) nutrients. Low nutrients result in the plant not growing to its full capacity. Alternatively, overloading your plants with more nutrients than they can handle can send them into shock, burning the roots and even killing the plant.
With that in mind, it’s critical to keep track of nutrients — especially if you are using a hydroponic grow setup to grow weed indoors. There are some excellent plant nutrients available on the market which are proven to work wonders for your bud harvest. Let’s talk in a bit more detail about when and how to use nutrients:
Vegetative Phase Nutrients
The most crucial compound your homegrown marijuana plant needs in its vegetative phase is nitrogen. Nitrogen is abundant in fertilizers, castings, meals, and other garden nutrients, but check the label carefully before applying any product to your plants. Follow dilution instructions carefully to avoid accidentally overdoing it.
Flowering Phase Nutrients
As your plant begins to flower, it will need less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium. These compounds will help to encourage blooming and are often found in products like bone meal.
If you doubt your abilities to choose appropriate fertilizers to successfully grow weed indoors, look for nutrient packs labeled Bloom or Vegetative. These premade nutrient packs will help remove the guesswork (though you should still read the directions thoroughly before use!).
How to Support Your Plant’s Growth
- Lighting: Make sure that you have knowledge of lighting times of marijuana plants in different phases. Both the vegetative phase and the blooming phase have different lighting schedules.
- Environment: Every cannabis strain has a different set of requirements in terms of what kind of temperature, humidity, and other things it grows best in. Research the conditions of your particular marijuana strain, then set all the parameters accordingly.
- Watering: Giving water to your plants is vital because you have to keep it in balance. Make a watering schedule and observe the growth of the plant; if the plant shows problems, then you might want to change the watering amount and frequency.
- Protection: As with almost all kinds of plants, marijuana plants also need sheltering from pests, diseases, and bacteria. Some of the strains sold on the market are naturally resistant to mold and pests, so again, research about your strain and use plant protectors if needed.
- Discretion: If you are growing marijuana without letting anyone notice it, then there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t get caught. For example, you can add carbon air filters to your grow tent. These filters will filter out the marijuana smell when the ventilation system expels the air.
There is an unbelievable amount of information on how to grow weed indoors available online. There are many different methods by which to grow cannabis, and even commercial growers continue to learn and experiment.
You have plenty of time to find your own ideal growing technique, and with our guidelines you are well on your way to producing your own homegrown cannabis in just a few short months. Feel free to reach out to our team with questions.