Many people have entertained the idea of growing a weed plant in their home but don’t know where to begin. That’s why I’ve put together this article with the 8 basic steps required to grow weed. Keep in mind that this is a high level overview that explains the setup and plant life cycle through harvest. I also offer additional articles with more detailed breakdowns and step-by-step instructions for each part of the process.
Set-up a Grow Space
This could be your backyard, a closet, or a grow tent in a basement. It’s entirely up to you and your specific space availability. The important thing to keep in mind is that no matter how large or small the space, the goal is the same – to simulate the natural environment in which plants grow; nature. I’ve also written an article that addresses the most important factors to consider when choosing a grow space. If you are growing indoors, this will require additional equipment like lights, fans, humidity control, etc.
Acquire Seeds or Clones
There are two ways to begin growing cannabis: from seed and from clone. Cannabis seeds are just what they sound like – seeds of the cannabis variety. You can find cannabis seeds for sale at dispensaries and online seed banks. The alternative is to start from a clone – quite literally the branch of another plant that has established roots. The benefit to clones is consistency; you know the plant the clone came from and can expect an exact replica (hence the name clone). Still unclear which one you should start with? I’ve written a guide that addresses the pros and cons of growing from seed vs. clone.
Plant in Grow Medium
You will also have to choose which grow medium to use i.e. soil or hydroponics – I strongly recommend growing in soil. The seeds get will get germinated first and then sowed in the grow medium to begin their new life. Clones can be planted into soil or another grow medium as soon as they have established roots. You can force a cutting to grow roots a number of ways – using an aeroponic cloner, using rooting plugs, or even setting the cutting in a cup of water.
This is the second stage in the plant’s life cycle (after germination). As the plant’s root system gets more established in the grow medium, vegetative growth will be fast and vigorous. Vegetative growth is the stage in which the plant is using photosynthesis to grow shoots, leaves – the mass it will need to flower and reproduce in the next stage of life.
It’s important to keep in mind that only the female cannabis plants produce the flowers we all know and love. This means that the when growing from seed, the male plants must be identified and removed from the garden – this process is known as sexing. Clones, assuming your acquired them from a reputable source, are already confirmed as females. This is one the main reasons new growers like to begin with clones, it’s one less step to have to worry about.
After the vegetative phase, the plant will transition into the flower phase. This is the time in which the plant begins producing…you guessing it – flowers! The changeover from vegetative growth to the flowering stage is caused by the light cycle – shorter nights result in vegetative growth and longer nights (12 hours) result in flowering. Depending on the varietal of cannabis you are growing (i.e. indica or sativa), the flowering stage can range from 6-16+ weeks.
At the end of the flowering cycle, the buds will be heavy and covered in trichomes – the little bulbous hairs containing the THC, CBD and other cannabinoids you worked so hard to grow. Each strain has what is known as a harvest window – the limited time frame in which the strain should be harvested for maximum potency, flavor, and effect. For some strains this is just a few days and for others it lasts weeks. When the plant is ready to be harvested, simply cut the plant down at the base.
Dry, Trim & Cure
After cutting the plant down, the flowers aren’t going to look like buds that you are used to smoking. That’s because the flowers still need to be dried, trimmed, and cured. A freshly harvested plant is full of moisture that must be removed prior to smoking. Plants are typically hung upside down by their stalk for 1-2 weeks to dry. After that time, the leaves surrounding the buds are trimmed away, exposing the buds that we are all so familiar with. These dried and manicured buds can now be stored in glass mason jars to cure – the process in which the potency, flavor and smell of the bud is enhanced.