Learn how to start a pot of cannabis. Starting a cannabis garden is one of the most exciting gardening activities you can legally do in many states (some restrictions apply).
If you want to start growing cannabis in a pot or container, here are seven easy steps to get your indoor or outdoor garden started.
7 Steps to Start a Pot of Cannabis
Step 1: Source Healthy Cannabis Seeds
One of the first steps is to find healthy cannabis seeds from licensed dispensaries or reputable seed banks that ship to your location. If you are starting with cannabis seeds, you will likely run across a few seed types available in many strain varieties.
You can start with a cannabis clone (a healthy cutting from a mother vegetative plant) and skip the germination phase.
Regular cannabis seeds have a 50-50 chance of producing male or female cannabis plants. These photoperiod plants begin flowering when their lighting cycle changes to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness from 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness.
If your regular seeds are growing outdoors, they can begin flowering after the autumnal equinox when the daylight starts to get shorter.
Feminized cannabis seeds are genetically manipulated to produce only female flowering plants. Like regular cannabis seeds, plants from feminized seeds will begin flowering when the lighting cycle turns to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness or when the days become shorter outdoors.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds do not require changing the lighting cycle like photoperiod plants to begin flowering. Instead, these plants start flowering after a certain period of time, regardless of light or other environmental factors. Autoflowering plants grow smaller and faster, suitable for first-time growers.
Step 2: Invest in Weed Grow Lights
If you plan on growing indoors or want to provide supplementary lighting for your greenhouse garden, you need the best cannabis grow lights. The success of your harvest can depend on the amount of light you give your plant. Providing the right light intensity and coverage to your canopy is critical to producing high yields without stressing the plants.
During the seedling stage, cannabis plants do not need strong light intensity. If growing outdoors, we recommend starting your seeds indoors until they are strong enough to grow outdoors.
Here are a few grow light options to consider.
Fluorescent lights, like complex fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and T5s, are affordable and effective for growing a small garden and during the seedling stage. They use less energy than the other options and do not emit as much heat, although they do not yield as much as other grow lights.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID)
High-intensity discharge grow lights are popular for commercial growing due to their light intensity and power. Due to the higher heat output, growers will need an exhaust fan to control the heat. Generally, growers use metal halide (MH) bulbs for the vegetative stage and high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs when the plants begin flowering, although HPS bulbs can work for both stages.
Light-Emitting Diode (LED)
Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are one of the most effective grow lights on the market. Many grow light panels feature a full spectrum of light for both the vegetative and the flowering stages. LED lights are much more energy-efficient than HIDs and produce less heat for better temperature control. While they can be pricier, they can end up saving you on energy bills in the long run.
Step 3: Choose a Suitable Pot/Container for Marijuana
When choosing a cannabis container, there are many sizes and options. Growers can start with something as small as a solo cup for their seedlings and switch to a larger fabric pot as the plant grows. Your pot must properly drain to avoid excess moisture that can lead to root rot. Smart Pots are an excellent option if you are not growing outside in a garden bed.
Step 4: Choose a Grow Medium
Grow mediums are essential for supporting the plant, providing it with water and nutrients, and giving the roots the space and oxygen they need.
Growing cannabis in soil is one of the best ways for beginner growers to start as long as the soil has the appropriate structure to retain moisture and provide oxygen to the roots.
You may need to incorporate certain materials like perlite or coco coir to create a well aerated mixture to prevent mold. Learn more about buying or creating the best soil for cannabis plants with our blog post.
If you are a beginner, hydroponics is not recommended due to the complexity of the systems compared to soil-based gardens, although many can quickly catch on. In a hydroponics setup, the plant’s roots are supported by an inert grow medium, and the roots are exposed to a nutrient and water solution.
Different hydroponics setups include deep water culture, ebb and flow, drip irrigation, and aeroponics. You can also choose from various substrates, including Rockwool, perlite, vermiculite, and hydroton clay pebbles.
Step 5: Get Nutrients
Cannabis plants need macro and micronutrients at different concentrations during the vegetative and flowering stages. Choose nutrients from various nutrient brands available in vegetative and flowering formulas for each stage.
If you’re buying your nutrients, we recommend using about half the manufacturer’s recommended dose of nutrients and going up or down as needed without stressing the plant. Excessive nutrients can stress and damage the plant.
You can also make your own organic, living soil mixture with potting soil, perlite, coco fiber, and other natural ingredients such as bat guano, fish meal, bone meal, earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, and more.
Step 6: Set-Up Ventilation
Whether you grow indoors or outdoors, you need the proper ventilation to deter mold, strengthen your plants’ structure, provide your crop with fresh air, and remove the stale air. We recommend setting up an exhaust fan in your indoor grow space or grow tent to continually remove stale air and passively pump fresh air.
Step 7: Find a Good Water Supply
If you want to grow healthy cannabis plants, you need a good water source. While tap water can work, in some cases, you want to ensure that there is not an excess of minerals, also known as “hard water,” which can affect plant growth.
Cannabis plants prefer water with a pH of around 6-7 when grown in soil. If your water is outside the optimal pH zone, you can use various methods to adjust the pH.
Start Growing Cannabis!
Now that you’ve got your cannabis grow started, you can go ahead and start planting your seeds or clones indoors or outdoors. If you want to learn more about growing cannabis, enroll in Cannabis Training University’s online marijuana college. Learn from the top growers how to grow a weed plant on your budget and with your skill level.