TABLE OF CONTENTS
Are you ready to learn how to grow weed like a pro? Do you want to grow the biggest possible yield with the most resinous buds?
If you want to become a cannabis growing expert, there are a few factors you must consider, including where you plan to grow your weed, the types of strains you plan to grow, whether you want a soil-based or soil-less method, and so much more.
Ultimately, every part of your growing environment and your cultivation practices affects the size of your yield and the quality of your bud.
Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned grower, there's always something new to learn in the cultivation space. Our cannabis cultivation guide can help you get your garden set up, give you a step-by-step guide on growing weed, and give you tips from the pros!
Cannabis 101: What You Need to Know
Cannabis is an annual plant that grows with the seasons. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere and you want to know the best season to grow weed outdoors, we recommend starting in the spring.
In the spring, it can start to grow from seed and take several months to start flowering in the early fall. The cannabis growing season usually occurs between April to October. Outdoors, cannabis can grow once a year, but indoor cannabis growing can result in multiple harvests per year.
Cannabis plants require the following elements to grow healthy:
- Grow medium
As your cannabis plant grows, it'll go through the following stages of life:
- Germination: The sprouting of a cannabis seed when exposed to the right water, temperature, and oxygen.
- Seedling: A young cannabis plant with a thin stem, a small taproot, and a couple of teardrop-shaped leaves.
- Vegetative: The vegetative stage occurs when a cannabis plant focuses on growing its leaves and branches.
- Flowering: Following the vegetative stage, the flowering stage is when the plant begins to form its flower buds.
When your flower buds have fully matured, you can harvest them. We will go over every stage of cannabis plant growth and the harvesting process below.
What Equipment Do You Need to Grow Weed Indoors or Outdoors?
What do I need to grow weed? Ultimately, it depends on where you plan to grow and how you plan to grow. If you want to learn how to properly grow weed indoors or outdoors, you are going to need to know what you need to grow weed.
Here's a basic list of the things needed to grow weed:
- Cannabis seeds or clones
- Grow tent or grow space
- Soil or other grow medium
- Grow lights
- Circulation fan
- Intake/exhaust fan
- Temperature and humidity monitor
- pH meter
- Nutrient solution
It all starts with the right cannabis strain. However, there are thousands available with different cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
Always start off with the highest quality cannabis seeds or clones from reputable suppliers. Cannabis seeds should be hard and dark in color, while clones should be free of pests or mold, have strong white roots, and have a solid green color throughout.
Ask yourself the following questions about your desired strain: Do you want a sativa, indica, or hybrid? Are you looking for feminized seeds that produce female plants or regular seeds that have a 50-50 chance of producing a male or female? Do you prefer photoperiod or autoflowering varieties that grow faster?
Here's a quick guide to the many different terms you will come across when choosing your cannabis genetics:
- Sativa: A type of cannabis plant that grows tall and thin. It usually produces cerebral and energizing effects that can treat anxiety and stress.
- Indica: A type of cannabis plant that grows short and bushy. It typically produces full body and relaxing effects that can treat pain, inflammation, and insomnia.
- Hybrid: A type of cannabis with a combination of indica and sativa genetics that produces a relatively balanced blend of euphoric and calming effects.
- Feminized: Genetically engineered cannabis seeds that have a 99.9% chance of becoming female flowering plants. Males do not produce flowers.
- Regular: Cannabis seeds bred from a male and female parent. These seeds can produce male or female plants.
- Photoperiod: A type of cannabis plant that goes into flowering mode when its light cycle changes.
- Autoflowering: A small and bushy type of cannabis plant that automatically begins to flower based on age, not change in light cycle.
Research your desired strains thoroughly so you can provide them with their optimal growing environment and understand their growth timeline.
Containers and Grow Medium
Cannabis can be grown in a soil-based or soil-less media. Many prefer soil-based cannabis plants since they tend to produce better flavor and aroma. If you are going with the soil-based method, you can choose from a range of high-quality potting soils. Just make sure to not use ones with artificial extended-release fertilizers or other harmful chemicals.
Cannabis can be grown in pots with soil or a soilless medium, as well as in water with a soilless medium (hydroponics) or air with a soilless medium, also known as aeroponics. New growers should start by growing cannabis in soil since this can be more affordable and easier to learn.
Do you want to know what kind of soil to grow weed in? Check out our blog post on the best soil to grow weed in. Many often wonder: can you use regular dirt to grow weed? Regular dirt does not have the right consistency for cannabis plant growth. It is too dense. Cannabis plants need soil with proper oxygen levels.
Your plant’s roots need plenty of space to grow. If they don't have enough space they can become root-bound. As your plant grows, transplant them into larger pots if needed. 3 to 5-gallon pots are enough space for indoor grow rooms. Smart pots are an efficient choice for soil-based or soilless growing media since they are made from fabric and allow for better gas exchange.
If you want to learn how to grow weed indoors, you are going to need to know how to create an optimal environment for your plants in your desired space. That includes getting the right ventilation, temperature, humidity, and lights to mimic the plant’s natural environment. Now you may be wondering, what kind of light do I need to grow weed?
While you can learn how to grow weed indoors with natural light, we recommend investing in appropriate light fixtures and bulbs for best results.
As a cannabis grower, you have a wide range of grow light options to choose from. From affordable fluorescent bulbs to LEDs that have a higher upfront cost. We recommend an LED grow light for energy efficiency and a better light spectrum. HIDs are commonly used in commercial operations and tend to produce a lot of heat, requiring ventilation.
- Check out our blog post on the best LED light to grow weed indoors featuring our top 10 picks.
- If you're on a budget and want to know what kind of fluorescent lights to grow weed with, check out our blog post on the top fluorescent and HID bulbs.
In terms of ventilation, you want to provide an adequate air flow for your plants to prevent mold and mildew. You can use fans above and below the canopy. Do not blow air directly to the plants since it may cause damage. You will need an exhaust fan to remove the hot and stale air from the grow space and an intake fan to replace that air with cool and fresh air.
Temperature and Humidity
Temperature and humidity requirements vary between stages of growth. For indoor climate control, an air conditioner, dehumidifier, and/or humidifier may be needed to maintain the proper temperature and humidity. Invest in a few thermometers and a hygrometer to measure the temperature and humidity, respectively.
When growing outside, you'll have to stand up to the natural elements in your area. If you are growing indoors, you are responsible for creating a climate-controlled environment. Indoors, the best place to grow weed include the closet, bedroom, garage, basement, or attic.
Some jurisdictions restrict outdoor grows. In that case, you'll be limited by the space you have indoors.
Generally, you want to keep your garden away from public view and have security measures to prevent unauthorized people from entering.
Outdoors, the plant should have about 10 to 25 square feet of space. You can place your plants about 3 to 5 feet apart.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Weed?
If you're wondering how long it takes to grow weed, the answer can vary from a few months to most of the year. How long to grow weed outdoors? That can depend on the latitude and climate of your area.
On average, cannabis plants can fully mature in about 3 to 4 months. Ultimately, the time it takes to grow your plant will depend on its strain genetics, grow environment, and growing practices.
How many weeks does it take to grow weed? Here is a breakdown of the cultivation timeline from acquiring supplies to harvesting your buds:
- Gathering your cultivation supplies (1 day to 2 weeks)
- Obtaining your clones or seeds (1 day to 4 weeks)
- Germinating your cannabis seeds (12 hours to 8 days)
- Vegetative phase (2 weeks to 6 months)
- Flowering phase (6 weeks to 3 months)
- Harvesting phase (1 to 3 days)
Germination and Seedling Stage
Germination is the stage where your seed sprouts and its root and shoot begins to grow. This stage can last between a day to a week. Moisture is the key element that helps the seed expand. When it cracks, its root can emerge. Germination can occur with the wet paper towel method, in the potting soil, or in a starter cube.
During the germination stage, the temperature should be between 70 and 80º F with relative humidity (RH) of 100%. During the seedling stage, the temperature should be between 68 and 75º F with the same RH as the germination phase. Seedlings can do well with between 12 to 18 hours of light.
After your seedling has developed a proper root structure and requires more space from its small container, you are entering the vegetative stage. Here, your stems will grow thicker and the plant will grow taller and wider. A plant is growing its root and shoot systems in preparation for flowering. Keep in mind, your plant can double in height during the flowering stage.
During this stage, you may need to do some light pruning to ensure your branches are supportive, your buds are getting enough light and airflow, and your plants can support the buds that are coming.
Start your pruning at the bottom of the plant and work your way up, carefully removing leaves and branches that prevent the flow of air. You may only end up with a few branches by the end but these will be the most productive ones on the top. Lower branches may only result in larfy and airy popcorn buds.
Make sure to remove dead leaves as needed, which may be the ones that do not receive enough light, wilt, and die. After pruning, allow your plant a few days to recover, so you don't want to go aggressive on fertilization. If you're lucky, some of the branches you cut down can be used for cloning.
The apical meristem at the end of each branch grows into a large cola, so its stems should be balanced symmetrically to be able to support future growth. Prune as needed up until about a week before the pre-flowering stage
The fan leaves have long stems and 7 to 11 leaflets. They originate from the main stem. You can remove some of these leaves to allow your plant to focus its growth on bud sites and slow down its vertical growth. Just make sure to leave some fan leaves since they also aid in photosynthesis
During the vegetative stage, your plants will need at least 18 hours of light per day and 6 hours of darkness. The temperature should be between 72 and 77º F or between 82 and 84º F with CO2 enrichment. The root zone should be between 65 and 70º F. The relative humidity should be between 60 and 70%.
You want to water your plants when the top inch of your soil is dry to the touch. Water them right before the lights turn on. New plants can be watered every 3 to 5 days. Keep in mind, larger pots hold onto water longer than smaller ones. As you learn to grow, you may know by the color or weight of the soil if your plant needs watering.
When watering, allow the water to drain from the bottom of the container. Pour slowly to avoid disrupting the soil. Ideally, you want to stop watering when you see about 20% of the water coming out from the bottom. A tray can keep the grow area from puddles.
Your water should have an optimal pH level of about 6.2 or 5.5 to 5.8 for hydroponic grows. Basically, water between 5.5 and 6.5 pH is good for growing cannabis.
Vegetative plants need a high concentration of nitrogen and a lower concentration of phosphorus and potassium. You may want to start with about half of the recommended amount based on the manufacturer’s feeding schedule. You can slowly build up the dosage to get your desired effects as long as you do not see any nutrient deficiency or nutrient burn. You can also try foliar feeding if your plant has some nutrient deficiencies.
In photoperiod plants in indoor environments, the flowering stage is triggered when the light schedule changes to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. At the summer solstice, the days are the longest. At the fall equinox, the amount of daylight and darkness is equal. After the fall equinox, the days get shorter and darkness gets longer triggering the plants to flower.
Flowering stages can last between 6 and 22 weeks depending on the strain genetics. Indica strains can require about 8 weeks of flowering while sativa strains can take anywhere from 12 to 14 weeks of flowering.
During this stage, you may want to remove some fan leaves from the plant to improve airflow. This can help the plant focus on bud growth and improves air movement to reduce mold growth. This is all of the pruning you will be doing during this stage.
In terms of nutrients, you want a mix with low concentrations of nitrogen and higher concentrations of phosphorus and potassium. Potassium and phosphorus help the plants focus on flower production. Ideally, you want to stick with the same brand of nutrients but switch from their grow formula to their bloom formula.
During this stage, you want the temperature to be 75º F with a relative humidity of about 45%. You may use a humidifier or dehumidifier to maintain these levels. During the last couple of weeks before harvest, you will want to give your plant’s the least amount of water possible and allow the RH to drop below 40%.
Avoid any light leaks during the stage, which can cause the development of hermaphrodite plants that can pollinate your flower buds. First-time growers can use LED lights for the vegetative and flowering stages. Advanced growers may use high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs during the flowering stage for more power.
Using too much fertilizer can create an accumulation of nutrient salts. You can remove nutrients such as sodium by flushing your plants. Just don't feed or fertilize them for about a couple of weeks before harvest. Instead, water them heavily until the water drains from the bottom and water again.
The idea is to remove nutrient salts from the grow media. You may notice a yellowing of the leaves. This is completely normal. Keep in mind, if you're using an integrated nutrient management system or living soil, flushing is not necessary.
Harvesting Cannabis Plants
Harvesting season is one of the most exciting parts of the growing season. It's the time when you can finally see your hard work pay off, but your job is not done yet.
Ultimately, harvesting requires the right timing to cut down your plant at its peak maturity. Anything outside of this time window can affect the quality of your bud. Generally, harvesting takes place about 8 to 10 weeks after the flowering stage.
Harvesting too early can result in a lower concentration of cannabinoids. However, harvesting too late can begin to degrade the cannabinoids you've worked so hard to grow. Early harvesting reduces your potency and yield while late harvesting can make your buds more sedative due to its higher cannabinol (CBN) content. Aged THC converts to CBN.
So, how do you know when it's time to harvest. One of the most definitive factors is assessing the color of your plant’s trichomes. If over half of the trichomes have turned an amber color, it is time to harvest.
You may see a progression from a flat or mushroom-shaped and clear trichome to a milky white color to a light brown color. When most of your buds are light brown, they are more sedating, relaxing, and intoxicating.
Other signs of peak maturity include a more pungent smell, stickier buds, a change in pistil color, and yellowing leaves.
Pro tip: Use a magnifying glass or a jeweler's loupe to assess the quality and color of the trichomes. They are too small to see with the naked eye.
Once you've decided your plants are at their peak maturity, it's time to harvest. If you are growing indoors, we recommend harvesting when the grow lights have not turned on yet. This can help preserve the terpene concentration since they won't be actively transpiring, photosynthesizing, and moving water.
If you have not done any training to create an even canopy, you may want to harvest in sections starting with the top main cola and allowing the lower buds to mature more as they get more light after a week or two, if necessary.
Here's how to harvest your buds:
- Prepare your drying area with hangers, wire, or a screen
- Remove the fan leaves before you cut any branches.
- Use sharp pruners to cut the plant at the base of the main stem, right above the root ball.
- Cut the plant into smaller pieces (about 2 to 3 ft long).
- Remove the small leaves coming out of the flowers, also known as sugar leaves. You can use them since they have some trichomes, good for making butter or tinctures.
- Set aside the branches in a container.
Next, it's time to dry and cure your plants!
Drying and Curing
After many months of carefully tending to your cannabis plants, it's time to begin the final process of bud refinement: the drying and curing stage. Essentially, both of these processes aim to remove the excess moisture from the buds.
After you harvest your mature cannabis plant, you must dry out each cannabis branch containing its flower buds. Generally, growers hang the branches on a hanger or use a screen to dry them out.
All of this takes place in a dry, cool, and dark space to aid in the drying process. If your climate or drying methods are not right, you can risk developing mold and mildew, which can ruin your crop.
Don't try to speed up the process. Drying and curing take time and patience to achieve a superior flavor and consistency. Drying can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks before you begin the curing process.
Pro tip: If you plan to hang them up, leave a “V” shape in the branch for easier hanging.
Here are the most critical elements of an optimal drying and curing environment:
- Pest and mold-free
- Relative humidity at 40 to 55%; a humidifier or dehumidifier may be used if necessary
- No light in the room
- Temperatures between 65º and 75º F
- Exhaust venting to remove the stale air from the real
- An intake fan to bring in fresh air
So, when do you know when the drying stage is finished, most growers go by the snapping test. If your stems snap instead of bend or fold over, your buds are properly dried and ready to move on to the curing stage.
During the curing stage, the cannabis buds are stored in an airtight container. Curing can take a few weeks or months for better results and more flavorful buds. The flower buds are left in a cool, dry, and dark space.
It is important to regularly “burp” flowers to bring in the fresh air and remove stale air at least a couple of times a day during the first week and every other day after that. It can take a bit of experimentation to find the right level of cure.
FAQs About Growing Weed Like a Pro
How Hard Is it to Grow Weed ?
Is it hard to grow weed? Under the right conditions, growing weed is not hard at all. If you live in a state that allows you to grow weed and you're growing a relatively low-maintenance strain, growing weed can be easier than expected. However, some strains are more finicky than others.
How Much Does It Cost to Grow Weed?
If you plan to grow one plant, you can end up spending a few hundred dollars for a grow tent, grow lights, nutrients, pots, energy use, and other cultivation essentials. There are many ways you can cut down on costs without sacrificing too much bud quality.
How Many Seeds Do You Need to Grow Weed ?
Can you grow weed with one seed? Technically, you can grow weed from just one seed, although this seed has to be healthy and it should grow under perfect environmental conditions.
If you're starting from regular seeds, we recommend doubling the amount of seeds you plant depending on how many plants you want. If you're growing from feminized seeds and have a small garden, we recommend planting at least one seed extra for good measure.
How Fast Can You Grow Weed ?
Cannabis plants can fully mature from seeds in as little as 2 months. You can speed up the growth process by starting from clones, choosing fast-growing genetics, growing autoflowering plants, and other quick-growing techniques.
Can You Grow Weed In the Winter ?
Absolutely! Growing indoors allows you to control the climate for optimal cannabis growth, no matter what the season.
Learn More About How to Grow Weed Like a Pro at CTU
Do you want to learn the best way to grow weed in your house? Enroll in Cannabis Training University, the world's leading online training institute for all things cannabis.
Our training program teaches students of all skill levels from around the world how to grow cannabis legally and efficiently.
Learn to grow weed from the top growers in the world through high-definition videos and course instruction that is regularly updated to reflect the latest growing techniques. You also get access to a collection of books on cannabis cultivation written by the Guru of Ganja, Ed Rosenthal.
Ready to optimize your grow room and learn the best way to grow weed indoors or outdoors? Start growing like a pro today.