Growing cannabis indoors has many advantages. Among them are the privacy and security of cultivating crops in your own home. Indoor growing also means that you have better control over your growing environment because you can provide your plants with the optimal lighting and temperature it needs. It also means a smaller risk of pests.

Our guide for indoor growing will help you get started on your cultivation journey. Once you learn the basics of growing successfully, a bountiful harvest will be just around the corner!

There are nine main elements to growing your plants. These elements are your grow room, your grow lights, the growing medium you use, the plant containers, nutrients, watering, the correct pH levels, air, and controlling/monitoring your grow. We will look at each of these in a bit. Before we do, let’s talk about another essential aspect of growing cannabis, how to successfully germinate your seeds.

Germination Cannabis Seeds

GERMINATING YOUR CANNABIS SEEDS

Every grow starts out with germinating seeds. You can find plenty of information on the “best ways” to germinate, but let’s keep it simple! The least risky, easiest way is to germinate your sensitive seedlings right in soil.

To germinate your seeds, plant them about one centimetre deep into firmly packed and moist soil. A moderate temperature of 20-25°C is optimal. (Other germination methods like the “paper towel method” or germinating seeds in a glass of water all carry certain risks for your seedlings, so we won’t recommend these here in this guide).

Once you have planted your seeds, keep the soil moist and don’t allow it to dry out. However, also make sure not to overwater.

The quality of your seeds can also play a role in optimal germination rates. Quality cannabis seeds like those from Royal Queen Seeds have the best germination rates and they usually sprout within two days from planting.

Some recommended strains if you're just starting out with indoor growing:

Royal Creamatic is an indica-dominant hybrid (60% indica) with a sweet maple-like scent and a great candy flavour.

Royal Dwarf is a compact and quick growing sativa-dominant hybrid (60% sativa) that delivers a potent, Skunky high.

Both strains are autoflowering and well-suited to beginners!

Starter Kit Autoflowering Royal Queen Seeds

THE MAIN ELEMENTS FOR GROWING CANNABIS INDOORS

GROW ROOM

Your “Grow Room” could be a dedicated room in your home, but it can also be any suitable space. This includes a closet or a corner in your basement, or a grow tent. Growers have a lot of choices today with grow stores offering tents in all sizes. Before you plan on buying a grow space or tent however, consider how many plants you want to grow. Fewer plants are easier to handle. Should you ever run into a problem from pests or something else, any loss will be lighter on your wallet than if you were to lose an entire large crop.

A smaller grow space will also have lighter (and cheaper!) requirements for your grow lights, fans and other equipment. Just take into account that the space should provide your desired number of plants with plenty of space so they can grow.

GROW LIGHTS

The type and quality of your lights are perhaps the most important considerations for successful growing. Your lights are not an area where you want to pinch pennies or cut corners. Growers have an overwhelming variety of light options to choose from today, which doesn’t exactly help with finding the right one. Here are some of the most common grow lights.

HID Grow Lights

HID (high intensity discharge) grow lights are still widely used because they are very efficient and provide a good value. The most common HID grow lights are MH (metal halide) lights, which are used for the vegetative growing phase. HPS (high pressure sodium) lights give off a more reddish light, which is optimal for flowering.

LED Grow Lights

Among the other types of grow lights that are becoming increasingly popular are LED grow lights. LEDs have several advantages over other types of lights. They are now very efficient and use far less electricity as compared to HID lights. Their disadvantage is that they can cost a lot more. Know that the market is currently flooded with low-quality LEDs, so getting a good one will require some research or the advice of experienced growers.

Grow Room Lights

GROWING MEDIUM

There are several unique cultivation methods that use different types of growing mediums, such as hydroponics, aeroponics, or growing in coco. In this guide, however, we will stick with the traditional and easy way of growing weed in soil. Growing in soil has advantages for less experienced growers since it can be more forgiving with common mistakes.

On the other hand, there are vast differences in the quality and makeup of potting mixes (soil) that you should know about. Most good-quality potting mixes are essentially suitable for cannabis, but you should avoid those which contain so called “extended release fertilisers” like Miracle Grow.

Almost all widely available potting mixes come pre-fertilised, but these nutrients won’t usually last for the entire duration of a grow. As a rule of thumb, you can expect the nutrients in a commercial potting mix to last about 3-4 weeks (usually covering the vegetative phase of your plants), which means that you should start giving additional nutrients as soon as flowering starts.

Some more experienced cultivars like to make their own organic potting mixes, so called “super-soils,” where they add all types of beneficial ingredients like worm castings, bat guano and other things for optimal growth.

WHAT CONTAINERS TO USE

You can find all types of containers for growing, from the most simple plastic containers and fabric “grow bags” and “smart pots,” to fancy self-watering pots. But when it comes to choosing standard pots, there is really not much to it, except that you want the right size for your plants. It can be a good idea if you start out with 20L pots. What’s important is that the pots provide adequate drainage. This is why pots will normally have holes at the bottom. Some pots may require you to break out these holes first before you use them. Tip: Rectangular flower pots are particularly well-suited for indoor growing in tight spaces!

Cannabis Growing Medium

NUTRIENTS

Unless you are using a pre-fertilised, organic potting mix that covers the entire duration of a grow, you will at some point have to feed your plants with nutrients. Cannabis nutrients are available as liquids or in powder form. You add these nutrients according to specific instructions when you water your plants.

What’s important to know is that cannabis nutrients are normally available separately for the vegetative grow phase and then for the bloom/flowering phase. This is because cannabis has different nutrient requirements depending on the stage of growth. Most of the time for your grow, you will have at least two bottles and possibly more depending on the micronutrient regimen of your crop.

Nutrient burn and other growing troubles from too many nutrients are very typical among less experienced growers. To avoid overfeeding, you should start with half the recommended dosage. Otherwise, stick to the instructions for your brand of nutrients while understanding that the makers of these products normally tend to recommend too much - after all, they make money from selling you their stuff!

For seedlings, you should not feed at all for 2-3 weeks and only start giving light doses of nutrients once they have their 3rd set of real leaves. Overfeeding seedlings is a very common first time grower mistake!

WATERING

Watering your cannabis plants right may sound like the easiest thing, but many new cultivars do this improperly!

Rather than watering your plants lightly but frequently, it is better to water them less often, but well. When you water, water them thoroughly so that the entire soil is saturated, until water drains out from the bottom of the container. Wait between watering and allow the soil to dry out again. (A good way to check this is by weight if you lift your pots up). It is much better for your plants to be slightly wilting than to overwater them! Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for all sorts of growing troubles!

THE CORRECT PH LEVEL

Watering your plants (and feeding them) is not everything. Almost equally important is maintaining the right pH level of your water or nutrient solution. This is because cannabis can only take in nutrients when the pH level is right. For growing in soil, the pH for your water should be between 6.0 to 7.0. Use pH measuring drops or a pH meter to check the levels of your water. Increase or decrease the pH level accordingly with “pH down” or “pH up” products. You can also use lemon juice.

AIR

Cannabis needs air for optimal growth. Some experienced growers may have elaborate systems in place to provide their plants with CO₂ and to get rid of odours. But we don’t need to go there yet. A simple fan can be all that you need to start. A gentle breeze of air can help to keep temperatures in check, prevent mould and keep insects at bay. Furthermore, a constant but slight breeze over your plants can make them grow stronger stems and branches.

Growing Room Fan Ventilation

CONTROLLING AND MONITORING YOUR GROW

We’re almost there, having set up an optimal environment for our cannabis plants! We have a nice grow room or tent, we hooked up a light and a fan. We got all the nutrients and then of course, some quality seeds that are just waiting to grow!

What’s left to do is to control and monitor our grow for best results.

The one thing that you definitely want to control is the ratio of light exposure your plants receive. This involves manually regulating the light/dark cycles of your grow lights. As a new grower, you will likely choose autoflowering cannabis strains where the light cycles are not important yet. So set your grow lights on a timer to provide your autoflowering plants 18 hours of light per each 24-hour period.

For advanced growing, such as when you grow non-autoflowering strains that rely on the light cycles for their vegetative and flowering period, you would also control these using your timer. In this case, you would initiate flowering once you switch your lights to a 12-hour darkness cycle per each 24-hour period.

Once you understand these fundamental elements of indoor growing, you can look forward to a bountiful harvest in no time. As a final tip, don’t let some growing setbacks ever discourage you from trying again. After all, this is the way you learn to become a master cannabis grower! Know that no one is born a pro and that all of us were new to growing at some point. Good luck and happy indoor growing!

Once you get your feet wet and are eager to learn more, visit our blog for other helpful articles on cannabis growing techniques.

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