Growing Cannabis: Understanding the Basics

Growing Cannabis: Understanding the Basics

If growing your own cannabis buds is something you want to get into, read this informative article for an idea of where to start. We've broken down the most important topics into easily consumable information so you won't feel overwhelmed.


But, let’s be clear right off the bat: this isn’t a grower’s guide. Rather, it’s more of an overview of the fundamentals, and should address any questions you may have about growing your own home stash.

By the end of this article, you should have enough knowledge to give your mum a lecture on the basics of growing cannabis. Most importantly, it should help you on your very own cultivation venture.

Why Do People Grow Cannabis?

Some people grow their stash to take the edge off after a long day. Some want to save money and desire easy access to the herb.

Regardless of the reason, growing cannabis can be an interesting and exciting endeavour because you don’t need a lot to get the venture going. You will, however, need to educate yourself with vital pieces of information like strains and growing methods, which you will learn more about in the coming sections.

Most importantly, you must treat it just like any other plant. That means giving it the right amount of attention and tender loving care.

Are All Cannabis Plants the Same?

Just like any other living thing on this green Earth, not all cannabis strains are the same. Each one varies in the speed of growth, odour, yield, size, resilience, and cannabinoid/terpene content.

Furthermore, one major difference lies in the sex of cannabis plants. To make this conversation easier, you'll most likely want to grow female plants as they’re the ones that produce resinous buds. And, to ensure that, you’ll want to source feminized seeds—that is, seeds that have been engineered to develop into exclusively female plants. Regular seeds, on the other hand, have a 50% chance of becoming male or female.

Another factor you’ll want to consider is the difference between autoflowering and photoperiod strains. “Autoflowering” means plants will begin flowering on their own within two to four weeks after germination.

Photoperiod varieties, on the other hand, need 12 hours of darkness per day to induce and sustain flowering indoors. They also take longer to grow in general, as there is no set vegetative period.

Are All Cannabis Plants the Same?

What Do Cannabis Plants Need to Grow?

Growing cannabis is essentially cultivating a life. You need to give it your full attention and not skimp on providing it with the care and nutrients it needs to blossom into a healthy, thriving plant.

Just like any other plant, here are the four essential elements needed to grow quality cannabis:

Fresh Air

Let’s get a bit scientific for a moment. Plants need both oxygen and carbon dioxide for respiration and to make food and sugars, respectively.

If you choose to grow outdoors, you have nothing much to worry about since fresh air is abundant. But, if you’re growing your stash indoors, you’ll need proper circulation to allow the plants to breathe naturally.

But that’s nothing that an adequate ventilation system can’t fix. If you’re on a budget, you can pull it off with strategically placed fans. If you have the monetary resources, it’ll be best to invest in a more elaborate ventilation system.

Light

Plants depend on light to spur healthy growth through the process of photosynthesis. In the case of cannabis plants, the more light exposure they get, the more buds they develop.

Like how it is with getting fresh air, cannabis plants can get all the light they need when grown outdoors. But, for indoor growing, you’ll want to cover 400–600 watts (or more) per square metre.

Another factor you should look out for when growing indoors are high temperatures. Some types of lights, especially HIDs, tend to run hot, and can compromise your buds if they are too close to the canopy or too strong in general.

Water

Water is the lifeblood of every living organism on Earth. Cannabis plants are quite a rare exception because they can survive if you skimp on their water supply. However, there’s a good chance for it to die if you give it too much.

The best way to make sure you’re giving your plants the correct amount of water is to wait until the substrate dries out. If you lift up your plant containers and find them to be comparatively light, it’s probably time for a soak. In any case, don’t water again until the top inch or so of soil is completely dry.

As for the preferred watering method, bottom-feeding is arguably best for cannabis plants. It involves placing the pots into trays of water to allow the roots to absorb the right amount of water/nutrient solution into the soil.

This process also enables the roots to grow further downwards, which will benefit plants in the long-run. With enough fresh air, water, and sunlight, your plants can carry out photosynthesis to speed up their growth.

Nutrients

Providing nutrients to your cannabis plants is essentially you feeding them. These base nutrients are usually incorporated into the soil from the get-go, or are mixed into a solution and administered that way.

There’s a lot of science involved in the process of administering nutrients, but we’ll save that for another time. A great option is to use complete feeding solutions like Easy Boost from Royal Queen Seeds. All you’ll need is a single dose to provide your plant with up to 12 weeks worth of food. It’s the simplest, most straightforward solution. Who doesn’t want that?

How Long Does It Take to Grow Cannabis?

We briefly touched on the growing speed of autoflowering strains, but in terms of the length of time required before harvesting, most strains need at least three months.

Now, if you want to know how long it’ll take before your buds become smokable, just add another three weeks to cover drying (a week) and curing (at least two weeks).

To give you a better picture of the growing process, you’ll need to understand the two main stages of the cannabis plant life cycle: vegetation and flowering. Here’s an explanation in a nutshell:

  • Vegetative stage: The period when the plant’s leaves and stems begin to show themselves. It ends when you see the plant growing either male or female sex characteristics, which brings us to the next stage.
Vegetative stage
  • Flowering stage: This stage begins once female plants begin to grow white hairs, otherwise known as pistils, and when male plants grow pollen sacs.
Flowering stage

What Equipment Do You Need to Grow Cannabis?

When planning to cultivate cannabis, you’re usually given two choices: indoor or outdoor growing.

We’ve previously touched on some of the differences between the two in an earlier section, but here it is in a nutshell: with artificial lighting, a grow tent, soil, nutrients, gardening tools, and— potentially—hydroponics equipment, indoor growing is usually a lot pricier.

Still, let’s take a deeper dive into what equipment you’ll need for each environment.

Growing Indoors

  • Grow tent: This is a small, enclosed space that will house all of your plants. As long as it can house all the other tools and provide sufficient enough light, you’re good to go.
  • Lights: HID lights lead to bigger yields, but can get a bit too hot and damage your plants. LEDs are cooler in temperature, but yields usually aren’t as large. It’ll be up to you what to prioritise.
  • Soil and containers: These will act as a home and support system for your plants. You’ll likely want to source pre-fertilised soils already containing nutrients, and, as for the containers, you can go with either fabric pots or standard plastic containers.
  • Hydroponic equipment: If you want to go soilless, you’ll need to get yourself some hydroponic equipment. In a nutshell, this method involves the use of concentrated solutions of mineral fertilisers to be taken in by the roots.
  • Water supply: Running water from faucets usually contains high levels of chlorine, so you’ll want to use filtered water for your beloved cannabis plants.
  • Exhaust fans: Plants need an adequate supply of carbon dioxide to thrive. To achieve that, you’ll need a steady, constant stream of air from an exhaust fan to help circulate the air around.
  • Climate controls and monitors: These controls moderate the lights, CO₂, humidity, and temperature, and should operate at a consistent rate to optimise the growth of your plants.
Growing Indoors

Outdoor Growing

  • Weather-resistant equipment: Nature can be a bit harsh at times, so you'll want that added protection for your plants. Protective coverings like hot caps and cold frames should do the trick.
  • Drainage system: You don’t want your plant’s roots to be flooded with excess water. Building a simple drainage system made of gravel will be of great help.
  • Soil: Whether you’re planting directly into the ground or using a pot, you’ll want soil that’s rich in nutrients.
  • Nutrients: Just like humans, plants need their vitamins, too. The base nutrients will be more than enough to provide that necessary nourishment.
  • Soil test kit: For an accurate reading of the soil quality in which your plant sits, a soil checker will come in handy. It should also notify you should you need to do some extra watering.
  • Containers: Oftentimes, Air-Pots are the best choice for outdoor cannabis growing. This enables natural pruning of the roots, which means better growth for your plants.
Outdoor Growing

What Part of the Cannabis Plant Do You Smoke?

This might seem obvious to some, but it is still a valid question nonetheless.

Here’s the simple answer: the buds are the only smokable part of the cannabis plant. However, these buds need to undergo a drying and curing process before you can get a real kick from them.

And, as we mentioned in an earlier section of this piece, only female plants grow smokable buds, so it really is essential to source feminized seeds if this is your goal.

Questions & Answers: Cannabis Growing

🚰 How often do you have to water cannabis plants?
Usually, once every other day is more than enough for most cannabis plants. Give them some time to slightly dry out, but not to the point of withering, of course.

Here’s a good way of finding out if your plant is thirsty: dip a finger into the soil up to the point where your first knuckle is covered. That’ll be about 5cm. Dry soil means it needs watering, while damp soil means you can skip for another day.
🤫 How discreet is cannabis growing in regards to light and smell?
That all depends on the growing method you go with. It is definitely much easier to go incognito if you grow your plants indoors. If you’re growing in a tent, simply keep the doors shut and get a carbon filter to reduce the scent. If it’s a spare room in your home, like a basement space, hiding your crops will be a no-brainer.

There will be some noise/light and smell pollution, but that is part of the deal. You will just have to do some disguising.

Speaking of disguising, you'll need this especially for outdoor growing. The aroma of cannabis may draw suspicion from neighbours, so it would be wise to place them alongside companion plants like peppermint to cover that distinct smell.
🤹 Without much experience, how easy is it to incorporate cannabis growing into a daily routine?
If you’ve decided to get into cannabis growing, you’ll need to put in time, effort, and commitment. Part of it is just conditioning yourself to the tasks at hand. That includes checking on your plants regularly, giving them the proper nutrients, and harvesting when the time is right.

You can opt for different routines depending on your schedule, but some aspects of the growing process can be made simpler if you follow some recommended guidelines. Watering, for example, is best done in the morning. So, if you make that part of your morning coffee, you’ll have this embedded into your daily life in no time.
🌡️ Do you have to keep cannabis plants at a constant temperature?
Cannabis plants can handle small fluctuations in terms of temperature. But to get the best results, consistency is key.

If you’re growing outdoors, temperatures during the day could be more unpredictable because of the heat and humidity, so you’ll need to keep a more watchful eye. Nighttime temps tend to be cooler and more predictable, so you shouldn’t have that many problems.

Growing indoors can be a lot easier because you have the help of temperature controls and modulators to give you the consistency that you need.
🌚 Why does it have to be dark for cannabis to grow properly?
Apart from photosynthesis, which requires light, cannabis plants also need to go through the process of respiration.

During this time, they recreate the compounds previously broken down using the carbon they’ve stored up as photosynthesis was happening. They will metabolise the energy they’ve created before they start producing it again the next day.

Respiration mostly happens without any presence of light, whether it’s inside an unlit grow room or outside during the night.
💰 What are the initial costs to get a cannabis grow started?
We’ve established that indoor growing will be pricier than doing so outdoors. But if you want some numbers, you’re looking at the €150–250 range (around $180–300 for our American friends out there).

And, with legalization becoming a reality in many parts of the world, you can find many of these tools online. You don’t have to look any further than Amazon, which will give you a ton of options.

As for the seeds, specialised sellers like Royal Queen Seeds will provide a list of high-quality options to choose from. We’ve got you covered.

Getting Started Growing Cannabis — In Conclusion

Hopefully, this article was able to provide you with sufficient information about the basics of growing cannabis. If this is something you see yourself doing in the near future, you can refer back to this piece as a checklist for all the stuff you need to remember.

But, if you’re ready to get started and move on to the next steps, you can go ahead and do so!

May you have a fruitful growing venture ahead!

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