By Alice Blunt
You’re considering growing your own marijuana: congratulations! With the legalization of pot spreading further across the United States every year, it’s never been a better time to throw your hat into the pot-growing ring. However, you may be intimidated and even perplexed about how to grow marijuana and what issues you’ll need to consider beforehand. Check out our outline of issues specific to growing and cultivating ganga and pointers on how to cultivate a dank crop.
What Do My Marijuana Plants Need?
You’ve got your high-quality seeds from Pacific Seed Bank; now what? While the preferred growing conditions and concerns will vary depending on the strain (some are more susceptible to mold than others, some like a warmer temperature, etc.) the following are the six most important elements to consider to make sure your plants grow healthy and rich with dank nugs.
Like any other plant, marijuana needs light! If you plan to grow outside, keep in mind that cannabis needs more light than many other kinds of plants. Eight hours or more of direct sunlight is recommended for the best output. If you don’t live in a sun-kissed part of the world, it may be best to grow your plants indoors. There, compact fluorescent light bulbs or household LEDs are inexpensive lighting options. Ceramic metal halide (CMH) lights have come into vogue recently among growers, as they emit a fairly natural color and produce significant levels of UV light, which is known to increase trichomes (that’s the sticky resin we all want). On the higher end of the financial spectrum, specialty LED lights are powerful, visually attractive, and have benefitted from significant technological development in past years.
Soil is the obvious material for your pot plants to grow in, but those new to cannabis cultivation may not be aware of the other options. Hydroponics is very popular among marijuana gardeners. A hydroponic system is soilless and features an aquatic environment where nutrient solutions feed the plants while substrates providing support for the roots. Hydroponic systems are popular because they typically help produce big yields and foster fast growth, especially in combination with CMH or LED lighting systems.
Just like us, cannabis plants need specific nutrients to grow. If you’re using soil, you’ll want a specific type of nutrient made especially for soil, and you’ll introduce this around the flowering stage — cannabis plants are heavy feeders and this major growth stage is when they’ll need extra nutrients the most. If you’re using a hydroponic system, you’ll want to get cannabis nutrients specific to hydroponics.
Keeping your plants in an acceptable temperature range is very important to successful cultivation. Young cannabis plants like warmer temperatures, in the 70-85°F (20-30°C) range. As they get into the flowering stage, however, plants usually prefer a cooler range, around 65-80°F (18-26°C). Keep in mind that if you’re planning an indoor operation, your lights will give off heat, impacting the temperature of the room.
Along with not being too hot or too cold, the space where you’ll be growing your weed needs to be well-ventilated and have good air exchange. If you’re growing outside, of course, the natural breezes will take care of this, but inside, most people install an exhaust fan to remove warm air, and a filtered air inlet on the opposite side of the room to bring fresh air inside. It’s also a good idea to maintain a constant light breeze in your grow area, as this helps ward off mold and flying pests. A circulating fan can work great for this purpose.
Lastly, plants need water to survive and the cannabis plant is no different. You may think that common tap water would work fine for your cannabis and while this can work, depending on your location, filtered water is usually ideal for your new best buds. Some tap water contains dissolved minerals that can build up in the roots and affect nutrient intake, or your tap water may contain fungus or other pathogens that don’t affect people but can cause root disease in plants. Also, some locations have high levels of chlorine in their water; both this and high or low pH levels can affect the growth of your cannabis plants. Keep all this in mind when determining your water source.
I Got ‘Em Planted. Now what?
Once you have the key cultivation elements in place for your plants and they’re in the ground (or pot, as the case may be), it’s important to regularly check on your seedlings. Cannabis is not a plant you can get going and then leave on vacation for two weeks — if that’s what you want, you should probably buy a cactus.
Marijuana plants benefit from constant monitoring for mold, pests, too little or too much light or water, and other barriers to cultivation success. Checking on your plants at least once a day is advisable, especially in the early stages.
Coaxing vibrant health and heavy nugs out of some spindly little seedlings can be a very rewarding experience. Most growers love to share cultivation advice so, as a new grower, don’t be afraid to ask! It’s likely that another grower has encountered the same cultivation issue you are wrestling with and two heads are usually better than one. In addition to the wealth of resources available on our website, take a look at at the countless forums across the internet — you’re sure to find the help you need.