How To Grow Cannabis Indoors: A Beginner’s Guide
Anyone can grow cannabis indoors with some basic equipment and a bit of know-how.
There are two big myths about growing cannabis indoors: the first is that growing marijuana indoors is really easy.
The second is that it’s really difficult… It’s true that almost anyone can grow weed indoors, but it does take a bit of effort and planning. Here’s how to get started.
1- Choose a quiet space to grow your cannabis
Choose an insulated room or closet with low traffic, out of sight.
Even if you live in a place where you can legally farm, keep in mind that the fewer people who know, the better.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting an indoor grow space.
The two most important factors are airflow and vertical height.
You will need good air circulation because, like you, a potted plant needs fresh air to breathe. If you keep your plants locked in a musty closet with poor ventilation, its growth will be severely limited.
Even with adequate light, water, and nutrients, the plant will not thrive without adequate amounts of fresh air.
This is why fans are always imperative in an indoor grow space.
One or more cleverly placed fans can ensure your plants have plenty of fresh air to breathe.
Vertical height is a bit more negotiable, but still an important factor when growing cannabis indoors.
You will need enough space vertically for the plant to grow vegetatively.
The vegetative stage of growth determines the size of a plant when it flowers.
Taller plants generally offer better yields.
Don’t despair if your vertical space is limited, however with careful cultivation, pruning and training, you can grow weed indoors even with just a few feet of vertical space.
2- Choose a suitable light for growth
There are many options when it comes to lighting when growing cannabis indoors.
The main types of grow lights are high pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide (MH), light emitting diodes (LEDs), and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
Smaller spaces, especially those where air circulation is a factor, can quickly become too hot with the presence of poor grow light.
This means that if you have very limited space, you may want to avoid high intensity lights such as HPS and MH. To keep the temperature of the grow room under control, consider LED or CFL lighting, as these work perfectly, consume less and heat up less compared to other systems.
If power consumption is an issue, LEDs are the best choice. They require less electricity than other types of lighting. However, when initial cost is a factor, many beginners choose CFL lighting because it is cheaper than LED.
3- Determine your cultivation method
There are several ways to grow your cannabis plants. Your choice will impact how you should care for your plants. The three main choices are soil (earth or potting soil); coconut fiber and hydroponics.
Most beginners start with soil, due to its simplicity.
You will need a high quality potting soil. If you know any experienced producers, ask them for their brand recommendations.
Avoid using pots or buckets of less than 20L as the roots of the plant will need room to grow.
Coir and other soilless mixes serve as a medium in which the roots can anchor the plant, without using the actual soil.
The coir is recycled and transformed into natural fibers from coconut shells.
Its pH between 6.5 and 7.0 makes it comparable to unfertilized soil.
It drains and keeps the roots better oxygenated than many peat-based soils.
Many growers combine coco and potting soil in a mix.
Hydroponic growers use highly oxygenated, nutrient-enriched water. All of the plant’s nutrient needs are supplied by water by adding a nutrient solution. Since the plant expends less energy for root growth and foraging for nutrients, it can use more energy for vegetative growth and flowering.
4- Choose a nutritious diet
There are two main types of fertilizers (nutrients) used to grow cannabis: organic and chemical.
Both types contain the essential nutrients nitrogen (N), potassium (P) and phosphorus (K).
Organic gardeners believe that organic nutrients help deliver superior taste, smell, and effects.
The best nutrients for your garden partly depend on the type of soil or growing medium you use. The type of plant food used also impacts soil acidity, which makes pH testing important.
Variations in pH have a huge effect on your plants. Cannabis grows best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7. Good growing soils revolve around this level.
When the pH moves out of this range, nutrients become less available to the plant because they don’t dissolve as well.
This is probably the most common problem experienced by beginners trying to grow weed indoors.
Use collected runoff water to measure pH. Many products are available to measure and adjust the pH level.
Digital pH testers are available to accurately measure the level.
Test kits using drops or strips are also available.
Hydroponic setups will need nutrient blends made specifically for them.
Good hydroponic growers check their pH at least twice a day and make adjustments quickly. They grow for a basic pH of 6.0, which allows plants to flower between 5.5 and 6.5.
5- Choose an ideal variety
The right genetics are a crucial factor when growing cannabis indoors.
No matter how much effort and care you take to grow a plant, you cannot exceed the genetic limits of its parents.
If you use poor quality seeds, the weed you grow probably won’t be as good as if you use top seeds.
Choosing the best genetics you can find means your hard work will pay off when it comes time to harvest.
This is how the level of skill and care you exercise can reach its highest potential when growing weed indoors.
Don’t forget the vertical space factor, if you have low ceilings or don’t have much vertical space, an indica will be your best bet.
They tend to be short and chunky, making them ideal for small spaces.
Sativas, on the other hand, can get quite tall sometimes reaching up to 2.5 meters.
You can grow them in small spaces, but it will take practice and regular pruning.
You will need to leave your grow light on for 18-20 hours a day during the vegetative phase, which is the first part of a plant’s life.
During the flowering period, the plant will need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
Invest in a timer to program your time slots.
This way you can be sure that the lights are turned off and on at the exact times.
Depending on the seed you chose, the flowering process can take 6-12 weeks (most take 8-9 weeks).
In the next steps we will see how to approach the harvesting process.
You have spent months pampering your plants, it will be time to move on to the long-awaited phase, the harvest!
At this stage, it is no longer the time to fail, the question that arises is: when is the ideal time to harvest?
Don’t get too dependent on estimated flowering times.
If you’ve ever bought seeds, you’ve probably read general guidelines like “indica: harvest after eight weeks of flowering” or “sativa: harvest after 10 weeks of flowering.”
Although largely helpful, these guidelines should not be construed as strict guidelines.
To know the best time to harvest cannabis, you’ll have to be smarter than that.
You will have to use your powers of observation. Rest assured, this is not a bad thing, or an onerous task.
There are two main methods for determining bud maturity.
Ideally, you should use both methods to determine bud maturity when deciding when to harvest your potted plant.
Harvesting with the pistil method
Pistils are the long white hairs where marijuana flowers grow. They start out milky white on a young female plant. As the flowering period progresses, they begin to change color.
More and more hairs turn orange, then dark red or brown.
When about three quarters of the pistils have turned red and the calyxes from which they germinated have grown in size, it is time to harvest them. (Some cannabis strains do this at different times)
Earlier harvests give the resulting buds a more “high” stimulating effect.
Harvesting at peak maturity will yield the most potency.
Harvesting with the trichome method
The second, more accurate method of determining flower maturity is to examine the trichomes.
You will need a magnifying glass for detailed viewing.
Trichomes are the tiny stalk-like glands that grow in the calyxes of seeds.
The glands have a round ball of resin on top which is the good thing.
Trichomes also appear everywhere else, albeit in smaller numbers, on all aerial parts of the plant, but the floral trichomes are the ones of interest here.
Trichomes are the resin glands of the cannabis plant.
THC and all other cannabinoids are produced here. The trichomes start in the young flowers, then turn milky and then amber.
Many growers agree that when half of your trichomes have turned cloudy, that’s the perfect time to harvest.
Waiting too long can reduce potency; amber trichomes may indicate cannabinoid degradation.
According to most growers, amber trichomes give more “lethargic” results than lighter trichomes. This is because some of the THC has broken down into cannabinol.
Be ready for harvest
Beyond making sure it’s the right time to harvest, it’s important to be ready when the time comes.
Many growers find it important to “purge” the plants for the last few weeks before harvest. This simply means using plain water rather than giving your plants more fertilizer or food in the last two weeks.
Have a clear plan in mind before harvest. If you are growing in an area where your law prohibits you from growing cannabis, you will need to consider transporting the harvested plants to where you are going to dry and process them.
Although it may seem obvious, make sure your drying room is up and running before you harvest the plants.
Your turn now !