In this article, I am going to teach you how to grow marijuana at home. I will talk about all the phases of cultivation from seed germination to site preparation, all the stages of plant growth, when and how to switch to flowering. I am also going to teach you about bud development and, most importantly, when and how to harvest, dry, and cure.
After reading this article, you will be growing like a pro organically.
- 1 Phase # 1: Seed Germination
- 2 Phase # 2: Vegetative Stage
- 3 Phase # 3: Transition Stage
- 4 Phase # 4: Flowering Stage
- 5 Final Phase: Harvesting Stage
Phase # 1: Seed Germination
Let’s talk about seed germination. Seed germination is essentially the act of waking your seed. It is important that you choose the right seed for you. So let’s talk about Genetics.
Cannabis can be broken into three main categories. You’ve got Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid (a combination of Indica and Sativa). Sativa is predominantly a lot taller and bushier, and Indica is a lot shorter and kind of stout like a Christmas tree. Hybrids are something in between. So you will need to decide on and consider your medicinal needs. Do some online research to understand what these different genetics will do.
Once you have chosen your genetics, now you have to germinate. To germinate the seed, you will need a Humidity dome, a Fluorescent light used for vegetables, and your preferred seed. I like to use Tweezers to pick up the seeds to avoid using the oil from my hand. Get a little Biodegradable compostable pot so you can put this right into the soil after the plant growing in it. I would also recommend you to get a Hygrometer, your humidity gauge, and of course, last but not least, you will need your Organic soil. After that, all you got to do now is germinate.
Take a little bit of soil and put that in the decomposable pot to fill it up to the top. You want to put enough water in there only to moisten the soil, not to over-water it. The key to this is never to let this dry out.
The next step is to make a little hole with your pinky, nail deep only, and drop the seed in. You want to put the point facing down. You’ll notice the seed has a little pointy end that is facing downwards. Small roots will come out from there. So carefully get it in there and pop it in.
Now take the pot and put it in the humidity dome along with the hydrometer and close the dome. Place the fluorescent light right on top of the dome, and you are in business.
Temperature and Humidity
I think a few crucial things to make sure you pay attention to is your temperature and your humidity. Ideally, you want to keep it around 26-28c degrees and roughly humidity around 70%. This is when you have the highest humidity out of all the stages of your plant cycle. If you don’t have one of these lights, make sure you keep it to an open light source like on your windowsill or somewhere where there’s a lot of light coming in, and nature will do its thing.
Do’s and Don’ts
Just protect this plant, don’t over-water it. Don’t let it dry out, don’t press it down either. Keep it just how it is, baby this a bit, and wait for the magic to happen.
Planning for next stage
In a week, your plant should look like this.
This is probably the time you will need to plan what gear you’re putting in that room, and you want to start with a light, a timer, and fans. So you’re going to have an intake fan, an oscillating fan which kind of moves around all that fresh air and then you’re going to have an outtake fan which takes that air and pushes it out.
Besides that, you’re going to need your hygrometer, which is for your temperature and humidity to make that summer breeze Mexico kind of feeling, and of course, you will need a pH meter.
Germinate your seed in warm moist soil. Keep it in a humidity dome and monitor the moisture and the humidity. After about a week, you’re going to see its sprout, and then it’s time to prep. As you will be growing it indoors, plan all your gear and get everything you need to have a successful grow.
Phase # 2: Vegetative Stage
In this section, I will cover the vegetative stage, and this is where your plant is only focused on size and structure. The vegetative stage starts when your plant is 2-3 weeks old.
Prepare a Grow bag with organic soil and make it moist. The key to this not to over-water it. Then all you have to do is pretty straightforward. Just make a hole as the size of the previous pot that your plant was in and pop it in. If you’re using a plastic pot, pinch it around the sides, flip it upside down to get the plant out. Plant it in the Grow bag and put the soil around it to cover all the roots, just not the actual stalk. This is when your plant is going to do its maximum size and structure only, no flowering at this stage. So that’s what we’re going to focus right now.
Let’s quickly talk about the lights. If you are growing outdoors, you have nothing to worry about because you’ve got the best light there is the Sun, and it’s free. But when you’re growing indoors or maybe you’re growing in the wintertime, you will need lights. So let’s cover them quickly.
Right now, you have your fluorescent light, which is perfect for waking your seeds and nurturing your plant in the first few weeks. After that, you need Metal halide. Think spring, think blues, and yellows, and that is for your plant’s vigorous growth. Then you switch over to High-pressure sodium lights. Think deep reds, middle of the summer, nice and hot promotes massive bud growth. But my favorite of all is the LED grow lights because we’re there and the technology is there too. LED lights are so cool because they barely pull any power. So for me, this is a no-brainer. It’s entirely up to you what lights you want to use.
Temperature and Humidity
With either Metal halide or the LED light, you got to use your trusty timer. So what that means is you don’t want to be tending to your plants when it’s dark when you come home from work or whatever else. So plan your day around the light cycle. Now you will be doing an 18 hour light cycle with six hours of dark. So plan that with your timer and plan the light cycle around your day. You need to keep your temperatures around 22-26 degrees in the daytime and 22-24 degrees at night with humidity range about 60 to 70%.
Soil and Fertilizer
Now let’s talk about nutrients for your plants during the vegetative state. Do not use the pre-mixed soil that already has fertilizer in it. Aside from that, you will need pH up and pH down and organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are packed with minerals and enzymes and the primary source of nutrients for your plant during the vegetative state. They promote a healthy ecosystem in your soil, which is essential for your plant’s growth.
I will quickly talk about pH because this is extremely important and crucial for your entire plant’s life cycle. The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. pH level less than 7 is acidic and greater than 7 is very alkaline. Cannabis likes the scale between 5.5 to 6.5. That is why it is essential to have a pH pen. It will tell you all the information you need to know about your pH in your water. Always check the pH after you add the organic fertilizer in, not before.
I can’t say this enough. Don’t over-water your plants and don’t underwater your plants either. The way to avoid this entirely is by using a Moisture meter. All you have to do is put it in your soil. So you want to make sure you keep the moisture in the soil around the middle of that gauge. Outside of that, you need to do a little troubleshooting around the leaves. If you see that the leaves are a bit yellow, you might need to double up the fertilizer. If the whole plant looks healthy, only the tips are a little yellow, which means you’re giving it too much fertilizer and back off a little bit.
Pinch the Top
That’s what you will have to monitor with each plant is the signs. It’ll talk to you if you pay attention to it. After your plant reaches about a foot or two, you will need to pinch the tops to allow your plant to grow a little bushier. Plants always want to grow straight up. So if you pinch the top, it’ll develop two new shoots instead of just one. You will have to come into the middle, and without cutting the other two nodes, only take the very piece off. Now that’s going to make the plant put all its energy to these other two nodes, which will grow two more branches instead of just the one going straight up. You can do this every week or so to create a bushier plant that will give you more buds in the end.
- Choose your light. You’re either choosing a metal halide or a LED light and turning that light cycle to 18 hours of light and six hours of dark. So plan that light cycle around your workday.
- Don’t over-water or underwater your plant. Use the moisture meter to make sure you’ve got the perfect moisture content in your plant at all times.
- Look for signs of stress with your plant. If you see the leaves are a little discolored or yellow, then up your fertilizer. If the tips are a bit burned, then reduce your fertilizer. For the perfect feeding schedule, refer to your grow chart for the specific marijuana strain that you are growing.
- Look at the tips of your plants and pinch those little spots that will give you a bushier plant, which will increase more buds and harvest more of yield.
Phase # 3: Transition Stage
In this section, I am going to talk about when is the ideal time to switch your plants from vegetative growth to flowering. I will also cover the new lights and the nutrients you’ll be using, low-stress training, pruning, and pests.
It’s totally up to you when you decide to switch to flower. I find that when you look inside your room, and your plants are roughly two-thirds full, that is the ideal time. The way you’re going to do that is by changing your timer from 18 hours to 12 hours. This way, you will trigger your plants into flowering. You will also need to consider their growth. As some marijuana plants can grow tall, so you need to consider how much larger it is going to grow depending on your room size.
Let’s cover your lights. If you’re growing outdoors, then you’re dialed, but if you’re growing indoors, you will need to switch from your Metal halide to high-pressure sodium lights. These lights are responsible for the deep reds you’ll find in the late summer to early fall. If you’re not using this, then you are obviously using LED light. With LED lights, all you have to do is to flip a switch and now your flowering.
Temperature & Humidity
So your temperature is going to be between 22-23 degrees in the day and 21-22 degrees at night, but be careful about the humidity. Now you want to drop your humidity level and keep it in that range of between 40 and 60%. This is the key to your flower bloom success because you don’t want any powdered mildew. If it is too humid, you can subject your plants to that powdery mildew.
Let’s cover the nutrients you’re going to be using in the flowering stage. You’re still going to be using the organic fertilizer because this is the primary source of nutrients for your entire plant cycle, but now you’re going to combine Organic supplement. The organic supplement is a top dress that you’ll be doing on week 1 and week 3. It is rich in calcium and magnesium and helps promote the blooming process of your plant.
Additionally, you will be adding in Compost tea. This feeds micronutrients, trace minerals, and amino acids, and it also flushes out excess nutrients that have been built up in the soil.
If you are in week one of flowering, this is the perfect time to do a little pruning and low-stress training. When a plant grows, it tries to put all its energy into every one of its branches. At this stage, we want to give all the energy to the top 2/3 of the plant and take off the bottom 1/3. Because the very bottom of the plant is not going to see enough light and waste a lot of the energy that can be put into the plant and give it to all the rest of the branches so it can produce beautiful buds. To do that, you will need to prune the bottom of the plant. Once the plant gets a little bigger, look for those branches that don’t seem like they’re going to get any light. Use sterilize clippers to clip down the branches at the bottom of the plant, trim it up a bit, and keep it nice and clean.
After you have cleared the bottom 1/3 of the plant, now you are going to do a little low-stress training. What that means is that you are going to bend the top of the plant down, grab a string or a wire, tie it to the top of this plant and then anchor it down to your pot. That will allow all the other branches to stretch out and catch up to the top branch, and create an even canopy space. As the plant keeps growing, you’re going to keep doing this low-stress training and a little pruning to try to get that even canopy space so you can get maximum exposure to your entire plant.
You want to give your canopy as much light as possible. The closer the lights are, the better the plants are, but you don’t want to burn your plants. So if you’re using a high-pressure sodium light, the rule of thumb is to put your hand above the plants and make sure it is not too hot. If you’re using an LED light, then 18-24 inches is ideal for how far you want to have it away from your plants. Just gauge it to make sure that you don’t burn your plants.
So we’ve told you everything that you want. Here’s what you don’t want. Pests and molds. The way to avoid both of these is keeping your humidity level low and your rooms extremely clean.
First, I am going to talk about is thrips. Thrips are found in your soil, and they look like little flies that fly around. To combat these, you will need to find some flypaper or some thrip paper and post it up in the soil, and that will collect as many trips as possible.
Mites are microscopic, and you can barely see them. They are little, but they can do a lot of damage. Next thing you know, you’ll see webs all over your plants. To avoid this, you will need to keep your room as clean as possible. Besides that, if you still get the mites, use a little Neem oil or Insecticidal soap for plants.
Let’s talk about molds. Mold is when you have your humidity too high. There are two main types of mold, powdered mildew, and black mold. If you see a little bit of powdered mildew, don’t panic. Drop your humidity levels low and take off any leaves that have powdered mildew on them. It looks like a little white kind of powder. If it’s black mold inside your bud, then you have to eliminate it right away because it can spread quickly. The way you can avoid all this is by dropping your humidity levels and keeping it between 60 and 40 percent. That will keep away the mold as much as possible.
- Change your light cycle from 18 hours down to 12 hours.
- Use new nutrients, but keep the temperature relatively the same.
- Drop your humidity levels down to about 40 to 60%.
- Prune and do low-stress training of your plant to keep that even canopy space.
- Put your hand between the lights and the plant to check that it’s not too hot.
- Keep your room extremely clean, and your humidity levels low to avoid pests and molds.
Phase # 4: Flowering Stage
In this section, I will cover feeding schedules, bud development, how to avoid some of the pitfalls of bud development between week five and harvest, final flushing, and how to figure out when it’s the perfect time to harvest.
For bud development, it is crucial to feed your plants exactly what they need. Not too much more, not too little. If you don’t give your plants enough food, they will potentially stunt their growth and might leave them susceptible to some of the diseases like mold or possibly some of those pests. We don’t want either one. These buds require a lot of energy of the plant, so giving them the right amount of nutrition is the key.
Let’s talk about nutrition for a second. You’ve got the organic fertilizer every week, compost tea on week five only, after that you’re only using the organic supplement which gives the juice for the plant to give these crazy buds that last kind of push. So, you need to pay attention to your feed schedule and make sure you refer to your grow guide for your plant’s custom feed schedule.
It is exciting when you get to see the fruits of your labor starting to show up. And in week five, this is where you’ll see the flowers beginning to get closer and closer together, and they create these things called the calyx.
Calyxes get a lot plumper until they form what’s called buds. Once buds come closer together and develop more, they create what we call colas.
As you can see in the picture below, there are hairs all over here, called pistils.
After a while, you will see a sugar-coating all over the plant that almost looked like diamonds. Those are called trichome that has the medicinal ingredients of the plant. You can see them everywhere, and they put out a smell called terpenes which are found in the trichomes.
Temperature and Humidity
So as your buds are forming, you need to watch your temperature and humidity. This is crucial because while you are forming these colas and if the temperatures dropped too low and your humidity is too high, you can get something really unfortunate called Botrytis. Botrytis is a bud rot that happens inside the bud and moves its way out. It eats the plant from the inside out. Once it goes airborne, you are in trouble. The only way to avoid Botrytis is not to get it at all. So you need to continually monitor the temperatures and make sure they don’t drop too low and keep the humidity low. Remember we talked earlier about that 40%-60%? Stay within that range on the lower end of sixty, especially at this stage.
As yours plants progress, you’re going to see these beautiful buds start to swell up, and the calyx is really getting swollen and clumped up and denser, and then they’ll start slowing down. This is the first indication when it’s time to think about flushing. What you’re going to do is you’re going to stop using fertilizer and put in pH balanced water. It will flush the excess salts and minerals from your actual soil, and then your plant will start relying on just using the nutrients that are found in the leaves and the stems. Once that’s flushed out, then it’s time for harvest.
When you’re flushing your plants, this might be a good time to think about where you’re going to dry your plants. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re going to need a nice dry room where you can control the temperature and the humidity. If you’re already growing indoors, you must be using a grow tent, or a grow room, and if you had had any pests or mold or anything like that, you need to give it a thorough clean. Either way, you’ll want to take the pots out of there, clean it all up, and get it ready for hanging these beautiful plants upside down and giving them that nice long cure.
Another way you can tell when it’s time to harvest is by looking at these trichomes and looking inside with maybe even a magnifying glass. You’ll notice that these trichomes are very clear, and by the time it’s ready to harvest, it’s milky kind of gray, and it has a little amber color to it. If it has that, you’re right on the money for harvest.
The next two tools you’re going to need for harvesting are Clippers. Big clippers are very handy to cut through the tough stalks. You will also need a small clipper for fine-tuning doing the wet trim.
- Feed your plant the right amount of food. Always refer to your grow calendar because it all depends on the genetics you’re growing.
- When you are flushing, prepare your room for curing your plants after you’ve harvested.
- Keep the temperatures the same and dropping the humidity between 40 and 60% to avoid that brutal Botrytis.
Final Phase: Harvesting Stage
This is the stage when you finally clip down those beautiful females and harvest those flowers. In this section, I will cover drying, when and how to trim, and the art of curing.
Let’s talk about the gears that you guys are going to need after harvest. First, you will require a nice dark cleanroom to dry your plants. You can also use a shed outside, a garage, or a second bathroom as long as you can maintain a steady temperature around 20 degrees and humidity around 50% – 60%.
Depending on where you are, what time of the year it is, your humidity level could get crazy. You’ll need a dehumidifier, a heater, and a fan to regulate the temperature and humidity. You may not need all these gears, but you will have to monitor it and make that call yourself.
You will need some clippers, a big one and a needle nose, and some mason jars for curing. That would pretty much cover all the basic tools that you will need for this final stage.
Setting up a dry room
Now you should have your dry room ready and set to the correct temperatures and humidity before you get your plants in there. If you’re using a combination of a heater, air conditioning, dehumidifier, and a humidifier, then test them out beforehand and use your own digital thermometer and hygrometer. Inside your dry room string up several lengths of rope from end to end so you can hang the stems on them.
All you need now is the big shears and the little shears to do this harvest. The big sheers are for cutting through the big stalks, and of course, the little ones are for the small stems. I highly recommend you do a partial to full wet trim. What I mean by that is all the leaves that are sticking out far, you can clip only the individual ones and hang them upside down for drying. And you are only left with sugar leaves and buds, that’s it.
Temperature and Humidity
Once trimmed, hang up each stem upside down from the last note bud and make sure your dry room is dark. The temperatures and humidity levels of your fry room are very crucial at this point. You’ll also want to set a small fan to create just a bit of airflow without blowing directly on the buds.
From day one to day three, your temperatures need to be around 18 to 21 degrees, and the humidity approximately 50 to 60%. The buds are going to shrink dramatically in size. They can go down about 70 percent. So you will need an exhaust fan or a dehumidifier.
From day four to six, you want the humidity around 60 to 65% and keep the temperature relatively the same. When the stem of a bud can bend and then snap, you are ready to move to the next stage. This process should take about seven to ten days.
Now it’s time to cure your buds. What that means is that you’re going to take the moisture inside the bud, and it will slowly release it to the outside of the bud. This process breaks down the chlorophyll which gives you that really smooth smoke. You could take the buds and you can put them out and serve them up as soon as they’re dry but when you cure that’s how you get that smooth tasty flavor.
Once the moisture is left the bud it’s near impossible to add more to it.
If you remove the moisture too slow, there is a chance that you will get molds your buds. The way to achieve this balance is to source some 1 liter wide mouth mason jars from the grocery store and fill them 3/4 full with your buds.
Now stick a digital thermometer hygrometer in a jar to measure the temperature and humidity. The ideal temperature is 21 degrees and around 64% humidity. Leave the jars in a dark place like a closet and check on them every few hours till the humidity stabilizes. If the humidity rises over 64%, remove the buds from the jar and put them in a brown paper bag for a couple of hours. Your buds are not quite dry enough.
If the humidity is lower than 56%, you will dry your buds too quickly, and they won’t cure any further.
Once your buds reach that humidity range of 60-64%, you’re gonna do something called burping. You will need to take off the lid and allow new oxygen to flow in the old gas to come out with that chlorophyll and then seal it up again. Do that for roughly ten to fifteen minutes every day for the first week. After that, you will need to do it every other day on the second week. In the third week, maybe you’ll do it every four days, keeping the temperature and humidity relatively the same until they’re finally curing for the last few weeks without being disturbed.
Once you hit week four, your bud would smell amazing and be ready to smoke. From week four to eight, the humidity should level out. They should be even smoother, and after that, you don’t have to worry about moisture. Just keep that lid tight, and when it’s ready, pull one out and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Now there are humidity packs you can buy online that will keep your cannabis around 64% percent humidity. These are good to use after weeks four onward to maintain a constant humidity level. Once you plan on storing your cannabis for a long term you can vacuum seal them and store them in a cool dark place for up to one year.