Depending on where you live, a quick trip to the local dispensary is often all it takes to get your hands on legal marijuana, whether to alleviate whatever ailments you may be suffering from or to simply get high.
But while you can always get your cannabis from a reputable dispensary (in states that have legalized it), have you ever considered growing it at home? Much like you would grow a vegetable or herb garden in your own backyard, you can also benefit from the convenience of growing your own cannabis plants. In fact, many in the cannabis business prefer this method.
If you use marijuana for medical purposes, growing your own cannabis comes with a slew of benefits. For starters, you always have access to it right in your own home without worry of running out. Rather than having to go out to get more when your stash runs low, you'll be able to tap into your own home-grown source.
Further, you'll have the peace of mind knowing what's in the final product.
Sometimes it can be tough to determine if there are any residues or toxins mixed in with chemically-extracted cannabis products. By growing and producing their own marijuana plants, cannabis growers know exactly what's in it.
But it's important to be aware of the exact laws in your state when it comes to growing marijuana. Every state has different regulations in terms of how many plants you can grow, who can grow them, and whether or not marijuana plants are allowed to be grown in residential settings at all.
Luckily, many states allow the growth of legal cannabis plants, but as already stated, be sure to check your local laws to see what applies to you.
For example, Californians over the age of 21 are allowed to grow as many as six plants, and those who are part of the medical marijuana program can grow as many plants as required to meet their medical needs.
In Colorado, those using cannabis for medical reasons can grow up to six plants at home (three of them mature). In Oregon, recreational users can grow up to four plants at home. Registered medical users can grow up to six plants plus eight additional seedlings.
So, how do you go about developing your own marijuana crop? This guide will show you how to grow cannabis at home.
Many prefer growing their plants indoors or in a greenhouse to avoid pests and other elements involved in growing outdoors. Follow these steps to promote successful marijuana growth in an indoor grow space.
1. Gather the right tools
Growing a cannabis garden at home isn't just as simple as planting a seed in a pot and watering it. There are a few pieces of equipment that indoor growers need to ensure that their marijuana plants are healthy:
Containers - You'll need to put the seeds and plants in something, and pots or planter beds are typically the standard items to use.
Soil - Unless you plan on using hydroponic systems where you grow your pants in a man-made medium, you’ll need organic soil.
Clean water - Make sure the water you feed your plants is clean, filtered, and free of contaminants.
Grow lights - If you're growing your crops inside the house, you'll need a source of light to replace the natural light of the sun, and LED grow lights can step in and fill this void.
Room liner - Lining the space that you grow your cannabis plants will serve a few purposes, including keeping bugs and mold out, maximizing your grow light's output and making sure that no exterior light can penetrate into the room.
Extraction fan - To keep the temperature in the grow space low enough and give the plants lots of fresh CO2, you'll need an extraction fan. Otherwise, you'll need to rely on air conditioning and a CO2 generator, which are more expensive.
Carbon filter - To minimize the marijuana smell — especially during the flowering phase — carbon filters are a must.
Ducting - Ducting is an essential component to ensure proper ventilation of your garden.
Circulating fan - Having a fan that circulates the air will help keep the plants happy.
2. Collect the exact strain(s) you want
To make the most of your cannabis growing efforts at home, consider high-yielding strains that will flower quickly (anywhere above 500g/m2) and develop crops in abundance. Some of the high-yield cannabis strains to consider include:
You may also want to consider picking strains that are easier to grow and aren't as picky and finicky. A lot of work goes into ensuring healthy crops, which can be quite time consuming. Further, there's also a learning curve involved in understanding all the factors that go into growing cannabis, such as flowering time, flavors, and yields per square meter.
You can minimize the effort required to grow healthy plants by choosing easier-to-grow strains, such as the following:
Consider also whether you want to grow sativa, indica, or hybrid strains. The exact strain you choose will depend on the type of effect you're going for when you finally use the plants you grow.
For instance, indica strains provide more of a physically sedating effect, which is ideal for those who are seeking a more relaxing experience when using cannabis. These are ideal for alleviating anxiety or promoting more restful sleep.
Sativa strains, on the other hand, induce a more energizing effect that may be more useful for providing mental focus and energy needed to perform a physical task.
Hybrids are simply a cross between the two. Keep in mind that some strains might be indica-dominant, which means it may have a more sedating effect, while a sativa-dominant strain may produce a more energizing effect.
At the end of the day, choose the strain that will provide you with the exact effect you're going for, as well as what will make the growing process easier. The varieties of strains might seem overwhelming, but research will help make the decision easier.
3. Start the growing process
Now that you know what you're going to grow and you've gathered your arsenal of equipment and tools, it’s time to get started. Follow these steps to start and continue planting and growing your own cannabis.
Get set up
The way that you set up your growing space will heavily influence the type of yields you produce. Choose a room in your home that will provide you with enough space to accommodate your yields and has access to things such as electrical outlets and proper ventilation.
Once you've chosen the room, set up your tent, fans, lighting, and ducting to get the area ready for your pots and planter beds. Lay out the beds, growing medium, and seeds in the right quantities and arrangements, then start planting.
Germinate the seeds
Germination involves getting the seeds to sprout. That first tendril that emerges from the seed is referred to as the taproot and serves as the basis for all other roots that the cannabis plant makes throughout its lifespan.
In order to ensure adequate germination, your marijuana seeds will require the following:
When they're in the vegetative stage...
Once the marijuana plants have reached the vegetative phase, you can then start focusing your efforts on ensuring that the plants grow big and strong. To do that, make sure to:
Water them appropriately. If you're growing your plants in soil, water them whenever the top of the soil starts to feel dry. Make sure not to overwater, as a wet-dry cycle is required for plant roots to grow.
Give them the appropriate amount of light. In the vegetative stage, marijuana plants need as much as 18 to 24 hours of light a day when grown indoors.
When they're in the flowering stage...
Once your plants have entered the flowering phase, be sure not to transfer them, or you could risk their health. Instead, make sure your plants are in the last container they need to be in no more than 2 weeks before they start to bud.
At this point, consider changing to a 12-on 12-off light schedule. This will help speed up the flowering phase and obtain results much faster.
Identify the gender of your cannabis plants and get rid of any males when you spot them. It's important to identify and eliminate male plants before they're able to produce their pollen because they don't have any amount of CBD or THC of worth.
To identify male versus female plants in your crop, look out for any signs of little sacks of pollen developing at the nodes where the branches meet the stem. This happens at the pre-flowering phase when the plant begins to put its energy into reproduction. The nodes of female cannabis plants will start to produce immature sepals with pistils.
Pay close attention to the plants during the flowering stage, as they are vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies at this point.
4. Harvest the crop
The rule of thumb to consider it marijuana harvest time is when the cannabis buds have a bold scent, are full, and stop growing new, white hairs. About half of the white hairs have darkened at this point, which is a good time to start harvesting.
For the highest THC potency, harvest when over half to three-quarters of the white hairs have darkened. And to achieve more CBD conversion from THC (for a more relaxing effect), harvest when almost all of the hairs have darkened.
5. Dry and cure the buds
Once all the buds have been plucked, hang them upside down in a cool, dark room to dry out. For optimal results, be sure to allow the buds to dry slowly. Also, check on the buds often to identify any overly dry spots or mold.
Growing your own cannabis can give you the freedom to create a bud that serves your exact needs. It's also a fulfilling, rewarding, and enjoyable pastime that you can adopt.
Unlike with outdoor growing, growing cannabis indoors is more controlled, but requires a strong green thumb and a lot of attention. With a little know-how and the right tools, you can grow your own high-quality stash of medical cannabis that you can tap into whenever the need to alleviate uncomfortable or even painful ailments arises.