The Ultimate Guide to Growing Cannabis

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Woman growing cannabis

Now that cannabis has been legalized in a number of states throughout the country, people have been trying to grow their own at home, giving “green-fingered” a whole new meaning. 

However, unless you are already familiar with the way these plants need to be cared for, you might find that you run into trouble during the growing process. Weed can be hardy, but don’t confuse it for ‘weeds’ that stubbornly yet successfully grow in your yard against all the odds.

To help you get started with your very own grow, we have put together this ultimate guide to growing cannabis so that you can avoid the silly mistakes that are most commonly made. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to successfully grow marijuanna, from seeds and starting your crop to harvesting your plants and how to ensure the biggest yield.

Can I Grow Cannabis?

Can I grow cannabis

Before you can figure out if you are actually capable of growing marijuanna, it is important to make sure that you can grow cannabis where you live, by which we mean whether or not you ‘legally’ can or if it is still considered illegal in your local area. In that case, no, you can’t.

Some States Have Legalized Marijuanna

Luckily for you, a lot of states have now legalized marijuanna which has helped to reduce some of the stigma it once had. Not only can you smoke medical marijuanna for legitimate health reasons, but you can also smoke it recreationally in the majority of states, these days. 

Colorado and Washington D.C. were of the first few states to get the ball rolling after they legalized weed through a statewide vote, but Vermont was “the first state to legalize marijuanna through legislature, rather than a ballot initiative”, according to Business Insider.

Find Out If You Can Grow Cannabis In Your State First, Before Growing

Check out all of the states that have legalized weed in the US and remember that if your state does not appear on this list, it will be considered illegal for you to grow your own weed.

If you are growing marijuanna in a state where it is not legal, you may face federal laws and penalties. So, despite the many pros for growing marijuanna, consider the consequences you could face before you rush into getting started with your own home marijuanna grow.

Understand the Basics

Understand the basics

In order to grow good-quality, healthy buds with a big yeild, it is important that you understand the basics of growing cannabis, which includes the plant cycle, the growth stages, and the different requirements of different strains such as male and female plants

Cannabis Plant and Growth Cycle

Growing marijuanna is a lot easier if you are already familiar with the plant and growth cycle. 

Depending on whether or not you start your cannabis plant from seed (more information on this later), it can take between 14 and 32 weeks (or four to eight months) for a marijuanna plant to reach maturity. There are four stages of marijuanna plant growth that you will notice:

  • Germination (3 to 10 days)
  • Seedling (2 to 3 weeks) 
  • Vegetative (3 to 16 weeks) 
  • Flowering (8 to 11 weeks) 

 Each stage requires varying levels of light, nutrients, and water to keep the plant healthy.

1. Germination Stage

At this point in their growth cycle, a marijuanna plant needs around 16 hours of light per day.

It all starts with your cannabis seed which should feel quite dried out and hard to the touch, as well as light or dark brown in color. Make sure the seed is not light green or white in color and softer as this means that it is undeveloped and it could fail to germinate properly at all.

Once the seed has germinated or sprouted, you can place it in soil and the root will start to grow downward while the stem of the seedling starts to grow upwards towards the sky. 

Two leaves will sprout off of this original stem, called rounded cotyledon leaves, and these are responsible for ensuring that the plant gets enough sunlight to stay healthy and stable.

2. Seedling Stage

At this point in their growth cycle, a marijuanna plant needs around 16 hours of light per day.

You will notice that more traditional-looking cannabis leaves start to sprout during the seedling stage, although they will start with just the one ridged blade and then grow more throughout the cycle. Once fully matured, there will be five to seven blades on each leaf. 

A healthy seedling will be quite a vibrant green in terms of color and you will need to make sure that you do not overwater it at this stage due to it having smaller roots. The plant will be vulnerable to mold-related issues and plant rot, so avoid excess moisture and dark areas.

Starting your seedling off indoors means you can use an artificial light during these early stages to help your weed plant along whilst they’re delicate, or you can entirely skip these first two stages by buying a clone marijuanna plant when it is already in its seedling phase.

3. Vegetative Stage

At this point in their growth cycle, a marijuanna plant needs around 16 hours of light per day. If you are growing your plant outdoors it will need a minimum of six hours in direct or “full” sunlight in addition to several hours of indirect sunlight, i.e. in a bright environment. 

This is where the growth of your marijuanna plant will truly take hold. You should now have re-potted your plant in a larger planter as this will allow the roots and the foliage to develop. At this stage, you can also start topping or training your plants so they don’t grow wonkily. 

Water your plants more generously through the vegetative stage to make sure it reaches the roots as they continue to grow down into the soil so they can still absorb water effectively.

It is also important to think about the level of nutrients your plants are getting so try to make sure they are receiving a higher amount of nitrogen during this stage of their growing period. You will need to determine the sex of the plant (more on this shortly) and separate them.

4. Flowering Stage

The last and final stage is the flowering phase of the marijuanna plant’s growing cycle. 

At this point in their growth cycle, a marijuanna plant needs around 12 hours of light per day.

You will start to notice resinous buds appearing on the plant and in most circumstances, it will take between eight and nine weeks for it to fully flower, depending on the strain. There are three sub phases that occur within the marijuanna plant’s flowering stage, including: 

Flower initiation: In the first week of flowering and up until week three, there is continued growth and female marijuanna plants start to develop pre-buds that appear as white hairs.

Mid-flowering: This is when the plant stops growing while the buds increase in size.

Late flowering or ripening: From week six onwards, the trichome density will increase and the plants will become stickier to the touch, so keep an eye on the pistils or buds.

Cannabis Comes in Female and Male Varieties

What does this mean? Essentially, that marijuanna plants can hermaphrodite if they are not cared for properly. There are also other differences between male and female varieties.

For example, male marijuanna plants are a necessary requirement if you are looking to pollinate and breed cannabis, whereas unfertilized female marijuanna plants tend to be the best type of plants to grow for smoking purposes, making weed-infused products, or selling.

Before your crop reaches maturity, you should remove any male marijuanna plants that creep up in your crop as these will fertilize the female plants rather than causing them to flower. As a result, instead of harvesting usable marijuanna, you will only have more seeds.

Understand the Difference Between Plants and Growth Stages

Once you have learned more about and you understand the difference between plants and growth stages, you will be able to keep track of any changes during the growing process. 

Keeping a ‘grow journal’ is a great idea as you can write down any notable changes that you spot. This allows you to look back over your previous grows and you will be able to keep a record of what has worked well for you and your plants and what has caused a crop to fail.

Growing Goals

Growing goals

Another important aspect to think about when you are growing weed is your growing goals.

What Are Your Reasons For Growing?

There is a big difference between growing a marijuanna crop because you want to use it for personal use and because you are hoping to sell it – and each has different legal factors to consider. Furthermore, if your goal is to grow bud with high THC content, you will want to weed out any of the male marijuanna plants that have started to appear in your crop. 

If you are growing weed for commercial purposes, you will also want to establish this as your goal early on in the process as this will influence a number of the decisions you will need to make. For example, certain growing methods will take longer than others, in which case you will probably want to avoid them so that you do not end up extending your turnaround time.

Choosing an Environment

As with any plant, growing marijuanna in the right environment is essential if you want to produce a good crop. This means doing your research around what requirements are needed for marijuanna plants to grow successfully and healthily without any issues.

You Can Either Plant Weed Indoors or Outdoors

One of the biggest questions that marijuanna growers are unsure of the correct answer to is whether or not it is better to plant your weed indoors or in an outdoor environment. This is hardly helped by the fact that actually, you can grow it either way with different results.  

When you grow weed indoors, you will need to be mindful of anyone else living there – including children and pets. Make sure plants are out of reach somewhere safe and secure. Temperature and humidity levels also need to be managed and controlled to a certain point. 

Growing weed outside is more natural, as we are about to explain, and has been used as a successful way to grow marijuanna for centuries. However, this does also mean that you will be more at risk of natural influences having a negative impact on the plants you are growing.

Outdoors is the Cheapest and Most Natural Way of Growing

According to Leafly, growing outdoors is much cheaper compared to growing weed indoors. This is because you will have the natural light of the sun on your side as well as natural resources that you would have to recreate indoors, as we are about to go into momentarily. 

As we have already mentioned, you will be at the mercy of the natural environment you plant your marijuanna in if you choose to grow it outdoors, including extreme weather conditions and pests that will have easier access to your growing plants, such as hornworms and bugs.

With that being said, it is sometimes worth these additional risks, as studies have shown that outdoor-grown weed is not only better for the environment, but it is also better in quality.

Indoor Growing Involves Fluorescent Lighting, Heaters, and Air Conditioning

Indoor growing helps to mitigate the problems you would experience if you were growing marijuanna plants outdoors, but this can also come with its own set of complicated needs. 

For example, growing marijuanna indoors often calls for additional fluorescent lighting to ensure that the plants are receiving an appropriate amount of sunlight each day. The same can be said for both heaters and air conditioners which can help to regulate the temperature. 

Although you can decide what sort of equipment you need or want to use, it can be quite intimidating for a beginner grower to get started when there is this much that goes into it. 

Not only this, but you will also need to consider the costs of this equipment when deciding how to grow your marijuanna plants as they can start to add up quickly if you grow this way.

Seeds Versus Clones

Seeds Vs Clones

As we briefly touched on earlier, you can either start your marijuanna plant from seed and watch it grow through its entire life cycle, or you can alternatively skip out the first two phases of their life by purchasing a plant as a clone from a reputable seller or weed breeder. 

This section will take a look at the differences between cannabis seeds and cannabis clones.

Cannabis Seeds Come in Three Types (Regular, Feminized, and Autoflower)

So, what’s the difference? 

It is difficult to tell just by looking at the seeds, but there are a few key differences between regular, feminized, and autoflower marijuanna seeds which we are going to discuss now. 

Firstly, regular seeds are usually a combination of male and female plants that need to grow into their sex. Feminized seeds will, unsurprisingly, all grow into female plants that can be harvested for marijuanna with a more potent THC content. They can flower in the ground.

Finally, autoflower seeds are a type of marijuanna plant that will do most of the work for you (making them a great choice for beginners) as they will flower on their own during the growing process without the need for much interference or manipulation from you.

Clones Are Introduced in the Flowering Stage

If you would like to avoid the seedling phases and skip straight to the part where your plant starts to flower, you can alternatively choose to buy a marijuanna clone instead of seeds.

This will save you months of cultivation which is especially laborious if you are growing for commercial purposes and you are hoping to receive a quicker return of your investment. 

Cloning cannabis plants works by taking cuttings of a marijuanna plant that has reached full maturity and transplanting them so they can grow a complete root system. This occurs soon after they have been transplanted, making them a more attractive choice for commercial growers, although there is a risk that you will inherit any issues from the seedling stage.

Remember That Finding Seeds/Cloves is Influenced By Your State’s Legality of Cannabis

Before we get you too excited about the choice of growing your cannabis plants indoors or outdoors, it is only fair that we make a point of reminding you that this will also have to depend on the legality of cannabis and the laws regarding growing this plant in your state. 

Some states still have certain laws regarding marijuanna cultivation, so it is important to make sure that you have checked the policies regarding marijuanna growing for your state. 

In states where marijuanna cultivation is legal, you can purchase the seeds at dispensaries or online, but you should do some research to check the reputation of the company or site. Even if you live outside of a state where it is legal, there are seed banks outside of the US that you can order seeds from, but customs will confiscate anything from over the border.

You will also need to research and compare seed prices to make sure that you are getting a good deal and that you are not being scammed, as prices vary from a few to a hundred dollars. This will mainly depend on the strain of marijuanna and the rarity of the seeds.

Growing Equipment

Before you get started with your grow, it is best to make sure that you have got all the equipment and everything else that you will need throughout the whole process. 

So, let’s take a look at some of the essential growing equipment you will need to get.

Indoor Growing Takes More Skill and Maintenance

As we have already discussed, there is more to think about when you decide to grow your marijuanna plants indoors. This takes more skill and maintenance as you will need to replicate the perfect environmental conditions that the plant will need to grow healthily. 

As a result, you will need more equipment than if you were to choose to grow outside.

Outdoor Growing Requires Less Skill and Maintenance

Logically then, outdoor growing requires less skill and maintenance because the natural elements will do a lot of the work for you. This can make it a great option for beginners, and it is one of the reasons why outdoor growing is cheaper, as there is less equipment needed.

Despite this, there is no real way to decide which way of growing cannabis is better, and this is because it will all come down to what you are hoping to achieve and get out of your grow.

Indoor Growing Requires 4 Essential Elements: Lights, Water, Nutrients, and Air

To grow indoors, you will need to purchase equipment that can replicate the four essential elements that cannabis plants require in order to grow successfully. This includes light, water, nutrients, and air, all of which are free to use and automatically occur outside. 

Your marijuanna setup should therefore include the following equipment to cover these four essential elements so that you can continue to grow marijuanna just as successfully indoors: 

  • Marijuanna seeds – you won’t get far without these! 
  • Fluorescent grow lights.
  • A type of medium for growing, such as soil or Hydroton.
  • Nutrients and supplements.
  • Pots and buckets.
  • Some kind of ventilation.
  • A thermometer. 
  • Tools to test the pH and PPM. 
  • A carbon filter. 
  • A grow tent. 

Make sure to do your research and buy quality, reliable equipment.

Outdoor Growing Requires Some Pots and Good Quality Soil

As you can probably tell from the subheadings above, outdoor growing requires less equipment. You should be fine with a few pots and some good quality soil, as the four elements you need to consider for indoor growing are already taken care of by the elements.

Points to Consider

Points to consider

Now that we have walked you through some of the most fundamental principles that you will need to understand in order to grow your own marijuanna, let’s remind you of some of the key points you will need to consider before you are ready to start planting your own weed. 

Each of these points is important to think about in general terms for your grow, but you should pay particular attention to them when you are selecting a strain to start growing.

Cost of Growing

One of the big things that people seem to forget in the excitement of growing their own marijuanna plants at home is the cost of growing and whether or not it is financially worth it. 

Of course, if you are simply attempting to grow your own marijuanna plant purely for the fun of it, then you do not need to worry too much about the cost of growing as you can consider this the same as when you decide to spend a certain amount of money on any hobby.

However, this could influence what type of environment you plan on growing the marijuanna in. If, for example, you want to keep the costs of growing lower, you can choose to grow the plants outside which reduces the need for expensive equipment such as fluorescent lighting.


As we have repeatedly told you, availability depends on the legality of marijuanna cultivation in your state. This will determine how easily you are able to come by seeds or plant clones. 

Provided that it is legal in your state, purchasing cannabis seeds should be as easy as picking them up at your local dispensary. You will still be limited to the selection of strains available to you locally, however, as seeds/clones are not allowed to cross state borders.

Climate and Environment

According to Leafly, there are certain strains that grow more successfully when they are left to their own devices outdoors as they have more space and exposure to natural elements. 

With that being said, some plants prefer to be grown indoors where you can keep an eye on them and closely monitor their growing behaviour. You will also need to think about how the plants themselves will grow and whether they will be suited to a particular space at home. 

For example, plants that tend to grow wild and free will benefit from an outdoor space, whereas smaller plants will grow well in the space you have available indoors.

Garden Space

Even if you have chosen to grow your marijuanna plants outdoors, you will still need to factor in the amount of space you have available for them to grow in, especially as they mature. 

There are strains of cannabis that grow successfully in small or large spaces, but choose one that is meant to be grown in the other, and it can lead to an unsuccessful yield. 

If you already know that you are only going to need a small space in an otherwise large yard, you can start to think about what area will be best to build a growing patch. On the other hand, if you know you only have a small yard, you will need to prepare for this. 

This could mean changing your initial plan and choosing to grow indoors, or you could change the strain entirely and opt for something like an indica, for example, which often mature into plants that are shorts and bushier which means they need less room to grow.

Length of Time to Grow

Additionally, do not forget to think about how much time a marijuanna crop will take to grow. 

If you are growing for commercial purposes, for example, then you will require a crop with a fast turnaround time which might mean you are better suited to a certain strain or that you will be better off buying your plants as a clone rather than trying to grow them from seeds. 

Certain strains take much longer to mature than other types, as long as up to 12 weeks in some cases. If that seems like too long to you or does not suit the purposes for your grow, you should try to shop around for a strain that will only require a shorter eight or nine weeks. 

Remember, autoflowering seeds are the type that take the least amount of time to flower.

Weed Can Be Difficult to Grow Sometimes

Arguably the most important factor to consider when you are thinking about growing your own weed is that it is not always easy! Sometimes, weed can just be difficult to grow either due to the strain or the conditions it faced in its early stages, and is no reflection of your skill. 

This is why it is important to research the strain that you are considering growing as if you are only at the beginning of your cannabis cultivating career, you may want to begin with something that will be a little easier to grow rather than opting for the most difficult ones.

With that being said, even the difficult strains to grow usually only require a little bit of additional attention or some more patience, and these are things that can be worked out or mastered along the way. It will take time and research, but eventually, you will get there.

Summary: Start Growing!

A woman started growing cannabis

Although it probably feels like we have just thrown a bunch of information at you all at once, the best way to learn about growing marijuanna is to just get stuck in and start growing it! 

You will start to pick things up along the way and with the help of everything we have covered throughout this article, you should have everything you need. Plus, seeds are pretty cheap, so at least you don’t need to worry about making mistakes and wasting grows. 

We hope that you have found this article helpful. Happy growing!