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The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Marijuana

Growing marijuana can seem like a daunting task for those who don’t have experience.

The truth is; however, it can be done by just about anyone. As long as a little time and effort are put into understanding how to do it, growing marijuana is pretty easy! Let’s take a beginner’s look at how to grow marijuana.

Overview of how to grow marijuana

Before you do anything at all, you need to take a few steps in terms of research and decision making. This will make a world of difference when you start growing marijuana. Whether it’s the location of where you grow your marijuana, the kind of lights you use, the type of growing environment you should set up, or the type nutrients you should feed your plants, it’s crucial to make some big decisions before you spend any money at all.

Where should I grow marijuana?

This is the biggest and simultaneously the simplest choice you need to make right away: should you grow marijuana indoors or outdoors? There are pros and cons to each, of course, but in the end, it comes down to what makes the most sense for your lifestyle and personal preferences as a whole.

Growing indoors
Growing marijuana indoors can have a lot of advantages. For one thing, it’s more private, so it isn’t out in the open for anyone to stumble upon. It’s not as expensive to set up as you might expect, and you can (and have to) control every aspect of the environment your plants are living in. If you are the type to live and let live rather than thriving in the ability to control every detail, growing indoors may not be for you.

Growing outdoors
If you are specifically looking to save money, growing outdoors might be a better option. You won’t need to purchase things such as lights (since the sun is all the light your plants will need), fans, containers for your plants or the medium they are growing in. That being said, some more unexpected surprises can come up when you’re growing marijuana outdoors. Whether it’s pests such as wildlife, insects, or other animals (including unwanted human visitors), privacy and security, or pollination from male plants elsewhere, growing outdoors can lead to plenty of hurdles.

What kind of grow light should I use?

You should use a grow light that makes the most sense for your particular indoor setup. Although buying a grow light is specifically for indoor settings, it’s still equally important to think about the sun and the amount of sun exposure to your plants if they are growing outdoors. They need a minimum of eight hours of direct sunlight per day to grow the best and fastest. In general, more light leads to more (and bigger) buds at the end.

For indoor growers, you will need to choose a specific type of light. Growers use CFLs, LEDs, MH lamps, HPS lights, and more. CFLs are most commonly used by beginners since they are so inexpensive. If this is your first time, it might be a good choice. LED lights are higher in power and higher in cost (significantly) but they require less electricity than MH or CPS. The latter cost less than LED upon purchase and highly powerful but require quite some more electricity. If you have a small grow setup, however, CFLs are likely the simplest choice for you. If you feel like splurging on the very best, go for a smaller MH/HPS grow light instead.

What kind of grow medium should I use?

The type of growing medium you choose for your marijuana plants will determine exactly how you will need to care for them. There are a lot of options besides simple soil, so it’s important to do your homework and find out the pros and cons of each before choosing one.

Most beginner growers start with soil anyway, since it is the easiest option out there for the inexperienced among us. If you want to try something besides soil, you can choose between perlite, coco coir, vermiculite, and more. These are considered soilless mixes, which are a type of hydroponic growing, technically speaking. Hydroponics involves growing your marijuana plants directly in water, which can be a complicated system but a highly fruitful and rewarding one — it is said that the highest yields are achieved in hydroponics systems.

Of course, you can also go the organic growing route: composting your own soil. It takes more work but leads to great taste and yield results, plus it makes for a very wise choice for the environmentally minded.

What type of nutrients should I feed my plants?

Unless you are using a type of soil that already includes a certain amount of nutrients, you are going to need to purchase nutrients in some form to feed to your plants. Marijuana plants need different ratios of nutrients depending on what phase of growth they are in. The main types of nutrients you need to worry about are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

The type of nutrient “food” you purchase also depends on the growing medium you decided to use. Hydroponics systems will need nutrients mixtures made specifically for hydroponic setups, for example. This will help to maximize the growth of your marijuana plants, and will avoid causing your plants “nutrient burn.”

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more growing tips

An equally important aspect of nutrients and marijuana plants is the pH level of the soil (or other growing medium) at your plants’ roots. Even the water you feed your marijuana plants needs to be pH balanced, and you should test your pH periodically and especially if your plants start exhibiting any strange symptoms. When the pH level is too acidic or alkaline, you can balance it out with a variety of methods, such as adding certain ingredients to the soil. PH imbalances can lead to plant health issues. Find more on pH levels in soil and when growing hydroponically.

Which strain of marijuana should I choose?

Now you have finally gotten to the fun part: choosing and buying the marijuana seeds to get your grow setup started.

When buying seeds, the key is to purchase them from a trusted vendor. Many Americans can buy seeds online (after checking out reviews and doing their homework as to which seeds grow best in their home climate) from vendors who ship from outside the United States. Believe it or not, no one in the United States has gone to jail just for ordering marijuana seeds from outside the US. Although shipments are always made discreetly, this can help you proceed with confidence.

Choosing a strain is a completely different issue — you will need to choose one that is easy for beginners to grow but also thrives in your climate. Check out the list of beginner strains below for more information.

How do I germinate marijuana seeds?

Assuming you bought seeds instead of clones, you are first going to need to germinate them. Do this by purchasing a starter cube and make sure it stays moist (not wet) and warm (not hot). Keep it this way, and you will see the beginnings of a young marijuana plant popping up after just a few days or up to a week.

If you don’t have a starter cube we recommend putting them in a glass of water for a few days, until they grow a little tail. This can take more than 24 hours in some cases. Make sure the temperature of the water is at 68 degrees and the PH should be around 6. When the tail is out, you can plant them.

Some people prefer to use a paper towel method instead, which involves putting seeds into a moist paper towel and within two plates to keep the moisture inside. This should take a few days to a week as well.

How do I grow marijuana plants during the vegetative stage?

The vegetative stage is when your marijuana plants are going to grow rapidly and turn into the “typical” marijuana plant that everyone recognizes. The goal of the grower is generally to get their marijuana plants to grow as fast and vigorous as possible while keeping them healthy and bushy, so they have a successful and productive flowering phase later.

An ideal temperature helps keep your plants growing strong — somewhere between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick. When you’re feeding your plants nutrients, be sure to feed them only half the recommended amount until the plants are growing extremely fast, and the only use three-quarters strength. During the vegetative phase, you won’t know if your plants will be male or female yet — which means you should ensure they are all growing quickly and efficiently. Keep the direct light on them for between 18 and 24 hours a day, or between 10 AM and 4 PM (minimum) if you are growing outdoors.

How do I grow marijuana plants during the flowering phase?

The flowering phase is the big, important stage for marijuana growers because it’s when the buds finally start forming. This means that the end is near (or so it seems), and you can soon see how successful your growing season was. If you are growing indoors, you will need to change the lighting schedule to 12 hours on and 12 hours off. Keep this consistent so your plants can transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering phase — and make certain that the “nighttime” part of the schedule includes completely uninterrupted darkness. If your plants are growing outdoors, they will transition naturally.

Before this point that you are going to want to remove the male plants from the bunch, or else they will pollinate the females (leading to seed production rather than bud growth). Male plants can be identified by their pollen sacs and the absence of white hairs (which will appear on maturing female plants). As soon as you can tell it’s a male plant, dispose of the plant immediately.

Lower the temperature to between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for a more productive flowering phase. Be sure to monitor your plants closely, since they could experience nutrient deficiencies since they are using nutrients differently now.

How do I harvest the marijuana?

Once the buds on your marijuana plants are no longer growing white, new hairs, and at least two-thirds of the hairs have gotten darker, then harvest time is upon you. If you want to ensure that the amount of THC is maximized, you should wait until half to 70% of the hairs have darkened. If you want marijuana that leads to a highly relaxing high, wait until most (80%-90%) of the hairs have darkened.

The actual act of harvesting is incredibly easy. Just take scissors to cut off the plant’s flower matter, and dispose of the rest of the plant. It’s that easy!

Want to read more? Check out when and how to harvest marijuana plants.

How do I dry and cure the weed?

Once you have removed the marijuana plants’ buds, the next steps are critical. You will need to dry them out properly, without attracting any mold. This can be pretty tricky, so tread carefully. Hang the plant product upside down in a place that is dark and cool and has good ventilation of some sort. Don’t let them dry too quickly.

Once they have dried out enough, you should cure them by placing the product into mason jars that close tightly. Fill them up 75% of the way, and leave in a dark, cool place. Open the jars once per day for a few seconds so the moisture can be released, and some fresh air can get in. If they seem moister than they should be, you can leave off the top for longer to avoid the development of mold. Cure the marijuana product for two weeks straight, and then start opening the jars just once per week.

Many people prefer to cure their marijuana for a minimum of 30 days, but of course, it all depends on the preference of the grower. A minimum of two weeks is a good rule of thumb in any case. More info can be found here.

Easy beginner strains

When choosing a strain to grow for your new marijuana garden, it’s important to choose one that makes sense for you — both as a beginner and as someone in your specific situation. You need to decide whether timing, ease of growth, yield, or potency is the most important aspect for your strain of marijuana. Let’s look at some of the best strains for each option.

Fastest harvest time

The quickest marijuana strains are usually an autoflowering strain of marijuana. These plants are consistently available to harvest between two and three months after germination. You don’t have to change up the lighting with autoflowering plants, and they are most often high in CBD. Strains with higher CBD are more relaxing, making them an effective medical marijuana choice.

Keep in mind that autoflowering plants require lots of attention since the timing is so short, every moment counts. Make sure your autoflowering plant comes from a high-quality breeder.

Our fastest flowering autoflower is the Super Skunk. But with just a week longer grow time you will be a happy grower with Blueberry, Amnesia Haze, White Widow or any of our other autoflowering seeds.

Easiest to grow

For many beginners, the easiest strain to grow is the most important aspect of choosing a strain. Everything else comes in second in terms of importance. This works well for those without a lot of extra time on their hands. These should be photoperiod strains (not autoflowering), as it leaves more room for bouncing back in case any mistakes are made.

Northern Lights is a favorite among beginners since they don’t smell very much, making it more stealthy than other strains. They don’t grow too tall, making them even stealthier. They also have a high yield.

Some other easy to grow strains include Blue Dream, AK-47, White Widow, Green Crack and Girl Scout Cookies Extreme.

Highest yield

If you want a strain that is the easiest to get a high yield without extra, creative effort, one of the following marijuana strains is going to be the best choice.

First, let’s look at Robert’s very own Gold Leaf. Its buds are gigantic and heavy, and it makes for a very strong Hybrid plant and product. It can actually get to 16 ounces or more of bud on 3 square feet if grown correctly,

Northern Lights, Sour Diesel, Amnesia Haze and Super Silver Haze are among our high yielding seeds as well. Be sure to check them out!

Common Mistakes

There are certain mistakes that beginners seem to make time and time again. To prevent you from making the same mistakes that countless others already have, let’s look at some of them.

Ignoring pH levels

When growing marijuana, you should always keep an eye on pH levels. This needs to be measured down near the roots of your plants since that is where they will be affected. Plants that have an unbalanced pH level will not take in nutrients as efficiently as possible. You should maintain pH the way you maintain other aspects of your grow room, including temperature and humidity.

Winging it

Whether it’s not doing the proper amount of research ahead of time or it’s not setting up your grow plot well enough in advance, you should never just “wing it” when it comes to growing marijuana. If you do that, all you are going to end up with is time and money wasted.

Make sure you have at least three months before harvest time — because of the changing of light that comes with the seasons, this is paramount to think about. If you are growing indoors, of course, then the timing doesn’t matter as much — but you still need to have at least three months at your disposal, no matter the timing.

Overdoing the nutrients

One common mistake people make is feeding their marijuana plants way too many nutrients. Although nutrients are indeed essential for your plant to perform its normal functions, more nutrients do not equate to faster growing.

In fact, if you overfeed your marijuana plants nutrients they could experience nutrient burn. This can lead to health issues that would have been avoided if you had underfed them instead. Try starting out with half the recommended dosage of nutrients; then you can always increase from there (in small increments).

Overwatering

Along with overdosing your plants on nutrients, overwatering your plants can lead to a number of issues as well. This is most common with beginners because they want to make sure their plants always have enough water; but in the end, soil that is constantly wet is more prone to things like mold and mildew, or even drowning the plant (depriving its roots of enough oxygen).

It is easier to make up for underwatering than overwatering; make sure that an inch or so of the soil is dry before you water again.

Skimping on costs

There are a certain amount of costs that can be saved safely when growing marijuana plants; but that does not mean that you should skimp on prices everywhere. For example, buying cheap seeds is not a good way to save money — in fact, it’s a good way to waste money.

Growing outdoors, however, can be an effective way to cut costs; or else to opt for a soil grow setup rather than a hydroponics one. Buying certain things secondhand can also help reduce costs without lowering the quality of your setup.

Thanks for reading.

About Robert Bergman

Robert Bergman is the founder of ILoveGrowingMarijuana.com and is the author of the Marijuana Grow Bible.

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