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The Most Comprehensive and Complete Guide to Growing and Cultivating Cannabis for Beginners


Are you interested in growing and cultivating your own cannabis plants? Whether it’s medical cannabis for medical use or a recreational home grow, cultivating weed is incredibly rewarding.


In this guide, we’ll provide you with detailed instructions and advice to guide you through your journey as a cannabis cultivator.


Why grow your own cannabis?


Growing your own cannabis offers numerous benefits. It allows you to have full control over the quality and potency of your product and even saves you money in the long run.

But most importantly, growing your own weed is a satisfying and educational experience, deepening your relationship with the cannabis plant and its unique characteristics.


Understanding the basics


The beginning phase of cannabis cultivation essentially involves securing the right materials and information to ensure a successful grow. 

comprehensive guide to growing cannabis

Here’s the supplies you need to start growing weed


  • High-quality cannabis seeds
  • Proper growing medium (soil, coco coir, hydroponics)
  • Containers or pots
  • Grow lights (LED, HID, or fluorescent)
  • Ventilation system
  • Nutrients and fertilizers
  • pH testing kit
  • Thermometer and hygrometer


Next, choose the right cannabis strain


The choice of cannabis strain will greatly impact your growing experience and the end result. Consider factors such as desired effects, growth characteristics, and the availability of strains suitable for beginners. 


Indica and Sativa hybrids are often recommended for novice growers due to their resilience and ease of cultivation.


Set up your growing environment


Creating an optimal growing environment is vital for healthy plant growth. Factors to consider include lighting, temperature, humidity, airflow, and odor control. Set up your grow room or grow tent in a suitable location and ensure you can maintain optimal conditions throughout the plant’s life cycle.

comprehensive guide to growing cannabis

Follow these steps to grow your own cannabis


1.  Germinate the seeds


The germination process is crucial for initiating the growth of your cannabis plants. To successful germinate your seeds:


  • Soak the seeds: Fill a glass of water and place the seeds inside. Allow them to soak for about 24 hours until they sink to the bottom, indicating they are ready for planting.
  • Try the paper towel method: Moisten a paper towel and place the soaked seeds inside it. Fold the towel over the seeds and put it in a plastic bag or container. Keep it warm and in the dark.
  • Check for sprouts: After a few days, the seeds should sprout tiny roots. Once the roots reach 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in length, they are ready for planting.


2. Prepare your growing medium


Once your germinated seeds are ready, it’s time to prepare the growing medium and transplant the seedlings:


  • Fill your containers: Fill your pots or containers with the chosen growing medium, leaving about an inch of space from the top for watering.
  • Create holes: Use your finger or a pencil to make small holes in the medium, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.
  • Transplant the seedlings: Gently place each sprouted seed in its respective hole and cover it with the growing medium. Lightly water the soil to help the seedlings establish.

comprehensive guide to growing cannabis

3. Provide the right growing conditions


To ensure healthy and vigorous growth, provide your cannabis plants with the following optimal conditions:


  • Lighting: For seedlings, use 18-24 hours of light per day. As they mature, switch to 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness to stimulate flowering.
  • Temperature: Maintain temperatures between 20-30°C (68-86°F) during the day and slightly cooler at night to mimic natural environmental conditions.
  • Humidity: During the vegetative stage, keep humidity levels around 40-60% and reduce it to 30-40% during flowering to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Ventilation: Ensure good air circulation within the growing area to strengthen stems and prevent stagnant air issues.
  • pH Levels: Regularly check and adjust pH levels to keep them around 6.0 to 6.8 for soil-based cultivation and 5.5 to 6.5 for hydroponics.


4. Water and manage nutrients


Proper watering and nutrient management are crucial for healthy plant development:


  • Watering: Check the top inch of the soil for dryness before watering. Water thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain from the containers.
  • Nutrients: Start feeding seedlings with a light nutrient solution once they have developed a few sets of leaves. Gradually increase nutrient strength as the plants progress.
  • Nutrient Schedule: Follow the recommended nutrient schedule for each growth stage provided by the nutrient manufacturer.


5: Train and prune the plant


Training a cannabis plant refers to the process of deliberately shaping and manipulating the plant’s growth to optimize its structure, increase light exposure, and promote better overall development. 


The goal of training is to achieve a more productive and efficient cannabis plant that yields higher-quality buds.


There are various training techniques used by cannabis growers, including:


  • Low-stress training (LST): Gently bend and tie down the branches to create an even canopy and promote better light exposure.
  • Topping: Cut off the top of the main stem to encourage bushier growth and the development of multiple colas.
  • Pruning: Remove unnecessary leaves and lower branches that receive little light, directing the plant’s energy to more productive areas.


6. Manage and observe the plant’s flowering stage


The flowering stage of growing cannabis is a crucial phase in the plant’s life cycle when it shifts from the vegetative growth phase to the reproductive phase. 


During this stage, cannabis plants begin to develop and produce flowers, also known as buds. These buds contain the highest concentrations of cannabinoids (CBD, THC, etc.) and terpenes (linalool, eucalyptol, etc.), making them the most desirable part of the plant for recreational and medicinal use.


Make these adjustments during the flowering stage:


  • Adjust your light cycle: Switch to a 12-hour light and 12-hour darkness cycle to induce flowering in photoperiod strains.
  • Watch for bud development: As flowering progresses, the buds will start to form and increase in density.

comprehensive guide to growing cannabis

7. Harvest your buds!


Harvesting your cannabis at the right time ensures the best possible potency and flavor:


  • Evaluate your trichomes: Before harvesting, closely observe your cannabis plants and examine the trichomes. Use a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe to inspect the trichomes. Look for mostly cloudy trichomes with some amber ones for a balanced effect of THC and other cannabinoids.
  • Prepare for the harvest: Make sure you have all the necessary tools ready for harvesting. You’ll need sharp pruning shears or scissors to cut the buds, a pair of gloves to protect your hands, and clean containers or trays to collect the harvested buds.
  • Harvest in stages: If you have multiple cannabis plants, consider harvesting them in stages. This allows you to focus on one plant at a time and ensure each plant is harvested at its peak maturity.
  • Cut the buds: To harvest, cut the branches with the buds from the plant using the pruning shears or scissors. Leave a few inches of stem attached to each bud to facilitate handling during the drying process.
  • Trimming: After harvesting, take the harvested branches to a clean, well-ventilated area for trimming. Use the scissors to carefully remove any large fan leaves from the buds. Trim away excess leaves and stems, leaving only the trimmed buds.


8: Dry and cure your harvested buds


The final step of cannabis cultivation involves drying and curing your harvested buds:

  • Drying: Hang the trimmed buds upside down in a dark, well-ventilated room with low humidity for 7-10 days until they are dry but not brittle.
  • Curing: After drying, place the buds in airtight glass jars and open the jars daily to release excess moisture. Cure the buds for at least 2-4 weeks to enhance flavor and potency.

comprehensive guide to growing cannabis

Growing advice: The vegetative stage


During the vegetative growth stage, your marijuana plants will focus on leaf and stem development. This phase is crucial for building a strong foundation for robust flowering. Here are some important aspects to consider:


Proper lighting and light cycles


Cannabis plants require specific light cycles during the vegetative stage. Typically, a light cycle of 18 hours on and 6 hours off is recommended. Choose appropriate indoor grow lights that emit the right spectrum for vegetative growth, such as blue or cool white lights.


Nutrients and Fertilizers


During vegetative growth, cannabis plants require a balanced diet of essential nutrients. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the primary macronutrients needed. Supplement with appropriate fertilizers to ensure healthy growth and vibrant green leaves.


Watering and humidity control


Proper watering practices are essential to prevent overwatering or underwatering your plants. Cannabis thrives in a slightly moist environment, so monitor the soil moisture levels and adjust watering accordingly. Aim for a humidity level of around 50% to prevent mold and other issues.


Pruning and training techniques


Pruning and training your plants can help improve yields and promote an even canopy. Remove unnecessary leaves and branches to allow better light penetration and airflow. Consider techniques such as topping, low-stress training (LST), or the ScrOG (Screen of Green) method.

comprehensive guide to growing cannabis

Growing advice: The flowering stage


The flowering phase is the most anticipated phase of cannabis cultivation, as it is when the plants develop buds. Pay close attention to the following factors during this crucial stage:


  • Transitioning to flowering – To initiate the flowering stage, adjust the light cycle to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness. This change in light signals the plants to shift their energy towards bud production. Be consistent with the light schedule to avoid stress or interruptions.
  • Managing light and dark cycles – During flowering, it’s essential to maintain consistent light and dark cycles. Any interruptions in the dark period can disrupt the plants’ internal clock and negatively impact bud development. Use blackout curtains or light proof the grow space to prevent light leaks.
  • Flowering nutrients and supplements – Switch to a bloom-specific nutrient formula rich in phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients promote healthy bud formation and enhance resin production. Additionally, consider using supplements such as bloom boosters or organic additives to optimize flowering results.


Growing advice: Harvesting and curing


Harvesting and curing are crucial steps to achieve the best quality cannabis. Follow these guidelines for a rewarding harvest:


The right time to harvest


The ideal time to harvest depends on the strain and personal preference. Monitor the trichomes (resin glands) on the buds using a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe. Harvest when the trichomes are mostly milky or cloudy, with a few amber ones for a more relaxing effect.


Harvesting techniques


Carefully cut the branches containing mature buds and trim away excess foliage. Handle the plants gently to avoid damaging the delicate trichomes. Hang the branches upside down in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area to dry.


Drying and curing 


Proper drying and curing are essential for maximizing potency, flavor, and aroma. Dry the buds slowly in a controlled environment with low humidity. Once dry, place them in glass jars and burp the jars daily to release excess moisture and prevent mold. This curing process can take several weeks to enhance the overall quality of your buds.


Storing and preserving your harvest


Store cured buds in airtight containers, away from light, heat, and moisture. Mason jars or specially designed storage containers work well for long-term storage. Proper storage ensures that your cannabis remains fresh and retains its potency and flavor for an extended period.


Growing advice: Common cannabis cultivation challenges 


Cannabis cultivation can present various challenges. Here are some common issues and troubleshooting tips to overcome them:


Pests and diseases


Common pests include spider mites, aphids, and fungus gnats, while diseases like powdery mildew and bud rot can also affect your plants. Implement preventive measures such as regular inspections, maintaining cleanliness, and using organic pest control methods to minimize the risks.


Nutrient deficiencies and excesses


Nutrient imbalances can manifest as yellowing leaves, leaf curling, or brown spots. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and excesses and adjust your nutrient regimen accordingly. Regularly test the pH of your growing medium to ensure optimal nutrient uptake.


Environmental factors


Temperature, humidity, and airflow play a significant role in cannabis plant health and growth. Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations, maintain appropriate humidity levels, and ensure proper ventilation to prevent issues like heat stress or mold growth.


Dealing with male plants


Male cannabis plants do not produce buds and can negatively impact the quality of your harvest. Learn to identify and remove male plants early in the growth cycle to prevent them from pollinating the female cannabis plants. Regularly inspect your plants during the pre-flowering stage to detect any males.

comprehensive guide to growing cannabis

Growing advice: Tips for successful cultivation


To ensure a successful cannabis cultivation journey, consider the following tips:


Maintain proper pH levels


Monitor and adjust the pH of your growing medium to optimize nutrient absorption. Cannabis plants prefer a slightly acidic pH range between 5.8 and 6.5. Use pH testing kits or meters to regularly check and adjust the pH as needed.


Circulate fresh air


Proper airflow is crucial for preventing stagnant air and promoting healthy plant growth. Use fans or an exhaust system to ensure adequate ventilation and maintain a gentle breeze around the plants. This helps strengthen stems, prevent mold, and improve overall plant health.


Training techniques for larger yields


Implement training techniques like topping, low-stress training (LST), or the ScrOG method to maximize your yields. These methods help create an even canopy, increase light penetration, and promote multiple bud sites, resulting in larger and more productive harvests.


Test and monitor your soil


Regularly test your soil or growing medium to assess nutrient levels and identify any deficiencies or excesses. Soil testing kits or professional laboratory analysis can provide valuable insights into the soil’s composition and guide you in adjusting nutrient supplementation.


Frequently asked cannabis growing questions – FAQs


Can I grow cannabis indoors?


  • Yes, you can successfully grow cannabis indoors by creating a suitable growing environment with proper lighting, ventilation, and temperature control.


How long does it take to grow cannabis from seed to harvest?


  • The time it takes for cannabis plants to mature and be ready for harvest varies depending on the strain, growing conditions, and desired effects. On average, it takes around 8 to 12 weeks.


Do I need a lot of space to grow cannabis?


  • The space required to grow cannabis depends on the number of plants and the cultivation method you choose. You can grow cannabis in small spaces like closets or tents using techniques like low-stress training (LST) or vertical growing.


What is the best lighting option for indoor cannabis cultivation?


  • LED grow lights are popular among indoor cannabis cultivators due to their energy efficiency, customizable spectrum, and lower heat output. They provide optimal lighting for all stages of plant growth.


How do I know if my cannabis plants are ready for harvest?


  • Monitor the trichomes on the buds using a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe. Harvest when the majority of trichomes are cloudy or milky, with a few amber ones for a more relaxing effect.


Want to learn more about cannabis? 


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If you’re fascinated by the cannabis plant, THC University can help you take your education and understanding to the next level.  

THCU is recognized as the best foundational cannabis program for those early in their cannabis careers. The 10 courses that are in the all-access class bundle help students quickly get up to speed on “industry speak” and graduates can use their knowledge immediately to find jobs.