Growing marijuana in your own home can be incredibly rewarding and a great way to get the medicine you need without having to rely on dispensaries. Those who know how to grow marijuana effectively can even reduce their consumption costs and create a higher-quality product tailored to their own preferences.
Currently, Canada law permits those authorized by their doctor to grow limited amounts of medicinal cannabis in their own home. They may also appoint another individual as their designated grow person.
The number of plants you are allowed to grow and the weight of cured (ready for consumption) cannabis you are allowed to store varies according to your prescribed daily amount and the estimated yield of your plants. These laws may change in the near future as the marijuana legalization bill works its way through Canada’s legislatures.
So if you are interested in growing medicinal marijuana for yourself – or you want to be ready to grow recreational marijuana when legalization takes effect – you are certainly within your rights to do so! Here’s how to grow cannabis properly and how to get started raising your first plants in a way that (hopefully) doesn’t kill them.
How Do You Grow Marijuana? Here’s the Basics
Like every other plant, marijuana requires a few basic things to grow and properly flower, including:
- Air (CO₂)
- Soil (or hydroponic growing media)
- Space to grow
- The right environmental conditions, like temperature and humidity
Additionally, while growing marijuana, you are going to have to protect your plants from dangers like diseases, pests, and damaging grow conditions. Something as simple as overwatering your plants can kill your entire crop and put you back at square one.
Growing Marijuana Step 1: Designate a Protected Grow Space
To get all of these conditions right, you will need to have your marijuana plants in a controlled environment. This environment could be as simple as a lined closet, or it could be a complex grow habitat you’ve created. New products are on the market that are basically ready-made grow environments, however, they are typically pretty pricey.
The aim is only to give your plants as much of the inputs as you need – nothing more or less! Even something as seemingly innocent as having light leak into your grow closet could stress out your plants. This would prevent them from flowering properly and ruin all your hard work.
So, your first step is to designate a growing area. Make sure it can accommodate the size of your plants, which can grow 1.5 to 2 metres tall. Also, ensure it doesn’t let in anything like pests or stray light that can hurt your crop. Keeping the area clean and controlled is the name of the game.
You may want to consider insulating your grow area if the ideal grow temperatures are way different from the typical conditions of that space. If you are growing in a barn, for instance, you can save money on heating in the winter and prevent stress to your plants with insulation.
Make note of the other requirements your grow space will need as you decide the approach you’ll take after reading the further information below.
How to Grow Marijuana Step 2: Let There Be Light!
Plants grow and develop thanks to photosynthesis. In order for photosynthesis to happen indoors, you’re going to need electric lights that effectively duplicate sunlight.
You have a few options for the lighting system you want to use.
Fluorescent Grow Lights are the cheapest to purchase and set up. They don’t put out as much heat as other setups, which saves you on air conditioning costs. But they are also less energy efficient overall, which could affect your eventual return on investment compared to the alternatives.
High output (HO) T5 fluorescent bulbs are best for growing since they have lots of power, but they are generally large. They also produce 20% to 30% less light per watt than the typical HID setup we’ll describe below.
Each light you use requires a bulb, a ballast, and a reflector. You can find all three packaged together with many fluorescent kits, further lowering the costs.
HID (High Intensity Discharge) Grow Lights are used by most people in the industry. They are more costly up front, but they are far more efficient at producing light compared to fluorescents.
Like fluorescent lights, each bulb needs its own ballast and reflector hood to work. HID lights create more heat, though, which means you will have to be careful about not scorching your plants or overheating the grow area.
Metal halide (MH) HID bulbs produce blue/white light and are better for the plant’s initial vegetative growth. High pressure sodium (HPS) HID bulbs are more on the red/orange spectrum, and they are better for plants at the flowering stage. If you don’t have the budget for both, start with just the HPS bulbs since they are more critical to THC production.
You can also choose LED Grow Lights, which are compact, incredibly energy efficient, and don’t put out much heat. However, legitimate ones can cost a small fortune – up to 10 times more than a comparable wattage output from an HID setup.
Beware of poorly made LED lights, too, which have been working their way into the market. Do your research!
How to Grow Cannabis Step 3: Air Circulation and Environmental Control
Just like we need oxygen to stay alive, plants need carbon dioxide (CO₂). Luckily, CO₂ is readily available in normal air. So if you just vent out air from your grow area and have an intake vent with a filter, you’ll keep your plants from suffocating.
Your exhaust fan also removes excess oxygen, humidity, and overall staleness. If you place a charcoal filter over it, you can partially remove the “skunky” odor the plants put out as they grow.
You’ll need to keep temperatures and humidity levels in a comfortable range to prevent growing issues, like scorched plants or mildew growth. You can often accomplish this with just an exhaust fan connected to a temperature switch, but you may need a dehumidifier and/or an air conditioner in certain circumstances.
Generally, cannabis plants like to be in a temperature range between 20 °C and 30 °C. Learn the right conditions for how to grow marijuana by the cannabis strain you have by taking a look at the recommendations given from your seed source.
Keep an eye on your humidity and temperature throughout the day, and consider getting a combination hygrometer/thermostat with a high/low memory feature to know what the peak temperatures were since the last time you checked.
How to Grow Marijuana Step 4: Pick a Soil or Growing Media
First-time growers will likely find an easier time learning how to grow cannabis in good old-fashioned soil. Any gardening potting soil will do, but avoid products like Miracle-Gro that have extended release fertilizer since this can over supplement your plants.
Ensure the soil you use has some form of fertilizer in it, though, and realize that you’ll have to supplement certain nutrients as the soil gets depleted. A good starting media includes some pre-fertilized soil (sometimes called “super soil”) containing worm castings, composted material, bat guano, and similar components.
Having good drainage is incredibly important, so whatever container you use, make sure it has holes to let water flow out. Something as simple as a five gallon bucket or planting pots with holes drilled into it sitting in a water-catching tray will be sufficient.
You can also choose to go the hydroponic route. This means your plant roots will be growing on something like clay pebbles, coco coir (shredded coconut husks), vermiculite, or rockwool.
Not having soil means you must give your plants nutrients manually. You will need to create a mixture of water and fertilizer that’s appropriate for your plant’s current condition and stage in the grow cycle.
Don’t over supplement! This can easily kill your plants or lead to conditions that prevent it from flowering. Getting the nutrient balance right is critical. You can use a guide to marijuana plant nutrition to learn how to grow cannabis without hurting your plants.
How Do You Grow Marijuana Day by Day? Monitor Environment and Nutrients, and Water as Needed
You do not have to water your marijuana plants every day! In fact, overwatering is one of the most common ways people end up killing their cannabis plants.
Instead, check to see if the soil is no longer moist. You may even want to wait for your bottom leaves to begin to slightly wilt before watering. Also, ensure it is draining properly by poking at the drainage holes in your container. Dump out any water that sits in the retaining tray for more than a day.
Check your soil pH and nutrition balance often. Make adjustments if your grow environment is too hot, too cold, or doesn’t have enough air circulating.
There’s a lot more to the topic of “How do you grow marijuana?” that goes well beyond these basics. But if you’re able to pay attention to what your plant needs, you can learn how to grow marijuana reliably and eventually get the fat flowering buds you’ve dreamed of!