How to Grow Marijuana
A Beginners Guide to Growing Top Shelf Marijuana
Congratulations, you’re interested in growing your own cannabis plants for the first time! But before you flex that green thumb of yours, understand that growing cannabis indoors presents a unique set of challenges for the new hobbyist, and the sheer volume of information available on the subject can be overwhelming.
Our guide to indoor cannabis growing will help simplify the process for you into clear, easy-to-digest sections designed to help the first-time grower get started.
Step 1: Select a Marijuana Growing Space “Grow Room”
The first step in setting up your personal marijuana grow is creating a suitable space to do so. Your growing area doesn’t have to be the normal grow room. You can grow marijuana in a closet, a grow tent, a spare bedroom, or in the corner of your basement. So long as your plants, led grow lights, and anything else you wish to have here fits. Be sure to account for the growth of the plant when figuring this.
Grow a Few Plants at First…
When attempting your first marijuana grow project, you’ll want to start small for multiple reasons:
- The smaller the grow, the less expensive it is to set up
- It’s much easier to monitor a few plants than a large number
- Your mistakes as a first-time grower will be less costly
Remember, most new marijuana growers will experience setbacks and lose plants to pests or disease. A failed grow of a plant or two will put a far smaller dent in your wallet than 30 plants.
…But Think Big
When designing your space, you’ll need to take into account not only the amount of room your plants will need, but also your lights, ducting, fans, and other equipment, as well as leaving enough room for you to work. Cannabis plants can double, even triple in size in the early stage of flowering, so make sure you have adequate head space!
If your grow room is a cabinet, tent, or closet, you can simply open it up and remove the plants to work on them; otherwise, you’ll need to make sure you leave yourself some elbow room.
Cleanliness Is Crucial
Make sure your space is easily sanitized; cleanliness is important when growing indoors, so easy-to-clean surfaces are a must. Carpeting, drapes, and raw wood are all difficult to clean, so avoid these materials if possible.
Keep It Light-Tight
Another crucial criterion for a grow room is that it be light-tight. Light leaks during dark periods will confuse your plants and can cause them to produce male flowers.
When deciding where to grow your cannabis, keep the following variables in mind:
- Convenience: You’ll need to monitor your plants carefully. Checking on them every day is important, and beginners will want to check in several times per day until they have everything dialed in. If your room is hard to access, this crucial step will be difficult.
- Temperature and Humidity Concerns: If your grow space is already very warm or very humid, you’ll have issues controlling your grow environment. Choosing a cool, dry area with ready access to fresh air from the outdoors is highly recommended.
- Stealth: You’ll most likely want to conceal your grow from nosy neighbors and potential thieves, so be sure to pick a place where noisy fans won’t garner any unwanted attention.
View LED Grow Lights
Step 2: Choose Your Marijuana Grow Lights
The quality of light in your grow room will be the number one environmental factor in the quality and quantity of your cannabis yields, so it’s a good idea to choose the best lighting setup you can afford. Here’s a brief rundown of the most popular types of cannabis grow lights used for indoor growing.
HID Grow Lights
ID (high intensity discharge) lights are the industry standard, widely used for their combination of output, efficiency, and value. They cost a bit more than incandescent or fluorescent fixtures, but produce far more light per unit of electricity used. Conversely, they are not as efficient as LED lighting, but they cost as little as one-tenth as much for comparable units.
The two main types of HID lamp used for growing are:
- Metal halide (MH), which produce light that is blue-ish white and are generally used during vegetative growth
- High pressure sodium (HPS), which produce light that is more on the red-orange end of the spectrum and are used during the flowering stage
In addition to bulbs, HID lighting setups require a ballast and hood/reflector for each light. Some ballasts are designed for use with either MH or HPS lamps, while many newer designs will run both.
If you can’t afford both MH and HPS bulbs, start with HPS as they deliver more light per watt. Magnetic ballasts are cheaper than digital ballasts, but run hotter, are less efficient, and harder on your bulbs. Digital ballasts are generally a better option, but are more expensive. Beware of cheap digital ballasts, as they are often not well shielded and can create electromagnetic interference that will affect radio and WiFi signals.
Unless you’re growing in a large, open space with a lot of ventilation, you’ll need air-cooled reflector hoods to mount your lamps in, as HID bulbs produce a lot of heat. This requires ducting and exhaust fans, which will increase your initial cost but make controlling the temperature in your grow room much easier.
Fluorescent Grow Lights
Fluorescent light fixtures, particularly those using high-output (HO) T5 bulbs, are quite popular with small scale hobby growers for the following reasons:
- They tend to be cheaper to set up, as reflector, ballast, and bulbs are included in a single package
- They don’t require a cooling system since they don’t generate near the amount of heat that HID setups do
The main drawback is that fluorescent lights are less efficient, generating about 20-30% less light per watt of electricity used. Space is another concern, as it would require approximately 19 four-foot long T5 HO bulbs to equal the output of a single 600 watt HPS bulb
Light emitting diode (LED) technology has been around for a while, but only recently has it been adapted to create super efficient light fixtures for indoor growing. The main drawback to LED grow lights is their cost: well designed fixtures can cost 10 times what a comparable HID setup would. The benefits are that LEDs last much longer
use far less electricity
create virtually no heat
best designs like Sonne Grow Lights generate a fuller spectrum of light
which can lead to bigger yields and better quality.
Unfortunately, there are many shoddy LED lights being produced and marketed towards growers, so do some research and read product reviews before laying down your hard-earned cash.
Induction Grow Lights
Induction lamps, otherwise known as electrodeless fluorescent lamps, are another old technology that has been recently adapted to suit the needs of indoor growers. Invented by Nikola Tesla in the late 1800s, the induction lamp is essentially a more efficient, longer-lasting version of the fluorescent bulb. The main drawback of these fixtures is their price and availability.