An introduction to indoor cannabis cultivation.

1. Choose a plant to meet your needs

Where you start has a big effect on where you end up, and it’s essential that you give some thought to what you want out of your grow before you add even a single shoot to your garden. Consider whether you want a cerebral sativa or a relaxing indica strain (or a hybrid of the two). Are you looking for high THC content? Is your space big enough to accommodate a larger strain, or do you need to keep it small?


No matter what you choose, you’ll likely want to start by growing clones. These are shoots from mature cannabis plants that have been allowed to develop roots and begin to grow. It shaves some time off the process and ensures that you get a plant already set up for success. You can purchase clones from dispensaries near you, and there’s a wide range of strains to choose from. Do be sure to inspect your clones before purchasing though: Look for white, well-developed roots, signs of new growth at leaf tips and make sure the clones are pest-free before buying.


Next up, the strain. There’s a heady variety to choose from, but there are many options for easy, beginner-friendly strains. These are normally fast-growing, more resistant to pests and fairly hardy, and they’ll help make your very first grow experience a positive one. White Widow, for example, is a long-time favorite. It’s a hybrid strain that grows to about 1 meter indoors and yields a good helping of resin. Or you could go for the aptly-named Easy Bud, a guaranteed winner for beginners. The hybrid grows fast, stays short and yields moderate THC levels — an all-around crowd-pleaser.


If you want more options, check out some best-of lists, here and here.

2. Set up a proper environment

The Grow Space

Marijuana can flourish in any number of indoor spaces, whether that be a cupboard, a closet, a corner of your basement or an entire room. You can even purchase specialized grow tents to turn any space into a grow area.


A few grow tents worth considering: LAGarden’s many options allow for both cloning and growing full-size plants in a single space. TopoLite tents are cheap and offer green-tinted windows to allow you to check in on plants without disturbing them. (They are made in China, though). And if you really want to get serious, Gorilla Grow Tents offer some of the largest, best-quality grow tents we’ve seen so far, though they’ve got a hefty price tag to match.


There are just a few key things to remember when choosing a space: Leave enough room to work in, or alternatively, use containers small enough to remove easily. Make sure the area is light-tight, that is, ensure no light can leak in when you want it to be dark. Finally, choose a cool, dry space with easy access to outside air for ventilation.


How much space you’ll need depends on the strain of cannabis you’ll be growing and the method of growing you choose. Generally speaking, it’s best to allow for at least a meter of vertical growth. How much square footage you need can vary widely: Cannabis can be grown in a cupboard if space is tight, but it’s best to allow a few square meters to give yourself room to work.


You have a range of options to choose from when it comes to growing containers, as well. Simple five-gallon buckets can work, and even more DIY-options like plastic bags with drainage holes are acceptable too.


If you have the room, though, ten-gallon pots are the best option, as they’ll give your plants plenty of room to form deep, mature root networks.


Above all, make sure that your containers allow for proper soil drainage. Overwatering is a common mistake, and marijuana plants can be easily harmed by an excess of moisture in the soil. Containers with ample drainage points are a must.



Excess humidity can lead to mold and pest invasions, so it’s critical to keep your grow space ventilated. A simple pair of fans — one for exhaust at the top of the space, and an intake fan on the ground on the other side — will ensure a steady supply of fresh air and keep the humidity in check.


A thermostat switch for your exhaust fan can be set to flip on whenever the temps get too high and help automate your system to give you some peace of mind. Most plants thrive between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit when the lights are on and 58 to 70 degrees when the lights are off.


An additional interior fan will also help to keep pests off and allow shoots to grow strong. Just make sure not to point it directly at the plants to avoid windburn.

3. Feed your plants

Growing Medium

For beginners, growing marijuana in soil is the easiest option. Though artificial growth mediums and hydroponics are becoming popular with more advanced growers, soil provides more than enough support and nutrition for strong plants.


There are many options for buying pre-fertilized soil that can provide plants with enough nutrition for their whole lifespan if used appropriately. Alternatively, you can supplement your soil with nutrients throughout the grow process. Most high-quality potting soils will work for the job, though do be sure to avoid artificial extended-release fertilizers like Miracle Gro.


It’s not a bad idea to invest in a pH meter, too. Cannabis grows best at a pH of between 6 and 7, but outside of that range, your plants may be unable to absorb certain key nutrients.


There are a number of options to choose from when it comes to indoor grow lights, from traditional metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps to newer fluorescent options. You’ll want to balance the energy cost and heat output of your lights with the spectrum of wavelengths they produce, and there are pros and cons to most choices.


For the best combination of factors, LED lights are the best option. Though they can cost a bit more upfront, you’ll recoup the money in the form of energy savings, and the lights run cool enough that you won’t need additional cooling fans.


Newer options also include grow lights that accurately mimic the full spectrum of sunlight, as opposed to focusing on just a few wavelengths. Early studies have shown that full-spectrum grow lights can lead to better yields, and even higher concentrations of THC in your bud.

4. Enjoy your harvest

Various strains mature at different rates, but most plants require about 8-10 weeks to grow from a seedling to a mature plant. The best way to know when it’s time to harvest, though, is to listen to your plants and watch closely for signs of maturity. Most growers depend on the plant’s trichomes, the small, crystal-like growths that cover cannabis leaves and buds. They’ll turn amber when the plant is mature, and the best time to harvest for peak THC content is when around half have turned from milky-white to amber. Too late and the THC will have degraded, too early and there won’t be much there.


After that, all that’s left to do is prepare the harvested buds for consumption. Light up and enjoy!

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