Beginners: How to Grow Just One Pot Plant in Your Home


OnePotPlantGrow-NicosNuggets

As the weather warms up, so do most smokers. There is something about the spring and summer months that brings out the toker in all of us. And, sometimes, it brings out our green thumbs, too!

For the more enthusiastic cannabis lover, their attention often turns from rolling joints to another facet of the plant—cultivation. Around this time every year we get flooded with questions from the home hobbyist asking about growing “just one little pot plant” in their own home.

Well, that’s music to our ears here at HIGH TIMES! After all, we’ve been doing this for 40 years, and now it is 2015 and marijuana is (mostly) legal in over half the country. And to be sure, no law enforcement is going to harass you over just one plant, even on their slowest day.

How to Begin

First, let’s remove any fear you may have that this is going to be difficult. It is not.

We call it “weed” for a reason—because it grows easily and anywhere, like a weed. That being said, there is one central aspect to growing a pot plant that everyone needs to understand, and that is that cannabis is a flowering plant, meaning that in nature it bears its fruits only once a year, during the fall season when the daylight hours grow shorter.

This is important for the home indoor grower because the light period, or photoperiod, of the plant must be controlled. What this simply means is that a pot plant must be placed in 12+ hours of light every day in order to keep the plant from flowering.

You might ask, “Why not just let the plant flower immediately and harvest some nice buds and get to the smoking?”

Well, in truth, you could do that. But if an immature plant flowers too early, there won’t be much harvest to be had. Ideally, a pot plant need to grow, or “vegetate,” for at least a few weeks before flowering. Otherwise, the harvesting of it’s fruit will be extremely disappointing.

In order to keep a plant in vegetation and to garner a healthy, well-developed specimen, a young seedling should be grown for four to six weeks before flowering is induced. During this time, the plant should get a minimum of 16 hours of light, but 18-20 hours is a safer bet. To do this indoors—even near a window with good sunlight—a lamp will be needed to ensure the proper length of its photoperiod.

Horticultural Lighting

Your lamp is going to be the most expensive part of the process, but there are relatively inexpensive lamps available that will do the job. Serious growers use more specialized and expensive lamps, but to grow just one plant at home, many lights will work. A 250-watt HID (high-intensity discharge) bulb—either an HPS (high-pressure sodium) or MH (metal halide)—can be found in hardware stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot for as little as $25. However, these bulbs do require a specialized HID fixture and/or ballast, as they do not screw into any standard home fixture safely. (These fixtures may run as much as $200.)

Alternatively, if you do have a window with very good light and the power of the sun for a good portion of the day, you can also use fluorescent bulbs to supplement the sunlight after sunset. Fluorescent bulbs such as T5’s, T8’s or even CFL’s can provide enough light to keep your plant in a vegetative state.

However, remember that the less intense the light, the less the plant will develop. The option of fluorescent bulbs should only be used as supplemental light for plants that receive strong sunlight during the day. If the light provided during the day is too weak, a plant will stretch wildly and not develop well enough for a harvest. If this is the case, consider using the 250-watt HID option for the full 12-hour photoperiod during flowering, away from a window in it’s own enclosed location.

Triggering the Flowering Cycle

Once your plant has developed enough and reached a point that she can produce enough flowers for a decent harvest, it is time to bring her light cycle to an even 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day. This does not mean that you will no longer need your lamp though. During the 12-hour photoperiod of flowering, the plant will need the strongest light possible to help her produce energy for her fruit.

If your plant could be in direct sunlight for these 12 hours, you would not need strong supplemental lighting. However, even outdoors this is usually not possible. Your best option for flowering is to move your plant into an enclosed location such as a closet or cabinet where you can hang your lamp overhead and control the light cycle exactly as needed. To do this, use a standard outlet timer and set it to a 12-hour cycle.

During the dark cycle, it is extremely important that no light enters the plant space. Any light leaks can disrupt the plant’s flowering and cause stress or confuse the plant, forcing her to hermaphrodite (creating seeded flowers) or severely weaken yield and quality.

Other Tips & Tricks

Aside from your light and the possible need for an enclosed space, other considerations for your plant include container types, mediums and nutrients. Because this discussion pertains to a single plant, there are many viable options for these aspects of cultivation.

The best options for plant containers are those that offer breathability, such as fabric pots. Other considerations for plant pots include drainage holes and saucers to catch run-off. Remember not to let your plants sit in stagnant water for long periods of time as the pH will change and eventually be redrawn by the medium and the plant. Siting water also attracts bugs and molds.

In terms of medium, a small bag of organic potting soil usually will do the trick just fine. Peat-, coco-, or sphagnum-based mediums are also excellent choices. Remember to choose an airy medium that will allow air to penetrate the root zone. Roots breath in oxygen, while the plant above ground breathes in CO2.

Some mediums, especially organic soils, may come with mild organic nutrients such as guano or sea kelp already mixed in. This will lessen the amount of nutrients you will need to give your plant and may not require any feedings at all until you begin flowering. Recommendations for nutrients also tend towards the organic side whenever possible. Steer clear of salt-heavy synthetics such as Miracle Gro and other artificial nutrients, as they will cause more problems than they are worth.

Other than those points, remember that growing a pot plant—or any plant for that matter—is an exercise that connects you with nature. The goal is to enjoy the process, to learn and to have fun!

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ’em over to Nico at NicosNuggets@hightimes.com and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!

For all out latest stories on grow culture, click here.

41 Comments Hide Comments
  • 2Neighborly Jim2

    CFLs suck by the way They send light out in all directions when it needs to be directed. HIDs in a closet are stupid and the skinny florescent tubes are the best for beginning home grow. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to use Miracle Grow because it.. blah blah blah. Your are just starting out, KISS and improve as you go. Keep logs, I mean as absolutely detailed as you can get. Measure growth everyday at 9:00am, not 9:01am (Yes that anal at first). Measure moisture as often as possible and log it. Log temp and every other thing you can think of. Your logs should be so good that you can predict what will happen with the next crop down to the day. Consistency is your friend.

    You are not going for Dro, you are going for smokable. Potency is something that you may find is really not as important as flavor and feel of the smoke. I personally do enjoy Dro sometimes, but I never would grow it. Good is subjective and in my opinion it is the last thing I consider in a quality cannabis.

    As you start each new generation make sure you have some ideas of improvements that you want to test and see how it improves not just yield but over all growth. As an example, you might realize that you can grow a plant fast and full quickly but the rootball is so big that it holds too much moisture and now you are dealing with root rot. Maybe you decide to get rid of the pot and make a hardware cloth pot that allows much more air flow and dries the roots out quickly so you end up watering more often there by providing the most important thing of all, fresh water and often.

    The best way to learn about growing Cannabis is to just relax and know that you will succeed. If you kill it then investigate and write down everything that you see and google it all. Make the necessary changes and start over. Stay away from chemicals until you really know what you are doing. but above all else… have fun dude/tte.

  • Tamika Sue

    I don’t think this article really teaches you how do grow anything.

  • JOSEPH T. MEISTER

    when do you use the medium soil threw the complete grow cycle? or just at the end of growing cycle

  • Basically a basic overview of all pot growing.

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  • mkboater1

    About an hour searching the web and you have all the info you need to do small-ish type indoor grow. YouTube is a good source as well. Have a goal in mind, then go find the info for that goal…you’ll be surprised what you find on the web

  • Saeef Bey

    So, in NATURE, when isn’t 12 hours light and 12 hours darkness how is that it grows in that environment?

    • AllSeasonRadial

      In nature the plant goes to seed and dies. What this article is talking about is how NOT to let your plant go to seed. As long as you can keep the plant from being fertilized it will continue to produce female flowers, the most resin-rich part of the plant… and the longer the plant produces female flower, the more resin rich those flowers will get. It’s a measure of how much the plant wants to reproduce. The stickier the female flowers, the more likely they are to get fertilized by the male flowers’ pollen. Basic birds and bees stuff.

      (and watch out because what this article calls a “stressed” plant can change sex and fertilize itself. It’s really not stressed, it’s more totally natural than keeping a plant from reproducing.)

      • Saeef Bey

        Thank you. that helps a great deal.

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  • 唐恬

    I think the tips are useful. Can we cite the part of tips for beginners on our website?Thanks a lot!

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  • Holly Graves

    What are the best nutrients to use then..

    • Outlaw

      I’ve had good luck with fish emulsion plant food… Especially during flowering …it has low nitrogen n.

      • Outlaw

        I’m sorry mine is outdoor… 12 day old flowers

  • Arnold Morales

    far out

  • Tlaxcalli

    Damn… this is an expensive hobby lol. I got some seeds, but maybe won’t start growing till next year after I finish school if this is the process I’d have to go through. I really cannot afford to be spending $200 on lights. I already have nutrients etc from a marijuana event I went to.

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    This is article is misleading….did not learn shit

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    Was that supposed to be a “How too”? Seriously dude, you really suck at writing/teaching! just stop!!

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    Wow! Had I read this 3 years ago, I woulda grown then. However, I was nudged, given seeds, and a few suggestions and off I went. *chuckle* Leaf is gracious and grew through my learning: nothing is the same. Can’t imagine not growing, can’t imagine the work again. 😉 Hats off to those that supply those in need.

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