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How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

The tools and information you need to grow your own weed.

How To Grow Weed In A Tent
Erik Biksa/High Times

Looking for the basics of how to grow marijuana? Here are the tools and information on how to grow weed affordably and effectively. All you need is a small discreet space and a little bit of a budget to get started on your indoor pot production.

Grow Tools

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

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The first thing you’ll need is a place to grow. I recommend getting yourself a decent grow tent. They’re cheap, made to grow inside of and can be put up and taken down quickly by one person. Some tents come with packages that include all kind of complicated hydroponic equipment. Your best bet is to purchase only what you need inside the tent and to learn how to grow weed without the expensive plastic. Some even have separate chambers for vegetative growth and cloning, making them perfect for people living in one-bedroom apartments or studios with limited room to grow.

First, you’ll need a growlight. I like HID (High-Intensity Discharge) lighting – HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) or MH (Metal Halide) systems with ballasts, bulbs and reflectors. If heat from these lights will be an issue, there are also LED (Light-Emitting Diode) and CFL (Compact Fluorescent) systems you can employ. Be sure to get a light that covers your tent’s footprint and invest in a decent timer to control when your light turns on and off.

You’ll also need an exhaust fan and activated carbon filter to reduce heat and eliminate odors. Be sure to get one that’s rated for your tent’s size with the proper ducting size. A clip-on circulating fan will keep air moving and stop it from being stagnant. A thermometer/hygrometer is also a must for keeping track of temperature and humidity.

If you don’t have access to marijuana seeds or clones from a dispensary or friend, you’ll need to get some cannabis seeds mailed to you. Don’t have them mailed to the same place you plan to grow if you’re not growing legally. Don’t just learn how to grow weed, learn how to be discreet and not brag or bring attention to yourself.

A simple loose and airy soil mix in 3-5 gallon buckets are great for beginners and much more forgiving than any hydroponic system. Be sure to cut holes in the bottom of the buckets and use saucers under them to catch any overflow. You’ll need to purchase nutrients to feed to your plants as they grow and a watering can as well.

How To Grow Weed  

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

After you’ve planted your seeds or rooted your clones, it’s time to get them growing. Lower your reflector so that it’s closer to the plants rather than making them stretch to reach for light. Raise the lighting system as your plants grow. Set your light timer to be on for 18 hours per day and off for 6 hours. During this vegetative stage, the plant will grow leaves and branches but no flowers (unless it’s an auto-flowering plant).

Avoid overfeeding and overwatering your plants at all costs. Err on the side of caution as it’s always easier to add more nutrients or water than it is to take them away. Marijuana roots prefer a wet/dry cycle so lift up your buckets and you’ll get a better idea for if they need watering or not by the weight. The first sign of overfed plants is burnt leaf tips. The first rule of how to grow weed is to learn to stay off of its way sometimes.

Anytime space is limited for growing, some basic rules apply: Since square footage is at a premium, plans must take full advantage of each available inch. This means choosing between growing indica-dominant strains such as Hashplant, Afghani #1 or planning on using drastic trellising and training techniques if growing out sativas such as Super Silver Haze, Jack Herer or Kali Mist.

Pruning For Higher Yield

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

When pruning, start early and often. Cut or pinch branches just above the node where two new shoots will emerge. If you stay on top of this process, you’ll have plants that look like bonsai bushes, with plenty of bud sites but not a lot of stretching out and big gaps between nodes. This is the efficient way to get bigger yields out of small spaces but your vegetating time will increase so factor that into your schedule.

Don’t prune or pinch plants at all once they’ve begun flowering – you’ll only be decreasing your harvest at that point. If the branches are threatening to reach the light, bend them or tie them down to keep them from burning. A trellis system constructed from chicken wire at canopy level (aka the ScrOG or Screen of Green system), will further spread out bud sites and increase your yields considerably. Simply train growing shoots to grow horizontally along the bottom of the screen to fill empty spots.

Flower Power

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Indoors, The decision of when to induce flowering in your plants is entirely up to you. If you want to learn how to grow weed, it’s important to determine how much space you have and to factor in the fact that your plants will stretch for at least a few weeks after flowering is induced. I usually recommend one week per gallon of container, so a plant in a five-gallon bucket should get approximately five weeks of vegetative time.

When you’re ready to begin the flowering stage, switch your timer to a 12 hour on/12 hour off light cycle. Be sure never to interrupt the 12-hour dark period with any light. This confuses your plant and can cause serious problems.

Change your feeding regimen to one suited for flowering. Plant nutrients generally come in vegetative or flowering formulations so switch over to a “blooming” solution. Depending on the flowering time of your strain, determine when you have two weeks or so left and begin the flushing process. If you’re growing a 60-day flowering strain, start to flush your grow medium with only plain water around day 46.

Harvesting, Drying and Curing

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

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Knowing when and how to harvest your buds is as important as knowing how to grow weed.

Use a loupe or a strong magnifying scope to take a very close look at the trichomes; the tiny glandular stalk and head sometimes referred to as “crystals”. Up close, they resemble little glass mushrooms with a stem that forms a bulbous round clear top. Inside that gland head resides the psychoactive compounds (THC, CBD etc). Harvest when the majority of the gland heads begin to go cloudy white and before they’ve gone completely amber. Harvest when they’re mostly amber if you desire a more lethargic stone.

Post-harvest, you will trim and hang up your buds to dry. This process should take about a week or two depending on the humidity and heat in your area. It’s always best to keep this process slower than 3-4 days in order to ensure you aren’t locking in that “green” chlorophyll taste. Add a humidifier to your drying room if you think your nuggets are drying out too quickly. Never leave a fan blowing directly onto your drying colas but make sure air is circulating to avoid mold and bud-rot.

After you’ve determined that your buds are sufficiently dried you’re ready to jar them up for the cure. The stems should snap instead of bending and the outside of the flowers should feel bone dry to the touch. The truth is there is still plenty of water stuck in the bud and the curing process will slowly “sweat” out the remaining liquid.

Always use opaque jars (ones you can’t see inside) and place them in a cool dark place. Open up the jars to determine the level of moisture and leave them open if there’s any condensation forming on the inside of the glass. Slowly but surely, if you open and close the jars once or twice a day, the moist air will be replenished by dry air and the water that’s stuck in the middle of your bud will work its way to the outside and then out into the air altogether. After three weeks to a month or so curing, your buds should burn and taste perfectly.

Pro Tips for Proper Drying and Curing

A key part of learning how to grow weed is mastering drying and curing techniques. You do not want marijuana to dry too quickly or too slowly, as the ideal drying time for a healthy and flavorful marijuana plant is 10 to 14 days. In this video, you will learn the perfect temperature and humidity to dry and cure weed, as well as pro tips that will teach you how to grow weed and trim your plants like an experienced veteran, leaving you with a grade-A product. 

Tips on How to Grow Weed: The Smart Pot

Attention to detail is essential if you are a beginner who is trying to learn how to grow weed. Even the most inconsequential detail could be the difference between a healthy plant and a dud. In this video, learn about the best type of container to use to grow your marijuana plant. We recommend a “smart pot,” which is a container that is made of breathable fabric that allows the roots of your plant to grow much larger. Larger roots mean a larger marijuana plant, which means a more bountiful weed yield when the time comes.

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Tips on How to Grow Weed: The Hydroponic Garden

A hydroponic garden, also known as a “hydro” setup, is a very popular implementation to grow high-quality weed. In this video, an expert takes you through the ins and outs of a typical hydro setup, allowing you to see what it takes to successfully implement your own hydro setup at home. For those who are beginners just learning how to grow weed, a hydroponic garden may seem way too complicated to even consider. However, with some assistance from the experts at High Times, you can easily set up a hydro system that will give you an epic yield! 

Pest Control and Management

As with any garden, when growing marijuana, pests are a constant concern. For anyone learning how to grow weed, it is important to become well-versed in pest management. The last thing you want is for the marijuana crop that you have been working so hard on to be eaten away by a pest infestation. This video teaches you how to ward away pests from your precious plants with integrated pest management, stopping an infestation before it can even happen. Just a few simple steps can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Final Hit: How To Grow Weed

Now you know the basics of how to grow marijuana from seed to harvest. It’s time to get yourself the tools you need and get started today. And remember to take notes, or even better, start your own anonymous online Grow Diary.

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Written By

Danny Danko is a writer, photographer and the Senior Cultivation Editor of High Times magazine. He has selected High Times’ annual Top 10 Strains of the Year since 2005 and is also the creator and founder of the High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame, author of The Official High Times Field Guide to Marijuana Strains and the forthcoming book Cannabis: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Marijuana. He hosts the podcast High Times presents "Free Weed from Danny Danko."

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jeff Kundert

    March 13, 2020 at 9:10 am

    Hello, I am Jeff Kundert, President of the American Cannabis Society since 1978, My father, Prez Bob Kundert was a major player in the cannabis movement with Keith Stroup, Ed Rosenthal and Jack Herer. I also know all of these men and Jack’s son, Dan as well and have interviewed them all at Cannabis Cups in Denver. We are the “Thank You For Pot Smoking” people and our trademarked brands are all over the country. I am a medical professional (Registered Occupational Therapist and Wellness Educator). We have a lot of retro pictures of dad and Jack Herer etc. If you wanted some of this old school history, I am available at any time to interview with you or send you a brief article on what we do and our incredible journey. Dad passed away in 2000 and he toured the country all during the 80’s and 90’s. Keith would remember him and me.
    Best to you all and thanks for all you do,,, Jeff for the ACS

  2. Avatar

    Russell Brown

    March 17, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Good afternoon, I’m interested in growing. I’ve found that Some of the strains fit just right into my life.

  3. Avatar

    Missie. Ingram

    March 21, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    Could you send me directions to grow marijuana outside from start to harvest. Please.

    • Avatar

      Strranger

      May 27, 2020 at 4:01 am

      Germinate your seed, put it in the soil, water daily and wait for the right season! :p

      • Avatar

        JoJo

        May 27, 2020 at 12:31 pm

        When you say right season, do you mean plant in spring and harvest in the fall ?

  4. Avatar

    Joey Norisada

    April 14, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I live in spokane wa and want to try a outside grow could you. Could you send me some info. from start to finish including best time to start a outside grow? Plz & Thank you fellow stoner!!!

  5. Avatar

    Joey Norisada

    April 14, 2020 at 9:46 am

    I live in spokane wa and want to try a outside grow could you. Could you send me some info. from start to finish including best time to start a outside grow? Plz & Thank you fellow stoner!!!

  6. Avatar

    justinn

    April 17, 2020 at 10:51 am

    In LaK’esh Ala K’in my Friends, i have a question regarding nutrients. i am growing 4 plants indoors under a 600 watt Halogen bulb, i would like to grow all natural and am using fish fertilizer during veg growth, is continued use during flowering a good idea or is there a natural flowering fertilizer that i can use? Gratitude for this site and the life giving info that is provided here.

    • Avatar

      Randall Morris

      June 20, 2020 at 8:36 pm

      Switch to a fruit bat guano for the phosphorus and drop the nitrogen mutes as they’re not necessary after budding commences

  7. Avatar

    Shemad

    May 27, 2020 at 4:03 am

    Nice article and useful for someone with a bit of xp under their grow belt. However this is not a step-by-step guide for beginners as a beginner doesn’t know how to setup their light, how to nurse their plant, when to shift stages, how to setup their grow space and etc etc…

    This is a general overview of how to get your plant to yield and not be a dried up husk at the end!

  8. Avatar

    PapaSeed

    June 17, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    I am definitely interested in seeing more research. Is anyone else concerned about a company that sells nutrients telling us to keep using nutrients through harvest? All I am saying is that the possibility of bias or marketing strategy is there. I am not saying they are wrong…

    Not flushing would be one less change in routine and easier for most growers, I would think.

    Grow journals are strongly encouraged. If you do not have one, make one! No better way to learn than through trial and error.

  9. Avatar

    Jimmy Chavis

    June 22, 2020 at 11:59 am

    I’m growing a couple of plants and I need some advice I’ll send you a pic of my plants and if possible can you tell me what I’m doing wrong please and explain the to me the pic of the one flowering

  10. Avatar

    Champ

    July 11, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    I live in the desert where 100+ temperatures are normal in summer. I saw you recommended a thermometer/hygrometer to monitor temp and humidity, but I never saw what ranges we should be going for?
    With lights and outside temp versus house ac my grow area is topping at 88-92F, is that ok?

  11. Avatar

    Gary

    July 28, 2020 at 10:35 am

    what are the best things to feed your plants during bud stage?

    • Avatar

      Gary

      July 28, 2020 at 10:41 am

      what are the best things to feed your plants during bud stage?

  12. Avatar

    Ivan Turner

    July 30, 2020 at 11:40 am

    I am a beginner and need info on how to grow.

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