How To Grow At Home: Step-By-Step

Read time: 6 minutes, 24 seconds

Now that you have sourced all of your starting materials, necessary equipment and have prepared your tent/converted room/outdoor area, it is time to get growing. Here is the step-by-step process to turn your cannabis seeds or seedlings into successful mature plants.

Simplified Step-By-Step

  1. Germinate and/or plant your cannabis seedlings into fertile soil or soilless medium.
  2. Allow ample sunlight or artificial light to reach the plant. 18 hours during vegetative cycle, 12 hours during the flowering cycle.
  3. Water daily – amount depends on quality of soil, weather and intensity of the sun/lights.
  4. Average growing period is around 3-6 months. Sativa-dominant cultivars typically need 10-12 weeks of flowering, while Indica-dominant will need about 8-10.
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The Growing Stages

Germination: If starting from seed, you must germinate the seed before planting it in soil, soilless medium or a hydroponic system. This can be done in a variety of ways. The most common method to germinate is by placing cannabis seeds in between two pieces of wet paper towel that are soaked with distilled water, storing this in a dark and protected space and make sure they are kept warm for about 2-3 days. The seeds will begin to sprout revealing the tap root, which signals that it is time to transplant the germinated seed into your growing medium. Poke a hole in the soil about a quarter-inch deep using a pen or pencil then use a pair of tweezers to transfer the seed into the hole with the trap root facing down. Finally, cover the seedling with a bit of soil or whatever your medium is.

If starting from a cutting, simply plant the cutting in your soil or soilless medium.

Seedling Stage: As the cannabis plant becomes a seedling, it will start to develop the first signs of leaves. Cannabis plants are typically considered seedlings until they begin to develop fan leaves with the full number of blades (usually between 5-7).

Vegetative Cycle: The vegetative cycle is where most of the growth really takes place. Both the roots and leaves will begin developing at a rapid pace. The stem grows thick and tall and begins to develop new nodes that will produce more branches and leaves. The vegetative cycle typically takes between 3 to 6 weeks. During this time, your baby seedling will transform into a plant that can be several feet tall.

Flowering Cycle: Most cannabis strains will stay in the vegetative cycle until the amount of sun or artificial light is progressively reduced, triggering the flowering cycle. The lack of light in this phase of the growing process is meant to mimic the sunlight patterns in nature as the seasons change. If growing outdoors, this will happen naturally. When growing indoors, it is essential to decrease exposure to light to around 12 hours as opposed to 18 hours in the vegetative state. The flowering cycle typically takes 10-12 weeks for Sativa-dominant cultivars and approximately 8-10 for Indica-dominant varieties.

There are a few signs that will let you know when the flowering cycle is complete, and it is time to harvest your cannabis. One signal is when the pistils begin to change colour from milky white to red or orange tones. The trichome heads will also transition from clear to milky to amber. Translucent trichome heads indicate that the plant has a high concentration of THC, while amber-coloured trichomes indicates that the THC has started converting into other cannabinoids.

Finishing your Cannabis

Now that you have put all of this hard work into growing the plant, you don’t want to ruin it by not finishing the process properly. The way cannabis is flushed, harvested, cured and dried will all determine the quality of the end product.

Flushing: Near the end of the growing process you want to solely feed the plant water, to deprive it of nutrients and allow it to metabolize the nutrients it already has in its plant tissue. Some say that this helps the plant’s starches convert to carbohydrates, resulting in cleaner burning cannabis.

Harvesting: We recommend harvesting the entire plant and not wet trimming.

Drying: After harvest, it is essential to dry your cannabis in a very controlled environment. We recommend hang drying in 10.5° to 15° Celsius and around 60% humidity. Allow your plants to dry slowly over a 10-14 day period. This will ensure that your cannabis retains all of the terpenes and cannabinoids you’ve worked so hard to produce. You can remove fan leaves during drying but do not damage too much plant tissue or else you might impart undesirable “planty” green notes into the plant, including aromas of grass and hay. Wait until after the drying process to fully trim your plants.

Curing: After you dry and trim your cannabis – put it in an air-tight mason jar in a cool and dark room for 1 to 2 weeks. Ideally you would like your cannabis buds to contain around 30-35% moisture when starting the curing process. “Burp” the cannabis by opening the jar to let excess carbon dioxide and moisture escape. You should burp your buds for about 30 minutes every day during the curing process.

Potential Challenges

When growing cannabis at home, there are a long list of problems that could occur. We outline and define many of these potential issues below.

  • Pests: Insects and other animals can prey on cannabis plants and can create infestations that will seriously damage your harvest. These pests can include aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, nematodes, ants and birds. The best way to prevent pests is by utilizing Integrated Pest Management techniques. IPM introduces beneficial organisms to mitigate any risk of an infestation.
  • Pathogens (Image above): There are a variety of bacteria, viruses and diseases that can negatively affect your cannabis crop. The most common of these pathogens are powdery mildew, bud rot and fusarium. Powdery mildew appears as a white film on the leaves and buds of cannabis plants. Powdery mildew deprives the plant of nutrients, resulting in lower cannabinoid and terpene production. Bud rot, also known as grey mold or Botrytis Cinerea. Is a common fungal disease that results in mold on the inside of cannabis buds. Grey mold can develop in both growing and already harvested plants. Lastly, fusarium is a soil-dwelling fungus that attacks the root system of cannabis plants, causing them to wilt, develop root rot and dark spots on the lower leaves. Genetic selection is key here, as certain cultivars are less or more susceptible to developing fusarium. There are numerous ways to prevent and deal with these pathogens and bring your grow room back to a sterilized bio-secured state. Prevent these pathogens by ensuring all air filtration is free of spores, by decontaminating yourself before entering the grow room and by implementing a testing regimen to monitor your crops.
  • Deficiencies: There are numerous visual signals that inform growers of a nutrient deficiency or overload in their growing plants. Here are some examples:
    • Calcium deficiency results in brown spots and weak or hollow stems.
    • Iron deficiency causes the top and inner leaves to turn yellow or white.
    • Nitrogen deficiencies cause the lower leaves to turn yellow and begin falling off.
    • Phosphorus deficiency produces a strange leaf colouring with dark splotches.
    • Potassium deficiency results in brown or yellow edges on the fan leaves.
    • Under-watering will result in a wilting plant with limp and lifeless leaves.

When dealing with any of these predicaments, remember that you are not alone. Google is your friend. There are many other amateur and professional growers who have overcome these challenges.

Best of luck! Get growing!

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