If growing cannabis is legal where you live, and you’re somewhere around the novice level as a grower, these tips for successfully cultivating cannabis indoors should serve as a handy guide. For those of you who are in the moderate to expert ranges, this could be both a good refresher and an easy resource for when your friends inevitably ask you to help them grow their own weed at home. To begin with, here is a brief run-down of some of the growing methodologies and a couple of terms you’ll most likely encounter along the way.
Methods to Grow Cannabis Indoors
Aeroponics: Growing cannabis plants in a hanging mesh basket. The roots then grow and hang out mid-air, and water and fertilizer are sprayed over them.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID): HID light bulbs are a type of high-powered grow light that is generally preferred by cannabis cultivators over LED lights. Metal Halide (MH) and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) are both different types of HID lighting.
Hydroponics: Growing without using soil, where the cultivator uses a solution that directly provides the roots of the plants with the nutrients and oxygen they need. This allows the plant to redirect the energy it would normally spend on searching for food and water to its upper parts which result in bigger plants and yields.
Sea of Green (SOG) method: A low-maintenance method often used indoors or in greenhouses that call for cultivating numerous plants in a small space. Doing so forces the plants to grow together where they end up both creating a “sea of green” canopy and flowering much faster. This allows for cultivators to have more harvests in a year.
Screen of Green (ScrOG) method: Used both indoors and outdoors to get the largest yield possible per square foot. ScrOG is a training method that causes cannabis plants to form a horizontal canopy, which means more of its flowers are exposed to the light source.
Soil: The most traditional and straightforward method is to grow your plants in nutrient-rich soil and water regularly.
Topping: Used by indoor and outdoor growers to ensure that enough light gets to the lower branches of a plant by pruning the top growth between, but never during, the seedling and flowering stages.
Trimming: Pruning excess to prevent the plant from growing too wide.
Tips for Growing Cannabis in Smaller Spaces
Grow lights: As a general rule of thumb: plants require 18 hours of light a day during their vegetative stage and 12 hours when flowering. While LED and fluorescent lights can be successfully used for growing cannabis indoors, they are generally only effective in a small grow space, and LED lights can be expensive to set up as longboards of LEDs are required due to how low power they are. While HIDs do require protective hoods and reflectors, and some kind of ventilation source as they are extremely hot and use up a lot of power, they are still considered to be the best option by professional cultivators for numerous reasons, including being the most intense lighting option and therefore guaranteeing your cannabis plants get sufficient light. They also have a lower initial investment cost than LEDs. However, when it comes to lighting, the most important thing is that you make your grow space “light-tight,” so that light will not leak in during the time when they need their 6 or 8 hours of darkness.
Growing containers: In brief, the three main things to consider when choosing which type of pot or container you will grow your cannabis in are: space, anything that is too small will cause the plant to choke on its own roots; sufficient drainage, waterlogging a plant can result in root rot; and oxygen flow, perforations in pots allow for enough oxygen to get to the roots. Another good general rule of thumb is to start with a 1-gallon pot and then as the plants grow bigger transplant them to a 5-gallon one and if need be later on to a 7 or 10-gallon one.
Ventilation: While there are some elaborate and expensive ventilation options out there, which are generally best suited for larger indoor growing operations, the fact is you can use any kind of fan. The reasons that you need fans for growing cannabis indoors are as follows: marijuana plants need fresh air to thrive, the circulating air helps prevent mold, “stale” air is pulled out, and if you are wanting to be more discreet they can help redirect airflow for the more pungent and odiferous strains.
Training, trimming, and topping: Depending on the strain depends on how much training, trimming and topping it will require. For example, some plants do better with SOG or ScrOG, while others don’t require it, and others need to be topped regularly as their top branches tend to block light from getting to the lower branches. As such, when you order your seeds make sure you read up on the growing information provided and you’ll probably want to do a bit more online research on your own.
Determine growth medium/method: Again every strain thrives under certain conditions differently. Some will need hydroponics, others are best in soil, and others can thrive in almost any medium. That said, it is generally recommended that those who are just starting out as cannabis cultivators stick with soil, and as they gain confidence and experience they begin “experimenting” with various hydroponics methods.
Humidity and temperature: This is probably one of the more difficult aspects of indoor growing, and generally requires investing in equipment. Apart from having a ventilation system, which does help with maintaining temperatures and circulating the air, you will most likely also need a dehumidifier to effectively deal with controlling humidity levels, or in a larger set up an air conditioning unit.
While these tips do not cover every single aspect of growing cannabis indoors, they should help you get started! And remember: making “mistakes” is part of the learning process, so just have fun!