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Learn the basics of growing cannabis. This Grow Guide tells you, plain and simple, how to grow weed, step by step, from seed to harvest. After reading, you will know what to do with your weed seeds, what equipment you need, and how to successfully grow your plant. Finally, you will learn when and how to harvest your own homegrown weed.

Who is this guide for?

This guide is specifically designed for anyone who wants to grow weed for the first time. If you have grown weed before and want to improve your skills, read our Advanced Grow Guide.

Learning how to grow weed for beginners

Step by step, you will read how to grow a healthy cannabis plant with full buds from the seeds you have received. The growing process is explained from the germination of your weed seeds to the moment you can finally smoke your own harvest.

1

Germinating the seeds

You have received your weed seeds. The seeds are currently in dormant mode and must be awakened from their deep slumber. This is called germinating. Germination is done by giving the seed water and warmth, which will kick-start the growing process. Germination is successful when the seed has a root of about 1 cm (0.4 inches).

Tools

This is what you need to germinate the seeds:

  • Water
  • Glass
  • Kitchen paper
  • Plate
  • Room temperature
  • A dark place
  • Patience and caution

Germination Methods

For the best results, germination takes place in two stages.

First, germinate in a glass of water. Then, germinate with kitchen paper.

Germinating in a glass of water

Fill a transparent glass three-quarters with lukewarm filtered or pH-neutral water. Place your seeds in the glass in a dark place for 24 to 48 hours. If all goes well, the seeds will show small green/white dots. This is called the radicle.

Further germination with kitchen paper

Next, place the seeds on a plate covered with damp kitchen paper and cover it with another plate so that the moisture does not evaporate.

After 24 hours, check how far your seeds have germinated. Does the root have a length of about 1 cm (0.4 inches)? Then proceed to step 2. If this is not the case, let the seeds germinate a little longer. Keep in mind that the germination stage can take a maximum of 9 days.

To truly become a master of germination, you can also read our guide on how to germinate weed seeds

2

Planting the seeds

After germination, the seedlings (the sprouted seeds) must be moved to a pot with soil to start the next phase of the growing process. These steps are followed regardless of whether you want to grow indoors or outdoors.

Tools

This is what you need when planting the seedlings:

  • Seedlings (the germinated seeds)
  • Light-proof flower pot (at least 15 liters/4 gallons)
  • Tweezers
  • (Organic) soil
  • Pen or pencil
  • Plant sprayer

Planting stages

While planting your seedling might be an easy task, it’s important to take proper care of the young plant at this stage.

Filling the pot with soil and seedlings

To fill the pot, use a light mix of soil and cork. Fill the pot to about 1 cm (0.4 inches) from the edge. Use a pen or pencil to make a hole about 3 cm (1.2 inches) deep and place the seedling in the hole, with the root facing downwards. Use tweezers for this. Once the seedlings are in the ground, seal the hole 'loosely' with soil.

Our guide on planting weed seeds will give you even more tips and tricks on this part of the growing process.

Keeping them moist

Spray the soil with a plant sprayer to keep the soil moist (not wet!) and place the pot in a place where it gets light. For example, on the window sill. Check the moisture level of the soil regularly to prevent the seedlings from drying out. After a few days, you will see the little plant emerge.

Transplant

After 7 to 10 days, the next step is transplanting. At this point, the plant should be 5 to 10 cm (2 to 3.9 inches) high. Now you will have to decide whether to grow the weed plant indoors or outdoors.

To learn more about the transplating process, make sure to check out our Guide To Transplanting Cannabis Plants.

3

Growing and blooming

The young weed plant is now ready to grow into an adult plant and will have to be transplanted to its final place of growth. This can be indoors or outdoors.

Choosing for indoor or outdoor growing

Growing cannabis plants can be done indoors as well as outdoors, but the process and final results are slightly different.

Below are the differences and advantages.

  1. Indoor growing
  2. Not dependent on the weather/climate
  3. High investment due to material costs
  4. Lower yields
  5. More control and therefore easier to grow
  6. Suitable indoor space required
  1. Outdoor growing
  2. Grows are only possible during growing season (May to October)
  3. Higher yield
  4. Less material needed
  5. Consideration of odor spread to neighbors
  6. Higher chance of mold and diseases

Indoor growing

When you decide to grow indoors, you will need a suitable space and materials to ensure a successful indoor grow.

Tools

This is what you need when growing cannabis indoors:

  • Indoor space with a power supply
  • Lights and timer
  • Pots
  • Potting soil
  • Nutrient
  • Watering can/plant sprayer
  • Pruning shears
  • Grow tent or kit (optional)
  • Fan
  • Thermometer
  • pH-meter

Choosing the space and materials

The space in which you are going to grow cannabis plants must have enough room for the plants in question. As a rule of thumb, there should be a distance of about 60 cm (2 feet) between the plants/pots.

There are also complete grow kits that you can place in the space. These are fully equipped with lamps, fans, filters, a thermometer, and a pH-meter. More about choosing the right lamps, pots and other materials can be found in our ‘Growing Weed Indoors Beginners Guide’.

Care of the weed plant (indoors)

After you have transplanted the little cannabis plant, the real care begins.

The first two weeks

In the beginning, the plants do not need a lot of care yet, but there are some things to keep in mind. Make sure the soil is moist. You can touch the soil to feel if you need to give a little extra water, or if the plants have enough for now.

Cannabis plants generally prefer temperatures between 20-25 °C (68-77 °F) during the day, when the lights are on. During the night, when the lights are off, slightly cooler temperatures are preferred. Read our guide on the 'Best Temperature and Humidity for Growing Weed' to learn more about the importance of temperature (and humidity) during the grow process.

Also, do not yet use any nutrients, as the seeds themselves have enough nutrients in them to sustain them in this period. If you apply too many nutrients, it can cause root burn, which can be fatal for the plant! Finally, in these first two weeks, you should set up your light cycle, which will help your weed plants flourish. At this early stage, the plants need 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. Use the lamps and time switch to provide this light frequency.

Week 3-4: Adding nutrition

Now you can add plant nutrition. How much and with what frequency is indicated on the packaging of the relevant product, but it is advisable to give a little less than indicated in order to prevent overfeeding. Keep watering the plants, but not too much. You do not have to change the light cycle during this stage.

Cannabis plants during this time in the vegetative stage prefer a slightly warmer temperature, within the 25-29 °C (77-84 °F) range.

From week 5: Photoperiod

Depending on the type of plant, starting in the fifth week the growth period is complete, and the flowering stage begins (when buds start to appear).

To ensure the best bud quality, cannabis plants should be kept slightly cooler during the flowering stage, around 18-25 °C (64-77 °F).

Since cannabis plants only start to flower when there is less light, this means that the light schedule has to be adjusted. During this period, the plants need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

If you have chosen autoflowers then you do not have to take light schedules into account. These varieties can endure 24 hours of light in order to bloom, but it is better to leave them in the dark occasionally in order to 'rest'. Want to learn more about the process of how to grow autoflowers? Make sure to also check out our Autoflower Grow Guide.

As the flowering stage progresses, maintaining slightly cooler temperatures improves bud color, trichome production, density, and smell. To induce or enhance maximum (purple) coloration, aim for a temperature difference of 8 °C (14 °F) between day and night.

To get an even more in-depth look in growing weed inside the house, you can read our guide on 'How to grow weed indoors'. 

Have the plants grown nice and full buds? Time to harvest!

Outdoor growing

With outdoor growing, you need fewer materials because the outdoor environment will provide those for you! Light and warmth are delivered to you for free by Mother Nature.

Tools

This is what you need for outdoor growing:

  • Pots (optional)
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Windscreen (optional)
  • Greenhouse (optional)
  • Watering can

Choosing the location and materials

After you have completed step 2, the plants can be moved outside, during the spring. You can either repot the young plants into larger pots or put them directly into the ground. Want more information on the proper pot size? Read our guide on 'Choosing the Right Pot size for Cannabis Plants' (in case you are growing autoflower seeds, we also have an Autoflower Pot Size Guide).

Choose the location carefully. Preferably a spacious spot in the garden, but a greenhouse is also a very practical place to grow your plants. Such a sheltered outdoor location offers multiple advantages because it protects your plants from excessive rainfall and heavy winds.

If you do not have the option to shelter the plants from rainfall, and you live in a climate where it rains all the time (we know how that feels), then make sure you have good drainage. You can opt for drainage systems, but there is an alternative solution that is simple and cheap. Drill three holes in the bottom of the pot, about 1.3 centimeters (½ an inch) in diameter. Cover the bottom and the holes with a layer of gravel or LECA. Fill the remainder of the pot with (organic) soil. This way, the excess water will not stay at the bottom of the pot, as this can cause root rot.

The plants also need nutrients in order to grow. Therefore, prepare your growing space by using organic soil. As a supplement, you can add organic fertilizer, but make sure you do not add nutrients too early (starting at week three).

Care of the weed plant (outdoors)

Letting nature run its course can be tempting, but we advise you to still take proper care of your growing plant.

The first two weeks

When you are growing outside, the plants do not need a lot of help to grow. What they do need is protection. Because the small plants are vulnerable to wind and too much rainfall. To protect your plants against these weather conditions, you can use wind- and cover screens.

Week 3-4: Feeding

From the third week onwards, you should give your plants food. In order to grow healthily, they need phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, also known as NPK fertilizer. Organic fertilizer contains all these nutrients.

The amount and frequency of feeding are indicated on the packaging of the fertilizer, but if you want to be safe, you should give a smaller amount than indicated in order to prevent overfeeding. You also need to keep checking the moisture in the soil during the growing period.

From week 5: Growing and blooming

The outdoor plants will now grow visibly. The only thing you can do in this period is to keep the plants out of the wind and protect them from excess rainwater. Check the plants every few days for mold and rot. You do not have to worry about light schedules, because nature takes care of this for you. This is a great advantage over growing indoors.

At the end of the summer, you will have beautiful, healthy plants in your garden or greenhouse. Around mid-fall, the harvesting can begin. Want to gain even more knowledge on growing outdoors? Make sure to read our guide on 'How to grow weed outdoors'.

4

Harvesting

After three to five months, your plants are ready for harvesting. This depends in part on the variety (sativa or indica) you have grown and whether you have grown your plants indoors or outdoors. Sativa plants are usually ready for harvest after they have been flowering for about ten weeks. Indica plants are somewhat faster and can be ready for harvest after eight weeks of flowering. It can differ however from strain to strain, so we would recommend always checking the flowering time on the product page in question.

Tools

This is what you need when cutting cannabis plants:

  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Branch or pruning shears
  • Scissors
  • Bowl or tray
  • Rope or string
  • Magnifying glass (optional)

Ready for harvest?

To be sure whether your plants are ready for harvest, keep your eye out for the following signs:

The color of the leaves The color of the leaves

When the leaves turn yellow, but the buds are full and healthy, this is a signal that the time for harvesting is fast approaching.

The color of trichomes The color of trichomes

Another trusted method is to take a peek at the trichomes, you will need a magnifying glass for this. Trichomes are minuscule white-colored droplets that are found on the buds of female cannabis plants. As soon as these drops have turned amber-colored, you can start harvesting.

Harvesting at the right time Harvesting at the right time

The moment when you start harvesting is important for the final quality. If you are too early, this can affect your yield. If you are too late, the effects of your buds will be diminished.

Read our article 'When To Harvest Cannabis Plants?' for more insights about the right timing for harvest. If you are cultivating an autoflower strain, you can also read our guide on 'When To Harvest Autoflowers'.

Harvesting

Get your scissors ready, because it is time to free those beautiful, frosty buds

Cutting the branches

Do this at a large table in a clean room. Make sure that you have enough light to prevent you from accidentally cutting wrongly.

Before you start cutting, stretch the rope or cord to hang the branches upside down. This way, after cutting and trimming, you can immediately hang up the branches to dry.

If the plants are on the smaller side, cut them off at the main stem. With larger plants, you cut them off at the branches. The ultimate goal is to have loose branches with the top at the end.

Trimming

After you have cut the branches, you start trimming them with the scissors. You trim away excess small branches/shoots and bracts, freeing the buds. To keep a good view of what you are cutting, hold the branches upside down.

The trimmed branch is placed on the tray to make sure the sugar leaves are collected and trichomes are not lost. You can use these leaves to make cannabis oil or edibles. Finally, hang the branches upside down by one of their shoots. On to the last step of the growing process: drying.

In case you want to learn even more about the harvesting process, we would advise reading our guide on 'How to harvest cannabis?'.

5

Drying

After you have cut and trimmed the branches, they must dry. They still consist of about 75% moisture, and while we understand it is hard to wait, you cannot smoke wet weed. The aim of drying is to reduce the moisture content to about 10%.

Tools

This is what you need to dry your homegrown weed:

  • A small dark room
  • Thermometer
  • Hygrometer(s)
  • Rope/cord, pegs
  • Rotating fan
  • Scissors

Duration of drying

Drying weed seems a simple task at first, but for the best result, you will have to pay close attention to temperature and humidity. If you dry the buds too quickly, there is a chance that the outside is dry, but the core is not. Drying too slowly can lead to mold, and trust us, you don’t want to smoke moldy weed. As a rule of thumb, we use a drying period of about two weeks.

Weed drying is done by hanging the branches on a rope in a small, dark space. A space that is preferably no larger than 5m2 (54 square feet). The reason for this is that the temperature and relative humidity (RH) are much better to regulate in a smaller space.

Drying

The last, but certainly not the least, step of cultivating your own homegrown weed!

The ideal climate conditions

Weed must be dried at a temperature between 15 and 20 °C (59 to 68 °F). Ideally, keep the RH levels at around 55% in your drying room. As the temperature drops a few degrees, the relative humidity can decrease as well. Make sure the RH never drops below 50% in your drying environment.

To measure both, buy a thermometer and a hygrometer. A rotating fan is also a desirable addition to the drying process, allowing the weed to dry very evenly. Place the fan at a good distance from the branches, so it only functions as a means of air circulation.

After this drying process, the buds can be cut from the branches. Use clean scissors for this. The buds are now ready to be smoked, but you might want to wait just a little longer…

Curing

As said, your buds are now smokable, but if you want your homegrown weed at its peak quality, then you should choose to harden the buds. This is called curing. Curing can take several weeks to months and depends on the desired quality. Longer curing means better quality. Compare it to the ripening of wine; the older the wine, the better the taste.

Mason jars

To harden the buds, you put them in a mason jar. These are jars that can be hermetically sealed, to make sure the buds are not exposed anymore to outside air. This way the humidity remains the same and the transformation of cannabinoids is promoted. Place the mason jars in the dark drying room. This way the temperature remains the same and (sun)light is avoided. It is now up to you to decide how long you leave the buds in the jars. Patience is key.

For more tips on drying and curing your weed, check out our guide on 'How to dry and cure weed to improve quality?'.