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Steps To Growing Weed Indoors

As the world is shifting towards the legalization of marijuana, the scope of growing weed at home is being explored by cannabis enthusiasts. Cultivating it is not as complicated as it is assumed to be. All you need is good quality seeds, an optimum environment for their growth, and an understanding of how to dry & cure them. Before moving on to the step-by-step guide to growing marijuana, there are few things you need to take care of.

Is it even legal?

Know your local laws. Do thorough research about all the laws concerning cannabis and its cultivation for due diligence. 

  • Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, DC, and Guam have legalized the cultivation of weed at home. However, there is a limit on the number of plants you can grow at once.  
  • Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Washington, and the US Virgin Islands permit it with a medical card and a limit on the number of plants you can grow.
  • Many states have limits on how many plants you can grow. Most States permit the cultivation of up to six plants while some may allow up to twelve plants. Be sure to check how many plants are permitted in your region before moving on to the actual process.
  • Cultivation of marijuana is a felony in some states, which may leave you with hefty fines or some time behind bars. It is crucial to know the laws about marijuana cultivation that directly affect you.

The Basics

  • The cannabis plants prosper well in a warm season every year. 
  • Their life cycle expands over a timeframe of 10-32 weeks depending on certain factors. 
  • You may start your cultivation with a seed or a clone. 
    • The seed would be required to be grown into a seedling before planting it.
    • A clone is a cutting of a full-grown plant that can be used to grow another genetically similar plant.
  • The growth cycle of the marijuana plant has the following stages:
    • Seedling stage: The seed germinates into a baby plant.
    • Vegetative stage: The seedling develops into a non-budding weed plant with a principal stalk with smaller stems branching out and fan leaves.
    • Flowering stage: During this stage, the weed plants start producing buds.
    • Harvesting stage: About two months after the appearance of buds, the plants will be ready to cut down. 
    • Processing: To store the plants, you would need to trim your plants properly, dry them to remove any trace of moisture, and finally cure them to preserve them for longer periods.
  • Basic requirements for the growth of marijuana are a sufficient amount of water, continuous air circulation, temperature ranging between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit, 50-70 percent of humidity levels, basic nutrients, and the amount of light that will change depending on their growth stage.[2]

Outdoors or Indoors?

This is a completely personal choice. 

  • Growing the plants outside, in your garden, is an economical way to adapt. 
    • There are many expenses that you can trim by utilizing natural resources – sunlight & air. 
    • However, you cannot exercise your control on many issues like humidity, pests, weather, etc. 
    • Moreover, you need to find an appropriate area where an ample amount of sunlight is available.
  • Indoor implantation is costly but gives you a hold on every aspect of the growth requirement. If you manage to provide favorable conditions, growing weed indoors provides you with a potent and high-quality harvest. Moreover, you can get multiple harvests when growing weed indoors. 

Which Strain?

Depending on the preference and taste, pick a strain that you enjoy because there is no point in giving so much time and energy to produce something that you would not enjoy in the end. The aspects that may influence your pick are as follows:

  • Legal status for cannabis and its different strains in your region.
  • Some strains grow bigger and are better suited for outdoor cultivation. While others, like indica, grow short and stout making them preferred choices for indoors.
  • Some strains require extra attention as they have complicated nutritional requirements, and are more susceptible to pest infestation. Such marijuana plants would need experienced hands.
  • Some strains mature quickly, in 8-9 weeks, than others that may take up to 12 weeks. 

The steps to growing weed indoors are mentioned below. These steps may require minor modifications depending on the species you have selected to grow. 

1). Setting Up The Area Indoors

Marijuana plants can grow anywhere, a closet, cabinet, a corner in the basement, or a tent. You need to customize the space according to what type of marijuana and how much of it you want to grow. Starting with fewer plants is preferable because of less capital investment and convenience to manage. 

Like every plant, marijuana also thrives in certain favorable conditions. To get a healthy yield, you would need to monitor the climate your produce is exposed to, which includes lighting, airflow, temperature, and humidity. The ideal location for growing marijuana would be near the window to facilitate a better exchange of air. In addition to proper ventilation, you would be required to take care of the temperature, humidity, and lighting intensity.

Maintaining the Climate

Climate is a broad term that is used to cite the air circulation around your budding plants, the temperature of the surroundings, the intensity of the light, and the level of humidity the plants are exposed to. The perfect location would be a cool & dry place with easy access to the fresh outside air.

Retaining Adequate Temperature

The optimal temperature for the growth of marijuana from a seedling to the flowering plant is given below. But the range depends on the strain of the cannabis plant you are cultivating. 

  • Clones or seedlings should be maintained at a temperature range of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • For perfect growth in the vegetative stage, the temperature should be sustained at 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To get excellent flowering buds, 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit temperature is adequate for the flowering stage.

The indica strains flourish on the colder side of the temperature range provided, while sativa strains grow better at warmer temperatures. Under the lighting, the temperature should not exceed 85 degrees or drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And when the lights are turned off, the temperature should be between 58 to 70 degrees. Invest in good quality thermometers to monitor the ranges your controlled environment is exposed to. 

How can you control temperature?

  • Opt for the lights that do not produce excess heat. If that’s not possible, adjust the height or position of the lights to control the temperature.
  • Ensure proper airflow so that the warm air is removed timely and replaced with fresh cold air.
  • Put in an air conditioner or heater depending on the temperature of your indoor unit. 

Controlling The Ventilation

Carbon dioxide is the basic requirement for the growth of any plant, as it is crucial for the process of photosynthesis. Placing an exhaust fan near the area will eliminate the warm air and provide fresh air to facilitate the growth process to strengthen the stems. Improper air circulation can cause fluctuations in humidity or create carbon dioxide voids in the air surrounding the thriving plants.  

  • Reduced carbon dioxide can block the nutrients from getting utilized by the plants.
  • Exceeding humidity is the primary reason for the growth of mold and pest infestation.

What type of fans should be used?

Depending on the area you need to cover, use multiple fans with oscillating capability, if possible. 

  • Clip-on fans that can be attached to the walls, beams, or corners of the room should be used.
  • Do not place the fans so they directly blow the air onto the plants to avoid wind burn of the leaves.
  • Make sure an even airflow is maintained at all times. 

What to do if the area has high humidity?

Controlling the humidity of the area where you are cultivating the marijuana is extremely important. You would need a hydrometer to monitor the humidity levels. 

  • Marijuana seedlings require approximately 70 percent humidity.
  • The vegetative stage of the growth cycle requires 40-60 percent of relative humidity.
  • And, 40-50 percent humidity is satisfactory for the flowering stage.

In case your place has high humidity levels, the solution would be to invest in a dehumidifier. This antidote may be expensive as the dehumidifier will increase the temperature of the room. To counter the increasing heat, extra fans or air conditioning might be required, which will also raise the electricity load, thus your bills.

What can be done to adjust low humidity levels?

Equipment known as a humidifier is used to increase the moisture content of the air in case of a dry environment. However, you can also mist the plants with the help of a spray bottle to increase the humidity levels. 

 

Choosing & Controlling the Exposure to Lights

The amount of light that a marijuana plant receives differs in its growing stages.[1] They need around eighteen hours of light every day in their vegetative stage and during their flowering stage, twelve hours of light every day suffices. When grown outdoors, the seasons and the sun regulate the availability of light. But for indoor settings, you would be required to oversee the type and the amount of light your plants are exposed to. 

  • Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
      • Even though they are expensive, they are highly fruitful in the long run.
      • They last longer than other lights available.
      • Their electricity consumption is significantly lower than other options for lighting.
      • A relatively lower amount of heat is produced by LED lights.
      • A full spectrum of light is provided by the LED lights.
  • Fluorescent Lights
      • They are comparatively inexpensive to set up and do not produce much heat that would require a cooling system to be set up as well.  
      • But, they do not produce enough light for the amount of electricity they utilize and require larger space for installation.
  • High-Intensity Discharge Lights
    • These lights are of commercial standards and deliver an excellent blend of efficiency, quality, and yield.
    • Their installation requires a generous investment but produces more light per watt of electricity consumed. 
    • These lights use two types of lamps for the growth cycle of marijuana – 
      • Bluish-white metal halide lamp for vegetative stage.
      • Red-orange spectrum high-pressure sodium lamps for the flowering stage.
    • Another drawback for HID lights is that it produces a lot of heat, which requires auxiliary equipment for maintaining the temperature.

2). Choosing the Growth Media

From the traditional medium like soil to hydroponic trays, there are a lot of options available for you to choose from. Soil makes an ideal choice for everyone, even those who are trying it for the first time. The perfect choice would be a soil rich in mycorrhizae & bacteria population, and free from artificial fertilizers. 

 

The Right Container.

When choosing the container for your marijuana plants, size and shape will depend on the area you plan on placing it and the growth media you would be using. To get a healthy & strong weed plant, you need to make sure that your root development is perfect. Take care of the below-mentioned things when choosing a container:

  • No Water Retention: A container with a good drainage system is essential. A waterlogged container will lead to the rotting of roots and thus a dead plant. 
  • Perforated Containers: Oxygen is essential for roots to carry on many physiological functions. There are many planters available that have perforations in them to allow easy passage of air. 
  • Sufficient Space: For roots to grow out properly, the container should be big enough to allow it without restricting the natural growth.

3). Germinate the Seeds

If you are using the seeds, you need to first treat them to grow a seedling which will be planted later in a bigger pot. To facilitate germination, a precise amount of water, temperature, and ideal location are required. 

  • The seeds can be placed directly into the growth medium in a smaller pot.
  • A moist paper towel can be used to sprout the seeds.
  • Seeds can also be soaked in water that has been fortified with enzymes that boost germination. 
  • Rock wool starters or jiffies are considered more convenient as they can be directly transferred to the soil in the final location without any damage to the plant’s structure. 

4). Growth Fuel

Once your seedlings or clones are placed in appropriate containers and under a controlled environment, they would require care and attention to grow into the product you are hoping it to be. Water and nutrients act as the fuel that pumps up the growth of your plant. Check on your indoor plants every two days for their soil pH. On every alternative watering schedule, add the nutrients (natural fertilizer) in precise amounts. Do not overwater the plants as it may destroy the roots. 

Check for the following things every other day to ensure a good harvest:

  • Monitor the pH of the water and add to the plants.
  • Add nutrients to the water.
  • Verify the humidity and temperature levels.
  • Trim the dead leaves.
  • Inspect for signs of 
    • A pest infestation, 
    • Mold growth, 
    • Nutritional inadequacy, or
    • Burns on leaves due to wind or light.
  • Survey if the spacing between the plants is adequate.
  • Check all the equipment that has been installed.

5). Checking the Growth

The vegetative phase lasts the longest and is the time when your plant is manufacturing and storing all its goodness in its leaves and soon to erupt buds. The vegetative stage will need 18 hours of lighting that will aid the photosynthesis. After a while, depending on the species you have chosen, the hormonal changes will start the next phase of the growth cycle – the flowering stage. You would have to reduce the lighting to 12 hours per day. And once your plants start blooming, or flowering as some may say, the aromas will start to develop.

  • In absolute photo-determinate plants, a light-sensitive hormone signals the plant to end the vegetative state when the nights become longer.
  • In auto-flowering weed, the hormone is age-dependent and stops getting synthesized at a certain time to allow flowering. 

When the flowering begins, the expansion of the branch attains a zig-zag shape with closer nodes. The appearance of calyxes at interviews, followed by pistils with puffballs initiates the flowering process. These puffballs change into trichome clusters of a fluorescent appearance and within a few weeks, these clusters increase and form puffy trichomes. 

 

How to grow auto-flowering weed?

Auto-flowering marijuana plants are easiest to maintain as they do not require special attention or requirement. 

6). Harvesting & After Care

You can trim the leaves with as little disturbance to the trichomes as possible. You would learn the best way through some trial and error methods after performing the procedure repeatedly. 

  • Once trimmed, dry your produce in a dark and cool place with very little humidity. 
  • The drying may take up to two weeks, so make sure to inspect it for any mold growth. 

When your thin stems easily snap, it is well dried. The color will change to tan, fawn, or pale green, and sometimes the buds can also change their color to deep purple or blue after the degradation of the chlorophyll. For curing:

  • Store the dried weed in an air-tight glass jar. 
  • Open the lid once every day, for the first 15 days, to remove any built-up moisture. 
  • Later on, open it once every seven days.
  • Cure it for at least 6 weeks for ideal results. The longer the curing duration, the better the results. 

 

How long does it take to grow weed?

It may take anywhere between 10-32 weeks to grow weed indoors. The germination of the seeds takes around 3-10 days, from germination to formation of a seedling may take up to 3 weeks. The vegetative phase of a marijuana plant may last anywhere between 3-16 weeks and the flowering phase may take 8 to 11 weeks. 

 

Controlling the Odor

When the marijuana plants start flowering, the terpenes synthesized in them spread the characteristic ‘weedy’ odor. You can control the odor by:

  • Maintaining the levels of humidity and temperature. High humidity and temperature intensify aromas. Using AC and dehumidifiers may help.
  • Ensure proper air circulation.
  • Odor-absorbing products may help during the last few weeks before he harvests.
  • Activated carbon filters absorb the odor-causing particulates from the air and control the scent.

 

References
  1. Eichhorn Bilodeau S, Wu BS, Rufyikiri AS, MacPherson S, Lefsrud M. An Update on Plant Photobiology and Implications for Cannabis Production. Front Plant Sci. 2019;10:296. Published 2019 Mar 29. doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.00296 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6455078/ 
  2.  https://www.ncceh.ca/sites/default/files/Growing_At_Home_Health_Safety_Personal_Cannabis_Cultivation_Mar_2018.pdf
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