Best Practices for Growing Marijuana

Growing Marijuana Outdoors
Photo by: ABO Photography/Shutterstock

Even people who don’t consider themselves gardeners often like the idea of growing their own marijuana. There’s just something special about starting from a seed and enjoying the harvest of your own labors, but many people never try it–simply because they don’t think they have what it takes.


Luckily, growing marijuana is fairly simple if you stick to a few key basics. Since many of you are living in areas where you can’t cover your patio in cannabis plants, we’re going to focus on the key knowledge you need to complete an indoor-only, soil-based grow. Check out these three best practices that’ll help you grow marijuana, and you may find it’s easier than you expected!

Table of Contents

Choose an Appropriate Grow Space

Marijuana is a pretty hardy plant, and there’s a reason why it’s called “weed”! However, to best ensure the success of your crop, you need to consider these aspects of your space:

  • Light: Growing marijuana requires periods of complete darkness to simulate a natural outdoor grow cycle. Be sure that your grow space can be completely darkened, whether that means converting a room for that purpose or simply using a grow tent specifically designed for marijuana growing.
  • Temperature & Humidity: In the beginning of their life, cannabis plants grow fastest in warmer temperatures of around 70-85F. During the flowering stage, they’ll produce buds with more color, trichomes, and scent if kept around 65-85F. Be sure your grow space allows for easy (and hopefully inexpensive) temperature control. Again, a grow tent will really help you out here. Along with temperature control, you should consider humidity. Marijuana plants are susceptible to mold if kept in a place with high humidity and not enough air. Ventilation is key!
  • Workspace: Of course, you need to have enough clean space to work on your plants. Whether it’s a simple inspection or your final trim, you need enough clean workspace to handle your plants and organize any tools you’re using.

Hit the Lights

The lights you use to grow marijuana are the single most influential factor in the success of your crop–so if you get one thing right, be sure it’s this! You want to get the best quality of light you can for your budget. Here are three of the most popular lighting solutions for growing marijuana:

  • HID: Standing for High-Intensity Discharge, HID grow lights are the large-scale industry standard. While they’re a bit higher in up-front cost than fluorescents, they produce more light with greater efficiency. But because they produce so much heat, HID lights require the accompaniment of cooled reflector hoods, ducting, and exhaust fans to keep your plants comfortable and effectively modulate temperature.
  • Fluorescent: For most beginners, regular old fluorescent setups work just fine. They’re relatively cheap and don’t require a fancy cooling setup since they generate far less heat than comparable HID lighting setups. On the other hand, fluorescents are hardly efficient. They generate around 20-30% less light per watt, so they aren’t a good option for an industrial operation because they’d take up too much space.
  • LED: While you’re probably used to LED everything by now, Light Emitting Diodes have not been of use for growing marijuana until recently. While they’re now much more powerful, efficient, and long-lasting than comparable HID setups, they’re also significantly more expensive.

Provide Plenty of Nutrients

Marijuana031904_fig1When growing marijuana, you definitely get out what you put in. While you certainly can grow marijuana with normal potting soil, your plant won’t get everything it needs, and definitely won’t turn out the big sticky buds you’re looking for.

While you can make plant nutrients yourself once you have some more experience, there are plenty of nutrient solutions out there for purchase. When looking for marijuana plant food, be sure it contains these three key macronutrients–commonly referred to as NPK:

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen is needed through the full growth process. Your plant will use it to build enzymes, protein, and chlorophyll. Plants that look pale and sickly likely aren’t absorbing enough nitrogen and may not have enough chlorophyll to properly photosynthesize.
  • Phosphorus: Basically, phosphorus is a necessary middleman in the energy uptake process. It allows your plant to process the energy it gets from the nitrogen.
  • Potassium: There are a few things your plant can’t do without potassium, like build cell walls, carry out the flowering process, and even absorb water.

Most commercially available nutrient solutions have different NPK ratios that they believe are optimal for each stage of growth and contain some sort of schedule for how much to feed your plants and when. Be sure that your nutrients match your medium–since using a hydroponic nutrient on a potted marijuana plant is not going to help you in the slightest.

Get Growing!

Obviously, this is just a beginner’s guide to help you as you start to grow marijuana. There are other factors to consider, such as what sort of receptacle to grow your plants in, whether to start from a seed or a plant starter, and other questions to be answered. But, none of the specifics matter unless you’ve got a good foundation. With these three best practices in mind, you’re in great shape to start growing your own marijuana.


Article By: Spencer Grey