How to Grow Weed – Beginners Guide

infogram on weed growth

Beginners Guide to Growing Marijuana 2020

If you’re here, you’re probably looking into growing your own marijuana and that’s awesome. Growing marijuana can be a great way to get your supply discretely and safely. For some folks, it is also the only way to obtain marijuana if they are living in a rural area. Growing marijuana can be super daunting though, and there is a lot of information on the web about best practices. It can be hard to tell the difference between advice intended for commercial growers and hobbyists, so we’re here to get you started with a simple guide to get you started.

If you’re doing it outside

If you plan on growing your cannabis outside, go ahead and read this guide. You’ll still pick up some good information that will definitely help. Just keep in mind that I’m mostly concerned with indoors growers. I would definitely suggest checking out this short video from Weed Schooling for some really great outdoor growing tips.

The Setup

The first step to growing some beautiful buds is to pick a place to grow, getting the light you need, acquiring some growing medium, figuring out how to ventilate plants, and covering up any sneaky smells escaping the grow room. Getting the right space and supplies are the first step toward budding success. (See what I did there?)

Space Invaders!

Picking the space that you’ll grow your plants in is the first step. It’s a good idea to start small, but keep in mind that a single plant can reach up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall and a meter (3 feet) wide. Pick a space that’s easy to disinfect and keep dry to avoid introducing bacteria that would hurt the plant. If you have carpeting or drapes in the room, you’ll want to get a grow tent. For stealth reasons, also keep in mind how visible your plants and equipment are to neighbors. Choosing a spot with nearby power outlets will help with the next steps too.

Button It Up

Another quality of great growing space is that it is light proof. As you’ll see later, the light reaching your plants determines when it starts making buds. If the light is shining on your plants when it shouldn’t, they might never grow any of those beautiful buds you’re after. Not sure what grow tent you need?  Take a look at our reviews on the best grow tents.

complete cannabis grow kit

Let there be light!

weed growing

Since your plants are, well, plants they’re going to need light. If you choose to grow outdoors, you’ll want to check the growing schedule below to figure out when to plant based on local seasonal daylight hours. For indoors growers, LED grow lights are expensive but efficient. A cheaper but less energy-conscious choice are fluorescent bulbs, but really it’s up to you. Opting for light timers will make your life easier, and they’re usually pretty cheap. For more help check out our Best LED Grow Light Reviews.

Potting Your Pot

Some growers suggest starting with a hydroponic setup, but I personally think that’s pretty complicated for a newbie. Any potting soil that doesn’t have artificial fertilizers like Miracle-Gro will do the trick. Extra points if you go for an organic medium with nutrient dense add-ins like compost or worm castings. (Further reading on Marijuana Break if you’re curious.)

Well, Aren’t You A Tall Glass of Water?

Overwatering your plant is one of the easiest mistakes for a new grower to make. Since your plant is growing and changing, it’s water needs are also going to fluctuate. Sticking a finger deep into the soil will tell you if it’s still damp. Only water your plant once the soil has dried out. Underwatered plants will turn droopy and yellow which is easily fixed with a quick drink. Overwatered plants will get root rot and become unsalvageable.

Humidity, Baby

Your little plant babies are going to need more than dirt and light. Make sure that the plants have ventilation that circulates in fresh air constantly. Picking up a humidity and temp combo gauge online is affordable and will also help make sure that the plants aren’t going to mold or dry out. Shoot for 70 to 78 Fahrenheit and 45-55% humidity.  To better understand ventilation and humidity take a look at this article.

When Your Dank Bud is Too Dank

growing weed

When your plants start to really take off, you might notice that they’re getting more than a little… pungent. Keeping air fresheners nearby will probably only temporarily mask the aroma. Air filters will work better for you, if you can afford to spring for one. The most important thing to remember is to avoid ozone emitters. They’re bad for your plants, but they’re also just really bad for the environment.

Best Buds: Getting to Know Your Plant

Now that you’re armed with an understanding of the things your plant will need to thrive, it’s time to pick one out. The first step is to decide which strain you want to cultivate, then pick your plant breed, and lastly make sure you understand what nutrients your new pal is going to need to grow.

Choosing Your High

You’ve probably heard of the two strains of marijuana, called indica and sativa. Sativa is known for its cerebral and uplifting effects and tends to be a taller, skinnier plant. Indica, popular for pain relief, relaxes the body and grows lower and wider. If you’re worried about headspace (either literally for your plants, or figuratively for yourself) then an Indica plant is probably the way to go.

The Seeds You Need

Finding seeds online has become easier and safer than ever, which is great news for you. Once you know which strain you’re growing, find a seed bank online and check the stats for each plants height, ease of growing, and effects. A reputable seed bank will make that info easy to find, and payments should be secure and discrete (i.e. not through Paypal.)

Feeding Time

marijuana in a pot

Once you’ve got seeds, you’ll want to go back to the potting soil that I mentioned earlier and check to make sure you’ve got the basic nutrients to feed your plants. Getting enough nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are key. Make sure that calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper are all there too, but don’t go overboard. If you’re concerned about nutrient levels, it’s pretty easy to find soil testing kits at gardening stores and online. For more information on nutrients take a look at our article: Best Nutrients For Cannabis

Grow, Baby Grow!

Good news! You’re ready to go. You know the basics about your plant and you’ve got your equipment. Now it’s time to plant seeds. Your plant is going to grow on a fairly predictable timeline, and it’s important that you check on it daily to make sure that you’re getting the right amount of light and nutrients to it during each of the four growth stages. Below is the basic info, but if you want more detail, check out this in-depth information from Anthony Franciosi over at Honest Marijuana


Germination lasts 5-10 days. This is the time that your seed is just hanging out and waiting for the right conditions to sprout. Give the little fella 18 hours of light a day, and within no time it’ll be on to the next stage. When planting, make sure your seeds are hard and brown. Green or soft seeds probably won’t sprout.


cannabis seeds

Once your seed sprouts its first leaf, it enters the seedling stage. This is when the plant is most vulnerable. Reduce the risk of introducing a dangerous mold to the plant by keeping the environment clean and trying to avoid overwatering. This stage ends when the first full fan of five to seven leaves opens up, usually in 2 to 3 weeks. Keep up that 18 hour light cycle.


cannabis chemistry

After growing its first full fan of leaves, that little dude is going to grow like gangbusters. Some growers call this stage, “the big stretch” because of how quickly the plant grows. This is the ideal time to repot the plant, increase the water, and introduce nutrients if you need to. This is also the time to introduce plant training, such as a trellis, which will help your buds in the next stage. Your 18 hour light cycle continues through the vegetative state, which happens from 3 to 16 weeks.


Unlike the other stages, when the plant flowers depend on you. To encourage your plant to flower, switch over to a 12 hour light cycle sometime between 8 and 11 weeks. A few weeks into the flowering stage, you need to separate any male plants from the females so the female buds don’t become pollinated (and go to seed.) According to Leafly male plants will have little knobby organs where the leaves meet the stem of the plant, and females will have hairy pre-flowers. The end of the flowering stage is harvest time.

If you’re just not getting the whole “stages” thing

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when your plant is moving onto the next stage of its little plant life. If you’re feeling confused, check out this fantastic visual guide by Trevor Hennings at Leafly

Getting it right, after you’ve gotten it all wrong

Everybody gets something wrong once in a while, especially when they’re new. But don’t sweat it; I’ve got you covered. These tips are taken from Grow Weed Easy’s Troubleshooting Guide. You can find more in-depth information there, but these are the most common missteps.

weed under led light

Moldy Buds

If your buds get moldy, make sure that the temperate hasn’t dropped too low and check on your humidity levels. Low temp or high humidity encourages mold. Check fans to make sure there’s fresh air. You can also try pruning your plants a little, picking off buds near the middle and bottom that aren’t getting as much light. Once you find bud rot, immediately pick off moldy buds and any nearby unaffected buds to stop the mold.

Curling or Cupping Leaves

Sometimes a plant that is under heat stress will curl its leaves upwards. Make sure your temperature is hanging around 70-75 Fahrenheit and, if you need to, move your lights higher or further from the plant.

Brown Leaf Tips

This might be a sign that you’ve gone overboard with the nutrients. If you’ve been adding nutrients to your plant’s water, just switch back to regular old H20 and you should be fine. If you’ve been adding nutrients directly to the soil and you’re in the vegetative state, you can repot your plant and mix in some soil that’s a little less “spicy.”

Drooping Yellow Plants

If you notice that your plant is drooping and turning yellow, go easy on the water for a little while. Make sure the soil is totally dry before watering the plant again. If that doesn’t work, add some fertilizer to make sure the plant doesn’t have a nutrient deficiency.

Now It’s Your Turn

Growing your cannabis can be an amazingly fun hobby. Once you really get into it, you’ll get a feel for what your plants need, and how to grow the best crop you can. If you ever need tips though, feel free to come back and reference this guide again. I would also definitely recommend going back through and checking my linked sources if you need more in-depth information. There are a ton of really great guides out there, but these really are the cream of the crop for beginner gardeners. Good luck, and happy growing.

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