Growing cannabis indoors is fast
becoming an American Pastime. The reasons are varied.
With the increased interest and experimentation in cannabis plant cultivation, it
was inevitable that people would apply their knowledge of plant care to growing
cannabis. Many of those who occasionally like to light up a
joint may find it difficult to locate a source or are hesitant to deal with a
perhaps unsavory element of society in procuring their grass.
There is, of course, the criminal aspect of buying or selling grass; Growing cannabis is just as illegal as buying, selling, or smoking it, but growing is something you can do in the privacy
of your own home without having to deal with someone you don't
know or trust. The best reason for growing your own is
the enjoyment you will get out of watching those tiny little you
picked out of you stash, sprout and become some of the most lovely and lush
of all cannabis plants.
Anyone Can Do It
Even if you haven't had any prior
experience with growing cannabis plants in you home, you can have a
successful crop of cannabis plants by following the simple directions in this
pamphlet. If you have had problems in the past with cannabiscultivation, you may find the solutions in the following chapters.
Growing a cannabis plant involves four basic steps:
1. Get the seeds. If you don't already have some, you
can ask your friends to save you seeds out of any good grass they may come
across. You'll find that lots of people already have a seed collection of
some sort and are willing to part with a few prime seeds in exchange for some of the finished product.
2. Germinate the seeds. You can simply drop a seed
into moist soil, but by germinating the seeds first you can be sure that the seed will indeed produce a plant. To
germinate seeds, place a group of them between about six moist paper
towels, or in the pores of a moist sponge. Leave the towels or
sponge moist but not soaking wet. Some seeds
will germinate in 24 hours while others may take several days or even a
3. Plant the sprouts. As soon as a seed cracks open and
begins to sprout, place it on some moist soil and sprinkle a little soil over
the top of it.
4. Supply the plants with light.
lights are the best. Hang the lights with two inches of the
soil and after the plants appear above the ground, continue to keep the lights with two inches of the plants. It is as easy as that. If you follow
those four steps you will grow a cannabis plant.
To ensure prime quality and the highest yield in the shortest time period,
however, a few details are necessary.
Your prime concern, after choosing high quality seeds,
is the soil. Use the best soil you can get. Scrimping on the
soil doesn't pay off in the long run. If you use unsterilized
soil you will almost certainly find parasites in it, probably after it
is too late to transplant your cannabis. You can find excellent soil for
sale at your local plant shop or nursery, K-Mart, Wal Mart,
and even some grocery stores. The soil you use should have these
properties for the best possible results:
1. It should drain well. That is, it should have some
sand in it and also some sponge rock or pearlite.
2. The ph should be between 6.5 and 7.5 since cannabis
does not do well in acidic soil. High acidity in soil encourages the plant
to be predominantly male, an undesirable trait.
3. The soil should also contain humus for retaining
moisture and nutrients.
If you want to make your own soil mixture, you
can use this recipe: Mix two parts moss with one part
sand and one part pearlite or sponge rock to each four gallons
of soil. Test your soil for ph with litmus
paper or with a soil testing kit
available at most plant stores. To raise the ph of the soil, add 1/2 lb.
lime to 1 cubic foot of soil to raise the ph one point.
If you absolutely insist on using dirt you dug up
from your driveway, you must sterilize it by baking it in your
oven for about an hour at 250 degrees. Be sure to moisten it
thoroughly first and also prepare yourself for a rapid evacuation of
kitchen because that hot soil is going to stink. Now add to the
mixture about one tablespoon of fertilizer (like Rapid-Gro) per
gallon gallon of soil and blend it in thoroughly. Better
yet, just skip the whole process and spend a couple bucks
on some soil.
After you have prepared your soil, you will have to come
up with some kind of container to plant in. The container should be
sterilized as well, especially if they have been used previously for
growing other plants. The size of the container has a great
deal to do with the rate of growth and overall size of the plant. You
should plan on transplanting your plant not more than one
time, since the process of transplanting can be a shock to the
plant and it will have to undergo a recovery period in
which growth is slowed or even stopped for a short while.
The first container you use should be no larger than six inches in
diameter and can be made of clay or plastic.
To transplant, simply prepare the larger cannabis by filling it with soil
and scooping out a little hole about the size of the smaller cannabis that the
plant is in. Turn the plant upside down, cannabis and all, and tap
the rim of the cannabis sharply on a counter or the edge of the sink. The
soil and root ball should come out of the cannabis cleanly with the
soil retaining the shape of the cannabis and with no disturbances
to the root ball. Another method that can bypass
problem is using a Jiffy-Pot. Jiffy pots are made of compressed peat
moss and can be planted right into moist soil where they
decompose and allow the passage of the root system through their walls.
The second container should have a volume of at least three
gallons. Cannabis doesn't like to have its roots bound or cramped for
space, so always be sure that the container you use will be
deep enough for your plant's root system. It is very
difficult to transplant a five-foot cannabis tree,
so plan ahead. It is going to get bigger.
The small plants should be ready to transplant
into their permanent homes in about two weeks.
Keep a close watch on them after the first week or so and avoid root
binding at all costs since the plants never seem to do as well
once they have been stunted by the cramping of their
Cannabis plants like lots of food, but you can do
damage to the plants if you are too zealous. Some fertilizers
can burn a plant
and damage its roots if used in to high a concentration.
Most commercial soil will have enough nutrients in it to sustain
plant for about three weeks of growth so you don't need to worry
about feeding your plant until the end of the third week.
The most important thing to remember is to introduce the
fertilizer concentration to the plant gradually.
Start with a fairly diluted fertilizer solution
and gradually increase the dosage. There are
several good cannabis fertilizers on the commercial market,
two of which are Rapid-Gro and Eco-Grow. Rapid-Gro has had
widespread use in cannabis cultivation and is available in most
parts of the United States. Eco-Grow is also especially
good for cannabis since it contains an ingredient that keeps the soil
from becoming acid. Most fertilizers cause a ph change in
the soil. Adding fertilizer to the soil almost always results in a
more acidic ph.
As time goes on, the amount
of salts produced by the breakdown of
fertilizers in the soil causes the soil to become
increasingly acidic and eventually the concentration of
these salts in the soil will stunt the plant and cause browning out
the foliage. Also, as the plant gets older its roots become less
effective in bringing food to the leaves.
To avoid the
accumulation of these salts in your soil and to ensure that your
plant is getting all of the food it needs you can begin
feeding your plant at the age of about 1.5 months. Dissolve the
fertilizer in worm water and spray the mixture directly onto the
foliage. The leaves absorb the fertilizer into their veins. If
you want to continue to put fertilizer into the soil as well as
leaf feeding, be sure not to overdose your plants.
Remember to increase the amount of food your plant
receives gradually. Cannabis seems to be able to take as much
fertilizer as you want to give it as long as it is introduced over a
period of time. During the first three months or so,
fertilize your plants every few days. As the rate of
foliage growth slows down in the plant's preparation for blooming and seed
production, the fertilizer intake of the plant should be
slowed down as well. Never fertilize the plant just
before you are going to harvest it since the fertilizer will
encourage foliage production and slow down resin production.
A word here about the most organic of fertilizers:
worm castings. As you may know, worms are raised commercially
for sale to gardeners. The breeders put the worms in
organic compost mixtures and while the worms are reproducing they
eat the organic matter and expel some of the best cannabis food
around. After the worms have eaten all the organic matter
in the compost, they are removed and sold and the remains
are then sold as worm castings. These castings are so rich
that you can grow cannabis in straight worm castings. This
isn't really necessary however, and it is somewhat
impractical since the castings are very expensive.
If you can afford them you can, however, blend
them in with your soil and they will make a very
good organic fertilizer.
Without light, the plants cannot grow.
In the countries in which cannabis grows best, the sun is the
source of light. The
amount of light and the length of the growing season in
these countries results in huge tree-like plants. In
most parts of
North America, however, the sun is not generally intense enough
for long enough periods of time to produce the same size
and quality of plants that grow with ease in Latin America and other
tropical countries. The answer to the problem of lack of
sun, especially in the winter months, shortness of the growing season,
and other problems is to grow indoor under simulated conditions.
The rule of thumb seems to be the more light, the better. In one
experiment we know of, eight eight-foot VHO Gro-Lux fixtures were used
over eight plants. The plants grew at an astonishing rate.
The lights had to be raised every day. There are many types of
artificial light and all of them do different things to
your plants. The common incandescent light bulb emits
some of the frequencies of light the plant can use, but
it also emits a high percentage of far red and infra-red light which
cause the plant to concentrate its growth on the stem. This
results in the plant stretching toward the light bulb until it
becomes so tall and spindly that it just weakly
topples over. There are several brands of
bulb type. One is the incandescent plant spot light
which emits higher amounts of red and blue light than the common
light bulb. It is an improvement, but has it drawbacks.
it is hot, for example, and cannot be placed close
to the plants. Consequently, the plant has
to stretch upwards again and is in danger of becoming elongated and
falling over. The red bands of light seem to
encourage stem growth which is not desirable in growing
cannabis. the idea is to encourage foliage growth for
obvious reasons. Gro-Lux lights are probably the most
common fluorescent plant lights. In our experience with them, they
proven themselves to be extremely effective. They range in size
from one to eight feet in length so you can set up a growing room in
a closet or a warehouse. There are two types of
Gro-Lux lights: The standard and the wide spectrum. They can
be used in conjunction with on another, but the wide spectrum lights are
not sufficient on their own. The wide spectrum lights were
designed as a supplementary light source and are cheaper than the standard
lights. Wide spectrum lights emit the same bands of light as the
standard but the standard emit higher concentrations of red and
blue bands that the plants need to grow. The
wide spectrum lights also emit infra-red, the effect of which on
stem growth we have already discussed. If you are planning to
grow on a large scale, you might be
interested to know that the regular
flourescent lamps and fixtures, the type that
are used in commercial lighting, work well when used along
with standard Gro- Lux lights. These commercial lights are called
cool whites, and are the cheapest of the flourescent lights we
have mentioned. They emit as much blue light as
the Gro-Lux standards and the blue light is what the plants
use in foliage growth.
Now we come to the question of intensity. Both
the standard and wide spectrum lamps come in three
intensities: regular output, high output, and very
high output. You can grow a nice crop of plants under
the regular output lamps and probably be quite satisfied with
our results. The difference in using the HO or VHO lamps is
the time it takes to grow a crop. Under a VHO lamp,
the plants grow at a rate that is about three times the
rate at which they grow under the standard lamps. People
have been known to get a plant that is four feet tall in two
months under one of these lights. Under the VHO lights, one may have
to raise the lights every day which means a growth rate of ate least
two inches a day. The only drawback is the expense of the
VHO lamps and fixtures. The VHO lamps and fixtures are almost
twice the price of the standard. If you are interested in our
opinion, they are well worth it. Now that you have your lights
up, you might be curious about the amount of light to give you
plants per day. The maturation date of your plants is dependent on
how much light they receive per day. The longer the dark
period per day, the sooner the plant will bloom. Generally
speaking, the less dark per day the better
during the first six months of the plant's life.
The older the plant is before it blooms and goes to seed,
the better the grass will be. After the plant
is allowed to bloom, its metabolic rate is slowed
so that the plant's quality does not increase with the
age at the same rate it did before it bloomed. The idea,
then, is to let the plant get as old as possible before
allowing it to mature so that the potency will be a high as possible
at the time of harvest. One relatively sure way to
keep your plants from blooming until you are ready for
them is to leave the lights on all the time.
Occasionally a plant will go ahead and bloom anyway, but it is
the exception rather than the rule. If your plants receive
12 hours of light per day they will probably mature in 2
to 2.5 months. If they get 16 hours of light per day they will
probably be blooming in 3.5 to 4 months. With 18 hours of
light per day, they will flower in 4.5 to 5 months. Its a good idea
to put your lights on a timer to ensure that the amount of
light received each day remains constant. A
"vacation" timer, normally used to make it look like you are
home while you are away, works nicely and can be found at most
hardware or discount stores.
Energy Emissions In
Arbitrary Color Bands
40 Watt Fluorescent Lamps
Watts and Percent of Total Emissions
Daylight Cool White
Gro-Lux GroLux WS
% Watt %
~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~
-380 0.186 2.15
0.16 1.68 0.10 1.42
380-430 0.832 9.60
0.72 7.57 0.70 9.67
430-490 2.418 27.91
1.98 20.78 1.96 27.07
490-560 2.372 27.38
2.35 24.67 1.02 14.02
560-590 1.259 14.53
1.74 18.27 0.10 1.42
590-630 1.144 13.21
1.69 17.75 0.44 6.05
630-700 0.452 6.22
0.81 8.47 2.86 39.55
700-780 0.130 1.53
0.07 0.81 0.06
0.80 0.69 8.10
========= ======== ========= ==========
8.890 100.0 9.52 100.0
7.24 100.0 8.54 100.0
Temperature and Humidity
The ideal temperature for the light hours is 68 to
78 degrees Fahrenheit and for the dark hours there should be
about a 15 degree drop in temperature. The growing room
should be relatively dry if possible. What you
want is a resinous coating on the leaves and to get the
plant to do this, you must convince it that it needs the resinous
coating on its leaves to protect itself from drying out. In an
extremely humid room, the plants develop wide leaves and do not
produce as much resin. You must take care not to
let the temperature in a dry room become too hot,
however, since the plant cannot assimilate water fast enough
through its roots and its foliage will begin to brown out.
Proper ventilation in your growing room is fairly
important. The more plants you have in one room,
the more important good ventilation becomes.
Plants breathe through their leaves. The also rid
themselves of poisons through their leaves. If proper
ventilation is not maintained, the pores of the leaves will become clogged
and the leaves will die. If there is a free movement of
air, the poisons can evaporate off the leaves and the plant
can breathe and remain healthy.
In a small closet where there are only a few
plants you can probably create enough air circulation just by
opening the door to look at them. Although it is
possible to grow healthy looking plants in poorly
ventilated rooms, they would be larger and
healthier if they had a fresh supply of air coming in.
If you spend a lot of time in your growing room, your
plants will grow better because they will be using the carbon
dioxide that you are exhaling around them. It is
sometimes quite difficult to get a fresh supply of air in to
your growing room because your room is usually hidden away in a
secret corner of your house, possibly in the attic or
basement. In this case, a fan will create some
movement of air. It will also stimulate your plants into growing
a healthier and sturdier stalk. Often
times in an indoor environment, the stems of plants fail
to become rigid because they don't have to cope with elements of wind and
rain. To a degree, though, this is an
advantage because the plant puts most of its energy into producing
leaves and resin instead of stems.
Dehumidifying Your Growing Room
Cannabis that grows in a hot, dry climate will
have narrower leaves than cannabis grown in a humid atmosphere.
The reason is that in a dry atmosphere the plant can respirate
easier because the moisture on the leaves
evaporates faster. In a humid atmosphere,
the moisture cannot evaporate as fast. Consequently, the
leaves have to be broader with more surface area in order to expel
the wastes that the plant put out. Since the broad leaves
produce less resin per leaf than the narrow there will be
more resin in an ounce of narrow leaves than in one
ounce of broad leaves. There may be more leaf mass in
the broader leafed plants, but most people are growing their
own for quality rather than quantity.
Since the resin in the cannabis plant serves the
purpose of keeping the leaves from drying out, there is more
apt to be a lot of resin produced in a dry room than in a humid one.
In the Sears catalog, dehumidifiers cost around $100.00 and are therefore
a bit impractical for the "hobby grower."
If you live near a clear mountain stream, you
can skip this bit on the quality of water. Most of us are
supplied water by the city and some cities add more chemicals to the water
than others. They all add chlorine, however, in
varying quantities. Humans over the years have learned
to either get rid of it somehow or to live with it, but your
cannabis plants won't have time to acquire a taste for it so
you had better see that they don't have to.
Chlorine will evaporate if you let the water stand for 24 hours in an open
container. Letting the water stand for a day or two will serve
a dual purpose: The water will come to room temperature
during that period of time and you can avoid the nasty shock your
plants suffer when you drench them with cold water. Always water
with room temperature to lukewarm water. If your water
has an excessive amount of chlorine in it, you may want to get some
anti- chlorine drops at the local fish or pet store. The most important
thing about watering is to do it thoroughly. You can
water a plant in a three gallon container with as much as three
water. The idea is to get the soil evenly moist all the way
to the bottom of the cannabis. If you use a little water, even if
it often, it seeps just a short way down into the soil and
any roots below the moist soil will start to turn upwards toward
the water. The second most important thing about watering is
to see to it that the cannabis has good drainage. There
should be some holes in the bottom so that any excess water will run out.
If the cannabis won't drain, the excess water will accumulate in a
pocket and rot the roots of the plant or simply make the soil
sour or mildew. The soil, as we said earlier, must allow
the water to drain evenly through it and must not become hard or packed.
If you have made sure that the soil contains sand and pearlite,
you shouldn't have drainage problems. To discover when to
water, feel the soil with your finger. if you feel moisture in the
soil, you can wait a day or two to water. The soil near the top of
the cannabis is always drier than the soil further down.
You can drown your plant just as easily as you can
let it get too dry and it is more likely to survive
a dry spell than it is to survive a torrential flood.
Water the plants well when you water and don't water them at all
when they don't need it.
If you can avoid getting bugs in the first place you
will be much better off. Once your
plants become infested you will
probably be fighting bugs for the rest of your plants' lives. To
avoid bugs be sure to use sterilized soil and containers and don't bring
other plants from outside into your growing room. If you
have bets, ensure that they stay out of your growing room, since
they can bring in pests on their fur.
Examine your plants regularly for signs of
insects, spots, holes in the leaves,
browning of the tips of the leaves, and droopy branches. If
you find that somehow in spite of all your precautions
you have a plant room full of bugs, you'll have to
spray your plants with some kind of insecticide.
You'll want to use something that will kill the bugs and not you.
Spider mites are probably the bug that will do the most damage
to the cannabis plants. One of the reasons
is that they are almost microscopic and very hard to spot. They
are called spider mites because they leave a
web-like substance clinging to the leaves. They also
cause tiny little spots to appear on the leaves.
Probably the first thing you'll notice, however, is that your plants
look sick and depressed. The mites suck enzymes from the leaves and
as a result the leaves lose some of their green color and
glossiness. Sometimes the leaves look like they have
some kid of fungus on them. The eggs are very tiny black dots.
You might be wise to get a magnifying glass so that you can
really scrutinize your plants closely. Be sure to
examine the underside of the leaves too. The mites will often be
found clinging to the underside as well as the top of the leaves.
The sooner you start fighting the bugs, the easier it will be to
get rid of them. For killing spider mites on cannabis, one
of the best insecticides if "Fruit and Berry" spray made by
Ortho also produces several insecticides that will kill
mites. The ingredients to look for are Kelthane and Malatheon.
Both of these poisons are lethal to humans and pets as well as
bugs, but they both detoxify in about ten days so you can
safely smoke the grass ten days after spraying. Fruit and
Berry will only kill the adult mite, however, and you'll have to
spray every four days for about two weeks to be sure that you
have killed all the adults before they have had a chance to
lay eggs. Keep a close watch on your plants
because it only takes one egg laying adult to re- infest
your plants and chances are that one or two will escape
your barrage of insecticides. If you see little
bugs flying around your plants, they are probably white flies.
The adults are immune to almost all the commercial insecticides except
Fruit and Berry which will not kill the eggs or larva.
It is the larval stage of this insect that does the most
damage. They suck out enzymes too, and kill
your plants if they go unchecked. You will have to get
on a spraying program just as was explained in the spider mite
An organic method of bug control is using
soap suds. Put Ivory flakes in some lukewarm water
and work up the suds into a lather. Then
put the suds over the plant. The
obvious disadvantage is it you don't rinse the soap off the plant
you'll taste the soap when you smoke the leaves.
We have found that pruning is not
always necessary. The reason one does it in the
first place is to encourage secondary growth and
to allow light to reach the immature leaves. Some
strands of grass just naturally grow thick and bushy and if they
are not clipped the sap moves in an uninterrupted flow right
to the top of the plant where it produces flowers that are thick with
resin. On the other hand, if your plants appear tall and spindly
for their age at three weeks, they probably require
a little trimming to ensure a nice full leafy plant. At three
weeks of age your plant should have at least two sets of branches or four
leaf clusters and a top. To prune the plant, simply slice the
top off just about the place where two branches oppose each other.
Use a razor blade in a straight cut. If you want to, you
can root the top in some water and when the roots appear,
plant the top in moist soil and it should grow
into another plant. If you are going to root the
top you should cut the end again, this time with a diagonal
cut so as to expose more surface to the water or
rooting solution. The advantage to taking cuttings
from your plant is that it produces more tops. The tops have
the resin, and that's the name of the game. Every time you cut
off a top, the plant seeds out two more top branches at the
base of the existing branches. Pruning also encourages the
branches underneath to grow faster than they normally would without the
top having been cut.
Harvesting and Curing aka Dried Cannabis
Well, now that you've grown your cannabis,
you will want to cur it right so that it smokes clean and
won't bite. You can avoid that
"homegrown" taste of chlorophyll that sometimes makes
one's fillings taste like they might be dissolving. We know
of several methods of curing the cannabis so that it will
have a mild flavor and a mellow rather than harsh smoke.
First, pull the plant up roots and all
and hang it upside down for 24 hours. Then
put each plant in a paper grocery bag with the top open for
three or four days or until the leaves feel dry to the touch.
Now strip the leaves off the stem and put them in a glass jar with a lid.
Don't pack the leaves in tightly, you want air to reach all the leaves.
The main danger in the curing process is mold. Dried cannabis smokes so good, The best dried cannabis will crumble but not turn into dust. Dry cannabis is a labor of love. If
the leaves are too damp when dry cannabis you put them into the jar,
they will mold and since the mold will destroy the resins,
mold will ruin your cannabis. you should check the jars every day
by smelling them and if you smell an acrid aroma, take the
weed out of the jar and spread it out on newspaper so that it can
dry quickly. Another method is to uproot the plants and hang
them upside down. You get some burlap bags damp and slip them up
over the plants. Keep the bags damp and leave them in the sun for at
least a week. Now put the plants in a paper bag for a few days until
the weed is dry enough to smoke. Like many fine things in life, dried cannabis mellows out with age. The aging process tends to remove the chlorophyll taste.