Best Way to Grow Weed: Indoors and Outdoors and Hydro, Oh my!
If you love smoking cannabis, chances are you’ve also tried to grow a plant or two at some point in your life.
Maybe you tucked a seed into a pot on a sunny window ledge.
You could have also invested in a full indoor grow cabinet.
It makes sense to grow your own marijuana to save money and have control over your medicine.
But it also makes an enjoyable hobby.
But what is the best way to grow weed?
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Is There a Right Way (And a Wrong Way) to Grow Weed?
Over the course of the last century, people have perfected how to grow cannabis.
But not everyone follows the same rules.
Some cannabis cultivators grow exclusively indoors, using high-tech, fully automated grow rooms.
Others prefer the full sun, outdoor potential for cannabinoid and terpene profiles development.
Still, other growers have mastered hydroponic systems, and traditional growers still argue for the benefits of soil.
There is no right or wrong way to grow cannabis, but many time-tested options.
Your environment, budget, and personal preference will determine the best way to grow weed for you.
Growing Weed is Easy Until it's Not
Technically, cannabis is one of the easiest plants to grow.
It readily germinates, can grow in a variety of environments, and doesn’t require much care.
But learning what your plant needs to truly thrive, takes a bit more dedication.
Cannabis plants which produce potent buds, from bushy, well-bred plants only do so under a very specific spectrum of conditions.
It's understanding of these conditions which takes experience.
There are also many schools of thought about what is the best way to grow cannabis.
Online cannabis community boards are rife with arguments about which fertilizers, which soils, and which environments produce the best bud.
It takes time and experimentation to sort out what lessons to adopt in your situation.
What are the Ideal Conditions for Growing Weed?
Because marijuana evolved growing under natural sunlight, the plants’ requirements change throughout the growing season, as the plant matures.
In terms of, temperature, in the beginning, aim for 70-85°F (20-30°C), and reduce this by five to 10 degrees during the flowering stage.
For the light requirements, it also changes as it matures.
You'll need to adjust light spectrum and light schedule throughout the grow.
In the vegetative stage, plants need higher intensity and longer duration of red spectrum light.
In the flowering stage, plants need less intense, shorter periods of light tending towards the blue spectrum.
You’ll also need to control the relative humidity of the environment, with clones needing between 70 to 80 percent humidity and adult plants needing much less (roughly 40 percent).
What Do You Need To Consider When Growing Weed?
Ask yourself the following questions before setting up; these questions will help get the wheels spinning and set the parameters for your grow operation.
- How many plants will you want to grow?
- Are you growing indoor or outdoor?
- If you are growing indoor, what restrictions does your grow room have?
- Are you growing with soil, or hydroponically?
- Are you germinating from seeds or using clones?
- Are you going to grow organically or with conventional fertilizers and pesticides?
- Are you setting up LED or HPS lighting systems?
- Are you setting up automatic systems, or will you do everything by hand?
Each of these questions is addressed in more detail below.
How Many Plants Will You Want to Grow?
If you are starting out, it's best to start small until you've perfected your systems.
It would be a massive waste of money to start out with 50 plants, only to lose them all if something fails.
Start with one to five plants, even if your operation can squeeze more into the grow space.
Work out any kinks with the environmental controls over the course of at least one harvest, and only then decide to expand.
Just because you can grow 50 plants, doesn’t mean you are ready to.
Focus all your love and attention on a few plants, before investing the time, money, and energy into a massive operation.
Should You Grow Indoor or Outdoor?
Most people reading this will likely grow their marijuana indoors.
But, outdoor growing is much cheaper to set up.
If your climate allows for it, outdoor growing removes the need for artificial lighting, ventilation, and automation in general.
The sun and natural environment take a lot of the guesswork out of the process.
Outdoor growing is cheap and straightforward, but not all climates support quality cannabis.
Think about the rolling foothills of California and British Columbia as good candidates for outdoor operations.
Remember, outdoor growing is seasonal, so you will typically get one harvest a year.
If You Are Growing Indoors, What Restrictions Does Your Grow Room Have?
In most cases, you’ll end up growing inside.
While it does take a bit more initial investment, it can also remove a lot of the risk.
Indoor growing means that you are 100 percent responsible for the environmental conditions.
Your cannabis crop doesn’t face any of the risks of outdoor life, like an infestation, draught, or inclement weather.
But there are many different indoor setups, which can place restrictions on the size and type of indoor operation you run.
Consider room size, the need for ventilation, cooling, as well as any lighting.
Which is the Best Way to Grow Weed Soil or Hydroponics?
If this is your first crop, growing in soil is by far the easiest and cheapest growing medium for your plants.
Cannabis evolved growing in soil, and not-surprisingly will flourish in it, even if the mixture isn’t perfect.
Look for dark nutrient dense soil, with good water retention, but also high aeration.
There are many cannabis specific blends, but you can make your own using a combination of equal parts store-bought compost soil, aerators (vermiculite, perlite), and peat moss (or coco noir).
As you run your hand through your store-bought or homemade mixture, it should feel loose, with no dense clumps.
But What About Hydroponics?
Hydroponic systems, arguably, produce more significant crops, as long as you know what you are doing.
The initial investment, especially alongside the lights, ventilation, and cooling systems, can make a hydroponic system cost prohibitive.
However, novice growers have produced potent weed in the past using a first-time, hand-build hydroponics system.
Unless you are a traditionalist, many growers believe hydroponics can produce better cannabis if done right.
It’s energy efficient, saves water consumption, and reduces the risk of infestation from contaminated soil.
Do your homework before going hydroponic.
Are You Germinating From Seeds or Using Clones?
If you have access to a reputable clone supplier, clones are the way to go for the novice grower.
Starting cannabis from seeds is easily done (a damp paper towel and a warm environment), but it adds weeks to the harvest time.
Taking a seed all the way to the vegetative stage also can require a bit of finesse.
Clones remove the hassle of the germination stage and reduce the risk of microorganism infestation.
If you do choose the challenge of starting from seed, start with seeds from a verified supplier to avoid the hassle of weeding out the males from females.
What is the Best Strain to Grow?
Seed banks (or clone suppliers) are going to be your best resource for any strain decisions.
You’ve probably already seen some suppliers give a difficulty rating on the strain from beginner to advanced.
Choose a difficulty rating that meets your experience level.
Research which strains work well indoors, and which work better outdoors.
A massive sativa isn’t going to work for a small grow room for example.
Today, there are beautiful hybrids available to meet the restrictions of your operation, and which likely meet your strain preference.
Are You Growing Organically or With Conventional Fertilizers and Pesticides?
These days organically grown cannabis is increasingly popular and for good reason.
With improved laboratory testing, consumers have come to realize that conventional marijuana may have toxic residues lingering on the flower.
Pesticides are not something you want to smoke.
Growing organically is easier than ever before, thanks to a growing market of organic fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides.
Growing organically is safer for you, your growing environment, and the plants.
What Type of Fertilizer Should You Use?
The easiest way to fertilize your weed is to rely on an established brand of cannabis fertilizer.
During different stages of your plant's growth cycle, you’ll need to provide different types of nutrients, but many companies have products specific to the growth, flower, and harvest stages.
While you can always make fertilizer yourself, this is usually expensive unless you are producing in vast quantities.
It might make sense for a commercial operation to mix their products but stick with a pre-formatted cannabis specific fertilizer to take the guesswork out of the process for you.
What is Better, LED or HPS Lighting Systems?
One of the most significant debates between growers is that of lighting.
Which lighting system produces the largest yields: conventional HPS or LED?
LED's have come a long way in the past decade, and if you are willing to invest, some brands rival the intensity and yields of HPS.
With LEDs, you also have the opportunity to control the light spectrum, towards blue or red depending on what stage your plants are in.
LEDs also reduce the need for hardcore ventilation systems, because they don’t produce dangerous levels of heat like an HPS.
Over time, they save on energy costs as well.
The bottom line?
If you have the money, invest in LED.
Should You Go Fully Automatic?
In the not-to-distant past, only commercial growers could automate the grow room.
But today, even small time growers can incorporate automatic controls into their hobby rooms.
Going automatic reduces manual labor, and guesswork.
There are many control systems on the market, which link up quickly to a mobile device and provide constant feedback to the grower.
These systems are relatively cheap, and remove much of the manual labor required for indoor operations.
It’s worthwhile to invest in temperature, light, and ventilation controls at for your peace of mind.
What is the Easiest Way to Grow Weed?
If you have never grown weed before, start small.
Spend the money and purchase an indoor grow closet with all the bells and whistles if you are growing indoors.
It’s also recommended to start with clones and grow in soil.
These start your small crop off right and reduce the complications of a hydroponic setup.
The indoor grow closet should come with pre-calculated light cycles, as well as space for one to five plants.
You can also grow outside in soil if you live in the appropriate climate.
Don’t over complicate an easy operations with controls, high-tech systems, or challenging strains.
What is the Cheapest Way to Grow Weed?
The cheapest way to grow cannabis is in the great outdoors, weather permitting.
Purchase pre-mixed soils, and pre-mixed fertilizers, that are not specific to marijuana.
Specialized cannabis products often cost much more than your standard garden mix.
If you have to grow inside due to environmental restrictions, start with a small closet or grow room with a handful of plants.
LED lighting systems will be cost prohibitive, which means you’ll need to use HPS lights.
Ensure you have the proper ventilation and air flow to create a safe environment.
What is the Most Efficient Way to Grow Weed?
Efficient systems for growing marijuana aren’t necessarily easy, nor affordable.
An efficient cannabis operation is one which reduces water and nutrient waste and lowers energy use.
In this case, you’ll want to grow hydroponically, and use LED lighting.
There are even some companies producing all-in-one indoor setups with everything you need for an efficient setup.
These systems aren’t cheap, but they remove much of the guesswork and reduce energy and water waste over the long term.
If energy waste is what you are worried about, you’ll need to go high-tech to achieve it.
As you can tell, then best way to grow weed isn't as easy to decide on as you would think.
But, if you sit and ask yourself the right questions you can at least find the best way to grow cannabis for you.
Depending on your skill level as a grower, the amount of space you have to grow and then the amount of money you have to invest in your garden all influence how you should grow your cannabis.
What do you think is the best way to grow? Tell your favorite in the comments below!