Q&A: How Many Cannabis Plants Per Square Foot?

How many cannabis plants per square foot can be grown in a garden?

Now, that’s a good question!

The truth is, there’s no right answer—there’s so many variables that a flat answer is just hard to say.

If I were to give you one, though, it’d be that one plant needs 2-4 square feet.

Today, I’ll teach you the square footage each marijuana plant needs with various growing techniques and give you some easy to use calculators to find out how many YOU can grow.

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It Depends on Your Style

A common planter a lot of cannabis growers use is a five-gallon bucket.

They’re cheap and sturdy, plus they work well in hydroponics.

Well, five-gallon buckets take up about 2 square feet of space, and you can pack your grow room silly with them and grow high-quality cannabis.

But, it’s not just the planter that determines the amount of space you need per plant.

A HUGE factor is the growing method you use.

If you’re just learning how to grow cannabis, then you probably don’t know that there are many different ways you can train your plants:

  • Sea of Green (SOG)
  • Screen of Green (SCROG)
  • Topping
  • Low-Stress Training (LST)
  • Super Cropping

And that’s just to name a few!

Each one of these growing techniques requires various square footage per cannabis plant.

For instance, with SOG you’ll only need one sq/ft per plant while topping can turn your plants into a huge bush that needs 4+ sq/ft.

Which Should I Choose to Get the Most out of my Space?

Ok, so we know that the techniques you choose determine the amount of space each plant's needs, but which method will yield you the most?

This is a never ending debate, that again depends on too many variables to give you a de facto answer.

  • Experience Level

When you’re just learning how to grow, you can feel a little overwhelmed.

I recommend learning on one or two plants at a time, refining your skills and knowledge.

A technique like SOG requires you to grow a bunch of smaller plants, dividing your attention to detail up by just as many.

So if you're just starting out, try SCROG or topping your plants.​

  • Cost

Another factor to consider when planning your garden is how much you can spend on it.

Growing many small plants vs. growing a few large marijuana plants means you have to buy more planters, soil and you’ll have to use more water.

If you're growing in a very limited space such as a grow tent, you can read more here on how many plants you can expect to grow depending on the size of your tent.

The Techniques Unpacked and How Many Cannabis Plants Per Square Foot

Sea of Green (SOG) - 1 sq/ft per plant

Sea of Green forces plants into the flowering stage at a very early age.

In fact, after about only two weeks in the vegetative stage you’ll switch the lights to 12/12.

This forces them into flowering so soon you’re able to get more harvests per year— which is one of the reasons people love this technique

After a canopy of buds has started to form, start trimming all the leaves, so the plant spends all of its energy into bud growth.

Screen of Green (SCROG) - 4-6 sq/ft per plant

Screen of Green trains your plant horizontally forming these monster bushes.

If you’re limited on space, growing with SCROG is one of the best ways to make use of what you have.

It works by spreading the tops through a horizontal screen that’s placed above the plants.

Spreading the plant this way encourages bud growth on the branch stems that are normally neglected.

As the plant grows, it will reach for the screen that's 8-12” above it.

But, instead of letting the plant grow through the holes of the screen, push the tops back through with your finger to make them grow across the screen—try to fill all the empty space!

Induce flowering when the plant has covered 50-60% of the screen for the best result.

Topping - 2-4 sq/ft per plant

Topping has long been a favorite of marijuana growers.

It’s easy and doesn’t require any extra setup.

If grown undisturbed, most cannabis plants will grow one huge top (known as the cola).

The idea behind topping is forcing the plant to grow more than one cola—which translates to more bud!

To top a cannabis plant all you need to do is remove the growth tip and it will split into two more.

You can split two into four, four into eight and so on.

Topping your plants once will turn it into a cannabis bush while topping it a bunch will turn it into an inverted Christmas tree with all the growth at the top of the plant.

Once topped, plants grow sideways more then up allowing you to control the height of the plant.

Low-Stress Training (LST) - 2 sq/ft per plant

Low-Stress Training is training your cannabis plants without the stress that topping or pruning put on the plant.

In case you didn't know, the intensity of light from a source is inversely proportional to the square distance from the source (This is known as the Inverse-square Law of Light). 

LST takes full advantage of this by slowly moving the top of the plant out of the bottoms way so it can receive more light.

More light = more bud.

You need to take your time training your plant to grow laterally, or in a circle around the pot, if you go too fast you can put too much stress on the plant.

To train it, use string or wire tied around plant branches and the planter to keep pressure on the branch while moving it where you want it to go.

How Many Plants Per Square Foot Calculator

We came up with a couple of easy to use calculators for your grow room.

Just enter the square footage of your garden in the form below, and it will give you how many plants you can grow with various techniques.


Hopefully, you see why there’s no easy answer to how many cannabis plants per square foot.

And if the calculators were of use we’d love for you to share them with your friends!

What technique are you going to go with to get the most out of your space?

Let us know in the comments below!

9 thoughts on “Q&A: How Many Cannabis Plants Per Square Foot?”

  1. Hi! Useful article! Thank you!
    As I got it, here you mean indoor growing…
    so what about outdoor growing in Southern Europe? How many plant should I have per sq ft?
    Waiting for your reply)

    • Hey Norman! Actually, growing cannabis outdoors will need around the same square footage. It mainly depends on the style you grow. Another huge factor when growing outdoors will be the size of the pot you use. The bigger the pot, the bigger the plant.

    • Thanks! One of the biggest reason to choose one over the other is the amount of room you have in your grow room. You should always be optimizing for every square foot you have. For instance, if you only for 4 square feet to work with I suggest SCROG so you can maximize a single plant, but if you have more room you might get larger yields from SOG. Growing plants outdoors you might just want to top them. Play around and experiment with all of them to see which one works best for your setup.

  2. iam thinkin about doin a 10×12 green house can the plants be grown in there from seed sprout to havest iam goin to do maybe 8- 12 plants at a time i live in missouri
    thank you

    • Yes, you can grow them from seed to harvest entirely outside. Just make sure to keep them properly hydrated while they’re still seedlings! Also, that amount of space is plenty for that many plants.

  3. Hey! Since Canada’s upcoming “legalisation” laws I’ve been doing some research on growing and found this information so helpful! I was just wondering what method would give the optimal harvest when growing 4 plants? Thanks so much! ✌❤


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