Complete Guide to Home Growing Cannabis

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin


Hey everyone, welcome to Home Growers we strive to share the best most reliable information on growing weed indoors. We’ve been growing for years now, and over the course we’ve developed a lot of content to share with beginners. Our homepage lays out our official Grow Guide of 2018. This guide is intended to be used for beginner growers.

Here is a small site map of the other topics we cover on this site:

We have dedicated a lot of time on developing a guide that will be easy to use, and easy to understand. We’ve outlined this cannabis growing template into the following growth cycles and sections:

  • Introduction
  • Equipment Used
  • Germination
  • Vegetation
  • Flowering
  • Harvesting
  • Conclusion

I recommend, reading this guide over time and taking notes, as what we went through during this process is a lot of testing – and re-testing to see what works. Growing organic bud, that is fresh, smokes well, and has great flavor is about caring and being mindful of your plants – nurturing them to grow healthy by identifying any issues before they cause harm.

Here is some information about the strain that this guide will go over (note: this guide is for all strains, the process is relatively the same, however things you may need to look out, and time of growth especially can differ.)

Strain: Northern Lights (Feminized)

Breeder: Nirvana

Flowering Time: 7-9 Weeks

Equipment Used

Germination (3-5 Days)

The germination process is pretty simple, and should be one of the more beginner and easy stages in the whole growing process.

What I do is to take the seeds and drop them into a cup of water. This cup of water should have a pH level of about 6.8. You can always check your pH using a cheap pH checker like the ______. I always tend to leave the seeds in the cup of water for a couple of days, until you start to see them crack open and start to see the little white tail. Also during this two day period I tap remember to tap the seeds every so often to ensure they are not bobbing and rather submerged in the water.

After 2-3 days, I planted the seeds about ½ an inch deep in FoxFarm Coco Loco medium carefully without touching any of the seeds directly with my hands, and then gently covered the seeds with the medium, being sure not to pack down the soil.Before sealing my humidity dome that I made from some tupperware, I watered each solo cup with 2oz (about a shot glass) of water Before sealing my humidity dome that I made from some tupperware, I watered each solo cup with 2oz (about a shot glass) of water. ¾ seeds sprouted within the next few days. I didn’t have to water them for the whole time they were in the dome (about a 6-7 days) because the sides of the clear solo cups were still clearly moist with water droplets.

Vegetative Stage (6-8 weeks+)

The solo cups each have about ¼ a cup of Kind Soil and the rest is FoxFarm Coco Loco.  My grow light is currently on a 18/6 schedule, veg switch only for the vegetation stage. Once I removed my dome I put my fan on the lowest setting at a safe distance from the plants. I have been watering the plants with 2oz of water every 2-3 days since I removed the dome. I am keeping the fan/scrubber off until I smell when to put it on. The seed that was behind took about 10-11 days to sprout and has been slow to flourish.

2 Weeks

The seed that was struggling has started to show new chlorophyll growth. Oddly enough, the one embryonic leaf that is shown after 2 weeks stopped growing, never finishing the set. Another embryonic leaf has started to grow parallel to the old one instead both leaves parting from the stem. I think I may have stunted this seedlings growth after I removed the dome for the other plants because I also dropped the light from about 28” to 18”. Anyway, the seedling seems to be on the right path now.

3 Weeks

*Transplanting Process: You can transplant a cannabis plant from a solo cup once its leaves reach the edges.

These marijuana plants are ready to be transplanted

This cannabis seedling is ready to transplant – Don’t wait much longer than this for a seedling in a solo cup or it could be at risk of getting rout bounded.

*This next example is a plant that is way too big for its solo cup. Although it still looks relatively healthy, notice the yellowing bottom leaves with spots and bluish color. If this plant isn’t transplanted to a bigger container, those leaf symptoms will continue moving up the plant and start causing problems. Additionally, most likely this plant would already be much bigger if its roots weren’t being constrained by the solo cup.

*In addition, if the medium is too wet than it will be difficult to transplant without damaging and/or tearing the root structure.

When the medium is dried out, you can usually just tip it upside down and pull at the base of the stem and it will slide out.

However if you absolutely need to transplant and the medium is wet than you can very carefully cut the solo cup down each side and try to pull each half of the cup down so you can pick up the root ball and place it in it’s new container. ~Transplanting today. ~I’m not going to transplant the smallest seedling yet.

4 Weeks

After researching the subject more, I decided to run both veg and bloom switches for the remainder of the grow. To my understanding, your plant doesn’t require the red side of the spectrum during the vegetative stage, your plant only requires the blue side to thrive (during flower, your plant will need a full spectrum.) However, both sides of the spectrum (blue and red) include whites that your plant can absorb during both stages of growth. So running both switches during veg will give your plant a little more white light but it won’t use the reds. So this is where growers would have to decide whether or not they should use the extra electricity while knowing their plants aren’t using some of that light.

5 Weeks

In the first photo I topped my plants a few days ago. I didn’t top the small one. After I topped them, I defoliated about 5 days later. I took off large fan leafs blocking lower bud sites to expose them to the light. I also took off any fan leafs that were below the bud sites (*on the main stem, I left all leaves on the bud sites stems alone). In addition, I took off a couple small stems that were likely not going to make it to the top of the plant. By removing these growths, your plant can channel more of its energy toward the larger growth sites. What you want to end up with are big strong stems opposed to keeping all the small branches that will produce “popcorn” buds and take away from your big bud sites. I’m going to wait and see how big the smaller plant gets before I decide to do any training. I think I will let it grow naturally without any training unless it gets too tall.

6 Weeks

I have been rotating the pots every 2-3 days (when I water) in order to allow all sides of the plant to get an even amount of light. I topped the small plant one day after this photo because I wasn’t sure how tall it would end up and I want to keep the plants relatively short.

7 Weeks

Defoliated and watered yesterday. I took all the fan leaves and growth tips on the main stems that were too low for the light to penetrate. Its important to choose the best grow light for your plant and tent. If you are looking at wider tents, keep in mind you need to find grow lights that spread their lights wider. The only growth tips I left alone were the main stems that will be my main colas. By taking everything else off the stem, that branch will focus all of its energy into that one main growth tip rather than dispersing the energy to smaller sites on the branch that won’t produce desirable buds. This is one way how growers produce large dense colas. However, it is important to know the genetics you’re working with; I’m growing a pretty resilient 

strain so these plants will likely recover quickly, but less resilient strains are more inclined to be seriously stunted if defoliated incorrectly. For more difficult strains (seed banks list grow difficulty usually) it is suggested that growers defoliate fewer leaves/tips in multiple sessions. I’m going to leave them in veg for another couple days before I flip to flower. I’m also likely going to take a few of the smaller branches that aren’t getting any light. Branches left in the shade will only deplete nutrients from the desired bud sites on top.

However, there are arguments whether or not to take these branches. If left alone, not only will your plant will not need any time to recover from the trimming, but some argue that the yield lost from the branches removed could be more than what is gained on the main branches.

Others argue the opposite, saying that the yield packed on by the main branches is more than what is lost on the removed branches. There isn’t really a way of knowing exactly though, everyone seems to have their own opinions on this topic.

However, it is commonly agreed that by taking these lower branches left in the shade, the plant will be able to channel more nutrients to the desired bud sites. So even if there is a loss in yield (it would be an insignificant loss, if any), I feel that the tradeoff is a lot better because you will be left only with big high quality colas with no popcorn buds (which many growers feel are a hassle at harvest anyway in addition to their inferior smoke).

So the way I see it, you come out with a larger amount of high quality cannabis by pruning these branches.

Flowering Stage 

2 Weeks

After about a week you will start to see white pistils forming on your bud sites and after a couple weeks you will notice the buds starting to develop. From this point you will want to just water as needed until your final major defoliation which is about 3 weeks into flower.

Before you defoliate in flower you will want to see established bud sites. Meaning that all of the white pistils have formed and there are visible buds developing. The best time for this is around 3 weeks, after that I would not suggest doing any major defoliation.

After this time period your plants will become less resilient to stress because their energy is being spent on developing buds sites because they will be deep in the Flowering Stage and no longer will be focused on developing the plants structure like in the previous Vegetative Stage. So training the plant past this period will typically result in longer flowering times because extra energy will be exerted on repairs that should be spent on developing buds.

3 Weeks

At around 3 weeks I defoliated for the last time before harvest. Defoliating any later into flower could potentially cause more harm that good so it’s good to cap it at around 3 weeks.

I took off most of the big fan (ones with stems) leaves in order to allow light to penetrate further down to bud sites that were in the shade previously.

My tent was getting crowded and light wasn’t reaching many of the bud sites, when your grow space reflects this situation you should choose to defoliate as I did. However, some growers choose not to defoliate at all. There’s no need to stress your plant if you can see light reaching all the way down the colas to lower bud sites. Another reason growers will choose to defoliate is for a better airflow in your tent.

After you defoliate all the lower branches and bud sites that will not get any light, it will be just as important to circulate air through those bare branches as well as on the bud sites at the top.

Before Defoliation & After Defoliation Pictures. 

5 Weeks

After the last defoliation in flower you will not be needing to do anything except flower for the next few weeks. If you notice that the branches are starting the get too heavy and are leaning over you can tie them up to the poles of your grow tent.

Some growers choose to grow using a trellis net that you essentially stretch over your plants so that as they grow you can tuck branches under the net so that they grow further outward rather than upward. This forces the plant to grow in a flatter shape which is ideal for indoor grows because unlike the sun, grow lights stay stationary directly above the plant so a flat shape will be most effective in catching light.

A cannabis plant grows like a Christmas tree outdoors because as the sun rises and sets it covers all sides of the plant with light. Additionally, growers will use a second trellis that they later set over the first during flower in order to support and separate heavy colas.

7 Weeks

Some of the leaves on one of the plants started turning purple, This potentially could be because of fluctuating day and night temperatures because norther lights do not have natural purple genetics. The reason any cannabis plant turns purple is because they are all actually purple under their chlorophyll. Cold temperatures make it harder for plants to produce chlorophyll.

Genetically predetermined purple strains will turn purple because of a natural lack of chlorophyll in its development. Acid and PH levels in your plants can also bring out certain colors depending on the predetermined genetics of that strain.

8 Weeks (Harvest) [ps2id id=’harvesting’ target=”/]

Harvest is the best and worst thing about growing. Harvesting is arguably more than half of the work you will put into your whole grow. It basically just takes a lot of time to trim your buds depending on the trim job you prefer. A finer trim job will leave you with smoother buds. Although some prefer to leave all the trim on. It depends on if you want to put a little more effort into trimming the less resiny leaves off the buds. For this grow I trimmed the buds up while they were wet and threw all the trim and smaller buds in the freezer to make infused coconut oil with later.

The reason I froze the trim is because I did not really have a way of drying the wet pile of buds and trim and I did not want to risk molding. It is easier to trim your buds while they are still wet or live. However, at harvest I now choose to only take off the large fan leaves and hang the branches to dry, then after the dry I will give the buds a fine trim.

The reason for this is because I would rather just have dry trim that I can cure rather than fresh frozen because I am not making bubble hash. If you are making bubble hash than fresh frozen is preferable because of its unique flavor. Smoking live buds however is very harsh because of the chlorophyll and starches still in the plant. Fresh frozen bubble hash is an extraction process that separates trichomes from the plant altogether so no curing is needed and you are left with a distinctive and sought after live flavor in your hash.

Determining the Length of the Drying Process

After harvest, I hung the buds in my tent to dry for about five days which was too long. Four days would have been best because after the fifth day the buds were a bit too crisp. They ended up smoking fine but the extra moisture would have helped in the curing process. At the same time it is more important that your buds aren’t too moist when you drop them in jars or else you could end up losing your whole harvest to the mold that will form.

The best way to tell if your buds are ready to be placed in jars is by taking a bud between your fingers and pinching it slightly; if the bud crumbles it is too dry, if the bud retains the flat shape you pressed it to be it is too wet. The buds will be just right when you can pinch one and it will bounce back to its original shape. At this point the buds have just the right amount of moisture to be placed in jars.

Curing Process Using Jars [ps2id id=’curing’ target=”/]

Probably one of the most common curing methods is to drop your freshly harvested buds in a bunch of home canning jars (Mason or Ball work well). You want to fill your jars to the top but at the same time want to make sure not to pack tightly because your buds are still susceptible to mold at this point. You will have to “burp” your jars once or twice a day for a couple weeks. To “burp” your jar, open the lid and wave your hand over the top of it like you’ve blessed it. You might also want to shake the jar around or take a few buds then shake around just in order to reposition the buds in the jar. Mold could form if the buds are pressed up against each other for too long so it is important to “burp” your jars. After a couple of weeks your buds will no longer be at risk.

Total Weight: 5.5 Ounces