Part 1: How to Grow Weed for Beginners: Basic Cannabis Knowledge 101
Growing your own marijuana is exciting and fun! Homegrown cannabis is not only ideal for the small-time closet enthusiast, but also serves as a lucrative career in the realm of industrial weed farmers. It is great for those looking to generate an income ranging from part-time extra pocket cash to a full booming business, and even better for those looking to ditch dealers with ridiculous topshelf prices so they can grow their own amazing bud in the comfort and privacy of their very own homes. Marijuana growers can grow their own unlimited supply of medical-grade marijuana practically for free!
To help you out, here are the best canadian seed banks that work in any country.
Whether cultivated indoors or outdoors, with hydroponics or with soil, in order for marijuana to grow well it needs six essential foundational elements:
- Light. (Must be the proper spectrum, intensity, and duration.)
- Water. (Must be abundant but NOT excessive.)
- Air. (Must be ideal temperature, flowing great, and rich in CO2.)
- Nutrients. (Must contain the right amounts.)
- A Growing Medium. (Has to have the right texture and ingredients.)
- Optimal environmental conditions. (Temperature, Humidity, etc.)
Growing marijuana is exploding exponentially in popularity nowadays. Many authorities are referring to this sudden spike of interest as the “green rush”. We’re on a rising wave of green that’s sweeping the globe. Now more than ever is an exciting time to jump right in and learn how to grow your own crops.
A great benefit of growing your own cannabis is that most of the stuff out there that is commercially grown is grown based on factors of the buds overall look, and the plant’s yield amount. Often the quality of the high is entirely neglected as it tends not to be a selling point. Commercial growers tend to do unnatural things to their buds to force huge growth, at the cost of yield and potency. Like many mass-produced commercial food products, it’s more about the look and weight of the product, rather than the underlying quality or health benefits. Lots of toxic chemicals go into the production of flowering marijuana to make them flower faster, and produce larger, unnatural buds that lack in resin. The highs you can experience when growing your own plants is phenomenal!!
Many agree the best reason for growing your own potent herb is the enjoyment you will get out of watching those tiny little seeds you picked out of your stash sprout and become some of the most lovely and lush of all house plants, and not to mention the incredible dank buds you will produce for a lifetime supply of delicious greens to enjoy for you and your friends.
Marijuana, the Indian hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa (Cannabis), is a drug composed of leaves and flowers. It is usually dried and crushed and put into pipes or formed into cigarettes (“joints” or “blunts”) for smoking. The drug, known by a variety of other names, including pot, trees, grass, bud, and weed, can also be added to foods and beverages. Marijuana varies in potency, depending on where and how it is grown, prepared for use, or stored.
Cannabis is the only plant that produces chemicals known as Cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are psychoactive and are responsible for the various effects of marijuana. Not all, but many cannabinoids get you high.
The most important cannabinoid and active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is present in all parts of both the male and female plants but is most concentrated in the resin (cannabin) in the flowering tops of the female. Hashish, a more powerful form of the drug, is made by collecting and drying this resin and is about eight times as strong as the marijuana typically smoked in the United States. Dried flower tops (buds) of potent marijuana can contain up to 25% THC.
Mentioned in a Chinese herbal documents dating from 2700 BC, marijuana long has been considered valuable as an analgesic, an anesthetic, an antidepressant, an antibiotic, and a sedative. Although it was usually used externally (e.g., as a balm or smoked), in the 19th century its tips were sometimes administered internally to treat gonorrhea and angina pectoris.
The effect that cannabis has on the user depends on the strength, how often it’s smoked, how recently it was smoked and how the body naturally reacts to the “drug.”
Positive Effects of Marijuana:
- Mood lift.
- Relaxation, stress reduction, calming.
- Creative, philosophical or deep thinking…ideas flow more easily and tends to be more creative when under the influence.
- Increased appreciation of music.
- Increased awareness of senses (tasting, feeling, smell.)
- Change in experience of muscle fatigue. Pleasant body feel. Increase in body/mind connection.
- Pain relief (headaches, cramps, and various others.)
- Reduced nausea (also used medicinally for this purpose.)
- Much more… 🙂
Neutral Effects of Marijuana:
- Increased appetite; “munchies”.
- General change in consciousness (as with many psychoactives.)
- Blood shot red eyes (more common with certain strains of cannabis and inexperienced users.)
- Mouth dryness aka “Cotton mouth”.
- Temporarily interrupts linear memory.
- Difficulty following a train of thought, can become slightly A.D.D.
- Cheek, jaw, facial tension (less commonly reported.)
Negative Effects of Marijuana:
- Coughing, asthma, upper respiratory problems.
- Difficulty with short-term memory during effects and during periods of heavy frequent use.
- Slowness and delayed reactions, especially dangerous when driving or operating machinery.
- Racing heart, agitation, and tenseness.
- Mild to severe anxiety.
- Panic attacks at very high doses (usually oral) or in sensitive users.
- Dizziness, confusion, vomiting.
- Possible psychological dependence development on cannabis.
- “Mild” withdrawal symptoms occur after daily use in some users. These may last for 1-6 weeks after cessation of use and can include anxiety, anhedonia (reduced experience of pleasure), headaches, general unease/discomfort, difficulty sleeping, and a strong desire to smoke pot.
There are various ways to make use of marijuana…
Smoking/Inhaling: Burning or vaporizing cannabis and inhaling the smoke into the lungs is the fastest route to the blood stream. Conventional wisdom is that holding in the smoke increases the effects felt. Recent research shows the opposite; it causes more harm to the lungs without increasing the amount of THC absorbed. Studies done in Australia indicate that 95% of the THC in cannabis is absorbed in the first few seconds of inhaling. Holding in the smoke longer just allows more tar and other noxious chemicals to be absorbed. Many ganja professionals recommend you to take small, shallow puffs rather than deep inhalations. Irritation of the throat and lungs is one of the most obvious adverse effects to the marijuana smoker as is the inevitable cough upon inhaling. The cough is the body’s reaction to the irritation of the numerous constituents of the smoke. Prolonged and repeated exposure to these irritants can lower resistance to, and aggravate infections from viruses, bacteria, or fungi. The lesser coughing, the safer the smoke. The fewer puffs the better; the more potent the cannabis used is the fewer puff s required. For these reasons, it is preferable to use only the more potent flower tops, or high grade hash for smoking use.
Despite the obvious minor dangers of inhaling hot smoke, there is evidence that in some cases (ie. asthma) smoking could be a beneficial medical use of cannabis. Another advantage of smoking is that it allows the user to control their dosage better as the effects are almost immediate, unlike when eating, or using THC in pill or spray form.
In general however, smoking is not the best way to take cannabis, especially for pain, being a less efficient use of the herb than eating. However, many medical users find they appreciate the immediate and pleasurable effects of smoking cannabis and the harm of smoking can be reduced in various ways. One alternative to inhaling smoke is to release the THC through Vaporization; inhaling vapor rather than smoke, see vaporization.
Pipes and Bongs: Many ingeniously designed products are on the market that claim to offer a cooler smoke but they are not all safe or efficient to use. Avoid wood, aluminum or plastic materials. Use glass, stainless steel or brass pipes and bongs.
Joints: Smoking cannabis in ‘joints’ is one of the least harmful ways of smoking. A loose, fat joint is preferable to a thin one because the temperature of the smoke is lower in a thick joint. Mixing cannabis with tobacco counteracts the positive effects of THC. Some research suggests that Cannabis may actually off set some of the harmful effects of tobacco but there is also evidence that the relaxing effects of cannabis on the lungs allows the toxins in tobacco to get in deeper. There is evidence that a thin joint gives a more stimulating “high”, while a fat joint has a more sedative effect (due to the different burn temperature in “fat” vs “thin” joints). If you’re concerned about your long-term health, avoid rolling papers with “strawberry” tasting chemicals and the like, “rainbow colors” and any use of colored artificial inks & dyes.
Water Pipes: Recent research suggests that water pipes aren’t the most efficient methods of smoking cannabis, but they are a healthier option. The problem with efficiency is because water absorbs a great deal of the THC in the smoke (up to 50%!), increasing the amount of tar the smoker must ingest to get the desired result. Using a water pipe with a mouthpiece less than 20cm from the water level can allow water vapor and water drops to enter the lungs, which isn’t a problem as long as you regularly clean out your bong water.
Vaporization: Using a vaporizer which heats but does not burn the cannabis, is an alternative to smoking. The process involves releasing the THC as vapor which is inhaled rather than smoke. The effect is “clearer” and it is far more economical and reduces the exposure of the throat and lungs to products of burning. Vaporization works because THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, is a resin that vaporizes at a lower combustion (burning) point than cellulose.
You can make your own vaporizer very cheaply or buy various types starting at around $25 up to $300+ for the “hospital standard” and “Volcano”. High heat destroys some of the THC molecules in smoked cannabis (estimates may vary.) Vaporizers heat them more gently; the THC molecules decarboxylate and evaporate in a whitish vapor. The main problem with vaporizers is with correct use. Many users tend to overheat and consequently burn the stuff. They are now “smoking” not “vaporizing” the cannabis, often without realizing – and just as many toxic tars are released as smoking in a pipe which defeats the point.
Vaporizers sometimes fail to satisfy longtime recreational smokers who associate burning lungs with getting high. They distrust the incredibly smooth taste of the vapors, and they don’t like waiting 20 seconds to 1 minute for each hit. However they always like the fact that their supply seems to last up to four times as long because vaporization wastes so little of the active ingredients lost through smoking. Some regular users of vaporizers have complained that they produce a fine dust along with the vapor. This can’t be good and they should maybe be fitted with a filter system but vaporizers are still the safest way to consume cannabis using heat.
Eating or Drinking: Simply sucking a small piece of hashish or eating cannabis baked into a cake, mixed in with a drink or any other delicious food you can think of is a very effective and economical method of using cannabis. The effects take up to an hour and last around 4-12 hours. A minor “Overdose” is possible by eating too much. This could result in an unpleasant nauseous feeling but no lasting physical damage will result. If in doubt slowly sample the dose; experiment with just a little, and then add a little more. More worrying are the dangers of adulteration and infection encouraged by the unregulated trade in cannabis. These include smuggling methods and profiteering practices which can make eating the resulting product totally undesirable, with questionable effects. In general avoid eating most hash especially “Soap Bar” and “Manali” or “Squiggie” black. Eating Hemp seeds or their oil (which have no THC content) is a very valuable and rich source of nutrition; a quality which can have considerable medical value and contribute to general well being.
Tinctures: The active ingredients of the plant are extracted as oil and can then be used either as drops taken orally, or the ingredient for creams and lotions to be rubbed on the skin to relieve pain and other symptoms, as well as used inside of extremely rare & ultra-dank recipes.
Creams and Lotions: Applied on the skin to treat complaints ranging from muscle pain and/or tremors to aching. You can make these yourself. The simplest way to do this it to put leaves and buds of cannabis into a bottle filled with surgical alcohol available from any chemist, or online. Leave in a dark place for 1-3 weeks, shaking every day or as often as possible, and then use it to rub on any area suffering from pain.
What Gets You High
The main factors in determining the quality and intensity of the high are the amount, and the ratio of cannabinoids present in your bud. Cannabinoids are what are responsible for getting that sensational soaring high out of your buds. Currently there are more than 40 known cannabinoids, but most of these occur in very tiny amounts and aren’t important to the quality of the high. The cannabinoids that are found in the greatest quantity and have the most influence on your bud’s high are THC, CBN THCV, and CBC.
THC (TetraHydroCannabinol) is the main psychoactive ingredient In marijuana. It accounts for most of the high. THC occurs in all strains of cannabis. CBD (Cannabidiol) occurs in almost all cannabis strains in quantities that range from trace amounts to 95 percent of all cannabinoids present. In its pure form CBD is not psychoactive, but it does have sedative, antibiotic, and analgesic qualities. CBD contributes to the high by interacting with THC to potentiate or antagonize certain qualities of the high. In general, it potentiates the depressant effects and antagonizes the euphoric effects. CBD is also known for delaying the onset of the high, but makes it last much longer. So THC-CBD ratios are very important when considering the effects of your high. Keep in mind that the ratios of cannabinoids found in different strains of cannabis plants also tend to vary greatly.
THC is the active psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets a user high. Without it, or in extremely low amounts – you don’t get high. All plant’s THC levels vary greatly. Some plants can have THC levels of 100%, yet the quantity of the THC isn’t high so it’s less potent. On the other hand, some plants may only have 50% THC, but the levels will be very high. A good potent plant (one I intend to teach you how to grow using this book) will have both high levels and quantities of THC cannabinoids present.
The key difference between THC levels and THC quantities is that THC levels are genetically predetermined. This means that they are not under the influence of the grower. THC quantities though are in fact controllable by the grower. When growing weed, the THC quantities are basically bud mass and how much resin can be generated.
To determine how potent a plant is when examining strains check for the THC levels to determine the potential potency of the plant. Nowadays many seedbanks clearly and accurately state their strain’s legitimate THC levels, but there are also a lot of shady seed dealers out there too who over-exaggerate their THC levels (read on to find out about some recommended reputable seed suppliers).
CBD is what amplifies certain effects of THC and depresses others. CBD is an isomer of THC, which means they share the same molecular formula, but have different structural formulas. Basically they are made up of the exact same molecules, except that the molecules are connected in different orders.
CBD by itself has no psychoactive properties (CBD by itself does not get you high), however it does regulate the euphoric effect of THC and gives it more of a sedative effect (more of a “chill” high). Cannabis often has a high CBD content (as much or more than 40% CBD in most Cannabis extracts.)
High THC and low CBD produce a strong clear headed, more energetic high. Low THC and high CBD produces a stoned lethargic feeling, a heavy sluggish tired body and a dull feeling mind. High levels of both THC and CBD produces a strong, almost dreamlike high. It’s ineffable.
To sum things up, if you want a more energetic high, you want more THC and less CBD. Usually Sativa and Sativa-dominant hybrids have more THC and less CBD. If you want a more relaxed high, then of course your want more CBD, usually found in Indica and Indica-dominant hybrids. But remember CBD on its own does nothing; it only regulates effects of the THC high. So regardless if you want a high THC content, the difference is the ratio of CBD to THC.
Marijuana is just like any other plant that is grown. It needs a combination of proper abundant light, warm CO2 rich air, pure water, and sufficient nutrients in the grow medium to ensure vigorous growth. When these conditions are optimum, your harvest is optimum. Of course there are more factors to take into consideration, but for right now, these are the basics you need to understand.
The end goal is to grow a non-pollinated female plant (known as “Sinsemilla”), that is flowering and producing lots and lots of buds with sticky resin glands (that contain high levels and amounts of THC) aka “dank potent big frosty buds” that will provide a sensational smoke. Weed is always grown from the female plant, because the male does not produce flowers (buds). Another crucial part of growing is to properly clean, cure, and process the plants so that enables you to enjoy the full flavor, aromatic smell, potency, and taste of the plant.
First you must decide whether or not you want to grow indoors or outdoors.
Why Grow Indoors?
Growing indoors is very popular. The benefits of growing marijuana indoors is that you have 100% full control of the environment that you simply cannot regulate outdoors – that means you are guaranteed to get a good quality plant virtually every time and will be able to keep your plants safe during their delicate growth cycles. Growing indoors can make way for some seriously wicked bud. Indoor growing means you have complete control over the grow elements: humidity, optimal temperature, nutrients, lighting, and so many other crucial factors that are essential for the plants thriving growth. In addition you also have full control over when and how to flower your plants by illuminating them, as you do not when growing outdoors.
Certain key chemical processes undergo change when exposed to lighting, and that can radically alter your buds production & timing, an element impossible to regulate when growing in sunshine. Another key benefit is the avoiding of various pests & diseases. Setting up an isolated, sterile growth environment means your plants can spend less time fighting off mould spores and insects, and more time producing heavy sparkling rich buds. It is also much safer to grow indoors and nearly impossible to get caught by those who do not understand your art form.
It is of the opinion of many established growers in the ganja community today that the quality of marijuana grown indoors is far superior to marijuana grown outdoors, which is essential if you are going to be selling to picky clientele.
But, others disagree. They take a more spiritual standpoint and argue that the sun contains living energy that nourishes, heals, and supplies life to the planet and the plant. Many feel that scientists are at their infancy in determining the chemical-biological processes undergoing from plant photosynthesis and light acquisition.
That is why, there are of course disadvantages to growing marijuana indoors. Natural sunlight is the best source of lighting for any Earthly crop. Indoor lighting is powerful, but nothing comes close to the solar orb. Also, ventilation issues are often a big concern for indoor growers. An enclosed area often generates heat and lacks sufficient fresh air. Both of these problems can be easily remedied with a proper ventilation system though (discussed in detail later). Failure to ventilate and regulate humidity & temperature in your grow room is failure to grow satisfying buds. Also before deciding, keep in mind growing indoors, depending on the space you choose, will generally tend to produce smaller crops. This is actually desirable for many indoor cultivars. Depending on the space you decide to grow in, the crops usually will not reach the height they normally would outdoors.
Why Grow Outdoors?
Growing outdoors can save you lots of money when it comes to lighting. Outdoor cannabis plants will use the greatest source of light, the sun, which is free!!!!! But keep in mind when growing outdoors the photoperiod tends to be much more gradual so it takes longer for the plants to fully bloom out during flowering. Some say this “longer harvest” is made up for in yield.
Another great benefit of growing outdoors is that you do not have to worry about changing your air supply regularly and constantly (unless greenhouse growing), as outdoors this occurs naturally with an abundance of fresh air being supplied to your plants all the time, again, for free!
Now let’s talk numbers. If you grow 10 plants indoors with a 400 watt metal halide grow light, each plant will yield about ½ to 1 ounce of marijuana. (Don’t worry, we have some tips later that will show you how to increase yield, but for now these are the average guidelines.) A single plant grown outdoors will yield around a pound (16 ounces) of marijuana, or sometimes even more!
But be warned, there are also many downsides to growing outdoors. You have no control over light cycles and must grow on the natural annual harvest cycle, you have absolutely no privacy and some areas require you to take privacy precautions in order to grow for medical use. Your plants are more susceptible to pests, both small and large. Trade winds outdoors means you have constant open ventilation which means your plants could be pollinated by wild pollen messing up your attempts to breed seed of a certain strain or to avoid seeding instead of budding & flowering. (This is where the female devotes all her energy into producing seeds, rather than large healthy buds!) You are also mostly limited to soil grows outdoors unless you have a greenhouse which is sort of a hybrid of indoor and outdoor growing “room”.
So remember that generally outdoors = massive yields, lower quality and limited strain selection due to lack of environmental control.
Indoors = lower yields, but much higher quality and choice.
What is better – Hydroponics or Soil?
Indoor growers are initially faced with a very important choice. Do they go with an expensive hydroponic grow system, or soil? On one hand you have soil, the traditional growth medium that has been used for thousands of years to grow plants, and on the other you’ve got hydroponics, a more recent practice of growing plants with water and nutrients but with no soil.
For a first time grower it is popular opinion that the “better” more convenient setup is soil. Hydroponics makes plants grow faster, but when first starting out, unless you learn extremely quickly it generally won’t make your buds more potent than soil (at first). Hydroponics should be attempted after you have a few successful foundational soil crops under your belt, or if you feel you will be able to jump right in successfully without becoming overwhelmed. If you are starting from seed and growing for personal use, soil is the practical growing medium. If the crop is started with clones and is commercial, a hydroponics setup is then definitely more practical.
It is of popular opinion that soil is far superior in terms of quality factors such as bud taste and flavor. People pay fortunes for the best quality, so soil is ideal for this reason. The problem is, soil is harder to mas-produce, so it is not ideal for commercial strains, unless used outdoors. Which as we;ve discussed, sacrifices overall quality (in some cases) depending on the growth environment and strain (genetics) chosen. It is also much cheaper on your wallet. Many growers also find that soil is more forgiving. If you make a mistake with hydroponics the damage can be drastic and irreversible. Plants “burn” and get severely injured due to the heavy chemical concentrations. Soil is easier to fix damage, you just repot the plant! Hydroponics tends to be a bit more tricky.
A hydroponics garden’s nutrient and root setup typically aids in faster plant development, but it takes a lot of monitoring. Hydroponic gardens benefit the overall growth of the plant in terms of size – root systems are spread throughout soil in order to increase surface area and the chance that the plant will absorb minerals and water that permeate through the grow medium, as well as vastly increasing oxygenation of the roots, which aids in yield and growing time.
With hydroponically grown plants, the nutrients are present all throughout the liquid mixture. That way, the root system does not have to be as extensive as with soil-based plants. This means that the plant can devote more nutrients and energy to growth above the root system, which is the kind of foliage vegetative matter growth that leads to big potent exotic buds.
As plants grown in soil begin to grow larger their root systems begin to cramp. They must then be placed in a larger container, or transplanted. (Please note that hydroponically grown cannabis does not need to be transplanted.) This saves time and increases growing efficiency greatly. Hydroponically grown plants do not have to deal with problems such as “transplant shock”. It is very easy to move them around, depending on the setup of your system.
Hydroponic grow mediums are definitely an improvement over traditional soil when it comes to speed of production and overall yield, but it is much easier to grow marijuana in soil.
It is not that difficult to set up and operate a hydroponic system, but one detail like a faulty irrigation timer can cause devastation if not immediately corrected.
The hydroponic solution must be monitored closely and kept balanced, while a well prepared soil solution may not need any additional fertilizers for the entire life of the plant. As long as you water the soil when it gets dry the plant will thrive and be happy.
Soil-grown pot is considered by many to have a more palatable taste than hydroponically grown herb, but there are always exceptions to such rules. Some growers get the best of both worlds by experimenting with organic hydroponics, but most use basic stock solutions that contain fertilizer salts and plant nutrients chemicals in a readily available form.
These salts are easy to administer in tried-and-true formulas, but the problem is that these stock solutions tend to leave a metallic taste in the precious produce. Experienced growers know to leach their plants before harvest to remove residual salts from the buds, but it appears that few bother to leach sufficiently for a truly clean, pure taste.
A milder feed solution will prevent the build-up of excess fertilizer salts in the bud. Leaching time varies from grower to grower, from two days to two weeks. Some use plain or distilled water, others simply use a very diluted feed solution.
For the newbie grower, soil is definitely a great choice. A Hydroponics setup takes up more room, is less stealthy (along with the noise), plus the care and monitoring of the system, and high costs are often too much for a newbie first starting out. But, as cannabis cultivation gains widespread popularity, easy to use inexpensive all-in-one hydroponic grow systems are becoming increasingly available for purchasing.
(For tips on choosing the right hydroponic system for you, please refer to the hydroponic chapter in this guide.)
The first step to growing your own wicked buds is to choose the best marijuana seed strains. This is your first crucial step to reaping the highest quality and quantity yields by starting off on the right foot with with the best possible cannabis strain seeds you can get. A “strain” is a fancy way of saying what variety of cannabis it is. Genetics determine the quality of the maturing plants, so what you want to look for are strains with favorable genetics. Potency, aroma, fast growth, early maturation, potential yield amounts and resistance to fungus and pests are a good start.
Each variety is either a “pure” species type (taking two plants in the same species and crossing them) or a “crossbreed” of two or more species (taking two totally different plants from different species and crossing them). The most common examples include Pure Sativa, Sativa (mostly sativa species with indica), Pure Indica, Indica (mostly Indica with some Sativa), and Indica/Sativa Hybrid (this is a 50/50 cross between a Sativa and Indica species).
If you are serious about producing marijuana, don’t settle for any available seed you can get, go for the best and know before you grow.
So first things first, what exactly does the term “strain” mean?
Well, a marijuana strain is simply what sets the marijuana apart from other plants due to it’s genetics. It offers unique characteristics. Veteran growers can recognize specific genetics of on-the-market strains just by mere observation.
Most strains of marijuana are derived from two species of cannabis, they are Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Both species have very unique characteristics that affect the user differently. If you are a complete beginner than I highly suggest you start your first batch off with a pure Indica in order to learn how to grow properly. As you gain more experience you can craft an Indica/Sativa “hybrid” mix, and then eventually a complete Sativa strain.
An Indica/Sativa mix will yield a larger crop that is not as tall as a pure Sativa, but THC level will be lower and CBD levels will be higher. If you are growing indoors this Inidca/Sativa hybrid is strongly recommended due to it having the best high and best indoor growth characteristics. Sativas are hard to grow indoors due to specific height requirements and late flowering tendencies, so a hybrid can be bred that will have the energetic cerebral high of the Sativa and the early maturation and “easy-to-grow” characteristics of the Indica plant.
- Height – Squat and dense with heavy, compact buds.
- Nodes – Has long internodes between branches, averaging 3-6 inches.
- Leaf – Broad pointy leaves with no markings or patterns, rounded on the sides.
- Indica leaves are wide with short fingers.
Indica’s originally come from the hash producing countries of the world like Afghanistan, Tibet, and Morocco. They are short dense plants, with broad leaves and often grow a darker green. After flowering stars they will be mature in 6 to 8 weeks. The buds will be thick and dense, with flavors and aromas ranging from pungent skunk to sweet and fruity.
Indica has higher CBD and lower THC levels than Sativa. In laymens terms this means marijuana from a pure Cannabis Indica strain will produce a heavy, stony, tiresome sleepy type of high in the user. As far as the yield of Cannabis Indica plants goes, it is usually greater than Cannabis Sativa plants, and they take a bit less time to mature. Indica buds generally tend to be smelly – they smell like a pungent bad body odor. Their smoke is thick, palpable, even a small toke will often induce fits of coughing! A Pure Indica high has the properties of a body stone / couch potato feel. The smoke from an Indica is generally a body type stone, relaxing and laid back. The best Indicas have a relaxing social high, which allows the person to sense and feel the environment, but does not lead to thinking or over-analyzing the experience with “mind trips”. Poor quality Indica marijuana and processed hashish contain high quantities of CBD. This is where the toker becomes lead-headed and sleepy.
Note: For desirable medical marijuana you should grow a plant low in THC and rich in CBD. Let the plant vegetate for a longer period of time and harvest when all pistils have attained their color, i.e. as late as possible. (More on this later.)
Cannabis Indica strains are easier to grow and don’t get as tall as Cannabis Sativa strains, but they tend to be bushier and have to be grown further apart. They tend to be thick and strong, they can take more cold than the sativa – overall they are just a tougher plant. This is why the Indica strain is best for newbies and when growing in an area where height is a consideration, like a small closet or cabinet. (If you have your heart set on growing sativa as a beginner, then we recommend a Northern Lights cross, as this is a very easy to grow Sativa strain indoors).
The prized things about growing an Indica strain is that they produce a higher yield, are much much easier to grow, are shorter in height, and they grow and matures faster. At maturity, the leaves start to turn a dark purple. It has short branches laden with thick, dense buds, which ripen early. Indica plants tend to be short, bushy, mature early, have more chlorophyll and less accessory pigments (accessory pigments protect the plant from excessive sunlight). Because Indica strains have more chlorophyll than Sativa, they grow and mature faster.
Hint: Can you see why professionals create “hybrid” strains? They take the high THC content of the Sativa and blend it with the fast-growing properties of the Indica. (This is an extremely simplified version of cross-breeding, but it’s all you need to know for now.)
The only downside is that Indica tends to be less potent, and usually doesn’t taste as good. Under artificial light an Indica plant will mature faster than a Sativa. Approximately four weeks of extra light is required to bring a Sativa plant into full maturity, and even then it’s weight is often much lower. Therefore, Indica tends to be a favorite among industrial weed farmers. More Indica strains are grown for sales-specific goals, making the dealer/grower richer, but the experience of the user leaves much to be desired.
- Height – Tall and hardy with fluffy buds.
- Nodes – Has short internodes between branches, averaging 3 inches or less.
- Leaf – Narrow finger-like rounded leaves with marble-like patterns.
- Slender, with long fingers.
Sativa has higher THC content and lower CBD levels than Indica. This means that marijuana from a pure Sativa strain produces a more cognitive (in the mind), “floating” type of high that tends to be more energetic when compared with pure Indica. Sativa buds smell sweet, fruity and perfumed, and their smoke is usually smooth and easily inhaled. Once flowering has begun, they can take anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to fully mature. Flavors range from earthy to sweet and fruity.
They grow very quickly and can reach heights of 20 feet in a single season. They originally come from Colombia, Mexico, Thailand and Southeast Asia. The buds are long and thin (makes for much fluffier lighter bud), far less densely populated than the Indica, although longer in length (sometimes stretching 3ft. in or more along the branch). The stomas of the flowering bud may be tinged slightly purple in a cool climate but in a warmer environment will turn dark orange or even red. Maturation time varies considerably.
Sativa plants are taller, take longer to mature, have less chlorophyll and more accessory pigments (accessory pigments protect the plant from harsh sunlight). As pure Sativa strains have less chlorophyll than Indica and they take longer to grow, mature, and require more light. Sativas have a huge root system. They are much more drought tolerant than the Indica plant. The yield generally tends to be lower than an Indica, but the plants are much more potent. Since the Sativa plants tend to grow taller, and take longer to mature, they are best suited for outdoor growing.
But don’t worry, there are certain Sativa strains you can get specifically bred for growing indoors.
The good thing about growing Cannabis Sativa buds is that they are more potent and taste really really good. Typically, pure Sativas have a high THC/CBD ratio (that is to say, not much CBD), and so they tend to provide clear, buzzy, “uppity” highs. When smoking a Sativa the high is very Cerebral, you have a rush of energy, a buzz in the body and a great way of getting the housework done without vegging out on the couch all day. On the other hand, pure Indicas tend to have much more CBD present. Commercial hash is usually manufactured using the resin of Indicas, explaining its stoney, drowsy high.
The downside? Lower yield, takes longer to mature, and generally harder to grow.
Note: If your seed has a ratio such as 40% Sativa, 60% Indica then you can imagine what the high will be like. It has 40% of the “head high”, and 60% of the “body stone”.
So remember, Indica plants grow faster, have a heavy, stony high that is relaxing and can help different medical problems.
Sativa plants take longer to mature, have an energetic, cerebral high which can stimulate brain activity and may produce hallucinations.
Hybrid strains have a combination of both Indica and Sativa highs which are relative to strain ratio. The leaves of a hybrid tend to be thinner than an Indica, but much broader than a Sativa. Once you get good it is possible to recognize a good hybrid solely by the leaves when you know exactly what to look for.
Choosing Your Cannabis Strain
Choosing your cannabis strains is extremely important. It largely depends on your growing goals. There are several key factors to consider when deciding what strains of cannabis you want to grow – the type of high, the maturation time, and the shape of the plant all are very important. Once you have chosen your quality seedbank supplier and have a good idea of which type of plant you want to grow, it is now time to choose your seeds wisely.
Many newer growers make the mistake of choosing cannabis strains that favor a high potency thinking this is what they want. The quality of high is just as, if not more of an important selection factor.
Note: Be sure to choose the BEST possible seed you can get your hands on because later you can produce your own seeds and clones from that strain!
Make sure your seed strains have good genetics. This is CRUCIAL. Bad genetics can lead to mutations, warping, flowering problems, poor germination success rates, ad nauseum. Sometimes even problematic nutrient symptoms will appear even though your nutrients are fine and you know for a fact that a nutrient problem does not exist. It is very important to find a reputable supplier for top-shelf quality strains that are bred with great genetics.
If you are a first time medicinal grower I would recommend Big Bud, Top 44, Northern Lights, or Skunk #1. All of these are great – they are the easiest, most durable, with great yields for the beginner grower.
Another important factor to take into consideration when choosing a cannabis strains is the plant’s yield. Some plants will bud heavily and produce very very thick top colas and others simply wont. A heavy-yielding plant can be worth easily twice as much as a lesser-yielding one. (Remember Indica strains are great for commercial growing as they produce heavy yields and mature early.)
If you’re commercially growing, in general the type of high does not seem to be an important marketing factor at all. The yield, taste, aroma, and the overall bud appearance are important in determining the final price amount.
For some, the type of high may be more important to them than their yield amount, and that’s both OK and very common.
Note: Feminized seeds produce a higher % of female seeds, but 100% female is never guaranteed, no matter what marketing says.
So again, it all really depends on your individual goals as a grower…
Don’t feel frustrated when at first trying to decide. Because there is large selection of strains across the internet, this can sometimes get overwhelming when trying to decide which one to order. Choosing is not as difficult as you may think. There are really only two sides of the marijuana family – Indica’s and Sativas, and both have their foundational growth characteristics as discussed earlier.
Combining different Indicas, different Sativas or a combination thereof creates hybrids. The resulting hybrid strains will grow, mature and smoke in relationship to the Indica/Sativa percentages they end up containing, and the unique genetics of plant. You can modify smells, potency, even the plant’s COLOR to suit your unique needs! Cannabis growing can be extremely fun and rewarding when you get into it!
Indoor vs Outdoor Cannabis Seed Strains
The next thing to check for is if they are meant for indoor or outdoor growing. A lot of new growers argue saying you can use indoor-bred seeds outdoors and vice versa but they will find that trying the opposite does not produce satisfactory results. Outdoor growers want plants that mature early before the arrival of frost, thieves, or pests. Indoor growers generally are looking for compact plants that ripen quickly and uniformly (so that light and space are used in the most efficient predictable manner possible).
So for outdoor marijuana cultivation choose among outdoor intended cannabis seed strains. Modern marijuana seeds strains are bred with high level of specialization, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of that and use an outdoor genetics of marijuana seeds for best acclimatization, pest resistance and high natural sunlight absorption.
Whether or not a strain can be grown outdoors also depends on the length of season you have. Take note of listed approximate flowering time. This is most important feature to consider and is completely influenced by the Indica/Sativa ratio. There is nothing worse than seeing an outdoor strain fail to mature early enough, enter into winter dormancy, and yield the second year.
Typically you will want plants that will mature before the danger of frost or bad weather comes along. The more Sativa that is in the mix, the longer it takes to finish up. If you have a very long growing season, most strains can be grown outdoors. These flowering periods are approximate and will vary depending on grow conditions. From this foundational starting point you can then go back to what you like and the descriptions of the plants.
Plan to grow indoors? Pick a good seedbank and you can browse through a broad range of indoor cannabis seeds strains. Since modern marijuana seeds strains are bred with high level of specialization, you can get a customized indoor marijuana strain that has genetics favoring shorter plants, higher yields, and quicker growing and flowering.
When growing cannabis indoors, you have complete control over how tall your plants get. You control this by how long you decide to grow them before initiating flowering. Artificial lights do not efficiently penetrate more than 3 feet down into the garden, so it makes little sense to grow them any bigger than that. You also are able to “train” by cutting & pruning your crop to keep it thick & bushy! An ideal shape for any indoor gardener.
After the light schedule is changed to 12 hours on and 12 hours off, flowering will begin in about 7 to 14 days. During this time the plants will continue to grow another 6 to 14 inches and then stop. How much they grow depends on the Indica-Sativa ratio of the strain. Sativas will stretch the most. Depending on this ratio, indoor flowering crops should be initiated at around 18 to 24 inches to achieve the end height of 36 inches. How long it will take to get this tall depends on the strain and the conditions in the garden.
Nearly all of the strains available today are pretty potent. The success of the eventual potency outcome will depend on your personal tastes and the conditions in which they are grown. Most seedbanks do not test the THC percentages of strains and no one is really sure what the numbers mean when they do. Not to worry, by following the conditions this guide will outline for you and supplying your plants with an optimal growth environment, you are guaranteed to get an incredibly potent high-yielding marijuana plant.
As aforementioned, yield is primarily determined by the conditions in which the cannabis is grown. But in regards to your potential end yield amount, genetics does come into play. All of the yields listed in your seedbank for the strains are approximate and depends a lot on how they are grown and the quality of the growth environment. Think of it like an average. You can probably get more. In fact, I’m confident you will get MUCH MORE if you follow the powerful techniques correctly contained inside this post!
Please note that indoor lights don’t penetrate down very far so it is much better to grow a larger number of smaller plants to achieve the highest yield of top quality bud. Maximum yields indoors are primarily coming from Indicas and mostly Indica hybrids – the more Sativa in the mix, the lower the yields tend to be. (Remember the rushed processing tidbit from earlier? Many people don’t realize they’re buying bunk, rushed harvested Indica schwag strains that look big and juicy but don’t provide a powerful punch!!!)
Typically, your indoor yield is really limited only by the amount of light you use, not the strain you choose. It’s rare to find a newbie grower who is limited by his particular strain selection’s genetics.
It is up to you as a grower to maximize your plant’s potential inside your grow space. Experiment to find out how each strain will respond best.
Flowering times are an indication of how long it will take the plant to mature indoor after flowering has been induced by changing the lights to a 12/12 on off light cycle. This will also be affected by the environment to a certain degree, but is pretty much fixed in the plant.
Indicas are faster flowering than Sativas, and hybrids are in relationship to the percentage which of each they contain. Sativas grow very quickly and if you wait too long to flower them they will outgrow the limits of the space and will not fill out. On the other hand, if an Indica is not grown for long enough, the yield can be severely reduced.
Growing Near The Equator
If you live near the Equator the South Indian strains from Tamil and Madya Pradish would do very well. These plants are very vigorous and flower abundantlyin India’s hot, dry summers.
Great Choices for Growing Near The Equator:
- Master Kush
- Master Kush x Northern Light
- Northern Light x Shiva
- Hindu Kush
These strains are adapted to flower in November and December in equatorlocations such as India, but with the slightly shorter days in other regions, they will flower a little earlier, maturing in November. Other strains that you also might grow are landraces from Thailand, Cambodia, Jamaica and Brazil and some of the central African countries.
- 4 Way (Four way)
- Swazi x Skunk
- Thai x Skunk
- Maroc x Skunk
You could try some of the mostly Sativa commercial strains. These are adapted for higher latitudes so they will flower several months earlier where you are, ripening in September and October. The Haze strains may also be of some use. However, your best program might be to use well-adapted Sativas and to make your own crosses with Indicas or Indica-Sativa hybrids.
- Purple Power
- Durban Poison
- Haze 19 x Skunk
- Silver Haze
Backcrossing tropical hybrids with Indicas or Sativa-Indica hybrids produce shorter, more controlled plants than the two to three-meter Sativa giants. With 25% Indica heritage, these plants will begin flowering and will mature inOctober, one to one and a half months earlier than the purebreds.
Example Strain List According to High
Starting with the clearest highs at the top and the stoniest last. Skunk#1 is the zero standard since most smokers have experienced it, and it is a very stable variety that leaves a memorable experience.
+3 “Super Sativas” – Very low in CBD – Edgy, trippy:
- Neville’s Haze
+2 “Party Weed” – Lots of laughter:
- Silver Haze
- Haze x skunk
- Thai skunk
- Cinderella 99
- Bubblegum x Cinderella 99
+1 “Daytime Smoke” – Makes all TV/housework interesting:
- Silver Pearl x Thai Skunk
- Jack Herer
- California Orange Bud (Dutch Passion)
- Silver Pearl (Sensi)
- Big Bud
- Durban skunk
0 – “Zero Standard” – Think about doing stuff, but later:
-1 – “Couch-Lock Indicas” – Relaxing, drooping eyelids:
- Hindu Kush
- Shiva Skunk
- Northern Lights#5
- Sweet Tooth
- Most commercial hash
-2 – “Party Killers” – Lots of CBD – Time for bed:
- White Widow
- Black Domina
Seeds are the result of sexual propagation of marijuana plants. They contain the genes of both the male and female parent plants. Some plants known as hermaphrodites can produce both male and female flowers on the same plant. The genetic code contained within the tiny seed will determine the plant’s size, pest resistance, root, stem, leaf and flower production, cannabinoid level and many other vital variety factors. Strong seeds produce healthy plants, and heavy harvest. Remember, you only get strong seeds from a strong healthy parent.
Selecting Viable Seeds
One of The most important decisions a grower makes when growing marijuana is choosing a starting Grade-A Quality seed. Seeds vary in size and coloring according to their individual cannabis strains. Bunk seeds = dirt weed. A good seed will not be cracked or deformed, shriveled or rotting. The seed should not be green – a green seed is not fully mature and was picked early. When selecting your seeds make sure they are not shiny, or excessively dark. These seeds will most likely not germinate. You want your seeds to be hard, not brittle, medium-dark brown, not blackish.
Indica seeds tend to be larger than Sativa seeds. Indica seeds often have what appears to be “zebra” stripes. This helps you determine the origin and strain of the seeds. For example, if a seed vendor says a particular seed will grow out as Sativa, but the seed is very large, you can bet that the seed is an Indica and that the vendor isn’t giving you accurate information. Growers select seeds that are plump, oily and healthy-looking. Whitish, light tan, weak, pale, green immature or cracked seeds are usually not viable. A seeds viability is determined by pressing it against your fingers or against a hard surface. Bad seeds will crumble in your fingertips.
Mature seeds that are hard, beige, dark brown and spotted or mottled have the highest germination rate. Soft, pale, or green seeds are usually immature and should be avoided. Keep in mind depending on the area in which it was grown, seed color and pattern are also affected naturally by the need for camouflage.
WARNING: It is very important you choose seeds from plants that are suited to the growing conditions in your garden. You do not want to buy a plant that will grow 10 ft tall when growing inside a cabinet! Following these proper guidelines you can ensure a successful, potent, and very satisfying grow.
Weak permeable seeds can allow disease and pests to come in. Stay away from soft, pale, immature, white, fragile grainy seeds that crush easily in between your finger and thumb.
You want to look for mature seeds that are strong, hard, and beige to a darkbrown. If it’s spotted or mottled you can bet it has the highest germination rate.
Selecting The Proper Genetics
Since time immemorial human beings have been cultivating cannabis for thousands of years, resulting in virtually thousands of strains that are now easily available to the modern day grower. There are many commercial seedbanks that sell an assortment of unbelievable award winning time-tested strains. Be sure to select a plant that will survive in the climate it is to be grown in. (This doesn’t matter if you are growing Indoors or in a Greenhouse.)
For example, a plant native to Jamaica, where the growing season is longer, will not be able to complete flowering in Canada. Know the date of the first expected frost and choose a variety that will be ready for harvest before then. If you are growing commercially then the yield per plant is also important. Different strains have different yields. The biggest yielding plants are grown near the equator where the sun is much more intense and the growing season is longer. If these plants are chosen they may have to be finished in a greenhouse or brought indoors in the northern US and Canada.
Where To Get Seeds?
Buying seeds is tricky. If you can’t find a friend willing to hook you up with some high quality seeds then your next best bet is grabbing your seeds online. There are a lot of sketchy companies out there nowadays. We’ve heard countless horror stories about online seedbank companies where lots people have payed top dollar for their seeds and never received them. Then the company mysteriously disappeared, with a disconnected phone line and complete with a missing website. What a way to blow $250! You need to be extremely careful when buying seeds nowadays. Do not risk it – get them only from a reputable company on the internet, from magazines, or any local coffee shops around your town (if available). Stick with a reputable & reliable company. You may wish to buy more than you think you will need due to germination failures.
Note: Marijuana seeds are still illegal in many parts of the world, including the United States. Please check local laws before ordering and always use a safe address. Never order the marijuana seeds directly to your grow site.
Please be careful! Over the years, I have tried various companies out and after speaking with hundreds of growers as well as investing in countless of hours of personal research and money to seek them out & test them; I have determined the following list to be the current best seed banks in the world. If you are going to purchase your seeds from a different vendor, please be safe – google them first in order to make sure they are reliable and no one has been ripped off in the past, as this happens a lot. Make sure they are reputable and carry the most important foundational aspect of your entire grow – a quality seed.
As promised, here is my highly recommended list of seed banks with reviews. The following list of seedbanks are the most reliable today with the greatest quality and outstanding selection. They take every precaution to ensure that your package is delivered in a stealthy, timely, secure manner. These vendors have been in the seed business for many years now and have successfully shipped countless packages to many satisfied customers worldwide. You can find them recommended on many review sites, and for good reason. Discreet packaging and efficient customer service guarantees these companies will continue to thrive for many years to come.
Typically, marijuana seeds produced by a female plant will be good for about two years. If kept in a cool, dark place (the ideal storing location) the seeds may be good for even up to 5 years!
Many growers favor storing seeds in a cold environment for optimal germination rates. Since a seed is a living thing, when it is placed in a cold environment it’s life cycle slows down. This slows the seeds natural degradation significantly, meaning seeds stored in cold environments last longer. The favored seed storing method among many commercial growers is to get a black film canister (blocks out the light) and place a small amount of either uncooked rice or loose/bagged silica crystals in the bottom. These desiccants soak up any surrounding moisture and humidity. Put them in either your fridge or freezer.
Note: You can also use specifically designed seed envelopes sold at most grow shops or online.
Make sure to label the container/envelopes with strain, quantity and date received to make sorting easier.
Also remember when storing seeds that incorrect moisture (humidity), temperature, and light levels are your number one enemies: Temperature and humidity are the most important factors affecting seed quality during storage (humidity being the more important of these). Marijuana seeds absorb moisture from wet atmospheres and dry out when placed in dry atmospheres. Seed storage life is doubled for each 1% decrease in moisture content. The problems of maintaining seed germination increase with seed moisture content.
Seed Moisture Above:
- 80-100% – seeds drown and become wilted after any more than 12 hours.
- 40-60% – germination occurs.
- 18-20% – heating may occur.
- 12-14% – fungi grown on and in seed.
- 8-9% – insects become active and reproduce.
Heating is caused by the natural respiration of cannabis seeds, of fungi and bacteria in and on the seed which may build up rapidly in a moist environment. High moisture levels and high temperature will kill cannabis seeds as quickly as and invasion of microorganisms and insects, so be careful.
Stored seed life is doubled for each 41°F (5°C) reduction in storage environment temperature.
Refrigeration to at least 41°F (5°C) is recommended (yes, this is slightly warmer than regular fridges). The cooler the temperature the more slowly seed vitality declines. This rule apparently continues to apply even at temperatures below freezing. At 41°F (5°C) and below, insects become inactive. Ever see someone freeze a fly and then blow warm air on it to heat it up (“revive” it) and then it flies away? A pretty cool magic trick if ya’ ask me.
When the above storing conditions are met, storing cannabis for five years with high germination success rates is entirely do-able.
Next: Part 2. Cannabis