At the time of writing, it is legal to grow marijuana plants at home in up to 16 states in America. The sheer array of equipment available to would-be cultivators means it should be easy in theory to enjoy a bountiful harvest. New technology means you can grow dozens of plants in a small area and reap the rewards, assuming you have a commercial license. Otherwise, you need to get the most out of a handful of plants or the months you spent growing the plants will have amounted to very little.
In practice, neophyte growers encounter plenty of difficulties and often end up with substandard plants. To get the most out of your harvest, you must identify the strains you want, and understand the importance of growing enormous buds. If you didn’t know, a plant’s bud appears after the plant enters the flowering stage. While the leaves of the female cannabis plant contain THC, the buds are significantly more potent.
Therefore, it’s important to know how to grow large and healthy buds so you can get high off your own supply. This article provides you with five immensely useful, and easy to apply, tips.
1 – Add the Correct Nutrients at the Right Time
Cats that are well looked after tend to become fat butterballs, soit makes sense to apply the same logic to your marijuana plants. They need nutrients and timing is everything. During the vegetative stage, use nutrients with a high level of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium N, P, and K). A ratio of 3:1:2 of NPK is probably ideal.
During the flowering stage, switch your focus to phosphorus. Shoot for an NPK ratio of 1:3:1. A cool option here is to mix wood ash with water as it contains a high dose of P. When applying nutrients, always begin slowly and give half the dose to see how your plants react. Over the course of a few weeks, increase the nutrient level if you don’t believe the plants are growing quickly enough. It is best to add nutrients every 1-2 weeks.
Keep an eye on your plants during the growing season. Increase your feeding schedule if the plants have light green leaves. Cut it back if the leaves have brown edges and its tips start to curl back. Home growers can also add compost tea to plants to aid bud growth.
2 – Achieving the Perfect pH
There is no point in adding the ideal amount of nutrients if your plants are unable to absorb them fully. You must check the soil regularly to ensure it is at the right pH level. For the record, keep the soil between 5.8 and 6.5 on the pH scale; the ‘perfect’ pH for cannabis is 6.0. The soil’s pH level impacts the ability of your weed to absorb nutrients, and in most cases, a pH imbalance is the cause of toxicity or nutrient imbalance.
If the pH of the soil is below 5.8, your plant won’t absorb magnesium which becomes apparent when your cannabis’ leaves begin to turn yellow. If you are using a non-soil growing medium such as Rockwool, keep its pH at around 5.5. There are various products available online to either increase or reduce soil pH levels.
3 – Temperature & Humidity Settings
You won’t get healthy buds unless your plants are exposed to their preferred temperature and humidity levels. These levels vary during the different stages of a marijuana plant’s growth cycle:
- Seedlings: Grow best in temperatures of between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 60% humidity.
- When the lights are on: Keep the temperature between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. When they get older, marijuana plants can evaporate more so they could thrive in temperatures of up to 80 degrees. Drop the humidity level by 5% every few weeks so by the end of the vegetative stage; it should be around 40%.
- When the lights are off: Keep the temperature between 59 and 72 degrees.
Above all, make sure there is never more than an 18 degree Fahrenheit difference between day and night temperatures. For example, if the temperature is 72 degrees during the day, it should not go below 54 degrees at night. Also, use the lower end of the temperature scales above if you live in an area of high humidity.
4 – Lighting
For best results, make sure the buds are directly exposed to light. Most experts agree that you need to use HPS lamps when growing marijuana indoors. Remember, your plants need 16-20 hours of light during the vegetative stage before switching to 12 hours light and 12 hours of total darkness in the flowering stage.
After years of trial and error, it has been determined that you need 400 Watts of light during the vegetative stage and 600 Watts during the flowering stage for every 13 square feet of growth. If you’re concerned about the energy cost, purchase fluorescent lighting to save money.
For reference, you can expect to grow up to two ounces if you use a 200-watt CFL lamp in a standard grow cabinet measuring 3.5 x 1.5 x 6.5 feet; although experienced growers may receive double the yield as they know what the hell they’re doing! However, if you use a 250-Watt HPS lamp in a room of the same size, you could get up to five ounces or double that amount if you have prior experience.
5 – Carbon Dioxide
Your marijuana plants require CO2 to flower and grow. In general, more is better as far as carbon dioxide is concerned because an increased amount boosts growth. It is also essential to add extra CO2 when increasing the intensity of the lighting. For reference, the air we breathe contains 350-400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. Your plants use the CO2 and combine it with light to create the sugars that are pivotal to their growth.
If you’re serious about big buds, increase the lighting intensity and the level of CO2 your plants receive. The trouble with indoor growing is that the air tends to have lower CO2 levels than outdoors.
A simple solution is to create a CO2 drip.
- Fill a container with white vinegar.
- Poke a tiny hole in the cap; make sure it is just large enough for the vinegar to drip out.
- Hang the container upside down close to the marijuana plants.
- Fill a bowl with baking soda and place it beneath the vinegar.
- A small puff of CO2 is released each time a drop of vinegar drips into the baking soda.
You can invest in a CO2 generator if you are growing lots of cannabis plants, but be careful, excessive levels of CO2 are harmful to humans.
Final Thoughts on Growing Healthy Buds
Although growing marijuana at home is easier than ever, your plants still need plenty of TLC to produce healthy and potent buds. Follow the hacks above, and there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a significant yield.
For the record, the ‘ideal’ scenario would include the following:
- At least 350 ppm of CO2.
- 600 Watts of light per 13 square feet of growth.
- A temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit when the lights are on and 65-70 degrees when the lights are off.
- A humidity level of 60%, falling to 40% within a couple of months.
- A growing medium with a pH of 6.0.
- Effective watering and nutrient addition as and when necessary.
There are slight differences in temperature and humidity during the growing cycle, so please take those into account. Unfortunately, you won’t achieve the maximum possible yield unless you meet all of the criteria above, but even if you only meet a few, at least you’ll end up with decent sized buds. Once you have harvested the crop, your next task is to dry and cure it.