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The 7 Easy Steps of Growing Marijuana

Legal cannabis is becoming the norm across the United States and in many other countries of the world. Hooray!! Although not official, it is ostensibly legal in most of Europe and if not legal, then certainly tolerated.

So, you have come to the decision to grow your own cannabis. Well done! Soon you will be part of a rapidly growing culture. The phenomenon of homegrown marijuana that is sweeping the world.

Growing your own cannabis is a fun and inexpensive way to put high-quality buds in your jar. Marijuana is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of climates, in greenhouses or indoors all year round.

  • 1. Cannabis is your friend
  • 2. Step 1: choosing your cannabis seeds
  • 3. Step 2: cannabis fundamentals
  • 3a. Light
  • 3b. Growing medium
  • 3c. Air
  • 3d. Water
  • 3e. Temperature
  • 3f. Nutrients
  • 3g. Humidity
  • 4. Step 3: lights for indoor cannabis growing
  • 5. Step 4: germination and cannabis seedlings
  • 6. Step 5: the vegetative phase of cannabis
  • 7. Step 6: the blooming period of healthy cannabis
  • 8. Step 7: harvesting, drying and curing for best quality buds
  • 8.a Harvesting the marijuana plant
  • 8.b How long does cannabis take to cure?
  • 9. Pick a strain
  • 10. Top 6 cannabis strains that are easy to grow
  • 1. Cannabis is your friend
  • 2. Step 1: choosing your cannabis seeds
  • 3. Step 2: cannabis fundamentals
  • 3a. Light
  • 3b. Growing medium
  • 3c. Air
  • 3d. Water
  • 3e. Temperature
  • 3f. Nutrients
  • 3g. Humidity
  • 4. Step 3: lights for indoor cannabis growing
  • 5. Step 4: germination and cannabis seedlings
  • 6. Step 5: the vegetative phase of cannabis
  • 7. Step 6: the blooming period of healthy cannabis
  • 8. Step 7: harvesting, drying and curing for best quality buds
  • 8.a Harvesting the marijuana plant
  • 8.b How long does cannabis take to cure?
  • 9. Pick a strain
  • 10. Top 6 cannabis strains that are easy to grow

CANNABIS IS YOUR FRIEND

Like all gardening, cannabis growing is a skill developed over time. It is easy to learn but takes a happily stoned lifetime to master. There is no reason to be intimidated by growing your own. The process is not complicated and can be as inexpensive or expensive as you like.

Understanding the fundamentals of cannabis growing is a good place to start your marijuana growing journey. Making informed decisions early will maximise your end yields. These seven basic steps will give you an excellent knowledge base to become an expert marijuana gardener.

STEP 1: CHOOSING YOUR CANNABIS SEEDS

The choice is staggering. Sativa, indica, ruderalis, any number of hybrids, all available at a click. You know what you enjoy from personal experience. What strains have fitted your groove in the past? What strains have performed as a satisfactory medicine for your particular ailment? They are probably a good place to start.

With your personal taste in mind now consider your growing circumstances. Are you growing in a small cupboard where small fast-maturing plants like autoflowering strains or indicas will be the most effective use of your space? Or do you have a nice big backyard where you can grow one or more monsters directly in the soil or in large pots?

STEP 2: CANNABIS FUNDAMENTALS

In order to grow at its best and give you the juicy buds, you love cannabis requires some fundamental things.

LIGHT: For healthy vegetation marijuana needs over eighteen hours of light per twenty-four hour period. Indoors this is controlled by you with timers. Outdoors germination must be delayed until the plants can be exposed to more than twelve hours of daylight and receive at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.

GROWING MEDIUM: Organic growers will use some kinds of soil every time inside or out. However, soil isn’t the only choice. Neutral mediums that are entirely nutrient dependant include coconut coir, perlite, vermiculite or rock wool. Aeroponics, purely hydroponic or deep water culture do not use mediums at all. The suspended root matrix gets nutrients directly from the nutrient mix.

AIR: For strength and proper exchange of gases, cannabis requires fresh moving air. Outdoors this is no problems your plants will be exposed to breeze and gale alike. Indoors your plants will need a fresh air intake, stale air exhaust and a fan for air movement. Still environments encourage pests, moulds and weak growth. A buildup of aspirated gases will stunt plant growth.

WATER: Like all living things cannabis needs water to grow, thrive and carry out its biological functions. If you live somewhere with regular rainfall your outdoor crop may get all it needs from nature alone. Large cannabis plants are notoriously thirsty. If you are going big then you will certainly need to supplement water between rains.

Indoors water becomes the medium that carries nutrients. Unmodified water is used to flush hydroponic and soilless systems regularly. The pH of your water is very important. The canny cannabis grower has a good pH meter as part of a comprehensive grow kit.

TEMPERATURE: Cannabis is a very hardy plant and can survive cold and heat well. Just like you or me though, it can get stressed and not function well in the extremes. Cannabis can freeze or boil to death. It can stop growing or go into stasis. It will go into survival mode if the temperatures are too high or too cold for too long. Twenty-seven degrees centigrade is the accepted ideal for vigorous cannabis growth. Indoors this is easy to achieve with fans, air conditioning units, heating and cooling mats. Lights will certainly generate heat that needs to be vented.

Outdoors you need to pick your time. Know your particular climate well. Have a sun cycle app or chart to make sure you get your timing right. Too early and you risk your plants going into flower immediately, then re-vegging when the daylight increases. This is unwanted. Your flowers will not form properly when blooming begins. Too late and you will have small plants with fewer flower sites.

NUTRIENTS: Like all living things cannabis also requires fuel to grow. A good friable soil mix that is rich with compost, living organisms, vitamins and minerals can supply your plants with enough food for their whole life cycle.

Watering with compost tea and other organic mixes like molasses or feather meals improve soil quality and encourage healthy plant growth.

With hydroponics or neutral mediums you supply all of the plant’s lifeblood with pre-formulated nutrient blends. Usually customised for marijuana especially. Specialised concoctions are made exclusively for whichever soil-less medium you choose.

HUMIDITY: Outdoors you don’t really have any control over this factor and you are at the mercy of your climate. The upside is that the variations in humidity and the robust biological functions needed to adapt to a changing grow environment makes your plants exceptionally strong!

Indoors humidity control is very important from seed to flower. Leaves aspirate atmospheric moisture as part of their day to day functions. Properly balanced humidity makes for a healthy pest and mould-free environment.

Cupboard, grow tent or dedicated grow room. Directly in the soil or in pots outdoors. Even in a companion planted garden your marijuana will need to satisfy all these needs to grow well and supply you with high-quality resin soaked nuggets.

STEP 3: LIGHTS FOR INDOOR CANNABIS GROWING

With legalisation, there has been an absolute explosion in the choices of lights and grow chambers for growing cannabis indoors. Your budget then will be the deciding factor.

GROW CUPBOARDS: Fully customised for cannabis and ready to go sophisticated grow cupboards made by people with decades of experience are available. If you have the thousands of dollars to spare. Lights, fans, separate clone, veg and flower chambers, timers and carbon filters all ready to plug and play.

LIGHTS FOR EVERY BUDGET: At the other end of the scale, you can have a rudimentary yet very efficient CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) or small LED panel (Light Emitting Diode) setup for less than three hundred dollars. Growing great buds in a spare cupboard. Other compact fluorescent lights like T5 battens come in a range of spectrums for vegging and flowering and can fit in a small space well.

HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) and MH (Metal Halide) lamps are traditional types of grow lights. A 1000W HPS with reflectors can efficiently light a 1.5 x 1.5-meter space and provide excellent growth. Similarly, a 600W MH lamp will light the same sized space and give you world class flowers at the end of the grow cycle. The heat factor generated by these lights must be considered. If not exhausted efficiently your grow space will quickly become too hot for healthy cannabis growth.

STEP 4: GERMINATION AND CANNABIS SEEDLINGS

Beginning your whole cannabis grow adventure is the germination of your seeds. Each viable seed contains all the information needed to grow the strain of plant you have chosen. All they need are the right conditions and the life cycle will begin. Seeds won’t germinate until three specific needs are met. Water, correct temperature (warmth) and a good location.

Growing cannabis is an organic process without strict sets of rules. It is not a linear system to learn, but an art to be mastered. There are a number of equally effective methods for germinating cannabis. Over time you will find the one that works best for you.

STRAIGHT INTO THE MEDIUM: Place seeds directly into your medium, this way you can avoid any transplant shock. More often it is easier to germinate in a small pot of your chosen medium then pot on to the garden or bigger pots.

PAPER TOWEL: Seeds are placed on moistened paper towel on a plate and placed in a warm dark place. Usually covered with plastic or an upturned plate to retain moisture and humidity. After a few days to a week, your seeds have sprouted.

JIFFIES, PLUGS AND ROCK WOOL STARTERS: Easy to maintain as you can have fifty seeds germinating in a very small space. Once the seedlings are established they can be put in their final position without damaging roots.

IN WATER: Simply soak seeds in enzyme enriched water until you see the tap root appear then put in your medium. The seedling will quickly strike and break the surface about a week later.

GERMINATION STATIONS: Offering substantial control over the germinating environment germination stations provide humidity, temperature control and can accelerate germination times.

When your plants have broken the surface and the cotyledons have shed the seed husk and opened to reveal the first set of true leaves photosynthesis has begun. Now you have a true marijuana seedling on its way to becoming a heavy resinous indoor miniature or booming outdoor tree.

STEP 5: THE VEGETATIVE PHASE OF CANNABIS

The moment green leaves meet the light photosynthesis begins in earnest. Your plants start to metabolise and the vegetative phase has begun.

INDOORS: Lights are set to an eighteen hour day, six hour night light regimen. This doesn’t have to coordinate with the actual daylight hours, you can set it to times of day that suit you. Running electrical equipment during off-peak periods can save you a lot of money.

Your plants are happy in an organic soil or they are being fed nutrients designed for the vegetative phase. Lots of fan-forced breezes keep temperatures under control and strengthen your young plants. Exotic disciplines can be used like adding carbon dioxide to the environment. Low-stress training and scrogging can be used to increase the growth rate and flower potential of indoor cannabis.

How Long Does The Vegetation Phase Last?

The vegetative phase can last as long as you like. Depending on whether you want lots of small plants taking up your space as with the Sea Of Green grow method. Or, choosing a few larger plants topped and mainlined to produce large flower clusters.

OUTDOORS: Cannabis grows rapidly once the daylight hours start to increase during spring and on into summer. Unlimited root room and good genetics can see a plant grow to three or four meters during the vegetative phase.

Most contemporary plants are topped and under-shucked continually during the whole growth phase. This encourages an even canopy that will fill with homogeneously sized buds during the bloom stage. Cannabis will continue to vegetate while there are more than twelve hours of daylight. The further away from the equator, you are the shorter vegetation time your cannabis will have before starting to flower.

STEP 6: THE BLOOMING PERIOD OF HEALTHY CANNABIS

Blooming, flowering and budding all refer to the same phase of growth for the marijuana plant. The next few months will be exciting times as aromas start to develop. Interesting floral arrangements also begin to emerge that are particular to your choice of strain. The blooming phase has distinctive chapters that are common to all cannabis plants and begin when vegetation finishes.

Outdoors the first stage of flowering can be seen when Summer’s heat has passed and autumn approaches. Indoors you control when the flowering begins by changing the lighting schedule to a twelve hour day, twelve hour night photoperiod.

Depending on species cannabis responds to hormonal changes that make it continue vegetating or begin blooming. There are typically two types APD and autoflowering:

  • APD or Absolute Photo Determinate plants rely on a hormone that is sensitive to light to keep vegetating. This hormone prevents flowering when it is active. It is rendered inactive in low light levels and as nights become longer. Twelve hours or more of night will induce flowering.
  • With autoflowering strains, this same hormone is age dependent. The plant stops producing it when it reaches a certain species-specific age and flowering begins regardless of photoperiod. This can be as little as two weeks after germination.

The Different Stages Of Blooming

DIFFERENTIATION: At the very beginning of the flowering phase a noticeable change in growth pattern happens. Rather than the striving and stretching symmetry of vegetation the branch growth begins to zig-zag and compresses with less distance between nodes. Differentiation is very noticeable.

BLOOMING: Flowering follows the same stages in all species, but for different lengths of time. A quick indica will be cured and in the pipe weeks before a long maturing sativa.

Soon after differentiation, proper flowers will start to form. Calyxes will emerge at branch internodes quickly forming pistil covered puffballs. Much desired resins are already forming in young trichomes on the pistils, calyxes and leaf surfaces.

The puffballs of calyxes start to stretch along their own spike. This makes room for fresh fluorescent clusters and bud-specific leaves. Unlike sugar leafs, these new leaves are thicker, smaller, often heavily crinkled and covered in trichomes. They are eventually partially submerged by the swelling flower clusters.

Over the weeks these flower clusters multiply and form large colas covered in resin swollen trichomes. Left to mature further the calyxes and the trichomes swell with copious amounts of desirable resins. Full maturity quickly approaches.

STEP 7: HARVESTING, DRYING & CURING FOR BEST QUALITY BUDS

During the last few weeks, nutrients are ignored and your plants will be flushed out with clean water. This guarantees a pure flavour free of nutrient and built up salt aftertastes.

When Is My Cannabis Mature?

Now covered abundantly in trichomes, pistils are shrivelling back and changing colour. Deep orange, mauve, brown or scarlet may emerge depending on species. The swollen resin sacks begin to change colour in waves all over the plant. First, going from clear to milky then milky to amber. The flower clusters are so swollen they seem to have turned inside out.

These signs mean it is time to harvest the results of your hard work.

  • For higher THC content harvest when trichomes are 20-30% amber.
  • For a broader cannabinoid profile harvest when trichomes are 60-80% amber. Watch carefully as the differences here may only be twenty-four hours.

Harvesting The Marijuana Plant

There is no set way to harvest. Be rakish and learn by doing.

Some will wet trim which is removing all the leaves while the plant is still standing then break the plant down further. Hanging branches to dry or laying individual buds on a drying rack. Some will remove the large sugar leaves only then harvest and hang the whole plant.

There are no set rules except be careful when handling. You want to disturb the delicate trichomes as little as possible.

Drying And Curing Cannabis

Dry your buds in a dark cool place with little humidity. Ideally, this process is very slow and should take a minimum of two weeks.

Check things often for over drying or moulds

When dry, thin branches will easily snap. Thick branches will still be slightly flexible.

The chlorophyll has degraded and the green of growth has been replaced with species dependent colours. Fawn, tan, a pale green or even deep blue and purple can emerge as the buds true dry colours develop.

Storing Cured Buds

At this point loosely pack a well-sealed glass jar with your treasure. Open the top or “burp” the jar once a day for the first two weeks. This releases built up humidity that can moulder your buds. Once the flowers are dry to the touch only burp the jar once a week. You don’t want weeks of hard work to be wrecked by lack of attention.

How Long Does Cannabis Take To Cure?

You can cure for as long as you like. Remembering that the psychotropic compounds drop a water molecule when properly cured and become more psychoactive. This takes at least six weeks when cured under ideal conditions. The longer the cure the smoother the result. Keep your jars in a dark cool place. THC breaks down into other cannabinoids over time when exposed to light.

If you are unsure about bud dryness sample your wares as they dry so you have a future reference. Dry cannabis doesn’t really feel completely dry because of the waxiness of the resins. You will develop the feel and skill quickly.

Enjoying your own well-grown cannabis is not difficult. Some attention and patience can reap stinky benefits even from the smallest of spaces.

Happy growing friends!

NOW THAT YOU KNOW HOW EASY IT IS TO GROW CANNABIS, PICK A STRAIN

Selecting a strain to cultivate is perhaps the most crucial moment before beginning a grow. There are hundreds of known strains available on the market, and probably hundreds of others that aren’t registered. Choosing a strain can seem like a complicated task in itself. That’s why we’ve compiled numerous top 10 lists to present growers with the best strains in specific categories.

Our list of the top 10 autoflowering cannabis strains includes varieties such as Royal Gorilla Automatic, Royal Cookies Automatic, and Northern Light Automatic. Autoflowering strains are ideal for beginner growers, as well as more experienced cultivators looking for a quick harvest. They grow from seed to flower in around eight weeks, maintain easily manageable heights, and don’t attract much attention.

Growers seeking big yields should check out our top 10 best feminized cannabis strains. The list includes premium varieties such as Power Flower, Amnesia Haze, and White Widow. Feast your eyes on this array of genetics. You’ll find stoning indicas and energising sativas. These strains require a change in the life cycle to force flowering, but typically offer higher cannabinoid levels and bigger yields that autos.

Smoking cannabis isn’t just about getting high. Varying levels of aromatic terpenes in each strain offer a completely different sensory experience. Our top 10 tastiest cannabis strains list displays some of the most tantalising cultivars available, including Fruit Spirit, Fat Banana, and Haze Berry. These strains offer delectable tastes with every toke. Use them to make extracts and edibles to give your creations a flavourful kick.

Kush genetics are among the most sought-after and praised in the cannabis world. They descend from landraces found in the Hindu Kush mountains, and boast body-melting, stoning highs. Our breeders have harnessed these genetics to create powerful hybrids like Candy Kush, Bubble Kush, and Pineapple Kush. Check out our top 10 list of Kush cannabis strains.

TOP 6 CANNABIS STRAINS THAT ARE EASY TO GROW

GREEN CRACK PUNCH: FAST, BEGINNER-FRIENDLY SATIVA

Most sativas are finicky and require lots of time and experience to be able to do their thing. But smokers can’t stop raving about the energetic high and delicious taste. If you’re throwing caution to the wind and starting off with a sativa anyway, Green Crack Punch is a great choice.

This Purple Punch X Green Crack cross can take all your mistakes in stride no matter what you throw at her. She won’t care if you over or under water, if you don’t mix your nutrients just right, if the pH is a bit off or you have a few minor light leaks. She’ll still yield very well! After just 55–60 days of bloom, Green Crack Punch will reward your efforts with up to 500g/m² of beautiful, multi-coloured buds that are dense and totally saturated with resin.

Green Crack Punch’s high, on the other hand, doesn’t take it easy on novice smokers. At 20% THC, the power is dead serious, starting off with Green Crack’s raging energy and focus, before settling down, hours later, into a pain-relieving physical stone that’s the perfect way to wind down. Thank Purple Punch’s touch of indica for that final touch of peaceful calm. The smoke is smooth, silky and filled with hints of tart citrus, ripe blueberry and sweet grape.

EASY BUD: STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

Autoflowering hybrids are popular because they’re both fast and simple to grow. Easy Bud is no exception to that rule. She gets straight to the point with fast finishes, short heights and a very forgiving nature. If you’re on the hunt for cannabis seeds that are virtually guaranteed to give you some nice buds even if you’re still figuring this growing thing out, Easy Bud is the way to go.

Easy Bud is a smart choice if you don’t have a lot of space. Indoors, she’ll stay under 60cm, but get fat and chunky. The branches will be sturdy enough to hold her 275–325g/m² payload without needing any type of complicated support system. Her white indica heritage results in green buds that sparkle with a frosty sheen of resin, nestled within healthy, dark green leaves.

If you’re not an experienced user or you need a little more wake-and-bake in your stash, Easy Bud has your back! The THC is in the mild range at 12%, for a functional stone. The buzz takes the edge off, allowing you to chill, but it probably won’t lock you to the couch even if you have zero tolerance. Even hard-core stoners could use a few of these flowers just in case one of their lightweight, or overly paranoid, mates shows up.

CRITICAL: SERIOUSLY SIMPLE CUP WINNER

Super easy and a Cannabis Cup winner? That’s exactly what you’ll get with this medium-sized cash cropper. Although it’s simple enough for pure newbies, Critical delivers enough potent weed to attract the attention of professional growers. Whether you’re new to the game or go by the “work smarter not harder” creed, this 7-week Afghani X Skunk could easily become your go-to variety after just a single try.

When grown indoors, Critical is easy to work with because she never gets above 140 cm tall. If you need shorter plants, use either low or high-stress training techniques, depending on what you prefer. The plants will recover quickly either way. The colour is predominantly green with some autumn hues showing up during the last week. Even beginners can see up to 600g/m² after a very rapid bloom period.

As a 60% indica, 40% sativa, Critical has a fairly balanced stone that affects both the mind and the body for total relaxation. It’s very mellow, with no excess energy or anxiety. Get a little paranoid when you smoke high-powered weed? That won’t be a problem with Critical, even though it has an 18% THC level. This weed is as calm as they come. The flavour is classic: pungently sweet with earthy notes.

WHITE WIDOW: CRYSTALLISED PERFECTION

Known as the mother of the “White” family, White Widow has spawned countless hybrids, but the original Brazilian Sativa X Indian Indica is still the best and the easiest to grow. She’s won her share of cups, she’s dazzled generations of growers and no true stoner can turn down her snow-covered buds or her euphoric buzz. Compared to any other strain, White Widow is a real show piece!

White Widow is a classic Dutch strain, and that wouldn’t happen if she couldn’t thrive outdoors in colder temperatures. She does like a lot of light for super-high yields, so this hybrid is best grown indoors. Other than that, White Widow isn’t fussy. She doesn’t require any special attention or have any peculiar nutrient needs. Just use a good soil or other medium, don’t let your plants dry out, use feed designed for cannabis and you’ll have a spectacular harvest after just 9 weeks of flowering.

Although White Widow only has 50% sativa genetics, she smokes like pure Haze, for a totally cerebral high. The buzz starts off as a tingle across the face before it explodes into a huge euphoric cloud of happiness. It’s slightly trippy if you aren’t used to smoking this type of weed, so take care if you usually associate herb with a more physical stone. The taste is crisp and refreshing, with an unmistakable pine flavour, accented by clean notes of tart citrus.

ROYAL JACK AUTO: CARRYING ON THE JACK HERER LEGACY

With a shorter height and faster flowering period, Royal Jack Auto puts classic Jack Herer buds within reach of novice growers. This version stays true to the original strain, with medical-grade head highs and Jack’s signature spicy aroma. Pair this one with White Widow and your first few grows will feature a Dutch duo that’s hard to beat.

Royal Jack Auto is a fully autoflowering strain. That means she’ll start to show signs of bloom within two weeks of germination even if the lights are on around the clock. Flowers are fully mature and ready to cut in just 10 weeks total. Why not grow a few of these automatics side by side with some photoperiod strains? That way you’ll have fully cured, smoke-ready Royal Jack Auto in hand to make your second trim way more pleasant.

At 16% THC, Royal Jack Auto has a decent potency level for medical use or mild recreation. It’s even good as a functional morning smoke for the highly tolerant. The high starts off with a burst of creativity and motivation before it eases slowly into a chill body buzz for a pleasantly mellow ending. The taste is almost exactly like Jack Herer’s fresh herbal flavour.

SPECIAL QUEEN 1: TOP QUALITY AT A LOW PRICE

Few beginners make it through their first few grows without ruining a few seeds or killing a plant or two. Special Queen 1 is a classic Skunk mix that’s reasonably priced so you can harvest a nice supply of pungent flowers without breaking the bank. Save the more expensive seeds for after you learn the ropes.

Although she’s relatively cheap, Special Queen 1 is no slacker. After just 8 weeks of bloom, sometimes 7, these plants will be covered from head to toe in Sativa-dominant blooms that have a heavy, permeating smell. They’ll grow well just about anywhere including soil or hydro, indoors or out, trained or untrained. Yields are very generous at 550g/m² inside, or 550g/plant outside making Special Queen 1 just as appealing to professional growers as mere amateurs.

Special Queen 1 improves on original Skunk’s potency with an impressive 18% THC rating that gives this strain staying power. Even though the effect is a bit stronger and longer lasting, it’s still a classic high that’s mostly cerebral with a definite mood lift. Just a few puffs and your eyes will droop, your smile will widen and your thoughts will expand. Special Queen 1 has a sweet, fruity taste with a spicy edge.

Well-linked marijuana tutorial about growing great cannabis indoors or outdoors. Soon you will have a big brain full of essential marijuana growing knowledge.

Common Seedling Problems & Mistakes

Table of Contents

Before we take a look at cannabis seedling problems and common beginner mistakes, let’s show you what healthy cannabis seedlings and young plants look like! If your plants look like this, you’re golden!

Healthy Cannabis Seedlings Look Like This!

Examples of healthy cannabis seedlings:

Cannabis seedlings start with two round leaves known as “cotyledons.” These leaves are already formed inside the seed and simply open up once the seed has sprouted. After the cotyledons emerge, the “true” (serrated) cannabis leaves will start to grow from the center.

As they get older, the leaves start looking more like the cannabis leaf you are probably most familiar with. Here’s what those seedlings look like as they start growing into healthy young cannabis plants…

Now that you know what healthy young cannabis plants look like; let’s take a look at some common seedling problems to avoid so your plants grow as fast and healthy as possible!

Common Cannabis Seedling Problems

1.) Overwatering

Symptoms: seedling is droopy, growing medium is moist, damping off

Most common causes:

When a cannabis plant is “overwatered” it has less to do with the water and more to do with oxygen. Plants can even grow directly in water (hydroponics) but in order to thrive, roots need oxygen. In hydroponics, that’s accomplished by dissolving oxygen into the water. But when plants are grown in a container, too much water = not enough oxygen.

When a plant’s roots are sitting in water, they quickly use up all the oxygen until the growing medium starts to dry out. Without enough oxygen at the roots, the plant will start showing symptoms of oxygen deprivation. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prevent overwatering your cannabis plants.

While overwatering can display many different symptoms, most overwatered cannabis plants look droopy, like this…

Despite what seems like an obvious cause, several different scenraios can end in overwatering. Here are some of the most common trouble-makers:

Big Pot, Small Seedling

When you have a small plant in a very big pot, it’s easy to overwater because the roots aren’t drinking much yet, and the big container takes a long time to dry out.

Notice how the plants in smaller containers have grown more than the plant that was put in a big container as a seedling. It’s common for plants in too-big containers to grow a little slowly at first.

  • (Recommended) Start seedlings in smaller container until they’re growing vigorously, then transfer to a larger container
  • If seedling is already in a big container, there’s still hope! When watering, give just a little water at a time in a small circle around the seedling. Then allow the top inch of your medium to mostly dry before watering again. Once the plant is growing vigorously, start watering as normal (with extra runoff water coming out the bottom every time)

These small cannabis plants (below) were put in big pots, and were given enough water to support a much larger plant. The plants couldn’t drink all the water that was given to them and as a result, their roots weren’t able to get the oxygen they needed and started “drowning.” Once the roots are out of commission, the leaves start drooping.

One way to prevent this from happening is to make sure your plants are in an appropriately sized container for each stage of their life; this is done with transplanting.

First, you need to get a general idea of the final container size which will be based on how big you want your plants to grow. The less often you transplant, the bigger the final size pot you’ll need because the roots will tend to grow out and cover the whole container if left too long. You can help avoid problems with roots getting rootbound by using a fabric pot (also known as a “Smart Pot”) or an air pot.

Final Container for Desired Plant Size – General guide
(the less often you transplant your plants, the bigger final size you’ll need)

2-3 gallon container

3-5 gallon container

5-7 gallon container

6-10 gallon container

8-10+ gallon container

But what size pot should you use for your seedlings?

For fastest growth rates, it’s better to plant young seedlings or clones in a very small container, like a disposable plastic solo cup.

For new seedlings and clones, use a small container if possible

Easy transplant guide – some popular transplant guideline:

  • Solo cup -> 1 gal -> 3 gal
  • Solo cup -> 1 gal -> 5 gal
  • Solo cup -> 2 gal -> 5 gal
  • Solo cup -> 1.5 gal -> 3 gal -> 5+ gal

There is no perfect transplant guide, but the one above should give you a general idea of where to start.

Why don’t you want to go from a solo cup to a 5 gallon pot? Or why not just start in a 5 gallon pot?

Young plants won’t be growing very fast yet, so they also won’t be using much water. When you completely saturate a big container that slow speed means that the plant won’t be able to drink all the water. Since so much of the water is contained in the middle without access to air, it won’t be able to dry out by evaporation. This means you’re left with a huge container full of wet potting mix.

The young cannabis plant roots will quickly use up all the available oxygen that’s been dissolved in the water, and then the roots will sit in water until the water slowly evaporates on its own. Some containers such as smart pots and air pots allow air in from the sides, which can help dry the growing medium faster, but it’s better to use proper technique from the beginning.

Planting in too big a container is sometimes called “overpotting.” It’s possible to get around this with special watering techniques (for example by giving plants just a little bit of water until they start “growing into” their containers) but starting plants in small containers and transplanting as needed can be a more straightforward way for some growers. Overpotting plants is also a waste of growing medium and nutrients, especially if the plants never get big enough to fully use their containers.

This OG Tahoe Kush seedling was overpotted, though this can be overcome by the grower just giving a little bit of water at a time until the plant starts growing vigorously. At that point, the grower can provide more and more water until they’re finally watering normally.

More information about container size and transplanting here: https://www.growweedeasy.com/germinate#what-size-pot

Small Pot, Big Seedling

While using a too-large container can cause problems for seedlings, so can too-small of a container.

Seedlings are happy in a small container like a solo cup for a while, but as they get bigger, their roots need more room. The roots tend to wrap around the outsides of the container, encasing the middle part so that water can’t get out. This is known as the plant being “root bound.”

If the seedling isn’t transferred to a bigger container in time, it can cause symptoms of overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, wilting, and sometimes very strange and unpredictable symptoms.

These plants were left in a too-small container for too long. Because they were drinking so fast, the grower watered them frequently – too frequently! This combination of being root bound and overwatering caused the plants to suffer.

A too small container, combined with overwatering – these conditions can cause some strange symptoms that often look like a nutrient deficiency

Pink leaves, red discoloration, rusty spots and edges… While it make look like these cannabis seedlings are experiencing nutrient deficiencies, all these symptoms are actually caused by a combination of overwatering plus a too-small pot.

When the roots aren’t happy, the plant isn’t able to uptake nutrients properly and cannabis seedlings can show a wide variety of strange problems.

It’s usually not a good sign when cannabis leaves start “crossing their fingers” like this (instead of having all the leaf tips spread out). While this can happen naturally every once in a while, you know for sure that you’re having a problem if the crossed fingers are combined with discoloration of the leaves. Also notice how the stems are bright red/pink.

The following cannabis plant was also overwatered and had no drainage. Notice how dark the soil is and the green algae growing all along the top of the soil – these are more signs the plant has been overwatered for quite a while. You should never water your plant when the soil on top is still wet, and if you notice lots of algae growing on top of your soil, it may be a sign that you’re overwatering on a regular basis. Leaving the top of the soil wet is also the number one reason growers get fungus gnats.

No Drainage (or poor drainage)

Cannabis roots need oxygen to thrive, and therefore they will have trouble if the roots are “drowned.” If water cannot run out the bottom of the container, it will pool at the roots, which causes overwatered plants.

  • Always start with a good growing medium that drains well – never use a clay based soil which holds onto way too much water. A high quality potting mix (especially mixed with some perlite) provides great drainage
  • Start with a smaller container to reduce the chances of overwatering seedlings
  • Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes to let water out the bottom of the container
  • If water runs through growing medium slowly, you can mix perlite into the potting mix to increase oxygen and quicken drainage
  • Water less often and less at a time until plant is drinking more
  • Get a container that helps the growing medium dry out from the sides (such as “Smart Pots” – highly recommended; or air pots).
  • Don’t allow plants to sit in a tray that has been collecting runoff water

This seedling started “damping off” (dying) due to terrible drainage from bad soil. Never use soil that looks like it contains clay!

Seedling is “damping off” due to bad soil with no drainage

Here’s another example of a seedling damping off due to too much water (drowning roots), whis time combined with not enough light. After a few days of these conditions, this seedling just fell over and started dying.

The following plant was grown in an unsuitable growing medium with no drainage and started showing signs of overwatering. Always start with a quality potting mix that has good drainage, and never allow the top of your growing medium to look this wet!

This “soil” is more like mud. The plant roots are drowning from lack of oxygen, causing severe wilting.

Watering too often

While oxygen is available to the roots immediately after watering, the roots use up all the oxygen quickly if they are sitting in water. If all the oxygen is gone, roots are not able to get what they need to help power growth, at least not until the growing medium begins to dry out and create new air spaces in the growing medium.

Keep roots happy for fast-growing plants

Each air spot in the potting mix provides roots with precious oxygen, but if there’s no air spots, roots start to “drown.” By watering seedlings less often, growers can ensure that roots are getting access to plenty of oxygen at all times.

Of course you should never allow roots to actually dry out – roots need moisture at all times. But for new growers who want to do everything possible for their new seedlings, it can seem like more water = better. Unfortunately, this isn’t true.

Roots work best when they get as much oxygen as possible while also staying completely moist at all times.

  • Wait until top inch is dry. Make sure that the top bit of potting mix has started to dry before you water seedlings again. Sometimes it can take a few days, depending on your growing medium, your environment and how much water you provided during the last watering.
  • Increase the number of air pockets in the growing medium by mixing in a “lighter” amendment like perlite to the potting mix. Perlite will allow the mix to hold onto more oxygen when mixed with heavy soil. Many cannabis soil growers will mix 30-40% perlite into their potting mix to make sure there’s lots of drainage and plenty of air available for the roots.
  • Provide air from the sides. Transplant to a container which allows air in from the sides like fabric pots (“Smart Pots” – highly recommended) or air pots.
  • Start in a smaller container until plant gets bigger so there’s less water in the potting mix that needs to dry. You’ll be able to water your plants more often while ensuring they get plenty of oxygen.
  • Water less when it’s cold. Plant processes tend to slow down when temps get cooler. This means that plants usually need water less often than normal after a cold snap.

This plant went through a few cool days but the grower continued to water as normal. As a result, the plants roots were surrounded by too much water and the plant started showing signs of overwatering.

The plant was watered the right amount each time, but too often. As a result, it shows some slight drooping. While this won’t kill the plant, the plant will definitely grow faster when the mix is allowed to dry out a bit so the roots are getting plenty of oxygen.

2.) Underwatering – seedling is droopy, wilting, or not growing properly, and the growing medium around the seedling isn’t moist

While overwatering is the most common seedling symptom, underwatering is also a problem, especially for those who have been warned to avoid giving too much water.

It can be confusing because the symptoms often look similar to each other, which is why it’s important to learn good watering practices.

This seedling was underwatered – the grower had been warned many times to avoid overwatering, and went too far in the other direction. Notice that the growing medium looks bone dry.

It’s crucially important to make sure that plant roots have access to moisture at all times. Plants are constantly losing water through their leaves (called “transpiration”) and this is actually how plants get water up from the roots. As the plants lose water from the leaves, it pulls water up from the ground like a straw.

When there’s not enough water at the roots, many plant processes cease to function. If roots actually dry out, the dried shoots die.

Here’s another example of a young cannabis plant that is underwatered, even in a big container (where the problem is usually overwatering). Notice how this cannabis seedling is basically just wilting and falling over, while the potting mix looks completely dry.

Seedlings suffer greatly from being underwatered, even more so than from overwatering. Often the grower will actually be able to see how dry the growing medium is. A big sign that the plant is being under-watered is when you can see the soil separating from the container. In this case, you can see the starter cube separating from the soil because it’s so dry.

Underwatering is bad on it’s own, but it causes the most problems when young cannabis seedlings are also stressed by too high levels of nutrients, or when started in a “hot” (nutrient-enriched) soil.

When underwatering is combined with too much nutrients, seedlings often become dark green and stunted, with twisted and discolored new growth.

The solution for this (underwatering + high levels of nutrients) is simply to give the plants more water so they can establish roots and start growing again. Most plants will be able to grow out of this problem once they get enough water to start growing. While it’s not always the best idea to start out with a hot soil mix, most seedlings will easily grow into it if given a good growing environment.

This cannabis seedling is dark because it was underwatered in a “hot” soil mix, but after watering the plant as normal for a week or two, the plant started growing vigorously

3.) Nutrient Problems – leaves are yellow, discolored, crispy or have spots

Healthy cannabis leaves on seedlings should be green! Again, here’s what healthy leaves look like.. .

Healthy Leaves Look Like This

When the cannabis leaves of young plants stop being green, you need to react. Changes of color (such as yellowing, spots, burnt tips, etc) are usually a sign that there’s a problem when it comes to young cannabis plants.

The leaves of young cannabis plants & seedlings should be green!

Some common seedling nutrient problems include…

Too Much Nutrients

A nutrient toxicity is most common in dry or hot conditions, when starting in “hot” soil, and when plants are underwatered.

Two of the most common signs of nutrient toxicty are tip burn and dark leaves.

Tip burn is a sure sign that the plant took up too much nutrients

A closeup of nutrient tip burn

Nutrient burned tips eventually start curling upwards if nutrient levels are too high for too long

Very dark leaves often indicate a nitrogen toxicity (too much nitrogen)

If a nitrogen toxicity is left too long, it starts causing other nutrient problems, like the yellow lines on the bottom leaves of this plant.

Causes of Nutrient Toxicity

  • “Hot” Potting Mix – Sometimes seedlings get a nutrient toxicity when started ing a “hot” potting mix (one that has a lot of nutrients). If it’s good soil and you’re watering properly, your seedlings will be able to grow out of this relatively quickly.
  • Slow-Release Soil – Nutrient toxicities are common when grower start with a “extended release” soil like Miracle-Gro original soil – you don’t want any type of soil that will be slowly releasing nitrogen throughout the grow; it will cause nutrient burn and reduced bud development in the flowering stage. Avoid original Miracle-Gro soil and any other slow-release soils!
  • Give Nutrients Too Soon – Giving nutrients too early will overload the seedling with nutrients – in a good soil potting mix, additional nutrients usually aren’t needed for the first few weeks at least
  • Give Too Much Nutrients At Once – Giving too much nutrients at once can cause a toxicity overnight – always start at half the recommended dose according to the nutrient schedule (most cannabis nutrients come with a nutrient schedule), and see how your plants react before upping the dose

Too much nutrients too soon caused this (tip burn)

While the above seedling may look light colored, the problem is actually that it was given too high levels of nutrients.

When there’s too many nutrients, the plant can start getting light colored because some nutrients are getting locked out. The tip burn on the leaves is a good indicator that this problem is caused by too many nutrients. Also this grower started with a “hot” (nutrient rich) soil mix, and there’s no way a plant this size could have already used up all those nutrients.

A lot of growers may think the way to fix this is add more nutrients since the plant leaves are pale, but that will actually make things worse! This plant just needs some plain water until it starts to use up the nutrients in the soil, and it will soon take on a healthy green appearance on new leaves.

Not Enough or Wrong Kind of Nutrients

Nutrient deficiencies and other nutrient problems are most common when growers are using the wrong type of potting mix or cannabis nutrients.

Two of the most common signs of nutrient deficiencies are pale or yellowing leaves and other unusual leaf discoloration.

The most common type of deficiency is a nitrogen deficiency.

The yellow leaves of a nitrogen deficiency may show signs of brown, and they will usually become soft and sort of “fold” in, before turning crispy and falling off on their own.

If the yellowing leaves are at the top of your plant or the yellow leaves are mosty new growth, then you probably don’t have a nitrogen deficiency. Nitrogen deficiencies affect the oldest, lowest leaves first.

Nitrogen Deficiency Leaf Closeup

There are many other nutrient deficiencies, and you can view them all here…

Causes of Nutrient Deficiencies and Problems

  • Soilless Medium w/o Hydro Nutrients – Some growers may start in a soilless medium and not realize it has no nutrients (with a soilless medium like vermiculite, coco coir, pertlie, rockwool, etc, it’s up to the grower to provide all the nutrients since they are inert mediums and don’t contain any nutrients on their own) which results in a deficiency if grower isn’t providing extra nutrients. Soilless mediums are easy to grow in, but they do require the grower provide nutrients from the beginning.
  • Don’t Provide Nutrients As Plant Uses Up Soil – Many growers start in a good soil that has nutrients, but don’t give nutrients or transplant seedlings to a bigger container when the plant has started to use up the nutrients in the soil
  • Wrong Type of Nutrients – Nutrient deficiencies commonly show up with the grower gives their plants the the wrong type of nutrients – generally it’s a good idea to give a “vegetative” nutrient formula for the first part of the plant’s life and a “bloom” nutrient formula for the flowering/budding stage. When giving the wrong time of nutrients at the wrong time, your plant won’t grow as well. If you give vegetative nutrients in the flowering stage, you make it harder for the plant to form buds, while also increasing the chance of getting nutrient burn and other nutrient problems.

Other Nutrient Problems

  • Not Maintaining pH – If growers don’t manage pH, their plants may show signs of nutrient deficiencies even if the nutrients are actually there near the roots.
  • Improper Watering Technique – Growers who don’t water properly (growing mediums stays wet or dry for too long, poor drainage, etc) often start getting nutrient deficiencies as the plant isn’t able to effectively carry out normal plant processes
  • Too Small Container – Nutrient problems crop up when plants are kept in a small container for too long without being transferred to a bigger pot (this is known as being “root bound” and can cause the plant to display nutrient deficiencies because the roots aren’t functioning properly)
  • Bugs– a lot of bugs and pests may initially look like a deficiency (spots on the leaves can appear from bites, or if bugs have infested the soil, etc)

4.) Heat – leaves bend in the middle so they look like canoes or tacos, turning up at the edges, wilting, strange spotting, symptoms usually appear after temperature starts climbing.

When the heat gets too high, the edges of the leaves will begin to curl up and the leaves will begin to “cup” or “taco.”

Here’s another cannabis seedling suffering from heat stress – notice how the edges are curling upwards. The solution to this problem is simply to lower the heat as experienced by the plant.

Sometimes the leaves sort of fold downwards due to heat, too, like this seedling

After being subjected to overwatering plus a heat wave, the leaves of the following seedling started cuppping upwards and turned lime green. The stems and veins of the leaves were turning red. You can see the soil is still dark and wet because the plant stopped drinking after developing root problems.

Cannabis plants often display heat stress when grown in hot, dry weather, especially when not given the right amount of water.

Learn more about cannabis heat stress and how to fix it: https://www.growweedeasy.com/heat-light-stress

5.) Not enough (or too much) light – burned or crinkled leaves, too much space between nodes, tall seedlings that fall over

Not Enough Light = Stretched, “Leggy,” Tall Seedlings

Too Much Light = Burned, Crinkled Leaves

Stretched, “Leggy,” Tall Seedlings – Give More Light!

This seedling is stretching too tall, with a lot of space in between sets of leaves, and a long thin stalk. This is caused by the plant not getting enough light. It’s “reaching” upwards, trying to find the sun.

More seedlings stretching from lack of light

To fix too-tall seedlings, simply provide more light (usually by bringing grow lights closer or getting a brighter grow light)

After giving enough light, growers can bury the extra stem, or just wait until the seedling grows out of it on its own

Burned, Crinkled Leaves – Reduce Light or Move Grow Lights Up

This cannabis seedling basically grew up into the grow light!

This cannabis seedling is being burned by too-close LED grow lights

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What do seedlings like?

Answer: Moist but not drowning conditions, warmer temps, and a bit of light to help them start growing. Very little nutrients to start.

Question: How do I avoid germination problems?

Answer: Before anyone worries about cannabis seedling problems, it’s important to get your cannabis seeds to sprout!

So make sure you are avoiding these common germination mistakes!

Most importantly, just remember that cannabis seeds like a warm, moist environment to sprout.

Common Germination problems

  • Too wet – don’t drown your seeds! While it’s okay to soak seeds for the first 24 hours, after that they should be moist but not soaking.
  • Too dry – if seeds are too dry, they won’t sprout! If seeds sprout but then are exposed to dryness, they will die.
  • Too deep – if you plant seeds too deep in the growing medium, they may have a hard time making it to the surface. An inch deep (just enough to support the seed and cover it) is about as deep as you’ll ever need to go.
  • Not warm enough – seeds and seedlings like warmer temps (from 80-85 F) and will grow more slowly in cooler environments.
  • Wrong starting growing medium – Many growers like to plant their seeds directly in a growing medium, just like in nature. But some growing mediums are better for seeds than others. Learn more about the pros and cons of different starting growing mediums here.
  • Old or improperly stored seeds – any seeds that germinates is a good seeds, but older or improperly stored seeds often take longer to sprout, and may no sprout at all, even if you do everything right.
  • Not ripe seeds (pale or translucent) – while any seed that sprouts is a good seed, seeds that are pale, flimsy or translucent have very low germination rates because they’re not fully mature.
  • Too much humidity – Some growers like to use a humidity dome for new seedlings, but don’t leaves these on too long after sprouting, as too much humidity can cause “damping off (seedling sort of folding over and dying, more info below)

Question: Am I drowning my plants? I planted my seeds two days ago in moist soil, I watered them a little, but no waterlogging. I then stopped watering them for fear of drowning them. Today, the top of the soil is getting dry, there’s still some moisture left in it, but not much from what I can tell. Should I keep it moist or just leave it be?

Answer: Young seedlings can get easily drowned, especially in a big container (learn about different containers for growing cannabis). But at the same time, they like moist conditions, and seedling roots should NEVER dry out as this can kill or seriously stunt your plant.

But how to balance the need for both water and air?

In a smaller container like a solo cup, it’s very difficult to overwater young seedlings as long as there’s plenty of drainage and you’re using a good growing medium. Once seedlings have started to outgrow a small container, you can transfer to a bigger container and the seedling will be much more robust.

If you’ve started your seedling in a big container, it’s good to be worried about overwatering young seedlings. In a large container, it generally takes a relatively long time for the growing medium to dry out, and your seedlings aren’t drinking much. Therefore it’s easy for them to get waterlogged. In this situation, you can use a spray bottle or a mister to mist the area around the plant thoroughly, which will seep down to the roots and keep them wet, but won’t soak the soil. Another option is to use just a small amount of water, maybe a cup at a time, and water in a circle around your plant until it starts growing vigorously. Giving seedlings just a bit of water at a time prevents them from getting drowned in drenched soil.

Once the plant is growing fast, you can start watering as normal (water until 20% runoff comes out the bottom, then don’t water again until the top inch is dry to the touch). At this point your plant will be drinking more and will have a stronger root system to seek out both the water and the oxygen it needs.

After reading this article, all your seedlings will look as green and happy as this one!

Common Seedling Problems & Mistakes Table of Contents Before we take a look at cannabis seedling problems and common beginner mistakes, let’s show you what healthy cannabis seedlings and ]]>