How to Grow Marijuana for Beginners Step By Step

Grower inspecting a cannabis plant's roots

Do you want to learn how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step? This guide is the ideal place to start your cultivation journey. Successfully growing marijuana is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it requires diligence and a bit of skill.

Keep reading to discover various details about cannabis cultivation and how to care for your plants. We discuss how to set up your grow space and the right way to nurture your crops in each stage of their life cycle.

Join us as we unpack the most vital information about growing a flourishing cannabis crop.

The appeal of growing your own marijuana

Why do so many people cultivate cannabis? It’s a relaxing endeavor and a rewarding hobby. Growing marijuana takes time, dedication, and diligence. Those who enjoy a toke or two may cultivate marijuana to save money.

A topical view of healthy cannabis plants

Understanding the benefits of home-grown cannabis

Is homegrown cannabis better than commercial options? The jury’s still out.

Commercial farmers take great care to produce excellent buds in large quantities. However, there are certain benefits to growing your own. One of the major advantages is you can select natural products to keep pests and pathogens at bay, rather than chemical solutions.

You know precisely what goes into your homegrown crop. You can ensure your buds aren’t contaminated and are pesticide free.

Setting realistic expectations for beginners

When starting your growing journey, it may not be smooth sailing at first. Marijuana cultivation consists of various aspects, and balancing everything may sometimes feel overwhelming.

Even a task as simple as watering your crops needs careful consideration. The cost of setting up a grow space can be quite hefty, especially for indoor cultivators.

Understanding the basics of marijuana

Over time, people have developed uses for most parts of the cannabis plant, but the most sought-after are the buds.

Some people use them for health issues like anxiety, while others consume them recreationally. Only female marijuana plants produce buds, which form during the last stage of the life cycle.

When learning how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step, a basic understanding of this plant is essential.

Overview of cannabis plant types

Cannabis strains fall into three main groups: indica, sativa, and hybrid. There are also ruderalis cultivars, but these varieties are typically not consumed due to their low potency.

Indica, sativa, and hybrid strains

Is there a clear distinction between indica and sativa strains? It’s difficult to distinguish the category of a marijuana strain by looking at the buds. There are other ways to tell, such as assessing the plant height and the effects of the buds.

Many experts believe these classifications aren’t relevant anymore. They claim chemical compositions offer better ways to identify strains.

Indica plants are compact and feature broad, dark green leaves. They’re bushy and robust. Home growers favor them, as they offer high yields. The plants don’t take up much space and typically mature quicker than sativa strains.

Sativa crops have a more lanky appearance. Many grow extremely tall, up to 12 feet in some cases. The leaves are a lighter shade of green and thin-fingered, with relatively sparse foliage. The crops often have a long flowering period and offer slightly smaller yields than indica strains.

A hybrid strain is a blend of sativa and indica. Hybrids offer growers and tokers the best of both worlds. Some cultivars lean more toward sativa or indica, while others are an even balance. Growers can find a strain with characteristics that suit their needs.

Autoflowering vs. photoperiod plants

When learning how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step, note if the strain is dependent on light cycles.

Most cultivars require specific hours of light and dark to transition to the final phase of their life cycle. These plants are photoperiod. If the light cycles don’t change, they can’t flip to the flowering phase.

Certain marijuana cultivars don’t have special lighting requirements. These non-photoperiod plants are called autoflowers and contain ruderalis genetics. Each phase is predictable with autos, but the yields are typically smaller.

Marijuana plants at various growth stages under an LED light

The life cycle of a cannabis plant

When discovering more about how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step, understanding the life phases is essential. There are four stages of growth.

Germination, seedling, vegetative, and flowering stages

The first thing you have to learn is how to germinate a weed seed. Depending on the technique, the seed should sprout within 1–7 days. Some methods take up to two weeks.


The easiest way to determine if the germination phase is successful is by checking if a white taproot is visible. This signals that it’s ready for planting.

Next is the seedling phase, where a few leaves known as cotyledons develop. The plant is quite fragile at this stage, and many growers opt to keep the seedlings inside at this time.

After a few short weeks, the seedlings transition to the vegetative stage. This is where most of the vigorous development occurs. Luscious foliage develops and the stems get stronger.

The final phase is the flowering stage, where the buds form on female plants.

The importance of each stage in plant development

Every phase contributes to the end product. The quality of the buds directly depends on the health of the plant.

While most cannabis seeds germinate, only premium ones produce strong, healthy plants. Inspect them carefully. Seeds with a darker color are usually of superior quality.

During the seedling stage, your plants are vulnerable. Provide 18 hours of light, sufficient water, and moderate humidity levels to keep them healthy. The roots are still quite delicate, so avoid overwatering them.

This foundational stage requires you to nurture and protect your seedling from pests and pathogens. These may potentially damage the plant, affecting its growth and bud quality in the later phases.

Once the crops start developing multiple fingers on each leaf, the vegetative stage starts. Many growers transplant the crops to larger pots during this phase so the roots can strengthen and expand.

The stems thicken, and the foliage gets bushier. The most vigorous development happens in the third phase, and many growers shorten or extend it when cultivating photoperiod plants.

Once you switch the light cycle to 12/12, the flowering phase begins. Bud production occurs, so ensuring an optimal environment is essential for quality nugs.

Step-by-step guide to growing marijuana for beginners

Now that you know the basics about marijuana plants, let’s dig into the details of how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step.

Choosing your seeds

When choosing weed seeds, consider if you’re interested in a sativa, indica, or hybrid strain. Think about what cultivar suits your preferences and select one that’s beginner friendly.

Deciding between regular, feminized, and autoflowering seeds

Decide if you want to cultivate regular, feminized, or autoflower seeds. The option you choose impacts your cultivation journey.

Regular cannabis seeds have a 50/50 chance of sprouting male or female crops. Only females produce buds, so you have to separate the genders during the vegetative stage.

Feminized cannabis seeds produce female plants 99% of the time, which means all your crops will develop buds. Regular and autoflower seeds are photoperiod, so you have to adjust the light cycles to get them to flower.

Autoflower cannabis seeds transition from one phase to the next automatically. They have a predictable life cycle but offer lower yields.

Factors to consider when selecting a strain

There are various aspects to consider when deciding on a strain. Some of the most important ones are:

  • Is the strain beginner friendly?
  • How tall does the plant grow?
  • What are the temperature and humidity requirements?
  • Is the cultivar susceptible to any pests or diseases?
  • Is it a resilient strain?

Don’t forget to consider other aspects, like THC levels, CBD content, effects, and flavors. The average yield is another important factor.

marijuana sprouts under an LED grow light

Germinating your seeds

Starting your weed seeds is exciting. There are various ways to germinate them. Some methods are cheap and straightforward, whereas others require special equipment.

Various methods for successful germination

One of the easiest ways to get your marijuana seeds to pop is by soaking them. Fill a glass with water and within a few hours, the root appears. Typically, it takes around 8 hours, but don’t leave them in water for more than 32 hours.

A common and affordable method is the paper towel technique. It involves placing your seeds between two damp paper towels inside a ziplock bag to seal in humidity.

Some growers prefer using a professional germination station that has a heat mat and humidity dome. Everything you require comes in the kit.

There are other germination techniques, but these are best for beginners.

Transplanting germinated seeds

Once your weed seeds develop roots, decide on a growing medium. Many first-time cultivators opt for soil. Weed crops typically grow quickly in small containers during the early phases of their life cycle.

Caring for your seedlings and vegetative plants

Seedlings are delicate and require special care. During the vegetative phase, observe your plants for any signs of discoloration or drooping.

Understanding light, water, and nutrient needs

Watering your crops requires a balance. Excessive liquid can drown them, but too little leads to dehydration.

How do you know how much H2O to offer? Ensure the soil is moist, not soaked. Check if the soil is completely dry before adding more water.

Weed plants need 16–18 hours of light during the seedling phase. Blue light is better for crops in the vegetative stage.

When it comes to nutrients, keep it moderate during the early phases. The plants typically don’t need supplementation before the true leaves form.

Once they mature into the vegetative phase, offer generous feeds of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Maintain an optimal NPK ratio.

Controlling your grow environment

Ensure the temperature of your environment falls within the ideal range. Each cultivar flourishes at different levels of warmth, but most prefer it to be around 68–77°F.

Relative humidity (RH) is another important element. In the early stages, cannabis requires around 50–70% RH. Many growers drop it to 40% during the flowering stage.

Transitioning to the flowering stage

Once the plant finishes vegging, it transitions to the final phase of its life cycle. Autoflowers do this automatically. With photoperiods, a change in daylight hours triggers flowering.

Recognizing the start of flowering

How do you know when your plants are ready to flip to flower? With photoperiod plants, many growers extend the vegetative stage to 60 days. However, they may be ready to transition before then.

Keep an eye out for plant height. Once your crops are large and strong enough, switch them.

You can flower indica strains a bit later than sativa varieties. The former only gains around 25% of its height during the final growth phase, but the latter can stretch to almost double its size.

Adjusting care for flowering plants

There are several changes needed once your crops transition to the flowering phase. The most important is an uninterrupted light cycle of 12 hours light and 12 hours dark.

Keep the crops warm with a temperature of around 84–85°F. Drop the humidity to approximately 40–50%. Increase phosphorus and potassium while lowering the nitrogen dosage.

Harvesting your buds

What’s the reward for nurturing marijuana plants? Harvesting healthy, potent, and fragrant buds.

Identifying the right time to harvest

Are your buds ready for harvest? There are a few telltale signs. The clearest one is when around 70% of the pistols are dark and curl inward.

Some growers prefer harvesting when only 40% have darkened. Others check for when the hairs are mostly red rather than white.

The process of drying and curing your harvest

It typically takes 7–10 days to dry cannabis. Ensure the drying room has a temperature range of 60–70°F and humidity levels of 55–65%. Keep it as dark as possible. UV rays can degrade the bud quality.

Hang large branches on a rack or line, or dry the whole plant upside down. To dry after wet trimming, lay the buds out on a flat rack with mesh for 2–3 days. Once they’re dry, the final step is to cure them.

Place the dried nugs in airtight containers. Glass jars are best. This locks in moisture, flavors, and aromas. It helps preserve the terpenes from degrading and protects the buds from mold.

Setting up your indoor grow space

Consider the space you need, the equipment, and what strain you want to cultivate. Decide on a grow medium, and what light options you prefer.

Marijuana growing in an indoor grow space

Choosing your growing medium

There are several grow media for cultivating cannabis. The most common option is soil, but coco coir and hydroponics are also popular.

Pros and cons of soil, hydroponics, and other mediums

Soil is simple and cost-friendly. It’s excellent for beginners and makes it easy to maintain the correct pH levels. In most cases, it contains all the nutrients the plants need. The main drawback is that it has a higher susceptibility to pests and pathogens.

Coco coir is a popular option that offers larger yields. You control the pH levels and nutrients and don’t need any special equipment to use it. The main disadvantage is you have to administer supplements from the beginning.

Hydroponics is a costly but effective way to cultivate weed. There are different methods, such as using clay, perlite, pebbles, or rockwool. Some systems use drippers that dispense water and supplements.

The positives of hydroponics are vast. Plants grow vigorously and offer large yields. The risk of pests is low and you control the pH levels. Some of the drawbacks are the cost and that you have to clean the system periodically.

Tips for setting up your first grow space

When learning how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step, there are a few tips to help you along:

  • Ensure you have adequate space horizontally and vertically.
  • Light-proof the area so external rays can’t get in.
  • Make sure the grow room is airtight so the aromas don’t escape. It also helps with climate control.
  • Ensure good air circulation within the grow room. Fans are the best choice.
  • Implement climate control measures for temperature and humidity.

Understanding grow lights

The amount of light a plant receives impacts its development. Indoor cultivators should invest in quality lighting for optimal growth.

Differences between LED, HID, and fluorescent fights

LED, HID, and fluorescent lights are mainly used for cannabis cultivation.

Light-emitting diode (LED) lights typically run cooler than others, so they don’t impact your room temperature as much. They’re easy to use, and some claim they contribute to better resin production. There needs to be a sizable distance between the lights and the plants.

High-intensity discharge (HID) lights are efficient and excellent for the flowering phase. They don’t require constant adjustments in terms of distance. Their main drawback is heat emission.

Fluorescent lights come in different forms and are quite cheap. They don’t use much electricity and work well in short spaces. The main disadvantage is that they’re not that powerful.

Setting up and managing your lighting system

Once you’ve chosen the lights, calculate the required wattage you need for your grow room. 30–50 watts per square foot is ideal.

The next step is determining the ideal distance the lights should be from the crops, and hanging them appropriately.

Remember to set a timer for light and dark cycles. Adjust the temperature controls to accommodate the heat from the lamps.

Overcoming common challenges for beginners

Learning how to cultivate cannabis is an exciting endeavor, however, certain obstacles could pop up. Common challenges include pests, diseases, deficiencies, and mold. Fortunately, cannabis is quite resilient. Most rookie errors are straightforward to fix.

Grower inspecting a cannabis bud

Identifying and treating plant health issues

Plant health directly affects the quality of the buds. If a plant experiences a deficiency or similar problem, remedy it by acting quickly. The easiest way to maintain healthy crops is by observing them properly and knowing what signs to look out for.

Recognizing signs of nutrient deficiencies, overwatering, and pests

The simplest way to tell if a plant has a nutrient deficiency is discoloration. The vein color yellows or brown spots appear on the leaves. Yellowing tips and purple foliage typically signal a shortage of nutes. In some cases, the stems weaken and the leaf edges curl and twist.

Recognizing pests is sometimes as simple as noticing bugs in your garden. Other signs include leaf damage, sticky residue, or leaves curling downward. Similar to nutrient deficiencies, pest infestations can lead to wilting yellow foliage.

The signs of overwatering include mold or other pathogens in your garden. Wilting, drooping stems, and yellowing foliage signal this problem. If there’s a foul smell emanating from your crops, it might be root rot from excess moisture.

Strategies for preventing and addressing problems

The first step is diagnosing the issue. Once you’re certain, address it immediately.

  • To combat overwatering, use well-draining soil and only add moisture when the soil is completely dry.
  • Analyze all the symptoms of your crop to determine which nutrients it lacks. Add supplements accordingly and resist the urge to overfeed.
  • Dealing with pests is a bit tricky. Chemical pesticides can affect bud quality and plant health. Opt for organic options, like neem oil, to curb infestations.
  • Remember to quarantine affected plants so they don’t affect your whole crop.

Managing smells and privacy concerns

Cannabis cultivation is legal in many states, but most growers prefer to be discreet. There are measures you can put in place to curb the smell and keep prying eyes at bay.

Understanding the role of carbon filters and ventilation

Carbon filters can minimize the smell of marijuana, but they won’t eliminate it. Some growers use them in conjunction with air purifiers.

Select a carbon filter that’s the ideal size for your cultivation area. Suspend it just below the ceiling of your grow tent and connect it to the exhaust fan. Position the ducting outlet close to the ventilation shaft.

Laws and etiquette for home marijuana cultivation

When learning how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step, familiarize yourself with the local laws on the topic. In many places, there are restrictions on the quantity of crops.

There are also regulations regarding the visibility of the plants. It’s best to have a screen shielding outdoor crops from view. Indoor growers should ensure the plants aren’t too close to windows that have a street view.


Now that you understand the basics of cannabis cultivation, you’re ready to start your crop. It’s a labor of love that requires dedication and diligence to reap bountiful harvests in a few months.

The journey is rewarding, and spending time tending to the crops is calming. Why not start your growing adventure the right way? Browse The Seed Fair for premium marijuana seeds.

The ongoing journey of learning to grow marijuana

Once you start growing cannabis, it’s an ongoing learning journey. You’ll discover new techniques, experiment with training, and ultimately refine your skills. As you cultivate new strains, adapt your methods to their requirements.

Embracing mistakes as learning opportunities

Part of the joy of growing marijuana is how challenging the endeavor is. It may seem overwhelming when you make mistakes, but treat it as a learning experience.

If the plant doesn’t respond the way you intended, make a note and avoid the same action in the future. Practical experience is the best way to improve your cultivation skills.

The rewards of growing your own cannabis

Quality cannabis buds can be expensive. Cultivating your own allows you to have a more constant supply of your favorite strain. It also gives you complete control over the result.

Tokers who grow their weed know exactly what they’re consuming. In many cases, these cultivators avoid chemical pesticides and opt for natural alternatives. This benefit is especially appealing to people who use weed for health reasons.

There are other advantages of knowing how to grow marijuana for beginners step by step. One example is experimentation with various strains. Cultivators can opt to crossbreed some of their favorites to come up with an entirely new variety.

Marijuana plants in a grow tent with fans in the background

Further resources for beginner marijuana growers

If you’re intrigued and want to learn more about cannabis cultivation, there are plenty of resources available. You can expand your research with books, blogs, videos, and online forums. The more you discover, the better your skills become.

Recommended books, websites, and forums

Since there’s so much information available, it can be challenging to know which sources are reliable. Our blog offers useful content to help you on your journey.

Some of the best books on the topic are Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Growers Handbook, Rob Mejia’s The Essential Cannabis Book, and Greg Green’s The Cannabis Grow Bible.

Local classes and workshops for cannabis cultivation

If you’re keen on learning about marijuana on a professional level and want to get certified, check out the Cannabis Training University. There are also local workshops in various states, with dates and times advertised accordingly.

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