How to Grow Marijuana – Lesson 1 – Before You Start

Growing Marijuana

Method Means a Lot

If you have used marijuana at some point, you most likely have heard the terms, “outdoor“, “indoor” and “hydro“. Before you begin on your journey to grow cannabis, you need to choose which method is best for you, both for growing and for the end product. So, let’s help you choose how to grow marijuana the way that’s best for you.


Soil Marijuana Growing

Whether you will be growing outside (make sure you understand the laws in your area, as growing outside is still illegal in most places that you are allowed to grow) or inside in pots of soil, the method is generally the same. This is the simplest method available.

Soil is also the most difficult to ensure that the plants are only getting what you give them. It is almost impossible to acquire inert soil (you can use substrates that work the same as soil but are inert; more on that later), that is soil that has no nutrients or other things that may affect the way you grow. Because of this, you will get plants that are more like they would grow in nature, with usually less yield than other methods.

There is also the issue of competitive plants, weeds. Even inside in potting soil, or soil that you collect from outside, sometimes seeds can have made their way into your grow space. Any other plants growing will be using up small amounts of the nutrients that your crop plants could use to grow.

Soil is excellent for beginners, as there are many sources of fertilizer (anywhere from Miracle Grow to organic sheep manure) to use, it is the cheapest method, and you can focus on the plants themselves, and less chemistry.


Hydroponically Growing Marijuana

Hydroponic growing is taking away all the uncertainty of soil growing, using an inert substance (no nutrients, can’t grow anything in it without adding them), like rock wool (similar to fiberglass but made of rock and blast furnace slag) or ceramic pebbles, and your own blend of nutrients mixed into the most important part, water. It gives you absolute control over what your plants receive as food.

The nutrients a plant receives determines exactly how big the plant can grow (both height and volume), how big the buds can grow (the part you smoke), how thick the stalk gets (less likely for your plant to break), and many other factors that will affect what your end result can be.

Hydroponics is only recommended for intermediate to expert growers. If you are just starting out, and haven’t grown before, choose soil growing for a few cycles and get the hang of it, then move on and learn more.

Replace the Sun

Bright Sunlight

If you are growing inside, there is no possible way you can get enough natural light to grow cannabis plants. Regular houseplants are generally found in nature beneath a canopy in subtropic or tropic environments and have developed over millennia to survive in low light, medium to high humidity environments.

Marijuana is not made to grow in low light. The stalk closely resembles that of corn, with very tight fibres (which makes it excellent for cloth or paper), and the branches and leaves can grow to be very large. All of this takes an incredible amount of energy to produce. Plants use nutrients to build their physical parts, but they need the energy to move those nutrients around.

That energy is absorbed through the leaves as light, and converted to the sugars plants use, much like glucose in a human body.

Traditional Grow Lights

HPS Grow Light with Cooling

If you plan to use traditional lighting, you will need to deal with heat, and using more power.

Traditional lighting includes two types of HID (high-intensity discharge) bulbs, and the associated ballast and reflector (and usually some type of external cooling).

The two types of bulbs are:

  • Metal-Halide, which, according to most growers, is better for the vegetative state due to the higher amount of blue (plants use more of the blue in a light spectrum while in a vegetative state, redder while flowering) in the light. It has been argued that the benefit is not worth having a second type of light for one grow space, but if you are separating your veg plants from your flowering plants and growing both at the same time, then MH is the way to go for your veg section.
  • High-Pressure Sodium, which is electrically more efficient than MH, and more effectively delivers PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation), which is what plants use to make their food and grow. So, if you separate and plan to use two types of lights, or you only have one grow space, HPS will be for your flowering or your only light.

LED Lights

LED Grow Light Panel

LEDs (light emitting diodes) have come a long way since 1962 when they were basically only used for the infrared flash from your remote to control your TV. They get increasingly powerful and small with each passing year. Also, they have found ways of isolating the exact frequencies that plants use to grow while using just LEDs.

These LED grow lights have also come a long way, and get cheaper and more powerful all the time.

The benefits of LED lighting are:

  • Less power consumption (usually around 85% less)
  • More efficient (only the frequencies required for growth are produced)
  • Virtually no heat compared to HID
  • Built-in ballast and cooling fans
  • Extremely simple, plug into a timer and hang it

As you can see, we definitely recommend LED lighting.

Indica or Sativa?

Indica (Purple Kush)


We will be posting an in-depth article on this question very soon, and will edit this to include a link, but for now, here is a short explanation.

Indica strains have the following qualities:

  • Short and bushy plant
  • Darker green, wide leaves
  • Higher yield in less space
  • Lower THC, Higher CBD (good medicinal strains, body stone)
  • Helps with mind and muscle relaxation
  • Increases appetite
  • Improves dopamine production
  • Helps with acute pain and nausea management

Sativa strains have the following qualities:

  • Tall and thin plant
  • Lighter green, narrow leaves
  • Lower yield, but a much bigger plant
  • Higher THC, Lower CBD (much more cerebral high)
  • Increased focus, energy and creativity
  • Good for chronic pain
  • Helps with anxiety and depression management
  • Increases serotonin production

Given the qualities of each, indica is much easier to grow inside, with a much better yield for small spaces, while sativa is more of an outdoor strain, some reaching 9 feet or more. Sativa, because of its size, also requires a considerable amount of light to grow properly, which is difficult to achieve without direct sunlight.

For a complete list on our top choices for both, see Top 10 Canadian Cannabis Seeds.

The Next Step

Grow Room

Once you decide how and what you are going to grow, you will move on to our next lesson, Set Up Your Grow Space.