A comprehensive guide for cannabis cultivators, filled with helpful tools you’ll need to grow marijuana plants indoors.
Plant Anatomy 101
Here, we provide the basic anatomical parts of the cannabis plant.
Cotyledon, Fan Leaves, Sugar Leaves
The cotyledon leaves are the first leaves to grow after germination. They usually grow in pairs and signify a healthy and robust female or male plant.
Fan leaves are large and capture light for photosynthesis. They are the iconic marijuana leaf, though they are usually discarded once trimmed since they do not produce resin.
Sugar leaves are smaller than fan leaves and produce quite a bit of resin. These leaves are where the buds are formed and can be saved after trimming for pre-rolls, extracts, or concentrates.
Roots, Branches, and Main Stem
The roots of the female and male cannabis plants grow downward from the main stem into the soil. It’s often called a taproot, which is the lifeline of your marijuana plants and will provide essential nutrients, water, and oxygen.
The branches of female and male plants grow directly out of the central stalk. They are in place to protect and support the pre-flowers, buds, and fan leaves.
The main stem or stalk is the support system of the plant and grows upward from the roots. You’ll also find the pollen sacs in male cannabis plants along the stem.
Node and Cola
The marijuana plant’s node is a little “joint” where branches grow from the main stem or another branch. Some nodes contain buds, and some do not. They play an essential role while sexing cannabis but do not significantly influence potency.
Cola is a cluster of flowers that form in a bunch. There will be small colas on lower branches and one large apical bud that grows at the plant’s top and the central stalk’s end. The cola is also known as the “bud site.”
Bract and Calyx
All of the female reproductive parts are together within the bract. They are tear-shaped leaves covered in resin glands that produce the highest amount of cannabinoids like CBD or THC. While you can’t see the calyx, it’s a see-through layer inside the bract over the ovule.
Stigma and pistil
In a nutshell, the pistil is the plant’s reproductive system. It contains thick strands which look like hairs. The job of the stigma is to collect pollen, which is why they start white and eventually turn yellow. While these reproductive parts are vital to plant growth, they do not affect potency or taste.
Flowers and Trichomes
Only female plants produce buds. They are small and teardrop-shaped, with pistils attached to bracts. You’ll notice shimmering trichomes, and the more, the better. The flowers contain CBD, THC cannabinoids, and terpenes, and are typically dried, then ground to smoke.
The trichomes are the tiny, sugary crystals covering and protecting the buds. They come from the glands of leaves, stems, and the calyx on male or female marijuanas plants. The more trichomes, the more potent your plant will be.
What to Know about Cannabis Roots
Roots may be out of view, but they are the heartbeat of your cannabis plant. Responsible for soaking up the water, nutrients, and oxygen a plant needs, healthy roots are the key to a thriving plant and a successful harvest. The roots of all plants need three essential components to grow appropriately; oxygen, the correct temperature, and nutrients.
Healthy cannabis roots are milky white with very little smell. If you’re growing indoors, the roots will grow all over your medium but not entirely wrapped around the sides of the grow pot. Unhealthy cannabis roots will have some or all of the following characteristics:
- brown discoloration
- strong, unpleasant smell
- slimy texture
There are four primary growth phases for a cannabis plant:
Step 1: Germination
The seed germination life stage can last anywhere from three to ten days. You’ll initially want to place your seeds in a dark place that is warm and humid. Once the marijuana seeds open and produce their first root, transfer them into small grow pots.
Step 2: Seedling Phase
Once you have cannabis seedlings, it should take approximately two to three weeks to complete this essential phase. You’ll begin to notice serrated leaflet production, followed by larger, bladed fan leaves. Fully developed weed plants have five to seven blades per leaf.
Step 3: Vegetative stage
Next, your marijuana plants will enter into the three to sixteen weeks known as the vegetative stage. During this time, the plants will need at least sixteen hours of light, or six hours of direct sunlight with several more hours of indirect sunlight. You’ll need to provide nutrients, water, and maintenance during most of the vegetative phase.
Final phase: Flowering
Finally, the flowering stage lasts eight to twelve weeks and is the final step to producing buds. The plants need to be on a rotating light cycle of twelve hours of sun and twelve hours dark during the flowering season. If you nurture cannabis plants, they should begin to produce large, resinous buds.
What’s the right pot size?
- Consider your grow space size and how many plants you could fit without overcrowding them.
- If you’re on a budget, choosing a larger container may not be the best option; but bigger pots mean bigger yields.
- Tall plants usually need bigger pots than short and bushy strains grown indoors, so they are best for outdoor cultivation.
- Transplanting from a small pot is one of the best ways to maximize your grow space. Beginning a plant in a gallon pot allows root mass to build up without requiring much energy to find nutrients or water in its early stages.
- You’ll want to choose large enough pot sizes for the plants to be fed or watered daily. With larger pots that only need water once a week, the plant roots won’t absorb oxygen and nutrients properly.
Water Runoff and Drainage
You’ll need to use indoor grow pots with multiple drainage holes in the bottom to support adequate water and airflow. Also, it’s a good idea to place a tray under them to allow excess water collection at the base.
An excellent benefit of adding organic matter to your soil is that your marijuana plants will only absorb the nutrients they need. For many, the benefits of using organic soil and composting outweigh the challenges of getting started. Not to mention, composting is one of the most responsible ways to dispose of waste.
Fertilizers and compost work together for cannabis. While fertilizer directly feeds the plant, compost promotes a healthy environment for plant growth. You can add grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, kelp, and other green material to encourage nitrogen production, providing protein for the compost microorganisms.
Once your compost is ready to go, the amount needed varies depending on the existing soil’s nutrient levels. For many growers, occasionally topping off the area around the plant is enough to improve the quality in which your cannabis plant grows.
Top Indoor Grow Pots in 2022
There are many different types of pots for growing weed. Here, we go over the most commonly used pots for cannabis growers.
Air Pots and Smart Pots
The correct size smart pot or fabric pot depends on the available space in your grow room. Smart pots (fabric pots) help cannabis plants to grow faster and more balanced due to the ability of the plant’s roots to receive more oxygen.
Cannabis plants in smart or air pots don’t risk becoming rootbound since it’s constantly receiving airflow through the sides. Because of this, they are protected from becoming overwatered in air pots or smart pots. The air from the side helps make sure your plant always has plenty of oxygen, so your plants don’t stay wet and attract mold.
Cannabis plants will need to be watered twice as often as in regular containers in the air or smart pots since the grow medium is constantly drying out from the sides.
A standard plant pot is a container with a drainage hole at the base and a tray to catch excess water.
- Traditional method
- Easy to find online or at a local gardening store
- A small tray captures runoff water for easy disposal
- It keeps the growing medium from quickly drying out
- They are typically crafted into ceramic or plastic pots
Where can I find quality cannabis seeds?
Regular seeds are entirely organic. These cannabis seeds give you a 50/50 shot at either gendered plant. For example, if you plant six seeds, you’re likely to determine sex as three males and three females out of the six plants.
Feminized seeds taken from a seed bank are extracted from treated cannabis plants and will only produce female seeds. Feminized seeds are a great option to ensure you grow healthy buds.
Autoflowering seeds produce flowering plants around two to four weeks of growth. There’s no need to be concerned with the specific growth cycles or all the nutrients required for developing a photoperiod plant with these seeds. The simplicity makes them an excellent choice for beginner growers.
Photoperiod strains are the old-school weed strains your parents smoked and are best grown outdoors. When cultivating photoperiodic weed, follow the natural rhythm of the climate, seasons, and sunlight.
Visit Leafy Mate to search for online and local dispensaries that carry high-quality seeds. While you’re there, don’t be afraid to ask an experienced budtender for new grower advice. That’s what they’re for!
Top Strains for New Indoor Growers
Easy Bud is an auto-flowering strain that is relatively simple to manage for novice growers. It can complete flowering by eight weeks and has an average THC level of around 13 percent. Approximate yield: 11 ounces
Blue Cheese is a potent strain known for its unique aroma and flavor profile. It has a THC level of around 20 percent, is mold resistant, and does well in cooler climates. Approximate yield: 18 ounces
Blackberry is a fruity marijuana strain potent in THC and perfectly balanced between Indica and Sativa. It is a mold-resistant hybrid that will do well for cultivators in warm and dry environments. Approximate yield: 18 ounces
Quick One is an auto-flowering strain with a lower THC content and can complete the flowering stage in 8-9 weeks. Approximate yield: 12 ounces
Indoor Cannabis Growing Tips
There are two methods to find the gender of cannabis plants before they begin flowering:
First, some plants produce pre-flowers nestled between the plant’s joints. These pre-flowers begin to reveal their gender between three to six weeks. Alternatively, you can take a clone from an uncertain marijuana plant. Once the clone has rooted down, expose it to a light cycle of twelve on/twelve off to promote the flowering stage. The plant will reveal its gender within one to two weeks.
If you notice a hermaphrodite plant growing among your female cannabis plants, you’ll want to remove it immediately, just like a male plant, so that it doesn’t pollinate them. Be aware that pollen can drift miles away once released by the pollen sacs.
When caring for a seedling, no matter the plant’s sex, keep the soil damp and moist without overwatering. We recommend misting your plant twice a day and checking the soil regularly.
If you notice any yellowing or darkening of the leaves, your female cannabis plant may have a nutrient deficiency. If so, find a high-quality fertilizer. You’ll want to watch for a few other factors: temperature, humidity, and lighting. Be sure to follow the correct steps for each life stage.
Female plants will start the flowering stage for indoor growth once the light cycle has been changed to twelve on/twelve off. You’ll know it has begun once you see a wispy white hair or two. Around week three is the perfect time to check for disease, fungi, mold, or pests that could potentially harm your weed plant’s effort in growing flowers.
Keep your growing discreet. The fewer people that know, the more careful your operation can remain. Wait until the buds are fully formed, and flowering is complete to harvest, cure, and dry your buds. Then, store your weed in an air-tight container for optimal results.
Our detailed guide for indoor growing offers a variety of knowledge needed to start your own grow room and choose the suitable medium for your indoor grow space. Be sure to follow our steps, and you’re sure to be successfully cultivating cannabis in a few months.