How genetics factor into marijuana plants
Everything in life wants to start out with the best genetics. Finding marijuana seeds that will grow well in your area and still give you the best characteristics florally is what you should strive to find before starting to grow. The characteristics you want to compare are growth rates, maturation rates, bug and fungus resistance, aroma and potency. These factors should be considered before planting by the grower so that you can successfully grow marijuana for as long as you want. If you are lucky enough to locate an Indica and Sativa hybrid, then you are good to go! This will work for outdoor and indoor growth and give a good high once mature. The Indica variety will provide a robust, euphoric high, while the sativa variety is typically harder to grow inside because of the necessary sun and long growing season requirements. Hybrids provide a cerebral high with an energetic component that matures earlier than the sativa would on its own. Indica’s have broad leaves with rounded edges while sativa’s have incredibly narrow leaves, so you should expect a hybrid to have qualities that are a mixture of both parent plants. You will often see leaves a bit larger than a sativa but smaller than an indica on a hybrid, which makes them easier to recognize once you are familiar with how they look. Dark brown and light grey are the most common colors of marijuana seeds, so make sure you get the right seeds for a hybrid. Striped seeds are fine for marijuana plants, but white seeds should not be planted as they are still too immature for planting.
The strategy that allows constant harvesting both indoors and outdoors
We recommend that you use natural light as much as you can to help curb your energy expenses when gardening at home. Natural outdoor light works wonders for flowering plants, while indoor light that is able to stay on continuously is great for early germination of your plants and growth of the vegetation. The natural cycle of dark and light will be used if you try this method, which will lower your energy bills. Even building a tiny greenhouse from PVC or Filon fiberglass can work, especially if you know how to make it blend in or look like it’s more of a shed. If you happen to have a shed in your yard already, you can convert the roof over to glass, PVC, plastic or fiberglass and simply use that so that no one is any wiser of what you are up to. This type of shed will allow people to fly overhead without raising suspicion, and it will work for marijuana plants that are not light hogs as well, so you get the best of both worlds. If you use a greenhouse of some sort, it will also help keep many rodents away from your growing plants, keeping them safer, and you can lock it to keep out other "unwanted guests". Greenhouses without flooring can also provide you with the opportunity to grow directly out of the ground, giving you bigger harvests and allowing your plant to reach all new heights.
Indoor gardening is typically done during the cold of winter to start the new marijuana seeds up so they can be transplanted outdoors when spring comes. This gives the plants access to natural sunlight as soon as they can go outside, allowing you to harvest up to three times annually. Depending on how much growing room your home has, you can even exceed this and start new batches more often, giving you a new harvest every two months, and allowing you to bring some plants in during the winter to harvest them as well. The only thing you really need to know is that marijuana plants have two different cycles of growth. When you germinate a marijuana plant, it immediately begins trying to mass-produce vegetation, using every ounce of light up that it can find. This allows you to keep your lights on all the time, not having to worry about specific timers. This also allows your marijuana plants to grow much quicker than they would outside where the evenings would stop the photosynthesis. While it is not required, it is recommended that you try and keep the plants as lit as you can during this phase. Once your marijuana plants reach 12-18" (30-45 cm), your plants can already be forced into flowering, assuming your weather allows for you to place your cannabis plant outside. This is only possible during the spring and the fall. If you are trying to do this during the summer, then you need to shorten the light the plants receive so that the plants will believe it is time to flower. See the flowering section for more details.
Marijuana plants require even periods of both dark and light to flower, so if you are planting outdoors make sure there are no nearby lights that will disturb this cycle. The closer to 12 hours of both dark and light, the better results you will find. Plants will mature to be 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) by harvesting time. Marijuana plants that get moved from constant light to this new schedule will automatically flower, thinking that winter is coming soon. If you get your marijuana plants outside around March 1st, then your crop should be ripe by May 1st. The same goes if you move your crop outside May 1st then you can harvest July 1st. It takes about 60 days for the plants to mature to harvesting; it is just that during winter months, the crops are indoors and typically raised for small yield, winter stashes or just raised for seeds for next season.
Planting your marijuana plants inside
You will need to find a suitable indoor place that you can germinate your marijuana seeds in. This will allow your marijuana plants to go outside as soon as the last frost hits, getting them ready for harvesting sooner. It does not matter if you use an area within your basement or bedroom, an unneeded bathroom, or even a closet to germinate your marijuana. Some people have gone so far as to use entire rooms of their house for growing, so long as those rooms can be completely sealed from light escaping and ventilated for fresh air. Room size will determine how much and what kind of ventilation system you should be using. A small closet will only require a door be opened now and again, while a big room will require a full fan system. If you are able to provide a separate exhaust vent and fresh air vent, that is ideal. We recommend one in the top of your room to exhaust heat into the attic space or right out your roof, and another lower that brings the fresh air into the room. Cabinet fans from old computers can even be enough if the room is the right size for it. We recommend using a dimmer switch so you can control both the speed and the noise of each fan you use. Silicone works great at securing each fan to the 4-6" (10-15 cm) pipe required for the vent, which can then just be worked through a hole in the flooring or ceiling. Silicone will also help lessen the vibrations each fan gives off, making the sounds not audible through the walls. Going so far as to use the dull side of aluminum foil to wallpaper you walls can help diffuse your light sources, preventing hot spots from forming in your room, can also be quite helpful. Bright white paint can be used to reflect the light back to your plants if you wish, but mirrors are not recommended as they suck up the light. Make sure you also have plastic on the floor as well to prevent damage from spilled water.
Putting in sockets that will interrupt voltage and ensuring your electrical wiring can handle the lights you want to use is another thing on the to-do list. Ballasts used for HID lights should always be over floor level so they do not get damaged if water leaks on to the floor, but something as simple as a spacer can work as well. If you put in a new shelf above where you grow your marijuana plants, it will allow you to begin your cuttings there, germinating new seedlings. This shelf will effectively double your working and growing space and give you storage for your supplies when you are not working on new seedlings. Good things to put on that shelf include spray bottles, your marijuana plant fertilizers and foods and any other gardening supplies you may use on a regular basis. The benefit of using this shelf to germinate is no heating pad will be required due to how warm it will stay naturally, saving you time and money. If you are going to be flowering your plants indoors, then make sure you add a curtain to this shelf allowing the light from it to not escape and throw off your other marijuana plants. Velcro is a great idea when you need to keep this curtain stationary, and ties or grommets can be used to hold the curtain up when not being used. We recommend a black vinyl curtain with a white back. The next step is lights, and we recommend you just use a few simple shop lights if the marijuana plants will be going out to a greenhouse once large enough. Shop lights come with the bulbs and without, and are relatively easy to find on sale. The best light combination is one warm and one cool white light bulb between the two shop lights, giving your plants both forms of light they need. The expensive bulbs, such as Grow-Lux, are not worth it for this type of set up, so do not waste your money on them.
Growing marijuana on a shelf
Futuristic trends are looking like they will head toward using fluorescent bulbs due to cost and availability. Shelves are a great way to combine this type of lighting with marijuana plants as well. Each shelf has a fluorescent light and there are numerous shelves lining the wall. If the shelves are set up properly then each shelf can have its own timer for how long the light should be on without it affecting any of the other plants. You can use two areas or three, depending on if you need an area devoted to germination and getting marijuana seeds. There is an automatic assumption made with growing on shelves, however. You will keep your plants at or below 3 feet (90 cm) when you plan to flower them, which is why shelves are placed at 3-4 foot (90-120 cm) intervals. Less light will be needed for these shorter plants, especially when they are being forced into flowering. You will notice this particular style to be quite time consuming with the constant daily adjustments the lights will require, so do not plan for any vacations any time soon. The good news is: this is short lived. Once your marijuana plants are out of the vegetative phase (where growth slows significantly from 1" (2.5 cm) each day), there are less time constraints on the grower. You will typically move the lamps up daily because you do not want your marijuana plants to touch the lamps, but your marijuana plants need to stay within about 2" (5 cm) of the lamp for optimal growth—with growth slowing down the further away the lights are situated. Now, if you go on vacation and do not account for the right growth, your plants could be fried before you get back, ruining your entire crop. If you make sure to use enough lighting to cover the entire shelf with fluorescent light, then you can space the plants out however you want without getting spindly growth problems.
Another idea you can use is to germinate, clone or grow your small plants on a shelf inside a closet, only switching to HPS when the vegetative growth requires it. If you use a full shelf at the top of the closet and the light does not leak below, you can also use the main portion of the closet for flowering. Move your HPS so that it should never require adjustments, which is typically the top of the main area within the closet. If your marijuana plants require being closer to the light for some reason, an old box or small shelf will work for you. If you use a shelf, it should be 18" (45 cm) wide to 24" (60 cm) wide. Paint the walls bright white or use aluminum foil, as mentioned above, to reflect the light back to your marijuana plants.
You should also paint your shelves white, too, or use some type of material that is silver in color (other than mirrors) to help reflect as much light as possible. Space blankets and aluminized mylar are both good options for this type of project. Make sure to hang your shop lights from sturdy chains in a way that will allow easy adjustments to keep your marijuana plants close to the light without allowing them to get burnt. Marijuana plants that are kept too far away from the light will become long and spindly from them attempting to reach the light source, and this will decrease your final yield come maturity. The length of stem that is seen between each set of leaves, or internode, will be longer if you keep the light source too far away. Shorter internodes are what you are hoping to achieve because this will give you more branches and eventually, more buds. Some people refer to shelf marijuana growing as sea of green, or SoG, because so many different marijuana plants are able to be grown in the same small space and all the growers can see are the green plant tops blurred together. Clones of your marijuana plants should be grown at first with constant light and then moved to the 12 hour cycles once there is sufficient vegetative growth.
2000 lumens for each square foot (100 sq. cm) is the minimum light you want for growing marijuana plants indoors. Less than this will cause the growth of your marijuana plants to decline, potentially increasing internode length. The distance between your plants and the lights you use to grow them will also be at a critical level. You will still have to adjust your lights daily, but this will include the flowering season as well. If you can reach 2,500 lumens in each square foot (100 sq. cm) then you will be doing much better, but 3,000 lumens is ideal for CO2 enrichment or injection (explained below). High Intensity Discharge lights will provide you with the best results as a grower because of their three different variations: Metal Halide (MH), Mercury Vapor or High Pressure Sodium (HPS). Mercury Vapors and fluorescent lights are going to be the easiest and cheapest to buy, so start with those if on a tight budget. Eventually you may want to look into MH lights as their spectrum and intensity is better than Mercury Vapors. HPS often has a yellow hue, similar to a street lamp, and will work as your light from the planting to the harvest for your marijuana plants. This light will produce a harvestable crop about one week after other lamps, but the yield will be increased, so we recommend you wait that extra week.
A Mercury Vapor bulb will give off 8,000 lumens for each 175 watts while an HPS will give off 15,000 lumens for each 150 watts, so HPS bulbs are nearly two times as efficient as Mercury Vapor bulbs. When talking about colors, the Mercury Vapor bulbs lack here as well. The colors are bad when compared to the strong reds an HPS gives off or the strong blues that a MH provides. Red light improves flowers while blue light improves vegetation, so you want both at different points during the growing process. Keep in mind that one 400 watt HPS bulb will be able to put out about 45,000 lumens of light, and every increase of 500 watts will add about $20 US (15 Euro) each month to your electricity bill, so you will want the most output for the cost of the bulb allowing you to regain the cost over time and eventually make money off of your purchase over using smaller bulbs. Just keep in mind that the buying cost compared to operational cost equation does not include the better growth your marijuana plants will experience or the higher yield you will be able to harvest when using an HPS lamp. If you want to factors these parts in to the first crop you make with an HPS light instead of a Mercury Vapor light, then you are looking at a lamp that is more than two times as efficient.
- Variation of light
- Wattage of light
- Lumens given by the bulb
- Total efficiency of each bulb
- Fluorescent bulb specifications
- 40 Watts
- 3000 Lumens
- 400 Watts equals 30.000 lumens
- Mercury vapor light bulbs
- 175 Watts
- 8000 Lumens
- 400 Watts equals 20.000 lumens
- Metal halide light bulbs
- 400 Watts
- 36000 Lumens
- 400 Watss equals 36.000 lumens
- High pressure sodium
- 400 Watts
- 45000 Lumens
- 400 Watts equals 45.000 lumens
You will notice that the Mercury Vapor lights do not have the same efficiency as fluorescent lights. This combined with the lack of what a Mercury Vapor light bulb can give a cannabis plant makes this a light that should be avoided whenever possible for growing indoor marijuana plants. We recommend you use fluorescent, HPS and MH lights exclusively. We do not recommend using halogen arc lights either because they tend to get too warm for the little light they produce. Son Agro is a brand new form of HPS light, available in 250 through 1,000 watts. Their 400 watt light actually ends up being 430 watts because they added 30 additional watts of blue light to this particular bulb. It is meant as a greenhouse light so it is quite bright at 53,000 lumens. These particular bulbs can replace standard HPS lights, so if you have some in your arsenal already, these may be good upgrades. These bulbs give you all of the same advantages that you would get with an HPS bulb while still adding in many of the advantages that you would get from an MH light. This one bulb can do it all. The Son Agro style of bulbs can offer the shortest internode length of any home-grown marijuana plants, giving you bushier and more compact plants that will grow incredibly fast. These bulbs are said to have about 25% less bulb life, so that is their only real downfall.
MH bulbs are available in 36,000 lumen and 40,000 lumen varieties within the 400 watt size of bulb. There is also a "Super Bulb" that gives an extra 4,000 lumen that we have heard lasts longer, in which case this could make this bulb the best option for your needs and budget. The Halide bulb contains more blue light, helping vegetation growth, but the efficiency between this and an HPS bulb is no contest. The Son Agro form of HPS bulb is going to be the best route to take despite the initial increase in cost because you get all of the needs for your plants covered by one bulb. You get one bulb that works for everything and it saves you money through energy efficiency, which the other bulbs cannot do.
Basically, you will be able to use the Son Agro light bulb for nearly any need your marijuana plants may have. If you need something a bit cheaper you can use the MH light, but it will not last as long or cover all of your needs. We compared both the MH light and the HPS light at 400 watts. The HPS is somewhat more expensive, but it will last twice as long (10,000 hours compared to 21,000 hours). The Son Agro has an average light life of 16,000 hours to compare with the others. Just remember, the longer life that the HPS bulb can give you combined with the additional light that it will give you will end up giving you more energy for your money in the long run. If you can mount your HID horizontally, that is ideal and it will increase the light that reaches your marijuana plants by approximately 30%. Almost all of the HIDs that get sold currently for indoor gardens come with horizontal mounting brackets. Operational costs go to the HPS bulbs, but the 70 watt you will find at most local stores is just not going to cut it for marijuana growing unless your growing location is less than 9 sq. feet (270 sq. cm). Anything bigger than this will require more light than this bulb can offer, unless you multiply how many lights you have. Two of these bulbs would be putting out 12,000 lumens at about 140 watts, so it is still an improvement over the other bad bulbs we would not recommend that we have already mentioned. These bulbs are cheap to buy and operate, so it is worth considering them if your growing location is relatively small to start. If you get into the bigger bulbs, like the 150 or 250 watt bulbs, you will find their price comparable to the 400 ones that would be great for your plant, so you might as well get the better ones. If you plan to grow these plants professionally, there is a 1080 watt version, but it depends on your setup if this will work better than two 400 watt bulbs would.
However, when most people realize that the purchase of two of those smaller lights ends up being more expensive than a single large light, most people pick buying the single light for their growing location. Your plants light needs will be determined by quite a few factors, including pH level of the plants, how many nutrients are available, the temperature of the room, CO2 levels and how much heat buildup the room has from the HID lights. If you use a light that is too large for your growing space, you will need to vent the heat constantly which will then stop the buildup of CO2, which helps your plants thrive. Plus, if you have to replace two of the 70 watt light bulbs, you will spend more money than replacing just one of the HPS 400 watt bulbs.
So what is the SoG or Sea of Green
The theory that says harvesting a bunch of little marijuana plants that were forced into maturity early to get quick bud harvests is called the "Sea of Green" or SoG. Basically is means that instead of a few big marijuana plants, the grower chooses a lot of small marijuana plants because this can be done quicker and in the same size growing location. This may be ideal when trying to cut down on electricity use for some growers. This allows for a harvest to happen continuously, year round, with one set of seeds being started while another approaches maturity. When starting seedlings, you can easily fit four little marijuana plants in each square foot (100 sq. cm), but once the plants begin to grow, you should lower this to one plant in each square foot (100 sq. cm). The top of the plant will grow nicely even though you won’t see a lot of branching off of the bottom. Do not worry about this because marijuana plants grown indoors have shaded bottom branches anyway unless there are horizontal lights. Most indoor gardeners realize very early on that most marijuana plants do not give the grower enough leaves near the bottom of the plant to make the time or energy usage worthwhile.
The only real exception to the above rule is if you plan to place your marijuana plants outdoors in the near future because the light and shading your plants will get outside will negate this issue. If you start your marijuana plants around the same date, you will likely create a "green canopy", trapping the majority of light near the top of your marijuana plants. Concentrating the light levels on top of your marijuana plants will help your plants gain as much growth as possible in this limited bit of time. Many growers have found that a trellis or nylon chicken wire will help support their marijuana plants if they happen to droop prior to the transplantation outdoors. Stakes are another option, but those tend to be used less frequently because of the difficulty reaching the plants in the back of your growing location. Many people prefer bigger marijuana plants because of the increased yield they provide, but smaller spaces lend themselves more readily to smaller marijuana plants that have a faster maturity time. Holland is where the SoG originated because they were the first to figure out that four huge marijuana plants placed in a room did not produce the same yield as a dozen tiny marijuana plants placed on a set of shelves above another set of shelves with another dozen tiny marijuana plants. The time to reach maturity for these tiny marijuana plants is only about 9-12 weeks from when they were germinated, and this process can be repeated constantly to allow for a new harvest every few weeks.
Just remember to focus on the quality of the final product when growing marijuana plants, not how big the plant gets. Two times the plants produce a harvest that can happen nearly two times as often. If you learn to harvest only the ripest of buds, you will find you are getting only the best quality of final product. If you are going to grow your plants in the four plants in each square foot (100 sq. cm), make sure you use pots that are no bigger than six inches (40 cm) across. Passive hydroponics will also help if you use a growing tray. Cat litter boxes are great for starting your plants as well. In a closet that is 12 sq. feet (1 sq. meter) you can grow 48 seedlings per shelf. If using rockwool cubes of 4" (10 cm) each, you can fit a dozen cubes in each tray. Getting 5 pans on a shelf that measures 12 sq. feet (1 sq. meter) allows you to have 60 baby seedlings per shelf. Once you are forcing the plants to flower, one plant in each square foot (100 sq. cm) is the best route to take. Fewer marijuana plants will require more time to fill your growing location which will cost you more time and money to get to your harvest. If you use too many plants to fill the growing location, your internode growth will start to take over, lowering your final yield. Make sure not to "top" your marijuana plant if your plan is accelerated growth. You will find a better result with a multiple of plants versus letting the plants grow to their maximum size because your yield will be greater and arrive in less time.
You may also find success with twist ties being used to train your marijuana plants to become bushy instead of growing taller. Twist ties made of paper or plastic can be used to wrap around the plant, pulling it down to 90° or 180°, followed by the twist tie being attached to the pot or your marijuana plant itself. You only have to keep this tied for a week, and then you can take off the tie. This will force your marijuana plants to bush instead of grow tall, filling your growing location quicker and allowing your lower branches to grow toward the canopy. This allows the plants hormones to take over, forcing each lower internode to try and bush out. Using the SoG method gives your plant top, or cola, the majority of the energy when growing, and the lower branches the best air flow to keep growing. Anything you trim off the bottom can be used as a clone as you will find a good deal of the plant will root easily, and the plant will grow quite quickly as that is what the plants hormones are pre-programmed to do.