Leafly’s cannabis homegrow

Published on July 8, 2020 · Last updated February 25, 2021

Welcome to Leafly’s cannabis homegrow! Watch as our writer Johanna Silver grows a set of marijuana plants from seed to harvest in her backyard. Follow #Leaflyhomegrow on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Also, check out her book, Growing Weed in the Garden: A No-Fuss, Seed-to-Stash Guide to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation.

Want to learn more about growing marijuana? Check out Leafly’s Growing Guide to get tips and advice from expert growers.

Homegrow wrap-up

All right, everyone, here we are, weed is grown, dried, and cured. I had some wins. I had some losses. I thought we could talk about it all here and maybe learn a thing or two for next year.

To recap, I grew five plants. I sowed seeds on March 26th and harvested at the beginning and end of September.

How the plants did

The Sweet Annie was the best of the lot for me. She grew tall and strong. Colas were dense and trichome packed. I ended up losing an unfortunate amount to bud rot because I can’t seem to follow through with weekly sprayings of BT, but all told, I still harvested eight ounces of this one-to-one cultivar from Humboldt Seed Company. The big lesson here is to spray your damn plants.

I taste-tested her, and I will say it’s really nice. Flavor was really sweet, and the one-to-one was a really nice match for me. I laughed for a few minutes and then felt mellow.

The Chem Lemon crossed with Cherry Pie in that bed turned out to be a male. I hate it when that happens, but it happens. I sexed it wrong. It is super unfortunate because this cultivar turns out to be the one this year that smells and tastes the best to me. So I wish I had more of it.

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The other Chem Lemon Cherry Pie I had, grew in a container and yielded three ounces. That is more weed than high school Johanna ever even saw, but grown-up Johanna thinks that’s pretty pitiful. Grown-up Johanna will also never consume all three ounces, so I’m not totally sure why she cares.

In the graves, I grew another Sweet Annie, and interestingly, this one performed totally differently. Seeds were started on the same day, soil was incredible, but I don’t think it got as much sun as I was expecting it to, and the buds were just kind of airy. They never got dense. It seemed a little bit wimpy, all in all, four and a half ounces from this one.

Lastly is Freakshow. I was so excited to grow this cultivar for its mutant leaf shape that looks more fern than cannabis. Sad to say, I loathe the smell. It’s been described as diesel with grapefruit and hints of thyme and eucalyptus. For me, it is just a no. It smells like something I would use to wash my floor. I got four and a quarter ounces from this containerized plant, and I’m wondering if you want some?

Total yield

So at the end of the day: two in the ground, two in containers, one male, no supplemental fertilizer (because I’m lazy) and I got one pound and just about three ounces.

Lessons learned

My biggest lesson of the year is definitely to spray my plants with BT every week. The wildfires were hell around here, and it was definitely raining ash for a few weeks, so I’m also curious to try a bud wash next year. I know a lot of people who seem to have a lot of success with it, while others tell me it is certainly not worth the effort.

Lastly, the temperature in my drying room was a little bit high, so I’ll probably get some more fans out next year to keep things a little cooler.

But that’s it. All in all, I’m super pleased with my grow. The new smells are always so exciting, and I definitely see some more cherries and lemons in my future.

I’d like to thank those of you who’ve reached out and let me know that you’re following along. Some of you have even told me you grew the cleanest weed you ever have, which is awesome.

I really believe there’s something to be said for a total fuss-free approach, not fixating on chemicals and fertilizers, etc. No matter the case, I hope you grew some great weed and, even more importantly, that you had a blast growing this plant.


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Drying and curing weed

How to tell when your cannabis is ready to harvest

We’re in the final stages of growing weed in the garden. Today, I’m going to do some dry trimming and show you how to transfer dried herb into containers to cure and store.

Plants are ready for the next step when most branches snap, not just the smallest ones, and buds sound like popcorn to your ear. Literally, hold your ear to a bud and take your fingers and smoosh it a little, and it should sound just a little bit crunchy, like popcorn. Not too crunchy, just a little bit crunchy.

Dry trimming

Hanging here is another plant I harvested. I left all the leaves on this one, so I could show you how to dry trim. It’s really not so dissimilar from wet trimming. It’s a lot less sticky, but the trichomes, now hardened, are much more likely to break. So proceed with caution.

Again, you want to use narrow-bladed shears to trim off excess plant material, snipping leaves from the stem, if possible. Just as with wet trimming, this weed is for my own personal use, so there is no reason to go as extreme in trimming as the buds you see in the dispensary. A few extra leaves actually help protect the buds in storage.

Next, buck the buds into smaller chunks by snipping them off the main branch and place them in airtight impermeable containers.

I use a mix of mason jars, locking stainless steel tubs, and vacuum sealing glass jars.

Air degrades weed, so you want to fill your containers full, but make sure buds aren’t super smooshed, and then store containers in a cool, dark place.


This is the final step. Curing removes any excess moisture from deep inside buds, ensuring an evenly dried crop.

For the first few days, open the lid of your jar for about 30 minutes, “burping” it to release any extra moisture or gas buildup.

Going forward, I’ll open it once a day for a few minutes for the next few weeks, and then call it a day.

When it feels like bud you want to smoke, it’s ready.

If you’re curious, you can get a small hygrometer and place it in your jar. You want the relative humidity to hang out between 53-63%.

I don’t dip into my stash that often, so I usually go without a two-way humidity pack, but if you’re going to be opening the lid of the jar a whole lot, consider throwing in a Boveda pack to keep things nice and steady.

Here’s some Sweet Annie that I already dried and have been curing, and I got to tell you, it smells real good. And here’s the Chem Lemon x Cherry Pie, which smells, and I will tell you tastes, very cherry, very lemony and very chemy.

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How to tell when your cannabis is ready to harvest

There are various different methods to check for ripeness. I want to remind you that we are going for the most general fuss-free approach.

  • First, keep your eyes peeled on the stigmas, those hairs that come out of the flowers. When about half of them have turned amber, it’s getting really close to time.
  • The other method involves squeezing the nug: If it’s spongy, wait, if it’s firm, cut.

By the way, if you’re a first timer and you’re asking, “Are my plants ready?” The answer is usually to wait. First timers are generally jump the gunners. Just chill.

One of my Sweet Annies, still has way too many white stigmas and the buds are still super spongy, so, I’m going to wait. But this Sweet Annie, over half the stigmas are amber, and when I squeezed the buds they’re firm; no more sponginess. It is time to chop her down.

Harvesting weed

Real deal farmers harvest before sunrise to prevent any evaporation of terpenes and cannabinoids. Real deal farmer I am not, so we are going to harvest right now.

  • Make sure your drying room is all set to go
  • Have clean pruners on hand
  • Have something to transport your harvest from the garden to the drying room, either a clean tarp or clean plastic bin

And it’s super important to go one cultivar at a time. I know they’re your babies and you swear you can tell them all apart and it’s easy when they’re fresh, but when they’re dry it is anyone’s guess, trust me.

There’s no one right way to do this—you can chop down the whole plant, or you can go branch by branch.

Cannabis tends to ripen all at once, but if you have a super big or dense plant, you might find that some of the flowers closer to the bottom or more tucked in aren’t ripe yet. So feel free to keep those standing until they’re ready.

Whenever possible, I like to cut the plant in a way that gives me pre-made hooks for hanging.

I use this opportunity to give each branch a once overlooking for any gray spots which are a sign of botrytis (mold). If I find any, I cut it out with a wide margin.

Theoretically, you clean your tools between cuts, but I don’t.

The drying room

I hang the branches on hangers, using clothespins as needed, and fill out the pre-made labels marking the cultivar and date of harvest. It’s fine for branches to be close, even touching, you just don’t want them all smooshed together. Airflow is as important as ever in the dry.

The goal is a slow, steady dry: 10-14 days is ideal. Too quick and you’ve zapped all those cannabinoids and terpenes too slow you’ve got a moldy mess. Keeping the temperature 50-60°F and humidity 50-65%. Use whatever equipment you need to keep it within those windows.


Another way to moderate the pace of the dry is to trim, or manicure your plant, the process by which you remove excess plant material like fan leaves and sugar leaves.

Some people just have a personal preference about when they like to trim.

Wet trimming tends to be easier and much stickier.

Dry trimming tends to be way less sticky, but you’re more likely to break those fragile trichomes.

But beyond those personal preferences, it’s important to understand that trimming can actually impact the pace of the dry—if you live somewhere super arid and need to up the humidity, for sure, wait to dry to trim. All that excess plant material will help slow things down.

Vice versa, if you live somewhere super humid, trim now. Way less chance for trouble.

The Bay Area is typically well within those windows of temperature and humidity all on its own, so I can take my pick. I usually do a little bit of both because, why not?

For wet trimming, grab your favorite pair of narrow bladed scissors, that can be spring loaded, not curved, straight, whatever.

Start by getting all the fan leaves off and then as many sugar leaves as possible, trying to grab them by their stems.

I usually stop there because I’m not actually trying to turn my weeds to look like the turds sold at the dispensary, a little bit more in their natural form is A-OK. Also they store so nicely like that.

When it’s time to use, you can pull out a bud, trim it up a little bit more exposing perfectly preserved stigmas, and the crowd goes wild!

You should know that this activity is sticky. Like really sticky, like soap won’t do anything.

So you should either have some rubbing alcohol and rags around to clean both your hands and your tools or you can go the more natural route, mix up some oil and some sugar, which makes a moisturizing get exfoliating way to get your hands clean.

All right, I’m going to give these branches 10-14 days to dry. I’ll check them every day because OMG how could I not? And I’ll see you when they are dry.

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Preparing for harvest

The weed is almost ready. So today I’m going to make sure you’re all set up with the drying room.

A proper dry helps retain all those cannabinoids and terpenes and gives you an evenly dried bud with no mold.

Your drying room should be set up well in advance of harvest day, because it can take some time to identify the right spot and get everything that you need. So you want to be ready and waiting.

A lot of growers make a whole lot of fuss about having the exact precise conditions. I find this to be a little bit of overkill. It’s a plant. If you’ve ever dried some sprigs of rosemary, a bundle of chamomile, I’ll tell you, this isn’t so far off. I dry in my semi-unfinished laundry room, which is a total eyesore. I am so excited to show it to you. Come, let’s check it out.

The drying room

You need a dark room. It needs to be cool.

And it needs to be semi-cleanish; just give it a sweep. And you need a place to hang those beautiful branches and it should be something that can support a little weight. I use a free-standing wardrobe that I bought from a popular home goods place that rhymes with “marget” and I just ditched the cloth cover and added a few extra dowels to increase space.

I also use hangers. I hang these on the wardrobe and then hang branches directly on these to exponentially increase space. On each hanger, I put a little masking tape label, pre-made, so that I can quickly and easily name the cultivar at harvest time. I also have clothespins on hand in case I don’t get perfectly hookable branches. For little baby buds, I have an herb-drying rack where I can lay them to dry.

You’ll also want a small oscillating fan to keep the air moving. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I’ve had this one for decades. You’ll want to keep it pointed down and not directly at the plants.

You’ll also want to keep the temperature somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees and the humidity between 50 and 65%. Depending on where you live, you might need some extra gear to help make that happen like a humidifier or a dehumidifier.

Here in the Bay area, we tend to have pitch perfect conditions and I get by with nothing except that oscillating fan. A great way to keep track of the conditions inside your dry room is with the handy-dandy hygrometer. One of these costs a few bucks at an internet store. This one’s magnetic. I just snap it to the top of that wardrobe and I’m set.

Supplies for harvesting

And looking forward to harvest you’re going to want to have a few other things on hand.

  • Tarps or clean Rubbermaid bins to easily transport your harvest to your drying room
  • Clean pruners or scissors to cut down your cannabis
  • Trimming shears, spring loaded, or not, they just need to be narrow-bladed
  • Rubbing alcohol and some rags because everything is going to be real sticky (or the hippie alternative, which I quite like, is to mix some almond oil with some sugar as an abrasive and that will also get everything sticky off your hands)

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Weed flowering and plant anatomy

Today, we’re going to talk about flowering. Finally, what you’ve been waiting for. The flowers, they are here.

In the garden, we’ve got all these unpollinated female flowers, and they are just trying to get pollinated. They’re making themselves as attractive as possible to male pollen that floats in the wind. They’re getting stickier and stickier, just trying to get covered in pollen.

But with no males, ain’t going to happen, so you’re going to have all these super sexually frustrated, sticky flowers that eventually give up and die. Except, we’re going to kill them before they killed themselves.

First off, fan leaves. Don’t worry if these are starting to turn yellow and fall off. The plant is much more focused on flower production now. It gives up on the leaves, and you should too. Just relax, and it’s fine to take off the dead ones.

Weed anatomy

Here are the flowers. I know it’s strange to call them flowers. They don’t really resemble any other flower in the garden. Densely packed together, we call them colas.

The leaves that gets super packed in there are referred to as sugar leaves, named for the heavy dusting of trichomes. Those trichomes, the resinous glands, pack all the terpenes and cannabinoids, the goodies of the plant, and they basically cover every part of the flower.

Calyxes are the tear-shaped parts that contain all the reproductive stuff, including the stigma, the hair-like things that will ultimately start turning amber and help tell you when the flowers (buds) are ripe.

Cannabis anatomy: The parts of the plant

That’s sort of it. The plants are going to get weirder and weirder from here on out: The colas start extending upward, and the plant takes on a weirder shape.

You’ll also probably start smelling them from farther and farther away. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors start peeking over the fence or if your husband says you need to get a new career.

Again, there’s not much to do. I don’t prune anymore, because you’re doing nothing except removing flowers, and I don’t fertilize anymore. I just let the plant do what it’s going to do, which is make really pretty flowers until I kill it (at harvest).

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Troubleshooting common weed problems

Johanna here, still in my backyard in Berkeley, California, still growing weed. We are well into summer. Some flowers are blooming. Everything’s growing. Weed may be flowering. I’ve got some pistils shooting up. Don’t worry if you don’t notice anything yet, it’s coming, I promise. 

OK, this is the slow part of growing. There’s quite honestly not a ton to do:

  • Keep them watered
  • Prune out any branches that will never reach the light of day
  • Maybe fertilize, if you’re into that—I’m not, and too much can actually cause problems with disease.

We’re going to talk about the dark side. Everything that could go wrong. 

Common weed problems

There are a bajillion potential pests, and almost all of them can be minimized if you just give the plant what it wants from the start:

  • Enough sunshine
  • Plenty of air flow
  • Right amount of water (not too much)

Example: marks from spider mites. Earlier, this pot was closer to the wall. Airflow was a little bit limited, and instead of panicking, I just moved the whole thing out a few inches from the wall to increase the airflow. 

Don’t assume that drastic measures need to be taken. The idea of integrated pest management is helpful: The approach that you take the time to make a proper diagnosis, then use the least invasive solution first to see if that helps (rather than just reaching for some giant jug of chemicals).

8 ways to rid your cannabis crop of pests and diseases

Bud rot 

Up first, bud rot, aka gray mold, aka botrytis. Outdoors there are lots of butterflies and moths, like the stupid white cabbage moth. In caterpillar form, they lay their eggs in the buds. The caterpillars hatch and grow in the buds. They shit in those buds. And when it rains, which it does around here, right before the crop has finished, that shit turns into mold. Voilà, you’ve got botrytis in those buds.

In years past, when I see a bud that has a little bit of gray mold on it, I just snip it out and toss it. But I realize that you, might give a shit about how much weed you harvest. So let’s talk about some solutions. 

BT, or Bacillus thuringiensis, has been around since the 1920s. It’s one of the safest biopesticides around. It’s a species of bacteria that lives in the soil. It is very toxic to caterpillars and not at all toxic to you. Don’t panic, it’s organic.

Take preventative measures, not reactionary. 

When buds first start to set, around end of July, spray once a week with BT, all the way through August, until those pretty little hairs come out of the flower or any time after there’s a big rain. 

And if you get hella lazy, you can just cut out rotten buds at harvest time.

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a super common fungus that shows up on your plants’ leaves looking like white powder. I know it mostly from growing cucurbits—the squash family—squash, cukes, pumpkin, zucchini, watermelon, any of that stuff, super common.

With weed, powdery mildew can seep into those flowers. And then come use time, you are ingesting or smoking fungus, which is not ideal. 

What Does Mold on a Cannabis Plant Look Like?

Best advice: prevention. Full sun, plenty of airflow, water the soil level and not the leaves. 

If you do start to see some powder on those leaves, you’ve got a couple of options. If you feel like spending a little cash, get yourself a bottle of Serenade, another Bacillus-based biopesticide that’s super safe and been around a long time. 

Or go the DIY route:

  • 1 TBSP baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp non-detergent liquid soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
  • 1 gallon water

Spray that once a week.

A really good idea (it’s my buddy Jamal’s only rule and he’s a pro grower): Don’t plant anything from the squash or cucurbits family next to your cannabis since everything from that family is super susceptible to powdery mildew. It is a disaster waiting to happen. 

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How to prune your weed plants

Today, we are going to learn how to prune plants, which means making cuts, which means I’m going to cut the plant, and you’re going to get really uncomfortable. But it’s going to be OK, I promise.

Indoors, they compensate for using top-down static light that doesn’t move, so they have to do all sorts of crazy shit with pruning to get the light to hit all the branches.

You don’t have to do any of that outdoors. Why? The sun. It moves across the sky all day, hitting different parts of the branches, different leaves, different flowers. You don’t have to do much at all.

Now, left un-pruned, your weed will grow into the shape of a Christmas tree with one giant cola (which is the weed word for flower bud). That sounds like the coolest thing in the world, but in practice, is not. All that dense, moist growth, with no light in there, is just a recipe for mold, disease, disaster. It will be a nightmare to dry and cure evenly, which is the whole goal with weed.

What Does Mold on a Cannabis Plant Look Like?

So you’ve got to make some cuts. The question: which? We’re going to keep it crazy simple.

Making the cut

You’re going to count one, two, three sets of leaves, and cut.

You can do this in the ground, or you can do it while it’s in a pot, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve been growing this beautiful plant for 10 weeks, and I’m going to cut right above where the next set of branches are growing.

Why topping is important

Why did I just cut the whole top off this beautiful plant? Well, topping the plant, or cutting off the terminal bud, tells the plant to instead put all of its energy into growing lateral branches and grow a lot more bushy and form a lot more reasonable and more manageable sized buds, putting you in a lot better shape come harvest time.

If you want to be done there, be done.

How to top cannabis plants for bigger yields

Second cutting

If you want to do a little more, wait until each of the remaining branches grow three sets of leaves, and cut it again. That will encourage more branches and more reasonable sized buds.

With the cut-off branch, you can do so many things:

  • Throw it in the compost pile
  • Use it in a flower arrangement
  • Juice the leaves
  • Get a flower press and do some botanical crafting
  • Whole lot of things except get high

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Transplanting your weed plants

I’m going to show you how to transplant your weed from wherever it’s been growing straight into the ground where it’ll grow big and tall and beautiful, until you kill it (at harvest).

When to transplant

How do you know when they’re ready?

  • I’ve already sexed my plants, so I know that I’m going to only be growing females from here on out
  • It’s nice and warm—evening temperatures are staying above 55°F, which for summer annuals is the total magic number
  • It’s before the Summer Solstice, so there’s still plenty of sunshine going on and these babies still have plenty of time to pack on vegetative growth, getting real nice and big before they start flowering.

The best time to plant any transplant is on an overcast day or in the evening—the plant will have some time to acclimate to its new home before getting blasted by sunlight the next day, and it helps minimize shock.

How and when to transplant cannabis plants

How to transplant

Preparing the hole:

  • Nothing is dry: The ground and container have both been given a splash so nothing goes into shock
    • Check on it every day for the next week because it’s a brand new baby
    • It only needs to be watered when the soil is dry two inches down: Best way to figure out, stick your finger down two inches—if it’s dry, time to water
  • When digging the hole, make sure it’s approximately twice as wide and deep as the container itself, to make sure the roots have plenty of new uncompacted soil to grow into to thrive and prosper


  • Add compost (rake it smooth before digging)
  • Add two amendments:
    • Bat guano—high in nitrogen; will help leafy vegetative growth
    • Bone meal—high in phosphorus; will help it flower later on
What are the best nutrients for growing cannabis?


  • Take the plant out of its container, tip it upside down, take off the container (admire those beautiful white roots, and don’t mess with them)
  • Put the root ball gently into the hole, making sure the soil level is flush with the soil level of its new hole
  • Backfill with soil—just scoot back all that dirt and fill the hole back up
  • (optional): I add a sturdy tomato cage for trellising—as the plant grows, she will get real big and get real heavy flowers; I want to make sure branches don’t snap later in the season if there’s a rainstorm or really windy night

Having some amount of structural support will go a long way, and for me, a tomato cage does just the trick. I put it in at planting time so as not to disturb the roots later.

Don’t forget the last step: Never forget to put your label back in.

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What’s the best soil for growing marijuana?

Sexing your weed plants

Cannabis plants are dioecious, meaning males and females are on separate plants—that is super rare in the plant world. This is the most fun part of the process, sexing the plants: learning to tell the difference between those males and females.

When you buy weed from a dispensary, you are always buying female flowers—ideally unpollinated female flowers. That is how you get beautiful bud without seeds. So long as you’re after a crop of unpollinated female flowers, you’ve got to learn to tell the difference and you’ve got to chuck the males.

Troublesome males

Of course, you can hang on to a male if you’re looking to try your hand at backyard breeding, maybe for some seeds for next year’s crop (but it’s very difficult). There is no guarantee they’re going to come out anything like either one of their parents.

So just know that if you hang onto a male plant, you are going to pollinate your entire crop, probably your neighbor’s, and your neighbor’s, neighbor’s crop. You’ll have weed full of seeds.

Identifying weed sex organs

Flowering won’t kick off in earnest until after the Summer Solstice, but with plants just over two months, you can most certainly sex them from their pre-flower.

Helpful tools: magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe.

When you’re growing outside, they will be ready to sex around 8-10 weeks.

  • Find a node (between the stem and the branch—it’s like the armpit of the plant)
  • There you’ll find a flap that looks like a flag, and that’s called a stipule
  • Peel back the stipule, right where the next branch is starting to grow out, and you’ll find a sex organ

Males = Balls

Females = Round thing that’s not quite a ball and has a white hair (that white hair is a pistil)

Cannabis anatomy: The parts of the plant

If you think you see all balls, or you can’t quite tell, give it another week or so. Female sex organs are round, but they don’t scream “ball”—they look like something’s about to grow from them. In another week’s time, you’re likely going to see a hair or two.

Not everything is going to be a male—there’s no way you started all your seeds and they’re all males.

If you want to keep a male, give it a snip, strip it of its leaves, and put it in a glass jar inside. Grow it like you would a cutting or a flower and it will continue to grow.

When the pollen is released, it won’t get everywhere so long as it’s not near an open window. Once released, you can scoop up a little and selectively pollinate some flowers that you’ve got outside for seeds next year. Be careful not to pollinate your entire crop!

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Male vs. female cannabis: How to determine the sex of your plant

How to pot up your weed seedlings

Hey, this is Johanna and we’re back talking weed in my backyard, and we are going to pot up the babies into their next home.

I am potting these from their 4-inch containers where I sprouted them into gallon-size containers, where they will live for a little bit while longer.

You know your plants are ready for a bigger home when they’ve grown past the seed leaves—the cotyledons—and they’ve sprouted a few sets of their first true leaves. You want them to be looking healthy, not stressed out, so they can handle being moved to a new home.

These are about five inches tall. That’s great. You just want to have a few sets of those true leaves.

To transplant your weed:

  • Give the weed seedlings a splash of water
  • Use fresh potting soil—always fresh, do not reuse potting soil
  • Everything should be moist, including potting soil—it doesn’t need to be dripping wet, but you want to minimize the shock for the plants
  • Fill up the gallon with potting soil—you can sink the 4-incher in there to see how much to fill in advance (you want to submerge the cotyledons and even go a little deeper)
  • Hold the plant upside-down in your hand
  • Gently take off the 4-inch container
  • Place it in the middle of the container
  • Fill in the rest of the gallon with potting soil

I like to give mine a little shake to get them level and a little pat because potting soil is pretty fluffy. It will settle a bit. You don’t need to tamp it down with your hand.

How and when to transplant cannabis plants

I’ve left a little bit of a gap, about an inch at the most, for water to have a place to drain.

Important: Label goes back into the plant.

Give the new container a sprinkling of water to help everything feel real good in its new home. Keep them in the shade the rest of the day and throw them back in the sun first thing in the morning.

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How to pop (germinate) your weed seeds

Wondering when you should start your weed seeds? Use the Farmer’s Almanac to find out dates for starting tomato seeds in your region and use those.

Before you get started, you will need:

  • 4-inch containers (left over from whatever other stuff you’ve grown in your garden)
  • Tray (for moving them around)
  • Fresh potting soil—important: it says “potting” on the bag and you haven’t used it to grow other stuff
  • Labels
  • Optional: Sharpie Extreme (it’s permanent and weatherproof)
  • Weed seeds

I’m growing three cultivars this year:

The legal limit in my area is six plants. I’m only looking to grow three. So I am going to pop a few seeds of each cultivar and trust that one or two is a lady.

Make sure you know the laws in your area.

Home Cannabis Cultivation and Possession Laws: A State-by-State Guide

How to germinate weed seeds

  • Fill up 4-inchers with fresh potting soil. Fresh, has not been used for other things
  • Write labels. I’ve made the mistake of only writing one label for a row—inevitably, you mess yourself up and you don’t know what your plants are
  • Place labels in containers. 
  • Plant one seed in each container.
    • Rule of thumb: Plant a seed twice as deep as the seed is wide
    • Make a little indentation in the soil with your finger, drop the seed in, and pinch it shut
  • Give the pot a little shake to make it level
  • Give it a gentle splash of water either with a watering can or with the shower setting on a hose nozzle—make sure they’re drenched, but don’t blast the seeds away
  • Optional: Put them in a small greenhouse to keep them safe and warm

All you have to do from there is make sure the little containers are watered thoroughly for the next few days. You want to see water coming out the bottom and see that they’re thoroughly wet. They don’t need to be soggy, but you don’t want them to dry out.

They can germinate anywhere between 3-12 days.

In no time, you’ll see little green sprouts pop their way up.

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How to germinate cannabis seeds

How to pick a spot to grow weed

What’s up fellow weed growers!

I’m Johanna, coming to you from my Berkeley, California backyard. I grow fruit, veggies, herbs, cut flowers, and yeah, weed. I grow weed entirely outdoors, in the sunshine, no fancy equipment, not a lot of fuss. And I’ve actually found that information for that type of a grower is incredibly hard to come by. So I’m here to help show you how to do it.

And what’s the very first thing you need to do when growing weed? Find a spot to grow it.

What to look for when picking a spot to grow weed

Full sun. In the outdoor world of gardening, full sun means at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Just six to eight hours of direct sunlight and nature is going to do the rest. Morning sun is always a little bit gentler and more loving than afternoon sun.

Super good soil. When you’re gardening you’re actually cultivating soil more than you’re cultivating the plant. So you want some nicely amended, well draining, yummy soil.

Plenty of room. Weed is pretty variable in size so allot five to six feet of width.

Other considerations: If you live somewhere crazy windy,you’re going to want to plant them with a barrier—either a wall or other plants.

Privacy. In many locations, it’s only legal to grow weed behind super tall fences. You also don’t want your neighbors stealing your stuff.

Access to water is absolutely key. Plants need water to grow.

Here are three spots I’m going to grow in my backyard:

  • Existing veggie bed—Looks nice, has drip irrigation, full sun in the afternoon. I don’t love that the soil has been cultivated a lot.
  • The graves—They get incredible full sun all day long and also have incredible soil—super juicy, full of worms (the grass has acted as a cover crop for the last three years). Not ideal: sprinkler heads are going to make things a little wet.
  • A container—A good choice if you don’t have access to in-ground planting. It should be 5 gallon minimum, 15 gallon ideal; use fresh potting soil. I can make a really cute little scene with a couple pots, some flowers, and I feel like an utter badass that a big weed plant is the main attraction.

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Johanna Silver
Johanna Silver
Johanna Silver contributes regularly to Martha Stewart Living and Better Homes & Gardens. She's also the former Garden Editor of Sunset Magazine. She lives with her husband and young son in Berkeley, CA. In her garden she grows fruits, veggies, a little weed, and as many cut flowers as she can possibly fit.
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