Refresh Checked Unchecked Menu Search Shopping bag Geolocation Person Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube Info Icon CBC Icon CBC Shape CBD Icon CBD Shape CBG Icon CBG Shape THC Icon THC Shape THCV Icon THCV Shape Loading…
Advertise on Leafly

Troubleshooting common mistakes in marijuana growing

January 24, 2020
how to grow marijuana, whats wrong with my cannabis plant
(Katie/AdobeStock)
You’re excited to grow weed in your garden and you think, “How hard can this be? It’s called weed for a reason, right?” Right! And while it’s most certainly not rocket science, there are some mistakes you can make. Read on and learn how to steer clear of the most common.

Don’t shy away from seeds

If you’re new to gardening, it can be extra scary to start something from seed. While the act of turning a small hard thing into a living plant is certainly magical, it turns out it’s not actually that hard. You need no special equipment—no heated mats, no artificial light—just some potting soil, sunshine, and water.

And it’s worth it to start from seed—a cannabis seedling (a plant in a juvenile state) is far more forgiving than a finicky clone, ready to snap into flowering the moment conditions aren’t perfect. Additionally, seed-started plants form a strong taproot, anchoring them more firmly into the soil. They’re more disease-resistant, too.

Related

How to germinate cannabis seeds

Know how to sex plants

male versus female cannabis plants, how to sex a cannabis plant

(jessicahyde/AdobeStock)

If you do start from seed, be certain you know how to tell males from females. You’ll want to cull the males before their flowers open, preventing pollination and a bunch of seedy buds, unless you’re into that thing. It couldn’t be easier—in their pre-flowering state, males send out little balls (yes, really), and females send out little hairs.

Related

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

Optimize conditions from the start

You will avoid 99% of potential problems if you set your plants up for success from the start. Full sun means full sun—a minimum six hours of direct sun a day. Resist growing plants too close together, as airflow significantly reduces any problems with mold and disease. Don’t skip the corners.  

Pay attention to your plants

Rather than stocking up on fertilizer and insecticide and bracing for a war, just spend some time with your plants. We adhere to an old Chinese proverb: The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow. Make time every few days to give a once-over to your plants, inspecting leaves and flowers for any problems like insect infestations or mold problems. Anything is easier to curb if caught early.

Be diligent about labeling

You’re certain you can remember that the plant over there is OG Kush and that one over there is White Widow, but trust us—life happens, plants grow, and suddenly you forget. Then it’s harvest time and you’ve not got a clue what’s what.

The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.
Chinese proverb

Label when plants go in the ground, and be methodical. Also, we recommend using industrial Sharpies (different from standard permeant ones) that won’t wash away in rain. Carry labeling through to drying, hanging labels on branches or hangers. Remember: A lot of plants look similar once they dry.

Understand that bigger isn’t always better

Those giant weed trees you’ve seen pictures of are cool, but they shouldn’t be your goal. For one thing, a big plant doesn’t necessarily produce good weed. Just like a dry-farmed tomato or grape, a cannabis plant that’s underfed might very well make more flavorful, terpene-packed buds. Additionally, big plants are much more difficult to monitor for problems, and they’re a bigger target for nosy neighbors. And harvest is more dangerous if it involves balancing on a ladder.

So resist the urge to feed your plants full of fertilizer to see how big they can get. Opt for good, balanced compost. It’s easier on the environment, your plant will be healthier, and we promise you’ll still have more weed than you know what to do with.

Related

Bigger isn’t better: The case for growing small marijuana plants

Don’t overwater

Overzealous, well-meaning gardeners kill a lot more plants from overwatering compared to underwatering. We know you’re just trying to love them, but overwatering starves roots of oxygen and opens the door to rot, which basically equates to loving your plants to death. Take the guesswork out of watering by installing a drip irrigation system before you plant. Drip irrigation can be set on a timer and it efficiently delivers water to exactly where it’s needed.

Related

How to tell if a cannabis plant needs watering

Plan ahead for drying and curing

curing and drying marijuana, growing cannabis

(wollertz/AdobeStock)

Growing is basically a cinch, but you’re in for a harsh wake-up call if you reach harvest time and haven’t prepared for the next steps. Long before it’s time to snip your flowers, make sure you’re prepared for post-processing.

A basic drying room needs to be dark, clean, mold-free, and have temperatures that stay between 60 and 70°F and humidity that remains between 50 to 65%.

Related

Your guide to drying and curing cannabis buds

Don’t underestimate the smell

We fear we’re stating the obvious, but just in case: growing weed is smelly. The plant smells in the garden and smells even more in the drying room. So if you were hoping to hide your grow from anyone in your house (or even your neighbors), think again. Inline fans and carbon filters can mask the smell of a grow room, but they cost a pretty penny. Everyone in your house should be onboard with your grow, and it’s very wise to only grow weed where it’s legal to do so.

Johanna Silver's Bio Image

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.

View Johanna Silver's articles