In spite of federal prohibition, most states have adopted varying degrees of cannabis legalization. Other states are considering decriminalizing weed for recreational usage as well. Despite the pun, it is high time we talk about growing this stuff.

It’s easiest to do it outdoors, the old-fashioned way. Increasingly, indoor cultivation is driven by two reasons: first, the desire to hide what you are doing (not an issue anymore in many locales); and second, the desire to maximize the quality of buds through total control over growth conditions. You may as well plant it along with your zucchini and basil if your only goal is to occasionally enjoy a bit of decent weed.

In general, growing a successful cannabis crop is not more difficult than growing a vegetable. Make sure you are familiar with your local laws before you get carried away. Here’s what you need to know about horticulture.

There are many varieties of cannabis

In response to the growing demand for legal plant material, many mail-order companies have popped up. It is easy to get lost in the hundreds of varieties with all the trippy descriptions you can imagine. There are cannabis strains that provide cerebral highs and non-skunky citrus flavours, while others are good for anxiety, low in THC, and grow less than three feet tall.

Consider purchasing seeds for varieties that are best suited for outdoor growing, rather than varieties bred for indoor operations. Suppliers who are reputable will include this information in their varietal listings. Check out

In addition to mold-resistant varieties, those with short flowering periods are also a good choice in humid regions (they are similar to the “days to maturity” listed on packages of vegetable seed).

How plants reproduce

Many plant species, including cannabis, produce male and female flowers on different plants. Male plants tend to produce thin, spindly flowers with little psychoactive properties (or however you decide to consume them).

In general, plant cannabis seeds and you will get about half males and half females. Prior to flowering, it is imperative to eliminate males since their pollen will produce female buds full of seeds. Cannabis seedlings can be determined by their sex easily – instructions can be found on – and the males are culled.

It can even be easier! What are the steps? For novice marijuana growers, it is recommended to opt for feminized cannabis seeds. These seeds originate from mothers and only produce female plants.

The other option is to buy female plants as “clones,” which are rooted cuttings. A plant nursery is essentially like buying vegetable seedlings, rather than seeds, because you don’t have to deal with germination, weeding, etc.

How to plant seeds

You do not need to treat cannabis seeds, though you may want to soak them in water for a few days before you plant them. In early spring, start tomatoes indoors in a sunny window just as you would with tomatoes and other heat-loving vegetables, and move them outside once all danger of frost is gone.

The Growing Environment

In order for cannabis plants to grow adequately, they require direct sun and excellent drainage. In a typical raised bed like one you’d use for vegetables, they’ll do fine, though five-gallon pots filled with potting soil also work well (hard not to poke fun at the pun!). Having good air circulation is vital to prevent fungal diseases, so space your plants so that they don’t appear dense by the summer (closer is okay for dwarf varieties).

Cannabis plants thrive on nutrients, so enrich the beds with composted manure at least a month before you plant, if not the fall before. Compost should be spread over the planting area for a minimum of two inches. You can use fertilizer instead of compost if you are planting in pots.

Taking Care of Your Plants

If the soil surface becomes dry during the growing season, irrigate the crop manually. By adding a layer of mulch once the plants have reached knee-height, you can prevent soil moisture from evaporating and prevent other “weeds” from establishing themselves.

Although fertilizer isn’t necessary if your soil is rich enough (it’s crucial if your plants are potted), it’ll lead to better results. Fertilize your plants every three weeks with high-nitrogen fertilizer until midsummer to encourage abundant growth. Change to one that is higher in phosphorus to stimulate dense and abundant blooms (buds).

Using a pruning technique

The height of outdoor plants can vary depending on the strains. Plants are pruned by most growers, which makes maintenance easier and increases the amount of buds produced. Growing professionals have mastered the art of pruning to maximize yield, but even the casual grower can benefit by periodically pruning the more vigorous shoots. Each few weeks, cut off the outer 30 percent of major shoots.

By pruning, you encourage the production of many small side shoots, each of which produces additional buds (instead of a tall, spindly plant). Make sure to stop pruning by mid-summer so as not to interfere with flowering.


It is believed that the buds will start forming in late summer and that they will be ready for harvest. As soon as the flower pistils turn reddish brown, you’ll know they are ready.

Trim all of the leaves off the plants after you cut off the buds and leave 6 to 8 inches of stem beneath each one. You should hang them from their stems and let them dry for about a week in a warm, shady place. Now you can use the weed. Store the buds in a glass jar after trimming the stem.


It’s time to take action about how you can grow cannabis in your garden, especially as weed is well on its way to becoming legal.

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