The beginner’s guide to growing weed indoors
How to begin with growing weed indoors
If you are planning your first time growing weed indoors then it is a massive help to follow a beginner indoor grow guide. This can recommend essential tips as well as ensuring that you don’t commit the usual beginner mistakes.
If you have already identified the best beginner indoor grow strains to grow then you may wish to skip the next section about beginner cannabis seeds and jump in at Step 2 (Setting up the perfect grow room). If you are not quite sure about the best beginner indoor grow strains then Step 1 (Pick from the easiest strains to grow indoors) will be useful reading, explaining some of the basics about autoflower seeds and feminised cannabis seeds.
Step 1: Pick from the easiest strains to grow indoors
Your first first weed grow indoor should be as simple as you can make it. Avoiding unnecessary complications and gaining the confidence from a successful first time cannabis grow is the best platform for future success.
Growing cannabis is actually straightforward if you follow the basics. Once you gain experience and confidence you can challenge your grow skills with advanced grow techniques and more demanding cannabis strains. The type and size of grow room that you have may lend itself to certain strains.
If you are just starting out with a small grow tent then you may not want to grow stretchy/fussy cannabis strains which may be too much of a challenge. Instead it may be easier to opt for compact cannabis strains which are undemanding to grow in a wide range of conditions. The three main types of cannabis seeds are autoflower seeds, photoperiod feminised cannabis seeds and regular seeds.
When placing an order for cannabis seeds, the beginner is particularly recommended to consider autoflowering seeds. They have perhaps the best reputation for being easy to grow. They are fast, compact and convenient. Auto seeds grow in a wide range of indoor grow conditions.
Photoperiod feminised seeds are not quite as fast to cultivate as autoflower seeds and they may require a bit more know-how (e.g. understanding veg vs bloom growth) but can deliver heavier yields and produce larger plants. Regular cannabis seeds are not usually recommended for first time cannabis growers. They produce the undesired male cannabis plants and tend to be preferred by old-school growers or cannabis breeders.
Step 2: Setting up the perfect grow room
The indoor grow room provides the optimum conditions for cannabis to grow and yield well indoors. Temperatures and light intensities used often mimic those found in optimised outdoor grow conditions where cannabis evolved. Key requirements are to avoid temperature extremes and large fluctuations.
Try to maintain steady temperatures of around 25ºC (77ºF). Avoiding high temperatures over 30ºC (86ºF) is recommended as is avoiding low temperatures much below 20ºC (68ºF).
An indoor grow light allows photosynthesis. Nutrients are provided to allow the plants to grow and fresh air is constantly drawn into the grow room. The best indoor grow lights for beginners are explained in more detail below, with HPS, ceramic metal halide and LED being the most popular options. Small clip-on fans are often used in the grow room to gently circulate the air and stale air is removed by an extraction fan. Odours are removed by the carbon filter. New growers are strongly advised to take odour control seriously.
The beginner indoor grow setup can use any type of grow medium. This may include coco fibre or hydroponics, but many prefer the simplicity of an easy soil cannabis grow for beginners.
As your confidence and grow experience increases you can consider more demanding grow methods such as deep water culture (‘DWC’) which may offer heavier harvests. However beginner DWC cannabis growing isn’t really recommended since it comes with demanding requirements to regularly check the pH and E.C. (electrical conductivity, a measure of nutrient strength) in your plant feeding solutions.
The best set ups for beginner cannabis growers are those where small plant numbers can be grown simply with the minimum of technical complication.
Type of grow room
How to grow marijuana indoors for a beginner? Many new indoor growers buy grow tents. These are an easy way to start growing. They come with reflective interiors, light-proof zips and all the necessary openings for your air filtration system and electrical cables. They are usually made with strong support bars which will support a heavy carbon filter and extraction fan.
Many beginner indoor grow kits include a grow tent. Smaller growers interested in growing just a plant or two may choose a 60cm x 60cm (2 feet x 2 feet) grow tent. The most common indoor grow tent size tends to be 1.2m x 1.2m (4 feet x 4 feet) and can hold typically 5-10 plants.
Other growers will use a spare closet or bedroom to grow in. This may not have quite the same convenience as a purpose built grow tent and may require extra effort to make. But for a basic beginner growing cannabis indoors with reasonable DIY skills this won’t be too difficult.
If you don’t like the idea of constructing and building your own grow room it may be much simpler to buy a grow tent. Remember, keeping your first few cannabis grows as simple as possible is always recommended.
Size of grow room
How many cannabis plants should a beginner grow? This is one of the most frequent questions from beginner cannabis growers. The bigger the grow room, the more plants you can grow.
Grow tents come in sizes from around 60cm x 60cm to 3m x 3m or larger. If you are a first time cannabis grower it can simplify matters to start small and grasp the basic cultivation principles. Once you have gained confidence and experience you can always scale up the size of your grow with a larger tent and a more demanding grow method.
A key question to consider is how much cannabis you need. Many occasional cannabis users find that they can harvest 50-100g from an autoflower plant and find that growing 2-5 plants at a time provides sufficient cannabis to last until the next grow.
If you grow a small number of plants to start with it will make your first cannabis grow far easier. With less plants to monitor and maintain, there is less to go wrong. For beginner cannabis growers, keeping the first grow simple is always recommended. Many start with a tent around 1m x 1m and 3 or 4 plants. Indoor grow tents are often around 1.8 – 2m tall (6-7 feet or so), but smaller ones can be used e.g. for growing short indica strains.
Ideal light conditions for first time weed growers
Providing your plants with optimised light, temperature and humidity allows them to grow healthily with the best quality levels on the harvested and cured buds. Cannabis plants thrive under intense light conditions.
Light intensities for cannabis can be measured in PPFD (photosynthetic, photon flux density). It sounds more complicated than it is. Don’t worry, cannabis grow lights are supplied with their power output and the best manufacturers clearly recommend the room size which they are suitable for. Often, grow lights are sold complete with technical details showing light spread and PPFD light levels at various hanging heights.
Small seedlings, mother plants and clones can grow well with PPFD levels of just 200 – 400 μmol/m2/s. For cannabis plants in the vegetative growth phase, 400 to 600 μmol/m2/s PPFD can be adequate. Flowering cannabis plants benefit from more intense PPFD levels of 600 – 900 μmol/m2/s. Some growers, with CO2 supplementation use PPFD levels of 1000-1500 but these conditions are not recommended for beginner cannabis growers.
In practical terms this might mean that a beginner cannabis grower with a 1m x 1m (3 feet x 3 feet) tent would use a HPS grow light or LED light with around 400W power draw in bloom. A grower with a 1.2m x 1.2m tent might use a 600W HPS or an LED with around 500-600W power draw in bloom.
Many of the best grow light providers (or grow shop owners) will be happy to recommend lights for your specific grow room size. They will also recommend the correct hanging height for seedlings, vegetative growth and bloom. There are also plenty of useful videos on cannabis first grows for beginners online.
These may be useful for beginners seeking more information from the grow light suppliers. Some online grow communities/websites have beginner grow cannabis groups. You can post pictures online and get feedback from other growers, though this won’t necessarily always be accurate feedback!
Ideal temperature conditions for beginner cannabis growers
Beginner cannabis growers should aim to provide constant optimised conditions. With lights on, your grow room should be around 25ºC/77ºF. With lights out, you should aim to keep the plants no colder than 20ºC (68ºF).
If temperatures get too hot, much above 30ºC/86ºF your plants may start to struggle and this could reduce final harvest quality/quantity. This could mean that you will e.g. avoid growing cannabis in your loft during the middle of summer or the middle of winter.
Many experienced cannabis growers avoid growing during seasons where extreme temperatures can affect their grow. Or they can invest in grow room heating and air conditioning, though this would be regarded as excessive for beginner cannabis growers who need to keep matters as simple as possible.
One important recommendation to new cannabis growers is regarding the temperature of their water/nutrients. Growers in cold climates should avoid using cold tap water directly on their plants, it will shock the root system and slow down growth. Try to provide water/nutrients at around 20ºC. You can do this by allowing the water/nutrients to stand overnight to reach room temperature. Or you can add a splash of hot water to your feed solution. Always check temperature to ensure you are not shocking the cannabis roots with hot or cold feed solutions.
Ideal humidity conditions for beginner cannabis growers
Seedlings can tolerate high humidity levels (sometimes known as ‘RH’) of 65-70%. This can allow water uptake through the leaves while the root system is still developing. During vegetative growth, the root system is better established and lower humidity levels of around 40% – 50% (up to 70%) are possible.
The most important period to check humidity is during bloom. In bloom the buds form and lower humidity levels are preferred to avoid potential issues with mold or bud rot. Aim for humidity levels around 40-50% in bloom and avoid levels of 60-70%. Many indoor growers use a de-humidifier in their grow room during final bloom to keep RH under control and below 50%.
Is your grow room clean and safe?
A clean and safe grow room is essential. All serious growers vacuum and wipe down the interior of their grow room after each crop. This minimises the risk of pests and disease for your plants. Plant containers should also be thoroughly washed out and cleaned between grows.
Pests can be a major nuisance for cannabis growers and they can be difficult to remove once established. Avoiding cannabis pests and diseases is the best approach. Keeping your grow room as clean as possible is a great help.
If you are beginner cannabis grower, avoid the temptation to get clones/cuttings from a friend. There is a risk that these can come with their own imported pests and diseases. The last thing a first time cannabis grower wants is the added complication of dealing with a pest infestation.
Cannabis pests and diseases
Step 3: Defining and nurturing your grow medium
Cannabis can grow in a surprisingly wide range of grow conditions, it’s called weed for good reasons! Soil, coco fibre and hydroponics systems (soil-free growing) are the 3 main methods. Hydroponics offers the possibility of the fastest growth rates and heaviest yields. But it is really not recommended for beginner cannabis growers due to the technical complexity.
Soil vs hydroponic growing
Hydroponics is demanding but undeniable effective. However, hydroponics will mean you need to discover the joys of owning, using and calibrating pH and EC meters when preparing your feed solutions.
On top of that, the best hydroponic growers have an advanced understanding of cannabis nutrients at all stages of the cannabis plant growth cycle. For first time cannabis growers this is generally regarded as simply too demanding and soil growing is often preferred due to the simplicity.
How to prepare a premium-quality soil for indoor cannabis?
If you are new to cannabis growing it may be simplest to buy ready-made soil preparations online or directly from your local grow shop. These come pre-mixed and contain several useful additives. This may include some coco fibre or perlite to increase root oxygenation levels.
Pre-mixed soil from a good supplier contains a good blend of aeration and nutrition. Many experienced growers make their own soil blends using various ingredients which may include bat guano, worm castings, dolomite lime, coco fibre etc. But perhaps these home made soil blends can wait until you have gained more confidence and experience. If you are new to cannabis growing, keeping things simple to begin with is always preferred.
How often should you feed and water your indoor plants?
Perhaps the most common errors for new cannabis growers is the tendency to over feed and over-water their plants. The logic is easy enough to understand, more nutrients should make bigger plants.
However the experienced cannabis grower tends to water the plants only when required. They also tend to err on the side of caution when preparing nutrients and feeds. This is because over-feeding their plant can ‘burn’ the roots which may permanently stunt future growth and reduce final yields considerably. It is far better to steadily increase nutrient concentrations as the plant grows rather than burn the plant with excessive nutrition at the start.
Your plants will need increasing amounts of water/feed as they grow and develop. A good way to avoid over-watering your plants is to use a soil moisture meter. The Blumat soil moisture meters are particularly recommended and indicate when roots are too dry or too wet.
For the beginner, cannabis fertilizers can be a complicated subject. A good way to simplify nutrition and avoid overfeeding your cannabis plants is to consider using slow release organic nutrients such as BioTabs. These slowly release nutrients into your soil (or coco fibre) as the plant grows. This means that you will only need to add water for much of the grow with an occasional top dressing of general purpose bloom nutrients in the last few weeks.
What are the best containers for first time indoor growers?
Cannabis roots love high levels of oxygenation. Many cannabis growers use fabric/felt grow containers which allow far higher root oxygenation levels than is possible from traditional plant containers. This in turn minimises the risk of the cannabis roots sitting in excessively wet conditions which can reduce growth rates and yield.
As well as fabric grow sacks, air pots are also highly recommended. These are grow containers with numerous air holes punched in the side. The air holes allow high oxygen levels in the grow medium, promoting healthy cannabis roots and strong plant growth.
When growing cannabis, is topping easy enough for a beginner?
Topping is the process of deliberately removing the growing tip from a cannabis plant. This tends to produce shorter bushier plants with more side branches. However, for those new to cannabis growing it isn’t recommended to complicate growing unnecessarily. Instead it is recommended to allow the plants to grow naturally. Leave plant topping until you have gained more experience.
Step 4: Avoid these most common seedling mistakes
Over many decades supplying quality cannabis seeds to professional growers and home growers, Dutch Passion tend to see the following frequent mistakes. Experienced growers will know to avoid these issues.
For the beginner, cannabis seedlings are relatively easy to care for, but new cannabis growers should be particularly aware of the issues listed below. These topics are explained in more detail in this illustrated guide.
- Watering too much, or too little… or both!
- Overheating seedlings with heating mats
- Fertilising cannabis seedlings incorrectly
- Germinating cannabis seeds in jiffy pods, coffee filters and rockwool cubes can cause issues for some growers. Germinating in cotton pads is recommended.
- ‘Damping off’ cannabis seedlings, a disease which causes seedlings to collapse
- Stretching seedlings caused by lack of light
- Choosing the wrong type of soil to germinate seeds
- Not transplanting autoflower seedling to a larger size pot in time
- Sowing cannabis seeds too deep in the soil
Why is my autoflower so small?
Easiest way to achieve optimal germination rates
There are many ways to germinate cannabis seeds. If you are a beginner cannabis grower and want the most reliable and consistent method, germination between moist cotton pads is recommended. Note that cannabis seed germination rates decrease if the seeds are left soaking for too long in waterlogged conditions.
Step 5: Choosing and using grow lights efficiently
Your indoor grow light does the same job as the sun does outdoors. It provides the best and most useful wavelengths of light at usable intensities. You have a choice of several different technologies.
LED grow lights
How good are LED lights for a small beginner growing cannabis? LED grow lights are perhaps the best and most modern way to grow cannabis. The downside is that they are also more expensive than HPS lights (the most popular and affordable grow light choice).
LED grow lights are efficient and should last around 5-10 years or more before light output starts to decrease. Many expert growers believe that the best results and highest bud quality comes from LED grow lights.
Despite the high initial purchase cost, LED is the most cost effective light source in the long run. Savings in electricity (running costs) more than pay back the high upfront costs within a few years. The efficiency of LED is inherently superior to HPS, meaning that you could replace a 600W HPS with an LED using just 400-500W.
HID grow lights
High Pressure Sodium (‘HPS’) lights are the most affordable lights to grow with and produce respectable yields. They are a popular choice with those new to cannabis growing. However HPS does emit a lot of heat and doesn’t produce the same optimised light spectrum as LED. But they are cheap!
Ceramic metal halide (‘CMH’) grow lights
Like LED, CMH lights are expensive but many growers prefer to use CMH lights over aging HPS lighting technology. CMH lights come in warm (for bloom) or cool white light (for vegetative growth)
Fluorescent grow lights
Fluorescent grow lights are a popular choice for seedlings and small plants. However they are not often used for bloom, where they lack the power and light penetration of other technologies such as LED.
Best indoor grow lights for beginner
To get started at the lowest cost, an HPS light is often the preferred option for new growers. 250W, 400W and 600W versions are the most popular. If your budget allows it, a high quality LED grow light is preferred.
Cannabis grow lights distance and cycles
Follow the manufacturers guidelines on hanging heights for the lights (above the canopy level) at the different stages of growth. When the seedlings are small, light requirements are also small and the grow lights are often hung at a greater distance above the plants. As the plants become more mature, light intensities are increased by decreasing the distance between the light and the canopy of your plants.
Depending on the type (and power) of grow light, manufacturers will have different recommendations for the hanging height and the size of grow room.
Step 6: Planning your grow and monitoring it daily
Being as organised as you can is a great way to approach cannabis growing. Your online (or local) grow shop should be able to supply all the necessary equipment. For the beginner, growing equipment for an indoor grow may include the following items:
- Grow tent
- Carbon filter
- Extraction fan
- Grow light with timer switch
- Small clip-on fan to circulate air inside your tent
- Air pots or fabric pots to grow your plants in.
- Ready mixed soil.
- BioTabs slow release organic nutrients – to help keep things simple
- Some general purpose bloom feed for the last few weeks with a 2.5ml, 10ml or 25ml dosing syringe
- A thermometer and device to measure humidity. If growing organically in soil, a pH meter isn’t mandatory.
Best indoor beginner cannabis seeds
Your cannabis seeds are a key part of your grow. Choose them wisely, you don’t want to spend several weeks/months growing a strain with a poor reputation or one which doesn’t suit you.
The following seeds from Dutch Passion are all fully proven and notably easy to grow across a wide range of conditions. Perfect for those new to cannabis cultivation! If you are new to cannabis growing, the best indoor beginner cannabis plants are listed below. We recommend three easy-to-grow autoflower strains and a couple of high quality and exceptionally easy photoperiod feminised strains.
Auto Night Queen
Auto Night Queen took 1st Prize at the 2016 Highlife Cup. She has Afghani Kush genetics with very high THC levels. Like all Dutch Passion autoflower seeds, she is easy to grow across a wide range of conditions. With powerful indica genetics she often stays short and compact, easy to grow and look after. She is ready to harvest around 10 weeks after seed germination. Auto Night Queen seeds are from the acclaimed Dutch Passion Hindu Kush seed collection.
For the ambitious beginner cannabis grower seeking the heaviest harvests from an autoflower, Auto Ultimate is strongly recommended. She grows from seed to harvest in around 12-15 weeks. That’s a longer time than most autoflowers, but the exceptional XXL yields and very high THC levels are worth the wait. Very easy to grow. Part of the Dutch Passion Classics family of cannabis seeds.
Auto Critical Orange Punch
Not only is Auto Critical Orange Punch one of the most affordable autoflower seeds in the Dutch Passion collection, the parent genetics made it into the High Times Top 10 list of 2018. These are seriously strong genetics and so easy to grow, no matter how you grow them. THC levels are very high, up to 20%. With a great citrus taste, these seeds are part of the Dutch Passion Orange Family of cannabis seeds.
The USA has produced some genuinely exceptional cannabis genetics over recent years. Not all of them combine ease-of-growth with extreme potency, but HiFi 4G certainly delivers in both regards. HiFi 4G is an indica dominant photoperiod feminised strain. That means it will grow vegetatively under 18-24 hours of daily light and will only start to bloom indoors when daily light hours are reduced to 12 per day.
HiFi 4G seeds are also unusual in that they can produce extremely high THC levels, more than 20% THC in good conditions. Cannabis simply doesn’t get much stronger than that! Part of the USA family of cannabis seeds.
Euforia is the second photoperiod feminised cannabis strain recommended in this list of best indoor cannabis seeds for beginners. This high quality, prize winning sativa dominant skunk has great reputation and many repeat growers. Euforia is a tough member of the Dutch Passion Skunk seed collection and is incredibly easy to grow across a wide range of conditions. This makes her a solid recommendation for beginner cannabis growers with a hugely enjoyable and longs lasting euphoric high.
Euforia produces a deep, rich aroma on her sticky and stinky buds. Yields are high and THC levels are very high, around 20% in good conditions.
Keep your first cannabis grows simple and easy
Growing cannabis indoors is far easier than many people imagine. Every day, beginner growers start grows which end successfully with heavy harvests of THC rich buds. Growing your own cannabis is the cheapest way to ensure your supply. What’s more, if you grow the best cannabis seeds you may find quality levels are substantially higher than the local street weed. Lots of beginner cannabis growers get great results from their first grow and never look back. You could be one of them!