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Growing Marijuana Indoors: An Overview

This how-to guide will teach you about each step in the process of growing your first marijuana plant indoors. From seeds and nutrients to lighting and hydroponic systems, this guide is a basic overview for the novice indoor marijuana grower.


For your first grow operation I recommend you seeds that are easy to obtain, such as those found in your own bud. Once you get some experience growing you may want to consider buying cannabis seeds. There are many types of marijuana seeds out there and many different strains. There are feminized seeds which yield only female plants, and there are low-rider dwarf plants that flower automatically. There are many varieties of Sativa, Indica, and hybrid (containing genetics from both Indica and Sativa strains). Sativa and sativa-dominant strains tend to give the user more of a "head high" as opposed to a "body high"; whereas Indica-dominant strains tend to give you that couch-lock stoney high. Step 2 - Growing Method

There are many methods of growing cannabis but we will only talk using soil here, as this is a beginners tutorial. Hydroponic growing will be a topic of a future tutorial.

Growing in soil is also the method suggested by the Cannabis Chef when the marijuana will be used in foods. Soil will provide the most natural flavor for cannabis and is best for cooking.

Germinate Seeds

It is extremely helpful to germinate the seeds before starting an indoor soil grow operation. To germinate the seeds, simply place them in a folded dampened paper towel and leave over night. Check the seeds, if the sprout has begun to break through the husk of the seed then it is ready. If not, re-dampen the paper towel and continue this process until the seed germinates. If the sprout does not break through within five or so days, it is most likely a dud. Toss, and start again.

Prepare the Space

You will need a space to grow your plants. Where ever you chose to grow, make sure you prepare the space properly. I suggest lining the floor with trash bags or plastic drop sheets to prevent water damage. It is also a good idea to line or paint the walls with a white material. This will help reflect light back at the plants. If this is not an option you may use aluminum foil. Make sure the dull side of the foil is facing outwards towards the plants. Aluminum foil is not a great choice however it is better than nothing.

Choose and Install a Light

The Cannabis Chef suggests staying away from florescent light bulbs, but if you must always use a CFL (compact florescent light) and at least 100 watts for one plant. Your plant will most likely grow, however you will also likely be disappointed in your crops. We suggest using between 250-400 Watt HPS (High Pressure sodium) or HID MH (high-intensity discharge metal halide) lights. You will want to mount the lights in a way that allows you to move them up as the plant grows. For safety we suggest using a reflector on the light, and a fan in the space you are using. Not only will the fan prevent it from getting to warm in the space it will also help to circulate oxygen to the plants.

Setting up the Plants

For each plant you are growing you will need one 3-5 gallon bucket. You can find these at Home Depot or almost any department store. You could also find a great deal at amazon.com. Make sure you poke about 5 small holes in the bottom of the bucket to allow excess water to drain. You may use the lid of the bucket as a water catcher by placing it underneath the bucket.

Next, fill each bucket with soil, leaving about 4 inches at the top. We suggest using organic potting soil. Test the soils PH using a PH Meter. The soil should be somewhere between 6.0 and 7.0. Remember adding nutrients will increase the acidity of the soil. There are PH balancing kits available to help achieve the perfect balance. This is important for a healthy plant.

Using your finger, push a small whole about quarter to a half inch deep into the soil in the center of the bucket. Know place the seed or clone in and cover with soil. The soil should be packed firmly but not so dense that the sprout will not be able to push through.

The Light Routine

We recommend using 16 hours of light and 8 hours of dark for the first two weeks. After the first two weeks you may increase the amount of light by one hour each day until you are using between 18 and 24 hours of light in a 24 hour period. After the plants reach desired height (probably around 12" depending on the strain) you may decrease the lighting to just 12 hours on and 12 hours off. This will trigger the flowering cycle of the plant. This is the time the buds will begin to form. This is also the time where you must remove any male plants. Male plants can be detected by their pollen sacs. These are small pod-like plant structures which will fertilize the female plants (causing seeds and less potency!). So be sure to remove the males as soon as can spot them.

The Nutrient Routine

For the first two weeks after germination we suggest using only water to feed the plants. For the next two weeks slowly increase the nutrient solution to the suggested amount. This will help prevent against "burning" or "shocking" the plants. During the vegetative stage we suggest using N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio of about 30-15-15. For the flowering stage use a 15-30-30 ratio. This is only what we recommend, and every strain will do better using a different regiment. If you bought your seeds from a legitimate source it may come with documentation with a N-P-K suggestion.


Harvesting is a huge topic that involves many things including drying, curing, trimming and more. Here we will only get into knowing when to harvest. Look forward to future material about the harvesting process. You will want to harvest the cannabis plants when the trichomes (small hair-like glands found on the marijuana buds) are an amber color. Use a magnifying glass to examine the buds. When around 90% of the trichomes are amber in color, it is time to harvest!

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