Whether you are launching a grow operation to capitalize on new laws in your state or just potted your first pot plant at home, beginner cannabis growers absolutely can find success. Cannabis is a relatively forgiving plant that can handle a range of care and still produce some glorious buds worthy of harvest. In some environments, you might not have to do much of anything to see a good yield from your weed crop in a matter of weeks.
However, just because cannabis might forgive your mistakes doesn’t mean you should try to make them. Here are some beginner cultivation blunders you should strive to avoid, so your cannabis crops produce perfectly potent yields come harvest time:
Not all cannabis plants are the same. Not only do different strains of cannabis produce different effects in consumption, but different strains also have different cultivation needs. For example, while most cannabis crops prefer dry air and well-draining soil, plenty of sativa-dominant landrace strains thrive in high humidity, and trying to cultivate them in an arid climate won’t yield positive results. It is important to research the needs of a particular strain before investing in seeds or clones, so you can be certain that you can deliver the right conditions for optimal growth. You might talk to a knowledgeable budtender at a Massachusetts dispensary to better understand the genetics of certain strains.
Cannabis plants aren’t particularly delicate crops, but they do require growers to add nutrients to the soil. However, fertilizing should be done with extreme caution, as too many nutrients can burn the plant’s roots. Nute burn, as the affliction is often referred to in cultivation circles, might not kill your crop outright, but it will cause significant damage that could set back your growth and reduce your harvest. The key to avoiding overfeeding is to add fertilizer slowly, at about half the rate recommended with your nutrient system. Then, if your cannabis plants start looking pale, you can increase your fertilization incrementally.
In addition to fertilizer, you might need to introduce other soil additives to your cannabis containers if the pH balance of your water and soil aren’t ideal. The pH scale measures acidity; some crops prefer more acidic environments, which have pH levels lower than seven, while other crops prefer more basic environments, which are between seven and 14. Cannabis can’t absorb nutrients optimally unless its soil is close to neutral pH — between six and seven. You can alter the soil’s pH by using filters on your water, and you should test your soil and water routinely to ensure you are reaching the right pH.
As mentioned above, most cannabis plants prefer a dry environment to one saturated with water. However, newbie growers — nervous about dehydrating their crop — tend to overwater, which is bad for several reasons:
- Too much water in the soil prevents the roots from absorbing oxygen
- Water that remains in the soil can cause roots to rot
- Excess moisture can attract pests, especially mold
Unless you are growing a particularly thirsty strain, you only need to water your cannabis plant when the soil is dry up to your first knuckle — about once every two days. You should offer about 25 percent of the container capacity in water, and your container should have holes for drainage to allow excess water to run away.
Cannabis plants like plenty of sunlight, but because most states require growers to keep their pot plants indoors, beginner cultivators sometimes succumb to a lack of sufficient illumination. Unfortunately, light is the most important nutrient for your crop; it is what determines growth rate and flower yield, so providing enough light is crucial to success. If you are growing during a darker season, like fall or winter, or if you don’t have a big window that receives at least eight hours of sunlight per day, you must invest in a UV grow light to shine on your cannabis crop.
Most states permit cannabis cultivation if you can keep your cannabis crop out of public view and in an area with restricted access. Technically, this could mean a gated yard with a tall fence, but you would be wise to invest in a little more security for your pot garden. Because cannabis isn’t available to everyone everywhere, cannabis plants tend to get raided by those desperate for some bud. Generally, it is a good idea to keep your crops indoors, where passers-by will be less tempted to pilfer leaves and flowers, or at least inside a locked greenhouse.
Growing cannabis isn’t rocket science, but it does require some basic botany. Fortunately, you can learn more about your cannabis plants as you grow them, so it doesn’t hurt to be a true beginner.