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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Stern

How to Grow Weed - The Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Cultivation

Updated: Feb 26

Growing weed in your own home is legal in 21 states and counting. As the legalization movement progresses, marijuana cultivation is becoming more socially acceptable every day. In addition, people are beginning to realize that growing weed can be a legitimate source of extra income.


Some people who read this article may reside in states or countries where growing weed remains illegal. If you're unsure whether or not you live in a state where it is legal to grow weed, please visit the Marijuana Policy Project to find out or consult the map below.

Legal for recreational use

Legal for medical use


"D" = Decriminalized

That being said, this article does not encourage anyone to break the law. We ask that all of our readers abide by their local laws, including marijuana laws, and we provide the following information for entertainment purposes only.

Table of Contents

Basic Marijuana Horticulture

The Five Pillars of Growing Weed

How to Start Growing Weed

Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis

Methods for Growing Weed

Clones vs. Seeds

Basic Equipment for Growing Weed

Hydroponic Gardening


How to Sell Your Weed Legally


Basic Marijuana Horticulture

Any who tells you that it's easy to grow weed has likely never done it. Weed growing requires patience, hard work, financial management, and the ability to solve problems proactively.

It's not rocket science, but there is still quite a bit of information to digest.

Let's start by defining a few basic terms:

It all starts with the cannabis plant.

If you had a handful of natural cannabis seeds, scattered them into the ground, and allowed them to grow freely, the male plants would pollinate the female plants, and the resulting crop would be industrial hemp.

Industrial hemp is renowned for being a strong and versatile natural fiber that can be woven into rope, cloth, etc...

Industrial hemp growing naturally
Industrial hemp growing naturally

Although industrial hemp does contain trace amounts of THC, (the psychoactive organic chemical compound for which marijuana is famous), there's not enough THC in industrial hemp to get you "high."

Instead, industrial hemp produces flowers full of seeds, thus ensuring the plant species survival.

However, if you were to isolate that same group of cannabis plants and remove the male plants, the female plants wouldn't be able to receive pollen.

Female cannabis plants growing in isolation
Female cannabis plants growing in isolation

This scenario triggers an 'evolutionary panic' within the female cannabis plants, which begin producing large, colorful, smelly, resinous flowers to attract insects carrying pollen so they can produce seeds and live another year.

Alas, the pollen never comes.

When these flowers have reached the peak of resin production, they are harvested, dried, and trimmed of the leaves so that only the resin-laden bud of the flower remains.

These "buds" are then dried, cured, and enjoyed; and are colloquially referred to as marijuana.

"Marijuana" is the unpollinated flower of the female cannabis plant
"Marijuana" is the unpollinated flower of the female cannabis plant

To recap:

  • Cannabis - The plant from which both industrial hemp and marijuana are derived

  • Industrial Hemp - The result of allowing cannabis plants to self-pollenate and grow freely

  • Marijuana - The dried & trimmed flowers of unpollinated female cannabis plants.

  • Weed - A slang term for 'Marijuana' and used interchangeably

Now let's examine the five most basic needs of the cannabis plant.

The Five Pillars of Growing Weed

Weed growers will often describe the cannabis plant as a wooden barrel, with each stave representing a different requirement for growth.

Each requirement for marijuana growth is as important as staves are to a barrel

The barrel can only hold water if all the staves run the entire length of the barrel. If one stave were missing or was shorter than the others, it would single-handedly limit the amount of water the barrel would only be able to hold.

Weed is similar because your plant is only as healthy as its most lacking requirement for growth.

Each has a role to play, and they are all indispensable. Let's look at them one at a time.


Plants use light energy to rearrange the molecules in water and carbon dioxide to make glucose, which plants then use to perform a wide variety of metabolic functions. This process is called photosynthesis, and it doesn't work without light.

Light can be measured in two different ways - quantity and energy.

The quantity of light your plants receive is determined by the brightness of your lights, which is measured in lumens or Lux (1 Lux = 0.093 Lumens.)

A lumen is equivalent to the light that one candle casts into one square foot of space.

The closer your plants are to their light source, the more lumens or Lux they receive.

Cannabis requires a minimum of around 600 Lux, which can easily be achieved using fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs (2900 lumens).

There's no upper limit to the amount of light cannabis can receive. Cannabis plants thrive in natural sunlight, which can be as bright as 100,000 Lux, depending on your geographical location.

Most weed growers use 1000-watt High-Pressure Sodium bulbs to provide their plants with as much light as technology will allow. However, even these colossal light bulbs will only emit around 10,000 to 13,000 Lux.

This disparity puts greenhouse growers at a distinct advantage over indoor growers.

The other way to measure light is energy, which we measure in watts per square meter.

Energy describes the light's ability to do work (i.e., drive photosynthesis) and depends mainly on color, which is a function of wavelength, measured in nanometers (nm).

The longer the wavelength, the more energy the light contains.

Depending on the light color, different amounts of energy are required to produce the same amount of lumens.

Light color is measured in degrees Kelvin (k).

Red and blue wavelengths (4400k - 7200k) are optimal for marijuana growing.