3 Steps from Beginner to Legendary Grower

If you’re just getting started on your weed growing journey, it can feel totally overwhelming. Where do you start? There’s so much to know, so what should you focus on first?

What should a beginner focus on for great results on their first grow?

If you read this article and follow the 3 steps, you’ll produce exceptional weed even if you make mistakes

Today I’ll break down the 3 things you need to understand in order to become a legendary grower. If you understand these 3 aspects of growing, you will get good results. Yes, even if you make tons of mistakes!

Growing cannabis doesn’t have to be as hard as people make it out to be. You just need to know the following 3 things and you’ll be able to grow exceptional weed and get the yields you want.

  1. Understand the cannabis life cycle
  2. Use the right equipment
  3. Start with quality genetics

Get ready to become a legendary grower!

1.) Understand the basics of a cannabis plant’s life cycle

A solid understanding of a cannabis plant’s life cycle will make everything a million times easier for you!

Seed Germination – Seeds germinate into seedlings.

Tips:

Vegetative Stage – Plants grow only leaves and stems at first. Since all growth is vegetative, this is known as the vegetative stage. On average, plants gain half their final size in this stage.

Tips:

  • Pay attention to environment – comfortable for you, comfortable for your plants
  • Watering habits – learn how to water perfectly, pay attention if you notice drooping
  • Nutrients – give all-purpose or “grow” nutrients. In soil, wait 4 weeks before giving nutrients. However, in coco or hydro, give nutrients from the beginning. An example of a vegetative nutrient that works great for cannabis plants in any grow medium is Dyna-Gro Grow.
  • Plant training (optional) – Helps increase yields but not necessary for success. Skip this if you feel overwhelmed! Learn about plant training.
  • Move on to the next stage when plants reach about half the final desired size (as they will about double in size in the flowering stage).

Flowering Stage – Initiate the flowering stage by giving plants a 12/12 light schedule (except auto-flowering strains, which start flowering on their own after 3-4 weeks). Once plants get a 12/12 light schedule, they start growing flowers/buds. Plants about double in size after getting 12/12 on average, though the amount of “stretch” depends greatly on the strain. Once buds form, the time until harvest is determined by the strain.

Tips:

  • Initiate a 12/12 light schedule when plants are about half the final desired size
  • Pay attention to environment (especially make sure it’s not hot or humid)
  • Watering (about the same as before)
  • Nutrients (switch to flowering or “Bloom” nutrients (example Dyna-Gro Bloom)
  • Plant training (optional) – idea is to keep plants flat like a table as opposed to Christmas tree shape, the purpose is to increase yields
  • Problem resolution – many growers notice leaf symptoms in the flowering stage because plants are much pickier than in the vegetative stage. Don’t panic but don’t ignore problems either. Check the plant doctor for help diagnosing the cause.

Plants are a bit more picky about environment and nutrients in the flowering stage, but they’ll reward you if you follow the above tips!

Harvest – Harvest buds when they’re mature, dry them, then jar them for storage and curing.

Tips:

  • Pick the right time to harvest. Here’s what to look for.
  • Proper drying is crucial (drying makes a huge difference to final bud quality)
  • Cure the buds! Store dried buds in jars and burp occasionally. Bud quality improves for weeks.

Harvest buds when they’re ready!

Time for a quick review!

This infographic shows the whole life cycle with a timeline of what to expect

2.) Get good equipment

  • Environment – Your setup should make it easy to maintain comfortable temperature and humidity (grow tent with fan pointing out works really well!). You can hang a grow light from inside a closet and use a fan to help blow air around, just know that you may have trouble controlling the environment than if you get proper equipment.
  • Grow light – For beginners I recommend a 400W MH/HPS (if it’s cool in your grow space, for example during the winter) or an  LED grow light like HLG 300 or ES300 (if it’s warm in your grow space). These lights are easy to use yet produce excellent yields and bud quality.
  • Grow medium – Examples are rich fluffy potting soils (Coco Loco, Ocean Forest, Roots Organics, etc.), coco/perlite potting mix (Mother Earth Coco plus Perlite mix is what I use and it’s great), hydroponic setup. If you’re not sure, you can’t go wrong with simple old soil! Learn more about grow mediums.
  • NutrientsNutrients are necessary for the best yields unless in a super soil setup (which slowly releases organic nutrients over time throughout the plant’s life). Use an all-purpose/grow nutrient formula for the vegetative stage, and flowering/bloom nutrients for the flowering stage. With soil, you should start giving nutrients about 4 weeks after plants have been in the same pot. With coco or hydro, give nutrients from germination or the plants won’t grow (coco and hydro don’t naturally contain nutrients, so the plant only gets what you give in the water).

See examples setups that work well for growing cannabis.

Get a setup that fits your goals and budget

When you have multiple grow tents at once, it allows you to easily create multiple separate grow spaces

3.) Start with good genetics

I highly recommend beginners starting with feminized seeds from a trustworthy breeder. Feminized seeds mean every plant will produce female plants, unlike regular seeds which produce half male plants. Since male plants don’t produce buds, starting with feminized seeds means you can feel confident that every seed you germinate will produce buds.

Closeup of a handful of cannabis seeds sitting on a table. You can see all the different ways seeds can look. Did you know the dark striped coating on the outside of many shells is actually a skin that can be rubbed off? Underneath seeds are actually kind of pale!

Ideas for genetics:

  • Highest THC –  Check the list of American strains and seed banks. I’ve found that American strains tend to have the highest THC levels, though not always.
  • Therapeutic use – High CBD, low THC, symptom-specific strains. Use the filters on this feminized seed selector tool to help find what you’re looking for.
  • Biggest yields – Choose a high-yielding strain. Here’s a list of high-yielding, feminized strains on Seedsman.com. I set the filter on that link so the highest-rated strains appear at the top.
  • Easiest to Grow – Stick to established strains that have been stabilized to produce consistent results. Avoid “crosses” (usually with a name like STRAIN x STRAIN). Crosses result in a variety of different types of plants. Crosses are great for breeders looking for the next big strain, but not necessarily the best choice for someone who just wants to grow weed and know what to expect.
  • Low time commitmentAutoflowering strains mean fewer steps to get plants to make buds, plus you’ll get to harvest quicker than with other strains.
  • Bag seed? I’ve seen growers get good results with bag seed (seeds they find). if that’s all you have, that’s what you have to use. Just know that the results can turn out extremely different from the weed it came from (makes you appreciate breeders) and you’ll have no idea what to expect as far as growth patterns or how long it will take before it’s ready to harvest. If you can afford even a few cheap seeds, you’ll be a lot more prepared! I highly recommend Seedsman strains if you’re looking for something inexpensive but generally dependable.

Learn how to find the right strain.

I recently grew these two Purple Critical Kush plants and was beyond pleased by the yields, ease of growth, and potency! I highly recommend the strain if you’re not sure what to get. The buds didn’t turn purple (they only turn purple some of the time with this strain), but who cares when the buds come out this good 🙂

Closeup of a Purple Critical Kush bud (click picture for full-size version). Although the buds look pretty typical, don’t let that fool you. The yields, smoothness, smell, and effects are outstanding!

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