How Can a First-Time Grower Have a Successful Seed-to-Harvest Grow?

by Nebula Haze

“Growing our plants has some things in common with flying an airplane. I can go over every fine detail of how to fly the plane. I can tell you exactly what to do when this happens and that happens. I can educate you on every detail of becoming a pilot. That does not mean that you can now fly the plane without crashing. You need experience before you will have a smooth flight form takeoff to landing.That being said, what does a first time grower need, in order to have the best chance for a seed to harvest successful grow?”


Many young, happy and green cannabis plants

The most important elements of a successful grow are…

  • Strong, direct light (whether it’s from the sun or a grow light) – this directly powers the growth of buds. With weak light you’ll have small yields and airy buds that lack potency
  • Good root environment (air and water) – At it’s most basic, the roots need constant access to both air and water for the best results. There’s different ways to provide this environment. You can even grow with your roots hanging in the air with water being misted on them! (here’s a picture). You can use soil or coco coir, or even grow your roots directly in water (with bubbles being made in the water to provide a source of oxygen). When it comes to picking a grow medium for cannabis, if you want the fastest growth you want to choose something that maximizes the water and air to your roots. That’s why growers add things like perlite to their soil/coco, to make air pockets in the soil, or why they grow in fabric pots (lets air in from the sides). The less air the roots get, the slower the plant tends to grow. So when you have plants growing in relatively thick soil like pure composted soil without any perlite, the plants tend to grow slower than they would in an airy soil mix or hydro. That’s always why plants that are overwatered/droopy grow slower – the plant isn’t getting oxygen at the roots.
  • Comfortable Temperature – Plants can’t stand freezing or incredibly hot temperatures (though some strains are bred for cold climates, while some from hot regions can handle the heat)
  • Nutrients – If you’re growing in heavily amended soil, you may not need to add nutrients since they’ll be there in the soil. However, once a plant is in a pot for a while, it uses up a lot of the nutrients. Generally, if you’re growing your plant in a container and you’re not going to add extra nutrients, it’s recommended to transplant your plants to fresh soil periodically during its life, and especially right before flowering, to make sure your plant is getting what it needs. However, for the fastest growth, you can give nutrients to your plants directly in the water. This gives it the right ratios in the most easily absorbable form, so you don’t have to worry about running out. You don’t even need supplements to get really high-quality bud. Base nutrients are all you need to get to harvest with amazing results. The main thing about nutrients is your plants need lots of Nitrogen (N) in the vegetative stage (any all-purpose plant nutrients will do the trick) and then it needs high levels of Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) in the flowering stage (Flowering Nutrients, Cactus Nutrients or Bloom Boosters provide lots of P and K).
  • Seeds (or Clones) – Obviously you need a cannabis plant

When it comes down to it, that’s all you really need to grow successfully. If you get an auto-flowering strain you don’t even need a timer or to worry about light schedules. Just plant the seed and wait until harvest.

I personally feel like growing in something like coco coir under a small HID light like a 250W MH/HPS or 315 LEC is one of the best ways to ensure good results the first grow if you’re just looking to grow 4-7 ounces.

Cannabis plant growing in coco coir

The reason is that those lights are incredibly efficient and easy to understand how to use. With fluorescents like CFLs and T5s, the yields are relatively low for the electricity used, and with LEDs it can be really tough to get the light distance “dialed in.” It just adds a lot of variables that make it easy to burn your plants. I like how with the small HID lights you just keep the light about a foot away from the tops of your plants and forget about it, yet you still get those really dense and potent HID buds because of the light intensity. The small HID lights also don’t put out a whole lot of heat, so you don’t usually need to worry about an exhaust system unless you’re growing in a very small space without ventilation. A 250W HPS puts out about the same total amount of total heat as an LED that pulls 250W of electricity out of the wall.

Coco coir offers a great root environment with beautiful water-holding and drainage ability, so you get above average vegetative growth rates. Any hydro or coco nutrients made for cannabis will do a great job. Growing with coco coir will also teach you about pH and overall get you really familiar with the cannabis plant’s nutrient needs. By the end of a coco coir and small HID grow, you’ll have learned 80% of what you need to know about growing in either soil or hydro if you choose to do that down the road. You’ll also have a good base knowledge if you wanted to move onto bigger grows!

So what does a grower need? A grower needs to make a good environment for their plants with decent temperatures, bright light, and happy roots. Even if you don’t do anything else, you’ll be able to make it to harvest with really high-quality bud by doing just those things.

The last incredibly important thing is to always dry your buds slowly and cure them after harvest! A lot of growers skip those steps, but they are necessary to get buds with the best smell, smoothness and potency. If you just smoke buds directly off the plant it will taste horrible, give you a headache, hurt your throat and possibly not even really be potent! The dry/cure will dramatically increase the overall quality and appearance of your buds!

While we’re here…

What’s the secret to growing rock-hard nugs of weed?

Three things 🙂

  • Light – and a lot of it! This may be the most important part. Your buds need direct exposure to bright light or they won’t grow. However, on the flip side, too much light will burn your buds so more is better, but only up to a point!
  • Strain – choose a high-yielding, dense strain. Some strains, like many Sativas and Hazes, will never grow dense buds no matter what you do! Trying to get dense buds with the wrong strain can be a lesson in futility.
  • Dry/Cure – Buds tighten up during the dry/cure process (plus it makes them smell better, smoke better and feel more potent!)

It will also help improve density if you trained the plant in the vegetative stage to grow just a few big buds at the top, as opposed to many smaller ones located throughout the plant.

Learn More About Increasing Density

Other than that, I think the main focus is keeping plants healthy and keeping the temperature down in the flowering stage (very high temps can cause loose buds and burn away potency/smell). Give plenty of light but avoid light burn. Not really related to adding density, but if you have dense buds you NEED to make sure you keep the humidity under 50% RH to prevent the chance of bud rot.

Learn More About Improving Overall Bud Quality


More Beginner Grow Guides


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