In Part 1, The Canna Dogg showed you exactly what kind of equipment to buy in order to start growing marijuana. Here, we’ll talk about the actual ins and out of how to grow cannabis for beginners. This part will cover the process from seed through to the end of the flowering stage.
If you haven’t yet read part 1, then click here to check it out. The Canna Dogg method is a bit different from most other growing guides, so you might want to check out part 1 to make sure you’re not missing anything.
How to Grow Cannabis?
Now, the Canna Dogg doesn’t want you leaving disappointed, so there are a few caveats.
First, there are no affiliate links in here. The Canna Dogg is not sponsored by, or affiliated with any brands mentioned in this guide.
Second, this guide is aimed at beginners. If you already know how to diagnose a pH imbalance by simply smelling the soil, or you’re an expert on the optimal NPK ratios throughout the plant’s life cycle, this guide is probably not for you.
Third, this guide only deals with indoor cultivation. If you’re wanting to grow outside, that’s really cool, and please send some pictures, but it won’t be covered in here.
Fourth, and final. This guide comes in two parts, aptly named Part 1 and Part 2. Right now, you’re looking at Part 2, which will cover how to buy a seed, how to germinate a cannabis seed, and then how to grow cannabis all the way through to the end of the flowering stage. Even if you think you know what you’ll need to buy, The Canna Dogg recommends that you still start with Part 1.
With that out of the way, let’s get started teaching you step-by-step how to grow cannabis,
Testing your equipment
Before anything else, you’ll want to test your equipment. Let everything run for 24 hours, and measure the temperature and humidity in your tent. If your temperature after 24 hours is not within 20-30C, then you’ll need to adjust your setup, and either increase airflow if it’s too warm, or decrease if it’s too cold. For the first stages of your grow, you can get away with humidity levels of up to 70%, but you’ll be wanting to keep humidity at around 40-50% for the later stages of your grow. If you’re seeing 70% humidity in an empty tent with everything running, then you’ll need better ventilation. So, before progressing, make sure that your tent is between 20-30C, and has a max humidity of 50%. The humidity will increase when you start watering your plant, so don’t worry if it’s much lower right now.
If there’s one thing that’s pretty fundamental for any grow, it’s high-quality marijuana seeds. The Canna Dogg won’t go over the various strains in too much detail here, but you can find the current list of recommended strains here!
When buying seeds, what you’re looking for is feminized seeds, and feminized seeds only. That’s because the majestic cannabis plant must be female for the purposes we’ll be using it for. Coincidentally, that’s also why you might hear growers refer to their plants as she/her. Now, The Canna Dogg is all for inclusivity, and thinks that your plant can identify as whatever gender it wants to, but for the purposes of growing that sweet sticky icky, you’re going to want to get a female plant. Sure, you can risk it, and buy normal seeds, but then you’ll have to deal with the uncertainty as well as actually looking for indicators of it being a male or female plant.
What to buy?
That’s too much work for The Canna Dogg, so get feminized seeds. It just cuts out a whole lot of work. For this, your first grow, you’ll want to get autoflower seeds. So you’ll be looking for feminized autoflower seeds. An autoflower plant is a plant that automatically goes into flowering-mode, instead of depending on you adjusting the light cycle of the plant manually. After you have a few grows done, you should try growing a normal plant as well, just to see and feel the difference. For now, though, we won’t concern ourselves with any of that, and will just get a couple of high quality feminized auto-flower seeds.
For your first grow, and while still learning how to grow cannabis, go with something like White Widow, which is a very robust strain and will survive a lot of rookie mistakes. The Canna Dogg recommends that you buy your seeds from within your own country. In most places, the seeds alone actually aren’t illegal, but might as well save the stress of importing them across a border, plus you’ll be supporting your local businesses! Almost all countries have seedbanks that sell seeds from trusted vendors. The Canna Dogg has a full guide on choosing the right strain, but do note that the article is filled with affiliate links! So if possible – buy local!
Congratulations on getting your seeds, and actually starting the grow! There are a ton of different ways to germinate seeds, which is just a fancy way of saying making the plant come out from the seeds. Now, when first learning how to grow cannabis, it might seem a bit daunting that you first have to germinate a seed – you probably haven’t tried that before. But don’t worry, you’ll be fine.
With that being said, you’ll want to be very careful when handling your germinating seeds. This is the phase where the plant is at its most vulnerable. We’ll skip the bulk of the theory, but essentially, you have two options.
- Dig out a little hole in your soil (about a fingernail deep), put the seed in there and water
- Germinate externally and transfer
The Canna Dogg likes the second method, as this means you can instantly see whether or not the seed is actually doing what it’s supposed to.
The paper-towel method
To do this, you’ll need two small plates, some toilet-paper, and water. Grab your toilet-paper, and fold it across one sheet, so that you have one piece of paper, that’s actually like 4 or 5 pieces folded together. Do this twice, so you end up having two separate sheets, that are fairly thick. Then, hold them under your tab, and make sure they’re nice and soggy. You don’t want them soaked to a point they’re dissolving, but they need to be pretty damn wet. You don’t need to pH adjust your water for this.
Then, place one of them on a plate, gently put a seed on top of it, cover the seed with the other wet paper, and cover it all with the other plate. That’ll give the seed a moist and dark environment to germinate in. You’ll want to keep the plates at room temperature, between around 22C to 30C (70f to 90f). Don’t stress too much about this, just don’t put it somewhere cold.
Check-in with your seed every 24 hours, and as soon as you see a white, root-like thing sprouting out from your seed, you’re good to go. This bad-boy is called the taproot and is your plant’s very first root. If the papers have dried out, then you’ll need to apply some more water. If it’s been 5 days, and you haven’t seen anything, then throw out the seed, and try the next one. This happens sometimes and isn’t your fault.
Mixing your soil
It’s time to prepare the soil. Hopefully, you’ve gotten hold of some of the slow-release fertilizer covered here in part 1, and some quality soil (with perlite) as well. You’ll want to mix the fertilizer and the soil according to the instructions on the packet, and you’ll want to make sure it’s properly mixed in. Take as long as you need, you don’t want to rush this part. Some people like grinding their fertilizer into a powder first, but don’t bother. The Canna Dogg has tried both methods, with the same results, so don’t make life harder than it needs to be.
Mixing in your fertilizer
The slow-release fertilizer covered in part 1 has a range of suggested amounts to mix in with your soil on the bag. This can be confusing, but don’t overthink or panic. Just go with mixing the middle point of the suggested range in with your soil, so if it says to mix 10-20g in per 100g of soil (it does not, numbers are made up to make the example clear and easy), then you’d mix in 15 grams per 100 grams of soil.
Once done, and you’re happy that you have an even distribution of soil, put the soil into your pot. There’s no wrong way of doing this.
How to pH adjust water?
This is not as hard as it sounds. You’ll need water, a container of sorts (The Canna Dogg normally uses a one-liter measuring cup), a pH-meter, pH+ and pH-, a pipette, and a spoon/stirring device. It is, however, essential. You’ll need to learn how to do this to learn how to grow cannabis, as a first-time grower.
Calibrating your pH-meter
If this is your first time, and you have an electronic pH-meter, you’ll need to calibrate your pH-meter first. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have a Blluelab pH-meter, just use the calibration liquids directly in the little satchels they come in, but just opening them, and placing the meter directly into the satchel.
After calibration, rinse the pH meter under the tap. Now, pour water into your container, and measure the pH. Your pH should be between 6-7. The Canna Dogg recommends that you aim for 6.5, but anything in the 6-7 range will do. Just note that if you’ll need to go over 6.2 every now and again, to ensure the plant gets enough calcium.
The science behind why the pH of your water is important is extremely interesting, but won’t be covered in detail here. You just need to know that the pH of the water needs to be around 6.5, as that allows for maximum nutrient uptake by the plant.
If your pH is too high, apply 1-3 drops of pH-, stir, and measure again. If it’s too low, apply 1-3 drops of pH+, stir, and measure again.
Once your water is the right pH, pour the water into your watering can, and you’re ready to water!
End by rinsing your pH-meter under the tap, and apply a few drops of pH-meter storage solution to the probe. You never want your meter to dry up, so always make sure it’s kept in the storage solution. If you have a Bluelab meter, just put one or two drops of storage solution into the little chamber in the cap of the pen. It’ll make sense once you see it.
Your pH meter will need to get re-calibrated around once a month, but will tell you when it needs to be. Don’t throw out the packaging your meter came with, before you make sure that you’ve read, and understood all the information on it first.
Grow Cannabis (Stage 1 – Planting)
Time for your first stage check! These are important to actually go through, before progressing. This is your checklist:
- A germinated seed.
- A prepared soil mix in a pot.
- Know how to pH-adjust water.
- A tent with temperatures between 20-30C.
- Start a grow-journal.
If you can tick all those, then you’re ready to proceed.
It might sound like overkill to keep a grow journal, but remember that you’re here to learn how to grow cannabis, and keeping a grow-journal makes it a lot easier! You grow-journal can just be a notebook, a Google doc, or something else entirely. You’ll need to write down dates, amount of water given, pH-level of water given, any adjustment made to the light cycle or in general, as well as any abnormalities observed. Trust The Canna Dogg here, it’ll make troubleshooting a breeze, if need be. And you know how much the Canna Dogg loves a nice breeze.
This is the first time you’ll really have an opportunity to screw up, so try to follow the instructions as well as you can. Don’t panic, it’s not hard, but it’s not quite the time to improvise just yet.
Putting the seed into your soil
If your seed is ready for the ground, then let’s get it in there! Grab a pen or a pencil, and use it to poke a hole in your ground about quarter of an inch (0,6cm) deep. Then GENTLY take your seed from your germination plate-chamber, and put it into the hole, with the taproot (the white thing) facing downwards. Cover it with soil, but don’t stamp the soil or anything, simply cover the hole back up.
Now, lightly water the soil, using pH-adjusted water. You’ll want the soil wet but not soaking. You only have to water pretty much on top of the seed, and in a small circle around it. No point in watering all the soil, as you right now know that your seed is right where you placed it. If the water washes away the soil and exposes the seed, don’t panic, just cover it again.
Watering your young plant
Don’t drown your tiny plant. Check back on it every day, and if the soil is dry to touch, then give it some water. You should not be watering more than max once a day. The actual amount of water won’t make the biggest difference, rather, the frequency of watering will. This is because you’re using nice and airy soil, and you have drainage holes in your pot. So always remember, that if you think you’re overwatering, start by cutting down on frequency, before cutting down on quantity. When you advance to growing in coco, you’ll actually be aiming for a lot of run-off water, so don’t ever panic if water comes out of your drainage holes. It’s literally why they’re there.
Start your lights and fans as soon as your seed is in the ground. You’ve already tested everything, so you know you’re good to go. Your light schedule for the first 2 weeks can be anywhere from 18 to 24 hours of light a day. Don’t go with any less than 18 hours of light per day, yet. Remember, you’re growing autoflowers because you don’t want to worry about the light schedule. So don’t worry!
Welcoming your new friend
Now, within a week, you should be seeing your plant. If it’s been more than 7 days from putting the seed into the ground and you still haven’t seen a plant, then you can start very gently digging down to see what the problem is. Most times, the plant will be on its way, but you might have buried it too deep. If you reach the seed, and it looks the same or worse than when you put it into the ground, then try only covering it with a tiny tiny bit of soil, just enough for the seed to not get any light, and give it a couple of days. If you still don’t see anything, then discard the plant, and try again. Don’t worry. It happens! You’ll still learn how to grow cannabis, you’ll just have to get back on the horse, and try again!
Grow Cannabis (Stage 2 – Vegetative)
Time to do a stage check, and make sure that you’re where you want to be. Checklist:
- A tiny plant.
- Temperatures between 20-30C.
- Humidity levels between 0 – 70%.
- Write down the date in your grow-journal, and mark it as the start of stage 2.
For the next two weeks, you only need to make sure that your plant is watered, lights are on, and that the temperature is correct. Remember. This is the Canna Dogg way. It’s easy. So don’t worry too much! You’re still learning how to grow cannabis, so don’t give in to the temptation and start making it more complicated than it has to be.
Let your soil dry out
You should allow your soil to dry out between waterings. That means that you should not be watering the plant, unless the soil is dry down to about the first knuckle, if you put your finger in the soil. If it’s not dry, then don’t water. Ideally, this should happen around every other day. If your soil is dry down to the first knuckle after one day, then you’re not giving enough quantity of water. If the soil is still wet after 3 days, you’re giving too much quantity of water. To begin with, at least; this changes over the course of the plant’s lifecycle.
This is really the time to get a baseline quantity of water figured out, relative to your pot size. So experiment away with the quantity of water you’re giving, but see if you can aim for dry soil every other day or so. When watering, make sure to water everywhere, and not just at the base of the plant.
- Monday – Water the plant.
- Tuesday- Do not water.
- Wednesday – Soil should be dry down to a knuckle. Water the plant.
The basics here are that as long as your plant gets at least one full day of no water, you should be fine. It’s much easier to over-water, than it is to under-water, especially when first learning how to grow cannabis. Experiment to find your best way of doing it. Keep in mind, that as your plant grows, it will absorb more water, meaning that your quantity of water should be adjusted along the way. This is why you’ll need to figure out your baseline quantity here, as that’ll make it much easier for you to adjust the amount of water up as the plant grows.
This section seems to be causing some confusion, judging from some posts over in The Canna Dogg subreddit, so just to briefly summarize the most important parts of watering:
– Your medium must be easy for water to trickle through. It’ll save you a lot of headaches. This is covered over in Part 1.
– You must water your plant as needed. It’s really difficult to come up with the ultimate watering schedule, as your pot-size, age of the plant, and medium all play a role. As long as you let the soil dry out before watering it again, you’ll be fine. Dry means that it’s dry down to about a knuckle’s depth – or the pot feels light.
Your lights should be on for a minimum of 18 hours every day, with no upper maximum.
Essential tips for growing cannabis:
- It’s fine to check on the plant a million times a day. It’s only natural to be curious.
- Make sure to turn off the LED lights before opening the tent, or wear your safety goggles.
- Every time the tent is open, you’ve got the fans going full speed, and ideally an open container of ONA gel handy. The plant won’t smell yet, but you’ll need to get into good habits already.
- Every time the tent is open, your curtains are down.
- Check your pH levels every time. The Canna Dogg method for growing weed is so simple, but it requires correct pH-levels. Don’t become complacent, and measure the pH every time!
- Don’t drown the plant. Aim for watering every two to three days. Experiment with water quantity, so that your soil is dry down to a knuckle on the day you’ll be watering them.
Grow Cannabis (Stage 3 – Flowering)
Time for the checklist:
- A small plant.
- Temperatures between 20-26 (30 max)C.
- Humidity between 40-60%.
- Lights on for 18-20 hours.
- The current date is 14 days after the date you wrote down in your Stage 2 checklist.
Now things are starting to get interesting.
As you’re entering the flowering stage, your plant will begin to smell, and produce buds. You’ll need to keep adjusting the quantity of water, so that you’re still aiming to water the plant approximately every three days. If you’re using slow-release fertilizer, around weeks 7-9 from the date you wrote down in your Stage 2 checklist, it’s fairly normal to experience some yellow leaves. This is because your plant at this stage really craves nitrogen. If you’re seeing yellowing of the leaves, you simply add a little bit of your fertilizer to the top of the soil once, and water as usual. This will add the extra nitrogen needed. If you want to get more specific than “a little bit”, you can check out The Canna Dogg’s guide to nutrients here, which teaches you what nutrients apart from slow-release fertilizer you can buy, and how much to feed your plants.
Temperature & Humidity
Your humidity should now be a maximum of 60% (measured before watering the plant), and your temperatures should be slightly lower. Your plant is still fine up to 30C, but if you lower to around 26C max, your yield will be a bit better.
As your plant is an autoflower, you won’t actually need to adjust much. But still, your plant needs to rest every now and again, so turn down the lights to a maximum of 20 hours light a day. You soil is still rich with nutrients, so don’t stress about adding more.
The tips from stage 2 still apply, but you’ll need to start getting serious about eliminating smells. The smell will only get more and more pungent, so if you’re already having problems with smells, then invest in some ONA gel, or a more powerful fan/carbon filter. Remember, no tell, smell, or sell!
Troubleshooting & Harvesting
There are a couple of things that can go wrong, in the course of a grow. Luckily, you have your grow-journal, so it’ll be fairly easy to figure out what, why, and when things went wrong, and how to fix the problem.
Troubleshooting is a rather large topic though, so Dr. Canna Dogg has created a tool, that can diagnose your plant for you. Remember, no one is perfect, and you’re still learning how to grow cannabis, so no need to panic or do anything rash!
You can find Dr. Canna Dogg’s Cannabis Problem Fixer here.
Getting ready for harvest
Congratulations. You’re well on your way to learning how to grow cannabis. That’s amazing! The Canna Dogg always believed in you. You’re the best!!
Now it’s time for a bit of work though. Harvesting cannabis is a completely separate topic from how to grow cannabis, though, and The Canna Dogg will be posting a separate article on how to harvest your cannabis plant soon! Meanwhile, to learn WHEN to harvest your plant, click here.
Make sure to also join our super friendly subreddit where you can ask all the questions you want!