The first question you should be asking is: Why do I want to grow?
The spirit of Cannabis is known for being very arrogant. Just looking at the plant you see an air of self-confidence as it stands praising the Sun.
You have to ask this question because you have to know why YOU are growing or at least wanting to grow. Are you growing medicine, growing for your personal smoke or are you growing for cash?
Answering these questions before you start growing will save you time and money, but most importantly, the Plant will give you what you need, and trust me, if you see Dollar signs all over the show, then that is exactly what the plant won’t give you, but if you need medicine this plant will produce a beautiful personalized medicine, made for you if grown by you. The right intent goes a long way.
So once you are ready to start your growing journey you will need the following for a start:
A Seed, some good soil, water, the Sun and some love. Those 5 things are the minimum requirements that will enable your plant to grow. Remember, it is in the Cannabis plant’s interest to grow. To grow vigorously that is and to grow it as vigorously as humanly possible, you need to get sciency…
The Seven Key Stages Of The Cannabis Plant Life Cycle
Growing Cannabis is easy. Growing good cannabis can be a lot more challenging.This will serve as a very very basic guide for the novice grower. For more information checkout the YouTube links that we have selected to post.
We’ll briefly discuss the importance of labeling the sex of your seeds along with the difference between the male and female plants. We’ll also show you why you need to isolate the female plants if you want to produce bud for smoking. After that, we’ll guide you through the entire growth process of the plant—from germination to seedling; through vegetation, pre-flowering, and flowering; to harvesting and the next seed life-cycle stages of your pot plant. So strap yourself in for a wild ride through the basic biology of your favorite weed. It’s sure to be an enjoyable trip. We’ll start our journey where all good journeys begin: at the origin, the source, the seed.
Starting with seed
Pick up any seed and examine it closely. Turn it over and around. Feel the weight. Notice the shape and the color. Now tell me if that seed is going to produce a male cannabis plant or a female plant.
Can’t do it, can you? Don’t feel bad. No one can.
This introduces a major problem into the world of do-it-yourself ganja growing: how can you be sure the seeds you plant will produce the cannabis you want? This is an important question because only the female plant produces the trichome rich cola buds that you can harvest to smoke, eat or make medicine from. The male plant produces none of that. In fact, the male plant can actually be a detriment to your cannabis harvest if grown together with female plants…depending on your needs. This is because the male plant’s sole purpose is to pollinate the female plant. While that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, it actually is. When female cannabis plants are pollinated, they start using their energy to produce seeds and stop using their energy to feed the buds that we all know and love. Allowing a male plant to grow alongside a female plant is a recipe for reduced bud harvest and can ruin the euphoric properties of the female cannabis plant’s high-inducing “fruit.” Be sure you separate all male and female plants right away. This growing method is called Sensimelia or “seedless” in english. This is what most people aim for. In order for you to ensure that you are growing a female seed you will have to purchase a feminized seed from a reputable seed producer. These “female” seeds are produced by chemically inducing a female plant into hermaphrodism. The feminized seeds will essentially be a hermaphrodite, not 100% female. So excess unwanted stress on the plant during the grow may turn that female seed into a male. But as long as your growing conditions are good, your seed should be good.
The traditional African way of planting is not sensimelia. Many cultures around the world do not separate the males and females. They grow their landrace strains all mixed up. The initial disadvantage is that the crop will be seeded. Usually the trees are grown very close to each other. Very similar to growing the way Hemp is grown. There are two advantages of growing in this way. Firstly your plants will cross pollinate and give you A LOT of seed. The seeds will be regular seeds, in that they will be a mix of male and female. They will however have learnt more about their growing environment of the past 9 months. The new generation of seed that you produced will be more resistant to pests and mold and it will remember the hardships it had to go through during its growing season. The new baby seeds will be better adapted to what the new growing season will bring. Yes the Cannabinoid content of the seeded crop will differ from a sensimelia crop, but that doesn’t mean its a bad thing. Some of the best medicine have been grown in this rogue fashion.
The Seedling Stage
During the seedling stage, two embryonic leaves will open outward from the stem to receive the sunlight that the baby plant needs to completely break out of its underground seed casing. The embryonic leaves will look nothing like the cannabis leaves that you’re used to. But the next pair of leaves to grow from the baby plant will be the first to have the classic rounded points that makes the cannabis leaf stand out from all the rest. The cannabis leaf is so recognizable that many people in the cannabis community use it as a symbol to represent their lifestyle. The image below shows the contrast between the two sets of leaves.
All in all, the seedling will grow between 4 and 8 leaves during this stage of its development. The seedling phase can last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks depending on the soil, the amount of water the seed receives, the environment, the quality of the sunlight, and a whole host of other variables. This is the most difficult stage to get through for the home grower.
During the vegetation phase, the stem will grow thicker and taller and will begin to develop new nodes. These nodes will produce yet more leaves and even new branches.
Because it is growing and producing leaves and branches, your plant will need plenty of fresh warm water along with flowing, dry air, lots of nitrogen rich organic nutrients such as liquid fish or seaweed, and as much soil space as possible. All of this together allows your cannabis plant to grow from a 15cm baby plant into a meter or more tree within the span of three to six weeks.
The plant’s growth largely depends upon the rate at which its leaves can gather in sunlight and transform it to chemical energy (photosynthesis). This fact explains why the vegetative plant will need long hours of summer sunlight (13 to 15 or more in the wild) or 18 hours of artificial light per day. The tree will halt its upward growth once it starts receiving less sunlight or when the indoor grower reduces the plant from 18 to 12 hours of artificial light per day. It’s at this point that the plant enters the pre-flowering phase.
It can take anywhere from 1 to 5 months for the growing plant to enter it’s pre-flowering stage. When it finally does, you’ll be able to determine the sex of the plant. If the plant is a male, you will see little green banana-like sac structures on the node regions of the plant where the leaves meet the main stem. These male plants must be separated from the female plants before the little green sacs burst open and release their pollen. If you don’t find the male plants in time, and the sacs do burst, the pollen will pollinate the cola of the nearby female plants. This pollination has an effect on the psychoactive potential of the the female plants.
You can identify sensemilla plants by the white hairs that emerge from the pear-shaped bracts at their plant nodes. Keep in mind that sometimes, a plant can be hermaphroditic. This means that it has both sets of reproductive organs (glands and leaves). Hermaphroditic cannabis plants can actually pollinate themselves and ruin your THC or CBD harvest.
During the pre-flower phase you will see your plants fatten up and become more stocky as they prepare their branches to carry more weight.
Your plant will continue to grow into stems and leaves without producing any of the flower’s medicinal qualities unless its light exposure is gradually reduced. This may mean less time spent in the daylight or by artificially decreasing indoor light time from 18 to 12 hours. Plants are actually more sensitive to darkness. The plant will need absolute darkness. No light pollution please. Light pollution will stress and confuse the plant which will have a detremental effect on the structure of your plant. During the flowering stage, your pot plant will also require more potassium and phosphorus-based nutrients, such as fruit bat guano, in order to properly set flowers. When it starts producing bud, you’ll begin to see and smell dank trichome-saturated cola buds growing from your plant. These buds will also produce long, thin, milky white hairs, or pistils, that will begin to emerge over the next 8 to 10 weeks.
You’ll know your cannabis plant is ripe for harvest when the hues of the pistils on the cola buds transform from white to reddish orange. The pistil test may be inaccurate if the plants received rain water or was pollinated early. You’ll also want to use a microscope to check the color of the heads of the trichomes oozing out from the ripe cola buds. You’ll know that your buds are ready for harvest when the trichome heads turn from clear to milky and opaque and eventually amber. The presence of more amber trichome heads will likely indicate a higher CBN a ratio in its trichome resin.
When you’ve determined that it is indeed time to harvest your bud, you’ll need a good pair of scissors or a sharp pruning tool to cut the trunk from the roots so it can be dried. Make the cut as close to the base of the plant as possible. Then proceed to cut the tree into smaller branches. Doing so will make it easier to dry the plant. Once you’ve cut your plant into small sections, string up the pieces and hang them upside down from lines of twine in a dark, cool room with a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent. The plant matter should remain hanging in this way and in these conditions for 4 to 6 days. The longer the drying process the better. THe curing process is truly an art and many growers will have their secrets.
While you’re cutting your pot plant into sections for drying, trim the leaves and stems and set them aside. This material can be trimmed away, saved, and eventually processed to make cannabutter and cannabis concentrates after your buds have dried.
Once your buds are done drying i.e. the stems “snap” easily, place them in a wide-mouthed glass mason jar with a screw-top lid. Fill the jars to just below the top but don’t pack the buds in (doing so will decrease air flow and cause problems later on). Store the mason jars in a closet or cabinet where the temperature stays between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius. Your jars should remain here for 1 to 3 weeks in order to cure the buds and finish the harvesting process. That said, once a day you need to briefly open the jars. This allows fresh air to get in and any gases produced by the curing process to get out. Have a look in the media links section for a few cool videos regarding curing.
Breeding And Cloning To Continue The Cannabis Life-Cycle
As we touched on above, new, viable seeds (able to be planted and produce a new plant) will grow in the colas of the female plants in the 2 to 16 weeks after they have been pollinated from by a nearby male plant. The pistils on the seed pods may change colors before the pods burst and the new seeds are scattered to the soil below. However, this isn’t the only way to get hold of seeds in order to continue the strain.
You can avoid having to germinate new unidentified male seeds and continue the cannabis life-cycle of your most successful plants through a process known as cloning. You can grow new, genetically identical versions of your favorite strains year after year by cutting a branch of four or more inches from your best plant and planting it in rooting solution. This process will stimulate the cut branch into growing a new root which you can then replant. If you do this after every growing season, you will always have new material with which to start your next year’s harvest.