You’ve purchased your seeds and you’ve decided to throw them in ground and wait for a big harvest. Maybe you know some basics when it comes to gardening but cannabis plants can be pretty tricky.
Sure you can throw seeds into a hole in the ground and hope to get lucky. But there’s actually really simple ways to care for a marijuana plant so you can get the best results.
Seed or Clone?
Purchasing seeds is pretty easy but it’s not a guarantee that you will end up with a female plant. Female plants are your golden goose for your marijuana stash. All the buds you have in your baggie or container come from the female plant. The lady plant gets you high is all you need to know. Unless you are planning on creating your own material for clothing or rope there is no reason to keep the male plants around.
A big reason why you don’t want a male plant is not just because the flowering buds will be useless to you. It’s because the male plants can start pollenating the female plants in your marijuana garden. When this happens the female plant will start to produce seeds and you don’t want to smoke seeds, do you?
When purchasing seeds you are rolling the dice on the sex of the plant. It can take the plant up to two months to become sexually mature. In order to save time you can always buy clones of female plants so every plant will produce yummy buds.
Difference Between Male and Female Plants
Lets say you decide to plant some seeds and you will discard the male plants once it reaches sexual maturity. How do you tell the difference between a male and female plant?
It’s actually quite easy to tell. Again it will take a couple of months before you can determine the sex of the plant. Once they start to grow here is what to look for.
A male cannabis plant will have small bell-like buds for flowering. Like the female plant the buds will cluster at the top of the plant and this is known as the main cola. The other cola’s will be at the lower branches and won’t have as many clusters.
The female plant will have it’s main cola clustered with the flowering buds you will recognize.
Once your little plant has started to grow it’s time to start thinking about pruning. Pruning is strategically cutting leaves and branches in order to promote a healthy harvest. The work you do pruning can result in a higher quantity and girth of your buds when it’s time to harvest.
You should start pruning on the tenth day of growth. You want to look for new shoots and cut those off so the original shoots can continue to grow. It’s a matter of forcing the plant to focus it’s energy on what it’s already grown instead of growing new shoots.
Be careful when pruning. You will want to prune with love and care. Plants are organic and can react negatively if you do not prune properly. The pros call this shock and it’s something you want to avoid. You won’t kill the plant but it will focus on recovery more than growth which will result in a lower than expected harvest. Do not rip or tear the new shoots. Always sterilize your blade with rubbing alcohol after each cut. You should use a trusty pair of gardening snips you can find at your local hardware store.
After you are done pruning you should water your plants and include plant food to promote faster recovery. You want the plants to recover quickly and get back to growing.
You will want to keep pruning every week until you start to see the plant flowering. Once you start to see the buds grow you’ll want to keep pruning for about two weeks. After the two weeks you will want to stop pruning all together. It’s time for the plant to focus on growing and not recovering. If you pruned properly then your plant will get the message to grow what it’s supposed to.
Remember these pruning rules and your plant should do just fine:
- Start after ten days of growth
- Remove about a quarter of the new shoots. Leave the old leaves and branches.
- Always sterilize your blade.
- Water + Plant food after pruning
- Do not prune after the second week of flowering
There a few factors to consider when choosing the kind of soil you want your plant to grow in. Rich soil with lots of nutrients is a great start. Almost all soil you buy at the hardware store will have nutrients. The only problem is that these nutrients will be used up in about three weeks. It’s important to buy some plant food or some stores will sell nutrients in liquid form so you can add them when you water the plants.
The soil shouldn’t be packed down as it needs to breath. When you water you plants you will need proper drainage so your plant doesn’t drown in H20. When you water the plants and notice pooling at the base of the plant that means there is little to no drainage. It could mean the soil is packed in too tightly or you used the wrong kind. In this case you should re-plant it in less packed soil or try another kind of soil that promotes good drainage.
PH is another important factor when picking out soil. The PH scale determines how acidic your soil is on a scale. A PH of 7.5 is the balance point. A PH rating lower than 7.5 would be consider acidic and anything above would be consider alkaline. The best PH for a cannabis plant is 6.0 . You can get away with 5.8 and 6.2 but going outside of those boundaries will cause issues for your plant. All this info should be available on the packaging of store-bought soil.
Nutrients are obviously very important. To promote growth some people think throwing decomposing organic scraps can help but not really. You’ll want to use those as compost then use it within your soil. Hummus is also a great nutrient. When the micro organisms within the soil breaks this down it turns it into nutrients for the plant. Isn’t nature awesome?
Some people might think that waiting as long as possible to harvest is the best method. Not really, timing is the best method. A rule of (green) thumb is 8-10 weeks after flowering. Some strains take longer than usual for harvest. Generally sativa strains take two weeks longer but there are some things to look out for when deciding to harvest or not.
Probably the best way is to check the colour of the pistils.
These little guys will tell you how potent your bud will be. They are the little red hairs that cover the bud. If these pistils are a faded greenish brown then your bud will not be very potent. You want to wait until the pistils are a dark red brown because that’s as potent as your bud is going to get. If you are impatient you are not going to get the best bud the plant can offer.
Another way of determining when to harvest is to look at the trichomes.
These little guys can also show when it’s time to harvest. The only problem is it’s hard to see them with the naked eye so you’ll need a magnifying glass. The colour of these trichomes can indicate the potency of your bud. If they are completely clear then your bud is not ready. If they are clear but some are cloudy it’s still not time. If most of the trichome are cloudy then you are in business. Red pistils and cloudy trichomes means you just grew some potent bud, bro.
When it comes time to harvest you will cut the main cola which will end the plants life. Yes it’s sad but it will live on in your lungs and blood stream. As mentioned above the main cola is where the main cluster of buds will be. You’ll want to use large shears (depending on the size of you plant) gloves and rubbing alcohol.
You will want a dark room at a reasonable temperature at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want to hang the buds so they can dry freely. You can use a dehumidifier but don’t over do it. Keep the relative humidity at 55% or only use a dehumidifier if there’s moisture issues in the room you chose. You don’t want to over dry the bud as it can affect it’s taste. The drying process usually takes two weeks.
There you have it. This is a very basic guide for growing and harvesting a cannabis plant. There are multiple ways to grow and harvest from horticulture specialists.
The best way to know if you nailed it is to smoke it.