The key difference between autoflowering and regular flowering cannabis is how (and when) the plant’s flowering cycle begins. Simply put, autoflowering cannabis automatically starts its flowering cycle, while photoperiod waits for the correct light vs. dark period (12 hours light / 12 hours dark) to flower.
This species of cannabis starts her flowering cycle when she starts receiving equal hours of sunlight and darkness. This means if you are growing this type of pot indoors, the plant needs to consistently receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to release the necessary hormones to begin flowering. This is why many people that grow photoperiod cannabis indoors opt for grow tents or dedicated grow rooms.
Steps to Growing Your Own Pot
Before flowering, these plants savor what is known as the vegetative stage. This is when the plant enjoys more hours of light than darkness. Indoors, this is typically 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. During this phase and light cycle, a photoperiod plant will continue to grow in size without flowering.
This guide was written for marijuana enthusiasts who want a cheap way of growing cannabis plants without the tents, timing, and grow lights . It’s a small step towards greater accessibility for marijuana home growing. So, flip a middle finger to big corporations, break up with your dispensary, and step into the world of DIY weed growing at home– OG style. Growing sticky, smelly cannabis buds is easier and way more rewarding than you think!
Step 1 – Pick the Best Marijuana Seeds for You
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Consider how much weed you smoke in a day, week, or month. For reference, a gram is about two medium joints or 3-4 bowls. Do you smoke a gram a day or a week? Two grams a day or a week?
Note that these are estimates. When growing outdoors, plants can usually get massive because they aren’t restricted to space—it’s not uncommon to get closer to a pound a plant or more.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to growing
This will help give you a sense of how many plants you should grow. If you’re growing indoors, you can grow one plant at a time, harvest it, and start another, keeping a continuous cycle of growing.
How long will one plant’s worth of bud last you?
If growing outdoors, you may only get one harvest a year. Remember, check out how many plants you can legally grow in your state here.
Cannabis plants yield the highest-quality (and quantity) flowers after maturing. This usually takes about a month to happen. “I recommend planting in a five-gallon Home Depot bucket,” Lipton said. “It’s really important to have proper drainage, so you want to drill some holes in the bottom. The biggest mistake people make is that they overwater and suffocate the roots. Cannabis likes to be watered and dried out before it’s watered again.” During the vegetative cycle, the plant should be exposed to a minimum of 18 hours of light. Remember to open the closet door while the lights are on to prevent the space from heading north of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
After 55 to 60 days, growers begin paying close attention to their plants’ trichomes — the small, bulbous fibers that develop around the flower of the female plant. “Those trichomes will turn from clear to amber,” Lipton said. “They kind of look like red hairs. You know it’s time to harvest when about 10 to 15 percent of the trichomes turn that color.” On average, cannabis plants have a five- to seven-day window of peak harvest time.
Temperature: 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. “A tool you should always have is a little temperature gauge,” Lipton said. “They call them hygrometers. They’re cheap and tell you both the temperature and the humidity.”
Plant and maintain the vegetative cycle until the plant is mature.
To understand the flowering cycle, it’s important to remember that cannabis is a plant. And, like most plants, it follows the seasons. To trigger flowering — which will take 55 to 60 days to complete — growers reduce the time plants spend exposed to the light source from 18 hours to 12. “You’re basically telling your plant it’s mid-September,” Lipton said.
Both medical and recreational dispensaries now sell female cannabis clones, which retail for about $15. Alternatively, it’s commonplace for home growers to gift clones to their friends. “When you get a clone, someone will likely give it to you in a four-inch pot. You’re skipping that whole step of having to germinate seeds. You’re already 10, 14 days ahead of the game and basically ready to plant.”
Harvest and cure.
Another layer to consider is that cannabis cultivation must happen “out of plain sight.” “You can’t have any odor. If it’s offending people in the neighborhood, then it’s an issue.”
Light: 2,200k. “For a closet set up, I would recommend a 175-watt HPS light,” Lipton said. “Some people try to use fluorescent lighting, but I wouldn’t recommend that. You’re just not going to get a very good outcome. Nowadays, HPS lights can just go right into your home outlet, and you’d just need a timer [to set the intervals]. Position the light directly overhead. They can be pretty powerful, so you’re going to want it at least two feet from the top of the canopy [to prevent the plant from overheating].”