The Ultimate Guide To Indoor Cannabis Growing Equipment
Explore this comprehensive guide to find the best growing equipment for your needs and skills as a cannabis cultivator.
- 1. Seeds
- 2. Grow tent
- 3. Soil
- 4. Pots
- 5. Humidifier and dehumidifier
- 6. Fans
- 7. Thermometer and hygrometer
- 8. Nutrients
- 9. Grow lights
- 10. Bonus tip
- 1. Seeds
- 2. Grow tent
- 3. Soil
- 4. Pots
- 5. Humidifier and dehumidifier
- 6. Fans
- 7. Thermometer and hygrometer
- 8. Nutrients
- 9. Grow lights
- 10. Bonus tip
BEST GROWING EQUIPMENT FOR BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE, AND EXPERIENCED CULTIVATORS
Growing weed indoors needn’t be difficult. All you need is the right equipment. Below, we’ve built the most comprehensive cannabis grow equipment list out there—complete with everything from seeds and pots to lights and tents. We’ve even included various options for each piece of equipment suited for beginner, intermediate, and advanced growers.
The first step to growing great weed is to start with the right genetics. Cannabis plants can vary a lot, and you’ll need to take the time to research strains and find something to suit your grow room, budget, and skills as a grower.
At RQS, we pride ourselves on creating strains to suit any and every grower. Below are three strains for beginner, intermediate, and advanced growers:
• White Widow Automatic: White Widow is a world-renowned, classic Dutch strain. For this autoflowering variety, we crossed a potent, profit-yielding White Widow phenotype with a sturdy strain of _Cannabis ruderalis_. The result is a potent autoflower that goes from seed to harvest in just 8–9 weeks and produces great results regardless of your skill as a grower.
• Royal Cookies: If you want to grow top-shelf US genetics at home, this is the perfect option. Royal Cookies was bred by crossing two unique Forum 1 phenotypes to create a super potent Cookies strain with up to 23% THC, capable of producing massive yields to suit. With a flowering time of just 8–9 weeks, this is a great intermediate strain that will produce some top-shelf bud every time.
• Shining Silver Haze: If you’re an experienced grower looking for a killer sativa hybrid to add to your garden, look no further. Shining Silver Haze is our own version of the iconic Haze varieties that revolutionised cannabis around the world. With 21% THC, a 9–11 week flowering cycle, and an uplifting high like no other, this is easily one of our most beloved strains.
When growing cannabis indoors, you’ll want to ensure you have as much control over your growing environment as possible. And the best way to do this is to grow your plants in a tent where you can tightly control variables like temperature, relative humidity, air circulation, ventilation, and more.
That’s where grow tents come in. Available in all shapes and sizes, grow tents make it easy to create a dedicated space for your plants without having to renovate an entire room. Below are three different grow tent options for growers of all skill levels:
• GrowPRO 2.0 Grow Tent S Eco: This is a small tent perfect for beginners or first-time growers. It’s completely light-proof, boasts an extra-durable design complete with super-strong and stable rods, multiple air intake windows and “Superflaps” for maximum airflow, a watertight interior base and three ventilation socks. This is a perfect option if you’re tackling your first indoor grow and working with a tight budget.
• Apollo Horticulture Mylar Tent: This is a great medium-sized grow tent ideal for intermediate growers looking to step up their game with more professional gear. Apollo Horticulture is a respected brand, and its grow tents are made from high-quality materials. They are also highly reflective, meaning your plants will get the most out of their light source. All Apollo products also come with a 90-day warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee should you have any problems.
• Gorilla Grow Tent GGT59: Gorilla Grow Tents are renowned as the best horticultural indoor grow tents around. Supported by interlocking 100% steel frames, 1680D canvas density, large viewing windows, industrial zippers, and diamond-shaped reflective interior walls, these tents are literally as good as it gets. Keep in mind, however, that you get what you pay for, and these tents can be a little expensive. But for experienced growers dedicated to producing top-shelf harvests, the investment is totally worth it.
There’s a simple truth about growing weed: Your plants can only grow as big and healthy as their growing medium lets them. That’s why it’s super important to invest in top-shelf soil right from the get-go.
Remember, cannabis has different growing requirements than other plants. It likes slightly acidic soil with a pH of roughly 6–6.8 (5.5–6.5 for soilless grows). In terms of nutrients, cannabis needs varying concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium during its life cycle, as well as a rich balance of micronutrients like calcium, manganese, iron, copper, sulphur, and more.
Below are three different soil options for beginner, intermediate, and advanced growers:
• Miracle-Gro Potting Mix: Miracle-Gro is a well-established brand, and its Potting Mix is very popular among cannabis growers. It’s very well-suited for beginner growers as it contains all the nutrients your plants need in order to grow big and healthy. In fact, Miracle-Gro contains enough nutrients to feed plants for up to six months and promises to double your harvest without any extra work on your end.
• Nature’s Living Soil: This is one of the best store-bought super soils available. Nature’s Living Soil is a concentrated super soil used to enrich regular soils like Roots Organic or Fox Farm. It contains all the organic nutrients your plants need to grow big and healthy and to produce the best possible harvests. If you’re an intermediate grower looking to get a bit more hands-on in the garden, this is a great option.
• Homemade super soil: If you’re an experienced grower, nothing beats preparing your own organic super soil at home. Using natural fertilisers, compost, and other organic ingredients, you can create a tailor-made potting mix. Plus, you’ll get the added peace of mind of knowing exactly what you’re feeding your plants.
Cannabis pots come in all shapes and sizes. The exact pots you plan to use will vary more on the size constraints of your grow space than your skills as a grower. Ideally, you’ll want to give your plants sufficient room to develop a healthy root system while keeping them at a manageable size.
Most growers will usually opt for one of the following potting options:
• Homemade pots: If you’re growing on a budget, you can make your own pots out of buckets, bins, or other similar containers. If you’re growing indoors, we generally recommend using containers of about 10l. Outdoors, you’ll want to use larger containers (20l or more), especially if you’re only growing a few plants. Whatever container you use, always remember to drill drainage holes in the bottom.
• Standard flower pots: Standard plastic flower pots are cheap, easy to get your hands on, and serve their purpose. For growers with a limited budget, simple 12l nursery pots are perfect.
• Fabric “smart” pots: If you’re an advanced grower looking to help your plants develop the strongest roots possible, you can’t go past our fabric pots. Complete with our very own “Aqua Breathe” technology, these pots provide the right balance of aeration and moisture retention to ensure your plants grow strong, healthy roots.
HUMIDIFIER AND DEHUMIDIFIER
Humidity control is key when growing cannabis indoors, as cannabis plants benefit from different levels of humidity during different stages of their life cycle.
Seedlings, for example, like high humidity levels of around 65–70%. During the vegetative growth phase, you can gradually lower humidity by 5% every week. In the final weeks of vegetative growth, the humidity in your grow room should sit at roughly 40%, which is where it should stay during flowering to avoid issues with mould and mildew.
The best way to control the humidity in your grow room is with humidifiers/dehumidifiers. Below are three options to consider:
• Electric Dehumidifier with 2 l Tank: If you’re a beginner grower with a small grow tent and just a few plants, this little dehumidifier is perfect. Once the water tank is full, the device automatically switches off to conserve power. This is a really cost-effective option for growers working with a budget.
• Vornado EV200 5l Dehumidifier: If you’re working with a medium-sized grow tent (roughly 120 × 120cm), the Vornado is a great choice. With its vortex action, the Vornado fully circulates humidity all throughout a room of up to 65m² (700ft²). It also comes complete with three fan settings (low/high/auto), push-button controls, an electronic humidistat, and automatic humidity control.
• TROTEC B 400 Air Humidifier: Advanced growers with a larger grow tent will need a larger humidifier. That’s where the TROTEC B 400 Air Humidifier comes in. With 34l capacity, this beast can manage humidity levels in a room of up to 360m². Plus, the unit automatically switches off once it has reached the right humidity level. If you’re running a big grow op, this is the perfect solution for you.
Air circulation is super important when growing weed. Stagnant air not only creates hot pockets, but can also create a breeding ground for mould, pests, and diseases that could prove detrimental to your plants and harvest.
Luckily, managing air circulation is easy; just invest in some fans to keep air steadily moving throughout your grow space. Below are three fans you can use for your grow room:
• Lorell LLR49256 Wall Mount Fan: Sometimes, you don’t need equipment with fancy bells and whistles. That’s where this simple wall fan from Lorell comes in. This 40cm (16”) fan is super simple, offering three speed settings that you can cycle through using a pull-chain. While it’s nothing fancy, it’s exactly what you need if you’re a beginner grower or are working with just a few plants in a small grow space.
• Hurricane Super 8 Oscillating Fan: This oscillating fan by Hurricane is a step up from the previous model. It oscillates in a figure 8 pattern, offering maximum air circulation around your grow space. It also has three speed settings and features a strong build for extra durability, making it an ideal mid-range option for intermediate growers.
• Oscillating Wall Mount Fan: A 72cm (30”) fan is ideal for more advanced growers working with large grow rooms. These industrial-strength fans are designed to efficiently keep air circulating around large spaces, like commercial kitchens and warehouses. While the airflow from these fans will be far too strong for small grow tents, it’s well suited for large, professional grow operations.
THERMOMETER AND HYGROMETER
To grow the best weed indoors, you need to have complete control over your plants’ environment. Two of the most important variables are temperature and humidity, so you’ll want to monitor both of these closely using a thermometer/hygrometer.
Below are three different thermo-hygrometers to consider for your grow room:
• ThermoPro TP50: This digital thermometer/hygrometer is perfect for beginner growers or anyone working with a small number of plants in a small grow space. It’s got a 3-year warranty and provides accurate readings of roughly ±2/3% RH and ±1°F.
• ThermoPro TP65A: This is the TP50’s big brother. It comes complete with a large backlit touchscreen, remote control range of up to 60m (200ft), and an extra weatherproof design that’s capable of resisting extreme temperatures as low as -35°C. The TP65A also comes with a 3-year warranty if you register your device with ThermoPro. This is a really comprehensive device built to last.
• Ambient Weather WS-3000-X3: If you’re looking for the most comprehensive thermometer-hygrometer combo, this is it. Complete with three wireless sensors, the Ambient Weather WS-3000-X3 is great for growers who have separate grow rooms for seedlings, vegetating, and flowering plants. The device also has a comprehensive data logger that graphs and logs data from all three sensors for temperature, humidity, dew point, and heat index. If you want maximum control over the environment in multiple grow spaces, you can’t go past this device.
If you want to harvest big, you need to feed your plants right. And when it comes to cannabis nutrients, you’ve got a lot of options.
Cannabis needs three macronutrients to grow: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Different nutrient formulas will carry these compounds in different concentrations. But beyond standard NPK formulas, you’ll also want to feed your plants micronutrients like calcium, sulphur, zinc, boron, manganese, copper, and iron. Give your plants a healthy combination of all of these nutrients, and you’ll be well on your way to producing some killer harvests.
Below are three different nutrient solutions to try on your next cannabis grow (if you’re not using them already):
• Fox Farm Nutrient Trio: Fox Farm is a well-respected brand among cannabis growers. And this 3-pack of nutrients gives you all the basics you need in order to grow big, dense buds at home. Complete with a growth booster and two bloom boosters, this complete kit is perfect for beginner growers who want to keep things simple.
• Technaflora Recipe for Success Starter Kit: If you’re looking for a more advanced approach to feeding your plants, this kit by Technaflora has everything you need. It includes regular veg and bloom fertilisers, plus some micronutrient solutions including magnesium, calcium, iron, essential carbohydrates, and amino acids to really bring your buds to the next level.
• Biobizz Starters Pack: If you want to grow organically, this kit is perfect. Biobizz is another well-respected brand, and this box contains its iconic Bio·Heaven™, Bio·Bloom™ and Bio·Grow® nutrients, as well as their Top·Max™ (to improve the size of your flowers) and the Root·Juice™ to encourage root development.
- Royal Queen Seeds Easy Nutrition: this range of organic nutrients provides cannabis plants with everything they need to survive and thrive. Easy Grow meets all of the demands of the vegetative phase, whereas the specialised flowering formula in Easy Bloom encourages fast and healthy floral growth. Easy Boost fills the growing medium with vital macro and micronutrients, and Easy Roots introduces beneficial fungi that assist plants in absorbing their food.
No list of growing equipment would be complete without mentioning lights. Grow lights are the heart of your indoor grow room and easily have the biggest impact on the quality and size of your harvest.
Lights come in many different shapes, sizes, and at varying price points. Below, we’ve hand-picked three of the best grow lights currently on the market for beginners, intermediate, and advanced growers:
• Advanced Platinum Series P300: This is an unbeatable light for beginners. It offers 300W of LED power and a 12-band light spectrum ranging from UV to IR, offering one of the best spectral outputs on the market. The P300 also has two ultra-quiet fans and an aluminium cooling element to help keep temperatures as low as possible. Finally, the P300 has a veg and flower switch to make it super simple to flip your plants once they’re ready. While there are other beginner lights out there, the P300 is well worth the extra cash.
• California Lightworks Solar System 550: This 400W light is perfect for intermediate growers running larger grow rooms but still operating on a budget. While it’s a little pricey, the Solar System 550 has to be one of the best mid-range lights out there. It combines 50,000 LED lights in a single unit, draws 400W at full power, and can cover a 1.1m² (3 × 4ft) area in bloom and up to 2.2m² (6 × 8ft) in veg. It also boasts really low heat output, so you might even be able to get away with not using ducts.
• G8LED 900W MEGA LED: High Times named the Mega LED the best grow light of 2017 and 2018; and with good reason. This light offers amazing wattage and incredible penetration of up to 1.5m (60”) past the canopy. If you’re an advanced grower who doesn’t mind investing in real top-shelf equipment, then this is the light for you.
For an extra easy start to your next grow, make sure to check out our very own Feminized Starter Kit. Complete with a tray of seedling pots, a pack of Bacto (bacterial mix to promote strong root growth), a Propagator Pro (enclosed tray for faster germination), perlite, lighting, and three RQS Critical feminized seeds, this kit literally has everything you need to kickstart your next harvest.
Once your seeds are germinated, plant them in soil mixed with Royal Queen Seeds’ Easy Boost Organic Nutrition mix. Simply mix 25–50 grams of pellets into every 10l of soil and water as usual. Our pellets are designed to continue feeding your plants for a full 10–12 weeks, helping you to avoid any problems associated with over/underfeeding.
Remember, this list is by no means exhaustive; there are countless options out there when it comes to cannabis grow equipment. That said, the list above represents a selection of our favourite options tailored to growers of all skill levels. If you’ve found a piece of equipment that works great for you and isn’t on this list, make sure to share it with us in the comments below!Are you daunted by the thought of setting up your indoor grow room? Don't be. Here's a checklist of everything you need to grow great weed indoors.
An intro to indoor cannabis cultivation
Copy article link to clipboard.
Link copied to clipboard.
- What are the basics of growing weed?
- How to start growing weed
- What Is the best way to grow marijuana indoors?
- Cannabis feeding systems
- Setting up your grow: choosing a space
- Creating the ideal environment: lighting
- Creating the ideal environment
- Tips for success
- Frequently asked questions
What are the basics of growing weed?
Indoor cannabis cultivation is a rewarding endeavor that basically can be done in any climate. Growing pot takes attention to detail and the right equipment, time, and money, but the benefits reaped from growing your own weed are more than worth the time and expense. Not only is the practice of gardening itself therapeutic, it also lends a connection to the plants that cannot be experienced outside of a hands-on approach. Having trained and grown out a favorite cultivar to fruition is one of life’s great joys for a marijuana enthusiast.
Indoor cultivation provides many benefits compared to outdoor cultivation, including control, reproducibility, and risk mitigation — not to mention location, location, location. The goal is to artificially create the ideal environment for your plants at all growth stages. This is achieved through precise lighting, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide content, and air movement within each indoor growing space.
Ultimately, the costs of equipment and recurring utility bills are more expensive than in outdoor and greenhouse settings. However, specialized indoor cultivation equipment allows cultivators to achieve multiple harvests per year and a more reproducible product. If you’re detail-oriented and technologically inclined, indoor gardening is a fun and rewarding pastime, or could even be a full-time job.
How to start growing weed
To set up an indoor garden, you will need equipment to help create a stable environment that mimics the necessary periods of light and darkness to grow plants through the flowering stage. This includes horticultural lighting, fans to recreate a gentle breeze, dehumidifiers to maintain the proper humidity, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and all the basic supplies that a plant needs to survive, from water to grow media to nutrients.
Planning, designing, and implementing an indoor garden can seem daunting, but having a firm understanding of the basics goes a long way in helping a new indoor grower get started on the path to a healthy and bountiful harvest.
What Is the best way to grow marijuana indoors?
The first step in creating a proper indoor growing environment is to decide on the medium and irrigation methods you’ll be using to supply your plants with the proper nutrients throughout their growth cycle. The medium is a shelter for your plants’ roots that retains moisture. The irrigation method is the way you deliver nutrients to the plants.
Unlike outdoor cultivation — where you almost always use soil to grow your plants — growing indoors offers several different options for growing systems and media. Some media are easier to work with than others, while some are a little trickier, but offer more control over the finer details. Different media retain moisture at different rates, which in turn determines how often plants need to be watered. Some media harbor beneficial microbes that can help roots absorb nutrients better.
The two main options for an indoor garden are soil and hydroponic media. Consider the following:
Soil is a great choice for beginners. It can be much more forgiving and requires less precision when watering and feeding plants. Less-frequent watering and a stable pH foundation can drastically increase the likelihood of a successful first harvest. Soil also contains beneficial microbes and nutrients that help keep plants healthy, though it also creates favorable conditions for pests, mold, and mildew to spread. Working with soil and hand-watering plants can also be messy, but it will allow you to get familiar with the pace in which your plants consume water and nutrients.
Soil can be much more forgiving and requires less precision when watering and feeding plants additional nutrients. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Hydroponic media are viable indoor alternatives to soil, but they’re considered more advanced because they bring with them a set of challenges that may prove difficult for beginners. Then again, if going hydroponic is in your plans, it’s best to learn the method from the beginning.
Hydroponics is a blanket term for the growing of plants in a nutrient solution, with or without an inert medium to provide physical root support. Media such as fused basalt rock and chalk (known as rockwool), coconut fiber (coco coir), and clay pellets (hydroton) can drastically improve nutrient delivery. With a plant’s roots system exposed, hydroponically grown cannabis can grow faster and more efficiently, requiring less water and fewer nutrients but also requiring monitoring systems to ensure a stable pH.
Rockwool , also known as mineral wool, is one of the most common forms of hydroponic media for the beginning stage of a plant’s life. Rockwool is an inert substance, and its composition of mineral or rock fibers provides a relatively sterile environment with a unique capacity to hold water. Rockwool will quickly expose any watering or feeding mistakes. Missing even one day of watering could be detrimental when using rockwool, especially for tender young plants.
Coco Coir is the fibrous material found on and in coconut shells. As a byproduct of the coconut industry, it is favored by growers as a sustainable and renewable medium. Coco coir is an inert medium with a neutral pH that does not provide or maintain any nutrients. These qualities are great for growers who know how to appropriately adjust pH, allowing for quick pH and nutrient changes. There may be a learning curve, but if you’re numerically inclined, it’s not too hard to get a grip on the process. Coco coir can be used either by itself or added to soil or hydroton for improved drainage and growth capability.
Coco Coir is the fibrous material found on and in coconut shells. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Hydroton is a lightweight expanded clay aggregate composed of porous clay pebbles that can be used alone in a hydroponic system or blended with soil or other soilless mediums. Hydroton does not retain water to the extent of coco coir or rockwool, but it does provide plant roots with equal levels of oxygen. Like rockwool, the biggest issue is that it can dry out very quickly, so you have to be extra careful to keep it hydrated, especially when used on its own.
Other common soilless mediums used by hydroponic growers include perlite, vermiculite, coarse sand, and gravel. Advanced growers frequently mix these media in custom quantities to create blends that suit their specific growing style and environment.
Cannabis feeding systems
Feeding your plant is the process of giving it the chemicals and compounds that it needs to grow out its leaves, roots, and ultimately produce the heavy, trichome-covered flower clusters called colas. There are two main types of feeding systems: drain-to-waste and recirculating.
A drain-to-waste system applies fresh nutrient solutions to the grow medium every time the plant is fed. Any nutrients that drain through the medium are then disposed of and not reused.
A recirculating system collects the nutrients and water that are used, replenishes them, but with a smaller amount of fresh nutrients, then reapplies the solution to the plants the next time the plant is fed. A grower will check the solution’s pH before and after adjusting the nutrients.
When using soil as your primary medium, drain-to-waste is the only possibility. In soilless hydroponic systems, it is up to the growers’ preferences. Most hydroponic growers will opt to maintain a drain-to-waste system, because it affords them full control over the application of nutrients. Recirculating systems are typically reserved for the most advanced and efficient cultivators.
Top feed drain-to-waste systems can be as simple as putting your plants in a soilless medium and watering them from the top of the container, either with a drip system or by hand.
Ebb and flow systems, also known as flood and drain systems, are a popular type of recirculating system that uses a pump to bring water and nutrients from a reservoir into a flood tray where the plants are positioned in their grow medium. The nutrient solution floods the tray and gets absorbed by the roots and medium before slowly draining back into the reservoir. This process repeats itself on a timer to ensure that plants are properly hydrated.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is another recirculating system in which plants are suspended by net baskets or neoprene collars that run along a trough. A thin film of water and nutrients continually circulates through the bottom of the trough, providing food to the tips of the roots, while leaving a majority of the root mass exposed to air.
Deep Water Culture (DWC) is a modular bucket system that suspends the plant’s main stem in a net basket while the roots are completely immersed in a highly oxygenated nutrient solution. An air pump supplies the oxygen to the nutrient solution which circulates through 3-5 gallon, or 11.4-18.9 liter, pots. DWC buckets can be configured to run in a stand-alone drain-to-waste system, or all of the buckets can be connected together to run in a recirculating manner.
Aeroponics are hydroponic systems in which the roots are suspended in air and lightly misted with a nutrient solution on regularly timed intervals. This method can achieve faster growth rates while using less water and nutrients than other hydroponic systems, though this is considered of the most advanced methods of growing hydroponically.
Setting up your grow: choosing a space
Before you purchase any equipment, it is important to understand the possible limitations of an indoor garden. Consider the height of the ceiling, how much insulation your space offers, and your ease of access to electricity and water. Some local jurisdictions may also ask that indoor gardens mitigate odors during the flowering phase.
If you’re a beginner, prefabricated grow tents are a great option, as they allow for minimal wear and tear on your property. Instead of renovating or building a new room, grow tents can be set up and taken down in a matter of minutes while also providing a clean, reflective, and enclosed environment for your plants to grow. As a general rule, your ceiling height should be at least a height of 8 feet, or about 2.4 meters; this is the typical height of a tent. Check your prospective tent’s measurements before committing to the purchase.
Grow tents also make it easier for home growers to maintain two separate environments: one for vegetative growth, and the other for flowering. This allows you to keep a perpetual harvest going by propagating and growing young plants in one tent and flowering another set of plants in the other tent. Maintaining a balanced rotation like this can result in maximized harvests year over year.
Whether you are growing two or 30 plants in your house, grow equipment requires a significant amount of electricity, primarily from your lighting and air conditioning units. Make sure that all electrical equipment is installed by a trained professional to reduce the likelihood of an electrical fire. You don’t need to be an electrician to design an indoor grow, but having a basic understanding of watts, volts, and amps is essential. The equation below can be used to determine whether your property has the minimum amount of power for an indoor garden:
Always make a list of the power requirements for each piece of equipment and make sure your electrical panels can support the electrical load before you make any big equipment purchases.
Water quality is another key aspect of indoor gardening. It’s important to determine water acidity and general mineral content prior to planting. Checking the pH, the acidity or alkalinity of the water, is easy to do with a handheld water quality meter. The same device can be used to check the total mineral or chemical content of your water as well. Knowing these things will help you determine the correct amount of nutrients to feed your plants or if fresh water needs to be introduced.
Most local jurisdictions require you mitigate the odor from your plants to avoid disturbing your neighbors. Activated charcoal filters absorb plant odor in your grow area. Adding a charcoal filter to your HVAC system or placing one within your grow space is a great way to drastically reduce the odor. The size of the filter is largely dependent on the size of your grow. Make sure filters are sized and installed correctly. Keep track of the life of the filter, as their effectiveness diminishes over time.
Even when growing cannabis legally, it’s a good idea to minimize your public visibility as a grower and take some mild to moderate precautions. Simple steps, such as not geotagging your location when you post grow pictures or hiding the glare from your grow lights when you run them at night, can go a long way in keeping your prized indoor garden secure.
Creating the ideal environment: lighting
Choosing the right horticultural lighting for your indoor grow can mean the difference between success and failure. Correct lighting is crucial, as it drives photosynthesis. In other words, your plants will not grow properly without proper lighting. The duration of your lighting controls the photoperiod, or the times in which a grow is exposed to light. During the vegetative growth phase, plants need a minimum of 16 hours of light. The most common schedule during this phase is 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness. To initiate flowering, plants need a shorter day, with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
Correct lighting is crucial, as it drives photosynthesis. In other words, your plants will not grow properly without proper lighting. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The intensity of light and its placement within your grow space are important aspects to consider when choosing what kind of light to grow with. Low light levels will slow photosynthesis, delay growth, and result in poor yields. If your light is too far away the plant will not receive enough of it and will grow spindly. If your light is too close it can damage the plant and ruin your colas.
There are several different types of grow lights that serve different purposes, each with their own sets of pros and cons.
Fluorescent lights are affordable and use minimal wattage to produce a low-intensity light. They are available in strips or larger arrays of multiple bulbs, and are most commonly used during the germination and propagation of seeds and clones. They should not be used during the flowering phase.
Metal-halide (MH) lights are a type of high-intensity discharge (HID) lights that work by igniting gas in a tube with a spark of electricity. Metal-halide bulbs emit a spectrum of light that is most beneficial during the vegetative phase. They emit more usable light for a plant than a fluorescent bulb does, but tend to cost substantially more.
High-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs are highly efficient HID lights that produce a very effective spectrum of light to promote growth during the flowering phase. Most HPS bulbs are double-ended and can last 10,000 hours without losing efficiency. While these lights are the workhorses of most grow rooms today, they produce a significant amount of heat that needs to be removed, increasing air conditioning requirements.
Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are another form of high-intensity lighting that have been growing in popularity as their technology has advanced. LED lights produce a spectrum suited for all phases of plant life. They typically cost more than other grow lights, but they last much longer, are more energy efficient, and give off a lot less heat than HID lighting.
Creating the ideal environment
When it comes to cultivating cannabis indoors, you need to be sure to provide your plant with the optimal temperature, humidity, air circulation, CO2, and nutrients.
Temperature and Humidity
Maintaining the ideal temperature and humidity at all times is crucial to the health of your plants. Some plant varieties prefer hot and humid climates, while others like it cool and dry. Keeping them alive and healthy means controlling the temperature and humidity when the lights are on or off.
Air conditioning (AC) and humidification systems are used to control the temperature and relative humidity of an indoor grow room. The size of each unit is based on the amount of heat the lights and other equipment produce in relation to the size of the space. In an open grow room, intake and exhaust fans are used to constantly exchange the air within the room to maintain a consistent temperature. In sealed rooms, mini-split AC systems are used because they circulate the air in the room without bringing in fresh air.
AC systems maintain temperature and also dehumidify rooms. Fluctuations in humidity can affect plant health and should be controlled using a dehumidifier or humidifier, depending on conditions.
Advanced growers use digital environmental controls to monitor all equipment responsible for maintaining a stable environment (i.e., fans, AC, dehumidifiers, sensors, thermostats, etc.). These environmental controls can be worth the hefty price tag for the peace of mind they provide.
With lighting, AC, and other environmental controls in place, indoor cannabis plants will require large amounts of fertilizer or nutrients throughout their lifespans. Hydroponic systems lack the base nutrients that occur within soil; that leaves it up to you, the grower, to feed their plants with nutrient concentrations — the exact formula of which depends upon plant variety and phase of cultivation. With hydroponics, salt-based nutrients typically come in the form of a concentrated liquid or dry soluble powder that can be mixed with water.
As a cannabis plant develops, its nutrient needs change. That’s why different nutrient lines are available for different growth phases. Most nutrient lines come with recommended feeding charts. If you’re just starting out, be sure to get to know your nutrients and their ratios.
Carbon dioxide supplementation
Controlling the amount of available carbon dioxide (CO2) in your garden is another aspect of growing marijuana at home . During photosynthesis, CO2 converts into sugar, which the plant uses as energy for growing its vegetation and, ultimately, its seeds or flowers. Adding CO2 to your indoor garden can drastically improve your yields. While the atmosphere naturally has an average CO2 concentration of around 400 parts per million (PPM), most indoor growers try to maintain a range of 800 to 2,000 PPM, depending on the plants’ growth stage. Levels above 2,000 PPM can damage plants, and anything above 3,000 PPM can be dangerous to humans.
The amount of CO2 you supplement your garden with depends on how much light your plants are receiving, the growth phase they are in, and their overall size. CO2 should only be used during the “daylight” period, as plants are unable to utilize CO2 at night or in the dark. Sealed grow rooms are ideal when supplementing CO2, as open rooms tend to exhaust the CO2 more quickly than the plants can use it.
CO2 can be supplemented into an indoor garden using compressed gas tanks or generators. Using compressed CO2 tanks is the most common method because they’re readily available, easy to set up, and do not add any extra heat to your room the way a CO2 generator does.
Air movement is the least expensive component of creating an ideal environment for your plants. Even a gentle breeze can help keep pests and microbes from landing on your plants, move oxygen and carbon dioxide around the leaves, and create a uniform environment throughout your room. One of the easiest ways to maintain sufficient air circulation is by hanging oscillating fans on the walls or ceiling/grow tent corners and placing a small box fan on the floor. The goal with air circulation should be to mimic a light breeze and avoid powerful gusts that may harm your plants.
Tips for success
The health of your garden is completely dependent upon the environment you create and the equipment you select. It is easy to buy a new line of nutrients, but much more difficult to replace an undersized air conditioner. Careful planning prior to your grow will go a long way in saving you from expensive mishaps.
Cleanliness in an indoor garden cannot be overstated. Clean your entire grow room before your first grow cycle and after every harvest. The walls, floors, trays, irrigation lines, reservoirs, lights, and fans should be cleaned using a three to five percent (3%-5%) hydrogen peroxide solution, an efficient sterilizing agent that leaves no dangerous or toxic residues behind. Be careful what you bring into your grow room. Pets, dirty clothes, and contaminated clones can introduce unwanted pests and diseases.
Maintaining a grow journal and logging all major aspects of your grow is one of the cheapest, easiest things you can do to become a better grower. Logging daily temperatures along with water and feeding amounts will help you pinpoint problems, and may give you something to show other growers who can help you resolve issues, increase your yields, and save a troubled crop.
Remember, not everyone was born with a green thumb or an affinity for setting up and maintaining equipment. But with practice, passion, and an attention to detail, you can ready yourself for an amazing growing experience that has the potential to change your views of and interaction with cannabis for good.
Frequently asked questions
Should you grow cannabis with distilled water or reverse osmosis water?
Distilled and reverse osmosis water are fairly comparable. It’s the process of distilling that differs from the reverse osmosis process. Distilled water has been boiled to a vapor and cooled back into liquid to filter out contaminants. Reverse osmosis (RO) filters pressure water through a filtration membrane and produce wastewater as a byproduct. They’re generally better than distillers at removing volatile chemicals such as chloramines.
RO filters can remove 95% or more of contaminants, and typically increase in efficiency when pre-filters are placed before them in a filtration system. Carbon or sediment filters remove chlorine and chloramines as well as larger solids such as sediment and dirt. Water softeners exchange calcium and magnesium for sodium chloride so it can be purified and softened through the RO filter.There are big differences when you grow cannabis indoor versus outdoor. Learn everything you need to know about growing weed indoors. ]]>