How to Plant Cannabis Seeds Indoors
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Growing cannabis at home can be a fun project and a nice way to have your own cannabis plants on hand. You may want to grow cannabis indoors due to inclement weather in your area or due to a lack of green space in your yard. Start by germinating the seeds. Then, plant the seeds in soil or in a starter cube. Once the seeds have been planted, care for them properly so they grow and thrive.
- After 12 hours, place the viable seeds on a towel.
Wet one paper towel and put it on a plate. Paper towels are thick enough to retain the moisture needed to help the seeds germinate. Place one paper towel under running water until it is wet to the touch, but not dripping wet. Use a ceramic dish or plate, as it will be strong enough to hold the towels and the seeds. The paper towel should cover the dish or plate.  X Research source
- If you do not have enough space on one plate for all your seeds, soak two more paper towels and put the remainder on a new plate covered in a wet paper towel.
Wet other paper towel and place it over the seeds. Make sure the wet towel makes contact with the seeds.  X Research source
- You can try using a heat lamp near the seeds to keep them warm. Do not warm the seeds up too much, as you do not want your heat source to dry out the paper towels.
- If the seeds become too dry, they could die and never germinate.
- Be very careful with the seeds as they open. Avoid prodding, pulling, or touching the seeds, as you do not want to damage the roots.
- Any seeds that have not opened and grown roots within a few days should be discarded, as they are not viable.
- As an alternative to soil, you can use starter cubes from your local nursery or online. Starter cubes are pre-cut growing pods made of composted bark. They contain a hole where you can place the cannabis seeds and grow them in good conditions. Basic starter cubes are inexpensive and easy to use.  X Research source
- If you make planting holes that are too shallow, the seed’s roots will not have enough soil to grow well. If you make the planting holes too deep, the seed will have a difficult time sprouting.
- Do not pull or tug at the seeds when you pick them up with tweezers. If they are stuck to the paper towel, wet the towel with water to make the seeds easier to pick up.
- Do not press hard on the seeds when you cover them, as this can disturb their growth.
- If you are using starter cubes, pinch the top of the holes in the cubes closed.
- Maintain a growing temperature of 75 to 85 °F (24 to 29 °C) for the plants so they thrive.
- Stick to a regular watering schedule so the plants get enough moisture. You can plan to spray the plants in the morning and then again at night so they get the water they need.
- Grow lights range from $200 to $1,200 USD depending on the size and model.
- You can get cool white grow lights at your local hardware store or online.
Avoid touching or handling the seeds as they grow. Touching or handling the seeds can damage them and stunt their growth. With the right growing conditions and care, your seeds should sprout and poke out of the soil within five to ten days.  X Research source
More than 12 hours of light a day for about 4-6 weeks as the plant matures will be enough. Once the plant is a decent size, you may induce flowering. Switch the plant to a timer of EXACTLY 12 hours of strong light (the more sunlight the plant gets, the more energy it can devote to flowering).
Yes, it is bad for the plant to have water constantly sitting at the bottom of the pot. It could make the roots rot over time.
You can actually find LED lamps made for growing plants online. If you don’t want to bother with that, you can just get a purple light to grow them under. There are many articles online talking about the effects of colored lights on plants.
If you plan on growing short, fat plants, they should be at least 6′ apart. You don’t want the plants rubbing on each other or shading the other plants. You will also want to select a spot to ensure all plants will receive maximum sunlight.
You can start as soon as you see two little leaves budding. During that time, make sure to use distilled water when watering them.
Cannabis thrives in a comfortable room temperature when grown indoors, or a little warmer – not too dry, not too humid. If it feels too hot or too cold for you, it’s probably too hot or too cold for your cannabis plants.
You can’t. You can try keeping it by a window, but you still won’t have much success. Lights aren’t that expensive, look on Amazon.
Yes, rain water is fine for any plant. The use of distilled water is to keep from adding tap water contaminants.
Keeping the plant from “stretching” is simple. Place the lights closer to the top of the plants. There are good video examples on YouTube showing two seeds started at the same time and placed under lights at different heights. The plant with inadequate lighting actually “reaches” for the light, growing tall and thin with longer internodal gaps. The seedling with closer light grows short and squat, with less stem between leaves (internodal distance), which means a better frame and plant structure for supporting the massive buds that you want to grow. As the plant grows, raise the lights with it. (Most folks suggest somewhere in the 16-30 inch range from source to canopy.)
The cultivation of cannabis is considered illegal in many jurisdictions. Make sure it is legal to grow cannabis in your area.
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About This Article
This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff. Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 1,322,363 times.
To plant cannabis seeds indoors, first soak the seeds in lukewarm tap water for 12 hours. Discard any seeds that float to the top. Then, place the seeds on a damp paper towel on a plate with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space between each seed. Cover the seeds with another damp paper towel. Keep the seeds in a spot that remains between 70-80°F (21-27°C), and spray the paper towels with water whenever they start to dry out. The seeds will sprout in 2-3 days. When they do, fill pots or a growing tray 3/4 of the way with loose potting soil that has a pH between 5.8 and 6.3. Press the soil down lightly, leaving some air in it. Then, use a pencil to poke 1 inch (2.5 cm) holes in the soil. Place the sprouted seeds vertically in the holes and fill the holes with potting soil. Water the soil thoroughly and place the pots or tray in a spot that’s always 75°F (24°C) or warmer. Set up a grow light over the seeds and leave it on at all times. Water the seeds every day so the soil doesn’t dry out. The seedlings will emerge in 2-4 weeks. To learn how to use cool white grow lights to help your cannabis seeds grow, keep reading!
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4 stages of marijuana plant growth
Cannabis plants go through a series of stages as they grow and mature, and those different growth stages call for different amounts of light, nutrients, and water.
It’s important to know these stages and how long each lasts to know what the plant needs and when. Knowing where your cannabis plants are in their life cycles will dictate when to prune, train, and trellis your plants, and when to harvest.
How long does it take to grow a marijuana plant?
Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from 10-32 weeks, or about 3-8 months, to grow a weed plant from seed to harvest. It’ll be quicker if you start with a clone or an autoflower seed.
The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative stage—after the seedling phase and before flowering.
If you’re growing indoors, you can force a weed plant to flower after only a few weeks when it’s small or after several weeks when it’s big.
When growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until the sun starts to go down in the fall for plants to flower, and then to harvest.
However, one way outdoor growers can control the flowering cycle is by using light deprivation techniques.
How long can a marijuana plant live?
Weed plants are annuals, meaning they grow and live for one season and then die. Wild cannabis plants grow seeds and drop them when they die, which will grow into new plants the following year.
When harvesting, plants are cut down and die in order to get their buds. New seeds need to be planted in order to grow more plants.
If left unharvested, weed plants will eventually wither and rot within a few months after the peak flowering phase.
When should you grow marijuana?
If you’re growing outdoors in the Northern Hemisphere, growers usually get their seeds between February and April and start germinating seeds by the end of April.
Many start growing seedlings inside in a more controlled environment because seedlings are more delicate, and then put the seedlings in the ground outside once they’re a little bigger and the weather is warmer.
If you’re growing clones or autoflowers, you have a grace period of another month or so. Plants usually need to be outside, in the ground, by the end of June.
Harvesting happens sometime between September and November. This depends on your local climate, as well as the weather that particular year—one year it could be the end of September, the next, end of October; growers in the Pacific Northwest will have to pull down their crops earlier than those in Northern California because of cold weather.
If you’re growing weed indoors, you can grow whenever you like. Keep in mind that the outside environment will affect your grow space—you may need to add heaters in the winter or fans and ACs in the summer.
Other than that, you can start seeds whenever you like and flip them into flower whenever you like, depending on how big you want the plants.
Important dates for growing marijuana outdoors
Many growers begin germinating seeds as early as February and March in order to have big plants come harvest time, but the Spring Equinox is a good reminder that it’s time to kick off the outdoor growing process and start germinating your seeds if you haven’t already.
Many farmers wait until after Mother’s Day in May to put their plants outside. Just make sure all of your plants are outside by the Summer Solstice at the latest.
The weather will start to turn and the sun will begin descending in the sky as your plants fatten up with sweet, sticky buds. It might be tempting, but the Fall Equinox is about when to start harvesting. It’ll depends on your climate and the year—it could happen a little before or after.
Everything should be cleaned up, dried, and curing by Thanksgiving, and in some places, even by Halloween.
As winter approaches, it’s prime time to make your own cannabutter, topicals, or tinctures with all that trim from the harvest. Kick your feet up, relax, and hunker down for the cold, it’s been a long growing season!
Notes on marijuana growth phases
We can’t stress enough that the timeframes in the above graphic are ranges of time for the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll need to adjust them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.
Be sure to keep a grow journal to track the progress of your plants. Looking back on your notes will help you learn from mistakes and maximize the quality and quantity of your buds next year.
Take meticulous notes on when and how you perform each step, noting:
- How much water you give plants, and at what intervals
- Nutrient amounts
- When you top and prune
Pictures will also give you a better sense of how your plants look along the way.
What are a weed plant’s growth stages?
The growth stages of marijuana can be broken down into four primary stages from seed to harvest:
- Germination (3-10 days)
- Seedling (2-3 weeks)
- Vegetative (3-16 weeks)
- Flowering (8-11 weeks)
Cannabis seed germination
Seed germination length: 3-10 days
Marijuana light cycle: 18 hours a day indoors; full, direct sun 6 hours a day outdoors
The first marijuana plant stage begins with the seed. A cannabis seed should feel hard and dry, and be light- to dark-brown in color. An undeveloped seed is generally squishy and green or white in color and likely won’t germinate.
Once your seed has germinated, or sprouted, it’s ready to be placed in a growing medium, like soil. The tap root will drive down while the stem of the seedling will grow upward.
Two rounded cotyledon leaves will grow out from the stem as the plant unfolds from the protective casing of the seed. These initial leaves are responsible for taking in sunlight so the plant can grow healthy and stable.
As roots develop, the stalk will rise and you’ll begin to see the first iconic fan leaves grow, at which point your cannabis plant can be considered a seedling.
Seedling stage in cannabis plants
Seedling stage length: 2-3 weeks
Marijuana light cycle: 18 hours a day indoors; full, direct sun 6 hours a day outdoors
When your marijuana plant becomes a seedling, you’ll notice it developing the traditional cannabis fan leaves. As a sprout, the seed will initially produce leaves with only one ridged blade.
Once new growth develops, the leaves will develop more blades, or “fingers” (3, 5, 7, etc.). A mature cannabis plant will have between 5 or 7 blades per leaf, but some plants may have more.
Cannabis plants are considered seedlings until they begin to develop leaves with the full number of blades on new fan leaves. A healthy seedling should be a vibrant green color.
Be careful to not overwater the plant in its seedling stage—its roots are so small, it doesn’t need much water to thrive.
At this stage, the plant is vulnerable to disease and mold. Keep its environment clean and monitor excess moisture. Be sure to give it plenty of light.
Even if growing outdoors, a lot of growers will start their seeds inside under an artificial light to help them through this delicate stage of marijuana growth.
If you buy a clone from a grower or breeder it will be a seedling, so you can skip the seed germination phase.
Vegetative stage in cannabis plants
Vegetative stage length: 3-16 weeks
Marijuana light cycle: 18 hours a day indoors; full, direct sun 6 hours a day outdoors
The vegetative stage of cannabis is where the plant’s growth truly takes off, and it typically lasts 3-16 weeks. At this point, you’ve transplanted your plant into a larger pot and the roots and foliage are developing rapidly. This is also the time to begin topping or training your plants.
Be mindful to increase your watering as the plant develops. When it’s young, your plant will need water close to the stalk, but as it grows the roots will also grow outward, so start watering further away from the stalk in the soil so roots can stretch out and absorb water more efficiently.
Vegetative plants appreciate healthy soil with nutrients. Feed them with a high level of nitrogen at this stage.
If you need to determine the sex of your plants (to discard the males), they will start showing sex organs a few weeks into the veg stage. It’s imperative to separate males so they don’t pollinate the females.
Cannabis plant flowering stage
Flowering stage length: 8-11 weeks
Marijuana light cycle: 12 hours a day indoors; full, direct sun 6 hours a day outdoors
The flowering stage is the final stage of growth for a cannabis plant. This is when plants start to develop resinous buds and your hard work will be realized. Most strains flower in 8-9 weeks, but some can take even longer, especially some sativas.
Outdoors, flowering occurs naturally when the plant receives less light each day as summer turns into fall.
Indoor growers can trigger the flowering cycle by reducing the amount of light marijuana plants receive from 18 to 12 hours a day.
There are three subphases of the flowering stage:
- Flower initiation (week 1-3): The plant will continue to grow and females will develop pre-flowers—pistils, or white hairs, will grow out, which are the beginnings of buds.
- Mid-flowering (week 4-5): The plant itself will stop growing and buds will start fattening up.
- Late flowering/ripening (week 6 and on): Trichome density will increase and plants will get very sticky; keep an eye on the color of the pistils to tell when to harvest.
There are a number of changes to consider once plants go from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage:
- Don’t prune when plants are flowering, as it can upset their hormones
- Plants should be trellised or scrogged so buds will be supported as they develop and air can flow through plants
- Consider giving plants bloom or phosphorus nutrients
When do buds grow the most?
Buds typically grow the most toward the end of the flowering life cycle. You probably won’t notice much budding out at the beginning of the flowering stage, and it will slow down toward the end of the cycle, when buds become fully formed.
Once buds have reached full maturation, it’s time to harvest your marijuana. How long it takes to harvest buds depends on many factors, including harvesting methods and how many plants you harvest.
5 reasons why it’s the perfect time to start growing cannabis
Right now, all across the US, the President, state governors, and local officials are ordering everyone to go home and stay there. They’re trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which threatens to overwhelm the US healthcare system in the coming weeks.
Millions of Americans are taking mental inventory of their preferred indoor hobbies.
Trust me, Leafly’s California editor: Cannabis gardening should really be at the top of the list.
Starting a March garden benefits from perfect timing, low costs, and easy logistics. You can keep it simple, or go PhD-level deep into the hobby. And it can provide real mental health benefits.
Here’s five reasons why gardening is the way to go right now.
Self-isolating? Order cannabis online with Leafly Pickup or Delivery
The timing is perfect
Let’s face it: chances are, the government has already ordered, or will order you to stay at home for the coming weeks.
You can’t spend all day fearfully checking Twitter and spinning out.
Now is literally the best time of the year to start that special houseplant you always meant to. That’s because cannabis is a fast-growing annual weed that naturally germinates in the spring and flowers in the fall in North America.
For outdoor crops, February and March are the best months to acquire and germinate cannabis seeds in order to maximize a harvest. You can nurture the plants indoors, then transplant them outside in May when the ground is warm enough and the nights are short enough. They’ll grow big and tall through the fall.
For indoor growers, starting in March means finishing as soon as June or July. That’s awesome, because you’ll have herb for the summer!
Seed season is here. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)
Save money growing exactly what you want
Everyone loves to complain about the cost of cannabis. Well, grow your own pound and save a few thousand dollars this year.
The sun is a free source of power. One fully grown outdoor cannabis plant can potentially yield a pound of dried, cured buds. That’s enough flower to keep a one-gram-per-day gardener baked for more than a year.
Your crop will be as cheap as seeds, soil, water, and patience. If and when you do need equipment, the costs will pay for themselves over future harvests.
A home garden is also the best way to ensure your cannabis is organic. You can explicitly control what you spray or don’t spray on your plants.
And only you know your favorite strain of weed. Grow a pound of that! Even better, grow two personal favorites and cross-pollinate them in early fall. Boom—a personal designer cultivar for 2021.
You don’t really have to leave your house or yard
You don’t really need to leave your house to grow a dank pound. Many folks have gardening gear lying around.
You can order seeds online and from local licensed cannabis stores. Some of those stores deliver, or offer online ordering and pickup. Gardening equipment can also generally be ordered online, including soil, cups, dirt, lights, containers, pots, nutrients, and the like.
I’m currently firing up Black Dog LED’s all-in-one, professional-grade indoor grow kit, which starts at $2,194.53 with free shipping. The kit contains everything but the seeds, down to the duct tape—so you never have to live-action role-play the film Contagion at Home Depot.
We need hobbies today
There’s only so much Netflix you can watch.
There’s only so much Netflix you can watch.
We’re all going to need a bunch of hobbies while we’re dealing with self-isolation. You can’t spend all day fearfully checking Twitter and spinning out.
A bit of gardening every day is a great way to focus on the now. Focusing on the needs of others, including your plants, is a healthy, productive way to lose yourself for a bit each day.
Read gardening books like Leafly freelancer Johanna Silver’s new book Growing Weed in the Garden, and Marijuana Harvest by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. (That’s me.)
Stocking up on legal cannabis? Leafly has all your local menus
You’ll have to find a space, source supplies, and make a plan.
Make and keep a grow diary to set goals and track progress.
Join a new online community. Share your project online in forums, and get help with questions. Ed Rosenthal likes to say that cannabis isn’t addictive, but growing it can be.
The plants are different every day, and their needs change. You can name each one and give them the kind of personal attention a factory farmer never could.
Some days, the plants drink more. Other days you can almost watch them grow in real time. Pore over every detail of each seedling, making sure there’s no bugs, and they have enough light.
Now more than ever, you have the time. Plant a garden, and you will live in better rhythm with night and day, the seasons, the weather, and the soil.
Mental healthcare for the months to come
On the secret of life, French Enlightenment writer Voltaire once wrote, “Happiness lies in the cultivation of a garden.”
As I type this, over in the corner, underneath a windowsill, sit six Supreme Diesel seedlings (a mix of Jet Fuel Gelato and Sour Diesel, from Compound Genetics of Portland).
They bask in the weak winter light. Two compact fluorescent bulbs augment the sun. The seedlings’ stalks stretch to the light. Their first serrated leaves grow larger by the hour. One little girl needs help ditching her seed shell. A tiny gnat needs killing—bastard! One seed cup could use a little more soil. An hour just flies by.
Growing plants gives you something to look forward to. And, come on—we need something to look forward to right now.
When you pop new cannabis seeds, you can’t help but say a hopeful little prayer. Every gardener has a version of it, probably ever since man began agriculture.
To plant is to hope and keep faith with the cosmos. Hope for a fruitful future. Faith that it’ll happen. So many things remain beyond our control. Every gardener, no matter how agnostic, prays for sun, curses pests, and gives thanks at harvest.
Sowing seeds today is a physical, intentional way of saying: “There will be a tomorrow. The seasons will turn. The problems of now will not be forever. We will work through this. This too shall pass.”