Darnell Brown Jr. (left) and Nicholas Worrell prune marijuana plants in a grow room at Mint Dispensary in Guadalupe on Nov. 4, 2020. Arizona voters passed Proposition 207, legalizing possession of as much as an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older and set up a licensing system for retail sales of the drug. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)
Growing from seed is a trial and error process and people should be prepared to “have a few rounds that are really disappointing” before they find that one best phenotype, he advised.
“I warn people… crawl before you walk,” Wylie said. “Learn to get your plant to grow all the way to fruition, harvest it, dry it, cure it. Then you can build from there. Don’t run out and buy thousands of dollars of equipment.”
What’s the easiest cannabis strain to grow for beginners?
Wylie said most people will likely grow indoors, in a closet or garage, for example. About 75 degrees, more or less, is an optimal temperature, he said. In a small space with stagnant air, he suggested using a fan to move air in and out. A beginner can start in a closet with a 100-watt grow light and oscillating desk fan, and it’s enough to get going, he said.
People can currently purchase cannabis seeds on websites such as Leafly, but Sundberg warned that quality seeds can be pricey. Seeds are also a gamble because only female plants flower, and there’s no guarantee how many female seeds are in a packet. Feminized seeds are genetically engineered to grow only female plants, but tend to cost more.
Wylie recommended plants should be watered when the soil is dry. Growers can test this by sticking a finger into soil about halfway between the plant and edge of the pot. If the soil is warm and dry, it’s time to water.
Both Wylie and Sundberg said the key items you need to grow cannabis are nutrient-rich soil, water and light.
Water your plants well before transplanting them, and water the garden soil until it’s well-moistened but not sopping wet. Slide the plants out of their pots and into place, firm the soil around each with your fingers, and water with a fine mist. Be sure to keep the soil moist until the plants start growing well.
How do you know which seed needs what? Read the package, for starters. The information that is crammed onto the back of a seed packet is like having a plant encyclopedia at your fingertips. Planting dates, time until bloom, instructions, special needs—it’s all there, even if you do need a magnifying glass to read it.
Gently remove seedlings from their pots to avoid disturbing the root system.
Toughen up seedlings, then plant them in the garden
The seeds of many plants that are native to regions with cold winters, for example, germinate most readily after a period of moist chilling in a dark place. In the wild, that’s what winter provides them. It’d be wasted energy—and very anti-Darwinian—if the seeds sprouted in late summer or fall only to be laid low by winter cold. Instead, they wait out the inhospitable winter. During the seeds’ deep sleep, their seed coats soften, until the warmth and moisture of spring make them explode into growth.
Good watering is gentle watering. If you’re watering from above, use a soft, misty spray.
Begin by moving the seedlings outside to a shady spot protected from the wind and leaving them there for no longer than a couple of hours on the first day. Gradually lengthen their outdoor stays and move the plants into a sunnier spot, if that’s the exposure that they will eventually be planted in. After a week or so, the plants should be ready to go in the ground. A drizzly, gray day is perfect for transplanting—plants will be protected from the desiccating effect of the sun and the moisture will help them settle in quickly. If the weather won’t cooperate, plant late in the afternoon so seedlings get their start in the cool of the evening.
Eliminate the need for transplanting seedlings by sowing just a few seeds per pot. Photo: Scott Phillips