Cannabis is called weed for a reason.
It is simple to grow and it grows fast. Like a weed.
So why then does it seem so complicated to grow marijuana?
Why are there so many things to think about and why do I need so much equipment?
The truth: you could put a weed plant in your backyard and forget about it and it would grow just fine.
But it would not deliver a very impressive yield. And that is the reason for all the equipment and all the details.
We are trying to maximize our yields, both in terms of size and in terms of potency.
And this means giving your plants the perfect conditions.
They can grow under just about any condition, but they really thrive when you give them exactly what they want.
And to do that, you need some equipment.
Here is a brief checklist of the items you must have and the ones you could do without, but should consider getting, since they will make things much easier. The links take you below to the appropriate section in this article.
Required for Growing Cannabis
Highly Recommended For Indoor Marijuana Grow
What You Need To Grow Cannabis
Each section will have general information and end with a recommendation box, where I recommend specific products, in case you are not sure which ones are any good.
A Suitable Space
The first thing you need is a space in which to grow. This space can take any number of forms.
It could be a closet, a basement, a shipping container, a warehouse, or just about any other space you can imagine.
To grow weed indoors, you’ll want an enclosed space that allows you to control the environment and also to keep out prying eyes and other pests (even if it is legal, the fewer people who know you are growing, the better; theft is unfortunately all too common).
You space will need access to power and ventilation, and the walls will ideally be covered in Mylar or some other reflective material.
For smaller scale growers, the ideal space is a grow tent. It allows you to keep your plants enclosed in their own environment and is perfectly suited for indoor growing.
In a small grow tent, the whole area of the tent will likely be taken up by your plants. In a larger tent or other grow space, part of the area will be taken up by plants and part will be aisles for you to get in and tend to those plants.
Grow Tent Recommendation
Unless you have an unlimited budget, I’d save money on the tent and stick to a budget brand. They work just fine.
There’s really not much difference between the brands, to be honest. They’re all made in the same couple of factories anyway.
Just look for a tent in the size you need and if it has a good number of good reviews, get it. It’s that simple.
Container And Medium
The next big decision you need to make is whether you will grow in soil or soil-less.
The most common way to grow without soil is hydroponics, in which nutrients are fed to the roots via circulating water. This gives you faster growth and bigger yields, but it is more complicated to setup and requires more attention, so it is probably not the best for beginners. I will cover hydroponic growing in a separate article.
In this article, I will focus on growing in soil or a hand-watered soil-less medium, since both are much simpler than a hydroponic system. For this type of garden, you will need a container for the plant and a medium for it to grow in.
You can certainly make your own soil mix, but I feel it is not worth the trouble. Perhaps it is something to look into down the road, but for now, I’d just go with a pre-made soil mix.
When it comes to the pot, I recommend fabric pots. They are easier to use than plastic or ceramic and they lead to faster growth. You’ll want to start seedlings in a small container and can just use a regular plastic cup for this.
Once the plant has outgrown the cup, transplant it into a larger pot ( 2 or 3-gallon), and keep moving it to a larger pot when it is ready. This ensures faster growth. Once the plant has reached the desired size, keep it in that pot. Weed grows incredibly large, if you give it a large enough pot.
Soil and Pot Recommendations
You best bet for soil is to go with a brand that has been used by cannabis growers for decades, like Fox Farm. Their Ocean Forest Potting Soil is full of nutrients that marijuana plants need.
For pots, I highly recommend these fabric pots from Vivosun. They work great, are inexpensive and come in every possible size. I’d get some 2 and 5 gallon ones for your first grow. If you are starting from seeds, you cold get 1-gallon bags too, though I would just use a plastic cup for the seedlings.
You should be fine using tap water for your weed plants. But you do want to know what is in it.
Your municipality has water quality info. You want to make sure your water contains fewer than 400 ppm of mineral content and no chlorine. You could also get a TDS meter to test this yourself, but these are not always reliable.
If the mineral content is high, use nutrients that are made for hard water. If the water contains chlorine, you’ll have to let it sit for 24 hours before using it, to evaporate all the chlorine.
Nutrients And pH Balance
Cannabis plants are ravenous. They will eat a ton of nutrients if they are provided and use them to grow rapidly.
The easiest way to ensure your plants get the right nutrients, and in the correct amounts, is to use a nutrient solution formulated specifically for growing weed. Always start by using half the recommended amounts.
When growing in soil, marijuana likes a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. You do not want to stay at a single pH level, but let it vary throughout the range, with most of the time being between 6.2 and 6.9.
You can test pH using strips or a digital meter. When measuring pH, measure the water runoff. That gives you the best indication of the actual pH level at the roots.
If you need to adjust pH, use pH-up and pH-down solutions. Follow the instruction on the bottles.
Nutrients and pH Balance Recommendations
The Fox Farm Nutrient Trio is tried and tested for growing cannabis in soil. It is my top recommendation.
This pH meter is inexpensive and works great. The General Hydroponics set of pH-up and pH down solutions is ideal for adjusting the pH levels to maintain balance.
Nowadays, I recommend everyone use LED grow lights, no matter the size of the grow.
Prices have come down so much that you can get quality LED fixtures for far less than you would pay for the equivalent HID system.
Not to mention the fact that very few HID brands still make quality products. Most have joined the Chinese brands in producing cheap equipment with a high failure rate and they have cut back on customer service at the same time.
I’d save myself the hassle and just avoid them at this point, unless you already have experience in growing with HID. In that case, I say “why change what’s working?”, but I doubt anyone with a lot of experience is reading this article anyway.
If you are thinking about fluorescent lights, they may make sense for a very small grow of a plant or two. Anything larger than that and you would need too many bulbs.
Even for just one plant, I’d go with LED if possible. You’ll get far better results and it is much easier to set up and use an LED fixture than fluorescent bulbs. These days, you can get a 300w LED fixture for less than the equivalent fluorescent.
In terms of how much light to get, a good rule of thumb is to get a minimum of 50 watts of lighting power per square foot of canopy. Better, shoot for 65 watts.
But make sure to use the actual LED watts. Many manufacturers (especially the Chinese ones) will call their light a 2000 watt fixture, but it will actually only draw a few hundred watts. The actual draw is the wattage to use for the calculation.
You will also want to put the lights on a timer, if your fixture does not have a built-in timer. That way you can schedule the lights to come on and switch off at certain times everyday, to mimic the natural daylight conditions plants would face outdoors.
LED Grow Light And Timer Recommendation
For timers, there is no need to go fancy. This single-outlet mechanical timer works great if you’ve only got one light. If you have more, you’ll find plenty of timers with multiple outlets as well.
Your marijuana plants like a certain temperature and humidity.
During cloning and vegging, marijuana likes a temperature between 70 and 85°F (20 to 30°C). The ideal relative humidity is 70% during cloning and 40 to 60% during vegging.
During flowering the ideal temperature is 65 to 80°F (18 to 26°C). The ideal humidity is 40 to 50% during the beginning of the flowering stage and 40 to 45% during the final weeks.
The equipment you need in order to maintain the proper temperature and humidity depends on the climate where you live, your grow space and your lighting system.
If your humidity is too low, you will need a humidifier. If it is too high, you will need a dehumidifier. If the temperature is too low, you will need a heater (or more light, which also gives off heat). If it is too high, you will need air conditioning.
You can also use ventilation to adjust the environment inside the tent, but only if the environment outside is suitable. For example, if you want to lower the temperature inside your grow room, but the temperature outside is even higher, then ventilation will solve nothing.
One thing you will always want is a fan. Marijuana plants like fresh air and maintaining a flow of air over the plants helps prevent mold as well. Any oscillating fan is great for this.
Climate Control Recommendations
This temperature and humidity monitor is great, because it works remotely. You can put a sensor inside your grow room and monitor the environment from the screen outside the room.
For exhaust fans, you want to avoid booster fans. They never work well. Instead get an inline fan.
Your best bet is to just get a full exhaust kit like this one. It even includes a temperature and humidity monitor, so you do not have to buy one of those separately. It also comes with a carbon filter for odor control (see next section).
I don’t have any specific recommendations for any other climate control equipment you may need, since you can buy oscillating fans, air conditioners, heaters, humidifiers and dehumidifiers anywhere and they all work fine for the task.
Odor Control (Optional)
Even if you can grow legally in your area, it is still a good idea to let as few people as possible know that you are growing. For that reason, I highly recommend you invest in a charcoal filter to rid the exhaust from your grow room of any odor.
Odor Control Recommendation
If you buy a kit like the one I recommended above in the climate control section, you do not need to worry about getting a filter, since one is included in the kit.
If you’re buying a carbon filter separately, this one from Apollo Horticulture is great and sells for a reasonable price.
Book Or Course On Growing (Optional, But Available Free)
If you are just starting out, there is a ton of information to digest. I have a brief guide on growing weed indoors here, but the best way to get going and avoid the most common mistakes is with a comprehensive guide that takes you through everything.
It’s even better if that guide is free.
Robert Bergman gives his excellent Marijuana Grow Bible away for free, because he also runs a great online seed store and he hopes you will end up purchasing your seeds from him.
There is obviously no obligation to do so, but if you do need seeds, his store is really good and he runs a lot of sales, so you might as well repay him for making his grow guide free.
It is a detailed 70-page guide that guides you through the whole process. It will answer any questions about growing you may have and also a lot of questions you didn’t even realize you had.