What an exciting moment to be alive, especially if you’re a cannabis user! The variety and different types of growing cannabis options continue to grow since there are so many different ways to grow cannabis.
There are so many different ways to consume cannabis these days, from old school flowers and pre-rolls to an unlimited array of tasty cannabis-infused sweets to very potent concentrates, extracts, and vape pens, to wellness-focused items like tinctures, salves, balms, and lotions.
As it turns out, there are numerous methods for cultivating cannabis, but it all begins with a grower and a seed.
An Overview of the Different Cannabis Growing Methods
When discussing the various methods of cannabis cultivation, it’s vital to distinguish between cultivating a small amount of cannabis for personal use versus growing enough to support a commercial operation.
Many of the same fundamental principles apply to both, but as a cannabis grow-op grows in size, the optimal balance between Quality and Quantity tends to shift, usually in the wrong direction.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume a personal grow in California, where each adult aged 21 and older is allowed six mature plants. It’s crucial to note that cannabis production rules differ by the municipality in California, with some towns or counties prohibiting outdoor grows, needing additional security measures, and so on, so double-check your local laws before proceeding.
It’s Cannabis Planting Time – What’s the Best Way to Grow Cannabis?
We indicated earlier that every bag of cannabis starts with a farmer and a seed, and while that is technically correct, you do not need a seed to get started as a producer.
Cannabis plants with good genetics can be propagated by cloning or snipping healthy branches off a plant and replanting them in a nutrient-rich growth substrate, as with most plants. New roots sprout quickly, and a new cannabis plant emerges.
While this is a simple, quick, and inexpensive approach to extend a genetic line, there is such a thing as spreading too thin, and taking clones from plants developed from a clone will eventually dilute down the flavor and effects that made the cultivar appealing in the first place.
When you start with a seed, you lose time waiting for it to ‘pop,’ then take root, then express its gender, and finally its characteristics. If you buy ten seeds from the same breeder, you’ll get ten distinct phenotypes that exhibit slightly different versions of the desired strain.
When you locate “the one,” the process of “pheno-hunting” can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating, or it can be quite rewarding.
Which is better: a seed or a clone? Where do you intend to plant it once you’ve made your decision?
Cannabis Can Be Grown Indoors
So you’re going to grow your plants indoors? You may fool your plants into rapid growth and flowering cycles and repeated harvests each year by using high-powered lights and timers to replicate the rising and setting of the sun on the same schedule all year. It’s now up to you to select how you’ll feed your plants
Plant roots seek nutrients when the soil is removed, and a well-set-up hydroponic system can offer a precise serving of what plants require. That might sound like a movie punchline, but it’s true! Hydroponic systems hold plants over a tray of growing material such as coco pellets or Rockwool, rather than using messy, heavy, and difficult to dispose of soil. A timer system floods the tray on a fixed feeding schedule using a pre-mixed combination of water and store-bought nutrients, sparing the farmer from hand watering or digging in the dirt.
The most basic and, some might argue, simplest technique of growing is to employ water and nutrient-rich soil to feed your plants’ root systems. While “wet it and forget it” may get you to harvest, a deeper dive into the science of soil is recommended to properly optimize your outcomes.
Regardless of the method you use, you can rest assured that if you do it well and don’t cut corners, you’ll end up with truly top-shelf cannabis. You can also expect a healthy rivalry with the farmers that opt for the alternative option!
PROS: Yearly harvests, simpler to hide from curious neighbors, and the ability to yield top-shelf cannabis
CONS: high starting costs, high monthly utility bills (electricity! ), the aroma can be overwhelming if not controlled, coverage height limited by ceiling/lights
Outdoors is one of the best places to grow cannabis:
When it comes to growing outside, the sky is practically the limit. You will be growing cannabis outdoors in soil, but you can choose whether you want to grow in a pre-mixed potting soil or in the ground, in the local soil.
After each harvest, if you grow six plants properly indoors, you should have plenty of cannabis for yourself. You will have an unlimited supply of sun-grown buds if you cultivate six plants outdoors, and if you have seen some of the photographs of the tree-sized outdoor cannabis plants grown here in California.
This leads to still another decision. Do you want a small-scale cannabis farm or a massive one? Those enormous plants may seem nice and produce a lot of buds, but the blooms in the center will be far inferior to the ones that caught the sun. A farmer can more easily tend to more minute characteristics of each plant by restricting the size of the plants through selective pruning, and, in theory, creating a higher quality at the expense of some lost quantity.
PROS: Plants grow larger and produce more flowers at harvest; plants are cultivated in a more natural environment, absorbing and expressing characteristics of their unique terroir (learn more about sun-grown cannabis here); cheap overhead costs (just hard labor!)
CONS: Difficult to conceal, unfavorable weather and/or pests can cause havoc, and only one crop per year
Cannabis Can Be Grown in a Greenhouse:
While greenhouses have been used to cultivate cannabis for decades, new technology has made them increasingly popular among growers who prefer the wider canopy of outdoor growing yet want a higher-quality product at harvest and more than one harvest per year.
In a typical greenhouse, fans and humidity controls are standard, but the addition of additional lights and, more commonly, light deprivation equipment has changed the game for greenhouse producers.
These farmers, like their indoor counterparts, are recreating the sun’s cycle…on their terms, by using a cunning combination of extra electric lighting and light-blocking tarps that can quickly cover an entire crop.
Even the most seasoned cannabis enthusiasts may struggle to tell the difference between a properly cultivated greenhouse nug and a similar strain grown inside.
PROS: When operated conventionally, low utility bills, a confined room that is simpler to control climate/pests, and more secure than plants in your yard.
CONS: Expensive to set up and maintain, requires a vast flat outside surface, and failure of fans/humidity control will swiftly kill a crop.
Obviously, there is a lot to discuss when it comes to any of the cultivation methods listed above, but we hope that this basic overview of cannabis cultivation methods may spark some interest in learning more.