Spring is in the air. For many cannabis cultivators, this means that planting is just around the corner. Choosing high quality cannabis clones, feminized seedlings and/or auto-flowering Easy Pots, is obviously the first step to growing amazing bud, but there are plenty of other things that can be considered early on in the cultivation process that could help tremendously down the line. Cannabis can be a fickle gal, but when finessed, she can offer a bounty worth its weight in gold.
Even the most seasoned growers experience unexpected challenges. The education and wisdom with regards to cannabis cultivation has evolved greatly over the years but one thing remains the same: care and prevention can lead to pounds of success.
Here are some ways to maximize your crop’s potential this season!
Do Your Homework
It may not be sexy, but understanding as much as possible about the cultivars you grow is crucial to success. No two cannabis strains are quite the same and having the ability to discern between the needs of a Blue Dream plant versus Wedding Cake will be beneficial. Taking detailed notes during the life cycle of the plants pays off dividends and will streamline the process in the future.
When trying out cannabis strains that are new to you, speaking with the source is always a good idea as they can offer insight on each plant’s uniqueness and offer growing tips. The Dark Heart strain catalog offers reviews and testimonials from cultivators for a quick and efficient way to gain insider knowledge. Always begin with good source material from a trusted genetics provider to ensure a fantastic outcome.
Understanding the different growth patterns of cannabis plants is also important in terms of planning your garden space. As a basic prepper, sativa-dominant strains like Nepali Pink and Pineapple Upside Down Cake tend to be taller with light, airy buds while indica-dominant strains are typically short, bushy, and dense. Since sativas generally have a considerable height potential, they often require assistance to stay upright; bamboo rods or trellis systems work well. Also, leafier cultivars need to be pruned regularly to allow for proper airflow and bud development. For more information, check out these growing guides from High Times and Leafly, two reputable sources for cultivation techniques.
Understand the Care Routine
Cannabis plants can be finicky so developing a care routine and sticking to it is essential. Day-to-day tasks depend on the life stage of the plant, but can include adjusting lighting, watering, checking pH levels, feeding nutrients, pruning, and modifying temperature. Create an agenda you know you can accommodate.
Remember, that if mistakes are made, even relatively small ones, there can be drastic consequences. Having the right routine will make or break your crop, so be sure to stay on schedule.
Prepare Your Environment
Having a sanitary and spacious environment for your cannabis crop is one of the most important ways to both prevent issues and boost yield. Young cannabis plants are especially susceptible to mold and disease, so pathogen exposure must be limited. Indoor cultivators should clean and disinfect both prior to planting and during the entire life cycle to mitigate risk.
Having the proper equipment to control temperature, humidity, and vapor pressure is extremely important. Conditions in the grow area need to be just right and cannot fluctuate too greatly. Ventilation must be adequate to promote air flow. Both yield and quality of the output can be dramatically affected if it’s too hot or too cold, too dry or too wet. Since mold and mildew can essentially wipe out a cannabis crop, these steps must be taken seriously.
For outdoor setups, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need up front including soil, nutrients (if needed), trellising materials, watering cans/hoses, and protective tarps. Security is also something to think about, both from potential pests, critters, and unwelcome neighbors looking to raid your stash. Put a lot of thought into where exactly the plants will live; they want to get as much direct sunlight as possible without being too hot while also having access to a constant breeze and proper drainage for water. An area facing to the south is ideal (as long as you’re in the northern hemisphere). Take into consideration what size the plants will get to – you do not want to find yourself overcrowded.
Have a Lighting Plan
If growing outside, picking a place with adequate sunshine is imperative. The amount of light the plants require depends on which stage of the life cycle it is currently in as well as the cultivar. Planting in the spring when the days are longer is the ideal choice since vegetative plants want as much light as possible. Flowering plants do well with around 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. Planting after June/July may be dicey in North America as the daylight decreases after the summer solstice. You could also begin with your cannabis clones or feminized seeds inside and then transfer them outdoors when they begin to get bigger.
For those cultivating indoors, having the right lighting set up is one of the only ways to have a successful crop. Placement is crucial to success so measurements must be precise. Technology has come a long way in this area, so investing in new, disruptive systems could definitely bode well, as well as increase energy efficiency.
Creating an environment with an overabundance of light is a good way to increase CO2 levels, which can also boost yield. However, you want the right balance so as not to choke the plants. According to Leafly, most gardeners have found that when you are producing high-quality light in your garden, a CO2 level of 1,200 to 2,000 ppm (parts per million) will increase the growth of your plant significantly.
Plant Cannabis Clones Quickly but Carefully
Dark Heart clones are kept under 24 hour light. Therefore, they need to be transplanted as soon as possible under high intensity grow lights (metal halide or high pressure sodium). To prevent “transplant shock,” the pros recommend soaking cannabis clones in a vitamin and hormone solution mixed with water for 15 minutes prior to placing them in your chosen media.
Make sure to ease the cannabis clones into their new environments so as not to stress them. The process of “hardening off” will help the plants get used to their surroundings. If transplanting outside, remember that the sun has varying strength and presence throughout the year. Make sure to water before putting the plants in the sun so they do not dry out. For summer months, using a shade screen could be beneficial to prevent the plants from getting too hot when the sun is highest in the sky. Bring the plants inside or provide supplemental lighting when it starts to get dark to help the plants prepare for their new lighting cycle.
It’s important to avoid overcrowding the plants as they need plenty of airflow coming from all angles. Make sure to consider how tall and wide the plants will eventually become when considering placement. Grouping similar cultivars together is a great way to efficiently promote plant health since as we mentioned earlier, there can be variations in the way certain strains grow.
Water Thoroughly – But Don’t Cause a Flood
Immediately after transplanting, clones should be watered vigorously. This will help ensure the planting medium is adequately moistened and that there are no air pockets. In the week following, water generously and keep an eye on any potential dry areas. Always be certain water is draining out to help flush out salt buildup. Avoid over-saturating – runoff should be around 20% of the water applied.
Another pro tip: use slightly cooler temperature water, preferably under 70 degrees fahrenheit, as it contains more oxygen and is less likely to contain dangerous pathogens.
Know Your Nutrients
Depending on your method of cultivation, using supplemental nutrients can be a game-changer. The majority of cannabis nutrient solutions on the market will contain a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen fosters growth, phosphorus encourages root and flower growth, while potassium promotes root growth and photosynthesis. Other popular secondary nutrients include magnesium, sulfur, and calcium.
Make sure to monitor pH levels regularly as this will largely determine whether or not your plants are actually able to absorb the nutrients. The best pH for hydroponics systems specifically is between 5.5 to 6.5. Don’t start adjusting too much when in the range of 5 to 7. For soil growing, composted material offers a natural way to boost nutrients.
Growing high-quality cannabis is no easy feat but with the right techniques and tools, even novice cultivators can have success. Great genetics, whether they be clones or feminized seeds, are the backbone. What’s next is up to you. By preparing the grow environment properly, installing SOPs, using the right medium, lights, condition controls, and nutrients, the chances of having the best yield possible skyrockets.
Research both prior to planting and during the process can also make a considerable difference. Cannabis is not just another “weed”; it’s a complex and nuanced creature that requires care and compassion to reach its full potential. Cutting corners at any point in the plant’s life cycle will only lead to frustration and disappointment. By using the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to achieving pounds of greatness.