Are you interested in growing weed indoors because you’re in a drought-stricken location where water can easily get lost to evaporation? Or do you want to grow your own strains and enjoy your weed even better? Then, the hydroponic system is for you!
Growing cannabis through hydroponics is a fast-rising method that growers use because of benefits, such as a controlled environment and easy plant management.
In the following guide, we’ll discuss what you need so that you can start growing weed hydroponically. Don’t worry, as we’ll make things as less technical as possible. If you’re ready, let’s begin.
What is hydroponics?
The Latin term means ‘water working.’ It is a method of growing marijuana in a highly oxygenated bath or flow of water infused with nutrients.
And as the word ‘hydro’ implies, you don’t need to grow cannabis in an inert growing medium or soil for nutrients because they’re (nutrients) already mixed in the water solution.
Hydroponically growing cannabis is a method that supplies water, air and nutrients to the plants using growth mediums. And in this case, weed grows faster because they don’t need to exert extra energy due to large root webs before they could absorb the nutrients.
But if you want to get the most of cannabis indoor growing, you must be able to control the entire growth environment in your system because cannabis will directly absorb the nutrients from the water and the air.
Quick glimpse on the nutrients required
Just like any other plants, the cannabis plant needs macro and microelements to grow well.
- Nitrogen (N)
- Potassium (K)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Sulfur (S)
- Calcium (Ca)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Iron (Fe)
- Boron (B)
- Zinc (Zn)
- Copper (Cu)
- Chlorine (Cl)
- Molybdenum (Mo)
- Manganese (Mn)
Through hydroponics, growing weed indoors becomes easier and more efficient especially in terms of nutrient absorption that leads to healthy cannabis plants.
NOTE: An excellent solution will help you in all growth stages, and depending on which stage the cannabis is, you can adjust the levels of nutrients for an optimized yield.
Now if you’re looking to buy hydroponic nutrients, you must opt for a power mix that works well with water. Using a ready-to-use powder is a more affordable choice versus a premixed solution is.
This equipment will keep the bright light and smell inside. Usually, it has an opening for fresh air, which can enter at its bottom and exit on top and has reflective insights, which direct the light to the cannabis plant. A good growth tent also has small holes for the electric wire/cable. You can either make your own or buy a readymade growth tent if you’re not the crafty type.
Use pH neutral and clean water in the hydroponic system. To maintain it, you might want to use reverse osmosis to make and supply neutral water. But if you don’t have an RO system yet, using distilled water will also work fine.
What to know about pH: You should understand it well because it will affect the plant’s growth. Water pH should always be at a proper range to ensure your plants will grow well and won’t die. For cannabis hydroponics, you should keep pH at about 6.0, or between 5.0s and 6.0s.
Your plants will need much, much light. And the experts say that the better light equals a better harvest. •
HID or high intensity discharge lamps
They are used in modern hydroponics, and some examples include high-pressure sodium light or metal halide light.
While these lamps blast more light, they also waste much energy emitted as heat and require a ballast to operate.
Also, you need to manage the heat through a good ventilation system.
Oftentimes, growers use a combination of the HPS and MH lighting systems at the same time because this method can supply an ample nanometers ranging from 420 to 730, which marijuana needs to grow well.
But in some cases, others use MH for the vegetative growth stage and HPS for the flowering stage.
These grow lights are energy-efficient.
It only means energy saving for you because they use little electricity. They are also chosen by the pros. Just think of big seed or greenhouse companies.
These lights are better, not only in energy efficiency but also on control. LED also reduces space problems.
Another advantage is the color spectrum produced. It is better for marijuana growing than HID lamps.
LED grow lights can cover the full growth stage spectrum in terms of lighting needs – from the seedling to the vegetative and to the flowering stage.
And speaking of power savings, these lights only consume about 50% of electricity compared to other types of lights do.
Plus, if you’re looking to maximize your investment, LED is the best choice because their bulb lifespan can reach up to 60,000 hours depending on the quality of light you’re buying.
“For the power draw, a 500-watt LED is equivalent to a 1000-watt HPS light. The prior also stays cool and emits not as much heat. They don’t also need ballast to operate.”
Prevent spidermites the plants by ensuring proper ventilation that won’t just help in growing weed properly but also give you a good harvest.
You should keep moving air so that temperature will be distributed evenly and plants will grow healthily. In addition, you should have fans mounted to cover the most area as well. You must also regularly eliminate old air through a vent or a window.
With proper ventilation, you can ensure correct air temperatures and good air exchange.
Marijuana has a pungent odor, and it’s normal. But then, you can do something about it by using a small filter to remove this odor.
Germinating the seeds
You should have the hydroponics set up before doing this to ensure everything is in place and works fine.
You will find several types of media to use for this part, and one is rockwool.
“What is media? It’s a substance where the roots will grow in because you won’t use soil in the hydroponics system. That is why you need a substitute for it.”
A media will not supply nutrition but will just offer root support.
The nutrition will come from the solution. Start the seed on a rockwool cube (or on any other media) you plan to use.
Make sure that the media is submerged when the solution up to 70% on its bottom when the solution is its maximum.
When the seeds have germinated and its roots are about 1/3 inch, put them with their root down on the media in the grow cups.
Vegetative growth stage
If using lights immediately, make sure you’ll start with an average of 20 inches above the top of the cannabis plant, but it must be less if using LED lights.
You must also lower the light about an inch every day until the height is right or the plants will turn brown and then dry if the light is too close.
On the other hand, the plant will grow too tall if the light is too far because they’d stretch as far up to the light source. If they do grow too high, it will lead to waste of space.
“At the vegetative stage, the plants need light at a minimum of 18 hours a day in order to grow faster.”
It is one of the most important phases of growth because at this stage is when the most CBD, CBN and THC are produced.
The plant’s height will start tapering off at this stage because the plant’s energy will be mostly spent for flowering.
When it’s in a minimum of six inches and with an average of four sets of leaves, you can start flowering. But in many hydroponic setups, it will take up to one month of vegetative growth.
Once the flowering starts, you should turn the light on for only 12 hours daily.
But if you start flowering while marijuana is still about six inches tall, the plant will keep growing for up to four weeks after flowering has started. When this phase finished, the plant will use its energy in flower production.
During the flowering stage, the grow room’s dark period, ideally 12 hours of darkness, should be totally dark, so there should be no room light or any other light source.
How would you know that the plants are flowering? Check the bud sites and notice little white hairs, which must be there about 10 days of the flowering light cycle. These pistils are what will turn into nice buds.
When should you harvest? There are certain methods to know when it’s the best time to reap a harvest. Here is a quick overview: •
You should harvest after eight weeks of flowering if yours are indica strains or after 10 weeks of flowering if yours are sativa. On the other hand, you can harvest 10 weeks from seedling to bud if using auto flower marijuana. •
The pistils will help you determine the kind of weed to harvest. When the color is up to 70% brown, expect light marijuana, but a ripe and heavy one if the color is up to 90% brown. But then, if you want to harvest sharp and heavy weed, wait until almost 100% of the pistils are brown.
The pistil’s color is the best way to know if weed is ready for harvest so that they can process them for later use. Some pros harvest when its color turns red, but some do it when the resin is very dark and the pistils are almost red.
Generally, you’ll get more harvest if you wait a little longer. After all, harvesting a bit later will give you the strongest weed flavor. However, the plant’s active ingredients will reduce their effectiveness if you waited too long.
Other harvesting tips
- Check on the plant’s trichomes in the buds. They must be filled with resin and appear glittery.
- Examine the resin of the flowering plants. Take note of the glands covered in resin are enlarged and look deformed. As the resin matures, it will turn into opaque amber. You must not wait for this to happen because it is a sign that the active ingredients are starting to deteriorate. Instead, you must harvest when the resin is still transparent.
- Do not harvest if the pistils are only up to 49% brown. They are not ready yet. But then, it will still be too early to harvest when the pistils are only between 50 and 75 percent brown. You should wait if you’re not looking to make a mellow high and light taste.
- You can harvest safely if the pistils are 2/3 brown in color.
Notes on harvesting
An earlier harvest will give you a more stimulating effect because it’s at this time when the ingredients are activated. A more numbing effect, on the other hand, is what you’ll get if you harvest at the plant’s peak ripeness.
This is one of the reasons that growers do not harvest at the same timings because of personal taste and preference. To test which you like best and your style as a grower, you can harvest some earlier and some later.
After harvesting, you might want to know how to store the stuff if you’re not planning to use it right away. For a start, check on the following.
- If you plan to do so, you should wrap it in an airtight container. You should also store it in a cool and dark place. For proper storage, you can keep the weed in a freezer, a closet or a basement will do fine.
- If the weed is too moist, you should dry it first.
- Avoid things like air, heat and light to store marijuana.
There you have a guide on “How to Grow Weed Hydroponically for Beginners” to refer to if you’re looking to grow healthy cannabis that will give you a great harvest later. Keep these things in mind and enjoy growing cannabis indoors using a simple hydroponics system guide shared here.