The Top 5 Beginner Mistakes in Growing Cannabis

Francis Cassidy January 8, 2021 0 comments

Growing cannabis is no easy feat. If you want good yield and trichome-rich buds, these are the mistakes to avoid.

There’s a lot more to growing cannabis than popping a seed into the soil and waiting eight to ten weeks. Between a poor choice of soil, suboptimal climate control, and overwatering, many novice growers run into problems with their new-found hobby. Some mistakes can wipe out an entire crop, while others simply leave growers disappointed with meager yields and withering buds. Here are the top five mistakes associated with growing cannabis.

1) Seed Germination Needs Controlled Conditions

Some growers fail before they ever really get going by falling at the first hurdle, germination. While cannabis seeds contain infinite medicinal potential, they are delicate and require specific conditions in order to sprout.

To ensure successful germination, growers must place them in a dark and humid environment with temperatures in the range of 70 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity levels of between seventy and ninety percent. Growers should also avoid handling seeds due to contamination.

There are a variety of methods growers can use to germinate seeds. Some place them directly in the soil, others germinate them in rockwool, but the most common way is to use a moistened paper towel.

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The typical problems associated with germination include: exposing the seed to too much humidity/water, burying it too deep in the soil, not providing it with the right light intensity, and subjecting the seed to large fluctuations in temperature in the days prior to germination.

growing-cannabis represented by hands holding seedling

2) How to Choose the Right Soil for Cannabis

For growing cannabis plants to thrive, these require soil with a specific nutrient profile, pH, and texture (for aeration).

While many garden vegetables will thrive in a wide range of soils, this is not the case with cannabis. Cannabis plants require a strict balance of nutrients that supplement growth at every stage of its growth cycle.

Many commercially available soil solutions exist, but growers can make their own soil mix if they so choose. The nutrient profile of soil is of particular importance with photoperiod seeds, which have much greater demands compared to their autoflowering counterparts that evolved to thrive in more arid soils.

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The pH of the soil is also crucial in dictating how cannabis uptakes nutrients. Different nutrients become available at different pH levels, and the optimal pH level for cannabis soil ranges between six and seven.

Soil texture is also crucial for optimal growth. It should be light and airy to help ensure adequate drainage and optimal root development. Soil that is too dense will prevent the plant from gaining access to water, oxygen, and nutrients held within the soil. And it will prevent the plant from establishing a healthy root system.

3) Improper Ventilation

For indoor grows, a lack of ventilation is a significant issue. Without proper ventilation, the air becomes stagnant, temperatures will rise, and growers can quickly run into problems with pests and mold that can soon destroy a crop.

For small grows, a stand-alone fan may suffice, but cultivators will require a more substantial solution to control airflow in larger grow operations. By ventilating an indoor grow with air from the outside, it also helps ensure adequate CO2 levels, something often overlooked, but necessary.

4) Don’t Overwater or Overfeed Your Cannabis

Overwatering is much more detrimental to plant growth than underwatering. Overwatered soil tends to deprive the roots of oxygen and can quickly become the catalyst for severe problems, such as root rot. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to water little and often rather than watering great amounts at one time.

Just like overwatering, overfeeding will also lead to problems as plants can’t thrive when given extra nutrients. Unlike humans, they don’t fatten up in times of plenty. Overfeeding often causes what’s known as nutrient burn, a form of plant stress with damaging effects. In fact, if not corrected quickly, nutrient burn could irreparably harm the plant.

Enthusiastic growers who do end up overfeeding their plants will have to flush them to bring everything back into a state of equilibrium.

growing cananbis represented by hands trimming at harvest

5) Harvesting Too Late or Too Early

Many growers make it to the finish line only to fall at the final hurdle by harvesting too early or too late. Ideally, growers should harvest their plants at peak potency where the trichomes exhibit maximum cannabinoid content.

The best way to evaluate when the plants are ready for harvest is to examine the trichomes. Using a microscope or magnifying glass, examine the color of the mushroom-like head on the trichomes.

  • Clear trichomes mean that harvest is still several weeks out.
  • An emerging white and cloudy color indicates that THC production is ramping up.
  • White trichomes represent the best time to harvest.
  • Red and amber trichomes signal the passing of the ideal harvest window. Many growers look for the first turning of trichomes to amber. If, however, most of the trichomes are already amber, you may be harvesting too late.

The Rewards of Growing Cannabis

Growing cannabis can be hugely rewarding and is a wonderful way to connect deeper with the medicine. So – challenges do exist. But, the scientific evidence suggests that the act of growing in and of itself exhibits therapeutic effects. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology (2015), showed that the mere act of growing indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress, something accomplished through suppressing the sympathetic nervous system.[1]Lee, M. S., Lee, J., Park, B. J., & Miyazaki, Y. (2015). Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young … Continue reading

So, for those considering trying their hand at growing, there are still benefits to a grow that didn’t go as expected. Great lessons will come regardless of how things turn out.


Author avatar

Francis Cassidy
Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog

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