Growers guide

In this grower’s guide, we will aid you step-by-step in choosing a species of cannabis and growing it.

We would like to point out that growing cannabis is still illegal. Growing five plants for private use is tolerated by the authorities in The Netherlands, and as such it is not always prosecuted. You are responsible for your own actions.

What is a cannabis plant? For more information "Click here"

Before you make a choice you first have to answer a number of important questions for yourself. The most important one is whether you are looking to grow cannabis indoors or outdoors. If you grow outdoors, you are dependent on the weather conditions in your area. Plants that are fit for cultivation outdoors in warmer climates may not mature in time in the colder, more northern climates.

Other important questions are:

  • Indica or sativa?
  • What is your level of knowledge/skill (as a beginner, avoid species that are difficult to cultivate)?
  • Which kind of high are you looking for?
  • Which flavor do you prefer?
  • Which smell do you prefer?
  • What is the yield you are aiming for?

First, we will compare sativa and indica species and zoom in on the differences between them, to help you decide.

Indica ( for more information about indica "Click here" )

  • Short, thick and compact plant
  • Hard and compact buds
  • Wide and short leaves, dark green color
  • High cannabidiol (CBD) values
  • A physical high, relaxed, between stoned and numbed
  • Pungent odor: musky, stale, tartish, earthy
  • Quickly completes flowering
  • High yield

Sativa  ( for more information about Sativa "Click here" )

  • Long, narrow plant with fewer leaves
  • Extended, fluffy buds
  • Long leaves, light green color
  • High tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) values
  • A euphoric high, energetic to trippy
  • Smell can vary from topical fruit to spicy and lemony
  • Longer flowering time


Some species are easier to cultivate and therefore more accessible to beginners. Indica species are perfect for starters. Sativa (haze) species are more difficult. These species are more sensitive to nutrition and growing conditions, which leaves you with more unstable plants. We advise you to start with an indica dominant strain. After gaining more knowledge you can choose a more difficult species. Examples of easier strains are: The Ultimate Ak, White Widow, Big Bud, Crystal Snow and Jaws.

Cannabis Guide: The Six Basic Factors for Successful Cultivation

The basis for each growth is quite simple. You should have good control over the following six factors:

  • Light
  • Fresh air
  • Temperature
  • Water
  • Air humidity
  • Nutrition

Light

Plants need sufficient light in each phase. It is also important that the space you grow your plants in is light tight. This means that no light may reach the plants when they are in the dark. Any light creeping in during a dark period will disturb the plant and cause stress. So, do not check on your plants when the lamps are off.

Also in outdoor cultivation no lamps can be nearby. Many growers who want to check on their plants when the light is off use green lamps. Green light has no effect on the plant. It is not ‘noticed’ by the plant as the green color of the plant itself bounces back all green light.

Fresh air

As for all living organisms, fresh air is key for cannabis plants. This is mostly an issue in indoor growth, as plants growing outdoors always get sufficient fresh air.

When growing indoors, make sure you have proper airflow around your plants. The ideal setup is an air vent at the bottom of the space blowing air into the space, and a vent bringing the air back out at the top. This way, you create the correct airflow: from bottom to top. Also use a clip fan right above the plants, to ensure circulation of the air in between the plants.

Temperature

A temperature between 20 and 28 degrees centigrade is ideal. Try to avoid large fluctuations in temperature. A constant temperature is strongly preferable.

A day-night (lights on-off) difference of 6-7 degrees is ideal. We advise against fluctuations of over 10 degrees. The minimum temperature is 16 degrees centigrade, and the maximum temperature is 30 degrees. Outside of that range, the plant will not do well and the quality and volume of your yield will be harmed.

Water

Water your plant once per day. Use your finger to test if the substrate (soil) is moist enough. If there is enough moisture in the substrate, skip a watering turn. Never give too much water. If the substrate is too moist, the root system of the plant can start rotting. You can tell by the turgescence of the plant whether you are giving too much water or not. In general, plants that are fed too much water get soft and floppy, and plants with the right amount of water are turgent.

The pH of the water is also important. The ideal pH for cannabis plants is between 5.5 and 6.5. All lower or higher values make it difficult for the plant to take up nutrition from the soil. Cold water is also bad for the plant, as it can cause shock. Water your plants with water between 20 and 22 degrees centigrade.

Experienced growers also mind the EC values of the water. This is a measure for the amount of nutrients in the water. Look up in your nutrition plan which EC values are ideal.

Atmospheric humidity

The humidity of the air in the cultivation space is, in the growth stage, ideally around 75%. As soon as the flowering stage starts, make sure to lower the humidity to 60-65%. Reduce this slowly until 50% and, in the last two weeks, to 40%. This helps you avoid mold and rotting of the buds.

Nutrition

In principle, a cannabis plant can grow without fertilizer. Only in the flowering stage you may need some additional nutrients. The advantage of fertilizer is that the plant will grow stronger and healthier, which naturally influences the quality and volume of the yield. Always check with the nutrition plan you use.

We will now go over the stages of cultivation: germination, growth, flowering and drying/harvesting.

Germination

Basic rule of germination: always germinate in the dark. From our own tests, it shows that this renders the best results.

There are different approaches to germination; we prefer the following one.

  • Take two paper kitchen roll tissues or cotton wads, wet them with a plant spray and place the seed in between or inside (make sure to use water with the right pH).
  • Take two saucers and place one upside-down on top of the other, with the seed (inside the paper or cotton) in between. This keeps the seed in the dark.
  • Check in the morning and in the evening whether the medium (paper/cotton) is moist enough.
  • As soon as the seed opens up, you will see a small white seed root coming out.
  • Wait until the root is at least 5 cm in length.
  • Place the seed in a pot with some soil, always with the root facing down!
  • Make sure to provide enough light. For example, place the pot on the windowsill or underneath a lamp with 18-24 hours of light. Do not place the lamp directly underneath an HPS (sodium) lamp. Such lamps can burn the small, fragile plants. Use lamps that give off little heat.
  • It is important that the air humidity at this stage is between 70 and 80%, and that the temperature is constant around 20 degrees.
  • Do not add too many nutrients. We advise you not to use any fertilizer in the first stage. Only once the plant has grown several branches could you start with root fertilizer.
  • The seeds may sprout within 12 hours, but it could take up to 10 days.
  • Check twice a day whether the substrate is moist enough. If needed, use a plant spray to add water. Do not let the seeds dry out; if this happens, the seeds will likely never open up.


Growth stage

Light: 18 ours of light, 6 ours of darkness
Air humidity: 70%
Temperature: between 22 and 27 degrees centigrade, with little variation
pH value of water: between 6.0 and 6.5
Nutrition: root stimulator, growth nutrients, enzymes

A very important rule in growing is not to water the plant too much. You are looking for a proper balance between water and oxygen. Both are important for photosynthesis in the plant. Ensure that the substrate is moist, but definitely not soaked. If your substrate is too moist, the roots will not extend throughout the pot. The plant will look for water, which means the entire pot will be filled by the root system if you manage to water the plant just enough.

Use basic nutrients to aid growth after the first two weeks. Use some enzymes too. Enzymes keep the root system clean. This ensures maximum absorbance of nutritious substances in the substrate. Also, the enzymes lower or stabilize the EC values in the substrate.

Indoors
Make sure that your growth space contains enough fresh air (containing CO2) from the exterior of the space. A clip fan aimed at the plants will reduce the protective layer around the plants, which eases the uptake of CO2 from the air. CO2 is essential for photosynthesis. Use a special growth lamp (150, 250 or 400 watts), a fluorescent lamp or a special propagator lamp. Often, flowering lamps are also used for the growth stage. This is a possibility, but it is far from ideal.

Keep the lamp at a distance of minimally 40 cm from the plant, to prevent burning of the plants. As propagator and fluorescent lamps emit little heat, you can place these types closer to the plants: at about 15 cm. Keep the pH of the water between 5.8 and 6.2, so the plant absorbs all nutrients optimally.
The further the lamp is from the plants, the more the plants will stretch out (plants grow towards a light source). If you want small plants, keep the light source close without burning the plants; if you prefer taller plants, place it slightly higher up.


Outdoors
If you grow in open soil, dig a hole of about 1 m2 surface area. Fill it with potting soil (compost). Mix the soil you took out with potting compost and put it back into the hole. Plant the cannabis plants into the soil and water them regularly. If you want to influence the height of the plants, you can head them. In general, outdoor plants need little added nutrition. It is best to germinate the seeds indoors, and pre-grow them indoors in sufficient light (windowsill or artificial light) until they reach a height of 20-45 cm. That is when the plant is strong enough to resist wind and rain.

Only put the plant outside from mid/end May onwards (when there is no more chance of night frost). To let the plants get used to their new environment, you can place them in a pot in a secluded spot, like a terrace or balcony.

The main problem with outdoor cultivation is pests. Especially smaller plants are susceptible to this issue. If you grow your cannabis in a forest, you may have problems with slugs, rabbits and other animals that eat your plants. Do not use any type of chemical pesticide! You can use chicken wire to keep out the rabbits, and you can spread sand around the plants as a barrier for slugs. Still, your plants will be at nature’s mercy, so you will have to be on your guard.


Flowering stage

Light: 12 ours of light, 12 ours of darkness
Air humidity: 60-65%, then cut back to 55%, last to weeks 45%
Temperature: between 27 and 29 degrees centigrade, with little variation
pH value of water: between 6.0 and 6.5
Nutrition: root stimulator, growth nutrients, boosters, enzymes

Indoors
By keeping the plant on a diet of 12 ours of light and 12 ours of darkness per day, you force it to flower. The plant will still keep growing slightly. After about two weeks of flowering, the plants will stop growing.
After this time, the first buds will develop. Make sure they all get enough light. You can tie branches together or to the side to make space for the buds and ensure that the lower buds are exposed to sufficient light.
Keep the temperature during ‘light on’ between 27 and 29 degrees centigrade, during ‘light off’ it should not be below 20-21 degrees. Make sure that the difference between ‘on’-temperature and ‘off’-temperature does not exceed 8 degrees. If, however, the temperature is high constantly, the plant will keep working and never rest. By working with different temperatures with the light on and off, you simulate the seasons.

A tip of ours is to pre-heat the space at around 22 degrees centigrade before you turn on the lamp. This helps the plant wake up and get ready to flower. This causes them to flower more and longer, and give a greater yield.

Keep the air humidity between 60-65% at first, and in the last two weeks of the flowering stage at only 45%. The plant should not put its energy in evaporation, but in flowering. Between the second and fourth week of the flowering phase, depending on the species, the plant will reveal its gender.

You will now start using lamps with higher wattage. Higher wattage means greater yield. A standard rule is: 1 watt = 1 dried gram of cannabis. We should note that experienced growers reach this target more easily than beginners. It also depends on environmental factors like temperature, air circulation, nutrition etc. Because the HPS lamps emit a lot of heat, you should also keep an eye on the temperature, which can quickly rise. You can lower the temperature by letting the air outlet fan spin faster. You can do this by hand or you can buy a fan controller that makes the fan spin faster when the temperature reaches a selected threshold.

Outdoors

Let nature do its job, check on the plants regularly and feed them if need be. If the plant turns yellow, ask for advice and use leaf fertilizer to accelerate recovery.

In the month of August, the number of light hours per day decreases. This will lead the plant into the flowering phase.

If the plant has developed too many buds, check if it does not stay too moist after rainfall. The moist can cause mold and rotting of the buds. After a shower, grab the plant by the stem and gently shake off the water. Also ensure that there is no artificial light around the plants.

If the plants are in pots you can take them inside on an exceptionally windy or rainy day. If you do this, make sure the plants still get enough light. A sun porch or conservatory is ideal in such a case.

The larger the pot, the larger the plant will be. In open soil, cannabis plants can easily reach a height of 2 meters. Keep this in mind. Plants of 2 meters high are not very discreet.

How to recognize male plants or hermaphrodites

We only sell feminized seed. In case you are growing from regular seed, we will explain here how to recognize the gender of your plant (male, female or hermaphrodite). To be clear: only female plants create cannabis.

Male plants have small balls (male flowers) at the axils (the internodes or “armpits”) of the plant. If you discover male plants, there is no need to worry. The pollen will not spread for another two or three weeks. Once the pollen spread, however, they will pollinate other plants. If that happens, these other plants will put most of their energy in creating seeds instead of weed. The buds will look normal, but will contain only seeds and little weed. Pollinated plants also have lower THC levels. This is why you must be watchful for males or hermies in the first weeks of the flowering stage.

 If you see balls at some internodes, some female hairs at other internodes and/or bananas at the buds, you are looking at a hermaphrodite. This can have several causes. Usually, there are problems with the temperature. Remove hermaphrodites as well; they can pollinate themselves and other plants.


How to recognize female plants

The female plants are the ones that create the delicious smokables. Female plants are recognized by white hairs at the top of the plant, at the branches and at the internodes, starting in week 2 or 3 of the flowering phase.

Drying and harvesting

When is it time to harvest your weed? One answer is: when 75% of the white hairs have turned brown (amber). Another method, which we prefer, is to put the crystals (trichomes) under a magnifying glass or microscope. The trichomes will first be clear, almost transparent. Once they get misty and milky-white, the plant is ready to be harvested, as milky-white trichomes indicate that THC is being broken down in the buds.


This second method is preferable to us as it makes it easier to estimate the high (which depends on the genetic disposition you chose). An example to illustrate this point: if you chose a sativa, it is probably because you expect an energetic, psycho-active effect. If the plant flowers for too long, you get a more stoned effect, which is different from what you were looking for in the first place.

Proper drying takes at least two weeks. Cut off the branches and remove all the leaves with scissors. Hang the plants with the buds facing downward. This will force all sugars in the plant to drain into the buds. If the plants smell like grass (not marijuana), you should leave them hanging a little longer, to let them regain their characteristic smell. We recommend you to dry your plants in the dark, at a temperature of 19 degrees centigrade and an air humidity of 50%.