It may be said that farming is where our connection with cannabis begins and ends. We consume cannabis in all of its forms because it can be grown. Whether we use the cannabis plant for medical purposes or not, how and when we cultivate it, how we prepare it for consumption, and even the terminology we employ significantly impact its value.
Cannabis can be categorically split into male and female plants because it is a dioecious plant. The female plant is the one that naturally produces more of the critical cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA), which convert to CBD and THC, respectively. Male plants generate the pollen required for a female plant to develop seeds. Terpenes and flavonoids, which are also produced by cannabis, have the potential to work in synergy with cannabinoids to improve desirable and therapeutic effects.
Most nations only recognize one cannabis species, Cannabis sativa L., although some do so along with C. indica and C. ruderalis based on morphology, genetics, and geographic origin. Today’s indica and sativa plants can be distinguished primarily by their prominent characteristics during the growing cycle.
Indica plants often have robust stems, broad, deep-green leaves, and a fast growth rate. Additionally, they may thrive in cold, short-season settings and have shorter flowering cycles. Sativa plants often grow taller with relatively light-green, narrow leaves, have longer blooming cycles, and perform better in warm locations with extended seasons.
Despite the words’ widespread use in the cannabis consumer market, growers and cultivators might benefit the most from understanding the morphological, or physical form, variations between indica and sativa plants.
The cannabis plant can be used in its entirety. Cannabis has historically been grown by humans for three different purposes:
- Cannabis stalks are harvested for fiber, usually from hemp types.
- Harvesting female hemp plants’ seeds for their high oil and protein content.
- Harvesting cultivated types for their psychoactive and medicinal cannabinoids are known as “drug-type cultivars.”
The cannabis plant’s growth cycle can take 10 to 26 weeks, from seed to harvest. Germination, vegetation, and blooming are the cycle’s three main phases. Cannabis needs light, air, nutrition, and a surface on which to grow its roots, just like most other plants. The plant’s growth stage depends on how much and how long it is exposed to light.
Local Cannabis Regulations and Laws
Some form of home growing is generally permitted in most nations and local authorities where cannabis is legal – whether for medical or recreational purposes. However, growing regulations differ significantly from country to nation and even city to city. If you plan to or are already a home grower, you should be aware of the rules and restrictions in your area.
Cannabis plants of both sexes have the same fundamental root, stem, and leaf structure. Trichomes, the glandular appendages on the flower’s surface that create and store the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes, are produced by both sexes; however, the female plant produces significantly more trichomes than the male plant. Beyond these fundamental differences, male and female cannabis plants have quite different anatomical structures.
Authors, scientists, producers, and industry insiders have all used various terminology to describe the same reproductive plant structure throughout the length of our everyday experience with cannabis. Botanical words have frequently been employed incorrectly or wholly replaced due to a protracted prohibition period. Furthermore, widely used slang phrases that once had separate meanings are now used synonymously.
Therefore, let’s identify some botanical words before defining some of the common colloquialisms we’ve received to reduce some of the confusion and outline the anatomy of both plant sexes.
Anatomy of the female cannabis plant
Female cannabis plants are pistillate, which means they have pistils and stigmas. Female cannabis plants are sometimes called “sinsemilla,” Spanish for “without seeds.” All unpollinated female plants are referred to as sinsemilla. Cannabis farmers should choose sinsemilla plants because they have the maximum potential for cannabinoid production. Female marijuana flowers that have been pollinated or have seeds yield a less appealing product than female marijuana flowers without roots.
The reproductive anatomy of the female plant includes the following:
- Colas: The blossoms that the female plant produces. Colas, also known as buds or nugs, are covered in trichomes rich in terpenes and cannabinoids. Cannabis buds should not be confused with the term’s botanical meaning, a young plant.
- Bracts: Tiny leaf structures resembling scales enclose and safeguard the seeds. Although the term “calyx” is erroneous in terms of botany, bracts are sometimes referred to as such. However, the fragile layer of tissue between the seed and the bracts that enclose it contains calyx cells in the female cannabis plant.
- Stigmas: The cannabis plant’s reproductive organs collect pollen from the male plant. The term “pistil” is frequently and wrongly used to describe stigmas. One pistil has two stigmas sticking out of it.
- Pistil: The female cannabis flower’s reproductive organs become active when the stigmas attract pollen.
- The little leaves known as “sugar leaves” are what hold marijuana buds together. They are known as sugar leaves because they contain a lot of trichomes, which resemble sugar and have a high concentration.
Anatomy of the male cannabis plant
The male cannabis plant is staminate, which means it possesses stamens or reproductive organs that produce pollen. Although male plants are frequently used to create new strains of psychoactive cannabis, they are also occasionally grown for their fiber. Male cannabis plants produce pollen during the flowering stage, which causes the female plant to begin making seeds. This method takes energy away from growing flowers and lowers the overall output. Keep male and female plants apart to increase floral output and avoid seed formation.
Although the trichomes on the surface of the male cannabis plant are thinly distributed, it is still capable of producing cannabinoids. In comparison to females, males do not create nearly as many trichomes.
The male plant’s reproductive anatomy consists of the following:
- Stamen: A male plant’s component releases pollen into the wind so it can be taken to a female plant’s stigma for pollination.
- An anther is a stamen’s pollen-producing and storage bag. A thin filament suspends anthers. A stamen is made up of an anther and a filament.
- Pollen: Tiny grains made and kept in the anther that, when released, fertilize the female plant.
An uncommon monecious plant known as a hermaphrodite grows both male and female sex parts. The word “monecious” comes from the Greek word “mono,” which means “one.” While there are many reasons why a plant might display both traits, hermaphrodites are primarily created when a female plant is subjected to harsh conditions during critical growth periods, such as inadequate light or unfavorable environmental factors. Hermaphrodite symptoms often appear late in the blooming cycle.
A sinsemilla crop occasionally produces a few hermaphrodites in a last-ditch effort to maintain their seed line. Cannabis growers should remove hermaphrodites when found, even if their pollen is typically inedible, to prevent fertilization. Hermaphrodites will also generate fewer flowers overall because they must utilize energy that would have been used to produce trichome-rich blooms instead of seed instead of flowers.
Three primary settings for cannabis cultivation
How to grow cannabis outdoors
Outdoor cultivation of marijuana exposes a crop to the weather, provides natural light, and considerably lowers farmers’ costs. Electricity may only be needed for irrigation since no artificial lights or fans are required.
While outdoor exposure is generally beneficial for plants, an outdoor crop may experience difficulties if exposed to extreme climatic conditions. Crop destruction may be caused by rain, insects, invasive plants, and severe weather. The ability of planters to regulate environmental crossover from nearby fields is restricted by outdoor cultivation. If pesticides are not appropriately sprayed, your fellow farmers’ pesticides could become your pesticides.
Cannabis grown outdoors depends on the sunshine available throughout the several seasons when the plant is exposed to the complete spectrum of light.
How to grow cannabis in a greenhouse
Cannabis is grown indoors in greenhouse benefits from the same free sunlight as outside cultivation but with far better environmental control. Growers can regulate natural light in greenhouses by using a blackout shade or other type of roof covering system. Additionally, greenhouses can add electrical illumination to supplement natural light on overcast days and an additional barrier of defense against animals, pests, and drastic environmental changes.
One disadvantage of greenhouse farming is the initial outlay needed to construct a greenhouse. Greenhouses can be temporary structures made of plastic and PVC pipe or permanent structures that allow growers to control every aspect of the environment and use cutting-edge production methods like light deprivation.
Greenhouse growth poses a risk in a contained space where pests can increase more quickly. The degree of protection against environmental crossover varies according to the type of greenhouse structure.
How to grow cannabis indoors
Marijuana is typically grown in warehouse environments, necessitating artificial lighting, air conditioning, and dehumidification systems. An indoor setup aims to imitate the outside factors that promote plant development while controlling all environmental factors completely. The main drawback of growing marijuana indoors for beginners is the high upfront costs, which include the building structure, equipment, water, power, and other utilities.
Cannabis propagation techniques
How to grow marijuana for beginners
From seed until harvest, the growth cycle is covered by propagation. Seeds or a cutting (clone) from another plant can be used to grow cannabis.
Cannabis seeds, produced when pollen fertilizes the female plant, are ready to be planted and grown as soon as they successfully germinate or after the seed’s root has penetrated it. Although you can sow your seeds directly into the ground, it is advised that you grow them first on a damp paper towel. Home growers frequently start with feminized seeds to ensure the adult plant is a blooming female.
Sexual propagation, also known as seed-based propagation, is a popular technique for growing cannabis outdoors since it results in a more resilient plant. Crops that are sexually propagated not only have a higher production potential than clones, but they also have higher pest, disease, and illness resistance rates.
Inconsistency is the most frequently mentioned drawback of starting plants from seeds. Plants that are reproduced via roots do not always retain the original plant’s precise phenotype or observable physical and chemical properties. Growers and consumers may not like the variations and inconsistencies in the terpenes and cannabinoids that result from this.
Even though most growers prefer uniform plants, on occasion, gardeners will start many plants from seeds so they can pick the ones that generate particular visual and olfactory traits. Most nurseries engage in what is known as “pheno hunting,” and it is a widespread practice.
Cloning, another name for asexual propagation, is the process of reproducing a single-parent plant without the need for sexual reproduction. Cannabis clones often begin with a cutting of a reliable mother plant, which, given the right conditions for growth, will probably develop into a plant with a genetically compatible genotype. The primary objective of a clone is to replicate and maintain the genetic integrity of a cannabis plant. When grown under the same environmental conditions as the mother plant, a clone is infinitely likelier than a plant grown from seed to exhibit the mother plant’s physical traits and its cannabinoid and terpene profile. It should also mirror the mother’s ability to absorb nutrients and resist pests or fungi.
Clones have a much better chance of retaining the desirable traits of the mother plant because they are not exposed to the genetics of several plants and instead receive the same genetic code as the mother plant. Cloned plants also allow gardeners to choose the environmental factors that will preserve those excellent genetics and the best feeding regimens, blooming timings, and nutrient mixes.
A lack of genetic diversity is advantageous for growers, but it can also have disastrous effects. A whole crop can be wiped off if plants are subjected to unfavorable climatic conditions for which they lack genetic protection.
Selecting a cannabis-growing medium
A plant needs a medium as a foundation for a healthy life, whether developed from a seed or a clone. The substance set by plants during their growth cycle is known as a growing medium. Whether you choose to grow plants hydroponically, aeroponically, or in regular soil, the growing medium you choose must supply the plant’s roots with oxygen, water, and nutrients.
The most typical growth medium for cannabis is soil. Healthy soil is an unusually stable medium for growth, retaining moisture well enough to give the grower time between waterings. The soil is an efficient growing medium for the broadest range of producers, from potential home growers to true specialists, because it is inexpensive and straightforward. Both indoor and outdoor growing can need soil.
Hydroponics is the favored method of growing plants indoors, feeding plants through a nutrient-rich liquid solution. Traditional hydroponic media include perlite, vermiculite, coco coir, and hydroton balls. These materials enable superior nutrient absorption while using less water than soil.
The meticulous attention to detail that hydroponics demands are its main drawback. Extreme temperatures are far more likely to damage hydroponic medium. Particularly excessive heat can be highly harmful since it encourages the growth of bacteria and disease. To ensure the plant receives the nutrients it needs to grow strongly, pH and nutrient levels in the water must be regularly checked.
The principles of aeroponics are similar to those of hydroponics. Still, instead of submerging the plant’s roots in water, an aeroponic system suspends them in a mist and air environment where they can take up water, nutrients, and oxygen. The highest yield potential is probably found in an aeroponic system, but it is also far more unpredictable than other systems. An aeroponic system requires careful, ongoing consideration of environmental and growth control elements.
When a seed’s embryo is exposed to water, germination begins and lasts until the source has grown its plumule or first taproot. Only when seeds are grown into plants do they begin to germinate, and this process can take anywhere from 12 hours to three weeks, depending on the seed’s vitality, age, and the germination methods the grower chose.
A cannabis seed can be planted in damp soil around 3 millimeters deep for the quickest and easiest germination. Another choice is germination soil, created with vitamin blends to support wholesome sprouting. Many growers use towel germination, which involves sandwiching seeds between two wet paper towels before exposing the taproot to start them in a growing medium right away.
If growing from a clone, the rooting phase is when the plant develops its taproot. During this time, the young cutting is exposed to 24 hours of light in an environment with high humidity. This can take anywhere from 3 to 14 days.
The plant develops its stalks, big fan-shaped leaves, and roots during the vegetative period. In the end, the sun’s energy will be utilized by fan leaves to make the sugars the plant needs to develop blooms or seeds. Since the plant needs at least 16 hours of light daily to be maintained, the light cycle is usually shortened to 18 hours. Cannabis growers can shape their plants’ growth patterns or train them during the vegetative phase for various purposes. Indoor and outdoor farmers may want to force their plants to develop several flower growth sites at the same level, while indoor growers may wish to train their plants to stay short by growing horizontally.
Cannabis Training techniques
Indoor gardeners use various training methods to help their plants produce at their peak levels despite space and lighting constraints. Each one influences the plant’s development and structure in some way, usually by bending the stem.
Sea of Green (SOG)
The Sea of Green (SOG) approach recommends growing many little plants rather than a few huge ones to maximize space and produce single colas. When done correctly, a SOG growth encourages the shortest vegetative phase, which results in small, dense colas.
Low-stress training (LST)
Like most training techniques, Low-Stress Training (LST) entails bending and securing stems to maximize production and light exposure in a constrained area. To prevent the tension that follows from breakage or cutting, the “low stress” component of LST refers to controlling stem growth in favor of extreme bending.
Super cropping could be compared to the antithesis of LST in that it emphasizes tactically executed “high stress” forms rather than sustained forms of low stress. With this technique, cannabis plants are stimulated to create more of the terpenes and cannabinoids they develop as a form of defense.
Strategically designed and carried out stress on the plant is meant to start a defensive reaction, increasing the production of terpenes and cannabinoids in the process. Usually, the stems are pinched in specific places to create this kind of prolonged stress, then tied down. To aid plants healing when farmers unintentionally subject them to excessive stress, they are frequently taped with duct tape.
Screen of green (SCROG)
The Screen of Green (SCROG) method uses LST or Super Cropping to promote horizontal growth while preventing vertical growth in the cannabis plant. This is accomplished by pushing the plants to grow through a flat screen that is hung. Colas develop in normally dormant parts of the crop stems as they travel laterally over the net. When municipal restrictions restrict the number of plants grown at one location, farmers can use a more prominent space by using this strategy.
Lollipopping is the process of reducing growth from the bottom part of the plant to focus energy on the higher branches that generate colas, giving the plant its name. This method, frequently utilized on SCROG grows, is particularly useful for indoor setups that provide the lowest branches with less light.
Topping and fimming (FIM)
Topping is the process of cutting a plant’s main stem at a 45-degree angle so that two colas instead of one develop. This technique stops the plant from growing like a Christmas tree by slowing the central stalk’s vertical development and giving the lower growth tips time to catch up. Additionally, growers can repeatedly “top” a plant to increase the number of growth tips from two to four.
The FIM method, also known as fimming, is a variation of topping that resulted in inaccurate plant topping, hence the acronym FIM, which stands for “F**k, I missed.” Fimming is pinching off most of a cannabis plant’s tip rather than cutting it off at a 45-degree angle.
Removing cannabis fan leaves
By reducing the amount of foliage, the plant has to maintain and increasing the amount of direct light to any growth sites below the canopy, removing fan leaves from the plant can be thought of as a training approach that seeks to direct the plant’s energy toward generating more enormous colas. Additionally, it lessens the possibility of a bug or mildew infection. Growers should take care while removing fan leaves because they do absorb light and give the plant energy.
Cannabis flowering phase
The female plant develops trichome-covered colas during the flowering phase, and the male plant produces and discharges its pollen during this time. During the 12/12 photoperiod, when the plant receives 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, cannabis plants naturally blossom.
Cannabis plants naturally flower from July to November in the Northern Hemisphere during the best daylight hours. The sun is in the sky for 12 hours on the autumnal equinox in September, with daylight gradually dwindling until and during the winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is accurate.
A cannabis plant can be forced to flower by using an artificial 12/12 light cycle indoors or in a light-controlled greenhouse.
When is cannabis ready for harvest?
The top glands of the capillary stalked trichomes on a female plant usually transform from clear to milky white when it’s time to harvest. Some growers can also time their harvest using the color of the stigmas. Stigmas frequently transition from white to orange or from red to brown. The usual flowering seasons of the cultivars that are being grown should also be known to growers.
Harvesting your cannabis
The valuable and fragile trichomes of the cannabis plant are at their most susceptible when it is time to harvest it. Heat, light, and/or oxygen in excess can destroy or prematurely activate cannabinoids and terpenes. Trichomes can break off the plant more easily if mishandled in harsh conditions because they become more fragile. Growers should use drying, pruning, and curing techniques that minimize the plant’s exposure to agitation when harvesting cannabis plants to prevent harm to the trichome glands.
Cut the entire plant at the root when your cannabis is ready to be harvested, or cut it into substantial branches. On a clothesline, hang your plant or cuttings upside-down in a place that is not extremely dry or damp. Some growers now start to groom their plants by removing all remaining fan leaves and some sugar leaves. Plants should be dried upside-down until the stems begin to crack when bent slightly.
You can prevent losing trichomes by not letting your branches touch any surfaces while drying on a hanger. The trichomes may become damaged and even separate from the plant if they come into contact with a cover. It typically takes the initial drying process three to seven days, depending on the environmental circumstances.
Several modifications will take place in the trichome gland as it dries. The removal of the powerful fragrance is the most noticeable. The loss of the most temperature-sensitive terpenes, or hydrocarbon chemicals, responsible for each cultivar’s distinctive aroma, is the cause of this. According to studies, the drying process results in the loss of up to 30% of monoterpenes, or terpenes with only two isoprene units, as opposed to sesquiterpenes, which have three isoprene units, diterpenes, which have four isoprene units, and so on, which are formed during the flowering stage. Additionally, terpene chemicals are oxidized and turn into terpenoid molecules when cannabis is dried.
Once the initial drying phase is complete, it’s time to finish cutting and to groom your bud. Cannabis is frequently stripped of its extra-sugary leaves, which are edible but contain fewer trichomes than the flower and can be unpleasant to smoke. However, sugar leaves are often not thrown away because they are excellent for making edibles or concentrates.
Holding your colas by the stem, start pruning by carefully removing any sugar leaves and stems covering the buds. This method is susceptible and demands close attention to every detail. It is ideal for performing this over a screen to catch trichomes that may break off the plant. Handle your marijuana with the utmost caution. Every moment of contact can result in trichome loss or damage. Whenever possible, hold your plants and branches by the end of the stem.
Wet trim vs. dry trim
Some growers prefer to trim their cannabis while it is still wet. However, most do it after drying. When cannabis is cut soon after harvesting, the leaves are still loaded with chlorophyll, which could cause a lingering grassy smell. The more conventional method is to trim the plant after it has lost its moisture.
Curing can be thought of as the last stage of drying, allowing microorganisms on the buds’ surface to degrade any remaining chlorophyll and ensuring the colas are just the right amount of moisture and dry.
Too-dry cannabis will decay more readily during transit and packaging, lose potency, and become overly harsh to smoke. On the other hand, a wet blossom may develop mold. Cannabis growers are very concerned about maintaining smell and flavor while curing. Cannabinoids and terpenes can be broken down by excessive light, oxygen, and heat, which reduces potency. The primary sign of a finely cured bud is maintaining a delicate balance between dry and moist.
Growers shouldn’t hasten the curing process. It frequently involves a lot of trial and error. Although preferences and available time to cure may vary among producers, one to two months is typically enough time. During the curing process, keeping the area around your cannabis cool is crucial.
Your clipped buds can be put through this curing process by being stored for 4 to 8 weeks in a glass jar or Rubbermaid container. The containers should be opened daily for the first week or two to let some new oxygen replenish the air inside. Burping is the term for this process, carried out repeatedly until the buds are at their ideal moisture level. The containers are opened every two to three days during the final two weeks of curing.
The best solution for short-term storage in glass jars. Cannabis storage containers should ideally be airtight and opaque to ensure adequate preservation of terpenes and cannabinoids. Growers should vacuum seal their finished product whenever possible for long-term storage.
Cannabis cultivation is a serious hobby shared by both amateur and professional growers. It takes a lot of effort and trial and error to become an expert marijuana producer. Still, with practice and a few helpful tips from seasoned cultivators, you’ll be able to give your plants a healthy life from seed, or clone, to harvest.
Local cannabis cultivation laws and regulations
In most countries and local governments where marijuana is legal — whether for medical or recreational purposes — some sort of home cultivation of marijuana is typically permitted. Growing rules, however, vary significantly from country to country and even city to city. If you want to or already do home growing, you must be informed of local laws and regulations.