You may be wondering, “Why on earth would anyone want to grow just one cannabis plant?” Well, if you think about it, you’ll find a bunch of reasons why some folks might want to grow just one plant, such as:
Space limitations and time constraints: You’ll be able to grow a one-plant garden in a spare corner or closet with a relatively small time commitment.
Reduced cost: You’ll need less equipment, materials, water, and electricity for a one-plant harvest.
Legal restrictions: If your local laws only allow home grows of a few plants, you can start with a few clones, and take the best one to harvest.
Beginner grows: If you’re just starting out, you can learn from mistakes without putting too much cash and effort into your first few attempts.
Experimentation: More advanced cannabis cultivators may want to do one-plant grows to try out new techniques.
If you manage to pull off a decent harvest, your savings in dispensary weed can even offset your gardening investment. Who knows? You might decide to keep going with your new hobby. In any case, let’s get you started with our 10-step, seed-to-harvest guide to growing a single cannabis plant.
Step #1: Learn Everything You Can About Growing Cannabis
There’s no substitute for the advice of experienced cannabis growers. Cultivating top-notch ganja and harvesting high yields is both a science and an art, which takes years to master. You’ll want to spend some time studying the work of cannabis-growing experts, especially if you’re not already a gardener.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Marijuana Grower’s Handbook by the Guru of Ganja, Ed Rosenthal
True Living Organics by the Rev, Skunk magazine’s cannabis growing expert
The Cannabis Grow Bible by Greg Green
CNBS.org, a compilation of cannabis-related resources
Step #2: Order Seeds or Clones
The first decision you’ll need to make is the choice to start with seeds or clones from a reputable seed bank. If you’re planning to grow from seed, you’ll want to buy at least a 3-pack just in case the first seed fails to germinate. And since you’re just growing one plant, you’ll need high-quality feminized seeds to make sure your plant’s a bud-producing female.
With clones, you can be sure that your plant will be female. But depending on where you live, you may have difficulty obtaining clones or have a limited strain selection.
Your second big decision will be which strain of cannabis you’ll grow. Some questions you may want to ask yourself before choosing a strain include:
Is this strain easy to grow? Select a hearty variety that’s relatively pest and disease resistant.
What are the minimum and maximum yields from this strain? Since you’re only growing one plant indoors, you’ll want a strain that’s capable of large yields in small spaces.
What are your desired effects? Are you looking for a strain for relaxing after work, energizing your creativity, or for therapeutic purposes?
Step #3: Choose Your Grow Space
Before you head off to buy equipment, you’ll need to decide where you’re going to grow. Here’s a few important things to consider when choosing your grow space:
Location to services: Select a growing area that’s convenient for electrical access, water supplies, and exhaust windows.
Privacy: Besides protecting your plant from prying eyes, you’ll want to keep your grow area safe from children and pets who can damage plants and introduce insects.
Tent or closet: While repurposed closets may seem convenient, you’ll need to modify them considerably to make them suitable for growing cannabis. Small grow tents are relatively economical and offer many advantages. If you have a bit of extra money to invest, you can even buy a grow tent package that includes everything you’ll need.
Step #4: Decide on Your Grow Medium
Indoor growers have a ton of choices with respect to grow mediums: rockwool, coco coir, jiffy pellets, even aeroponics. However, good old-fashioned soil is by far the best growing medium for a one-plant grow, especially if you’re a beginner.
Soil naturally maintains a certain level of balance in nutrient levels. With soil, you won’t have to obsess about the pH of your water or shell out tons of cash for expensive nutrients.
We recommend starting with a high-quality, organic soil and adding perlite to increase airflow and drainage.
Step #5: Get Equipment and Set Up Your Space
The most essential and costly equipment you’ll need are grow lights, fans, and filters.
Since you’re only growing one plant, you have several viable choices when it comes to lighting, including:
Metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium(HPS) - As more growers are switching to LED and other modern lighting systems, you’ll be able to find used old-school MH/HPS systems at deep discounts. You may even have a friend who’s willing to lend you some lights. However, MH and HPS lights tend to use a fair amount of electricity and generate a lot of heat. The cost of your power bill may quickly outweigh the low investment for lights.
Compact fluorescents (CFLs) - CFL’s are by far the best budget option for small grows. They’re inexpensive to purchase, cheap to run, and don’t give off much heat. You can screw CFLs into just about any light fixture you already have on hand, so you won’t need an expensive ballast. CFLs don’t generate much heat, so you can place them closer to your buds and use them for the seedling stage without worrying about burning your plants.
Full-spectrum LED - If you’re not on a tight budget, a full-spectrum LED is the way to go for your indoor grow. LEDs are energy efficient, and you won’t need to worry about changing bulbs for the flowering stage. Furthermore, LEDs hardly generate any heat, so you’ll be able to let your plant grow taller without worrying about it getting burned by your light.
A fan and a filter are essential items for a grow room, even if you’re only growing one plant. Your plant will need adequate airflow to thrive, you may need to reduce the heat from the lights, and you’ll probably want to filter out the cannabis odor during the flowering stage. Although you can buy them separately, a fan/filter combo will work fine for a single plant harvest.
Humidity is another critical consideration for growing cannabis. Depending on your location, you may need a humidifier or dehumidifier to optimize conditions in your grow space. In any case, make sure you place a thermometer and hygrometer in your grow area.
You’ll need to gather a few other relatively inexpensive items before starting your grow, such as:
Containers in at least three different sizes
Razors and scissors for pruning and training
NPK fertilizers and/or organic teas
A pH kit, jeweler’s loupe, spray bottle, and a timer
Steps #6: Germinate Seeds or Start Clones
The most common way to germinate cannabis seeds is to soak them in a glass overnight, and then use the paper towel method to get them to sprout.
Once your seed has sprouted, you’ve planted it in soil, and it starts to grow, your plant will have entered the delicate seedling stage. Think of your new plant as a baby. Make sure you don’t overwater or overfeed your seedling, and be careful not to burn it with your grow light.
When your plant grows around seven or eight sets of leaves, transfer it into a pot about double the size of your original container. Give the plants 3 or 4 days to adapt to the new containers, and then prepare the conditions of your grow room for the vegetative stage.
Step #7: Conquer the Vegetative Stage
The vegetative stage is your big chance to convince your plant to yield a huge harvest. There are a lot of factors that will contribute to the development of your plant, including:
Lighting: The optimum light cycle for the vegetative stage is 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. If you’re not using a full-spectrum LED, make sure that your bulbs emit blue spectrum light.
Feeding: Plants need lots of nitrogen during the vegetative stage. Be careful not to overwater your plant.
Training: Use fimming, topping, and low-stress training to get your plant to expand horizontally into an even canopy. This will allow your plant to continue to flower without a protruding top bud getting too close to the grow lights.
Protecting: Monitor for pests and diseases. Neem oil is an excellent all-purpose, natural insecticide.
Step #8: Ace the Flowering Stage
You’ll need to make a few major changes to switch your plant to the flowering stage:
Change the light cycle to 12 hours on and 12 hours off, and switch to red-spectrum bulbs if you’re using a CFL or MH/HPS setup.
Give your plant a fertilizer with less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium.
Examine your plant carefully. Pests and mold can sneak into the center of your buds and ruin your crop.
Step #9: Harvest and Cure Your Buds
One of the biggest questions for beginner cannabis growers is knowing when to harvest. Some tell-tale signs that you buds are ready to harvest include:
The leaves start turning yellow and falling off.
Pistils turn orange or red and shrink.
The trichomes change from clear to mostly cloudy to amber. Use a jeweler’s loupe to inspect the trichomes.
It’s a good idea to read up on harvesting and curing while your waiting for your buds to mature. After all that hard work, you won’t want to ruin your crop with improper curing. You can find plenty of videos on harvesting and curing on YouTube.
Step #10: Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor!
After your buds have cured for a few weeks, you can finally reap the rewards of months of effort growing your cannabis plant. Roll up a doobie or test your bud with a dry-herb vape to get the full flavor. Turn your leaves and trim into butter or oil for cooking. You can even make tea from the stems. Now that you’ve successfully completed your first one-plant grow, are you ready to turn it up the intensity and rise to step 11?
Next time...Grow two plants.