Beginners: How to Grow Just One Pot Plant in Your Home
We are always flooded with questions from the home hobbyist asking, “how can I grow just one pot plant”. Well, we have those answers for you. With marijuana being mostly legal in over half of the country, no law enforcement officer is going to harass you over just one plant. Even on their slowest day.
How to begin:
First, let’s remove any fears you have that this is going to be difficult. It is not. We call it “weed” for a reason – because it grows easily and anywhere, like a weed. That being said, there is one central aspect to growing a pot plant that everyone needs to understand, and that is that cannabis is a flowering plant, meaning that in nature it bears fruits only once a year, during the fall season when the daylight hours grow shorter.
This is important for the home indoor grower because the light period, or photoperiod, of the plant must be controlled. What this simply means is that a pot plant must be placed in 12+ hours of light every day in order to keep the plant from flowering. You might ask, “Why not just let the plant flower immediately and harbor some nice boats and get to the smoking?” Well, in truth, you could do that. But if an immature plant flowers too early, there won’t be much harvest to be had. Ideally, a pot plant needs to grow, or vegetate, for at least a few weeks before flowering. Otherwise, the harvesting of its fruit will be extremely disappointing.
In order to keep a plant in vegetation and to garner a healthy, well-developed specimen, a young seedling should be grown for 4 to 6 weeks before flowering is induced. During this time, the plant should get a minimum of 16 hours of light, but 18 to 20 hours is a safer bet. To do this indoors – even near a window with good sunlight – a lamp will be needed to ensure the proper length of its photoperiod.
Your lamp is going to be the most expensive part of the process, but there are relatively inexpensive lamps available that will do the job. Serious growers use more specialized and expensive lamps, but to grow just one planet home, many lights will work. A 250-watt HID (high intensity discharge) bulb – either an HPS (high-pressure sodium) or MH (metal halide) – can be found in hardware stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot for as little as $25. However, these bulbs do require a specialized HID fixture and/or ballast, as they do not screw into any standard home fixture safely. These fixtures may run as much as $200.
Alternatively, if you do have a window with very good light and the power of the sun for a good portion of the day, you can also use fluorescent bulbs to supplement the sunlight after sunset. Fluorescent bulbs such as T5’s, T8’s or even CFL’s can provide enough light to keep your plant in a vegetative state.
However, remember that the less intense the light, the less the plant will develop. The option of fluorescent bulbs should only be used as a supplemental light for plants that receive strong sunlight during the day. If the light provided during the days too weak, a plant will stretch widely and will not develop well enough for harvest. If this is the case, consider using the 250-watt HID option for the full 12 hour photoperiod during flowering, away from the window in its own enclosed location.
Triggering the Flowering Cycle:
Once your plant has developed enough and reached a point that she can produce enough flowers for a decent harvest, it is time to bring her lifecycle to an even 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day. This does not mean that you will no longer need your lamp though. During the 12 hour photoperiod of flowering, the plant will need the strongest light possible to help her produce energy for her fruit.
If your plant could be in direct sunlight for these 12 hours, you would not need strong supplemental lighting. However, even indoors this is usually not possible. Your best option for flowering is to move your plant into an enclosed location such as a closet or cabinet where you can hang your lamp overhead and controlled the light cycle exactly as needed. To do this, use a standard outlet timer and set it to a 12 hour cycle.
During the dark cycle, it is extremely important that no light enters the plant space. Any light leaks can disrupt the plants flowering and cause stress or confuse the plant, forcing her to hermaphrodite (creating seeded flowers) or severely weaken yield and quality.
Other Tips and Tricks:
Aside from your light and the possible need for an enclosed space, other considerations for your plan include container types, mediums and nutrients. Because this discussion pertains to a single plant, there are many variable options for these aspects of cultivation. The best option for plant containers are those that offer breathability, such as fabric pots. Other considerations for plant pots include drainage holes and saucers to catch runoff. Remember not to let your plants sit in stagnant water for long periods of time as the pH will change and eventually be redrawn by the medium and the plant. Sitting water also attracts bugs and molds.
In terms of medium, a small bag of organic potting soil usually will do the trick just fine. Peat, coco, or sphagnum-based mediums are also excellent choices. Remember to choose an airy medium that will allow air to penetrate the root zone. Roots breathe and oxygen, while the plant aboveground breathers in CO2. Some mediums, especially organic soils, may come with mild organic nutrients such as guano or sea kelp already mixed in. This will lessen the amount of nutrients you will need to give your plants and may not require any feedings at all until you begin flowering. Recommendations for nutrients also tend towards the organic side whenever possible. Steer clear of salt heavy synthetics such as Miracle Gro and other artificial nutrients, as they will cause more problems than they are worth.
Other than those points, remember that growing a pot plant – or any plan for that manner – is an exercise that connects you with nature. The goal is to enjoy the process, to learn and to have fun! Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… and help the world grow too!