Growing – International Highlife
Less strict laws lead to more indoor growing by individuals then there has ever been before. These small grow setups can save a frequent cannabis smoker a lot of money in the long run. An adequate grow light is essential for producing large yields.
We reviewed the best LED grow light options you can currently buy on Amazon and we also break down the main difference and advantages between the top 10 best sellers.
There are several reasons why you want to buy a LED light for your cannabis grow operation. It’s possible to mimic the same light from the sun using a full spectrum LED grow light. High-quality cannabis can be produced indoors as opposed to growing outside.
Growing inside a controlled environment allows for higher quality yields that average higher THC content compared to outdoor grows. Having the ability to control the plant’s food intake from light is the trick behind dense and potent nugs.
The cost to run LED grow lights vary depending on the watts; however, it’s much cheaper than any other technology. The number of plants being grown will determine the number of watts needed. We go over the suggested watts and amount of plants further below. This guide was made for those new to growing weed and want to learn more about the best LED grow lights to buy in 2019. We will keep this list updated as we discover new and improved grow lights for cannabis.
Best LED Grow Lights For Weed In 2019
So what are the best grow lights available for growing weed indoors? The technology has been advancing faster than ever now that the cultivation of cannabis is slowly legalized throughout the entire planet. Grow lights are becoming more efficient at producing more light while consuming less power than other types of grow lights. Now really is the perfect time to get your foot into the door growing marijuana with an affordable cost. It’s important to look for a light emitting diode grow light with a warranty; this will protect you from malfunction failures that can occur with this technology. A guarantee shows that the company has confidence in its product.
We researched the best selling on Amazon and broke down their key features and any issues we found in negative reviews. We save you from having to research the many LED grow lights available for sale online. Learn about the difference between an adequate and not so good LED grow light with our in-depth guide.
There are different stages for growing marijuana which include the vegetative and flowering. During the vegetative stage of growing weed, less light is required compared to the flowering stage. There are a few factors to consider when purchasing a grow light for growing cannabis. We are going to explain the most important features to consider when purchasing a LED light adequate for growing marijuana. Some LED cannabis grow lights have modes available for both the veg and grow stage.
Full Spectrum Led Grow Lights
What’s all the hype behind full spectrum led grow lights and are they worth the extra cost? This feature is essential for maximizing your indoor cannabis grow. Full spectrum provides the same effects as light from the sun. It mimics the same properties of sunlight and provides bigger grows compared to grow lights without full spectrum.
The price for a full spectrum LED grow light can range anywhere between hundred to a couple of hundred dollars depending on the number of watts.
Best LED Grow Lights On The Market
There is a lot to learn about the features that are important for LED grow lights. The most common thing you’re going to keep seeing is watts. This simply helps to determine how many plants the LED grow light can support.
Marijuana grow lights are more efficient and cheaper than ever. We found that Amazon had much better prices than any local hydroponics store in the bay area. It’s much cheaper to buy an LED grow light on Amazon than from a local store.
The price for growing your own cannabis will be paid back after your first grow operation if you have six plants grown in 5-gallon pots. It’s not required, but a grow tent should also be used for a better enivornment control.
It’s crucial to have absolute control over your cannabis grow area to prevent bugs that can destroy your entire efforts.
If you want to learn more about growing cannabis you should take a look at our growing section.
Top 10 Best LED Grow Lights 2019
There is a huge variety of LED grow lights available on Amazon. Positive customer reviews are an essential part why we listed these LED lights on top. Next to the positive reviews, we reveal what we found in the negative reviews to expose any issues. These best selling LED grow lights do not have any serious issues, more like little to none.
1. King Plus King LED – Best 1000 Watt LED Grow Light
We start off with the King Plus brand. While investigating this 1000 watt LED grow light we discovered outstanding customer service response. Their worst review became their best review after a customer of theirs reported the quality of their LED grow light was poor. This review was then updated from the customer reporting a replacement was given free of charge. This review received a large positive response from other Amazon customers. You can choose between 600W, 1000W and 1200W. 600W costs $89, 1000W $112 and 1200W $139.
With over 1’000 positive reviews, there are no other grow LED grow lights on Amazon with as many positive reviews as King Plus. The overall rating is 4.5 of 5 stars.
- Light Life Space: 100,000 hours
- Price: $112
- Warranty:3 years
2. ViparSpectra Fire Resistant Reflector LED Grow Light – 600 watts
The idea of a reflector on an LED grow light was a very good one until poorly produced LED grow lights from China started to catch fire.
This created a bad image for the technology. The company Viparspectra has developed their own fire resistant reflector. The huge advantage from the reflector technology is the higher PAR (photosynthetic active radiation) output.
A 4.5 rating from over 500 reviews proves that the clients are very happy with this product.
- Price: $199
- Warranty:3 years
- Hours of use:100,000
3. Phlizon Marijuana LED Grow light
With a score of 4.3 of 5 from 609 reviews, this LED light has a solid rating. There are many different reviews done on youtube for the so-called best, and the Philzon grow light is a fan favorite. It’s always more authentic if these claims are supported by a solid grow report.
We recommend their 1200wat LED grow light for those who are growing 4-6 cannabis plants. It can fit comfortably in a 5×5 tent.
There is a double switch option that allows you to crank the light during flowering. All the essential spectrums are included with this grow light for growing cannabis, UV, white light, Red IR.
There was one common complaint found when researching the top most voted negative review, and it had nothing to do with the actual performance of this LED grow light. Instead, the number one complaint was merely that the box it comes in has the words grow light all over it. Discretion is always an important aspect for cannabis consumers, especially if you live in a state or country where cannabis is still illegal.
- Watts: 1200
- Warranty: 2 years
4. BESTVA 2000w LED Grow Light
This is a dual chip grow light with 10w per light. The BESTVA 2000w LED grow light for weed is as powerful as a 1400 watt HPS grow light. This LED grow light can adequately cover a 7×7 grow tent filled with cannabis plants. It has fans which run quietly and effective at keeping the LED lights cool.
The standard for a grow light ability to function should be 50,000 hours; this running up 100,000 hours. The best full spectrum led grow lights will range between 50-100 hours of life and come with a warranty to back that claim up! It’s not very heavy only weighing almost 11 pounds.
The rating of this LED is a 4.5 from over 300 reviews.
- Warranty: 3 years
- Hours of use: 100,000
5. Yehsence 1500 watt LED Grow Light
This is a 3pc 5 watt each chip grow light with 1500 watts total. There is a switch for both veg and flower too making it possible to turn both on at the same time.
There is a 3-year warranty from Yehsence in case there are any mechanical failures. This is one of the lightest LED grow lights available for sale at only 6.5 pounds. This LED has a 4.5 rating from over 170 reviews.
- Watts: 1500
- Price: $149
- Warranty: 3 years
- Hours of use: 100,000
6. HIGROW 1000w LED Grow Light For Weed
The HIGROW brand has established itself as a reliable LED grow light for growing quality cannabis flower. The proof can be found on the review photos uploaded on Amazon from happy customers who bought this LED grow light.
The reason behind why this specific grow light for weed is so successful is because of the technology behind it. Each LED is super bright because they contain a double chip with 10 watts. There are 100 lights in total. This grow light can replace a 600W HPS and consume only 200W. This LED is rated 4.5 from over 170 reviews.
- Watts: 1000
- Price: $109
- Warranty: 3 years
- Lifespan: 50,000
7. MARS HYDRO Cannabis LED Grow Light
The Mars Hydro offers the perfect solution for beginners and growers with a limited budget. We found a lot of satisfied buyers who shared pictures of their cannabis grows with this LED light on Amazon. Many photos are of large colas covered with trichomes. Mars Hyrdro sales grow lights for cannabis that range from 300-1200 watts. Starting price for a Mars Hydro cannabis led grow light is $72.99 and ranges up to $863.00. At the moment there are a total combined 1050 reviews which average 4.4 stars on Amazon for this LED light.
- Price: $72.99
- Watts: 300
- Warranty: 3 years
- Lifespan: 50,000
8. AGLEX – Efficient Full Spectrum LED Grow Light
There is a 600 watt and 1200 watt version of this cannabis grow light. We liked the design better than all the others on our list. For a 3×3 grow area we recommend the 600-watt version. This brand claims its product will beat the competition with superior harvest and quality. This is a reflector type LED grow light which will emit more photons.
The Aglex 1200 watt is as strong as the 1000w HPS grow light and can replace it sufficiently. Making the switch from HPS to LED will reduce your electricity bill significantly. It allows for a more efficient grow setup that is the most cost-effective. This LED light enjoys an excellent rating so far with an average of 4.6 from over 50 reviews.
- Price: $229
- Watts: 2000
- Warranty: 3 years
- Lifespan: Could not locate information.
9. YGROW – Best LED Grow Lights For Cannabis
Another reflector design LED grow light for cannabis. After there being fires from other brands, this company decided to add a shut-off feature if the temperature reaches 95 degrees. There is an 18 hour limit max use for this particular model.
This brand has only 75 and 600 watts available, we recommend their 600 version for your 3×3 grow tent. This light emits every spectrum the sun does which results in cannabis plants growing to their full potential.
Amazon buyers rated this item with an average of 4.2 coming from over 170 reviews.
- Price: $84.99
- Watts: 600 watts
- Warranty: 2 years
- Lifespan: 50,000
10. VIVOSUN 300W – Best LED Weed Grow Light
This brand is well known for its high-quality marijuana to grow tents and they are quite popular. Vivisun has developed high efficiency performing LED lights for growing weed.
Although people say this is nearly identical to the LED grow light from Viparspectra, it has superior airflow and a stronger fan.
Their 300 watts grow light is perfect for those who have a small growing area such as a 2×2 tent. This is perfect growing cannabis seeds and clones during the vegetative state. This product has a 4.3 rating on Amazon coming from over 50 reviews.
- Price: $65.00
- Watts: 300
- Warranty: 3 years
- Lifespan: 100,000
Best Grow Lights For The Money
That completes our list of the best LED grow lights. Follow our list to find cheap and high-quality light for growing cannabis at home.
Make sure to avoid unknown products with little to no feedback. It’s probably not worth the risk and it could also result in a low-quality harvest.
This list is a good starting point for everyone who’s looking into growing cannabis at home. If you don’t want to spend an excessive amount of money, this list is even better for you.
We understand that it can be a daunting task to research the best LED grow light for growing marijuana, especially if you don’t have any expertise. A few years ago we have been there as well and that’s why we developed this guide, not only for the beginner but also also for the advance grower.
We made it easy to identify the latest marijuana growing lights and technology with our list. By now you have gone throughout the list and can determine what led grow light is best for weed.
The next crucial step is learning how to maintain your grow and not disturbing your plants while they have the lights off. Allowing light to touch your cannabis plants while they are sleeping can ruin your entire crop. We explain how to avoid ruining cannabis grow operation and what steps to follow for an efficient experience.
How to Grow Marijuana
It’s essential to learn about the best practices when you grow your own cannabis. Following a schedule for growing cannabis is the best method for beginners.
Don’t worry because we wrote an in-depth on how to grow weed guide from our professional grower. If you follow this guide, you will be able to set up an efficient grow operation. Growing for the first time can lead to a lot of beginners mistakes that can be avoided with our how to grow marijuana guide.
We’ve been amazed by how many products we found on Amazon. The best thing about the LED grow lights is their ability to reduce the cost of your electricity bill. Further, the initial cost to buy a LED light is much more affordable than any other type of light. If you don’t want to support Amazon, make sure to check out your local headshop. Many of them already carry LED products.
The post Is It Done Yet? When to Harvest Marijuana For the Best Results appeared first on International Highlife.
In fact, this is exactly the time that you need to be more careful. The final stage of your plant’s life is crucial to the quality and effects of the harvested bud. Considering that growing cannabis is a significant time and money investment, it is important to make sure everything goes smoothly.
When to Harvest Marijuana Plants
Right timing is the key behind a successful harvest. After the flowering period ends, your plant is likely to wilt and lose some leaves as it focuses on producing more bud sites. That’s completely normal and shouldn’t alarm you.
In order to get the most out of your buds, you must harvest within the appropriate time frame. Generally, plants harvested at the earlier stages of this window contain more THC, while harvesting later will provide a more CBD-rich experience. Unfortunately, there is no standard time for harvesting, as there are many variables at play. Not all strains grow at the same rates and imbalances in the growing medium or deficiencies might impede a plant’s development.
However, there are some ways you can determine the best time for your particular needs. The only things you’ll need to find the best harvest time are a good magnifying glass and plenty of patience.
The Pistil Method
The first method we are going to examine is often called the “pistil method“. The premise is you can identify whether a plant is ready by examining its pistils.
In case you have never heard of them before, the pistils are the hair-like strings covering the bud sites. Provided you know what to look for, they can give you a good first impression about your buds’ ripeness.
As the flowering period draws to a close, these strings will gradually turn from white to orange and then dark brown, signaling that the plant is almost ready to harvest. For peak THC, you should harvest when around 70% of the pistils have turned brown. On the other hand, if you like the stoned effect, harvest when 90% of the hairs have curled.
However, this method is problematic for one key reason: Cannabis comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Therefore, some varieties will naturally have different pigments on their pistils, making the process of identification too complex.
Unless you know the strain you are growing inside and out, we suggest using the second method, which we explain in detail below.
The Trichome Method
The trichomes are the sparkly, resinous glands on top of the marijuana flower. These little guys are full of THC and other cannabinoids. They are the main ingredient of the kief that is used in hash making and also, they hold the key behind a successful harvest!
Trichomes may not seem like much with the naked eye. However, if you take a closer look (really closer, with a magnifying glass or a macro lens), you will see that they have a very distinct structure, with a small stalk and a mushroom-like head. These little crystals are super sensitive to outside stimulation and are the main ingredient of kief.
Like pistils, trichomes also change their color approaching maturity. You will need a 50x-100x magnifier in order to observe them clearly, but the progression goes like this:
- Transparent glands (not ready for harvest)
- 50% milky white, cloudy glands (slightly immature, ready for harvest)
- 70-80% cloudy trichomes (more THC, ready for harvest)
- Cloudy trichomes turn amber (more CBD, ready for harvest)
- All amber trichomes (smoke at your own risk)
Determining which trichome is “clear” and “cloudy” is easier said than done. It takes training and experience before you can tell. Until then, Google is your friend! We have also added some images to help you with identification.
Of course, you are free to use both methods together. A little bit of detective work will make you a much better grower and will provide much more accurate data. Remember that proper drying and curing of your plant is the final step towards an excellent product, so be sure to follow our detailed guide here.
At a Glance
- The “harvest window” opens once your plant stops growing pistils (white hairs). Do take this advice with a grain of salt though. For reliable info, contact your breeder. If you didn’t buy your seeds from a good breeder, pray for the best!
- Mostly cloudy trichomes are a sign that your cannabis plant is reaching peak THC levels. Again, not all strains are the same. The best course of action is to get more familiar with what you are growing.
- As time goes on, THC will break down to CBD and CBN, providing a gradually more sedative effect. If you like your pot to hit you like a ton of bricks, wait until most trichomes turn amber. Beware though: It’s all about genetics! You will never get more THC or CBD from a plant than it is “programmed” to produce.
- Harvesting too early is better than harvesting too late. Overripe marijuana is not a pleasant experience. Trust me.
- If you feel unsure, try harvesting in parts! Cut small pieces off your plant and keep a record of your experience. This way, you will have a better idea of what to do the next time.
Finding the right time to harvest marijuana is only hard in your first couple of grows. Especially if you are growing specific strains of marijuana, it is even easier to “read between the lines” and find the sweet spot of your plant.
For more information on harvesting, drying, and curing marijuana, see our detailed article here. Also, if you have any personal experience you’d like to share, leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you!
The post Is It Done Yet? When to Harvest Marijuana For the Best Results appeared first on International Highlife.
Hydroponics is the practice of growing cannabis (or pretty much any other herb or vegetable) in a bath, flow or mist of oxygenated and nutrient-filled water. The plants themselves are growing in an inert growing medium (such as perlite, gravel or coco coir). As you might have noticed by now, the big deal with hydroponics is that you can grow anything indoors without the need for soil.
All of the plant’s nutrients come from photosynthesis and nutrient solutions that you add directly to the water. The trick is that, since the nutrients reach the roots directly in the water, so the plants grow faster and cleaner as they don’t spend the energy “searching” for them.
What Is the Difference Between Hydro and Soil?
The differences between hydroponics and soil have to do mainly with the nutrient intake of the cannabis plants. In soil, decomposition breaks down organic matter (like fertilizer, compost, etc.) into the three primary macronutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (N-P-K). Watering allows for the ingestion of those compounds by the roots. However, for this to work correctly, all aspects must be perfectly balanced (something that almost never happens).
Inevitably, in the soil, a good deal of the nutrients goes to waste due to nutrient lockdowns, soil contamination, and extreme pH fluctuations. On the contrary, hydroponic grows to guarantee that the pH and nutrients in the water are always in check. Also, hydroponics are virtually immune to contamination and pests, as the substrates that are used as growing mediums are sterile and inert.
Why Grow Cannabis Hydroponically?
Hydroponic mediums offer quicker harvests and bigger yields due to the more efficient nutrient distribution. In hydroponics, you are in absolute control of all the various nutrients of the plant. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be checking your plant 24/7! In fact, many of the processes involved in hydroponic cannabis rely on automation to work properly.
As the root system in oxygenated water, nutrients and oxygen circulate much more efficiently. That is why hydroponics is the way to go for people that want a clean growing environment and the highest possible yields from their plants.
Cons of Hydroponic Marijuana
It’s not all fun and games when growing hydroponically. The most important setback in hydroponics are the higher costs. The investment needed for setting up a hydroponic grow is considerable (from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars). That’s quite a lot compared to a budget indoor grow setup. However, as the harvest time shortens and yields increase, it won’t be long before you see a return on your investment.
These costs break down to:
- A hydroponic system
- Grow lights
- A grow area
- Automation equipment
- Equipment to measure pH levels, temps, and humidity
Also, some growers have found that growing hydroponic cannabis has a negative effect on taste, as the flavor is less “natural”. However, many growers claim that the smoking experience is better, as there is less salt buildup in the plant’s system.
Hydroponic Cannabis Grow Systems
There is not just one way to “do” hydroponic cannabis. In fact, there are several systems, the most popular of which is the “ebb and flow” method. The way it works is relatively simple:
- A reservoir containing water and nutrients is put directly on a growing tray that holds the plants and the substrate
- A small pump with a timer is used to push water on the growing tray (flow)
- When the timer shuts the pump off, the water ebbs back into the reservoir
Naturally, the reservoir water must be changed frequently as much of it is lost due to evaporation, but this method is fairly easy even for a beginner. Plus, everything is automated and sanitary. For a more visual tutorial, you can watch this great video by BBC Earth, which presents a basic ebb and flow system in greater depth.
You can build a custom ebb and flow system or buy a ready-made one. The pros of this particular system are that it is simple, the reservoir water maintains a stable temperature, and it is easy to maintain. However, mineral buildups can cause the pH of the water to increase, leading to nutrient lockouts.
Let’s look at other hydroponic growing systems for your marijuana garden. Bear in mind that this (alphabetical) list is not exhaustive, but merely explains the best-known methods. Feel free to experiment and share your favorite system with other users in the comment section!
This particular subset of hydroponic grows involves no growing medium whatsoever (except the Jiffy pellets used to germinate the seed). The roots are hanging mid-air inside a humid, lightless and water-tight chamber and a nutrient solution is sprayed directly on them. Obviously, this method offers unparalleled oxygen flow and a very noticeable improvement in harvest speed. Also, no water is lost due to evaporation, as there is no water reservoir to speak of. Bear in mind that aeroponics is the most advanced method of growing.
Deep Water Culture (DWC)
The concept here is to submerge the roots in the reservoir, ensuring a constant flow of oxygen. For that, you must add an air rock or an oxygen pump, like the ones used in fish tanks. The oxygen-rich bubbles will reach the roots, aiding in their development. However, this method might also require you to buy a water chiller to avoid problems from increasing water temperatures.
Drip irrigation is silent, simple and cost-effective. The way it works is through a water line that goes all the way from the reservoir to the plants via small droppers. The nutrient solution will slowly drip to the plants, feeding them regularly and efficiently. Due to the small amount of water used, evaporation is minimal
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
Essentially, this is a modification of the ebb and flow method. In this version, the tray above the reservoir (the grow bed) is tilted, using gravity to let the nutrients drain in a “film” back to the tank. The exposure to oxygen and constant water flow is very beneficial for your plants. However, you need to check your nutrient pump constantly. If it breaks, your plant might die very quickly.
This one might take you back because chances are you have already used this method for a school project. It works with wicks of a sponge-like material (like cotton) submerged into the nutrient solution which feeds the plant via capillary action (fluid flowing upwards). The plant container sits atop the nutrient tank, so the water doesn’t need to travel very far to get to the growing medium. Obviously, this is a convenient way to grow lentils for a school project. Unfortunately, things get slightly more complicated with marijuana and other fruiting plants: Due to the increased water requirements, a wick system can quickly become inefficient. However, it is a good way to understand a thing or two about hydroponics!
Hydroponic Marijuana Substrates
Although you won’t be using soil, hydroponically grown plants need a substrate to hold them upright and retain water and minerals. The best known are:
Coco Coir (coconut fiber)
A very popular choice, coco coir is the husk of the coconut modified in a way that can be used as a substrate. Coco is great at holding large amounts of water and mineral, plus it is naturally resistant to mold and bacterial infections. In hydroponic grows, coco coir should be watered sparingly to avoid drowning the plants.
The name of this substrate is pretty self-explanatory: Little pellets of clay that can be rinsed and reused for many subsequent grows. Their versatility makes them a favorite among budget and newbie growers, as they also don’t hold much water (meaning that overwatering is less likely). Oxygen flows freely around these spheres, so that’s also good news for the roots!
- Rockwool is cheap and versatile, but not recommended for first-timers. It’s made of basalt and silica, materials that are designed to retain moisture. That means you should be extremely careful with the water flow you allow through this medium. In addition, the pH of rockwool is slightly more alkaline, therefore you should neutralize it before use in marijuana cultivation.
Also, it should be pointed out that “isolation” Rockwool is a different kind of material and completely unsuitable for marijuana growing!
Vermiculite is another natural mineral that acts sort of like an opposite to perlite. It expands with heat and retains a lot of water without being too permeable.
The main disadvantage to vermiculite is that after an extended period of use, it will disintegrate and fall apart, so it needs to be mixed with other substrates for an ideal growing medium. It’s commonly used in soil in ratios from between 1:5 to 1:10.
Much like most of the other substrates, we presented here; perlite can be used either as a primary growing medium or as a supplement. Perlite pebbles are made by magmatic rock and are specifically designed for agriculture and hydroponic grows. As a result, perlite makes up for a perfect hydroponic substrate: It breathes, retains minimal amounts of water and allows nutrients to flow freely in the roots. Note that both perlite and Rockwool can be dangerous if inhaled, so exercise caution when working with them.
Nutrients In Hydroponic Marijuana Grows
Nutrients, water, and light are the most important elements of all plant life. Like all flora on earth, marijuana plants absorb nutrients and water through their roots and photosynthesize through their leaves. Contrary to soil grows, in hydroponics, you need to insert the bottled nutrients in the reservoir manually.
The essential nutrients that a marijuana plant needs are:
- Nitrogen (N)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Potassium (K)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Sulfur (S)
When you are on the market for hydroponic nutrient supplements (or any other form), you will notice the label has an N-P-K indication. So, if you see a nutrient bottle with a 20-15-10 solution, that means 20% Nitrogen, 15% Phosphorus, and 10% Potassium. These are the elements that your plant needs the most.
Other micro-nutrients include
- Boron (B)
- Zinc (Zn)
- Iron (Fe)
- Chlorine (Cl)
- Molybdenum (Mo)
If budget is a concern, try to get powder nutrients that you mix with water yourself. It will save you a lot of money, as pre-mixed bottled nutrients are far costlier. When adding nutrients to your reservoir, err on the side of caution. Too much feeding can kill your plants before you even notice. Follow the instructions and if you are unsure, add less. Also, as water evaporates, it is best to top up the reservoir by adding regular tap water that you have aged for a few days beforehand.
You should change the water solution fortnightly. Rinse the components with hot water and then refill the reservoir. Also, you should turn on the timer that you use to pump nutrients every 20 minutes or so, to avoid abnormal root growth. Also, you should be careful that the roots don’t clog the cups. Ideally, they should be short enough not to touch the narrow point where the solution enters the cup holder. If you notice abnormal root growth, chop them down with a pair of scissors.
The post Cannabis Training Techniques: The Definitive Guide appeared first on International Highlife.
Why You Should Train Your Cannabis Plants
Weed can indeed grow, develop and complete a life cycle without human input. Plant (and bud) development relies on certain chemicals and hormones within the plant. In nature, those compounds primarily promote the growth of the parts of the plant that are more exposed to the light. Therefore, in the best of cases, you would end up with a marijuana plant shaped like a Christmas tree and measly flower production. Plant training is essential because it increases the surface of the plant that is exposed to light (canopy), allowing for significantly improved yields.
Training is even more important when growing indoors, as artificial grow lights are much weaker than the sun and offer lower penetration among the foliage. And although bud production outdoors is always better, a non-trained plant will have significantly lower yields.
Marijuana Training Types
There are three main types of plant training and four times as many different techniques. By type, we mean the greater category in which a particular method falls into.
The three main types of marijuana training are:
- Strategically damaging the plant (High-Stress Techniques)
- Bending the Plant
- Manipulating the Environment of the Grow Room (indoors)
We will see the techniques associated with each one of these categories in a moment. All of the above can be applied separately or in tandem, depending on the particular situation (i.e. you can’t manipulate the light intake of an outdoor plant).
The growth and development of cannabis depend on a morphogenic hormone called “auxin,” that is responsible for the behavioral processes of many plant species. On default mode, this hormone will direct much of the energy of the plant towards the main stalk (cola or kola). Your goal as a grower will be to redirect this energy evenly, so the plant grows horizontally rather than vertically.
The most popular cannabis training methods are:
- Screen of Green (ScrOG)
- Sea of Green (SoG)
- Low-Stress Training (LST)
- Monster Cropping
Cannabis Training Techniques
Even if you are an inexperienced or even a first-time grower, you will be able to implement most of the techniques below. Most of them do not require extensive knowledge, so just follow the instructions and you’ll be golden!
Sea of Green (SOG)
Best implemented in gardens with a considerable number of plants, this method offers quicker harvest times. The idea is to create an even canopy by placing the plants close together and then induce flowering while they are still young (a few weeks before flowering). That way, the plants stay short, but the collective canopy will produce more bud sites and increased yields.
Sea of Green is great if:
- You have a garden with many (>5) smaller plants.
- You want quicker harvests.
- You don’t mind caring for a lot of plants.
- You are sure that you can provide a good growing environment.
Sea of Green can be applied simply by switching to a flowering light cycle when the plants are about five weeks old. If unsure, wait a bit longer, as a couple of more weeks on the vegetative stage can help your plants. According to some growers, removing the tops of the seedlings in the early stages of development (5-7 pairs of leaves) can increase the production of flowers, although this hasn’t been proven.
Screen of Green (SCROG)
This method is among the best known in the growing world and involves a horizontal mesh spread above the plants. As the plants grow through the mesh, their top branches spread horizontally, exposing more stalks to the light.
Contrary to the SOG method, SCROG is more efficient for smaller time grows, as it makes better use of the grow lights. Essentially, the SOG and SCROG methods resemble a jungle and a field respectively: In SOG, you are counting on the top to make most buds, while with SCROG you make the most of the plants you already have.
When implementing SCROG into your grow, you will need to make a mesh and a frame to put it. The openings of the mesh should be wide enough to accommodate the stalks and made out of a durable, yet flexible material. Good old string will do the trick. The frame could be made of anything, so long as it fits your grow room.
It is important that you try and keep all of the plants at the same height. That’s why frequently SCROGing goes hand in hand with topping (explained below). As the main branch is separated into two and tucked into the mesh, more bud sites are created.
Marijuana is a surprisingly sturdy plant. Its survival mechanisms had thousands of years to evolve, adapt and overcome adversities. The actual process of topping involves cutting the tip of your plants’ main stalk. When it resumes growing, the tip will have split in two, growing two main branches instead of one. Even better, with proper support (see SCROG), this process can be repeated ad infinitum. That’s the magic of nature for you!
Topping is also beneficial for the undergrowth of your marijuana plant. As you are effectively turning the plant “upside down,” most of the growing area will be exposed to the light. Also, using SCROG and topping in tandem will help your plant grow bushier and thicker than taller. A very efficient solution, if you don’t have a lot of vertical space in your grow room, especially if you have a lot of stretchy sativas.
How to Top Marijuana
As we’ve seen earlier, if left to its own devices, marijuana will focus its energy on developing the main stalk. The reason behind this is natural selection: As the biggest and most powerful part, it stands the higher chance of surviving and spreading its genes.
In that sense, topping is not so different from all the other training methods. It just helps with the redistribution of growth hormones in a way that promotes bigger yields. Removing just the tip of the marijuana plant will result in two new tips forming directly below it. However, these new nodes will be equally strong with the first one, resulting in more efficient grows.
FIMming (FIM standing for “Fuck, I’ve Missed”) is almost the same as topping. The difference is that with this method, you cut just a few centimetres above, directly through the vegetation that forms on the stalk. The goal is to cut approximately 80% of the tip, effectively topping two tips that are still emerging. So, with one cut you get four new stalks and maybe more if you are lucky. This method works best if implemented during the vegetative stage and if you are growing just a few plants.
How To FIM Marijuana
It is hard to gauge the effectiveness of FIMming, because it is based on the lack of precision! However, it should be done during the vegetative stage. Hold the growing tip on the top of your main branch and pull back the smaller leaves. Cut through the tip (not below it) with a sharp pair of scissors and hope that you get four new stalks (more can be hard to control). Make sure that you use a sharp instrument so that the cut will be clean.
Low-Stress Training (LST)
Low-Stress Training is a method that does not involve any harming of the plant whatsoever. Most of the training methods we’ve seen so far involve the “stressing” of the plant, but with LST, the goal is to create an even, flat canopy without causing any damage.
The only thing you’ll need for a successful LST training is a string-like material (preferably rubber coated) or a copper wire. Then you just need to gently bend down the main stalk and secure it horizontally, parallel to the grow light. This will create lots of new bud site, due to the even exposure to light. There are countless ways to secure the wires or strings, but the key thing is to keep the canopy even and flat. Anything that grows too tall must be bent and secured in place.
Even though it is not as extreme as the other methods, LST can give you surprising results with very little effort.
One of the most controversial marijuana training techniques, lollipopping refers to the removal of the undergrowth of your plants, to focus all the energy on the top. Theoretically, this method is useful in grow setups with weaker lighting, which offer minimal light penetration on the lower parts. As the name suggests, if done correctly, this method will result in a lollipop-shaped plant.
Some growers are vehemently against cutting perfectly healthy fan leaves, as they believe they can be an excellent energy source for the plant. I have not personally tried it, but there are several heated discussions on forums that argue on its effectiveness.
How to Lollipop Marijuana
The secret with the right implementation of lollipopping is in the timing. Most growers concur that it should happen during the late vegetative phase, partially or in one sitting. Generally, it is agreed upon that you should never lollipop during the flowering stage, as the shock can hinder bud development.
This is by far the easiest cannabis training method, as you need nothing more than your plant and your fingers. Once more, the goal is to create a flat canopy and this time you do it by pinching and bending the stems strategically.
You should do that during the late vegetative stage when your plant is strong enough to withstand training.
How to Super Crop Marijuana
The philosophy behind super cropping is hurting the plant ever so slightly, so it can regenerate even stronger. Choose stems that are green and flexible, to avoid breaking them.
Pinch and bend the stalks GENTLY so that they can sit at a 90º angle. The skin of the plant must not break, neither the stem must break. You must be able to position the stem wherever you like. Repeat the process until you have created an even canopy. If you end up hurting the plant, bandage the wound with duct tape and remove after a week.
The cool thing with super cropping is that it can deliver results even if it’s not implemented 100% correctly. The plant will still grow stronger after this experience, and the yield increase should be significant.
These techniques are just the tip of the iceberg. There are even more training types and techniques, such as Monster Cropping, that require extensive knowledge of marijuana growing. We will cover them in an upcoming article.
Most of the above techniques should be employed during the vegetative stage, while the plant is still relatively young and flexible. Also, keep in mind that no matter the training and effort, plant genetics are the most important part of your growing experience. There is no way to get more yield from a plant than its genetic potential, so, again, be sure to obtain great quality seeds from trustworthy vendors.
Training is suitable for all types of growers, whether indoors or outdoors. However, if you are growing a plant in nature, the Xmas-shape probably serves you better (as it is adapted for the sun’s trajectory.
At A Glance
- More light means more bud sites. More bud sites mean bigger yields. Training ensures better light distribution.
- You can control a plant’s shape and size with careful training, but genetics play a huge role. Research on the strain you are growing.
- Always pay attention to the distance between your grow lights and your plants. Try to keep the canopy flat and don’t be afraid to improvise.
- Don’t keep the plants too close or too far from the grow lights.
- Don’t train your plant during the flowering stage, unless you know what you are doing.
- All plant training is based on a simple premise: Manipulate natural mechanisms to improve yields! Humanity has been doing this for thousands of years.
- Plant training is impossible on auto-flowering strains. Just let them do their own thing!
The post Cannabis Training Techniques: The Definitive Guide appeared first on International Highlife.
First of all, finding and setting up a grow space becomes much easier. Literally anywhere could be a good spot, provided you follow some rules. Also, the fewer the plants, the better the care they receive.
But perhaps the biggest advantage of growing just a single marijuana plant is the reduced costs: Growing cannabis can be costly. However, with a single plant, there is little you need besides seeds, nutrients, soil and a solid grow light. The overall investment is minimal and will pay itself with marijuana of the highest quality.
What Can You Expect from a Single Marijuana Plant
There is something about homegrown marijuana that makes it so much better! The feeling you get when you taste the fruit of your labor is unbeatable. But how much weed can you get out of a single plant?
The answer won’t surprise you: It depends on your seed genetics!
Every cannabis seed has certain genetic predispositions that cannot be altered, no matter how much you care for it. For example, if a strain is supposed to yield up to 200 grams of cannabis, that’s the best you can hope for. When purchasing your seeds from a vendor, pay close attention to the “Indoor Yield” section of the specs.
Some seeds are much more productive than others. But then again, quantity isn’t everything! Thorough research will help you find the best seeds for your needs.
Where Is Home Growing Legal (US)?
Not all states permit cannabis cultivation at home. You can find a detailed list here.
Find the Right Grow Room
Since we are just talking about literally one pot of pot, anything will do the trick. It doesn’t even need to be a room. A spare cabinet or closet will do the trick. If you don’t worry about discretion, even your living room would be a suitable place. You’ll find that marijuana is surprisingly sturdy. Wherever you decide to put your plant, make sure it gets enough ventilation and lives in comfortable temperatures.
Inadequate ventilation in your grow room can lead to a host of problems for your plant. Especially if you live in a generally humid area, fungi and mold are a constant threat. Luckily, your mini garden doesn’t need much effort to stay healthy!
The quick and easy solution is a small fan inside the grow space. Turn it in such a way so the breeze indirectly hits the plant and make sure that there that it circulates! A fancy solution is to get an extractor. But that’s too much trouble for just a plant! In reality, you can get away with just the fan. Make sure the air that goes in, gets out!
If the humidity in your grow space is unbearable, invest in a dehumidifier. They are cheap but need regular cleaning.
As a rule of thumb, marijuana feels comfortable in temperatures that are pleasant for humans. It is highly unlikely that ambient temperature will be so high or so low as to cause you problems. However, grow lights are a source of heat and should be monitored.
As long as you use a LED grow light and a fan, the temperature shouldn’t pose a problem. These issues are much more important in larger gardens.
Get Some Grow Lamps
As we’ve already said, the sweetest part of growing just one marijuana plant is the savings. Forget fancy lighting units and expensive setups: A simple full spectrum LED lamp will do the trick.
Even if your plant is exposed to sunlight, you should use artificial lighting. I know from bitter experience that marijuana grown on the windowsill will grow, but will never bloom! So, ensure that your plant will get at least 48W of full-spectrum light. These units are dirt cheap on Amazon and will last for years.
Find the Perfect Seed…
We’ve discussed the importance of getting good seeds time and time again. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Some people want taste, others believe that humongous amounts of THC are the most important factor.
The only thing we can say is that you should definitely buy a 3-pack instead of a single seed. Germination doesn’t always work and you want to have a backup option.
Clones are a great option, provided you know other growers or have access to a trusty dispensary. Clones take a little less time to flower and if you know the mother plant, you don’t have to worry about the quality. You can even clone your own plant and preserve its genetics for future use!
Growing on Soil
There are many ways to grow cannabis. However, if you’re growing just one plant, soil is pretty much the only option. Most hydroponic systems are too expensive and are designed for larger gardens. Therefore, in this case, the simplest solution is right on the money.
Choosing a Pot
At the first stages of your plant’s life (after germination), you can construct a temporary home out of plastic bottles. Just make sure to cut holes in the bottom for water drainage. After sprouting, it is time to transplant the seedling to its forever home. Your local hardware or garden store should have a wide selection of pots. We recommend containers made out of organic materials that allow oxygen flow within the soil.
Whatever you choose, make sure the pot has drainage holes to discard excess water. Too much humidity will attract pests and cause mold problems.
Even the best quality soil costs very little. Therefore it makes no sense to cut corners here! Ask your local garden store for amended soil and mix it up with some hydroponic medium (perlite, vermiculite). That way you will minimize the need for extra nutrients and ensure proper airflow around the root system.
One of the many advantages of growing a single marijuana plant is that you don’t really need to spend much on nutrients and fertilizer. A good soil will see your plant through the vegetative and onto the flowering stage without any additions.
If you need to boost your plant while it grows, try to use organic products. They minimize salts buildup within the plant, leading to a better quality product. Better yet, prepare the fertilizer yourself! Here is a link for 15 homemade fertilizer recipes! Remember that there is such a thing as “too many nutrients”, so don’t overdo it.
Have you ever grown a single cannabis plant at home? Share your experience in the comment section below!
The post Outdoor Marijuana Growing: Doing Things The Natural Way! appeared first on International Highlife.
In the past, it would be unthinkable to grow marijuana outdoors without seriously considering the consequences. However, as we race towards total legalization, it becomes easier for people to grow weed in their own property. As we have seen in previous articles, in the long run, home grows are a smart investment. You save money, time and ensure that you only get marijuana of the highest quality. But what if you want to grow outdoors?
Why Grow Marijuana Outdoors
Outdoor marijuana growing many benefits:
- It is much cheaper and simpler to set up than an indoor grow room.
- Marijuana plants grow bigger and stronger outdoors.
- You get to learn a thing or two about nature!
That being said, growing marijuana from your windowsill is not a very effective way to potent yields. While your plant will indeed grow, it will not receive enough light to grow buds. That’s why you need your plants to be actually outdoors. A private area such as a balcony, a private garden is ideal, as long as it receives constant sunlight.
Outdoor marijuana plants will outgrow even the best indoor gardens. This is because marijuana thrives in its natural state, and it has been doing so for centuries. Natural sunlight is infinitely better for the plants than the best indoor lamp, as it provides all the necessary wavelengths for photosynthesis. With some basic equipment and access to a semi-private location, everyone can grow their own marijuana!
How Many Plants Can I Grow In Legal States
These are the numbers as of yet in legal marijuana states (recreational/medicinal):
|Nevada||6 or 12 plants depending on the distance from the nearest dispensary|
We’ll update this table as more states and countries are added to the legal marijuana list. However, it is important to do your research before starting an outdoor grow. Marijuana legislation is still fragile and subject to frequent changes.
Finding and Preparing a Spot
Your spot could be anywhere. Balconies, backyards, and rooftops are prime candidates for your outdoor operation. And although marijuana is mostly legal (or at least, not persecuted as much), privacy is always a big plus. Pets, pests or even thieves can take a liking to your plants, so make sure to protect your garden. If you live on a ranch or near the woods, you’ve hit the jackpot!
Consider enclosing your crop, to offer protection from the wind and nosy animals that can hurt your crop. Some fence will work well, so long as it only has a sealable entrance and a source of water can be found nearby. Remember that, apart from the sun, marijuana need a lot of water to grow and prosper!
Before you start, consult our comprehensive seed guide to read all about the seed strains that you’d like to grow. You must make sure that your seeds come from reputable sources and has good genetics. Also, it is important to remember that, although marijuana is literally a weed, it is still a good idea to get more hardy strains if growing in colder countries.
Outdoor Marijuana Grow Area Preparation
Your goal as an indoor grower should be to get as much sunlight as possible to your plants. That being said, you should make sure that they get at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. To do so, it is important to take full advantage of morning sunlight and plant smartly, depending on where you live.
So, if you live in the northern hemisphere, consider planting your babies in a way, so they are exposed to the south. Doing so will ensure that the garden will “follow” the sun’s trail as it rises and sets. If you live in the southern hemisphere, plant them with a northern exposure for the same effects. If you live near the equator zone, you might as well grow your plants wherever you want! Those few extra hours of sunlight might be crucial for your crop, so choose carefully!
Also, if you are growing directly to the ground and not on containers, you should consider how many plants you want to grow. Root systems need space to grow, and you must make sure that all your plants get enough. Generally, the more plants you grow=the more space you’ll need to leave between them. For example, if you want to plant six marijuana seedlings, leave at least four feet of space between them.
Male Plants: The Scourge of Outdoor Marijuana Growers
Rarely have I been around outdoor marijuana growers that haven’t complained about male plants. As an indoor grower, I’d always assume that the most dangerous enemy of an outdoor grow would be the weather or the lack of nutrients. However, most of the time, it is male plants that ruin outdoor crops. Therefore, it is important to know how to find and exterminate them quickly and efficiently.
Why Does the Plant Sex Matter To You
We already have prepared a comprehensive article about male and female marijuana plants, that might come especially handy for outdoor growers. You can read the whole guide here. The important parts to remember are:
- Regular marijuana seeds have a 50-50 chance of turning either male or female.
- Female plants are the only ones that can produce seedless buds with the highest concentrations of cannabinoids.
- Cannabinoids are part of the marijuana plant’s immune system, and this is why most of them are concentrated on the trichomes surrounding the buds
- Hermaphrodites are a special category that produces both male and female genitalia and can pollinate itself. This is usually due to some genetic issue or environmental stress.
- There is no good reason to keep males around, except in the case you want to breed your own cannabis. Even if you do wish to keep them around, designate a particular breeding area away from your main garden.
- Male marijuana plants still contain trace amounts of cannabinoids so you can turn them into edibles or extract oils from them. Also, they make very good companion plants for other grows.
By reading the article we prepared for you earlier, you’ll be able to identify male marijuana plants early enough. Just be sure to get a powerful magnifier before you start!
Getting a Potent Yield
Getting the highest possible amount of cannabinoids is the aim of your outdoor marijuana crop. Whether that is psychoactive THC or soothing CBD, genetics is everything when it comes to potency. You can try every technique in the book, but marijuana plants have a genetic limit regarding the maximum THC and CBD they can produce.
However, there are a few things you can do to boost the natural tendencies of your plants. The most important of all is free and straightforward: Patience!
Ensuring Healthy Grow
Weed is quite literally …weed. Sturdy and self-sufficient, marijuana plant can grow perfectly well without you. It is very difficult to kill a marijuana plant, but on the contrary, a little bit of care can go a long way. Avoid under/over watering and always keep them in the sun. Also, try to protect them from extreme temperatures (below 60ºF and more than 80ºF). You will be rewarded with a healthy, high yielding plant!
Harvesting and Curing
Harvesting at the right time is extremely important to your grow, and proper curing can increase the value of your grow. You can read about both processes in our detailed article. Curing marijuana admittedly takes some time, but the result will be worth the wait!
Planting at the Right Time
Plant in the spring, harvest in the autumn is pretty much the standard for all marijuana strains. Check the specs of your seeds to see what the breeder recommends. Your plant will enter the flowering phase as days get shorter and winter approaches.
Re-Planting Your Seedling
We have covered plant germination in a previous IHL article, so I’ll cut straight to the chase: Whatever you do, start indoors! Germination can be done using several techniques, and you can read all about them here. Transplanting, however, is an excellent way to healthier, more vigorous plants. The recommended way to do that involves three phases:
- Place your germinated seeds in disposable party cups that you’ve pre-filled with soil (add holes in the bottom for better water drainage).
- As soon as the plant grows its first couple of leaves (cotyledons), cut the plastic cup and stick the plant to a 1-3 gallon pot.
- When the plant doubles in size, it will be ready for transplant into the final container.
When it comes to transplanting, be sure not to leave the young plant in the first container for very long, as it might become root-bound (the roots grow too big for the container). Transplanting just a bit earlier is better than too late: Root-bound plants absorb water very quickly and can suffocate if left in the same state for too long.
Here are some tips for successful transplanting:
- Make sure the soil is moist before transplanting.
- Dig a hole in the middle of the next container to make room for the root ball and make sure it is large enough.
- Do not try to pull the plant out of its old container by grabbing the stem! Instead, use a plastic knife to separate the root ball from the pot.
If you feel like all of the above are a nuisance, just stick the germinated seed into the final growing container. However, in case you do, be careful with watering in the first few weeks. The weak root system of the seedling might have a hard time finding oxygen in a large container.
Marijuana will grow just about anywhere. In India and South Africa, it basically grows on the side of the road. If the soil of your backyard is not entirely shitty, you can just stick your germinated seed inside it! However, if you need containers for your outdoor grow, you’ll need to obtain soil from a local garden store. Also, we recommend buying light plastic 5-gallon containers (and avoid porous materials that absorb moisture).
You can increase the quality of the soil by adding organic mixes. A good idea would be to create your very own compost, using stuff like used filter coffee or fruit peel. As they decay, they will provide your plant with nutrients and help them grow even healthier. Keep them in a paper bag and add them to your plants as necessary. Here is a handy guide to making your very own compost!
Planting Directly on the Ground
Planting on the ground is also a good strategy, as it will eliminate the need for nutrients, especially in high-quality soil. Don’t forget that nature knows best! Also, this option offers limitless growing space for your plants, that might, however, grow a little too big for their own good (some strains can reach 6′ in height).
Before you go planting outdoors, you must be sure that the acidity of the ground is not too high or too low. If it is, you will have to till the soil until an acceptable level has been reached. There are three types of soil: Clay, sandy and loamy. A visit to your local garden store will answer all your questions regarding the quality and type of soil in your area.
Reading the pH Levels of Soil
Marijuana thrives at levels between 5,5-7,0 which is a perfect middle ground in the pH spectrum that goes from 1 (acidic) to 14(alkaline). This range is surprisingly broad too, as the difference in value between two numbers in the pH scale is tenfold. That means that a pH of 5 is 10x more acidic than a value of 6. Whether too low or too high, extreme pH is not good for your plants as it can lock out certain nutrients, leading to the plant diseases or even death.
The post Outdoor Marijuana Growing: Doing Things The Natural Way! appeared first on International Highlife.
Nowadays, LED grow lights utilize the full light spectrum, meaning healthier, more productive plants. Furthermore, technology itself has advanced significantly, offering better light penetration and more focused growth. But what is it that made LED grow lights such a hit with indoor growers? Is the investment worth it? Let’s find out!
Why Choose LED Grow Lights
There are many reasons why LED grow lights are a superior choice to more traditional indoor units. Some of them are:
- Full spectrum: As we’ve already pointed out, LEDs use the full light spectrum that cannabis uses to photosynthesize to help you get the most of your plants.
- Better quality yields: Marijuana plants grown under LED lighting will produce better and more potent buds.
- Cool running temperatures: Installing ventilation systems is a pain in the butt, especially if you don’t have prior experience. LED lights run at a reasonable temperature, meaning that there is no need to overcomplicate things (at least in smaller-to-medium gardens).
- Flexibility: LEDs come in all shapes and sizes, so it is unlikely you won’t find exactly what you need. Also, some units are dimmable, meaning you can adjust the brightness instead of moving the lights themselves.
- Longevity: Compared to HIDs and Fluorescents, LEDs are beasts when it comes to lifespan. Because it doesn’t generate heat by burning filament, an average LED fixture will last you a good 50,000-60,000 hours before needing replacement. A similar HID unit would start losing output at 2,000-3,000 hours.
- Efficiency: Home growers have reported noticeable savings when using LEDs instead of HIDs. This is because a LED model can produce the same power output as an HID unit at about 40% lower consumption. That means that over time, you will see noticeable savings on your electrical bill.
On the downside, getting a respectable LED grow light will set you back significantly. Also, even though growing a garden exclusively with LEDs is perfectly achievable, the light intensity still does not match that of HPS lights (except for costly models), so a mixture of the two (especially during flowering) is a good idea.
How Many LED Grow Lights Do You REALLY Need
Every LED grow light comes with a set of specifications. One of those is the “light footprint” of a certain model. This is simply the area that the light covers, squared. Of course, the intensity is higher in the center and gets weaker as the light is scattered towards the edges.
To make sure that your plants get enough light, follow the measurements below and scale accordingly:
- 2’x2’ garden: Up to 250W of true power
- 2’x4’ garden: Up to 400W
- 4’x’4’ garden: Up to 600W
- 5’x5’ garden: Up to 800W
- 6’x6’ garden: Up to 1200W
Anything more than these numbers is overkill and won’t help your plants achieve more. The important thing is to make sure that there are no gaps in coverage and that all your plants have equal access to lighting. If you must, use supplemental lighting to promote bud growth in the foliage or simply train your plants for optimal performance!
Important: True Watts and LEDs
There is a dark side in the LED market regarding the power of the grow lights (measured in Watts). It is very important not to take everything you see at face value: A 600W LED light is actually WEAKER than a 600W HID light.
How is that possible?
When it comes to listing the specs of a grow light, manufacturers list the output that the grow light can reach when it works at 100% of its potential, all the time. However, this is practically impossible. So, when considering the actual wattage of a LED grow lights, consider that the true power output will be 30-40% LOWER than what the manufacturer suggests. Of course, there are some instances where the vendors list the correct number, but be ever vigilant and always ask before you buy!
LED Grow Lights vs. HID and Fluorescent Lights
There are significant differences when you grow marijuana under different types of lighting. Let’s look at how LED grow lights compare with other types of indoor lighting for marijuana.
LEDs vs. HIDs
Full disclosure: A mixture of LED and MH/HPS grow lights are actually an ideal solution for high quality and plentiful yield. Most mid-weight LEDs are not as bright or as intense during the flowering season (when the plants need it the most). So if you can afford the time and money investment, feel free to try a combination.
In absolute terms, LEDs will produce visible light much more efficiently, using less electricity. The secret is in the diodes that offer a greater lumens/Watt ratio than HID lights. The “lumen” is an SI unit that is used to measure the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source.
LEDs vs. Fluorescent Grow Lights
Although fluorescent types are incredibly cheap to buy right out of the box, LEDs are a much better alternative, as they can produce more and brighter light. Plus, contrary to CFLs and T5 units, they do not need to be readjusted every once in a while as the plants grow. Unless you are working with very limited space, there is no reason to go with CFLs over LEDs apart from supplemental lighting.
The Technology Behind LED Grow Lights
If you are in the market for LED grow lights, you will come across several unfamiliar terms that might confuse you. So, let’s shed some more light on the fascinating world of Light Emitting Diodes —and learn a couple of things about science as we go!
PAR, PPF, and PPFD
Terms like PAR, PPF, and PPFD are now commonly referred to by manufacturers and reviewers as essential specs of LED light units. But what do they really mean?
PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) Region: This is the amount of light available for photosynthesis, which is light in the 400 to 700-nanometer wavelength range we explained in a previous article. It is measured in mmol/m2
PPF (Photosynthetic Photon Flux): The number of photons emitted per second within the PAR region of a LED unit. This is measured in mmol/S.
PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density): Not to be confused with PPF, this measures the number of photons in a LED unit’s PAR region per square meter/foot. Contrary to PPF, PPFD represents the light footprint at a given distance from the light source. PPFD is measured in mmol/m2s. The optimal PPFD levels for growing marijuana is between 700-1400mmol/m2s. The longer the light cycle, the lower the PPFD level should be.
To measure PPFD you should:
- Reduce the PPF value provided by the manufacturer by approximately 20%.
- Divide the result with the area of your canopy in square feet or meters.
- This number is PPFD levels on that particular spot of the PAR region!.
Efficiency and Spectrum
The biggest challenge with indoor marijuana growing is giving them the entire spectrum of visible light that is naturally available outdoors. Back in the day, you would need different light setups for the vegetative and flowering periods. Nowadays, however, a full-spectrum LED grow light can solve most of your problems by providing a single solution for all life stages.
The colors of the visible light spectrum are a combination of Red, Blue, Ultraviolet, and White. Most full-spectrum LEDs worth their salt will provide you with all of the right color combinations for optimal plant development. Of course, we should keep in mind that when we apply the term full-spectrum to LED grow lights, we are using a marketing term and not a precise technical definition. When it comes to indoor grow lights, panels marketed as “full-spectrum” do indeed offer light from IR to UV, but they do not produce an even spectral distribution, so that’s something to keep in mind.
- Red (600-640nm) light is better used during flowering as the plant produces new buds. Although HPS lights are recommended during this phase, you’ll be able to see decent results using just a solid LED unit.
- Blue (400-500nm) light is best suited for the vegetative period, as it promotes leaf and stem growth. Again, LEDs should be fine at this stage, although you could only benefit from a few supplemental CFL units.
- Ultraviolet light is useful in short amounts during late flowering, as it increases THC production. The reason for that is that it is actually harmful to plants, so they produce more resin to protect themselves.
- White LEDs do not help the plant as much as they help you! White LEDs are essential so you can see what is going on around your garden.
Getting the Right Combination
Natural outdoor light contains all the right components for marijuana development. In home grows, it is important to get the perfect ratio that will help you grow a plant from seed to harvest without problems.
The perfect wavelength ratio for indoor LED grow lights marijuana are:
- 25-35% Blue LEDs (400-470nm)
- 65-75% Red LEDs (630-660nm)
What to Ask The Manufacturers Before You Buy
- About the warranty terms and technical support/replacements of the LED units.
- About the accuracy of their scientific claims. Do they employ physicists?
- Shipping and postage: Do they provide tracking numbers?
- Don’t forget to ask them about the actual Watts of the grow light, as well as any other specs that might have been omitted.
Best LED Grow Light Brands For The Money
When it comes to getting a reliable indoor LED unit, some companies have provided more consistent quality than others. So, these are just some LED grow light manufacturers that I think are worth looking into. You are welcome to share your own experiences in the comments!
- Advanced LED Grow Lighting
- Black Dog LED
- ProMax Grow
- Spectrum King
- Mars Hydro
- California LightWorks
Apart from sunlight, there are three major kinds of artificial indoor grow lights for indoor grows: HID lamps (HPS and MH), fluorescent lights and LED grow light units. Each one has its own pros and cons. But before we go further with all the technical details, let’s take a look at how light works for marijuana plants.
The Light Spectrum
Light exists in a spectrum. This spectrum is measured in wavelengths that are more accurately specified by nanometres (one billionth of a meter). We know for sure that the human eye cannot perceive all light: The visible electromagnetic spectrum ranges from around 400 to 700 nm (380nm is ultraviolet light, and 750 is infrared). In fact, the visible light spectrum is only a tiny fraction of the light that actually exists all around us, but we can’t perceive. A rainbow is a perfect visualization of the visible light spectrum!
Similar to us, marijuana plants use the spectrum from 400 to 750 nm for their growing needs. This is called the PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) and covers the spectral range of the sun’s light. If you run across grow lights that market as “full spectrum” they mean that they use the “full solar light spectrum” which covers all the needs of marijuana growing. As seasons change, so does the fluctuation between blue (lower nm) and red (higher nm) light. Chlorophyll, an abundant pigment in plants uses these spectrums for photosynthesis.
Bands of visible light
- 380nm – 430nm Violet
- 430nm – 500nm Blue
- 500nm – 520nm Cyan
- 520nm – 560nm Green
- 560nm – 590nm Yellow
- 590nm – 625nm Orange
- 625nm – 780nm Red
When plants are in the vegetative phase, they mostly use light from the blue end of the spectrum (spring). As flowering approaches, they tend to utilize more light from the red and orange end. Light from the visible spectrum will cover the production of chlorophyll A and B, which are the cornerstone for the development of any plant.
The colors of light and Kelvin (K)
The Kelvin scale is an absolute thermodynamic temperature scale in which we measure light temperature (the color of light on a black background). Different light sources fit the Kelvin scale at different intervals. The correlation between nanometers and Kelvin is not absolute, but generally the “warmer” the light, the higher it is on the nm scale and the lower it is on the Kelvin scale.
Temperature refers to the warmth or coolness of the light source and not the actual temperature of the light itself. In simpler terms, it is the average degree of warmth or coolness of a light source, not with regards to the physical temperature, but rather, to the visual temperature of the light. Depending on the grow light you want to use, you will see a different average. Of course, the laws of thermodynamics are much more complicated, but we need to keep this about marijuana growing!
Marijuana Grow Lights
A bit of science stuff was necessary to move on to the juicy part: How does all this relate to marijuana growing? For starters, different lamps produce different kinds of light depending on their make.
As we’ve seen in previous articles there are three major categories of indoor grow lights:
- Fluorescent Grow Lights
- Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)
- T5 grow lights (and other fluorescent tubes)
- High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights
- Metal Halide (MH)
- High-Pressure Sodium (HPS)
- LED Grow Lights
Metal Halide lamps are better for the vegetative stage because they produce a higher percentage of blue light, whereas High-Pressure Sodium lamps can help your plants thrive in the flowering stage. LED grow lights are more versatile but not equally intense (in most cases) A good strategy is to use both of them interchangeably or get a full spectrum grow light. That does not mean that you can not grow a plant from start to finish using HPS or MH exclusively, but the difference is quite noticeable.
Fluorescent lights are used more as supplementary lighting during vegetation, as they run cool and can be placed nearer to the plants. Their size and make can either be short and bulky or tube-like. Many people use them vertically, to supplement lighting in those hard to reach places.
A Practical Guide to Marijuana Indoor Grow Lights
When you are on the market for a grow light, you will most likely have to choose among the above options. Optimally, you need 250W of power per four plants or 600W for every 5sq.ft. (1,5sq.m). Remember that the more lights you use, the more heat will be generated. So never forget to update your ventilation and temperature control along with your light!
High-Intensity Discharge Lights (HPS, MH)
These bulbs are cheap and powerful. However, they run very, very hot (which can put your garden in danger). Also, they tend to use up significantly more energy than your other choices. As we saw earlier, MH lamps are better for the early phase of your plant’s life, while HPS produce more red-orange light. If you go the HID way, it is best to combine MH and HPS for best results.
Before LED grow lights were a thing, HIDs were the primary source of lighting in indoor grows. Any grower who wants to start a quick and efficient indoor garden should seriously consider these options. However, even though the quality of newer models is consistently improving there are some drawbacks you need to keep in mind:
Cons of HID Grow Lights
- HID lights are not very efficient, meaning they both run hot and spend a lot of energy. If you are considering getting HIDs, look at better cooling options for your grow room.
- Due to the heat emitted by those lights, you should hang these units away from your plants. The optimal distance is 3ft (1m) for 250W fixtures, 4ft (1,2m) for 400W and so on. These grow lights are not the best choice for confined spaces.
- As HIDs run hotter, they get burned more easily. An HID lamp will need to be replaced at least every year.
- The spectrum of this light is limited, meaning you will have to use many of them to get decent coverage.
Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights
LED lights are omnipresent nowadays, but they have a long and complicated history. First introduced in 1962, they are the most energy efficient light type in the earth, as they create light using 60% less power than HID fixtures. Earlier LED grow lights were weak and unstable, but in the last few years, we have witnessed a massive improvement in power, intensity, and efficiency of LED grow light fixtures.
Although earlier models only ran at specific wavelengths, modern LEDs cover the full spectrum of usable light, with companies always striving to improve absorption by the marijuana plants. The technology behind LED lights is such, that allows for a much more intense light, using less energy. As a result, LED lights run cooler, last longer (about 5-10 years) and consume significantly less energy than HID units.
However, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. Some LED fixtures (especially cheaper models) perform below par compared to their higher-quality counterparts. As a result, getting a good grow light takes some due diligence on your behalf.
The main points you should check when you are buying LED grow lights are:
- The spectrum: Make sure that the light covers the whole usable light spectrum.
- Check the wattage carefully. Just because the manufacturers market a grow light as a 600W model, it doesn’t mean it will perform as such. Usually grow lights work in 50-60% of their full power. Be sure that you ask for the true watts of a LED unit.
- Check the warranty and technical support for your grow light. Contrary to other light types, LEDs are a significant investment, and serious companies know that.
- Heat management: Does the unit cool itself with fans or heatsinks? Heat sinks are better because they remove the need for loud (and easy to break) fans.
- The devil is in the details: Be sure to ask about the actual wattage, type of chips, recommended coverage and height of light compared to plants.
The weakest light of the bunch, fluorescent lamps come in two shapes: CFL (short, stocky) and T5 (long, lean). They are incredibly cheap, easy to get and very efficient, but on the downside, they are not at all intense. You will need to keep them close to the plants, and they should probably only be used for seedlings or as supplemental lighting. That is not to say that you can’t grow marijuana plants using fluorescent lights, but not more than a couple. Fluorescent lights come in 2700K, 3000K, 4100K, 5100K, and 6500K models. Each of them suits best to different growth phases, as we saw earlier.
Pros of Fluorescent Lights
- Easily found in grocery and hardware stores and very cheap to buy.
- Cool running temperatures, meaning lower fire hazard and danger of burning your plants.
- Perfect for more confined grow areas with just a couple of plants.
Cons of Fluorescent Lights
- Not nearly as bright or intense as HID or LED fixtures
- You’ll need to readjust them very often as your plants grow in height.
Good quality indoor grow lights are now more affordable than ever, but that doesn’t mean you should buy the first one that you come across on Amazon. Especially when it comes to LED grow lights, you should be wary against knockoffs. The most important thing to remember is to follow the “600W per 5 square feet” rule and remember that every grow light has its own quirks. For example, HIDs need frequent replacement while LEDs much less so.
It is possible to use just one kind of grow light from start to finish. However, a combination of many different lights will help your plants, depending on their development stage. Give your plants space to grow and get models with ballasts and hoods, if buying fluorescent or HID lights.
If you are an experienced grower, share your favorite lighting setup with us in the comments! We’d love to hear your stories!
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Why is Cannabis Sex Important
Knowing all about cannabis sex is especially important to growers, as male and hermaphrodite plants do not produce usable buds. What’s worse, when the time for flowering comes, the pollen sacks forming underneath the foliage will burst, pollinating nearby female flowers. From that moment on, the female flower will be unusable for recreational or medicinal purposes, as its potency and quality will be diminished.
Getting seeds instead of smokable buds is the no#1 disaster for the casual grower. Not only are you not getting to smoke your own marijuana, but you’ve likely spent a significant budget on it. Therefore, caring for your plants and making sure that no males stay in your garden will save you money and frustration.
When Can You Tell If A Cannabis Plant Is Male or Female?
It is impossible to guess the sex of a plant by looking at the seed. Usually, it is revealed in the later stages of the plant’s life. Somewhere between the transition from vegetative to flowering, the pre-flowers start to form. These tiny undergrowths are what will develop into the reproductive organs of the plant. Knowing how to read them will help you immensely, as you will be able to remove males well ahead of schedule.
Pre-flowers usually appear between the 6th-7th week from seed. Use a magnifying glass to take a better look: Male pre-flowers look like balls, while females calyxes are pear-shaped. During the vegetative stage, plants grow quickly and vigorously, while the flowering stage is when marijuana switches focus from root development to flower-growing.
Distinguishing Male from Female Cannabis Plants
If for some reason you are unable to tell each plant apart during the late vegetative period, don’t worry. You’ll have another chance after 1-3 weeks into the flowering stage (12/12 light cycle). Bear in mind that if a plant is kept in the vegetative stage for a long time, it will eventually grow pre-flowers. It is very useful that you become a pro at this, as it will help you grow much more weed in the long run.
In the following sections, I have included useful videos and images that show you how to distinguish male and hermaphrodite from female plants.
Characteristics of Female Cannabis Plants
The first signs of a female cannabis plant are the pistils: Wispy hair-like protrusions that appear right where the buds are going to develop (usually between the main stem and the branch). A female plant might take a bit longer to show the first signs after changed to flowering but will start developing reproductive organs during the late vegetative period if kept on an 18/6 light cycle for longer.
Here are some examples of female marijuana pre-flowers:
Especially during the early stages of flowering, it is easy to confuse a female pre-flower with a male. In that case, its shape should give you the answer: Females are more elongated and shaped like a pear. If you are still unsure, you can wait until the pistils start sticking out.
Characteristics of Male Marijuana Plants
Distinguishing male plants is easy: Grape-like ballsacks and no pistils = male plant! These balls will start forming shortly after you switch to flowering. It is important to take them out ASAP to avoid them bursting open all over your female plants. Although male plants are not ideal for smoking, there are a few things you can do with them, as we’ll see in a later section!
Here are some photos of male marijuana plants for reference:
Hermaphrodite Marijuana Plants
Even after you’ve removed all male plants from your garden, it is important to monitor them for signs of hermaphroditism closely. “Hermies,” as they’re called, can start to form quite unexpectedly, leaving you dumbfounded and with a garden full of seedy flowers.
Hermaphrodites can pollinate themselves and your whole growing area if you are not careful. What exactly causes them is still not verified, although stressful situations are the number one culprit: Abnormal temperatures, light leaks during the dark cycle or other extreme environmental factors can trigger hermaphroditism in marijuana. Whatever the reason for it, as soon as you spot hermaphrodite plants in your garden, you must remove them immediately.
Let’s see some photos and videos of hermaphrodite plants:
On the next page, we will explain how you can get more female cannabis plants!
The post Difference Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants appeared first on International Highlife.