Citrus dynasty: A Tangie family genealogy

Leafly honors the 50th anniversary of “4:20” (aka “420” or 4/20) this April with a celebration of legendary strain families. We’ve already covered famous Hazes, but now it’s time to get to know the legendary Tangie.

Some people wake up with a cup of orange juice while others turn to a bowl of marijuana strain Tangie, but both have become indispensable to humanity at this point.

Cannabis beginners all the way to serious hash heads have cemented Tangie’s place on the Mt. Olympus of modern strain families.

Since the ‘90s in California, Tangie’s unmistakable, deep, orange funk aroma—and its friendly energetic effects—have minted millions of marijuana fans.

Tangie’s rise offers a true American story of multi-generational family farming strapped to the rocket of medical marijuana legalization, the rise of butane hash oil, and the contemporary rosin movement.

Tangie’s breeders refined an aroma and effect that have become fundamental to any cannabis shop menu in 2021, said Oni Seed Co. founder and breeder of Tropicanna Cookies, Nick.

“It has its place in the pantheon as one of the best, most influential strains of all time. Whether people want to admit it or not, its hybrids are undeniable and they continue to this day,” Nick said.

Let’s take a sweet, tangy journey through time and space exploring the citrus dynasty of Tangie.

tangie poster
Tap or click the image to open up and save this poster of Tangies. (Leafly)

Crockett Family Farms conjures the DNA of Tangie

The Tangie family genealogy begins with a real family, The Crocketts of the Sierra Nevada in California.

Four generations of Crocketts have worked cannabis fields out near Yosemite during the depths of prohibition to today’s legal market.

In the sunny, hot, remote foothills, the Crocketts collected popular strains of the ‘70s and ‘80s—like California Orange (Cali-O)—and worked them through the ‘90s until today, always breeding seeds for the next year.

The main breeder who goes by “Crockett” grew up the son of a pot grower, and his great uncle also grew. Today, his son’s a grower, too.

Three generations of Crocketts pose in a sunny cannabis field. (Courtesy Crockett Family Farms)
Three generations of Crocketts pose in a sunny cannabis field. (Courtesy Crockett Family Farms)

Pot prohibition peaked in the late 20th century, and Crockett’s use of his last name only (or a made-up name) came from having to hide during prohibition.

Back then, making seeds wasn’t a hobby but rather a mandate, Crockett told Leafly. Federal and state narcotics officers raided grows regularly in the ’80s and ’90s, so the Crocketts didn’t keep “mother plants” in an indoor farm, from which to take cuttings or clones.

“It was very risky back then to have an indoor setup. You could go to jail or get in big trouble for a long time,” said Crockett.

Younger Crockett and the family seed patch

Crockett got his start growing and breeding as a youngster in the family, tending smaller patches of cannabis grown for the next season’s seeds, far away from the main crops.

“That’s what got me involved in making seeds and creating strains—through those genetics handed down from the family,” Crockett told Leafly.

The Crocketts, and the mountain they grew on, became famous for their orange-flavored family heirloom Cali-O, he said.

“People would come every year to get that specific terpene profile,” he recalled. “It was a way to differentiate our farm and our product from a lot of other people’s product. And we really liked it, and I liked it.”

Crossing everything to Cali-O

Each season, Crockett crossed Cali-O to dozens of different strains. One year, Crockett bred their Cali-O with a mix of Skunk and a family secret and found an instant hit, Tangie.

Amid the OGs, Sours, and Purples of the early 2000s, “Tangie was this unique strain. It was definitely a hit right off the bat,” said Crockett.

As medical marijuana took off in California in 2006-2008, the Crocketts were pumping out Tangie on their farm. Word spread of this intensely orange-smelling weed with gobs of flavor and an approachable daytime effect.

Tangie is just going to dominate the room with smell …

Nick, founder, Oni Seed Co.

“If you put a lot of strains on a table that were equally well-grown, Tangie is just going to dominate the room with smell,” said the breeder “Nick,” founder of Oni Seed Co., maker of Tropicanna Cookies F2.

“When you smoke it, it’s unmistakable,” said breeder Vince, co-founder of Symbiotic Genetics, maker of Mimosa.

A friendly sativa

Crockett also said Tangies offered something different than the typical old school sativas, which got you so high you felt uncomfortable.

“In my mind sativas were like psychedelic, sweating paranoia,” he said.

Testing at 18-22% THC, Tangie never felt that way.

“The high isn’t as intense as a lot of these other sativas, and it doesn’t knock you down like an indica. It’s this in-between, enjoyable high—so you get high, it tastes good, and if you don’t get high enough, smoke another bowl.”

“It’s good for beginners and anyone who tires of the same old,” Crockett added.

DNA Genetics brings Tangie to other continents

Tangie won its first Cannabis Cup in 2011 and caught the attention of the globe’s leading seed distributors, DNA Genetics, based out of Amsterdam, where drug law loopholes nurtured a massive weed seed scene.

Crockett met up with Don Morris and Aaron Yarkoni of DNA Genetics, who added the seeds to their legendary sales catalog.

“We all hit it off real well, and they kinda helped me get into the seed game as far as what the seed game is now. That’s where Crockett Family Farms really kind of took off, and that’s where the genetics became available for the public to buy,” he explained.

While Crockett was making Tangie crosses with DNA Genetics, he approved of others doing the same. Unlike other breeders who hoard their genetics, Crockett correctly intuited that the pathway to the pot pantheon involves others walking that path with you.

“You can’t just be producing it for a small community. You have to make it available for the world to buy.”

Crockett, Crockett Family Farms

“If you want to make a strain that’s recognized around the world, you can’t just be producing it for a small community. You have to make it available for the world to buy,” he said.

The Crocketts did not hoard their intellectual property.

“If you bought the seeds then they’re your seeds, and you can do anything you want with them,” Crockett said. “It’s better for me and my company because Crockett strains formed the base and foundation for others’ big hits.”

Tangie shatters expectations for BHO

Even though Tangie offers beginner friendly effects, the invisible hand of high-tolerance hash lovers really drove its adoption as well.

Tangie’s riotous aroma survives the intense, liquid-butane extraction process to make butane hash oil, aka BHO. In the late 2000s, influential connoisseurs sought out shatter—a type of solid, glass-like solvent-made hash.

“Back then, ‘if it didn’t shatter, it didn’t matter,’ the saying went,” said Crockett.

Whereas most shatters tasted the same, Tangie shatter tasted like Tangie.

Shatter type extracts made with Tangie smelled amazing. (rgbspace/iStock)
Shatter-type extracts made with Tangie smelled amazing. (rgbspace/iStock)

“There was flavor there,” he said. “When there’s no flavor at all, and you get something that has a flavor—it’s a winner.”

“It came out at that moment that everybody was looking for flavor and terps, and even just discovering terpenes. It was a new time.”

Two more attributes gave Tangie the juice to go the distance:

  1. “Everybody loves to breed with it,” said Crockett.
  2. And Tangie crosses led to explosively flavorful “rosin”—a connoisseur-grade non-solvent hash that’s red-hot today.

Tropicana Cookies adds power and color

One of those many breeding hits? Tropicanna Cookies, first bred as an “F1” by the breeder Harry Palms, then refined as Tropicanna Cookies F2 by Oni Seed Co. in Colorado.

Harry Palms crossed a Tangie male to the Cookies strain and gave out the crosses, and the so-called “Mountain (MTN) Trop” became a staple of Colorado through the dispensary the 14er in Boulder, CO., the first to stock Tropicanna Cookies consistently.

Soon after, Tangie hype peaked and fell back. Cannabis aficionados had smoked so much Tangie flowers and hash, they grew bored. Harry Palms moved on to breeding the Papaya strain. But Nick at Oni Seed Co saw more in Tropicanna Cookies.

“I said, ‘I’m going to bring Tropicanna back,’ and Harry said, ‘Don’t do it. It’s played out Tangie trash.’”

“Every time I’m in a room of different hashes to smoke, it’s there: Tangie, Tangie, Tangie.”

Nick, Oni Seed Co.

“I said, ‘No sir, she’s a star. I’m going to do it, anyway.’”

Breeding Tangie to the primal “Forum Cut Cookies” gave it added potency and new colors. Tangie became strong enough for the elite.

“I am a longtime smoker of many decades—if it gets me super high after just the same strain all day long, it’s going to wreck people.”

Oni Seed Co.’s Tropicanna Cookies F2 came out in 2017 and “sold out instantly,” said Nick. It went on to win many flower and hash contests. “I pulled that girl out of the trash and made her a star,” Nick reminisced.

Leafly's favorite flower, leafly faves, Tropicana cookies, cannabis flower, marijuana
Tropicanna Cookies. (Courtesy of Kendal Meins)

Oni Seed Co., as well as Harry Palms’ Bloom Seed Co., keep pushing the limits of tropical cannabis flavors, especially for use in making hash. Nick said tons of Tangie crosses masquerade as other names, but the hash aroma cannot hide.

“Every time I’m in a room of different hashes to smoke, it’s there: Tangie, Tangie, Tangie,” said Nick.

That love of great hash-making strains also led to another essential Tangie cross: Mimosa.

Mimosa takes ova’

Cycles of Tangie interest wax and wane, while waves of hype for Tangie crosses have become even more extreme. The Clementine and Purple Punch cross “Mimosa” hit new heights of popularity for a Tangie. And it all started over a love of hash.

Over in Sacramento in the 2010s, a hash maker introduced the indoor grower Michael at The Village to an outdoor grower/breeder that went by “Budologist” and whose name is Vince from San Jose, CA. Together they formed Symbiotic Genetics, intending to combine their genetic library for high-end hash and flower production.

One of the many strains the newfound duo started with the Tangie descendent Clementine, specifically because it grew huge outside and yields a lot of hash.

“It washes, it yields, it’s extremely citrusy. We just loved everything about it. We’re all about the flavor. We love something that just coats your mouth in flavor like zkittlez would or a citrus strain,” Vince told Leafly.

Mimosa (David Downs/Leafly)
Mimosa (David Downs/Leafly)

Selected by the Jungle Boys

Under just two grow lights in the back of a dispensary, Michael and Vince crossed Clementine to a special Purple Punch male. They sent the resulting unnamed seeds off for test growing by a friend in 2016. But not just any friend—Michael from Symbiotic had a personal friendship with Ivan from the Jungle Boys, Los Angeles’ indoor growing titans.

The Jungle Boys grew out Symbiotic’s tester seeds, selected the most pungent, potent, and pretty, and in 2017 sold the bud in stores and documented their progress on Instagram.

Michael at Symbiotic named the strain Mimosa, explaining, “We were smoking a joint of it, and it was very orangey and citrusy and we were trying to come up with a cool orangey, citrusy name. And Michael just looked at me and said, ‘How about Mimosa?’ And we said, ‘Yeah that sounds great,’ and we called it Mimosa.”

“It just kind of freely happened, and I feel some of the best things in life, that’s how it happens.”

Breeder/grower ‘Budologist’ Vince, Symbiotic Genetics

Some of the greatest artistic achievements come easily to those who’ve put in the homework, he said. Think of Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks writing the smash hit song “Dreams” in about 10 minutes.

“It was something that wasn’t forced. It just kind of freely happened, and I feel some of the best things in life, that’s how it happens,” said Vince.

Breaking sales records, sweeping contests, crashing websites

When Symbiotic released Mimosa seeds (along with four other hybrids), they did it at two dispensaries—TLC Collective in Los Angeles, and South Sacramento Care Center (SSCC)—“there were literally lines around the corner on 4/20, and it blew our minds,” said Vince. “People lined up for hours, and then it broke the records at SSCC for sales in a single day. It was just this crazy buzz.”

In 2017, Mimosa swept the influential Chalice Cup in San Bernardino, CA, winning 1st Place Sativa, 1st Place in Concentrates, and Best Overall Flower.

“The win was huge,” said Vince. “It was a dream come true, honestly. Me and Michael are connoisseurs and we’re really into the whole cannabis industry; we live it. We’ve watched all these other people become successful, so to see something we created reach that height—it meant everything to us.”


Since then, Mimosa has took home one cannabis award or another every year to this day. Netflix’s Cooked with Cannabis features Mimosa heavily in its first episode. Seed sales for the “Mimosa V6” crosses this March crashed the website of the seller, Horror Seeds.

When Vince thinks back to their beginnings in the back of a Sacramento dispensary, he recalled, “It’s crazy to see that some small, 2-light room that we started in has caused this type of vibration through the whole entire industry.”

Tangie love and haterade today

To this day, some smokers will poo-poo Tangie, saying it doesn’t get them high, or the grapefruit smell gets so intense that it borders on rank.

But reports of Tangie’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Colorado stores might not stock straight Tangie, but Montana’s newly legal smokers are blown away, said Nick at Oni Seeds.

“You got to understand, some places are light years behind Colorado,” he explained.

Tangie’s children took home three trophies in 2021’s Oregon Cannabis Cup, voted on by Oregon smokers. Mimosa grown by PDX Organics took First Place in sativas. Tropicanna Cookies grown by Deschutes Growery took Third Place in sativas.

And remember those hash heads? Tropicanna Cookies Solventless Rosin Vape by Happy Cabbage Farms x Evans Creek Farms took First in vape pens.



Beyond Blue Dream: A Haze family genealogy


Crockett said Tangie “is more popular now than people like to admit. I’ve been getting hit up for it all the time.”

He said commercial growers want the terp profile and sativa hybrid effects in a plant that flowers faster than other sativas.

And taste remains subjective. “People who don’t like super strong-tasting Grapefruit flavor don’t like Tangie,” said Nick at Oni Seed.

“It’s something that’ll always be on menus somewhere. It’s been time-tested already and something that people want.”

Vince, Symbiotic Genetics

But for every upturned nose, Tangie creates two new acolytes.

“I think the terpene profile is never going to go away,” said Vince at Symbiotic. “It’s something that’ll always be on menus somewhere. It’s been time-tested already and something that people want.”

Not sure? Put some Humboldt Seed Co. Squirt seeds in your garden this spring, or look out for Oni Seeds’ first seeds and flowers in licensed California stores later in 2021.

a tangie strain family timeline
  • 1980s: The multi-generational Crockett Family farms cultivate cannabis near Yosemite, CA
  • 2000s: Crockett crosses everything to their Cali-O (California Orange) strain, including a Skunk crossed to a family secret. The result? An instant hit: Tangie.
  • 2006-2008: Crockett pumps out Tangie in California, earning regional acclaim; a DNA Genetics partnership brings Tangie to breeders worldwide
  • 2009-2011: Medical marijuana era California dispensaries introduce Tangie to the masses
  • 2011: Tangie’s first Cannabis Cup win
  • 2012-2015: The rise of butane hash oil (BHO)—especially so-called “shatter”—benefits Tangie, which remains uniquely aromatic in solid extract form
  • 2016: Symbiotic Genetics in Sacramento, CA crosses the Tangie child Clementine to Purple Punch to make Mimosa. Symbiotic Genetics gives seeds of the then-unnamed cross to Jungle Boys to test.
  • 2017: Mimosa wins three Chalice Cups in California, cementing its arrival; Oni Seed Co. debuts Tropicanna Cookies F2 in Colorado
  • 2018-Present: Mimosa wins or places in cannabis contests every year
  • 2020: Humboldt Seed Co. introduces Squirt, a highly refined cross of Blueberry Muffin and Tangie
  • 2021: Two Tangie hybrids (Tropicanna Cookies, and Mimosa) win The Cannabis Cup Oregon: People’s Choice

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8 essential cannabis strains to grow at home

If you’re a regular cannabis user, you’ve probably thought about growing your own. Now is a great time to start. With cannabis prohibition lifting in many places, it’s easier than ever for would-be cultivators to glean knowledge from experienced growers.

Robert Bergman is an industrial cannabis grower and breeder, but he started growing cannabis at home 25 years ago just five little plants. He’s since started I Love Growing Marijuana (ILGM) to help cannabis users turn into successful cannabis growers, with more than 200 grow guides on every stage of cannabis production, grow journals for learning from other growers, andin-depth profiles on the best cannabis strains. When you’re ready to get started, you can buy seeds and everything else you need to start growing in the ILGM shop, which ships across the US and Australia.

With a little planning, you can find a strain perfect for your first crop, whether you’re looking for a little hobby or a new vocation. Not sure where to start? Here are eight iconic strains to get you started, from a centuries-old classic to some of the latest legends.

Know before you grow

Cannabis can be a pretty high-maintenance crop. Before you pick a strain, you should take stock of a few things, like what kind of cannabis you’re after, the amount of grow space you have, lighting constraints you may have, and your budget.

You’re going to want to know about growing an indica plant vs. a sativa plant, and not because of the strain’s effects. Indica varieties have shorter flowering times, so they’re ready for harvest more quickly, and stay relatively short and bushy. Sativa strains can be a little more challenging: They’re tall, lanky, and tend to have smaller harvests per plant, although they grow more quickly at the beginning. Sativa plants handle heat well, while indica plants tolerate cool weather a little better.

Hybrid plants can inherit traits from both their indica and sativa ancestors—whether it’s a high yield, a love for hot weather, or fast growth—so just do a little background research before bringing the seeds home.

You’re also going to want to think about whether to plant feminized or autoflower seeds. Feminized seeds only produce female plants, which is good: Female plants are the ones with the smokable buds you know and love, and having no males around to pollinate means strong, potent crops.

If you’re willing to trade off some potency and yield for an easier growing experience, autoflower cannabis plants don’t need as much light and keep a much lower profile. They’re an especially great choice for dimmer climates and smaller spaces.

6 time-tested cannabis strains—and 2 new icons—to grow at home

Need a well-established strain to get your home grow started? Here are the basics on some decades-long cannabis staples and a couple of instant classics, all available from I Love Growing Marijuana. Some are available both feminized and autoflower, but keep in mind the autos are going to have a smaller yield.

Northern Lights
90/10 indica

Image provided by ILGM

This relaxing, euphoric herb is one of the most famous strains to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, when cannabis breeders operated in the shadows—but according to legend, Northern Lights was born just outside of Seattle, Washington before it entered the Netherlands seed bank in 1985. It’s an enduring classic, with a strong lineage in Afghani indica combined with a whisper of Thai sativa. Expect to harvest about 22 ounces per outdoor plant or 18 ounces per square meter indoors.

Available from ILGM both feminized and autoflower.

Purple Haze
70/30 sativa

Purple Haze is one of the most recognizable cannabis strain names—and while the Jimi Hendrix song wasn’t named for the strain, they date back to a similar era.

Purple Haze has been a popular strain for half a century for good reason: a cerebral high that’s both calming and uplifting, with a psychedelic vibe that matches the Hendrix jam perfectly. One square meter can yield up to 19 ounces of bud indoors, or 14 ounces per plant outdoors.

Available from ILGM feminized.

Durban Poison
Pure sativa

Image courtesy of ILGM.

There’s no breeding backstory to Durban Poison: It’s a landrace strain, meaning it’s more or less the same strain that came to America in the first place, with no subsequent genetic meddling. This is what gives Durban Poison—hailing from Durban, South Africa—its pure, 100% sativa profile.

This strain offers an intensely energizing, happy high that can promote focus and creativity. An outdoor plant can grow to 8 feet tall, and can yield about 16 ounces. Grown indoors, expect 13 ounces per square meter.

Available from ILGM in feminized.

OG Kush
75/25 indica

The early-90s offspring of an unknown strain and an old-school kush, OG Kush is a staple in West Coast cannabis, with a high THC content that packs a euphoric punch. Its children include high-profile strains like GSC and Headband, but there’s nothing quite like the original.

The plants are low and dense, offering a relatively high yield in a smaller package—about 16 ounces per plant outdoors or 17 ounces per square meter indoors.

Available from ILGM in feminized, autoflower, or high-CBD.

Sour Diesel
40/60 sativa

Sour Diesel will keep you off the couch with euphoric, energizing, and creative effects. This especially dank strain, generally believed to have descended from Chemdawg 91 and Super Skunk, rose to prominence in early 1990s California and has stayed in the spotlight ever since.

These tall, dense plants can yield 18 ounces per square meter indoors, or more than 25 per plant outside.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

Jack Herer
40/60 sativa

Image courtesy of ILGM.

Jack Herer, named for the legendary cannabis activist, is a soothing, energetic strain, perfect for coaxing people out of social anxiety and a variety of other physical and mental benefits. Originally bred in the Netherlands for medicinal purposes, it has a reputation for being well-rounded, balancing the best of what cannabis has to offer.

Expect about 18 ounces of yield from each square meter indoors or each plant outdoors.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

Bruce Banner
40/60 Sativa

A pungent green monster, Bruce Banner is known for its earthy diesel aroma and lives up to its name with hulking, high potency yields.

Originally bred from OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel, feminized seeds can yield 14 to 19 ounces per square meter indoors or in sunny climates, and even its autoflower variety can get up to 25% THC.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

70/30 indica

Image courtesy of ILGM.

The super-fruity child of Grape Ape and Grapefruit, Zkittlez won multiple Cannabis Cups when it emerged in 2015. While it’s a traditionally-relaxing indica, it’s also uplifting and euphoric, perfect for letting the stress of the day melt away without tucking yourself into bed quite yet.

This plant is pretty easygoing and relatively compact. Expect yields of 13 ounces per square meter indoors, or about 17 ounces per plant outdoors.

Available from ILGM in feminized and autoflower.

I Love Growing MarijuanaILGMseedssponsored article

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How to maximize your harvest by growing light deprivation cannabisJohanna Silver

Light deprivation—or light dep—is a technique in outdoor cannabis cultivation in which growers reduce the daily amount of light plants receive, tricking the plants into thinking fall has come early. This is done with light-blocking tarps that are draped over hoop houses for 12 hours a day, triggering the flowering phase early and letting farmers harvest their buds and bring them to market several months before the big fall harvest.

In Humboldt—ground zero for craft cannabis—the technique showed up in the late 1980s and took off in the 1990s and early 2000s. The reason? Farmers realized they could squeeze out not one harvest, but two, increasing productivity and profit.

Farmers typically grow seedlings or clones under supplemental light to get a strong start, and then put them under light dep conditions to finish within two months. So long as they’ve got another batch of clones or seedlings ready to go into the ground, they can do it all again in time for fall.

The benefits of growing light deprivation cannabis

Example of a light dep greenhouse from Advancing Alternatives.

It can be a game changer for a number of reasons. “It’s a great way to get some money before the typical fall harvest, so you’re not waiting so long for income,” said Rachel Turiel of Herbanology in Mendocino. About a quarter of her farmland is devoted to light dep. Her setup is nothing fancy: two hoop houses made out of PVC. The cannabis goes straight into the ground, she said.

Not only is it some early money for farmers, the price for light dep cannabis is often higher. “People will always want the freshest stuff,” said Turiel, “So if someone is still selling last fall’s harvest and you come along with light dep, you’re definitely going to get a higher price.”

A less-crowded market might not be the only reason light dep commands a better price. Jason Gellman of Ridgeline Farms in Southern Humboldt believes light dep blends the benefits of outdoor cannabis—“better terpenes and a lower carbon footprint,” he said—with what the market demands.

“People just love that indoor look,” said Gellman. “You can grow someone a big outdoor bud, and its potent, but it’s not purple or covered with powdered sugar.” Light dep cannabis gets closer to that frosty, indoor look, while still harnessing most of those sun grown qualities.

If he had his druthers, he’d farm completely outdoors, sans light dep. “I’m convinced a completely outdoor run makes for a better high.”

Is the quality of light dep cannabis better?

He’s not alone in that thinking. “The jury is still out on if I’m all-in on light dep,” said Johnny Casali of Southern Humboldt’s Huckleberry Hill Farms. Some of his estate cultivars, originally bred by his mother, don’t do well under light dep. “A full run takes six to eight months as compared to the two or three of light dep,” he explained. “Farmers often get smaller buds, lower THC, fewer cannabinoids, and fewer terpenes.” He theorizes that cannabis has its fullest expression of qualities when grown under the full UV spectrum the sun provides for as long as possible.

Light dep can also be hugely expensive for farmers. Unless they do their own cloning, it’s a whole lot of clones to purchase to put in the ground. Casali does all his own cloning, but if he didn’t, he estimates that each round of plants in his setup would cost $14,000. And farmers differ as to whether light dep yields more or less than a full-term run.

The process may or may not be super labor intensive. Gellman’s garden is small enough that the covering and uncovering of tarps doesn’t bother him. For Casali, the task is so big, he built a pulley system that lifts a 500-pound tarp up and over the plants. As for Turiel, it’s a lot easier when her husband—measuring 6’2” versus her 5’2”—pitches in. Otherwise, “it’s one person running back and forth to tie down sides before it flies off like a sail,” she said.

Heavy or not, it’s constant. “Every day, someone has to be home to pull tarps,” said Turiel. She considers that to be the technique’s biggest drawback. “It absolutely ties you to the land.”

Casali agrees. “You can’t miss a day,” he said. “Every morning, I’m up at 5:30am to make my coffee. By six, I’m pulling tarps. And then again, I have to be home in the evening to do it all again.”

While some farmers, like Casali, are wondering whether the extra labor is worth it, others are all in. Light dep allows Gellman to try out many more cultivars than he otherwise would without having to fully commit. And the experimentation doesn’t end there: This year he’s going for a third run, getting plants in by early September and seeing what he can eek out in a few months.

Turiel is also all-in: “Light dep keeps it exciting for us.”

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How does cannabis get its color? Here’s why some strains turn purple

Environment and genetics both play a role in the coloration of a plant. But what exactly causes each variety to look the way it does? What gives Black Cherry Soda its otherworldly color of dark purple with vibrant orange hairs cutting through it like streaks of fire?

Let’s explore the color of cannabis, examining which factors influence its coloration, why some strains are more vibrant than others, and whether purple = potent.

Granddaddy Purple. (Leafly)In order for plants to express vibrant non-green hues, they need the genetic building blocks to do so. These building blocks are called anthocyanins, which are a family of flavonoids that provide purple, red, or blue pigments—these are also found in blueberries, eggplants, red cabbage, concord grapes, violets, and other richly colored plants. Some cannabis strains naturally contain higher levels of anthocyanins than others.

Ever notice some of your favorite strains tend to express the same colors over and over again? Granddaddy Purple, for example, seems to always carry swirls of deep purples and pastel lavenders.

This alternative coloration is indicative of the strain’s predisposition to high anthocyanin levels, and it’s certainly a quality some cannabis breeders attempt to select for and coerce, if only to make us consumers ooh-and-ahh over pretty colors (hence the long line of “purple” strains that includes Purple Kush, Mendocino Purps, Purple Urkle, and many others).

There are many strains that contain a genetic predisposition for high anthocyanin levels, and you’ll often find them under monikers that begin with colors like purple, red, blue, or pink. No, this doesn’t mean these strains will always show off fancy hues, but they have a higher potential of doing so if conditions are right.

Plants with low anthocyanin may produce a different array of colors in the final weeks of flowering, due to another family of molecules called carotenoids. These are responsible for the earthy gold and yellow hues buds can take on before harvest as chlorophyll shuts off.

As you might remember from your elementary biology classes, chlorophyll is what gives plants its green color. Chlorophyll is vitally important to the photosynthesis process by which plants absorb sunlight for energy.

As cannabis plants mature, they produce less of the dominant pigment chlorophyll and we begin to see those anthocyanins emerge in a show of purples, reds, and blues. Growers should note that there are specific environmental conditions that trigger the halt of chlorophyll production. We’ll get into that shortly.

Although not all cannabis strains will express purple, blue, or red hues in their lifetime, those equipped with the right genetics may do so under certain environmental conditions. The reason why cannabis produces flavonoids and anthocyanin, researchers have observed, is for protection.

“Flavonoid accumulation [is] involved in many aspects of plant growth,” the study authors wrote, “including pathogen resistance, pigment production, and protection against ultraviolet radiation, which contributes to the growth of pollen and seed coat development.”

Information on anthocyanin production in cannabis is limited. What we do know comes largely from cannabis cultivation experience and studies measuring patterns of anthocyanin production in other vegetation.

First, there’s temperature. Purple, red, and blue hues may appear in response to drops in temperature, since chlorophyll production takes its natural pause in autumn as the days become colder. Research on other fruits and flowers noted that higher temperatures destroy anthocyanin production. That same study also found that higher pH levels lead to the destruction of anthocyanin pigments, meaning they tend to thrive in more acidic environments.

The pH level determines which pigment the plant takes on:

  • Acidic environments tend to induce red and pink coloration
  • Purple coloration occurs in neutral pH environments
  • Blues become present with higher pH levels
  • Yellow is developed in alkaline conditions

They might be more eye-catching, but purple strains are not necessarily more potent than their green relatives. A purple-blossomed plant exposed to cold temperature may actually produce less THC, so it’s important to keep in mind, as Robert Clarke aptly puts it in The Cannabible, that “many traits prove to be desirable only in certain varieties under certain conditions.”

This post was originally published on March 21, 2016. It was most recently updated on July 28, 2020.

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Leafly’s outdoor cannabis grower’s calendarPat Goggins

Growing cannabis outdoors is easy. All you need is a nice open space that gets lots of light, a water supply, good soil, and a way to cover the plants when the weather turns.

One of the most important things to know is that cannabis is dependent on a photoperiod, meaning that it changes from the vegetative to flowering stage when days start to shorten and nights get longer. You want to time things right so your plants can maximize their exposure to light during the summer before fall sets in.

Growing and harvest times here reflect ranges of time in the Northern Hemisphere. For more growing tips on specific regions, check out this guide on different climates.


On the West Coast of North America, cannabis farmers in Northern California have a long season: They can put plants outside early and harvest later into the season because of the region’s relatively warm weather.

Washington state, on the other hand, will have a shorter time frame, as plants can’t be put outside until later in the season because there’s not enough sunlight yet. Harvest needs to be completed earlier, before cold weather descends on buds and makes them wet and moldy.

The Spring Equinox is a good reminder that it’s time to kick off the outdoor growing process and start germinating your seeds.

As the sun reaches up high in the sky, your cannabis will want to as well. Make sure all of your plants are outside by the Summer Solstice.

The weather will start to turn and the sun will begin descending in the sky as your plants fatten up with sweet, sticky buds. It might be tempting, but wait until around the Fall Equinox to start harvesting.

Everything should be cleaned up, dried, and curing well before the Winter Solstice. Now’s a good time to make your own cannabutter, topicals, or tinctures with all that trim from the harvest. Kick your feet up, relax, and hunker down for the cold, it’s been a long growing season!

I can’t stress enough that the time frames on this graphic are ranges of time for the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll need to adjust them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.

Be sure to keep a grow journal to track the progress of your plants. Looking back on your notes will help you learn from mistakes and maximize the quality and quantity of your buds.

Take meticulous notes on when and how you perform each step, as well as what the weather is like. Other notes can include how much water you give plants, at what intervals, and how much nutrients you give them. Pictures will also give you a better sense of how your plants look along the way.

Buy seeds

Figuring out which strains you want to grow, where to purchase them, where on your property you want to grow, and your local climate and weather can take some time and work. And once you order seeds, it can take a few weeks for them to arrive. Be sure to do your research early and get a head start so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute and miss the ideal time to grow.

Germinate/Sow seeds

It takes about 3-7 days to germinate a seed. A lot of growers will do this indoors because seeds are delicate and it’s easier to control the temperature and climate inside. But if you live in a warmer climate, by all means, start growing them from seed outside. You can also use a small greenhouse outside to keep them warm.

When you start growing your seeds depends partly on how big you want your plants to be for harvest. If you’re going for high yields, the earlier you grow your plants, the bigger they’ll be. But keep in mind that smaller plants are more manageable and easier to top and prune.

Move outdoors/Put in the ground

If germinating seeds and growing them indoors first, this is the time frame that you’d move your plants outside so they can get some serious sunlight. You want them to get at least 6 inches – 1 foot in height before putting them outside, so they’re big and strong enough to handle the weather.

Some old school gardeners will tell you to wait until after Mother’s Day to take them outside, and generally speaking, you want them in the ground by the Summer Solstice at the latest.

Top/Prune plants

Most growers top their plants a few times (two or three) throughout the season to encourage outward development and make plants bush out. It’s a good idea to give them an initial top after the plant develops five or so nodes.

Once your plants start flowering and producing buds—generally, sometime in August—you want to stop topping your plants.

Pruning and cleaning up plants is done as-needed. You want to get rid of dead leaves and lower branches that won’t get light so the plant can use that energy for producing buds in healthier branches.

Growers can clean up their plants anywhere from 1-4 times during the season, depending on how big the crop is and how much labor is needed.


What kind of strain you have and what climate you live in will determine when to harvest your strains. Indicas typically grow stouter and bushier and there is more of a concern that their dense buds will get moldy, so they’re usually harvested on the early side of the season. Sativas are generally taller and less dense, so they usually get harvested later.

Growers in colder climates will need to finish their harvests earlier, sometimes as early as September, for fear of wet, cold weather setting in and molding out buds. Warmer climates can sometimes harvest well into November.

This post was originally published on January 15 31, 2019. It was most recently updated on May 1, 2020.

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Leafly’s cannabis homegrow

Welcome to Leafly’s cannabis homegrow! Watch as our writer Johanna Silver grows a set of marijuana plants from seed to harvest in her backyard in Northern California. Check back every week for a new post, and be sure to follow #Leaflyhomegrow on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Also, check out her book, Growing Weed in the Garden: A No-Fuss, Seed-to-Stash Guide to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation.

There’s not a ton to do as we wait for all of our seeds to sprout. So, let’s talk for a minute about watering. Seedbeds need to be kept evenly moist through germination. “Evenly moist” is a term we throw around in gardening. It means wet but not soggy. It also means all the way through the bed. When the little babies do germinate, they have root systems about as long as the sprout is on top, which is to say, quite short. And that area needs to stay nice and moist to keep the plant alive. Here I’ve thrown in some of my radishes and other veggies with the weed seedlings.

The very best way to water is to use a shower setting—either on the end of a watering can or as the setting on a hose nozzle. I’m sorry if this is painfully obvious for you, but trust me, for others—it’s not. For example, I see a lot of misting of seeds. No dice. Won’t get the job done. You need that whole mass of seed bed to be moist. Shower setting. Nothing harder. Irrigate until you see water coming out of the bottom of the containers.

A wise farm manager once taught me that the trick when watering small plants is to keep moving; keep moving the hand that’s doing the watering and keep moving your body up and down the length of the bed. This might be overkill if you’ve just started a few seeds, but it’s good info to keep in mind if and when you start a whole bun of seeds or even plant a whole bunch of small transplants.

Check out Leafly’s growing section

The babies are sprouting! So far, I’ve got 5 out of 6 showing their green. I’m certain the others will bring up the rear quickly.

Emerging first are the cotyledon leaves—small round ones that don’t look like weed leaves—because they’re not! Cotyledon leaves are embryonic. They’re actually part of the seed. They help the plant access stored nutrients as the plant gets up and running with photosynthesis.

Any flowering plant has cotyledon leaves. Basically, any plant except those that come from spores (think: ferns) and evergreens (which produce cones) start with cotyledons, so they might look wildly familiar if you’ve ever started anything else from seed in your garden. The radish seeds I’ve got right next door to these are also sporting their cotyledons—similarly round, succulent-ish leaves.

What’s cool about cotyledon leaves is that they’re the only part of a cannabis plant that doesn’t have THC in them. It’s possible to take the leaves and mail them off to a lab for genetic testing to find out the sex of the plants long before waiting the many weeks it otherwise takes for them to start flowering to tell the difference. And since there’s no THC, you’ve not broken any laws by mailing a part of the plant.

I’ve done that in the past, using Phylos. Steep Hill is another great option. The process is fun: You mash the cotyledon onto special paper and mail it. You feel like a scientist. A few days later, you get results on who among your babies is female, and who is male. It can be especially helpful if you’ve not got the room to grow out all of your seedlings until they start flowering and reveal their sex.

I’m forgoing it this year. I’ve got time. I’ve got space (sort of). Mostly, I didn’t start a crazy amount of plants and I’m just going to give them all some time to show me who’s who and what’s what.

It’s been raining like cats and dogs around here. I’m all for it. The seedlings are in the little plastic greenhouse, so I still have to pop out there every day or two to make sure the seedbed stays moist. Who’re we kidding? I check on them like 8 times a day. I love baby seedlings. Of any kind.

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Hello fellow weed growers!

I grow weed in my Berkeley, California, backyard, along with veggies, fruits, herbs, and cut flowers. While info resources abound for the other crops I grow, sensible, accessible, outdoor only, garden-scale, weed-growing info is hard to come by.

So, I’m here to help. My goal is to give you regular updates (weekly at first because so much happens early on!) on how to grow weed outside, in your garden, with as little extra fuss as possible. I’ll tell you exactly how I do it.

Today I started my seeds. Could have been anytime between late March and late April. I chose today because I had a spare moment, the sun was shining, and the toddler was sleeping.

I’m growing three cultivars this year:


Genetics by The Humboldt Seed Company.

Chosen because it has crazy looking leaves that don’t resemble that classic cannabis leaf.

Sweet Annie

Genetics by The Humboldt Seed Company.

Chosen because it also has beautiful leaves, albeit more classically cannabis. I met this plant in person a few years back at a pheno-hunt and it looked so unique. Much more ornamental. It’s also 1:1 THC:CBD and mama could use something calming.

Cherry Pie x Chem Lemon

Seeds given to me by a friend and expert East Bay grower who has a seed collective.

Chosen because he told me it is beautiful and smells great.

If it isn’t glaringly obvious: I choose plants based on smell and looks. After all, I’m a gardener more than a weed connoisseur. Oh, but weed connoisseurs tell me my weed is legit. So, you’re good learning from me. Promise.

I’m only growing three plants total this year—two in the ground and one in a pot. The legal limit for homegrowing cannabis in California is six plants, but I want to keep some room for my veggies. I’m only starting four seeds of each cultivar. I trust that at least one of four seeds of each kind will turn out to be a female (we’ll get to sexing plants in a few weeks, but you always want to start off with 3-4 times the number of plants you’ll end up with).

I grow entirely outside. No lights, no mats. I’ll tuck them in a small plastic greenhouse to keep them safe and just a little warmer and cozier.

I start my seeds in fresh potting soil, scooped into 4-inch nursery containers I’ve amassed over the years. Seeds needn’t be planted deep—twice as deep as the seed is wide, is the rule of thumb with most seeds.

Absolutely crucial: labels. Don’t make the mistake of swearing you’ll remember. You won’t. Pro tip: Get a Sharpie Extreme. They’re the only ones that are actually permanent in outdoor conditions.

I’ll keep the soil moist through germination, which likely means a daily splash of water from a gentle setting (not “mist,” but like, “shower”) on the hose nozzle. Strong enough to drench it, but not so hard as to blast the seeds away.

In past years, I’ve pre-sprouted seeds in wet paper towel—a great thing to do if you have old seeds and want to test their viability before using unnecessary soil. I’ve also soaked them in water for 24 hours, something that can speed up germination. But, my seeds are good. I am in no rush, so straight into the soil they went.

Check back next week to see these seeds start to pop out of the soil!

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Check out Leafly’s growing section for answers to all your growing questions 

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How to clone a cannabis plant

Did you know that you can clone a cannabis plant? It may sound like a mad scientist experiment, but there are benefits to cloning a plant vs. growing from a seed, and cloning weed is easier than you think.

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Check out these additional resources for more info on cannabis clones:

There are two ways you can go about reproducing cannabis. You can grow from seed, in which you will have to acquire seeds, germinate them, sex them out, and then continue to grow them. Seeds are created through sexual reproduction, which involves crossing a male plant with a female through pollination, after which, the female will produce seeds. Breeding male and female plants will allow you to create a hybrid of the two parent plants.

You can also reproduce cannabis through cloning, otherwise known as asexual reproduction. A clone is a cutting that is genetically identical to the plant it was taken from—known as the “mother.”

Through cloning, you can create a new harvest with exact replicas of your best plants. Because the genetics are identical, a clone will give you a plant with the same characteristics as the mother, such as flavor, cannabinoid profile, yield, grow time, etc. So if you come across a specific strain or phenotype you really like, you might want to clone it to reproduce more buds that have the same effects.

With cloning, you don’t have to get new seeds every time you want to grow another plant—you just take a cutting of the old plant—and you don’t have to germinate seeds or sex them out and get rid of the males.

Not having to do these steps will save you time as well as space, both of which will help you save money.

Cannabis plant roots

Cloning cannabis is relatively easy and requires just a few key items:

  • Scissors (for cutting branches off the mother plant)
  • Razor (for trimming up cuttings)
  • Rooting setup (tray/dome/root cubes, or an auto-cloner)
  • Rooting hormone

Choose a rooting medium and setup

Common rooting mediums include rockwool, rooting cubes, or another non-soil equivalent like peat or foam. Rockwool is melted rock that has been spun into a fine thread, and it has terrific airflow and moisture retention. You can find any of these cubes at most grow stores or online.

If you’re using cubes, you’ll need to invest in a tray, a tray-cell insert, and a dome. The clones will go in the cubes, the cubes in the tray-cells, and that sits in a tray which will hold water. To keep in humidity make sure to use a dome over your tray, and you may even want to use a heat mat. For more info on this setup, check out our guide to cannabis cloning equipment.

Another method is to use an auto-cloner. These cut down on the amount of labor needed to feed and care for clones. Using aeroponics, these machines spray the bottoms of your cuttings with nutrient water at set intervals to promote root growth. They are more expensive than the traditional tray/dome/root cube setup, but they are becoming more and more popular.

Experiment to see which setup works best for you. Whichever method you choose, make sure your new clones get plenty of light—preferably 18 hours—and humidity.

How to take a cutting

Cannabis plant clones

When selecting a mother plant to clone, look for plants that are healthy, sturdy, and at least two months into the vegetative cycle. You shouldn’t take a clone off a plant once it starts flowering.

Here’s how to take a cutting:

  • Don’t fertilize mother plants for a few days leading up to taking cuttings. This will allow nitrogen to work its way out of the leaves. When you take cuttings, an excess of nitrogen in the leaves and stems will trick your clones into attempting to grow vegetation instead of diverting energy to rooting.
  • Work in a sterile environment. Use gloves and disinfect razors and scissors.
  • Look for branches that are sturdy and healthy. You want at least two nodes on the final cutting, so pick a branch that is healthy and long enough. A sturdy clone will lead to a sturdy plant.
  • Cut the clone off of the mother, cutting above the node on the mother plant. It’s OK to use scissors here; it may be hard to get a razor in the middle of the mother plant.
  • Then, using a razor, cut below the bottom node on the fresh cutting at a 45° angle to the branch. This will increase the surface area of the rooting surface, promoting faster growth.
  • Place your fresh cutting immediately into a rooting hormone. Then, put it directly into a root cube. If using an auto-cloner, you’ll put rooting hormone in the cloner after you take all your cuttings.
  • Once done taking a cutting, remove unnecessary leaves toward the bottom and clip off the tips of the remaining fan leaves on the cutting. This supports photosynthesis, helping your clones uptake nutrients and water.

Planting cannabis

Check your clones daily to make sure they have enough water by checking the bottom of the tray or auto-cloner. To increase humidity, you can spray water on the leaves with a spray bottle. If any clones die, discard them so they don’t cause mold in the rest of the clones and also to give the remaining clones more space.

Most clones will be ready to transplant into soil in 10-14 days, but some may take longer. You’ll know they’re ready when the white roots are an inch or two in length.

When getting ready to transplant, be sure to keep the environment sterile. Transplant shock can occur so be sure to use gloves when handling clones.

To transplant:

  • Put soil in your pots first.
  • Water the soil before you put in the clone, so soil doesn’t move around once the clone is in its new home.
  • Once the water has drained, with two fingers, dig out a hole 1-2 inches deep, or just enough to bury all the roots.
  • Put the clone in and gently cover with soil.

Cloning can do wonders for your cannabis garden by saving you time and money, and ensuring a genetically consistent crop. You don’t need much to get started, and if done correctly, you can have a perpetual harvest of your favorite strains year-round.

This post was originally published on June 28, 2016. It was most recently updated on February 27, 2020.

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Male vs. female cannabis: How to determine the sex of your plant

In the world of plants, reproduction can happen in a variety of ways. Monoecious plants produce two different types of flowers on the same plant, and hermaphrodite plants grow single flowers that have both male and female reproductive organs.

Cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning male or female reproductive organs appear on different plants.

With cannabis, females are usually isolated away from males—introducing males into a garden will result in pollination, causing females to create seeds.

This is important for a breeder to achieve new genetics, but most growers remove the males to allow females to produce seedless buds, also called sinsemilla. These are the resinous buds that appear on the store shelf; they all come from female plants.

Seeded buds are generally regarded as low-quality cannabis. When seeds are present, the smoke is harsh and unpleasant.

Female genetics can be guaranteed by obtaining clones and feminized seeds. If, however, you’re working with regular seeds and are unsure of your seed’s sex, knowing how to determine the sex of your plant is vital to developing new genetics, gathering seeds, or growing sinsemilla.

Sexing cannabis plants is easy. Let’s see how to tell.

Check out these additional resources for more info on cannabis seeds:

Female cannabis pre-flowers grow as tiny bracts with hair-like stigma peeking out. Male plants produce small, round balls at the nodes. (Amy Phung/Leafly)

Cannabis plants show their sex by what grows in between their nodes (where leaves and branches extend from the stalk). Pollen sacs will develop on a male plant to spread seeds and stigma will develop on a female to catch pollen. You can see these differences weeks before they actually start serving their purposes in the reproduction cycle. These are known as “pre-flowers.”

Pre-flowers begin to develop four weeks into growth, but they may take a little longer depending on how quickly the sprouting phase occurs. By the sixth week, you should be able to find the pre-flowers and confidently determine the sex of your plant.

Pre-flowers can initially be extremely small and hard to identify with the naked eye, but you can use a magnifying glass to get a better look. Examine the nodes of the plant and look for either the early growth of small sacs on a male, or two bracts on a female, which will eventually produce the hair-like stigma.

Though there are other methods to determine what sex the plant is, examining pre-flower formation is the most reliable.

Removing males early on is important for two reasons: it frees up space in your garden so females can grow bigger and stronger, and it prevents males from pollinating females.

Hermaphrodite cannabis can express both sex organs and self-pollinate. (Amy Phung/Leafly)

When a female plant develops both male and female sex organs, it is considered a hermaphrodite. This means your cannabis plant is now capable of producing pollen that can pollinate your entire garden. “Herming out,” as some call it, is something that generally happens when a plant becomes excessively stressed. Some plant stressors include:

  • Plant damage
  • Bad weather
  • Disease
  • Nutrient deficiencies

There are two types of hermaphrodite plants:

  • A plant that develops both buds and pollen sacs
  • A plant that produces anthers, commonly referred to as “bananas” due to their appearance

While both result in pollen production, true hermaphrodites produce sacs that need to rupture, while anthers are exposed, pollen-producing stamen.

Because this occurs when cannabis is under stress, it’s important to monitor plants after they have been exposed to stressors—indoors: high temperatures or light leaks are often the cause; outdoors: a snapped branch might be repaired and then turn into a hermaphrodite.

The other primary cause of hermaphrodite plants lies in the plant’s genetics. A plant with poor genetics or a history of hermaphrodite development should be avoided to protect your garden. If you notice any pollen sacs or anthers at any point, remove the plant from your garden immediately to prevent pollination of female plants.

If you’re interested in pollinating portions of your crop, remember that pollen is extremely potent and very good at traveling. Keep your males intended for pollination far from your garden space and work carefully with that pollen.

This post was originally published on September 19, 2017. It was most recently updated on February 11, 2020.

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Cannabis seeds 101: A guide for growers

Cannabis is grown from one of two sources: a seed or a clone. Seeds carry genetic information from two parent plants that can be expressed in numerous different combinations, some like the mother, some like the father, and many presenting various traits from both. Generally, commercial cannabis producers will plant many seeds of one strain and choose the best plant. They will then take clones from that individual plant to get consistent genetics for mass production.

But for the typical homegrower, it may be easier to obtain seeds rather than clones. Growing from seed can produce a stronger plant with more solid genetics. Read on for more info on cannabis seeds.

Check out these additional resources for more info on cannabis seeds:

Jump to a section in this article:

Cannabis can be either male or female—also called “dioecious”—but only females produce the buds we all know and love. However, for reproduction, the flower of a female plant must be pollinated by a male plant, after which the female flower produces seeds. Once the seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die, and seeds are either dropped to the ground where they germinate and grow into new cannabis plants the next spring, or they are harvested for processing into hemp seed oil, food products, or to be sown to become the next generation of plants.

To get the buds you find in medical and recreational stores, female cannabis plants are grown in an environment without males—or the males are removed from the area before they release pollen—so that they don’t pollinate and create seeds. This high-potency marijuana is traditionally known as “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”

Some varieties of cannabis can produce male parts alongside female flowers on the same plant, especially if exposed to environmental stressors. These plants are known as hermaphrodites, and sometimes they can self-pollinate to create seeds.

marijuana seeds in wooden bowl

Feminized cannabis seeds will produce only female plants for getting buds, so there is no need to remove males or worry about the plants getting pollinated. Feminized seeds are produced by causing the monoecious, or hermaphrodite condition in a female cannabis plant. The resulting seeds are nearly identical to the self-pollinated—or “selfed”—female parent, as only one set of genes is present.

This is sometimes referred to as “cloning by seed” and will not produce any male plants. This is achieved through several methods:

  • By spraying the plant with a solution of colloidal silver, a liquid containing tiny particles of silver
  • Through a method known as rodelization, in which a female plant pushed past maturity can pollinate another female
  • Spraying seeds with gibberellic acid, a hormone that triggers germination (this is much less common)

Most experienced growers will not use feminized seeds because they only contain one set of genes, and these should never be used for breeding purposes.

Check out Leafly’s Growing section for more on how to grow cannabis 

Most cannabis plants begin flowering when the amount of light they are exposed to each day is reduced to about 12 hours. This mimics the sun going down in the sky as the season turns to autumn, causing plants to produce buds regardless of size or age. However, a species of the plant, called Cannabis ruderalis, which developed in extreme northern conditions without much sunlight, will begin flowering once the plant reaches a certain age—they automatically start flowering regardless of the amount of light they receive, hence the term “autoflower.”

Some breeders have crossbred the low-THC ruderalis with other more potent varieties to create autoflower strains that start blooming as soon as they reach maturity. These can be easier to maintain and can be especially great in northern climates where summers are short and cold and wet weather comes early in the fall.

Autoflower strains can be started in early spring and will flower during the longest days of summer to take advantage of the highest quality light available. Growers can fit in multiple autoflower harvests in the span of a regular harvest. One drawback, though: Autoflower strains are known for being less potent.

weed seeds in wooden spoon on hemp doily

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the chemical components—known collectively as cannabinoids—found in the cannabis plant. Lately, much has been made of the potential benefits of CBD for treating the symptoms of many diseases and conditions. Over the years, humans have selected plants for high-THC content, making cannabis with high levels of CBD rare. The genetic pathways through which THC is synthesized by the plant are different than those for CBD production.

Cannabis used for hemp production has been selected for other traits, including a low THC content, so as to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. Consequently, many varieties of hemp produce significant quantities of CBD. As interest in CBD as a medicine has grown, many breeders have been crossing high-CBD hemp with cannabis. These strains have little or no THC, 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, or some have a high-THC content along with significant amounts of CBD (3% or more).

Seeds for these varieties are now widely available online and through dispensaries. It should be noted, however, that any plant grown from these seeds is not guaranteed to produce high levels of CBD, as it takes many years to create a seed line that produces consistent results. A grower looking to produce cannabis with a certain THC to CBD ratio will need to grow from a tested and proven clone or seeds.

The most important factor in seed quality is genetics—to grow quality cannabis, you need good genetics. Some less scrupulous breeders will simply cross a nice female with a random male and sell the resulting seeds. A good breeder will take time to cross and backcross plants to stabilize the most desirable traits, while still producing an array of different phenotypes.

Seeds must also be allowed to fully mature before harvest. They also must be properly stored so they don’t acquire mold or other pathogens that can spoil them. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark place and used within 16 months, or frozen for future use.

Really dedicated breeders have worked for years to create inbred lines, or IBLs, that will produce plants with very little noticeable difference. IBLs represent only a small fraction of cannabis seeds on the market, as they are generally used by breeders and not by producers.

Cannabis seeds can be found on numerous online seedbanks, but note that it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person. In legal and medical states, you may purchase seeds at a dispensary.

Learn more about how to buy cannabis seeds, the legality of doing so, and costs in our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.

This post was originally published on April 2, 2016. It was most recently updated on February 5, 2020.

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Stages of the marijuana plant growth cycle

Cannabis plants, like all living things, go through a series of stages as they grow and mature. If you’re interested in cultivating cannabis, it’s especially important to understand the changes a plant undergoes during its life cycle, as each stage of growth requires different care.

Different stages call for different amounts of light, nutrients, and water. They also help us decide when to prune and train the plants. Determining a plant’s sex and overall health rely on stages of growth as well.

Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from 14-32 weeks, or about 4-8 months, to grow a weed plant.

The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative cycle—if you’re growing indoors, you can force it to flower after only a few weeks when it is small, or after several weeks when it is big. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until fall to harvest. The plant will develop buds in the last 8-11 weeks.

The life cycle of cannabis can be broken down into four primary stages from seed to harvest:

  • Germination (5-10 days)
  • Seedling (2-3 weeks)
  • Vegetative (3-16 weeks)
  • Flowering (8-11 weeks)

Light cycle: 18 hours of light

(Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

The first stage of life for a cannabis plant begins with the seed. At this point, your cannabis plant is dormant, patiently waiting for water to bring it to life.

You can observe the quality of the seed by its color and texture. The seed should feel hard and dry, and be light- to dark-brown in color. An undeveloped seed is generally squishy and green or white in color and likely won’t germinate.

To begin growing from a seed, learn more about germination here. This stage can take anywhere between 5-10 days.

Once your seed has popped, it’s ready to be placed in its growing medium. The tap root will drive down while the stem of the seedling will grow upward. Two rounded cotyledon leaves will grow out from the stem as the plant unfolds from the protective casing of the seed. These initial leaves are responsible for taking in sunlight needed for the plant to become healthy and stable.

As the roots develop, you will begin to see the first iconic fan leaves grow, at which point your cannabis plant can be considered a seedling.           

Light cycle: 18 hours of light

(Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

When your plant becomes a seedling, you’ll notice it developing more of the traditional cannabis leaves. As a sprout, the seed will initially produce leaves with only one ridged blade. Once new growth develops, the leaves will develop more blades (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.). A mature cannabis plant will have between 5-7 blades per leaf, but some plants may have more.

Cannabis plants are considered seedlings until they begin to develop leaves with the full number of blades on new fan leaves. A healthy seedling should be a vibrant green color. Be very careful to not overwater the plant in its seedling stage—its roots are so small, it doesn’t need much water to thrive.

At this stage, the plant is vulnerable to disease and mold. Keep its environment clean and monitor excess moisture.

Light cycle: 18 hours of light

(Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

The vegetative stage of cannabis is where the plant’s growth truly takes off. At this point, you’ve transplanted your plant into a larger pot, and the roots and foliage are developing rapidly. This is also the time to begin topping or training your plants.

Spacing between the nodes should represent the type of cannabis you are growing. Indica plants tend to be short and dense, while sativas grow lanky and more open in foliage.

Be mindful to increase your watering as the plant develops. When it’s young, your plant will need water close to the stalk, but as it grows the roots will also grow outward, so start watering further away from the stalk so the roots can stretch out and absorb water more efficiently.

Vegetative plants appreciate healthy soil with nutrients. Feed them with a higher level of nitrogen at this stage.

Light cycle: 12 hours of light

(Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

The flowering stage is the final stage of growth for a cannabis plant. Flowering occurs naturally when the plant receives less than 12 hours of light a day as the summer days shorten, or as the indoor light cycle is shortened. It is in this stage that resinous buds develop and your hard work will be realized.

If you need to determine the sex of your plants (to discard the males), they will start showing their sex organs a couple weeks into the flowering stage. It’s imperative to separate the males so they don’t pollenate the flowering females.

There are a number of changes to consider once your plant goes from its vegetative stage to flowering:

  • Your plants shouldn’t be pruned after three weeks into the flowering stage, as it can upset the hormones of the plant.
  • Plants should be trellised so that buds will be supported as they develop.
  • Consider feeding plants with blooming nutrients.

What week of flowering do buds grow the most?

Buds typically grow the most toward the end of the flowering cycle, around week 6-7. You probably won’t notice much budding out at the beginning of flower, and it will slow down toward the end of the cycle, when buds become fully formed.

This post was originally published on July 18, 2017. It was most recently updated on January 17, 2020.

Once the buds have reached full maturation, it’s time to harvest.

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Bigger isn’t better: The case for growing small marijuana plants

We’re not going to delve into other matters where this might be up for debate, but when it comes to cannabis, bigger doesn’t mean better. Sure, giant weed plants look really cool. If nothing else, it’s ridiculously impressive that a warm season annual can go from seed to tree-sized in a matter of months. We get it.

But when it comes to the actual growing, drying, flavor, and quality of your crop, don’t be suckered into thinking that size is everything. In fact, we have solid reasons to encourage you to embrace smaller plants in your garden.

No matter the size, your neighbors might be able to smell the goods from over the fence. But you’ll keep your garden much less conspicuous by growing plants on the smaller side. While weed cultivation might be legal in your state, we’re still operating in a grey area due to federal illegality.

If someone’s got a vendetta against you, you’re just better off not having weed plants towering above fences and in plain sight. And besides revenge seekers, there are people who might be tempted to steal your crop if you’re making it too easy for them.

The best method of pest control always starts with you giving your plants a once over. That’s quite easy to do when plants are on the smaller side. You can reach up or kneel down, walk around your plant, and give every leaf and bud an inspection, usually without breaking a sweat or taking all day.

Things get a little more complicated when you need a ladder to do the same thing. Not only do you open the door to injury from falling, but it’ll take much more time when you’ve grown giant plants. You’ll likely skip the task entirely, opening the door for pest problems to get out of control.

Massive buds definitely look cool, but it can be a headache to try and dry them properly. A tasty, usable crop depends on buds drying evenly from the outside in and inside out. This is a much more reasonable task if buds are a manageable size. Once they feel dry from the outside, a few days of burping them in a storage vessel will suck out the remaining moisture.

Bigger buds are more difficult. Even when you think buds are dry on the outside, they might be packing quite a punch of moisture on the inside. Not only will curing be much more of an artform and take much longer, you’re much likelier to end up with mold problems.

If you’re not sold yet, this one will get you: The Emerald Cup judges often hand out awards to buds coming from plants that yield less than two pounds. Simply put, smaller plants can produce better tasting weed.

Think about it: A plant’s goal in life is to reproduce. If it’s stressed in any way, it abandons unnecessary tasks (like packing on extra foliage) and focuses everything on reproduction. That’s why you hear so much about mouthwatering dry-farmed tomatoes or grapes. The harvest might be smaller, both in fruit size and yield, but the taste is unbeatable, as stressed out plants pour everything they’ve got into their fruit, flowers, or seeds.

In the case of weed, that means stickier buds loaded with terpenes and packed with cannabinoids. Don’t take our word for it—Happy Dreams Farm, Eel River Farms, and High Water Farm are just a few of the Humboldt-area spots having great success with dry-farmed weed. Their plants are itty bitty and tasty as hell.

Not shooting for massive weed also bodes well for the environment as well as your pocketbook. You can skip the heavy doses of fertilizers in the false thinking that bigger weed yields tastier plants. What you want to do is a lot simpler and a lot less expensive.

When you first plant your weed outdoors, make sure the soil is amended with plenty of quality, finished compost. Truth be told, that’s likely all your weed needs for the growing season. It’ll be just enough to get the plant growing nicely, and not too much nourishment for the plant to get lazy about flavor.

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