How 4 growers bring out unique traits in their cannabis plants


October 30, 2019

The diversity of cannabis genetics is increasing with every new phenotype that pops up. As legal markets with data and analytics illustrate what consumers are buying, a sea change is brewing in what traits cultivators are seeking in their plants.

Yield, potency, and hardiness used to be primary concerns, but craft cultivation now is pristine flower and more–it’s about hyper-fragrant nose notes, intense flavor expressions on the palette, rare terpenes and cannabinoids, and in some cases, practical reasons like easier harvesting or soil stewardship.

Leafly asked four cannabis producers to discuss breeding insights and find out exactly what they are looking for in plants.

Pete Pietrangeli, product development manager with Indus Holdings, founder of Acme Premium Vapes, and LA Confidential dispensary, is involved with all steps of the business, from genetics to vape production.

Based in Salinas, California, his grow runs on a combination of sun and power, but it’s too large to function as an indoor operation. Live resin, terp sauces, and boutique extracts are their thing, and those have to come from perfect flower.

That means lots of crossbreeding to find the best traits. “This is what has led many growers to breeding their own seeds with special traits that can endure various climates. For example, crossing white widow into popular strains was widely used in the Hawaiian islands, to combat mold and mildew which White Widow is very resilient to,” says Pietrangeli.

Flavor can often be temporary in cannabis products, hitting the nose but not the mouth in the smoke or vapor. Their Lemon Cake live resin is one of the rarest expressions they’ve ever been able to achieve. “It is definitely rich in limonene, however, it has a different smooth finish that doesn’t just give you a taste and ends abruptly but lingers on in your taste buds,” he says.

Cyril Guthridge of Waterdog Herb Farm in California’s Mendocino County doesn’t just grow cannabis on his lush piece of mountainside. As a working herb farm in addition to a cannabis grow, the symbiosis of dozens of plant species and animals is at play–and they influence their cannabis as well.

“We like to plant high-terpene plants near our cannabis and feed our [cannabis] other terpene-rich plants. We have seen great results from our trials and experiments with this,” says Guthridge.

With plants like qinghao, a.k.a. wormwood, and lavender brushing stalks with the huge, sun grown crop, Guthridge’s land is producing some really unique cannabis flower.

“This year we have a few very special terpenes we are excited about. One is from a ‘Galicot’ from StaeFli Farms,” he says. “It smells like fresh mint cookies with a drizzle of skunky garlic sauce.”

Waterdog Farms has no trouble getting big buds, but they’re all about results, not quantity. “I will always choose to grow a unique cultivar over a large yield any day,” says Guthridge. “I’m not interested in growing the biggest plant. I want to explore the nuances of the genetics within the profiles it has and help express those qualities through our cultivating techniques.”

CEO and founder of Endo Industries, Nancy Do, has a unique approach to coaxing the best out of her plants. Endo designs and produces healthy cannabis clones in Northern California, and they are thinking a few steps ahead to help farmers get there too.

“We do spend a lot of our time at the moment just creating and engineering pathogen- and disease-free plants for growers, which is such a huge feat in itself,” says Do. But she is the first to admit how vast the future of cannabis genetics is looking, especially when looking past the high-THC breeding rush of the past 10 years and into the other compounds in cannabis.

“Aside from terpenes, we’re definitely looking into flavonoids, and other secondary metabolites. It’s not just that there’s medicinal purposes and that they express these amazing things in the plant that we enjoy consuming, it’s also that it helps the plant become stronger and more vigorous,” says Do.

Cannaflavins are big on Do’s list of exceptional traits to look for, as a set of flavonoids exclusive to cannabis could have anti-inflammatory properties. And there’s still more research to come that can be applied to cannabis genetics.

As people depend more and more on cannabis for medicine, preserving it is a goal for Do and her company. “Ultimately, we have to think about heat tolerance and heat resistance, as well as drought tolerance, because global warming is accelerating. Farmers across the board have to think about this, breeders have to think about this,” says Do.

This is scary stuff, but Do thinks it’s time to be realistic. “What was viable in their climate now or even five years ago will be different in five more years at the rate we are going,” she says.

Pieter Summs, lead grower at Oregon’s Otis Gardens, runs an indoor operation that’s up-to-date with cannabis’ evolving requirements. Part of this involves introducing physical traits to a genetics program, which Summs says, “Allow for easy workability of the product, such as a high calyx-to-leaf ratio for easy trim-ability of the flowers and easy maintenance of the live plant.” These adjustments make the plant do well in close quarters as well as make harvesting more simple.

As for the unique flavors and scents, Summs shouts out their own strain, Dethman Ridge Skunk. “Her off-fruity smell evolves from around week six, a room of Dethman is undeniable from yards outside. Rock hard flowers offer a slightly savory smell the further into flower she progresses,” he says.

No matter what a cannabis producer is coaxing out of their creations, it all adds up to a better product in your pocket. We’re only just now seeing the landscape reveal itself from the fog of prohibition, so there are decades of genetics experiments to come, and most importantly, to learn from.


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4 cannabis producers on what makes a strain great to grow


October 1, 2019

(Julia Sumpter)

It can be hard enough to decide what strain to purchase or grow yourself, so can you imagine the pressure of doing so for a large scale cannabis operation?For the uninitiated, strains are not one-size-grows-all by any stretch of the imagination. Cultivators who produce flower for your local dispensary need to put a lot of deliberation into the process. Tossing dead plants when things go awry is something a big commercial grow simply cannot afford to do.

Temperature, humidity, pests, light availability, and lots of other factors can trash a grow, and commercial farmers have to know every detail while still providing big yields. It’s a lot more than just making a basic cannabis bonsai like the rest of us beginners.

We spoke with four growers about which strains get the job done of getting you high. Getting an inside peek into how some of today’s powerhouse cannabis companies pick their genetics for efficiency and fragrance is valuable advice for hobby growers, consumers, and anyone else with a passing interest in the plant.

Strain selection can often come down to climate and terroir, especially with sun grown operations. Aster Farms, a popular Lake County, California, cultivator, has a high elevation coupled with less humidity: In terms of weed, the low moisture atmosphere can help cannabis thrive in cold nights, with lower chances of mold and frost, which are certain weed killers.

Aster Farms’ CEO Julia Jacobson says this lets them aim for tropical sativas that typically don’t perform well in California weather, and that the terpene content is heavily influenced by the operation’s live soil techniques, which create fungal networks that some growers swear by.

“Since our climate is higher and drier, we are able to grow less hardy and longer-taking varietals–sativas and more tropical strains like White Widow. Therefore, we have the advantage of being able to select strains based on our product portfolio and desired effects, not having to worry about climate,” she says.

Founder and CEO of Paradiso Gardens Christina Dipaci had genetics optimized just for her setup. Their Salinas Valley, California, grow calls Grandiflora Genetics’ Project 4516 one of their most popular strains.

“Grandiflora’s strains are all bred to yield well and be resistant to bugs. Working with the breeder helps us develop the perfect environment for each particular strain,” says Dipaci.

Paradiso often does trial periods to analyze key strains before completing full runs, which allowed them to determine that Project 4516 was a prolific choice. Dipaci explains, “Project 4516 is ideal for the customer and the op because we are able to grow it to its fullest expression of color, taste, and flavor at a larger scale.”

You can find Nug California products at dozens of locations around the Golden State, and their size would probably allow for national distribution if federal law were remotely at that point.

Until then, despite having their favorite cultivars racked up to rake in the big buds, master grower Ryan Tonsberg cites Strawberry Fruity Pebbles, Sunshine OG, and Kush Mint Animal Cookies as their standout strains. These were the finalists of over 40 choices, Tonsberg explains, and they test four new strains per month, constantly fine-tuning their selection.

He said the Sunshine OG and Strawberry Fruity Pebbles thrive because “Their genetics match our environment really well. We have large grow rooms so it’s not possible to dial in temp and humidity for each strain individually. We have to run on what’s ideal for most of the stains we carry.”

He continued: “If a strain is really susceptible to pests or disease, we have to take that into consideration. Production and ease of cultivation are important, but our guys are willing to put in the extra time and effort if the strain is worth it.”

Johnny Casali, chief cultivator at Huckleberry Hill Farms–who supplies to California mega-brand Flow Kana–cultivates his mother’s 45-year-old strain, Whitethorn Rose, for its supreme quality.

“Bred from a strain that has been cultivated on the same exact property for the last 45 years, I truly believe that it is adapted to the special terroir and thrives here better than anywhere else in the world,” Casali says.

Heritage strains like Whitethorn Rose even cost Casali time in prison, but this did not deter his stewardship of it into today’s place of esteem.

Terpenes are every plant’s natural pest repellent–the main reason you rarely see spider mites and aphids on culinary herbs. Casali says this is a boon in cannabis language as well, “One of my favorite parts of cultivating Whitethorn Rose is that because of its high terpene profile, it’s super resistant to any kind of pests and any kind of molds including powdery mildew. For me, this is a huge advantage.”

With the legal market primarily based in the West Coast for the time being, there’s no telling what people will be crossing to make potent and pest-repelling piff in the coming decades–likely in new locales where cannabis was once illegal.

For now, these entrepreneurial cultivators are building the lasting foundation of the commercial cannabis industry, and it says a lot about what will be on shelves in the years to come.


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How to Set Up a Small-Space Drying Room for Your Cannabis Harvest

When it comes to having a usable, smokable, great-tasting crop, it turns out that growing cannabis is really only half the journey. After harvest, a proper dry and cure are crucial. These steps help retain terpenes and cannabinoids while diminishing chlorophyll, giving you something that tastes more like grass than, well, grass. Not to mention, the right conditions in a grow room prevent mold, so post-processing is an important time to pay careful attention.

No matter the size of your grow setup, a few truths remain: You should dry your weed in a dark room with temperatures between 60-70?F and humidity between 50-65%. A cheap hygrometer will take the mystery out of monitoring those numbers.

And the good news is that, in a small space, simple oscillating fans and small humidifiers or dehumidifiers (depending on your climate) should be plenty to nudge those numbers in the right direction should they be off by a few. Also, any spot you choose should be tidied up and mold-free.

If you’re in a small home or apartment or simply don’t want the dry and cure to take up too much room, here are some space-saving tips to help you minimize the footprint of the last phase of the growing journey.

Hang Branches Efficiently

Hanging harvested plants upside down is the gold standard for drying practices. It prevents buds from getting flattened or misshapen as they dry. Also, keeping flowers connected to branches for as long as possible helps create an even, slow dry–exactly what you’re after.

To make hanging even more efficient, forgo hanging branches directly on a line and instead place them on a hanger. Many more hangers can fit on the line than just branches alone. BAM–you’ve just exponentially increased your drying space. It’s a-OK for branches to be close together, but leave a little room to encourage airflow and prevent mold.

Minimize Building New Structures

For a neat and tidy hanging apparatus that takes no construction and requires no drilling into walls, purchase a freestanding wardrobe from any department store, online retailer, or thrift store.

They’re available in all sorts of sizes and come ready-made for hangers with nothing more than the twist of a few screws. They’re super sturdy, too, able to support the weight of freshly harvested branches–something that you should account for in your setup.

Trim Off Extra Leaves

Greatly reduce the volume of plant material by manicuring your cannabis before you hang it to dry. Getting rid of all those fan and sugar leaves results in much slender branches, which take up a lot less space.

Opt for Flat Racks

(A flat rack for drying buds. Courtesy of Rachel Weill)

Or skip the branches altogether and just dry the buds. Trim wet and put all buds on a hanging herb-drying rack, sometimes called a “high-rise drying rack.” They are circular with layers of mesh lining (great for airflow), and can be lined with flowers.

This will let you dry just the part you’re ultimately after, skipping any excess material like sticks and stems. Racks come in varying sizes and heights, going up to eight levels tall.

There are a few things to keep in mind should you go this route. First, weed should be trimmed and bucked–snipped off its main stem and into smaller nugs–to make maximum use of space. This means the dry will happen more quickly, so be sure to check on your flowers often. You’ll want to get them into jars to cure at the right time, rather than having them dry to a crisp.

Drying flat also means the buds will get a little smooshed on one side, the side on the rack. This is purely an aesthetic concern, but one to be aware of should impressing your friends with perfectly shaped weed be your end goal.

Skip Transferring Buds Before the Cure

When branches snap and buds sound like popcorn when pressed gently, the bud is considered to be mostly dried, and it’s time for the next step: curing.

During curing, moisture continues to draw from the center of the bud toward the outside. Most people consider their cannabis to be cured after two weeks to a month. For reasons that relate more to tradition than actual need, people take all sorts of secondary steps to cure their weed after it’s dry. For example, they transfer almost-dried branches to paper bags, cardboard boxes, or plastic bins.

All of these involve a transfer, another setup, and most importantly, more room. Skip it. When your weed is dry, buck it off stems and trim it if you haven’t already, and place it directly into your curing vessels–mason jars or locking stainless-steel tubs both work great.

Seal them overnight and check on them the next day. If the flowers seem to have regained their moisture, leave the lid off all day before resealing at night. Repeat this process–known as burping–until you find them as dry as you left them the night before. Judge this by giving them a gentle squeeze.

If you’re unsure, you can also procure a digital moisture meter, available for $20 or so at any hardware store. You’ll stick the pins into the bud and a moisture reading pops up on the display. The ideal moisture for fully dried and cured cannabis is a steady 10-15%. Voila, your cure is done, and you haven’t had to acquire any more vessels or take up any more room to make it happen.

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Get Beautiful Buds With These Outdoor Cannabis Harvesting Tips

For those of us growing cannabis outdoors, we get to reap the benefits of gardening in the natural world. We skip the artificial light, ubiquitous chemicals, and noisy inline fans, and instead use sunlight, living soil, and gentle breezes to nurture our plants to maturity.

Of course, the great outdoors has its downsides too, like unpredictable weather, pests, and nosy neighbors. Following these tips will help ensure a smooth outdoor harvesting process, just as Mother Nature intended it to be.

Know When to Pull Your Harvest

All cannabis, no matter the variety, is a warm-season annual, meaning it grows and matures in one season. How long of a season a variety needs depends on where its ancestors evolved.

Those from regions close to the equator–sativa types–need a long, seemingly endless summer to ripen fully. While those from harsh, colder climates–indica types–tend to finish earlier since, well, winter is coming.

Having said that, rampant hybridization means nearly any variety you’ve got growing in your yard has a mix of both indica and sativa in its DNA. Expect them to ripen sometime between September and October in the northern hemisphere.

Keep a careful eye on pistils–the hairs that stick out from the flowers. When half of them are still upright and the other are half darkened and curled, your crop is ready for harvest.

Mind the Weather

With cannabis ripening as the seasons change from summer to fall, chances are high that the weather is going through some changes. Depending on your climate, there might be cold snaps or rainstorms on the horizon.

Does this spell disaster? No way. But it does require paying attention and possibly making game-time decisions on the right time to chop, always balancing peak ripeness with conditions that could compromise your harvest.


Most cannabis plants can sail through a light freeze (28 to 32?F for up to three hours) with no trouble. A hard freeze, on the other hand–any lower temps or longer hours–will most likely spell disaster. Frost damage causes ice crystals to form within plant tissue, damaging their cells.

Leaves appear wilted before turning dark and crispy. The deeper the frost, the more of the plant that will get damaged.

Note that potted plants experience more severe temperature fluctuations than plants in the ground, making them more susceptible to frost damage.

If there’s some indica buried in a plant’s genetics, purple coloring might become much more pronounced once it gets some cold under its belt. And again, because of hybridization, don’t worry if you think you’ve got a sativa in your garden–it can likely handle a brief cold snap with no problem.


Similar to a cold snap, it’s not the rain itself that’s a huge problem, it’s the duration and severity of the storm. If it’s going to warm up and dry out quickly, you can feel fully confident in leaving not-quite-ripe cannabis to weather the storm. If the rain will be there to stay, problems with mold await. Cut your losses and harvest before things get soggy.

Note that in cold or rain–especially rain that might become hail–you can create a buffer by surrounding your plants with a few tall stakes and draping burlap or a tarp over the top. Just be certain to remove the cover when the cold/rain passes to let the plants warm up and get the sun and air they need.

Choose Your Harvest Pacing

With artificial light and complicated pruning practices, most indoor weed ripens all at once. There can be a little more variation in plants grown outside, with outer, exposed colas ripening first, and interior, more shaded buds ripening a few days later.

Generally speaking, you’re fine harvesting all at once. But you also have the option of dividing the work, harvesting ripe ones first and leaving inner ones to soak up the sun and ripen fully for a little longer.

Get Your Systems in Place

You’ve hopefully set up a drying room–you know, the cool dark space with a temperature that stays between 60-70?F, and humidity that remains between 50-65%.

But not so fast–how are you getting there? Use fresh tarps or rinsed out (and dried!) bins to keep your harvest clean on its path from outdoors to inside. Have different tarps or bins for each variety, and make sure each is labeled. Also make certain you’re ready for trimming with clean bypass pruners.

Go Time

Make a go of it when temperatures are cool, like first thing in the morning or right before the sun sets. Intense light and high heat degrades THC.

Pest Patrol

Freshly cut branches offer an easy opportunity for a close-up inspection. After chopping, hold each branch up to the light and give it a once-over. If you see anything fishy–deadened, brown, or grey areas of flower or leaves–cut them out fully and clean your shears with rubbing alcohol before making any other cuts. Any problems with fungus or mold can spread rampantly in the drying room.

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Is Vertical Growing the Future of Cannabis?

Indoor cannabis grows are expensive operations. Given the real estate costs, massive energy bills, and significant staffing requirements, it’s crucial to find a way to increase profits. Maximizing your grow space is one way to do this and that could mean vertical growing–the practice of producing plants in vertically stacked layers or vertically inclined surfaces.

In the food sector, vertical growing companies like Plenty, Aerofarms, Gotham Greens, and many more, are revolutionizing agriculture. But in the cannabis industry, which practically invented sunless growing, there has been notably less activity.

This is partly because high-pressure sodium lights (HPS), one of the most common lights used to grow cannabis for decades, run so hot that plants have to be many feet away to stay unharmed.

But LEDs run at much lower temperatures, so you can install them inches from the plant canopy. Their decreasing price and increasing ability to equal or exceed HPS yields are making LEDs the standard, finally opening the door to vertical growing for cannabis.

“The main catalyst behind cannabis cultivation going vertical is the improved performance of LED lighting,” says Thomas Rogers, LED engineer of Exact Lux. “Cannabis growers are approaching us wanting the most powerful multi-tier or ‘vertical farm’ lighting systems possible.”

Two Types of Vertical Farming

Stacked vertical (left) and true vertical (right) cannabis grows with LEDs. (Sean Walling/Leafly)

Stacked Vertical

The most common method of vertical farming is a stacked vertical setup–levels of plant racks with LED lights above each rack. Plants are topped and defoliated to keep them short and bud-heavy.

Growers even stack in the flower stage, despite plants being large and top-heavy.

True Vertical

With true vertical growing, plants grow out the side of a column, and water and nutrients drip down from the top–see these examples from ZipGrow and Tower Garden.

Within the column, a hybrid method combines nutrient film technique (NFT), where nutrient water is passed directly over the roots, and aeroponics, a soilless grow method where roots hang in the air.

Pros and Cons of Vertical Growing

So why don’t all cannabis operations grow vertically, especially in this competitive new industry? Here we’ll look at some of the benefits and drawbacks.

Environmental Conditions Get Complex

Maintaining optimum temperature, humidity, and air circulation is tough for all cannabis grows. But in vertical growing there is even more variability in macro and micro environmental conditions because there are more plants, making control more difficult.

Because of this atmospheric variability, Hugh Gaasch, engineer at STEM Cultivation, recommends sensors to detect data points like moisture changes. “Shockingly, the majority of commercial growers I’ve seen to date use a single temperature/humidity sensor to monitor a room, even large spaces, over 20,000 feet.”

In contrast, STEM Cultivation uses one temperature sensor per 100 cubic feet. STEM collects data on: temperature, humidity, air pressure, CO2 levels, lighting levels, lighting power (kW) and energy (kWh), system air circulation rates, localized air circulation, VOC (volatile organic compounds), and HVAC power and energy, to name a few.

Mike Zartarian, from Zartarian Engineering, builds circulation systems for vegetable and cannabis growers. To decrease chances of mold and fungi, he says: “I recommend systems that push air right in between the racks above the plants, usually with small ducts that take air from the edges of the room to the center of the racks.”

Expensive to Set Up and Maintain

Although vertical growing of any kind will increase yield by maximizing space, when you add up the increased energy usage from more artificial lighting, an upgraded climate control system, the extra infrastructure required (ladders, racks, sensors, and more), and paying high-skilled agro-technicians, it is very costly for many.

Zartarian says: “It’s by no means impossible, but the jury is very much out on whether it’s cost effective long-term. If veggie growers prove it to be a dominant technique, I would expect to see more experimentation on the cannabis side.”

As it is, licensed operators he works with are struggling to meet demand and prefer to stick to more traditional techniques they know will produce.

Dangerous Conditions

Vertically grown cannabis needs a lot of hands-on attention during the flowering cycle as compared to, say, vertical lettuce crops which are more set-and-forget. The height of a plant must be closely controlled, which requires grow technicians to get up on step stools or scaffolding to reach into the plant canopy. These high-tier tasks may not be OSHA-compliant.

Certain Cultivars Work Better Than Others

The most successful cultivars for vertical growing are short, have big buds, and fewer leaves, so less defoliation is necessary. But if you’re a confident defoliator, the diversity of cultivars you can grow will broaden.

Arthur Brownsey, cannabis cultivation consultant at Four Trees, thinks most strains can grow vertically. “If you have a tight production schedule, group like-cultivars together, and plan accordingly, there are no restrictions to what you can grow.”

Agro-engineer Aja Atwood of Trella sees value in vertical growing, but the limited cultivars it serves made her determined to find another option. “There is a wide variety of strains out there that prefer longer vegetation periods and have a taller growth structure. In order to diversify, you need to train or trellis those taller varieties to stay within the space.”

To allow for vertical growing with a diversity of strains, she and her partner Andres Chamorro invented a grow unit, TrellaGro LST, that trains plants to grow horizontally. Each unit is vertically stackable and equipped with LED lights that follow it as it grows sideways, allowing for taller strains and less energy use.

Stay Tuned

In these early days, vertical growing has yet to revolutionize the industry, and some operations, focused on supplying a high-demand market, are sticking with traditional growing methods.

However, most operations already know the price of cannabis will likely drop as competition grows. In that climate, the future of cannabis could move up, not out.

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Opinion: Why Growing With Hydroponics Is Better Than Soil

There’s a lot of wariness around hydroponic growing, particularly for homegrowers looking to establish small-scale grows. But although it may be more expensive to get started with than soil, hydroponics can be a superior way of growing cannabis, and hydro technology is getting cheaper and more accessible every day, offering a range of benefits over classic soil-based cultivation.

Here we’ll take a look at its primary advantage, an increased level of control, as well as three secondary advantages: efficiency, versatility, and sustainability.

Getting Started

A basic hydroponic setup–deep water culture (Amy Phung/Leafly)

Patience is crucial with hydroponic growing. Despite all its advantages, it’s often more labor-intensive and has a higher skill barrier.

With a soil grow, your primary concerns will center around light and nutrients; with hydroponics, you still have to be deliberate in those areas, while also managing a complex and sensitive system that circulates water and nutrients among your plants.

It’s essential that you have a strong command of your system, as the health of your plants depends on it. Hydroponic cultivation is much less forgiving of small mistakes than growing in soil.

Since nutrients are delivered directly to your plants’ root systems, you’ll need to ensure you’re delivering an optimal mix, as over-fertilizing can have disastrous results. The complexity and sensitivity of hydroponics systems also means they’re an investment of time and money.

You can design and set up a relatively low-cost setup, but it requires a strong understanding of the basic principles of hydroponic cultivation. Alternately, you can forgo designing your own setup and buy premade solutions. A system capable of growing 5-6 plants can start at around $100, and quickly increase from there with features that increase control and ease of use.

Of course, once you’re set up and have a couple of grow cycles under your belt, the costs will level off, and the increased yield and quality will quickly make up your initial investment.

If you are jumping into hydroponics, just make sure to continue your research and look carefully before you leap.

Control Your Environment

A hydroponic grow allows you to exercise total control over the quality and quantity of nutrients your plants receive, whereas with soil grows, nutrients remain in the soil. The nutritional needs of cannabis plants vary throughout the grow process and with hydroponics, you’re able to dial in the mixture of nutrients and tailor it specifically to their progress.

It is worth keeping in mind, hydroponics may require a higher degree of care than a soil grow. Microorganisms in soil can help restore balance in case of issues like a pH imbalance or over-fertilization, but since hydroponic mediums don’t have this capability, you’ll need to be careful and deliberate in the ways you nurture your plants.

Closely monitoring your water’s pH and overall quality, selecting and measuring your nutrients with extreme care, and maintaining a consistent temperature are key to a productive hydroponic grow.

However, this degree of sensitivity also allows you to make small adjustments to maximize yields, which is more difficult in a conventional soil grow. You’re also be able to directly examine your plants’ root systems in a hydro grow, ensuring your plants are developing in a healthy way.

Save Time and Space

The increased level of control offered by hydroponics allows you to grow your plants more efficiently. By creating the ideal circumstances for plant growth, you’re able to maximize the productivity of each plant.

An indoor hydroponic grow allows your plants to mature faster and more evenly. Year-round hydroponic systems can yield multiple harvests annually, though strain genetics also play a role in that as well.

Since you’re going to be delivering nutrients directly to each plant, each plant’s root system requires significantly less space than with a soil grow. Less space needed for roots means you can use a grow space more effectively, whether it’s a walk-in closet or a warehouse. The only factor that will limit your number of plants and the density of your canopy is the strength and availability of light.

You’ll also be able to use less nutrients overall, as they are absorbed directly into the plants, with nothing lost in soil.

Grow Hydroponically Indoor or Outdoor

The classic image of hydroponic cultivation is large, intricate, expensive systems in industrial warehouse grows, but hydroponic cultivation is actually much more accessible than that.

If you’re a homegrower with the right equipment and expertise, you can set up a hydroponic grow in a space the size of a walk-in closet and yield far more than you would with a soil grow in a comparable space.

Hydroponics can be scaled to any grow size or type, and will confer the same advantages no matter how large or small your grow.

Most hydroponic systems are used to grow indoors. However, as long as you have a reliable power supply, hydroponics can be used to grow outdoors, particularly in greenhouses. While you’ll have to deal with factors like light, temperature, and humidity, growing hydroponically in a greenhouse will allow you to maximize yield and quality while avoiding the massive energy requirements of indoor cultivation.


Sustainability is an oft-overlooked benefit of hydroponic cultivation. With soil cultivation, a significant portion of the water you use never gets to your plant’s roots. With hydroponics, you’re able to precisely deliver the exact amount of water each plant needs, without wasting any.

Also, many of the insect and disease problems faced in the cannabis cultivation process are the result of soilborne infestations. Since hydroponics dispenses with soil, the reduced risk of pests means your need for pesticides will be minimized.

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What Does Mold on a Cannabis Plant Look Like?

There’s nothing worse than going through the months of time and labor to grow your own cannabis only to discover mold on it. But identifying mold on your cannabis can be harder than you think. It can usually be spotted by a trained eye, and it’s important to know the different kinds out there.

Just as you learn to identify mold on a piece of fruit, as a cannabis grower, it’s crucial to be able to identify it on your plants or cured end product and to remove it before it becomes a problem. It’s important to protect your own health and the health of those who might be consuming your product, to ensure that cannabis is safely enjoyed and celebrated.

Common Types of Mold

Here are some types of mold that you’ll most likely come across if you’ve spent a bit of time growing cannabis.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew, or PM (image above), resembles a light dusting on your leaves or buds. It can pop up rapidly and will spread throughout your garden quickly if nothing is done. PM loves to develop on plants that are feeling a bit unhealthy and it will thrive without quality airflow in your garden.

To an untrained eye, PM might appear to look like young trichomes. If you suspect PM, use a magnifying glass to examine your buds–you’ll see a stark difference between the white mold and the beautiful trichomes surrounding it. If you see it, it’s best to discard the buds and leaves right away, both because you won’t want to ingest that mold and to prevent it from spreading further.

Grey Mold (Botrytis)

grey Mold or botrytis on cannabis buds
Grey Mold (botrytis) on cannabis buds. (Aaron Rogosin for Outer Elements Photography)

Grey mold will develop inside your buds and grow out if there is too much moisture trapped inside the growing colas. Telltale signs of mold in your buds is dying leaves on the outside or a cola that has gone limp. If you spot these symptoms, waste no time investigating the problem by pulling aside buds and peeking inside the cola.

If you see mold, chop off the cola and remove it from your garden. Because it is caused by moisture buildup, it doesn’t necessarily spread like PM, so you may be able to save the rest of the plant. But be sure to inspect the rest of the plant for it.

Mold will commonly occur in outdoor gardens after a heavy rainfall, especially toward the end of the season when buds are large and dense.

To spot mold in your cured product, keep an eye out while you break apart buds. You should be able to clearly identify it on the inside of buds; discard when you find it.

How Mold Occurs and How to Prevent It

Molds are fungi that develop in warm, damp, and humid conditions. They develop from spores, which travel through the air, unseen to the naked eye. Mold is actually important in the ecosystem because it breaks down dead plant material, but you don’t want it on your buds.

Mold can develop on cannabis because of issues with:

  • Humidity
  • Airflow
  • Temperature
  • Plant health

Any one or combination of these factors can create an environment suitable for mold to develop on your buds.

Indoor Prevention

The best way to prevent mold growth is to ensure a consistent climate in your grow room. Using fans, dehumidifiers, temperature control systems, and ventilation, you can keep the humidity down, the airflow up, and the temperature consistent. This will create a stable environment and increase the overall health of your plants.

Other ways to reduce the chances of mold in your garden include:

  • Pruning your plants
  • Spacing your plants properly
  • Watering/feeding your plants appropriately

Pruning and spacing will increase airflow through your canopy, which helps reduce humidity. If you overwater your plants, this will increase the humidity level, as plants will be unable to absorb water, making it evaporate into the air and stay in the room. Under or over feeding your plants nutrients will weaken their immune systems and make them more prone to attack from molds.

Outdoor Prevention

When growing outdoor, you’re more limited in how to protect your garden from mold without the ability to control the climate. Appropriate spacing, pruning, and feeding are essential to protecting your crop.

When plants are in their final homes–either final containers or in the ground–stake, cage, or trellis the plants accordingly as they develop, to keep branches spaced equally, allowing air to flow freely and evenly throughout the canopy. Additionally, pruning the bottoms and insides of your plants is especially important outdoors, to allow air to flow underneath the canopy.

If growing out in the open, after heavy rains, some gardeners choose to shake their plants to get standing water off them. It is also common to check for broken branches and remove any dead foliage that may be saturated with moisture, which is an ideal habitat for mold development.

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How to Grow Cannabis for Concentrate Production

Cannabis is most commonly consumed in its flower form, so many growers focus on getting high yields to increase profits. But some are choosing to focus on the burgeoning concentrate market instead.

Growing for concentrates is slightly different than growing for flower because the end goal is to have a plant that produces a lot of trichomes, in order to have that flower then processed. Trichomes are the glandular crystals that form on cannabis buds that contain cannabinoids and terpenes. They can also be referred to as resin, crystals, or sugar.

The cost of sending your material off to be processed for concentrates can be a financial deterrent for some growers, however, with rosin pressing technology, many growers are now able to process their own concentrates to get high-end oil.

Here we’ll flip the script and look at how to focus your garden for growing plants that will produce great concentrates.

What Makes a Good Plant for Concentrates

If you are going to concentrate the flavors of a strain, it’s best to start with something that already has a delicious flavor and high that you like.

To get a good concentrate, you’ll need to start with good flower. The best concentrates are extracted from quality flower that produces bulbous trichome heads.

Plants that produce large trichome heads will have more oils, which in turn can hold more cannabinoids and terpenes, making them able to produce more flavorful concentrates.

It’s especially important to have big trichome heads when making solventless hash because they’ll break off easier in the hashmaking process.

Strains with complex terpene profiles with multiple terpenes can produce unique flavors. Sometimes trading a high yield for novelty is worthwhile–complexity and rarity can make for a great concentrate. If you have a special strain, making it into a concentrate can let you further appreciate its subtle qualities.

How to Improve the Quality of Your Plants

Because concentrates focus in on a strain’s terpene and flavor profile, you don’t want unwanted compounds like those found in pesticides and nutrients to end up in your concentrates. Here are some ways to improve the quality of your plants while protecting and preserving terpenes.

Use a Complete Soil

This soil comes loaded with most of the nutrients your plants need, all in organic form, making it easier for roots to uptake them.

Avoid Foliar Spraying

Foliar spraying helps combat nutrient deficiencies and pest problems, but you want to avoid this practice when plants are flowering, as the residue will show up as a contaminant in your concentrate. If you do need to spray plants, do so before flowering begins and only use organic sprays.

No Pesticides

Stay away from hazardous chemicals that can’t be flushed out of your crop. These will carry through into your concentrates and are dangerous to consume. Consider using integrated pest management strategies, predatory mites, or organic foliar sprays to keep your garden healthy without impacting your flower.

Flush Your Crop

If growing with non-organic fertilizers or nutrients in a soil or hydro-based medium, give your plants only water in the last two weeks of flowering before harvest. This will give them time to flush out impurities, making for cleaner flower and therefore a cleaner concentrate.

Tips and Tricks for Increasing Trichome Production

These simple methods can make a big impact and greatly improve the quality of your end product.

Room Temperature

Specific terpenes start to break down around room temperature, making climate control in your grow room essential for the quality of your concentrate’s flavor. You can use a climate-control system–and even an infrared heat reader–to observe the temperature of your colas when plants are flowering. Ideally, you want your canopy to be below 75 degrees.


CO2 is an essential part of photosynthesis and without it your plants will not be able to fully utilize nutrients. Give your plants a boost with a CO2 burner to increase the size of your plants during both the vegetative and flowering phases. Bigger plants will have more surface area and therefore more resin because of the higher yields.

Finishing Cold

This is open to debate, but some growers argue that reducing the temperature in your grow room right before harvest can cause cannabis plants to increase their trichome production.

The idea is that the stress created by lowering the temperature will make a cannabis plant produce more trichomes in an attempt to protect itself. When a plant is about to die, it will produce more resin to attract more bugs in order to pollinate. Some growers will even cut off a plant’s watering a few days before it’s harvested to induce stress

Consider lowering the temperature to the low 60s no more than 2 weeks before harvest, when buds are mostly done growing.

What to Do After Harvest

The last step in accentuating delicious terpenes in your cannabis comes at harvest. Some growers freeze their buds without curing before making concentrates, while others prefer to cure prior to making concentrates.

Here are some different approaches to how to preserve terpenes post-harvest.


Freezing prevents terpenes and cannabinoids from breaking down and captures the fresh profile of a plant when its terpene content is the highest.

If you are planning to make a concentrate within a couple weeks after harvest, you can skip the curing process altogether and freeze your buds. You’ll want to remove fan leaves and buck down the colas until all buds are no larger than a golf ball or so and then package the buds.

Drying and Curing

If you’re not sure if you’re going to turn your flower into concentrates at harvest time, properly drying and curing your plants is a must for protecting trichomes. Hang your plants so they have plenty of space to breath in a room with good air circulation, at a temperature between 60-70?F with a humidity of 45-55%.

When drying is complete, put your buds into glass jars where they can cure slowly, popping off the lids (a.k.a. burping) a few times a day at first to let the buds breath and release moisture. Overtime, opening the jars will become less necessary and the buds will continually improve, usually for up to 6 months.

As mentioned previously, some terpenes will break down at room temperature (70?F), so keep curing temps between the high 50s and mid-60s with 55% humidity to maintain quality.

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Preserving Cannabis Genetics: How to Collect and Store Seeds and Pollen

Sometimes a grower has to move on from a certain strain. Maybe you’ve been growing the same strain for a long time and it no longer makes as much money as it used to, or maybe you just want to mix it up and start growing something else and don’t have the space for it.

It can be bittersweet saying goodbye to old genetics, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. You can take clones or keep a mother plant, but those aren’t ideal because they require a lot of care and maintenance, especially if they aren’t producing flower.

Fortunately, preserving genetics for long-term storage is easy and will save time, money, and space in the long run. Through seed and pollen collection, you can hang onto those genetics that you can’t fully get rid of and safely store them for future use.

The Benefits of Long-Term Storage

Cannabis genetics are often sourced from external companies and organizations such as nurseries and seed banks. For the individual grower, saving seeds and pollen removes this reliance on external companies. This is especially true with pollen, as very few (if any) companies offer pollen to the public.

Saving space is a big reason to consider long-term storage of seeds and pollen. Mother plants lay dormant in a vegetative state and take up lots of space. Maintaining this extra space is time-consuming and takes extra resources like water, soil, nutrients, light, and other costly elements, all for something that doesn’t produce flower. Even keeping clones of an old strain around will take up space and resources.

A grower or breeder can also freeze the progress of a breeding project for months or years without losing any of the long, hard work. Endeavors such as phenotype hunting and maintaining desired mothers for breeding and cloning can all be saved for later through genetic preservation. This process is like backing up work on a hard drive.

How to Collect Seeds

Cannabis is for the most part dioecious, meaning that the male and female reproductive organs exist on two separate plants (although hermaphroditic plants do occur). It is also a wind-pollinated plant, so pollen must be transferred from a male stamen to a female pistil via the air in order for pollination to occur and seeds to form.

A female cannabis plant that has received pollen from a male will produce many seeds over the course of its maturation cycle. Upon senescence, when the female plant is fully mature and ready for harvest, its seeds will be ready for stratification and collection.

To collect seeds, it’s important to wait until they are fully mature and ready for harvest. Cannabis with seeds takes longer to mature than cannabis that only produces flower.

To tell if a seed is mature, take a look at its shape and color. Premature seeds will be small and light in color, taking on a beige hue. Fully mature cannabis seeds are more full in shape and size and have a much darker brown hue, sometimes accented by black tiger stripes.

Deseeding cannabis can be done by hand or machine. This process typically takes place after the plant has been dried for one to two weeks after harvest. This way, seeds will have reached their maximum maturity and plant material will be brittle enough to break apart with minimal effort.

When collecting seed by hand, use a fine screen to help catch trichomes that will break off during the process. This material is valuable and it would be a shame to waste.

To release the seeds, simply break up the dried buds over a screen and they will fall out. You can release the seeds en masse by rubbing the flower between your fingers and lightly breaking it apart.

Separate or sift seeds over the screen to remove any unwanted plant matter from the seeds themselves. Brush off the seeds–they should be completely free of any remaining plant material such as leaves, stem, or trichomes, as these elements put seeds at a higher risk for contamination and spoilage during long-term storage.

Collecting Pollen

Male cannabis plants will produce pollen several weeks into their flowering cycle. Once their pollen sacs have opened up and released, the plant will begin to senesce and eventually die. It is important to collect pollen right as the sacs are beginning to open up, as this is the time pollen is most viable.

The best way to harvest pollen for storage is to remove an entire male flower cluster and place it in a sealed storage container for several days. After the cluster has dried, place it over a micron screen with parchment or wax paper underneath, and give it a light shake. This will allow the pollen to separate from any remaining plant matter and fall through the screen and onto the wax paper.

Moisture is a death sentence for pollen viability. Because of this, many breeders opt to mix flour into their pollen at a ratio of 4:1 (flour to pollen) when storing it long-term. This additional step will help keep pollen dry for a longer period of time.

Seed and Pollen Storage

Long-term storage requirements for seeds and pollen are similar. Both require cool, dark, dry, and oxygen-deprived environments for optimal preservation.

When storing seeds, place them in an air-sealed container that doesn’t have any light leaks. Film canisters, medicine bottles (non-translucent), and any sealable storage jar will work fine. The idea is to reduce the amount of oxygen present in the storage space as much as possible. You can also add uncooked rice to the storage container, which acts as an absorbent, to reduce moisture content.

For a cool environment, store seeds in either the refrigerator or freezer. Seeds need a consistent temperature without fluctuation to remain dormant long-term.

As mentioned above, the best way to reduce moisture in pollen is to mix it with flour. For long-term storage, it can be kept in a sealed vial or freezer bag. You can keep it in the refrigerator or freezer, though for optimal long-term storage, the colder the better.

The Shelf Life of Seeds and Pollen

You can expect cannabis seeds that have been sealed and properly stored to last for several years, and in many cases, longer. Seeds may be dormant, but they are still alive. Over enough time, they will lose their viability.

It’s important to continually practice germination testing to be sure your stored seeds haven’t lost all viability. To test this, periodically plant a seed and document its ability to germinate.

Fresh seeds should have a germination rate close to a 100%, whereas older seeds will see a significant drop off over time in their ability to germinate.

Out in the open, pollen may be viable for one or two weeks under normal conditions. However, when frozen and sealed, it can last up to a year and even longer. Pollen is more unstable than seed and even under the most optimal conditions, it isn’t expected to have as long of a shelf life.

For both seeds and pollen that have been frozen long-term, it’s important to avoid defrosting until they are ready to be used. Fluctuations in temperature and moisture content will quickly destroy their viability, so maintain a steady temperature for as long as possible. Warming and freezing multiple times isn’t good.

When it comes time to use frozen seeds, remove them from their container and let them sit out on a dry surface for several hours. Letting the seeds reach room temperature will help ensure a successful germination.

Pollen should also be placed at room temperature before using. Since pollen can be much messier to handle, it’s best to carefully transfer a sample from its long-term storage container to a fresh container before using it to pollinate a plant. This way, you don’t have to use all of the pollen and saved pollen can go back in the freezer with minimal exposure to warm air.

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The Cannabis Cloning Equipment Buyer’s Guide

Growing cannabis can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before, especially figuring out how to get started. A cannabis plant is a lot more delicate in its infancy and it’ll need more care and attention than adult plants.

Growing from a clone can be a lot easier than growing from seed because you skip the process of germination every time you start a new crop, saving you time and labor. Modern technology has also made growing clones easier than ever.

To clone, simply take a cutting off a plant, put it in a rooting medium or cloning machine, and give it nutrients or a rooting solution. It’ll root out and be ready for potting in 10-14 days and you’ll have a solid start to your cannabis plant.

A clone is an exact genetic copy of its mother, so there’s no need to worry about it having less potency or different effects than those of the original.

Below are some different cloning methods and products that we recommend, in a range of prices so you can get the one that fits your needs.

Base Level Cloning Equipment

These options are great for someone getting into growing and not sure if they want to invest in a more expensive product. Anyone can get started and use these simple methods with ease.

Root Cubes and Trays (~$40)

The tried-and-true and most basic method of cloning, starting your clones in root cubes is something that every grower has done in their lifetime. To get started, you’ll need:

  • Set of 1 1/2 x1 1/2 inch rooting cubes (~$15)
  • Tray to catch water (~$2)
  • Tray-cell insert to put your rooting clones in (~$2)
  • Humidity dome (~$5)
  • Rooting hormone (~$5)
  • Heat pad (~$10)

There are multiple types of rooting cubes made from different material, each with its own benefit:

  • Rockwool: Made by melting rock and spinning it into fine threads, this common material is sterile and very porous. Make sure it has good drainage because it sucks up water easily.
  • Peat: These hold onto moisture and are organic and biodegradable, but they can have difficulty maintaining their structure.
  • Foam: These cubes don’t get as waterlogged as rockwool and have no effect on pH levels.

Before cloning machines became more affordable this method of cloning was the go-to for growers, but now it’s less desirable because it can be a hassle to use all the pieces and machines are much easier and have a higher success rate.

With these supplies, you can successfully clone cannabis and also propagate from seed, making this a desirable option for anyone wanting to do explore both methods.

Clone Bucket 8 (~$50)

This is the most affordable aeroponic system in our buyer’s guide. Aeroponics is the practice of growing plants with their roots suspended in air, while they receive a continual misting from sprays and nozzles in the cloning machine (see graphic of this system below). This gives roots high levels of oxygen, helping clones grow rapidly.

With a very simple design, the Clone Bucket offers a misting system for 8 clones for just under $50. The 2-gallon bucket is small in size and will give you similar results to more expensive aeroponic cloners.

Its spray nozzle is attached to a 171 gallon per hour (gph) pump which is more than enough to keep your clones happy. The plus side is that it has few moving parts, but if the nozzle ever clogs, your clones will be in trouble.

This functional and affordable machine is great for anyone looking to experiment with cloning. You can also make your own version of this with a 5-gallon bucket or something similar if you want to cut costs even further.

Midrange Options


These cloners are great if you will be cloning routinely and want a product that doesn’t require much attention so you can focus on other aspects of your garden.

HydroFarm OxyClone 20 ($70)

Instead of misting clone stems with spray nozzles, HydroFarm’s OxyClone submerges stems completely under water. This allows the roots to receive both oxygen and H2O to ensure that clones stay healthy while developing roots. This different design is great because it has few moving parts and no spray nozzles, which are known to clog up.

This model is made for 20 clones, but OxyClone also offers versions with 40 and 80 clone sites for growers with bigger gardens.

Clone King 25 ($70)

A reputable midrange option, the Clone King is an aeroponic cloner with 13 spray nozzles and a powerful 317 gph submersible pump. With so many nozzles and a strong pump, you can be sure that every developing root gets a healthy dose of fresh H2O, promoting strong, healthy, and rapid growth. If one of the nozzles clogs, your clones will still make it because there are many backups. Other models have 36 and 64 clone sites.

High-End Cloning

The cloners here are the top-of-the-line with all the bells and whistles. Some might argue that cloning doesn’t have to be this complicated, but the products below will step up your growing game.

TurboKlone 24 ($145)

(Click to enlarge. Courtesy of TurboKlone)

The TurboKlone is our top choice for high-end cloners. The design is similar to the Clone King but it also has a cooling fan to help maintain a consistent temperature in the rooting chamber. This helps keep the water cool, making it easier for clones to receive oxygen, which means faster rooting and healthier clones.

It’s important to note that in order for this cooling process to work, the ambient air temperature must be cooler than the temperature of the water. The TurboKlone is also available in models with 28, 96, and 144 clone sites, covering both small- and large-scale growers.

Tissue Culture Microclone Kit ($250)

The most expensive and most complicated form of cloning, tissue culturing is an emerging method for cloning cannabis. This process involves taking a tissue sample from a mother plant and sterilizing it, then giving it the right hormones, nutrients, and light.

The culture can be preserved indefinitely and to start growing it, the grower can just give it a different set of nutrients to encourage root development.

There are numerous benefits to this cloning method. Tissue cultures are completely sterile, meaning you don’t have to worry about pests or diseases being transferred into your grow room. These cultures can also be stored for long periods of time, given they have the right environment, and they save space because you don’t need to keep a mother plant around.

Tissue culturing is an advanced technique and should be explored by growers looking to preserve the genetics of a specific strain rather than just grow a few quick clones.

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Fantastic Sativas and How to Grow Them

This article is sponsored by Kannabia Seed Company, an award-winning cannabis seed company headquartered in Spain whose grower-oriented approach has made cannabis cultivation simple and satisfying for growers of all skill levels for years.

As cannabis legalization continues to spread around the world, more and more people are getting the opportunity to grow their own plants at home. For individuals living in jurisdictions where the practice is legal, cultivating new and classic sativas, indicas, and hybrid strains has never been easier. From complex indoor operations to simple additions to an existing garden plot, there are a plethora of ways that aspiring cannabis cultivators can get to know the plant from seed to smoke.

Whether you’re wondering where to start, or looking to level up an existing cannabis garden, the team at Kannabia has you covered. Their grow experts suggested five superb sativa strains from the company’s diverse catalog of seeds, and provided some tips for getting the most out of every grow.

An example of the Cookies Haze strain from Kannabia. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Make room at the top

Sativa plants can grow really tall, whether potted or sown directly into soil. That makes it important to leave more overhead space than you might think you need. For instance, Kannabia’s Cookies Haze can reach heights of more than three meters, or about ten feet tall.

If you’re afraid of heights, you may be better off sowing Cookies Haze outdoors, where adjustments to timing can help keep it in check. In the Northern Hemisphere, growers can plant in or mid-to-late May for a harvest that is more likely to stay around the six-foot mark

Wherever you plant it, this mix of Afghan and Super Silver Haze is easy to grow and bred to be pest-resistant, making it a great choice for first-timers. Its high THC levels, meanwhile, make for a very satisfying harvest.

An example of Kannabia’s Kaboom strain. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Stay dry

Too much humidity can do a number on many plants, including cannabis. A climate that’s too moist can inhibit growth and leave plants susceptible to mold, mildew, and pests like caterpillars. While some strains are more tolerant of humidity than others–like Kaboom, a heavy producer that’s bred to finish fast, resist pests, and thrive in a variety of conditions–it remains a factor to keep an eye on.

No matter what strain they’re growing, indoor cannabis cultivators should be sure to provide their plants with plenty of ventilation, and monitor humidity levels to ensure they stay in a safe range of between 50 and 80 percent. Outside, you may have luck covering plants with plastic at night–just make sure to remove the cover during the day and prevent condensation from building up.

Kannabia Sativa Dream
Kannabia’s Sativa Dream strain. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Don’t forget to prune

If left to their own devices, plants can grow up spindly and weak. With deliberate pruning and shaping, though, gardeners can encourage denser growth and higher yields. Whatever you’re growing–fruit, herbs, roses, or cannabis–you need to prune early and often to get maximum growth.

A traditional pruning regimen, also known as defoliation, begins as soon as the plant starts to get bushy, and involves both removing lower leaves that aren’t receiving light or are dying off and pinching new growth at the top. Continuing this process during the two or three weeks that follow will set up your grow for long-term abundance.

Proper pruning will maximize yields for all strains, but some plants respond especially well to a little training–even sativas, which tend to be less leaf-dense than their indica relatives. Kannabia’s growers report that topping their Sativa Dream strain, for instance, can boost its production by almost a third. It’s also bred to be pest-resistant and fast-growing, making it a great cultivar for rookie growers who are still polishing their green thumbs.

Amnesi-K Lemon finds its origins in several popular strains. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Sweeten the pot

Different kinds of plants like different kinds of nutrients in their soil, and cannabis plants are known to have a bit of a sweet tooth. Adding a source of sugar, such as unsulphured molasses, can boost the microbes that help your plants grow, resulting in higher yields.

This technique also has a bonus effect of making the flavor of fruity strains pop. Give it a shot with Kannabia’s super-citrusy Amnesi-K Lemon–a cross between Amnesia, Lemon Skunk, and Jack Herer–to dial up the lemon and grapefruit notes.

Adding a little sweetener isn’t Kannabia’s only tip for growing this citrusy-strain, though. To bring out its full potential, their growers recommend monitoring the surrounding temperature closely and ensuring it always stays between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius, or about 64 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mikromachine is an autoflowering strain from Kannabia. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Automatic flowering for the people

Whether they’re sativas or indicas, autoflowering cannabis strains are crossed with Cannabis ruderalis–a subspecies apart from indica and sativa–giving them the ability to flower on their own after a short vegetative period without any hand-holding.

While autoflowering strains can be a good fit for some growers, the Kannabia team cautions that they can’t be treated like normal cannabis seedlings. Growers should avoid transplanting autoflower strains, for example, instead planting them directly in soil or a large pot. When feeding and fertilizing these strains, be sure to use products that are specialized with autoflowering in mind–otherwise you may end up with a cannabis plant with bonsai dimensions.

If autoflowering seems like a fit for you, Kannabia’s Mikromachine Auto strain is a great place to start. This easy-to-grow strain mixes classic strains Northern Lights and AK-47 with ruderalis to provide a potent and creative high.

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Tips for Growing Cannabis in a Tiny Space

For those who don’t have big properties or extra space, don’t worry: You don’t need a huge space to grow cannabis. Cannabis is an eager plant that will grow nearly anywhere given the right light and nutrients, making a grow room of any size feasible.

Growing in a tiny space has benefits too, allowing you to produce cannabis discreetly, in case you’re afraid of what the neighbors will think. A small grow also won’t create as much noise from machines or generate as much smell and will therefore attract less attention.

A small grow doesn’t necessarily mean small returns, but, you do want to be growing as efficiently as possible. Here are some tips to maximize your tiny space to get the best and biggest returns.

What Your Space Needs

A grow space can be as small as a 2′ x 2′ x 4′ grow tent or as big as a warehouse, but they all have a number of things in common.

  • Adequate space for growth. The bigger the plant can grow, the larger your yields will be. Generally, you’ll need more height than width, to keep the lights off the plants. Space gets tight quickly.
  • Sterilization. Dirty closets won’t suffice–you must be able to keep the space clean and contained from the outside environment. You’ll also need to be able to drain the plants properly and keep them out of standing water.
  • Ventilation. Plants need fresh air. A continual exchange of air is necessary to keep them healthy and vibrant. Depending on where you live, you may need an AC unit or heater to regulate the climate.

Many small-space growers use grow tents, small units where you can grow one to a handful of plants–they can be as small as the size of a laundry hamper. These self-contained units will provide a controllable environment for your plants without the hassle of building out a big grow.

Don’t Burn the Plants

One of the biggest concerns with a tiny grow is lighting. Grow lights run very hot and need to be kept at a safe distance from your plants so they don’t burn buds or leaves. Either the plants must be kept short or your lights need to be elevated–the latter can be hard to pull off in a confined space, so usually plants need to be kept small through topping and pruning.

LEDs are changing the game for small-space growing by providing quality full-spectrum light with minimal heat. This allows plants to grow closer to the light source without damage from heat, while also reducing the need for climate-control equipment to bring down the temperature in your grow. It should be noted that LEDs can still burn your plants, but there is less of a risk than with older lights.

This will give your plants more room to grow and therefore give you a bigger return when it’s time to harvest.

Train Your Plants

With a limited space, you can also train your cannabis plants to increase yields. Some effective methods include:

  • Scrogging (screen of green)
  • Low-stress training (LST)
  • High-stress training (HST)

Scrogging is probably your best bet for getting a high return with minimal space. This process involves weaving the stalks and branches of a plant through a screen–mesh sizes usually range from 3-6 inches square–before switching to a flowering light cycle.

This spreads out the plant’s branches, allowing all nodes to receive more light and also opening up the plant so that middle and lower branches can receive more light. This will give you a level canopy that will fill out with big colas.

Everything below the canopy can be pruned to save energy and keep the space clean and free of pests while the buds have direct exposure to light, increasing your yield.

Low-stress training involves tying down parts of the plant to create offshoots that will lead to additional cola sites.

A more aggressive method, high-stress training increases cola sites through topping or super cropping to promote an even canopy and increased cola sites.

Know Your Genetics

Sativas, indicas, and hybrids all grow differently. Sativas are known for their lanky growth and more open bud structure, while indicas tend to grow short and stocky and have denser buds. Hybrids can have traits from both.

For a tiny grow, indicas will probably be easier to maintain when looking to maximize your space and yield because of their short and stocky nature. Sativas can work too, but you might have to spend more time and attention in pruning them.

Keep in mind that this is a generalization of strains–some indicas grow tall, and some sativas grow short. Be sure to check out Leafly’s strain explorer for growing tips on specific strains.

You can also try growing autoflowering cannabis, plants that start flowering when they get to a certain age, rather than when the light changes. They also grow short and small.

Keep Your Roots Healthy

The grow medium is the home for roots, which send water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. A quality grow medium is especially important for a tiny grow in order to get the most out of a plant in a cramped condition.

Try using complete soils or super soils–they have a majority of the nutrients a plant needs and they allow a plant to efficiently store water for a longer time between waterings.

Be sure to include enough soil in your pots to prevent roots from getting bound. Frequently check to see if roots are exposed. If you see them coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, it’s time to transplant it to a bigger pot.

A stunted plant that appears droopy even after watering can also be a sign of roots being bound and needing more soil.

Control the Climate

Climate control is also crucial in a tiny grow. Ideally you want to maintain a healthy temperature of 70-75 degrees with a relative humidity between 40-75%. Using LED lights will reduce the overall temperature and your need to cool down your grow, but you will still need a fan to pull fresh air into your grow space.

Fresh air circulation is crucial to getting high yields, as your plants use CO2 in the process of photosynthesis. Fresh air will give them a boost of growth and will also be effective in cycling new air into your garden while pulling out stale air, keeping the temperature and humidity in check.

Tiny grows can be a lot of fun and will give you insight on the growing process and these methods will improve the quality and yield of your cannabis.

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