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Growing Marijuana: Definitive Guide for Beginners

If you're an avid user of CBD or marijuana or just someone with a green thumb, there's a good chance you've thought about growing your own supply before.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet and the huge community of likeminded people around the country, it's never been easier to do so, but is it worth it?

There's a lot to learn about growing cannabis plants, whether they're classified as hemp or marijuana, and what you plan on doing with them.

For newcomers, the sheer amount of information out there on getting started can be enough to overwhelm you and put you off entirely, but it doesn't need to.

How do you grow your own plants and how much does it cost?

The answer to this depends on a few factors, like whether you want to grow marijuana or hemp, how much of it you plan on growing, and what's legal in your state. With an understanding of your goals for growth, you can be pushed in the right direction towards estimated costs and effort needed to get started, so establish this first.

If you’ve always pondered growing your own plants but haven’t any idea how to begin, this guide is for you.

We’ll help you establish all of the costs associated with the process and the common choices for how much and what to grow.

With our help, you can decide whether this is a hobby you want to take up, and how to get started if you do.

The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana in Law

Illustration of Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis

There's often a lot of confusion in the world of cannabis, with people unclear about the different plants and their purpose.

When it comes to the law, there are two categories that cannabis is divided into, hemp and marijuana, and depending on what you want to grow there are certain rules to follow.

Plants that are classified as industrial hemp are those with low THC levels, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in the plant.

These plants are generally used for their CBD and have medicinal and therapeutic benefits to offer. In regards to the law, they’re able to be grown in many states, usually requiring a permit to do so.

Marijuana plants are those with anything greater than 0.3% of THC present, used mainly for their psychoactive purposes.

Plants that fall into the cannabis genus but have higher levels of THC like these are federally illegal, but each state has its own laws on whether or not they're legal.

In these cases, state law overrides federal law, so it depends entirely on where you live.

How Hard is it to Grow?

Growing Cannabis At Home

People often assume that setting up a grow space for cannabis takes a lot of time, effort, and money, but the opposite is actually true.

To get an idea of how hard it is to grow, you can get a clue from its name, as this plant can spread like a weed as long as it’s in the right conditions.

As with anything in life, preparation is key when it comes to growing cannabis plants, so spending some time before you begin mapping out what you’re going to do will be the best way to proceed. 

These are some of the factors you should consider before you start growing that will make it easier to have a successful first harvest:

  • Genetics - The genetics of a plant will play a major role in how well it grows, and this is especially true for cannabis. With a great seed, you have a much better chance for success, but with poor growing habits and care, it can be easily ruined. For this reason, you need to purchase seeds from a reputable seller with good reviews, giving yourself the best head start.
  • Flowering type - For first time growers, it’s better to choose an auto flower variety. This means the plant will automatically go from the vegetative phase to the flowering phase without any input from you. There’s no need to adjust the lights and positioning, so it can be helpful on your very first grow.
  • Nutrients - The water and nutrients a plant receives will determine how well it performs, and this is true for any type of plant. A cannabis plant only needs basic nutrients to do well and they should never be overfed or overwatered. Unfortunately, this plant takes patience to grow, and many people make the mistake of thinking they’re lacking in something which leads to overcompensation and then death. Growing cannabis takes practice and it’s a learning experience, so expect some trial and error.
  • Mold resistance - Choosing a mold-resistant strain can help reduce the chance of failure, and these plants are less temperamental which makes them overall easier to care for. Your grow setup will also determine how much moisture and mold are present, so it’s a huge factor to look out for.

Outdoor vs Indoor Growing

Growing CBD Outdoor and Indoor

When it comes to growing cannabis for your personal use, indoors is always best.

Although there are some benefits to growing outdoors, it also comes with a lot of challenges and is better reserved for the commercial farm type of setup where they're growing on a large scale basis. 

These are some of the advantages that indoor growing offers:

  • Controlled conditions - The biggest advantage of growing indoors is having control over the conditions the plant lives in. When your crop is outside, it’s exposed to all kinds of climate variables like unexpected frost or changes in temperature, overwatering, high moisture, and cold snaps. You’ll also get unwelcome guests like pests and animals that eat or destroy the plants, which are easier to contain inside.
  • Adaptability - There no need to have a garden or even grass to grow weed indoors, so it's adaptable everywhere. You only need a small space to set up your grow area which can even be done in a bedroom closet.
  • Better quality plants - The cannabis plants that grow indoors are generally better quality because they were able to have the ideal conditions at all times. Of course, it also depends on the genetics of the seed and how well you look after them, but this is always made easier indoors.
  • Privacy - Even if you live in a legal state where it's okay to grow your own plants, you'll still want some privacy. Growing indoors helps stop nosy neighbors from looking over your fence and prevents would-be thieves from trying to get their hands on your hard work.
  • Ongoing harvests - Compared to growing outside where everything has to be tied to the weather and hours of sunlight, you can grow as often as you want indoors. Once the plants have reached the size you want, you can finish growing and then harvest them, starting another batch immediately if you choose.

Everything You Need to Grow Indoors

Growing CBD Indoor

Once you’ve established that an indoor grow space is right for you, you’ll need to ensure you meet all of the requirements that these plants need to thrive. 

These are the steps to take and the equipment needed to successfully grow cannabis, as well as the general costs you can expect to outlay.

  • Choose Your Grow Space ($0) - Look around your house to find somewhere suitable to set up a grow space. Keep in mind that you’ll want to start small at first but with the option to expand later on. This area can be a cabinet, tent, corner of a room, or even a closet, so you don’t need an entire room. You do need to make sure there’s enough room for lights, fans, pots, ducting, plant growth, and space for you to move around.
  • Grow Lights ($20 - $200) - The grow lights you choose are there to mimic the sunlight and help your plants get everything they need as they move through the different phases of growth and require different amounts. There are a few options including LED lights, HID lights, and fluorescent grow lights, each with pros and cons to weigh up, and depending on how much square foot of space you’re growing on, the number of lights you’ll need will differ.
  • Air Flow ($30 - $200) - An exhaust fan is essential to deliver fresh air to your plants at specific times, with the addition of a filtered air inlet required in some setups. Without it, they won’t be able to go through the process of photosynthesis and will fail to thrive. These fans can be set up on a timer so they’re only running as needed and not overwhelming the plants.
  • Soil or Soilless ($20 - $50) - You’ll need to decide whether you want to grow in soil or with a hydroponic setup, each delivering very different results on the final product. Soil is usually the best choice for a beginner grower as it's easy to do and less finicky. As your skills progress and the type of plants you grow changes, you might switch to a hydroponic setup, however, it's not required.
  • Containers ($0 - $100) - The type of container that the plants grow in can impact the size they reach and their quality. You might choose a flood and drain setup, smart pots, cloth bags or even a basic bucket for yours. Provided the soil can drain well after watering, there's no right or wrong answer here. As long as you can avoid waterlogging in the soil, you've got the right type of container for optimal growth.
  • Feeding and Watering ($20 - $50) - The key to growing quality cannabis is feeding your plants well, so they’re just like any other variety you find in the garden. A cannabis plant needs primary nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, as well as micronutrients like iron and calcium. The best way to deliver it all is with a pre-fertilized soil mix, otherwise, you'll need to add fertilizer to the plants at least once a week.
  • Patience ($0) - Growing your very first cannabis plant requires a lot of patience, and it's a process that comes with mistakes. There are several things that can, and will, go wrong when growing plants like this, so be prepared for things like pests, poor growth quality, and damaged leaves. As you grow more and more, you'll become better at it, so be prepared for a learning journey.

Related Questions

Marijuana Leaf

There’s a lot to learn when you’re just starting out with growing cannabis, marijuana, and hemp, but taking on these plants as a new hobby is a rewarding and satisfying decision.

For the newcomer, you’ll no doubt have questions, so we’ve answered some FAQs that might help you with your decision to start growing.


If you plan on growing plants with a hydroponic system, there’s a lot more equipment and knowledge required that doing it with soil.

A hydroponic system uses water to deliver the nutrients a plant needs directly to its roots, compared to traditional methods where the plant extracts these from the soil.

How Much Space Do I Need to Grow a Pot Plant?

The smallest grow space needed to yield good results would be around 2 x 2 feet, with a height up to four feet.

By giving the plant more space to grow, you'll allow it to get as big as possible, so you don't want to crowd it.

With cannabis plants, the height allowance is more important than the width, so make sure there's the adequate room above for it to mature.

Can You Leave Grow Lights on 24 Hours a Day?

Plants are living things, and exposing them to sunlight for 24 hours a day is not ideal for their health and can stress them out.

A cannabis plant needs only between 12 to 18 hours of light a day for it to grow successfully, so if this isn’t enough, you may need to choose a stronger light.


About the author 

Justin Powell

Justin Powell founded Hemp For Future to give direct answers to many of the questions surrounding THC, CBD, and everything in between. He’s been at the forefront of CBD advocacy for years, and as the go-to guru for many people, he decided to pour all his knowledge into Hemp For Future. He’s here to tell you about the best CBD gummies, how to stay under the legal THC allowance, and the core differences between commercial and in-home marijuana growth.

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