To understand the flowering cycle, it’s important to remember that cannabis is a plant. And, like most plants, it follows the seasons. To trigger flowering — which will take 55 to 60 days to complete — growers reduce the time plants spend exposed to the light source from 18 hours to 12. “You’re basically telling your plant it’s mid-September,” Lipton said.
Space: 3 x 3 x 5 feet, minimum. “The bigger the space, the better. With all the lights, closets get hot,” Lipton said. That said, closets help growers control light pollution when the plant is in its flowering cycle — one of the main reasons home growers favor them over larger spaces, such as living rooms. “If you have a spare bedroom, or a basement even, you can just use that and close the door,” Lipton said.
Cannabis plants yield the highest-quality (and quantity) flowers after maturing. This usually takes about a month to happen. “I recommend planting in a five-gallon Home Depot bucket,” Lipton said. “It’s really important to have proper drainage, so you want to drill some holes in the bottom. The biggest mistake people make is that they overwater and suffocate the roots. Cannabis likes to be watered and dried out before it’s watered again.” During the vegetative cycle, the plant should be exposed to a minimum of 18 hours of light. Remember to open the closet door while the lights are on to prevent the space from heading north of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trigger the flowering cycle.
It’s important to remember that cultivating even one cannabis plant for personal consumption is felony on the federal level and punishable by up to five years in prison. Meanwhile, four US states — Alaska, Colorado, Washington D.C. and Oregon — have passed local amendments, allowing citizens who are 21 years old and over to grow a limited number of plants without fear of persecution.
Light: 2,200k. “For a closet set up, I would recommend a 175-watt HPS light,” Lipton said. “Some people try to use fluorescent lighting, but I wouldn’t recommend that. You’re just not going to get a very good outcome. Nowadays, HPS lights can just go right into your home outlet, and you’d just need a timer [to set the intervals]. Position the light directly overhead. They can be pretty powerful, so you’re going to want it at least two feet from the top of the canopy [to prevent the plant from overheating].”
Even with a healthy clone, however, cultivating cannabis can be a long and arduous process — especially in tight indoor spaces. “A lot of people think growing is easy, but it’s not,” Lipton said. “You have to be really on it. Not everyone has success, obviously.”
Find a healthy clone.
While most, if not all, medical and recreational farms cultivate cannabis from seeds, guaranteeing that their plants are free from viruses, most home growers, even those with experience, typically begin with clones — essentially trimmed pieces of female cannabis plants that have been rooted in separate pots. “When most people think of cannabis — you know, what you smoke — they’re thinking about the flowers of female plants,” Lipton said. “When you grow from seeds, half of them will be males. If you’re only going to do one or two plants, you don’t want to waste your time with that stuff.” A clone sourced from a dispensary or a knowledgeable friend guarantees that the plant is female and will eventually produce bud pending proper care. “You can get up to four ounces off the right plant — if you know what you’re doing.”
pH of Water: 6.3 to 6.7. “You’ll need a meter that you can stick into your water and tell you the pH,” Lipton said. “You want something between 6.3 to 6.7 pH for watering your plants. That sounds like pretty sophisticated stuff but it’s really not. A lot of times your tap water will be 7.8. You can use what they call pH down. That’s a crucial step.”
Average annual sunshine: 58%
Average annual precipitation: 43.8 inches
Average annual high temperature: 59 degrees
Population density per square mile: 2,232
Medical marijuana legal: Yes
Recreational marijuana legal: No
Number of people in state per 1,000 seized marijuana plants grown outdoors: 2,165.2
Growing marijuana outdoors is prohibited in Sacramento, CA.
Photo: Flickr/Jeff Turner
You don’t want the temperature to be too hot or too cold. Like Goldilocks, you want it to be just right. For optimal growing purposes, we settled on 72 degrees, so the closer a city came to that mark, the higher its score was in that category.
Average annual sunshine: 63%
Average annual precipitation: 43.6 inches
Average annual high temperature: 70
Population density per square mile: 1,937
Medical marijuana legal: No
Recreational marijuana legal: No
Number of people in state per 1,000 seized marijuana plants grown outdoors: 233.3
9. Charlotte, NC
Passage of the Sacramento ordinance in February made the city the largest city in California to embrace large-scale cultivation of medical marijuana, according to local TV station KCRA.
As for growing medical marijuana, it’s permitted in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, according to Armentano.
Nationwide, legal sales of marijuana reached $5.7 billion in 2015, up from $4.6 billion the previous year, according to a report from ArcView Market Research . For 2016, the market is projected to grow to $7.1 billion. And by 2020, ArcView says, sales of legal marijuana in the U.S. could top $22 billion.
1. Sacramento, CA
Data from 2006 shows California is the leading state for outdoor production of marijuana, followed by Tennessee, Kentucky and Hawaii, according to the Bulletin for Cannabis Reform.
“When picking a location and setting up your [marijuana] garden, remember to plan for security. This means keeping people from finding it, and keeping animals out,” according to Marijuana Growers Headquarters. “Visible plants will bring unwanted attention.”