Cannabis Micro Growing: Growing Great Weed in Tiny Spaces
Worried you don’t have the space to grow great weed? Well, don’t! With micro growing, you can grow superb bud in the smallest of spaces.
The new trend of micro growing weed is challenging the norms of how much space it takes to grow great cannabis at home.
Thanks to new and improved grow gear (especially grow lights) and an increase in knowledge concerning the cannabis plant, micro growers are able to churn out great harvests in extremely small spaces.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about micro growing, and set you up to grow great weed in (almost) any space.
Understanding the Basics of Micro Growing
Micro growing is regular indoor growing, but on a smaller scale. It’s all about producing top-shelf bud with all the flavour, aroma, and potency you want, but in confined spaces (such as small DIY tents, cupboards, bar fridges, or even hulled desktop computer towers). Alternatively, some growers opt to buy ready-made stealth grow boxes.
The minimum amount of space you’ll need to grow weed in a micro setup is 35 × 35 × 75cm. To accommodate the lack of space in a micro grow, you’ll have to make minor adjustments to your lighting and ventilation, the strains you choose to grow, your medium, and your watering/feeding schedule.
Using the Right Amount of Soil
Micro growing is usually done using soil, as setting up a soilless or hydro system in a space as small as a mini-fridge can be very difficult. So, to accommodate the lack of space that qualifies a micro grow, you’ll want to use less soil to prevent your plants from outgrowing their small room or tent.
The root system is a crucial part of the plant, and its size has a great influence on how tall the plant will grow. Most plants tend to occupy the same amount of space below the ground as they do above. In a micro grow, we can use this correlation between the size of the root system (thus, the amount of medium) and plant size to control the growth of our cannabis plants and match it to our spatial limitations.
Below you’ll see how different pot sizes will impact the height of your cannabis plants:
Note that these figures are just estimates, and the exact size of your cannabis plants will vary depending on their genetics. Also, keep in mind that plants grown in small containers will need to be fed and watered more regularly than plants grown in larger containers with access to more soil.
For micro growing, we generally recommend sticking to 3l pots. However, we’ve seen some growers working with slightly larger spaces use up to 9l pots. How big or small you choose to go with your pots is up to you; just keep in mind that using bigger pots will likely restrict the number of plants you can grow (but more plants won’t necessarily translate to a bigger micro grow yield).
Finding the Right Grow Light
First and foremost, you’ll want to turn to LEDs for micro grows. HPS and HPI lights simply aren’t suited to these small grows as they produce far too much heat.
For the best results, we recommend using LED panels. A 15W panel is capable of producing op to 3000 lumens while producing almost no heat and taking up virtually no space (the panel measures just 130 × 110mm).
Alternatively, we recommend using any small 60W LED panel for your micro grow. Depending on just how small of a space you’re growing in, you’ll likely never need to keep this panel running at 100% capacity. We recommend keeping it at 25–50% to help control your plant’s stretch during veg, then turning it up to 50–75% during bloom, depending on the plant’s stretch. You can also control the panel’s light schedule using a controller, which is app-operated.
Properly Placing Your Grow Light
One common question micro growers face is this; where do I place my grow lights?
Traditional indoor grow setups place the main grow light directly above the canopy. But, since micro growers are often working with extremely small spaces, this setup might not always be the best option.
In small vertical spaces (like a grow box, small cupboard or furniture piece, or computer tower), you’ll usually be better off placing your main grow lights along one or multiple sides of your plant. This will allow you to grow a bigger canopy, improve light penetration through the canopy, and prevent plants from stretching towards the top of your grow space.
For even more control, you may want to consider building two separate grow boxes; one for veg and another for bloom. In the veg box, you may be able to get away with placing your grow light right above your plant, as light penetration isn’t as much of an issue during veg as it is during flowering. Remember to keep in mind the speed at which your plants grow, and try to find strains that grow at a speed that suits the size of your space.
If you do opt to install your veg light above your plants, remember to keep it at the right distance and intensity. If your grow light is too close or too strong, plants are likely to develop very short internodes and might show signs of light stress. If, on the other hand, your light is too far or too weak for your plants, they’re going to stretch and develop long internodes.
In your bloom box, however, we recommend placing your grow light along the sides of your plants. This will provide the best light penetration and allow you to grow a longer vertical canopy of buds. We also recommend using a vertical net to keep your plants centered. You can also use this net to train your plants gently and control their growth as you see fit, given your space.
How to Manage Ventilation and Smell in a Micro Cannabis Grow
While it might seem like a trivial detail, properly ventilating your cannabis micro grow is a must. When working with such a small space, air can quickly become stagnant and start creating a lot of problems for your plants. This is because plants consume the CO₂ in their environment for photosynthesis. When growing in such small spaces, your plants have very limited access to fresh, CO₂-rich air, making proper ventilation a must for healthy plants.
Luckily, ventilating a cannabis micro grow space is easy.
If you decide to build your own micro grow setup, all you’ll need to keep your space ventilated is a small outtake fan, like this 24V Brushless Centrifugal Blower. While it might not look like much, this tiny fan will do a perfect job at removing old, stagnant air from your grow space. For the best results, we recommend installing it directly above your plants.
If you’ve got enough space, you may even want to consider keeping a small hand-held fan inside your space to keep air circulating properly around your plants.
For even better ventilation and air circulation, we recommend installing a small intake fan at the bottom of your micro grow setup. A high-speed cooling fan, for example, will let a constant influx of fresh air into your micro grow space.
Because micro grows usually only allow you the space to grow one small weed plant (or two), you shouldn’t need to use carbon filters to manage the smell of your operation. However, if you want to be extra safe, installing a carbon filter to the outtake fan we mentioned above is simple. The filter needs to be installed in front of your outtake fan, and therefore may rob you of some space inside your mini grow room/box.
How to Water Cannabis Plants in a Micro Grow
Watering your cannabis plants in a micro indoor setup can be tricky due to the lack of space. If you’re building your own micro setup, take this into consideration and try to leave enough space around the base of your plants so you can water them comfortably. Remember that water splashing up onto the foliage and buds of your plants can cause fungal issues, so you’ll want to avoid it at all costs.
If you’re growing in a truly tiny space—one where you can’t walk around or get a good position over your plants—make sure you can remove your plants for watering so you don’t end up making a mess of your space.
Given the small scale of a micro grow, we generally don’t believe they warrant the installation of any automatic watering systems. Just have the patience to manually water your plants using a small watering can or bottle.
How to Use Growing Techniques in a Cannabis Micro Grow Setup
Micro grows typically call for smaller, bushier plants. In order to achieve this kind of structure and produce decent harvests in such small spaces, you’ll want to employ some growing techniques like LST, HST or ScrOG, and Defoliation. Below, we’ll share some basic tips on how to adapt these techniques to a micro grow setup.
LST is easily one of our favourite grow techniques, and can come in super handy when growing in small spaces. The only way your LST technique might vary when micro growing is in how you direct your plant’s growth. Remember, the goal of LST is to open up your plant and improve light penetration. Think about how you’ll achieve that given the lighting in your micro grow room.
HST (Topping, Super Cropping, FIM, etc.)
High-stress techniques may be a little trickier to apply to a micro grow. Topping or fimming, for example, create multiple dominant colas, which may not be ideal in small, narrow vertical indoor gardens.
If you’re growing in a short yet wide space (like a shelf, for example), you may want to use super cropping or fimming early on to create a short canopy packed with thick colas. In fact, super cropping may come in handy in either case, as it strengthens your plant in time for bloom and, like LST, can direct growth in the right direction to make better use of your lights.
Screen of green is another of our favourite training techniques, and you’ll be glad to know you can take advantage of it even in small micro cannabis gardens. If you’re working with a narrow vertical space with lateral lights, for example, using a vertical screen can be one of the best ways to create a big canopy that receives a ton of light.
In a short, horizontal micro grow cabinet, on the other hand, you can use ScrOG as you would in a regular indoor garden to create a thick, even canopy that, come harvest time, will be loaded with sticky buds.
Defoliation is essential to micro growing. In a narrow, vertical grow room with lateral lights, defoliation will help you clear unnecessary foliage and ensure all parts of your plant get enough light to develop big, thick buds.
When to Switch Your Micro Grow Room to Bloom
In general, we recommend you flip your vegetative cannabis plants to bloom once they’ve grown to half of the height of your micro grow box. This will ensure they’ve still got enough space to accommodate their pre-bloom stretch without growing too close to the top of your box/room.
Remember that the rate at which your plants grow is directly related to the amount of light they receive. More light will result in shorter internodes, while plants grown with less light will stretch, resulting in larger spaces between each node. You may need to play around with the lighting in your micro grow room to find the sweet spot for each of your strains.
Micro Growing Cannabis: Expect Realistic Results
As with any cannabis grow, it’s important to set yourself some realistic expectations regarding the size and quality of your harvest, as well as the amount of time it’ll take you to get from seed to harvest.
In general, growing in a small 35 × 35 × 75cm space using a rough average of 30W of light throughout your entire grow, you can expect to harvest between 25 and 45g, depending on the strain, your feeding routine, training techniques, and skill. You’ll usually be able to go from seed to harvest within 3–4 months, depending (obviously) on your light cycle and the genetics of your plants.
Finally, the cost of setting up your micro grow box/room will vary greatly. If you choose to build your own micro grow space, you may be able to do so relatively cheaply (keep in mind that your LED panel will easily be the biggest upfront cost).
Choosing A Suitable Strain
When it comes to micro growing, choosing the right strain is very important due to the limited space available. One of the things to watch out for is the height of your cannabis strain. Sativas grow higher and more slender than indicas, which tend to be short and bushy.
Furthermore, during the flowering phase sativas undergo a 200-300% increase in height, while Indicas increase only by 50-100%, which shows that indicas are more compatible with micro growing.
Another reasonable option would be autoflowering strains. No matter what the conditions, autoflowering strains stay small due to their genetics (a great many of them even smaller than indicas) and aren’t dependent on the light regime, which means they will have a shorter harvest time.
3 Great Strains for Micro Growing
Of course, some genetics are more suited to micro growing than others, and the following three are prime examples of quality picks. You’ll notice these strains all have something in common: they’re autoflowering.
Royal Dwarf truly is a miniature cannabis specimen that can remain at tiny sizes of 40cm tall when trained in the ways mentioned above. This plant was bred for one reason and one reason only: stealth. Growers can easily cultivate multiple Royal Dwarf plants in their home without a single suspicion being raised. She can easily be grown within modified kitchen cupboards, wardrobes, boxes, and computer towers. Small LED lights can also be used within these tiny spaces to avoid giving off too much heat. Royal Dwarf is essentially the autoflowering version of the legendary Skunk, and was made using a Skunk strain along with a specific ruderalis cultivar. She offers stimulating but subtle sativa highs fuelled by THC quantities of 13%. She can therefore be smoked all day long whilst allowing the user to stay on top of their game and not get too high. Her small yet compact flowers offer sweet and citrus tastes.
Royal Dwarf will be ready to harvest a mere 8–9 weeks after seeds have been germinated. Plants grown indoors will provide yields of up to 200g/m² and won’t exceed 70cm in height. Plants grown outdoors within garden beds or guerrilla grow spots will produce harvests of 30–80g/plant and reach heights of between 50–90cm.
Think you haven't got the space to grow weed? Think again. With our guide on micro growing, you can grow top-shelf bud at home in even the tiniest of spaces.
5 Ways to Increase Yields (with any strain)
Are you an indoor cannabis grower? Almost all indoor cannabis growers want bigger yields for less money, time and effort. On the GrowWeedEasy.com website, we’ve already covered how to increase potency & quality of home-grown buds, as well as how to produce buds with a better taste & smell, but this article will focus specifically on how to increase your indoor cannabis yields.
I will cover 5 easy ways to increase your indoor marijuana yields at harvest time, no matter which strain you’re growing!
These 5 tips and tactics will work to increase your indoor cannabis yields with any strain. However, the genetics (strain) you start with will have a huge effect on your final results and yields. For growers who want to start with high-yielding genetics, I’ve listed some popular & potent high-yielding cannabis strains in the bonus section below the main article, along with grower notes to help you provide each strain with exactly what it needs.
Now before you start worrying about increasing your cannabis yields, you must first make sure you’ve mastered the basics of growing, and know how to deal with cannabis problems that crop up.
Yet once you’ve got a handle on how to successfully grow your cannabis plants, you must begin to understand the following 5 tactics in order to get the most yields from your indoor grow space…
Table of Contents
- Increase Light Intensity (and possibly add CO2)
- Manipulate How Plants Grow (free way to produce more bud)
- Provide Correct Amount of Nutrients (sometimes less is more)
- Control Growing Environment (let the growing environment work for you)
- Harvest Plants Properly (most importantly, don’t harvest early!)
Bonus: Genetics Has a Major Effect on Yields (plus a few recommended high-yielding strains)
1.) Increase light intensity
(and possibly add CO2 so plants can use even more light)
A lot of growers ask me how to increase the size, number and density of their buds so they get bigger yields. The truth is, for most growers, the most effective way to increase bud size in the flowering stage is to increase LIGHT INTENSITY.
If your cannabis plant has no major problems or illnesses, then the biggest factor affecting your yields is the light intensity provided.
Light is basically food for your plants. Turning light into energy via photosynthesis is how your plants get all their energy to grow and produce buds.
As a general rule of thumb…
More Intense Light = Larger Plants & Fatter Buds = Bigger Yields
After you’ve germinated your seeds (or rooted your clones), one of the most important things to do right from the beginning is ensure that your plants are getting enough light.
During the vegetative stage, cannabis plants which don’t get enough light will tend to ‘stretch’ up toward the light with a lot of stem between nodes and leaves.
You need to provide enough light intensity to prevent young cannabis plants from stretching or growing too tall and falling over.
Example: The seedling to the left is stretching upwards because it is not getting enough light. The plant is trying to “reach” up towards what it thinks is the sun.
This stretching is not usually a good thing, because these seedings almost always fall over and will tend to grow into tall lanky plants. Tall, tower-like plants are hard to give proper light coverage in the flowering stage and will tend to get lower yields in most indoor setups.
That’s because during the flowering stage (when plant start producing buds), higher light intensity is what drives the production of buds. Wait, when does the vegetative stage end?
For most small-scale indoor growing setups, finding ways to increase the amount of light getting to the bud sites throughout the flowering stage is the most straightforward and effective way to increase your final yields.
In order to grow dense cannabis buds indoors, you need strong grow lights
Once your cannabis plant is producing buds, anything you can do to help get more intense lights to the bud sites will tend to increase your yields. Indoor cannabis grow lights provide the highest light levels close to the actual bulb. The further away from the bulb of a cannabis grow light, the less intense the brightness experienced by the plant.
Because of this, it is tough to provide bright light to all the buds on a cannabis plant when the colas are uneven lengths or at different heights. It is most effective and efficient to grow cannabis plants so they have a lot of colas spaced relatively close together and at the same height.
Cannabis growth patterns are something you have complete control over in the vegetative stage (addressed in the plant training section below) and taking the time to manipulate your young plants to make good use of your indoor grow lights is one of the best ways to increase your yields with the same lights.
Yet after flowering has already started, there’s not much you can do about uneven cola height without possibly hurting your plant, so if your plant is already flowering, you’ve just got to do your best to provide the most intense light possible to all the buds until harvest, without overheating or harming your precious growing colas. It’s important to keep plants cool during the flowering stage, as high temps can actually burn off terpenoids (smell/taste) and cannabinoids (potency), lowering the quality of buds even as you may be increasing the overall yields at harvest.
For the best results, you want all your buds directly exposed to intense light. Being in direct light seems to cause buds to swell up much more than when buds are hidden by leaves.
Why do buds need to be exposed? In the wild, cannabis buds are pollinated by the wind and need light from the sun to power the growth of seeds. A cannabis bud in the wild which is not exposed to air and light is unlikely to get pollinated, so the plant tends to not put much effort into the hidden middle and lower buds on the plant. Only buds which are exposed to air and bright light will tend to fatten up.
How much light is too much light?
Most indoor growers are unlikely to provide too much light to their marijuana plants – cannabis plants can use a surprising amount of light naturally! Outdoors in the wild, cannabis grows best in direct sunlight.
Therefore as long as an indoor grower keeps their grow lights the right distance away, they’re unlikely to provide too much light and actually hurt their cannabis garden.
- CFLs and other fluorescent grow lights are relatively weak and can be kept as close to your cannabis plants as possible while keeping heat under control.
- LED grow lights generally should be kept at least 12″ away, and 3W or 5W models should usually be kept 18+” away for the best growth. The distance needed for LED lights varies from model to model, so it’s important to listen to the manufacturer’s specifications when it comes to deciding how close to keep LEDs to your plants. Modern LED grow lights are very powerful, and It’s very easy to light-burn your plants with LEDs.
- MH/HPS grow lights usually should be kept 1-2 feet away, though the distance needed depends on the size of your bulb. How Far Away Should MH/HPS Grow Lights Be From My Plants?
- With all grow lights, it’s important to have some sort of cooling or exhaust system in place to prevent heat stress and help bring fresh CO2 to the plants.
If you keep increasing the light intensity in your grow room (or moving high-power lights closer and closer), you will eventually reach a point where you max out on the light your plants can use.
If you consider that light is like food for your plant, maxing out the light is like putting so much food on the table that your plants hurt themselves trying to finish their plates.
Plants provided with too bright light can experience light burn even if temps are cool when the light intensity gets too high. Some strains are more susceptible to light burn than others.
When you’ve reached the ultimate max of light that your plants can use, you still have a trick up your sleeve to further increase your yields. You can give your plants the ability to use even more of that light (and increase your bud yields even further) by increasing the CO2 levels in your grow room during the flowering stage.
So if light is like food for your plant, think of CO2 as a way to give your plants a way to “stretch their bellies” and eat even more food than would normally be possible.
The way additional CO2 works is it increases the amount of light your plant can use at very high light levels. With smaller grow lights like CFLs, a T5, even a 400W HID grow light, it is very unlikely that your light is bright enough to bring your plants to point where they are being limited by CO2. Adding extra CO2 when it’s not the limiting factor of growth is almost always a waste of time and money. For most plants, providing a source of fresh air will give plants all the CO2 they need. But if your plants have maxed out on light, artificially raising CO2 levels in the grow room can help plants use even more of the light and turn it into energy for growth.
Just remember that it takes a lot of light for your cannabis plants to hit this light saturation point. so unless you’re using high powered lights like a 1000W grow light (or high-power LEDs) and keeping the lights incredibly close, your plants are probably able to use all the light they’re receiving.
Most Important Point about CO2
Adding CO2 to the grow room does not directly increase yields. CO2 only increases the amount of energy your plants can produce under very high intensity light levels. If plants have not maxed out on light, adding more CO2 will not increase yields.
Another important point about using CO2 – In order for CO2 supplementation to be effective, you generally have to seal off the grow area and pump in enough CO2 to dramatically impact the CO2 PPM levels in the air. CO2 is dangerous to humans at these high levels, so be careful to protect yourself!
Learn more about CO2 and it’s relationship to light intensity and marijuana yields here:
Learn about grow light options, so you can pick the most intense light possible for your grow space:
Next you’ll learn how to manipulate your plant so that you can get more light coverage to your bud sites, using the same grow lights you already have.
2.) Manipulate plant structure (bend, net, top, etc) so all colas received strong & even light coverage
The basic idea behind plant training is that bigger, wider plants with many evenly spaced colas produce bigger yields.
Manipulating your plants is a basically free way to increase your yields, without needing to change anything else about your setup. You don’t need to buy expensive nutrients or get a new grow light for this to work for you.
Manipulating the plant in a way that doesn’t involve actually cutting your plant is often referred to as “LST” in the cannabis growing world, which is short for “Low Stress Training.”
The idea of LST is to manually force your plant to grow flat and wide, as opposed to tall and thin, usually using bending.
Here’s an example of a plant that has been LST’ed to grow very short and wide.
Notice how the plant is very short when viewed from the side, but when viewed from above the plant has a lot of leaf surface area. All those leaves are like little solar panels, getting energy from your grow light..
This flat plant shape allows the whole plant to better use your existing grow lights, since a greater percentage of the plant is closer to the light source, which means that more of the plant is getting exposed to brighter light intensity.
Any LST attempts should almost always begin when the plant is very young, as this type of “table” shape is much harder to achieve once the plant has developed into a triangle shape with a tall main cola.
A variation of LST is when growers use a screen or net to act as a guide with which to force plants to grow flat. This technique is known as ScrOG (short for “Screen Of Green”).
ScrOg is how you achieve something like this…
Notice how practically the whole plant is getting direct exposure from the lights. All that direct, intense light will be turned into energy by the plant, fueling bigger buds and overall yields.
In order to use ScrOG, you will need to invest in a screen, and take time during the vegetative and beginning of the flowering stage to train your plant to grow along the screen.
Another popular and easy-to-learn plant training method that increases yields is known as “Supercropping.”
Basically, supercropping means to bend your plant so that individual stems lay flat and form a “knuckle” where they were bent.
Supercropping can be used alongside any other plant training method or by itself. Any time you notice any colas growing taller than the others, but are unable to use bending to pull down that errant cola out and away from the center of the plant, you can use supercropping to force any plant to bend.
Now when it comes to plant training, there are lots of methods that involve actually cutting your plant, or removing stems and/or leaves.
As far as methods that involve actually cutting the plant, you have two main options. One is to ‘top’ the plant and one is to ‘FIM’ the plant.
With both techniques, you remove some of the growth on the end of the main cola of your young cannabis plant, which causes the plant to stop focusing on one cola (like a Christmas tree) and instead to create many bud-laden colas (grow a sea of buds).
This will give you an idea of how the plant growth patterns change as a result of topping or FIMing a cannabis plant at a young age.
A very popular form of plant training that utilizes topping and really seems to simplify the whole process for a lot of growers is known as main-lining or manifolding.
Now I will mention the next technique so this section is complete, but I highly recommend against using this technique until you already have had at least a few successful grows under your belt. I also recommend mastering the other forms of plant training first, like all the ones mentioned above before trying this technique.
Defoliation can hurt or even kill your plants if done incorrectly. I believe that defoliation has in important place in the grower’s plant training repertoire, yet I also believe that most growers would do better to master the other training methods first before ever trying defoliation.
Now that you’ve been warned…
(Experienced Growers Only) Controversial Defoliation Increases Marijuana Yields:
Next, learn how using less nutrients can actually result in bigger yields.
3.) Get the Right Cannabis Nutrients (and don’t overdo it!)
Your cannabis plant needs nutrients to grow, no doubt about it. But which nutrients should you give them?
How much nutrients do your plants need to grow their best?
But just getting the correct kind of nutrients and following a nutrient schedule isn’t the only step you should take. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, many growers tend to provide too high levels of nutrients to their plants. This is most common when growers mix many different nutrients and supplements together, without understanding what the plant needs to grow well.
As a grower, it is important that you learn how to tell when your plants are showing signs that they’re receiving too high levels of nutrients.
The most common sign that your plants are getting too much nutrients is “nutrient burn.”
Growers often refer to nutrients as “food” for your plants. When you talk about it that way, it intuitively seems like giving more “food” would result in bigger buds, but is that really the case?
As we learned earlier in the section about light intensity, the real “food” for your plants is light. Light is what your plant turns into energy through photosynthesis, and this energy is what fuels vegetative and flowering growth.
Then what do the nutrients do? They’re like little helpers that give your plant what it needs to carry out the process of photosynthesis and growth.
I like to think of nutrients like vitamins for humans. While humans need to get certain vitamins to survive, I want you to consider that people should never eat multi-vitamins like candy. In fact, if you give people more vitamins than their body can use, they will actually get very sick.
Nutrients are important to healthy growth, but it’s important to understand that going overboard will cause more harm than good.
While many growers are trying to raise nutrient levels as high as possible, I have gotten better results (yields) when I simply try to avoid providing too little or too much nutrients.
Healthy cannabis leaves appear green and uniform. As long as your leaves look like this, without signs of spots, discoloration, curling or other problems, you have nothing to worry about!
Cannabis plants seem to produce the best yields when nutrient levels are kept on the lower end compared to what is recommended with most nutrient systems; I try to give enough nutrients to prevent nutrient deficiencies throughout the grow, while avoiding nutrient burn. I rarely raise nutrient levels unless I’m noticing signs that this particular plant is a heavy nutrient-user and needs more. You will notice that different plants often require wildly different levels of nutrients.
As long as your cannabis is not showing signs of nutrient burn or nutrient deficiencies, you’re in the “sweet spot” for optimum growth and yields
When it comes to growing in soil, one of the best things you can do is compost your own super soil. Composted super soil can be made completely organically, and will provide your cannabis plants with all the nutrients needed throughout yoru grow. That will make it so that you don’t have to worry as much about nutrients or deficiencies, and you can focus your time and effort on maintaining your plants.
For growers using bottled nutrients, including hydroponic growers as well as many soil growers, I usually recommend you start using half (or even less) of the suggested amount of nutrients listed on most nutrient schedules. There’s a lot more information about this on my main article about cannabis nutrients. I generally only ever raise my nutrient levels when I notice that this particular plant is a heavy nutrient user (the lower leaves are starting to turn yellow and die – especially in the vegetative or early flowering stage, though it’s normal to start losing leaves the last month before harvest).
Slightly lowered nutrient levels seem to be especially important to bud production during the last 2-4 weeks before harvest time.
It’s natural for the lower leaves of a cannabis plant to start turning yellow as harvest time approaches
It’s natural for the plant to start losing leaves as the plant puts all energy into making buds, and unfortunately many growers respond by ramping up nutrient levels late in the flowering stage. Unfortunately, adding too high levels of nutrients during the later part of the flowering stage, especially nitrogen, tends to hinder the plant from developing buds properly.
Yet if you keep nutrient levels low and allow the vegetative growth to die away during those last few weeks, the buds seem to swell up dramatically compared to a plant that is kept green all the way to harvest. By keeping nutrient levels lower as harvest approaches (or flushing the plant by feeding only plain water), you will also make sure that there is no leftover “nutrient taste” in the buds which never got the chance to be used up before harvest.
Lowering overall nutrient levels and letting the leaves yellow and die as harvest approaches has seemed to improve my bud yields compared to when I use full levels of nutrients until harvest, and it also seems to improve the final taste & smell of buds.
Bonus Tip For Soil Growers: Provide a source of sugar (blackstrap molasses works great) towards end of flowering stage to increase bud weight
By supplementing your cannabis roots with extra sugar towards the end of flowering, you help improve the flavor of your buds while also fattening buds up.
This is especially effective for those growing organically, as this works synergistically with the beneficial microbes in your soil
There are many commercial supplements that claim to fatten up buds and improve flavor, but most of these work by adding simple sugar.
If you’re growing in soil and looking for a cheap yet effective alternative to those expensive supplements, you can add a little bit of regular blackstrap molasses (a teaspoon per gallon) to your water every time you water your plants during the second half of the flowering stage.
Please Note: It is not recommended to use molasses in a hydroponic grow setup.
Speaking of how indoor growers can get better yields by providing cannabis plants with the exact right environment…
4.) Control Temperature (and humidity)
A good growing environment is crucial to the health of your plants, as well as your final potency and yields. When the temperature (and to a lesser extent the humidity) is too high or too low for your plants, your plants will not grow properly and buds won’t fatten up no matter what else you do.
Too high temps late in the flowering stage can also reduce the potency of smell of your buds by burning away cannabinoids and terpenes.
By controlling temperature and humidity, you can actually increase the smell and potency of your buds at harvest.
If there is a particular source of heat that is harming the plant (like a hot grow light), you’ll know because the leaves closest to the source of the problem will wilt and turn a brownish color. Learn more about how cannabis plants respond to heat stress.
Now that you’ve learned how to provide the best environment and growing conditions for your cannabis plant to produce the biggest yields indoors, there’s one last thing you must do to ensure the highest yields possible…
5.) Wait until the right time to harvest
For most strains of cannabis, there is a 2-3 week window during which buds can be harvested. When growers harvest before the proper “harvest window”, it can reduce your yields (and potency).
By allowing your buds to ripen fully, you will maximize your overall yields. I’ve seen buds gain up to 25% adiitional size (at least visually) in the last 2-3 weeks before harvest. If I’d harvested these buds earlier, I would have dramatically lowered my overall yields.
Another benefit of waiting until the right time to harvest is you can choose to harvest your buds when they have the exact effects you’re looking for. Harvest earlier for a more buzzy daytime high, and harvest later for a more relaxing, couchlock experience
Learn how to tell when your cannabis buds are ready for harvest:
And also make sure you professionally cure your newly harvested marijuana buds every time…
Harvest your cannabis at the right time to increase your yields
Genetics is Key to Marijuana Potency and Yields
While all the tips and tactics above will help increase your yields with any marijuana strain, the genetics of your plant also play a huge role in how the plant grows, how the buds fatten, and ultimately your yields.
The strains available today get much higher yields and are much more potent than any strains that were around even a decade ago. Strain potency, yields, and ease of growth have been improving steadily over the last several decades as hundreds of growers around the world are constantly breeding new strains and improving on old favorites.
So even if you do everything right to get bigger yields, you may not get buds as big as the ones you see online or in cannabis magazines. It’s an unfair comparison if you’re using so-so genetics.
Investing in a high-yielding strain can be one of the best ways to increase your final yields (as well as the overall quality, potency and smell of your buds!).
Start With A High-Yielding Strain!
Listed below are 3 proven high-yielding strains which consistently produce top-quality buds:
Tangerine Dream by Barney’s Farm – Remarkably Strong
Although we haven’t grown the Tangerine Dream strain ourselves, this enchanting strain has remarkable effects and looks/smells beautiful! We were pleasantly surprised to find out it also tends to produce high yields!
Aurora Indica by Nirvana – Stays Short!
Attention stealth growers! If you want a high-yielding plant that is quick to harvest, and actually stays short, than this may be the strain you’re looking for! For those of you growing in a smaller setup, a plant that naturally stays short and bushy can make growing much easier, and this strain will maximize your yields!
Growing tips: This strain seemed to do better with relatively low levels of nutrients compared to some other strains. We started at half nutrient strength when growing Aurora Indica for the first time (picture in upper right – yielded a little over 7 ounces), and actually had to take nutrient levels lower to almost 25% strength to get the best results in flowering. Aurora Indica plants are easy to grow and respond well to training and especially supercropping. Harvest at 7-9 weeks for a stoney “couchlock” effect.
Buds: Dense indica buds that are covered in trichomes, causing a heavy, almost sedating effect (“couchlock”). Our buds smelled earthy, with some fruity, almost minty tones underneath.
Wonder Woman by Nirvana – Big Yields!
Wonder Woman impressed us with her high yielding power (view the full grow journal here). Honestly Wonder Woman is probably the highest-yielding strain we’ve ever grown!
Growing tips: This forgiving skunk strain is extremely easy to grow, and responds well to FIMing/topping/LST and other training methods. It gets to a nice size – not too tall, not too short – and about doubles in size after the switch to 12/12. This strain takes a little less than 3 months to finish flowering, but she makes up for it with great yields and long, dense buds. It tends to do best at relatively high levels of nutrients – we got great results feeding her at full strength.
Buds: Big yields. Dense, hard buds that look beautiful, and an uplifting and relaxing mental effect, with also a nice body effect. Our buds smelled skunky, with a hint of diesel underneath.
FOR SERIOUS GROWERS ONLY
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I thought I already knew it all, but after I went through this grow bible, I discovered that there were still new, easy ways I could increase my yields and grow even more potent buds!
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