Cannabis is an annual, dioecious, flowering herb. Similar to most plants, there are both male and female plants, but only the female plants fully blossom the consumable flower. The flowering tip of the female plant, also known as the bud, is harvested and consumed for its high concentration of cannabinoids. Of the known 483 compounds of the plant, the two cannabinoids most famous are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the intoxicating and psychoactive cannabinoid and is capable of inducing a variety of sensory and psychological effects. On the other hand, CBD has many potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety and seizure-suppressant properties.
The presence and quantity of these cannabinoids vary with each strain of cannabis. While cannabis strains can be broadly defined by Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid strains, there are thousands of different strains available today through decades of cross cultivation. Understanding and selecting different strains is covered in detail HERE.
When growing cannabis, regardless of what strain is selected, it is important to understand the basic anatomy of the plant.
Cola: A cluster of buds on a female plant. They usually grow so closely together that they appear to be one large bud. This is where the highest concentration of cannabinoids are found. The topmost cluster of buds is called the main cola or apical bud.
Pistil: These are the female plant’s reproductive parts. The pistil’s most important feature is the coloured hairs (called stigmas) that emerge from the ovule and can be seen shooting out from the bracts and ovaries. The colour of the pistils will be your biggest indicator of when to harvest.
Trichomes: Mushroom-shaped glands found on the cannabis plant’s leaves, stems and calyxes. Trichomes secrete resin, THC, CBD and terpenes.
To grow cannabis successfully, three basic needs must be met.
Light: Adequate light source
Food: Growing medium / water / nutrients
Environment: Air movement / climate
The most important aspect of growing is adequate light, without it, plants simply won’t grow. Having a full spectrum of light available to your plant is essential for growth and photosynthesis. More importantly, because cannabis is a photoperiod plant, the number of hours of light exposure will determine the lifecycle stage of the plant. In other words, the vegetative and flowering states of cannabis are completely dependent on the hours of light.
The second major consideration is the nourishment of the plant. This involves the growing medium, water, and nutrition. The growing medium is of the upmost importance as this is where the root system will develop and absorb water and nutrients. A good growing medium should have good drainage, good aeration, and ample room for roots to develop. Not just the correct amount of water, but pure, clean, pH neutral water is paramount to growing cannabis. Plants can easily be underwatered and overwatered, and if the pH is incorrect, the roots won’t be able to absorb the necessary nutrients. In order to grow healthy plants, the correct ratios of macro- and micro- nutrients are required in different amounts throughout the lifecycle.
Lastly, for a cannabis plant to grow healthy and produce high quality flowers, is must have an appropriate environment. This involves the growing space, climate, and air movement. The growing space has a huge impact on your final plant size and final flower yield. In short, a cannabis plant will grow to fill its space. If you grow outdoors in an open environment, cannabis plants can grow huge. If your growing space is too small, your plant will grow cramped and produce small, low quality flowers. We’ve designed our cabinets for the perfect growing space, not too small, and not too big. The preferred climate for growth can be put very simply, cannabis needs a similar environment to humans. A temperature between 20-30 C (70-85 F) and a humidity level between 30-60% is ideal for growth in both the vegetative and flowering stages. Although forgiving with climate, cannabis does need consistent air movement to grow. Fresh air and CO2, along with a light cool breeze is the optimal environment.