The 10 Best Strains for Growing Weed Indoors
So, you’ve made the decision to start growing your own weed indoors, but you’re not quite sure where to begin. The first thing you want to do is figure out the strain of weed you want to grow. Do you want the strongest or the easiest? There are so many varieties to choose from, so we have compiled a list of the 10 best strains for indoor growing to help you pick the one that is right for you.
Congratulations! You’ve decided to embark on the adventure of growing weed indoors.
Like so many others, you will find that indoor pot horticulture is the best way to keep yourself supplied with exactly the kind of weed you like.
It’s also the best way to make sure you are getting the purest product. Choosing to grow indoors eliminates most of the potential for the pests and infections which can plague some of the more delicate breeds of marijuana.
After you make that initial investment for seeds and equipment, you will find this can be also a great way for you to save money. You avoid the costs of a dispensary, but you have more control than if you were to grow your own outdoors.
Getting started growing weed indoors
Once you have decided to start growing weed indoors, you will need to make sure you have all the right equipment for a productive harvest.
You need the right space where you can set up the appropriate lights, fans, and water sources. You will also need to decide whether you are going to grow your marijuana in soil or hydroponically.
Finally, but most importantly, you need to decide what to grow.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of cannabis available. Some are more suited to indoor growing than others. Plants that do not grow too tall are better suited for indoors, for example, because there are usually space limitations.
Each one boasts different flavours and effects. Some are especially suited to alleviating certain health issues.
We’ve put together a list of the 10 best marijuana strains for growing indoors. Use these descriptions to help you decide which variety is best for your needs, budget, equipment and growing area.
The best strains for indoor growing
1. WSS Skunk Automatic
If you are a beginner, this strain of seed is a great way to start growing weed indoors. WSS Skunk Automatic is easy for people with no gardening experience or special equipment.
This variety is “autoflowering,” so you won’t need to change the lighting cycles of your grow lamps. You also will not have to worry about removing the male plants.
(Because only female plants produce buds, some breeds require the removal of the male plants to prevent pollination of the females. WSS Skunk Automatic removes this extra step.)
After about five weeks, you should see the first buds begin to develop on these compact bushes. Harvesting can take place around fifty days later.
This strain of cannabis has a nice, citrus flavour but still can pack a punch.
Another advantage to growing WSS Skunk Automatic is that it is hardy: it usually survives the mistakes commonly made by first-time pot growers. Newbies often over- or under- water their plants, or misjudge the amounts of nutrients needed.
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2. Amnesia Haze
Amnesia Haze is another terrific seed to start with if you are new to growing weed indoors, and not just because of the awesome name it has.
Amnesia Haze takes a little longer to come to fruition than other varieties: it can take between ten and twelve weeks to start flowering. Once it starts to produce, however, this variety has a high yield, producing 70-80 g per plant with up to 650g per meter squared under a 600w light.
True to its moniker, this strain has a strong effect and is known to incite an infectious case of the giggles. It is sometimes called psychedelic.
Because Amnesia Haze is prone to contracting infections and pests, it does better when grown indoors.
Haze, like Skunk (above), is especially popular in the United States. This strain of marijuana has won several Cannabis Cups and is globally recognized as a crowd pleaser.
3. Shiva Shanti II
Here is another strain of cannabis which is perfect for new growers on a budget. Shiva Shanti II is called fast, tough and forgiving, making it perfect for those with less experience growing weed indoors.
Considered milder than its original cousin Shiva Shanti, it is also good for new smokers. This hybrid was developed with a specific eye towards the mass market.
This seed is inexpensive and easy to grow, and yet produces a nice buzz. It takes up to 55 days to grow and really performs best under indoor conditions.
Another advantage to this strain is that it does not smell strongly during its growth period. (It does, however, emit a strong aroma once you light it up.) If you are concerned about hiding your indoor pot garden, this may be a good choice for you.
4. Cheese Feminized
Cheese feminized is actually one of the most popular types of pot in the world. It has been around since the 1980s and still has the familiar taste and smell which made it a global favourite.
Cheese is especially suited to growing weed indoors because it responds well to the SCROG method (as does any plant with big buds which does not get too tall).
SCROG is a method of indoor cultivation that trains the pot plants to grow around fine screens. It is used to increase the yield of indoor plants by producing several bud plants per flower. SCROG creates a bigger canopy for an indoor crop so that more of each plant can take full advantage of the artificial light source.
Cheese is known for the size and abundance of its buds, so it is especially appealing to people growing weed indoors. Cheese comes in a lot of variations, including Blue Cheese!
5. Maple Leaf Indica
Maple Leaf Indica is considered a classic, famous for its special flavour and the amount of resin it produces. This strain comes from Afghanistan: the resin that the plant produces make it a perfect source for hash.
As an indica, this strain of pot is known for creating a relaxing effect. It’s sometimes used as an aphrodisiac! Like WSS Skunk, there is a citrus note to the Maple Leaf Indica.
Experienced growers note that this strain is reliable for producing a plentiful harvest. However, people do report varying degrees of success with the height of plants grown with these seeds.
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6. White Widow
Although indoor growing is suitable for newcomers, sometimes it is also the preferred method for growers who want a challenge. White Widow is not easy to grow, but the final product is worth the effort.
If you are growing weed indoors and you have some experience under your belt, this strain will take you to the next level.
Internationally famous, White Widow is a hybrid of Brazilian sativa and Indian indica. It has been a favourite in Europe since the 1990s. It got its name from the beads of white crystal resin which form on its buds. Its buds are white with crystal resin.
White Widow plants take about 60 days to come to fruition. It is suited to indoor cultivation because this kind of plant is considered especially picky. To achieve a healthy harvest with this crop, you need to be careful about its light, temperature, and feeding. These plants like a steady supply of nitrogen plus they require higher amounts of phosphorous.
Taking care of a temperamental plant like White Widow is easier in an indoor setting because you will have more control over all the variants it needs.
7. Northern Lights
Growing weed indoors can develop far beyond a way to keep your stash supplied. For some growers, it turns into an art form.
Northern Lights is a connoisseur’s favourite, but it’s a very easy strain to grow indoors. It’s delicate and demanding. It’s not recommended to be smoked by beginners because it’s quite strong.
It is included on this list because it does especially well in small areas with a lot of ceiling light. Pot horticulturalists love it because its flowering period can last ten weeks or more. During that time, it can grow to incredible heights.
Fans of this strain describe its flavours as combining fruits and chamomile. Northern Lights marijuana made a name for itself as the pot in the stoner movie “Pineapple Express!”
The Best Cannabis Strains for Deep Water Culture Hydroponics
One of the best hydroponic methods to begin your venture into soilless gardening is the basic deep water culture system, or DWC. Regardless of your experience with hydroponics, this simple system elevates your harvest in both quantity and the time it takes to grow.
When you use this system to grow your favorite strains of cannabis, you may never go back to soil-based gardening again. DWC acts as the typical gateway into hydroponic gardening—while you may stick with deep water culture hydroponics for a while, you might also decide to delve deeper into the more complex hydroponic systems that exist. Some of the best cannabis strains for deep water culture hydroponics are also some of the most popular, so DWC is an easy way to expand your supply or stock your own stash.
What Is Deep Water Culture Hydroponics?
Deep water culture hydroponic gardens begin with a large tub of water and plant nutrients. Containers full of the grow medium of your choice hold your crops in place atop the nutrient basin, allowing the roots to dangle freely into the water below.
The most important piece of a DWC system is the oxygen-producing air stone—without it, the roots will drown due to the lack of oxygen in the nutrients. This makes it essential for the garden to have constant access to a reliable power source: otherwise, the plants could die quickly.
Deep water culture systems don’t require any kinds of tubing, drippers, or hoses. All you need are the basin, the containers, a grow medium, and something to hold the containers in place.
Why It’s Better for Cannabis
Part of the reason cannabis grows better in any hydroponic system is that the nutrients and water can affect the roots directly—they don’t contain any soil-based pests or diseases, and all liquid cycles through the system rather than seeping down into the soil. In deep water culture systems, specifically, the roots couldn’t possibly get any closer to the nutrient solution. Inside the water, they’re consistently able to take in nutrients whenever they need to.
Consider the following factors as you explore what makes DWC so good for cannabis gardening:
Deep water culture systems can be as simple as you’d like—they practically run themselves. That makes them appealing when you’re cultivating several plants, as you won’t need to do too much to maintain all your different systems. All you need to do is change out or top off the water, add nutrients, and check the pH levels. It may seem like a trick to get bigger harvests with less work, but it’s not an illusion!
Automating your DWC garden can take most of the work out of maintaining the hydroponic system. If you set it up to automatically add weekly fertilizer and water, you can focus on bigger issues, such as monitoring the fluctuating pH level and ensuring the crop is disease-free. The automation makes it even more of a low-maintenance garden than before.
Permanent Root Submersion
Plants have such large blooms in a DWC system because of the constant submersion of the roots. Nothing takes nutrients away from your crops—when the system is indoors, no soil drainage, pests, or weeds exist to soak up nutrients or spread diseases. The only way that pests can enter is through poor ventilation or contact with tools from outside. With properly aerated and totally submerged roots, they don’t need to rely on you or a system of tubes to get food when they want it.
The Best Strains
Since pH fluctuations are more common with DWC systems (because of the lack of soil), you want to choose cannabis strains that can handle that variability. Here are our favorites:
Famous for its earthy, citrusy flavors and its ability to energize you in a pinch, Amnesia Haze is the sativa strain you want when it’s time to focus on the task at hand. It produces large amounts of THC, giving you a high that helps you socialize and keep your mood up. It’s also won several Cannabis Cup championships. It works well in deep water culture systems due to its medium size and easy cultivation.
If you’re searching for a strain to grow in a short amount of time, Royal Moby might be your go-to. An evolution of the Moby Dick strain, it’s a hybrid between the Haze and White Widow strains. It’s primarily sativa and grows high—sometimes reaching three meters. The initial taste is vanilla, but it contains nodes of citrus beyond the vanilla. Moby Dick averages about 18 percent THC, while Royal Moby can reach a powerful 21 percent.
The Purple Queen plant is incredibly beautiful, with vibrant purple leaves, and it leaves you feeling completely relaxed. She doesn’t grow taller than one meter and completes a growing cycle within eight weeks. This resilient Queen can withstand pH fluctuations like a champion, whether she’s indoors or outdoors.
One of the most classic strains of cannabis is Skunk #1—and Skunk XL piggybacks off its success with an evolution. Skunk XL is easy to maintain and take care of but may grow over one meter high. This strain is popular among commercial growers due to the high yield per plant. It has a fruity taste that anyone can enjoy.
Another strain that’s famous for its relaxing high is Gorilla Glue, or GG4. Its name comes from the feeling of being stuck to the couch that you experience after ingesting it. With its potent high and calming effects, this strain is excellent to grow if you’re searching for something with an earthy, sour flavor.
These are only some of the best cannabis strains for deep water culture hydroponics—there are many more strains and hybrids just as resilient in DWC systems. Whether you’re looking for a community to share your spoils with or high-quality hydroponic growing supplies for your excursion into hydroponics, FloraFlex can set you up for gardening success. Check out our social media and selection of kits, fertilizer, and accessories if you want beginner-friendly gear and a social circle to help you learn all about hydroponics.
Hydroponic cannabis growing guide
Hydroponic cannabis growing is a way of growing cannabis using a solution of just water and nutrients. When using hydroponics, cannabis can grow without soil and typically grows faster than just about any other grow technique. For some people, hydroponic cannabis growing is intimidating, technically demanding and complicated. But others simply wouldn’t grow cannabis any other way. Growing hydroponic cannabis indoors is easy if a few basic rules are followed. Learn everything you should know about hydroponics and whether or not it’s for you.
What is hydroponic grown cannabis?
Hydroponics is a way of growing cannabis without soil. When trying to grow cannabis in a hydroponic system the plants may be grown in a bucket or basket with a full tank/container of nutrients for the roots to grow in.
Hydroponics isn’t an entirely modern invention. Back in 600 BCE, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were famed for their lush and beautiful growth. The gardens were created by diverting river water into a series of channels in which plants were grown. The Aztecs grew crops on rafts of soil on Lake Tenochtitlan.
The plant roots would dip into the lake water to absorb water. The earliest modern reference to hydroponics was by William Frederick Gericke. While working at the University of California, Berkeley, he began to promote the idea that plants could be grown in a solution of nutrients and water instead of soil. Naturally people disputed his claims, until he proved them all wrong by growing tomato vines 25 feet (7.6m) tall.
Cannabis hydroponic nutrients need to be of the correct blend and strength for the particular growth stage of your plants. The nutrient solution is often fizzing with air bubbles from an air stone or air hose, this prevents the roots rotting in the nutrient solution. Some methods used to grow hydroponic cannabis, such as Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), trickle the nutrients over a fabric mat which the roots grow in/through. This material is exposed to the air, which allows the cannabis roots access to vital oxygen.
There are many variations for a hydroponic cannabis grow. You can buy many different styles of commercial cannabis hydroponic systems. Hydroponic grow kits for cannabis are widely available online or in your local grow shop. Or you can build a homemade hydroponic system for cannabis. But before we get into the technical details, lets take a quick look at the pros and cons of hydroponics cannabis growing.
Mokums Tulip bloom start with hydroponic.
Pros and cons for hydroponic cannabis growing
Many die-hard fans of hydroponic cannabis growing wouldn’t swap to any other grow method. There are plenty of pros to hydroponics. The main benefit being the speed of growth.
Few grow methods would claim to be faster than hydroponics. Hydroponically grown cannabis grows bigger and faster than any other grow method, perhaps 30-50% faster than soil. Other benefits include a cleaner grow room with no soil, or soil-based pests to worry about. With hydroponics, you won’t need to worry about disposing of large quantities of soil or coco fibre after your grow has finished. You may also find your overall water usage levels are lower than they might be for a soil grow since the water is constantly recirculated and re-used.
Perhaps the biggest benefit for the connoisseur hydroponic cannabis grower is the total control they enjoy over various aspects of plant growth compared to other grow methods. Many people think hydroponics is the future for human agricultural food farming.
With hydroponics cannabis growing, the nutrients are dissolved in water. This makes them much more accessible than nutrients locked in soil which the roots must search for. With hydroponics, the cannabis roots are bathed in an aqueous solution rich in oxygen and nutrients. It’s the perfect recipe for rapid growth.
Critical Orange Punch hydroponic roots.
However, there is a technical price to pay for such growth benefits. As well as knowing the best nutrients for hydroponic cannabis you also need a precise touch with nutrient application. Knowing how to keep your plants in the nutrient sweet spot throughout the hydroponics grow is critical to success.
Avoiding over/under feeding and matching nutrient feeds with your plant requirements at every stage of growth is essential. That’s one reason why hydroponics is often avoided by rookie growers. Books on hydroponic cannabis growing can be a great help. But in general, one of the cons of hydroponic cannabis growing is the technical complexity. This deters a lot of growers until they have grasped the basics of general cultivation experience.
Controlling the hydroponic nutrient solution is important. You will need to know, use and understand pH and EC meters. You will also have to calibrate them regularly and have spares just in case one of your meters starts to deliver inaccurate readings. Remember, with hydroponics, if you set pH or EC incorrectly you can damage the entire crop irreversibly and very quickly.
Some growers dislike the extra equipment required for hydroponic cannabis growing. Compared to a simple soil grow, you will need a (potentially noisy) air pump and a hydroponic system which may have a water pump, a water heater (or chiller), extra timers etc. The best hydroponic systems for cannabis can indeed produce explosive growth when used correctly. But get the conditions/nutrients wrong and you can devastate your crop with equal speed.
How to build your own DIY hydroponic system
If you are new to hydroponic cannabis growing then it may be far simpler to buy an off-the-shelf system. You will have several different options to choose from and all of them should work well.
If you are perhaps more experienced with hydroponics you may want to think about trying to build a simple hydroponic system for cannabis. A hydroponic cannabis set up will require a basic shopping list of components.
Some of the most important components of the grow are shown below. When building a system to grow hydroponic cannabis, costs may be high but these are usually repaid after the first harvest is complete
Mokum’s Tulip (bottom plants) on a wilma drip system with a rockwool plug with coco inside and clay pebbles around.
Equipment needed for a hydroponic grow
The more experienced the grower, the easier and less daunting it will seem to create a homemade hydroponic system for cannabis. Here are the basics:
- Grow room lighting with hanging equipment
- A grow tent or grow room
- A hydroponic reservoir and maybe a tray to grow on (for NFT growers)
- An air pump with an air-stone or air-tubes. Note the more experienced growers tend to prefer particularly powerful pumps to generate real ‘fizz’ in the nutrient solution
- A growing medium, eg coco fibre if growing with a drip system
- Net pots. Mesh plant pots are perfect for e.g. DWC (deep water culture) hydroponic growing
- Some hydroponic cannabis seeds. Later on we will recommend our preferred strains.
- A carbon filter to remove odours from the used grow room air
- A clip-on fan to circulate grow room air
- An extraction fan to remove old grow room air, with tubing
- pH and EC meters. EC meters measure electrical conductivity of your nutrient solution, it’s a way of understanding the nutrient/mineral content of the water
- A moisture meter (hygrometer), useful for monitoring relative humidity and ensuring it doesn’t get too high near harvest (risk of mold/bud rot)
- A de-humidifier to ensure humidity is kept at the right levels during the grow. It’s particularly important to prevent humidity climbing too high in late bloom or you could see mould. If you live in a very dry climate then you may have the opposite issue and need to buy a humidifier.
Of course professional hydroponic cannabis growers would add other specialist equipment, such as UVB-UVA lights (to boost cannabinoid content) and perhaps CO2 supplementation to really push yields to the limit.
Average cost of growing with hydroponics
It may cost you around €/$/£ 200-300 to build a basic hydroponic cannabis grow system. But once your investment is made you should find that ongoing running costs are similar to other grow methods. The main ongoing costs will be electricity, nutrients and cannabis seeds. These costs are common to all grow methods. However, with hydroponics you may be saving on the costs of soil or coco fibre grow mediums.
Semi hydro Autopot XL system, with clay pebbles at the bottom and coco on top (+biotabs nutrients).
Choosing the right grow medium
In hydroponics a grow medium gives a solid foundation to hold the plant upright. There are several common materials which can be used. Here are 4 of the most frequently used.
Sometimes this is called glass wool or mineral wool. It’s made by spinning (or drawing) molten minerals/rocks into a candy-floss texture. It is used for heat insulation, noise insulation and of course hydroponic cannabis growing. Rock wool holds large amounts of water as well as allowing good levels of oxygen penetration. Perfect for cannabis roots! Rock wool is often supplied in various sized cubes designed to fit directly into e.g. NFT hydroponic systems. Many DWC growers also use rock wool cubes in the plastic mesh plant holders.
Perlite is a porous mineral material made from expanded volcanic glass. Because it’s porous, it holds water and oxygen well. Vermiculite is a similar material which is also widely used.
Sometimes known as coco coir, this is made from the husk of a coconut. It’s a great grow medium, offering good water holding properties as well as excellent root aeration levels. Coconut fibres are also thought to protect cannabis roots from infection thanks to the presence of plant-stimulating hormones.
When considering how to grow hydroponic cannabis, many find that clay pebbles offer a convenient base for your plant, especially when using mesh/net containers that are popular in deep water culture (DWC) hydroponics. Many growers soak their clay pebbles in pH adjusted water around pH 5.6 for a few days. This can counter the natural tendency for some clay pebbles to cause pH to drift up towards pH6.
Cannabis roots grow around the clay pebbles, absorbing nutrient solution as well as atmospheric oxygen. In e.g. a DWC system, the roots eventually reach down into the bucket of nutrients. Until the roots have grow long enough to reach down through the mesh holes to the nutrients, the small plant is often watered from above.
In ebb and flow or dripper hydroponic systems, many people use clay pebbles as their main grow medium.
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Indoor vs outdoor hydroponic growing
Hydroponics is mainly used indoors, where growers can control all environmental parameters with precision. But some growers also run hydroponic systems in greenhouses or outdoors.
Outdoor hydroponics is possible, it means you can use the sun instead of a grow light reducing grow costs. But controlling nutrient solution temperature around the desired 20ºC/68ºF is usually a challenge.
Outdoor hydroponics is being increasingly explored by food farmers, where it holds possibilities to grow crops in areas with desert/sandy terrain unsuitable for growing traditional fruit and vegetables.
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Best hydroponic cannabis setup
When people first started to study hydroponic vs soil cannabis, it was clear that hydroponics offered some significant advantages in the speed of growth. Over the years, many different types of hydroponic systems have evolved. They all share the same basic principle of bathing the cannabis roots in an oxygen rich environment alongside nutrients dissolved in water. Here are some of the most popular types of hydroponic system.
This high-tech hydroponics system creates a fine mist of nutrient solution around the root zone of the plant. Growth rates are very high with roots supplied with both oxygen and nutrients. Aeroponic is regarded as a technically demanding even by experienced hydroponic cannabis growers.
Wick system hydroponics
This simple hydroponic system uses a wick dipped in the nutrient solution. The wick draws up nutrient rich liquid to the net/mesh root container where it feeds the roots. This is a passive feed system without a pump.
Nutrient film technique
Sometimes known as NFT hydroponic cannabis growing, this is one of the more popular systems with home growers. NFT uses gravity to flow the nutrient solution down a carrier mat. The cannabis roots grow down from the plants above which are often in a rock wool cube. Once the roots hit the carrier mat they grow along it, absorbing all the oxygen and nutrients they need. A pump recycles the nutrient solution.
The principle of NFT is not too dissimilar to that of plants growing on rocky river banks, with the roots delicately dipped in the water. The nutrient reservoir may often contain an air stone to oxygenate the water and perhaps a heater to ensure the water temperature is maintained. In hot climates, hydroponic growers have chillers to stop the nutrient solution getting too warm.
The principle of a hydroponics dripper system is broadly similar to that of a drip irrigation system in soil. The cannabis plant is often grown in a medium such as clay pebbles. At the top of the plant is a small tube (or ring-shaped tube) which drips nutrients onto the surface.
Hundreds of cannabis plants grown in a greenhouse and fed with a hydroponic dripper system.
Ebb and flow
Also known as flood and drain, this type of hydroponics completely submerses the cannabis roots and grow medium in nutrient solution for perhaps 5-15 minutes or so every few hours. The regularity of the flood and drain is determined by ambient temperature, grow medium, plant size and nutritional needs.
With expanded clay pebbles: flood and drain 4 to 8 times a day (every 2 to 4 hours)
With coconut coir: 3 to 5 times a day (every 3 to 5 hours)
With rockwool: 1 to 5 times a day (once a day to every 3-4 hours)
Once the roots/medium have been flooded with nutrient solution it is pumped back into the reservoir where it is kept oxygenated with an air stone.
Please note that these are only guidelines. Feel free to use different flood and drain schedules to meet your specific needs. Many suppliers of hydroponic equipment will give detailed flood and drain recommendations.
If you are growing very large plants in a hot/dry climate with powerful lights and a long lights-on period (‘day time’) of e.g. 18 hours then you may well need to flood and drain 10 or even 15 times per day.
You may also need 1-2 floods per night if you are in bloom (therefore you have 12 hour darkness periods) or during a warm summer. Also please note that a ‘day’ refers to the
18 hours when lights are on. If you are doing flood and drain outdoors, the ‘day’ refers to the period when the sun is shining. If the night period is just 6 hours or so you may not need to flood.
In general, flood times don’t need to be much more than 10 minutes. If you are using clay pebbles you may be able to take 1-5 minutes off that flood time. Water retention of your grow medium makes all the difference here. Eventually, you may find that you have the experience to fine tune your flood schedule at various stages of plant growth. Young, smaller plants need less water than fully mature plants. Many growers start with less frequent floods and shorter flood times and gradually increase as the plants mature
Deep water culture
DWC is a popular form of hydroponic cannabis growing. The plant is held in a plastic mesh pot, often in clay pebbles or rock wool, over a large nutrient bucket. This is often around 25 litres and contains an air stone. Very fast growth rates and amazingly high yields are seen.
Auto Ultimate grown indoors with Deep Water Culture.
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Hydroponic setup maintenance tips
Hydroponic cannabis growing offers the fastest rates of growth. Unfortunately it can also offer rapid problems if your plant and system maintenance is not up to the mark. Here are some expert tips on things you need to monitor closely.
pH is a measure of nutrient solution acidity/alkalinity. The normal ph level for hydroponic cannabis is around 5.6-5.8. Outside of this pH range your plant may not be able to absorb minerals/nutrients even if they are present. This is known as ‘pH lockout’ and is a key reason why hydroponic cannabis growing needs a steady pH around 5.6 – 5.8.
Maintaining nutrient solution temperatures of around 20ºC is felt to be optimum in hydroponic cannabis growing. For many growers in winter this can mean adding a water heater to your nutrient reservoir. Conversely, in hot summer months, it can be mandatory to use a chiller to stop your nutrient solution getting too warm. As well as being bad for your plants, hot nutrients can encourage undesired bacterial growth.
Cleanliness and housekeeping
The best hydroponic cannabis growers are meticulous about cleanliness in their grow system and grow room. In addition to cleanliness, your nutrient solutions require reasonably regular changes, perhaps weekly with top ups of half strength or quarter strength nutrients to maintain levels in between. As well as regular nutrient changes, the tanks should be thoroughly cleaned with each nutrient change.
Maintain the nutrient sweet spot from seed to harvest
Without doubt, one of the main skills of a successful hydroponics cannabis grower is the ability to avoid over-feeding and under-feeding their plants. Keeping the right nutrient regime at all stages of plant life is the best way to grow large and healthy cannabis plants. Few cannabis growers discover that they have great nutrient management skills on their first grow. Usually this skill is developed over several grows, often with simpler grow systems like soil or coco fibre growing.
How to grow cannabis with hydroponics
With so many different variations of hydroponic grow systems it is important for each grower to get to know their own system inside out. You may need to make subtle differences in your grow style when you switch from one hydroponics system to another.
Hydroponic cannabis growing schedule
Your hydroponics grow schedule may seem a little busier than usual, especially if you were used to growing in large containers of soil. A schedule of regular nutrient bath changes will be a routine task.
Nutrient solutions are often made up the day before and allowed to rest overnight, allowing gases such as dissolved chlorine (from water treatment plants) to disappear. The old nutrients are disposed of, tanks and pipework cleaned and new nutrients are added.
How and where to germinate your seeds
For the best germination rates, Dutch Passion recommend that you use the following cotton pad cannabis seed germination method.
Nutrient feeding program
All the leading cannabis nutrient companies supply good quality nutrients which will work well in hydroponics. Many growers have their preferred nutrient brand and can be reluctant to change, especially when they have lots of experience with one particular brand.
Part of the skill of the best hydroponics growers is nutrient management. The more experienced growers understand the plants nutritional needs at each stage of growth and can adapt and control the nutrients accordingly. Using the manufacturers grow guides is a useful starting point.
In general, nutrient concentrations should be slowly increased throughout the grow. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. It is better to slightly underfeed a plant than to burn her with excessively strong nutrients which may permanently stunt future growth. Many growers make up a fresh bath of nutrients around once per week. In late bloom, when plants can use up to 5 litres of nutrients/water per day, some hydroponic cannabis growers will perform more frequent nutrient bath changes.
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Monitoring pH levels
Nutrient pH should be monitored and maintained in the preferred range of around 5.6 – 5.8. Remember, outside of this pH range nutrients may be present but not bio-available to the cannabis roots (nutrient lockout). One of the downsides of hydroponics is this reliance on a tightly controlled pH. That’s why you need to regularly calibrate your pH (and EC) meter. Eventually all pH meters will fail and start to deliver false readings. That’s why the professional growers always have a spare pH meter.
Providing your plants with sufficient light
Just as with any other grow method, hydroponics requires you to provide top quality lighting for the best results, the healthiest plants, the heaviest yields and the most potent buds. If you are going to the trouble of using a technically challenging grow method such as hydroponics you may also wish to opt for the best lighting you can afford.
In general, LED grow lights are regarded as superior to HPS with a better light spectrum, less heat stress, longer lifetime and more efficient energy use. The only downside to LED is the initial upfront purchase cost. Though that is mitigated by the fact that they could last 10-15 years or more without any significant loss of light output.
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Controlling the water temperature
Keeping the water/nutrients cool is best for your plants. A temperature of around 20ºC/68ºF is regarded as ideal for the cannabis roots to absorb the nutrients. If the temperature is too cold then growth is slowed. Too hot and the roots will struggle to remain healthy and you may also see bacterial/fungal growth in your nutrients.
Preventing humidity peaks
Hydroponic cannabis growing can produce huge buds. This is a great reward for the hard working grower. But it can also present a risk of mold/bud rot if relative humidity is allowed to get too high during late bloom. A good way to monitor this is with a humidity meter. If humidity levels are much above 50% it could be an idea to invest in a dehumidifier for your grow room.
Hydroponic cannabis FAQ
Over many years supplying cannabis seeds to growers we have received many questions about hydroponics. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Maintaining a fresh bath of nutrients at the right pH and temperature is the best way to prevent root rot. Some growers add silver-containing additives to their nutrients which have an anti-bacterial effect and minimise the chances of root rot. If ever you notice a bad smell from your nutrients it is an indication that bacteria are established and new nutrients are definitely required.
Damping off is a seedling disease caused by several different pathogens. These cause the stem to shrivel and the seedling to eventually collapse. Good cleanliness standards are essential, ensure equipment is thoroughly cleaned between grows. Don’t overwater and ensure good ventilation.
Much depends on the age, size and strain of your cannabis plants. The skilled hydroponics cannabis grower has a well developed understanding of all aspects of plant growth, nutrient schedules, nutrient bath changes, housekeeping cleaning etc. Usually prospective hydroponic growers spend a grow or two with a simpler grow method (e.g. soil) just to familiarise themselves with the basics of plant growth and nutrition before attempting to create a hydroponic cannabis growing schedule.
During the night time the plants are less active and usually don’t need flooding. However, when you are in a flowering stage with a 12/12 light cycle it is recommended to flood the plants at least once per night. Preferably somewhere in the middle of the night so the plants only have to go a maximum of 6-8 hours without any moisture. The downside of flooding during the night is a humidity spike in the room. Therefore, it would be best to use a de-humidifier simultaneously to keep the humidity under control.
High humidity levels are useful especially for seedlings and cuttings with incomplete root systems and during vegetative growth. But as the plant develops a healthy root system and approaches harvest it is good practice to keep humidity below 50% and nearer 40%. This minimises the chances of mold or bud rot causing any damage.
It’s up to you! Normal rules apply. If you want to produce a short, bushy plant with lots of side growth then you may wish to remove the growing tip of your plant. This is sometimes called topping or fimming your plant. It’s a good way to modify plant growth if e.g. you have a small grow room and a tall, stretchy strain. A SCROG could be very useful to control the height and massive growth of your hydroponically grown cannabis plants.
Some growers find outdoor hydroponics is a good way to grow but it does come with some serious additional challenges over indoor growing. For example, controlling nutrient temperature is tricky outdoors if it is mid summer. Most hydroponic cannabis growers tend to be indoor growers.
Just look for the usual signs that your cannabis plant is nearing harvest. You may wish to examine the trichomes and assess how many are clear, cloudy or amber. You may also look at the general bud/leaf appearance to see how near the plant is to harvest, as well as look at the pistils (hairs which come from the buds) to see if the plant is still pushing out white pistils or if they are turning increasingly red/orange. Personal preference plays a large part in determining the harvest point.
Hydrogen peroxide is often added to nutrient solutions in hydroponic grow systems. It adds extra oxygen to the water and it can prevent bacterial build up. The recommended amount of 3% solution of peroxide per gallon of water in hydroponics is around 3ml per litre or 2-3 teaspoons (10-15ml) per gallon.
If you are growing lots of small plants in a SOG system you can pack in many times more plants than if you were cultivating a single large SCROG plant. If you are growing plants naturally, without SOG or SCROG then around 8 inches separation is not uncommon. The more space you give each plant, the easier it is to work with your plants and inspect them.
Plant spacing is also dictated by the type of system you use. A DWC system with 25 litre pots could easily fill a room with 4-8 large bushy plants. On a flood and drain (or aeroponics) system you may prefer to switch to a more SOG style grow with around 12-16 plants per m2.
Your plant roots are bathed in nutrient solution so you shouldn’t need to water them manually. All you may need to do is maintain reservoir volumes by topping up with e.g. quarter strength nutrients. Topping up with diluted nutrients counters the natural tendency of evaporation which tends to gradually concentrate minerals/nutrients in the nutrient bath.
This depends on your hydroponic grow system. A DWC bucket may be 25 litres or more for just a single plant. Or you can buy an NFT system with space for 8 plants which may use just a small rock wool cube as the base for each plant and a 25-50 litre reservoir for all 8 plants.
For those who grow hydroponic cannabis using rock wool cubes (e.g with NFT hydroponics) it is easy to insert a small rock wool cube inside a larger one. If your hydroponics cannabis grow is done in a DWC system, then you may simply place your seedling in a rock wool cube (or coir cube) in the plastic mesh container and surround it with a few supportive clay pebbles. Once the seedling is in it’s final hydroponic position, leave the genetics to do the rest of the work and focus your efforts on maintaining optimised environmental conditions.
Some soil growers will claim that an organic soil grow delivers a somewhat deeper and richer taste than hydroponic cannabis. This can be a subjective viewpoint, since lots of hydroponic cannabis growers would argue that their buds are just as flavoursome as any soil grow.
However, growing traditional foodstuffs in different types of soil does affect taste. So there may well be subtle differences between the best hydroponic cannabis and the best soil grown cannabis. But which grow method tastes better? That could be a long debate between growers.
Some nutrients are thought to be particularly effective in their ability to increase flavor and smell, Dyna-Gro hydroponic cannabis nutrients are one brand that have a good reputation for this.
Much depends on the cannabis seeds you are growing. If you are growing autoflower seeds in a hydroponic cannabis grow then you may be ready to harvest in as little as 8-9 weeks for super fast autoflower seeds. Conversely, if you’re growing a slow blooming haze then your total grow cycle could be around 20 weeks (6 weeks veg + 14 weeks bloom).
Once you have selected the best cannabis seeds for your hydroponic cannabis grow they need to be germinated in the normal way. Dutch Passion strongly recommend germinating your cannabis seeds between a couple of lightly moistened (but never soaked) cotton pads. Some hydroponic cannabis growers prefer to germinate their cannabis seeds in a rock wool (or coco coir) cube which may be more convenient for their hydroponic system.
Best cannabis seeds for hydroponics
Any of the Dutch Passion cannabis seeds will perform well in hydroponic cannabis grow. Remember you can expect far faster growth than other grow methods so you may want to avoid the stretchiest tent-filling Sativa/Haze cannabis seeds unless you have ample grow space.
Growers that specialise in hydroponic cannabis often have their own preferred strains. These may have been selected purely for their combination of high THC and heavy yields. Or they may be preferred because they are particularly fast to reach harvest or because they have a rare and rich taste/aroma.
Whether you prefer an Afghani Kush, a USA special strain, a CBD rich strain or a skunk you have plenty of good quality cannabis seed options. Remember the cost of your cannabis seeds are a low part of your overall grow costs, so choose your seeds wisely and aim for the best quality weed seeds you can buy. Here are some of the best cannabis seeds for your next hydro grow
Kerosene Krash feminised seeds use multi cannabis-cup winning USA genetics from Sherbet and Gorilla Glue #4 in a superb indica which takes around 8 weeks to bloom. THC levels are sky high, expect THC levels up to around 20% (maximum 25%). Maybe a little higher in a fully optimised grow room with good LED lights and perhaps some UVB supplementation.
You will be guaranteed Grade-A buds in generous quantities. But the most acclaimed quality from these USA Special genetics isn’t the THC level, it’s the unsurpassed terpene profile which delivers one of the best taste/aromas that the Dutch Passion team have ever experienced. It’s a delicious and highly penetrating fruity Kush aroma with a huge splash of diesel/fuel and some pungent earthy scents. Incredible quality buds with a quick bloom time and a superbly enjoyable high. Perfect for your next hydroponic cannabis grow!
Auto Cinderella Jack
Auto Cinderella Jack is an autoflowering cannabis seed variety. She grows well indoors under a 20 hour daily light cycle and take around 11 weeks to grow from seed to harvest. Auto Cinderella Jack has the highest THC levels ever seen on a Dutch Passion autoflower. In fact, with confirmed THC levels of 25.9%, Auto Cinderella Jack has the highest THC levels ever seen by Dutch Passion on any autoflower – even from other seed banks!
If you’re looking to grow hydroponic cannabis with the highest THC levels in the shortest amount of time, Auto Cinderella Jack seeds are a perfect choice. These sensational autoflower genetics deliver genuine XXL yields combined with best-ever potency levels.