Starting to Homegrow? Here’s What to Look for in a Cannabis Grow Shop

Starting to Homegrow? Here’s What to Look for in a Cannabis Grow Shop

[Canniseur: I you want to grow your own, you’ll need supplies. Here’s a good guide to what you should be looking for in a grow shop. It’s kind of like home brewing your beer. You need some equipment to be able to grow your best plants possible.]

With most types of gardening, you can get everything you need, soil, fertilizer, tools, solid growing advice, and the plants themselves, from one spot—a nursery. Cannabis, however, is anything but one-stop shopping.

Deciding to grow is a big decision in and of itself and finding the right resources to nail the experience can be challenging. Plus, if you’re growing indoors, you’ll have even more factors to think about.

Here’s what to consider when looking for your cannabis supplies and a tribe of mentors.

Original Post: Leafly: Starting to Homegrow? Here’s What to Look for in a Cannabis Grow Shop

Growing cannabis from clones

Growing cannabis from clones

Original article was posted on Green State: Growing cannabis from clones

[Editor’s Note: Great article by a gardener who knows her stuff. Seed or clone. Really didn’t think about it before. This is especially good if you’re from the Bay Area. That’s where the author is located.]

In the rest of my non-cannabis gardening life, I choose between starting something from seed or grabbing a seedling at the nursery.

I might start from seed if, say, it’s February and I’m that prepared for tomato season. Or if it’s May, and I know much better than to buy cucumber or bean seedlings when I can just as easily — and much more cost-effectively — pop seeds into the ground. On the other hand, I’ll snatch tomato and pepper seedlings this time of year because, let’s be honest, I was never that prepared for tomato season.

What I’m saying is this: In non-cannabis edible gardening, a veggie seedling is simply a seed that someone else has started for you.

With cannabis, you have the choice of starting seeds or procuring a clone. While this seems like the age-old seed-versus-seedling conundrum, it is not. It is so not.

A clone is not a seedling. As the name implies, a clone is an exact copy of its mother plant. In non-cannabis horticulture it’s what we’d call a vegetative cutting . But again, prohibition and all that in-the-basement breeding led to cannabis having its own horticultural lingo. In this sense, cannabis clones are closer to what you’re grabbing at the nursery when you reach for an ornamental plant. No matter annual or perennial, from mums to salvias to gaudy petunias, nearly all are vegetative cuttings that have been taken from a mother, rooted and grown. They’re clones.

A cannabis clone guarantees you a few things. First, you know you’re getting a female — important, as we’ve discussed, for ensuring a seed-free crop. (See You can skip the plant sexing.

Second, clones also ensure that you’re getting an exact replica of a known plant. That’s a big deal in the murky world of cannabis genetics. Not having gone through a modern breeding program (yet), cannabis seeds aren’t yet stable, and there is no guarantee that those OG Kush seeds will all turn out the same, or that they even resemble that OG Kush you remember from your high school stoner days (not that you know what you were actually smoking in high school).

Seems great, right? Seems like clones would be a no-brainer. But here’s where we start in again with the whole cannabis-is-unlike-anything-else-in-gardening refrain.

Plant pathogens

Here’s something you might not know about all those plants, from mums to salvia to the petunias: The ornamental horticulture industry uses tissue culture — we’re talking white coats and petri dishes — to clear plants of viral loads and pathogens. Whether you grab them at the Home Depot or Annie’s Annuals, those rooted cuttings come from sterilized stock that’s refreshed every year. Mind-blowing, I know, but that’s how the industry prevents the buildup of diseases that can wipe out a crop.

“The state of the cannabis industry right now looks a lot like ornamental horticulture 30 years ago,” says Josh Schneider of Cultivaris, the marketers responsible for introducing a runaway popular foxglove, Digiplexis Illumination, to the world’s stage a few years ago. “Everyone is doing their own propagation from mother plants, totally unaware of the disease issues that could ruin everything.”

Big-time cannabis propagators are catching on. Dan Grace, founder of Dark Heart Nursery, among the oldest and largest clone operations in California, is currently developing a clean plant program that involves sterilizing plant stock through tissue culture. He expects it to be up and running by the end of the year.

Light, light, light

I was able to start my seeds outdoors without any lights or equipment because seeds are forgiving. They’re in a juvenile state that makes them resilient to less-than-perfect conditions. Clones, on the other hand, are not juvenile. They’re small cuttings of fully mature plants. And being photosensitive, they’re ready to snap from vegetative to flowering in a moment’s notice. Indoor growers have me freaking out about this. They’re so accustomed to controlling every last element of their cannabis plants’ lives. They flip a switch and their plants go from vegetative to flowering.

But I’m channeling my mentor, Nate Pennington of Humboldt Seed Company, and his advice that everyone overcomplicates this. I got my clone into the ground about two weeks ago, and I’m going to let nature take its course. Again, I’m in this to experiment, not to quit my day job and make bank as a pot farmer.

I will let you know how it all goes. But if you want to try your own experiment, now is the time to go for a few clones.


You thought you were scared of seed starting? Well now I’ve probably thoroughly scared you about growing from clones. What is gardening if not one giant experiment? Buck up and let’s do this together. Early summer is the perfect time to get clones in the ground in the Bay Area. Here’s how:

Get it in the ground this month or next. This is perfect timing to allow for a little more vegetative growth. Now that the summer solstice has hit, the days start shortening and your buds will start to form. We’ll talk soil, staking, fertilizer and sunlight next month. Until then, keep the clone in a container with fresh potting soil, and put it in full sun.

No need to harden off (acclimate a plant to the outdoors) if you live in one of the Bay Area’s milder microclimates. But if you’re somewhere hotter, give plants a week of dappled sunlight before blasting them with full sun.

Original article was posted on Green State: Growing cannabis from clones

Why the sex life of a cannabis seed matters

Why the sex life of a cannabis seed matters

Original article was posted on Green State: Why the sex life of a cannabis seed matters

When growing for consumption, it’s important to raise female plants, not males. | Photo by Rachel Weill

If you’re growing your backyard cannabis plants from seed — a practice I recommended to gardeners over the last few weeks —  you have to know something about sex. No, I’m not talking about shtupping while stoned. I’m talking about the need to differentiate male and female cannabis plants.

Which, really, is reason enough for me to want to grow weed. It’s the only crop I’ve ever grown that needs this sort of attention, and I find that fascinating.

It’s thrown around as indisputable truth that a healthy harvest depends on a male-free crop. One male plant can mess the whole thing up, they’ll say. You’ll get — shudder — seeds!

But hold up. When I smoked weed in high school, there were puh-lenty of seeds and we did just fine. I mean, we called that stuff schwag as opposed to dank (oh my god, I hate high school Johanna!). But still — it got the job done. When did seeds become the devil in pot?

Long before my high school days, it turns out. Seedless pot, known as sinsemilla (derived from Spanish “without seeds”) showed up in the 1970s. There’s debate about where it started, but the technique of removing male seedlings and growing a crop of exclusively unpollinated female flowers revolutionized cultivation in the U.S. Seed-free weed was the hallmark of domestic production. So if anything, it just means I was smoking imported weed in my youth.

Beyond being a nuisance, there’s some scientific thought (just thought, not studies yet) that yield and potency might also diminish with males in the mix. For one thing, the female plant makes all those cannabinoids to protect itself from pests. But once fertilized, she’ll do anything to protect that seed, and making cannabinoids wanes in importance.

As I wrote several weeks ago, I opted against feminized seeds, for I thought that the only way to sex plants, as it’s so amazingly called, was to let them start to flower and see whether I could learn to identify male from female.

I was wrong. There are a number of labs that will sex your plants just days after gemination – none better known and more consistent than Phylos Bioscience. The startup in Portland, Ore., sells a four-pack kit for $60.

Like many people today, Sunset Magazine's former garden editor, Johanna Silver, is new to cannabis horticulture.

Like many people today, Sunset Magazine’s former garden editor, Johanna Silver, is new to cannabis horticulture.

The instructions are simple: Press a cotyledon leaf (those rounded embryonic leaves that sprout before the first true leaves) onto special filter paper and mail the sample into the lab. Basically, you use tweezers to pinch samples then use a pestle to mash them against paper. It’s simple. And it also feels so awesomely scientific.

Next, mail the cards back to the lab. No worries: You’re not mailing THC across state lines. Cotelydon leaves are the only part of the plant with no THC whatsoever, and the entire process is designed to comply with the federal Controlled Substances Act. In 48 hours, you’ll get your results – male, female or male* (the asterisk essentially means something went wrong and you should probably toss the plant or watch it very closely).

I’ll probably keep a male. I still want to add plant sexing to my skill set; I’ll be able to compare any male with the females, once they flower. Also, maybe I’ll get crazy and do my own backyard breeding. Or, you know, weave my own hemp necklace, something I’ve not worn since my schwag/dank days.

The Green Thumb series
Want to jump-start your cannabis garden? This four-part series by Johanna Silver, the former garden editor of Sunset magazine, follows her horticultural experiment growing cannabis from seeds. Read installments of her Green Thumb series on
Week 1: Why I’m growing cannabis in my yard.
Week 2: How to select seeds.
Week 3: The super-simple guide to starting seeds.
This week: How to sex your seeds: male vs. female.
Takeaway: Sexing your plants
Faster plant sexing: Identify Y chromosomes from DNA rather than waiting for flowering structures to appear. Order kits from www.phylosbioscience­.com. A four-pack costs $60, but prices decrease as you buy more. Do this to avoid pouring time, money and resources into male seedlings.

The post Why the sex life of a cannabis seed matters appeared first on GreenState.

Original article was posted on Green State: Why the sex life of a cannabis seed matters

Starting cannabis from seed? Here’s help from a master gardener

Starting cannabis from seed? Here’s help from a master gardener

Original article was posted on Green State: Starting cannabis from seed? Here’s help from a master gardener

New seedling marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse enclosure in the backyard of Johanna Silvers Berkeley, CA home. Photo by Michael Short

[Canniseur: There’s a lot to understand about planting the seeds from your favorite plant. Here’s planting advice from a master gardener and she really knows what she’s writing about.]

Read along as noted garden writer Johanna Silver tries her hand at cannabis gardening for the first time. Week 2: all about seeds and sex …

There are two ways to begin growing a cannabis plant. The first is from seed and the second is from a clone. As my Green Thumb gardening project unfolds — growing marijuana for the first time, in my East Bay backyard — I’ll start in here with the lessons I’ve been learning about seeds. (Clones, in non-cannabis lingo called a vegetative cutting, don’t go into the garden until May or June. Stay tuned for that lesson.)

There are a few things that make starting cannabis seed the same as anything else. Namely, you put the seeds in soil and water them. (More on the actual watering in next week’s Green Thumb). But that’s where the similarities end. Here’s what makes cannabis unlike anything I’ve ever grown:

Sheer diversity

There are thousands of varieties of pot. Imagine opening a seed catalog and choosing from thousands of varieties of tomatoes. For the gardener, it’s daunting to the point of not being fun.

“Other crops used to have this much diversity, but they’ve all gone through modern breeding programs,” Mowgli Holmes told me. His company, Phylos ( maps the cannabis genome. For other plant types, “typically, people select the most desirable traits, only grow those varieties, and diversity all but disappears,” he says. But with cannabis, it’s the opposite. Those umpteen varieties have bubbled out of “weird, basement, crowd-sourced breeding. We’ve been stirring the pot, looking for novelty.”

Which is to say: Wheedling down through diversity is hard. “Best of lists are basically a joke,” admits Dan Grace, founder of Dark Heart Nursery ( Thus far, cannabis breeding has really focused on maximizing the levels of the hallucinogenic component, THC — basically, breeding to maximize how high you can get. Until cannabis is bred for aesthetic beauty — something I’d care about more than the high — I’m choosing based on bud fragrance. I am excited for my garden to smell of mango and blueberry muffins. I just can’t stomach the idea of growing varieties named ChemDog or Chernobyl.

Side note: That cannabis is finally going through modern day breeding is bittersweet: Holmes believes we’re on the cusp of amazing advancements in cannabis quality (including varieties bred to be resistant to powdery mildew and others bred for lower, more palatable THC-levels), but “if we’re not careful, diversity will be lost,” he warns. Nonprofits like the Open Cannabis Project ( seek to prevent that from happening.

Unstable genetics

That lack of a modern breeding program also means a lack of reliability. It’s not that people are selling oregano seeds and calling it cannabis; it’s that seeds labelled OG Kush might likely express diverse traits. When it comes to cannabis gardening, don’t expect uniformity the way you would from a seed packet of corn or tomatoes.

Stability takes generations of inbreeding, and explaining it takes an understanding of genetics that I don’t have. Using tech terms, Holmes says that the diversity of a seed pack is a feature not a bug: The plants might express something yet unseen—which could totally be your calling card to getting rich. But that’s also why commercial farmers usually grow from clones, which are genetic replicas of the parent.

Feminized versus regular

One of the first decisions I made for my backyard grow was to choose between regular and feminized seeds. There is no other summer annual I grow for which sex matters. With cannabis, the harvest depends on unpollinated female flowers. Wind serves pollination, and a single male plant in the neighborhood can screw up your entire crop.

The road to feminizing seeds involves stressing a female plant into becoming hermaphroditic by treating it with a hormone or colloidal silver. Then, with female pollen and female flowers, all offspring from that plant are also female.

Well, almost all.

“It’s a really touchy subject,” says Nat Pennington, founder of Humboldt Seed Company ( “Even though we would say in the small print that one or two seeds out of 100 could be male, people ignore looking for signs. There will be just the occasional male.”

Something about feminized seeds—the language, the chemicals—is all a turnoff to me. I’m going to old fashioned route: sprouting double the amount I want to end up with, learning to tell the differences between sexes and culling the males. It’s called plant sexing. And that’s language I like.

What seeds cost (and why the price is so high)

20 cannabis seeds cost $110. A pack of 35 tomato seeds might cost $4 if you opt for the organic ones. Cannabis seeds are expensive for one reason: prohibition.

Gardening takeaway: Getting seeds

The only legal way to get seeds is from a dispensary. You’ll be limited to the selections they carry, which, with the overwhelming diversity that’s out there, is almost a blessing. If you’re a lazy gardener like me, and not after a certain harvest or high, choose based on pretty pictures or promises of pleasing fragrances.

Feminized or regular: There’s no right answer. Either way, you’re best off learning how to identify males once the plants start to flower. We’ll tackle that when it’s time, in a future column.

Like most of us, Sunset Magazine former Garden Editor Johanna Silver is new to cannabis horticulture.

Like most of us, Sunset Magazine former Garden Editor Johanna Silver is new to cannabis horticulture.

Johanna Silver is a writer and former garden editor of Sunset magazine. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and young son.

Original article was posted on Green State: Starting cannabis from seed? Here’s help from a master gardener

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