Growing cannabis indoors can be challenging and rewarding.
Indoor growing facilities have many benefits, but the main reason most growers opt to grow indoors is that it’s easier to control the conditions for high-quality yields.
Here’s everything you need to know before you start an indoor growing operation.
To grow cannabis commercially, you need to consider the size of your licensed facility to maximize your yield and return on investment – do this before you invest in equipment.
The yield of your crop can vary drastically according to your expertise and equipment, so experts recommend starting small before investing in more plants than you can handle. Starting with fewer plants will be easier, and they will be less costly to maintain.
For one grow light, you should aim to grow 1-8 plants. This way, you can maximize your yield and allow your cannabis plants enough room to thrive.
There are two main options when it comes to growing cannabis indoors – custom grow rooms and grow tents.
While tents are relatively cheap and easy to procure (they can be found at almost any local gardening store or online shop, like trimleaf), they are not as practical as grow rooms when it comes to growing cannabis at a commercial scale.
Custom grow rooms, on the other hand, carry a higher cost upfront. Expert growers recommend starting with grow tents and then upgrading to a grow room when you begin to turn a profit.
If you do decide to create a custom grow room, make sure that it can house the number of plants you need to harvest, that it is airtight, light-proof, and easily extended to accommodate more equipment (grow lights, fans, heaters, or HVAC systems) as your business grows.
Indoor Grow Medium
Indoors, cannabis can be cultivated in a substrate such as peat or soil, or it can be grown hydroponically. Before you decide on the grow medium, you should weigh up the pros and cons of both.
Hydroponic indoor cannabis tends to grow faster and produce a higher yield, however, growing cannabis hydroponically is more labor-intensive and when it goes wrong, the quality of the final product is greatly reduced. Ongoing costs for hydroponic systems are more costly, too.
Growing cannabis in a substrate, or soil, is less labor-intensive than maintaining a hydroponic system, and soil is much more versatile. If plants are kept in separate containers, the substrate can be optimized according to each plant’s individual needs.
Artificial lighting is probably the most important aspect when it comes to growing cannabis indoors. When choosing grow lights, you must consider what will work best for your growing setup.
There are three types of grow lights you can use to grow cannabis. They are fluorescent lights, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights, and LED lights.
When it comes down to cost, though, LED lights carry a higher upfront cost, but they are much more energy-efficient to run – which makes the long-term cost for LED lights lower.
Temperature and Humidity
Maintaining optimum temperature and humidity inside indoor grow operations can be a challenge. Investing in hygrometers and thermometers so that you know exactly what the conditions are is essential.
For flowering plants, the optimum temperature is around 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and the optimum humidity level is around 50%.
When it comes to irrigation, you have two choices. You can opt for an automated irrigation system, or you can water your cannabis plants by hand – the perfect watering solution will depend on the size of your operation.
Automated irrigation systems make sense for large-scale growing operations because they save valuable man-hours, and you can control when you water and for how long with a timer.
Cannabis plants need nutrients to produce good yields. Some soil mixes come with nutrients added already, but most growers prefer to customize their soil mixes and nutrients.
Cannabis needs different nutrients in different phases of the growing cycle, so it’s recommended to use a fertilizer with a different blend of nutrients for each stage – these are commercially available specifically for cannabis, and can be found online or at local garden depots.