Growing Weed for Beginners: An Essential Starter Guide

Okay, so you’re completely new to growing weed. We were all there once and there’s a lot of information out there – oftentimes conflicting. This barebones growing weed for beginners guide will answer all the questions and hurdles you may have when growing weed for the first time.

                We’ll go over an array of information like what’s the best grow box or grow room setup, what’s the best grow lights, nutrition for cannabis plants, and other key topics to help you get started from zero!

You should also know the legal status of growing weed where you live. For example, California marijuana laws state that you can grow at home for recreational use, compared to Kansas, where marijuana is completely illegal.

                To start, though, we’ll have to figure out exactly what you want, and then we can better understand what you exactly need to succeed.


                How much money do you need to start growing weed?

Well, this all depends! Are you able to use natural sunlight? Is the climate outdoors ideal for growing weed outside? Do you need a stealthy grow box? Is legality questionable?

There are so many factors in this equation but realistically you’re going to need a few hundred dollars to get started. Sure, you can definitely just spend $20 on seeds and magically grow happy plants by leaving them in the soil outside, but if you need to invest in lights, filters, nutrients, water, electricity bills, a grow tent, and more, then the costs quickly add up.

For some, this barrier of entry is too much and they scrap the idea entirely. It’s not exactly cheap to grow weed. A good low-cost alternative however is microgrowing cannabis. Check out our micro growing weed guide for more information on that!

In general, a basic list of things of what to buy to grow weed includes;

  • A grow box/tent
  • Lights
  • Ventilation
  • Carbon filters
  • Nutrients
  • Seeds
  • Electricity (bills add up!
  • Water
  • Soil and pots
  • Temperature and humidity monitoring tools
  • Other small things

While you can cut corners and spend less or even forego certain items, these are some of the basic things to buy to grow weed effectively.

While this investment is essentially paid off with the first harvest, it’s quite a bit of cash for most of us and like I said before, a major barrier of entry. Waiting those first three months for it to hopefully pay off (if you succeed) can be tough!

All in all, we predict around $500+ just to start growing cannabis. If this is too much, then you can look into DIY grow tent setups and other cost-cutting methods. It’s really worth it to invest in good grow gear once rather than buy mediocre equipment to then buy better stuff later on. This happens a lot.

Desired outcome

                What exactly are you looking for? Massive yields of powerful skunky bud, or just enough to smoke while having a nice stealthy grow box setup in the apartment? Either way, ask yourself the question: How much weed do I want to grow?

                Many cannabis strains can easily yield more than 500 grams each plant! One really healthy and well grown plant can provide you and your buddies with more than enough.

                If you want to grow weed in an apartment or stealth is a priority, then you may need to sacrifice yields for discretion. Nothing wrong with 100 grams of bud in yield, that’s enough for many people!

                Some strains are incredible for stealthy grow box setups and yield small amounts but are amazingly compact. Our micro growing cannabis guide can help you get started with that if you’re interested in that approach.

                Regardless, dive into what you want so you can better align your compass to the outcome. Super aromatic and potent strain, something easy and reliable to grow, a massive yielder, or other? Do a little thought on your own!

                For your first time row, it’s best to set your sights a little low since it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by multi-plant grows if something starts going wrong.

Grow room

                Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, then we’ll go onto the next most important thing – the grow room. The best grow room and setup has been widely debated since the beginning of time really. Ancient civilizations even had their gripes – to soil the plants by the river or on the hill!

                Ideally, you want to use as much space as you can. This will allow the plants to blossom and grow as large as possible without restrictions. Of course having an enormous space for just one plant is a little counter-intuitive, but in general the more space for them to grow, the better!

                Most of us will benefit greatly from a grow tent or a DIY grow box type solution.                 While a solid grow tent can be had at around $70 with high-quality ones being only a little more but can also get very expensive, a DIY grow tent is also an option!

                In fact, you can re-furnish old closets, cupboards, and others into a DIY grow box. This can save a chunk of money but also work really well if you want a DIY stealthy grow room to keep things on the down low and discreet.

                That all requires time and investment in materials and it’s definitely easier to just buy a good grow tent. The Vivosun grow tent, Mars Hydro grow tent, and Gorilla Grow Tent offerings are commonly recommended on Reddit and are really great choices!

                Sure, you can grow without a tent absolutely, but your lighting won’t be as efficient, and you won’t be able to set up carbon filters for reduction of smell, a crucial component for a stealthy grow room setup.


                It might be overwhelming at first with all the different lighting solutions available. LED, HPS, fluorescent, etc, what are the differences? Well, we’ll get into that! If you’re not able to use sunlight or live in a Mediterranean climate, then you must use lights, or else your plants won’t be able to grow nearly to their full potential.

                Ordinary incandescent light bulbs in theory would work, but you’ll get pretty terrible results and it’s not worth using at all. No, lighting is definitely the place you should not skimp out on!

                We go over the differences of HPS, LED, halogen and other light sources here!

HPS – High Pressure Sodium bulbs are quite inexpensive and generate a lot of light from the power they draw. They’re much cheaper than LED grow lights, however they also generate a pretty significant amount of heat. Too much for some applications, and then proper ventilation becomes a priority.

They provide a full spectrum of light to your plants and have been used for decades for growing herb. It’s definitely not a bad bulb, but doesn’t quite hold a light to LED grow lights.

MH (Metal Halide) is also another type of bulb similar to PS, which fall under the HID (high-intensity discharge) bracket.

LED – The new kid on the block, LED grow lights are incredibly power efficient and more advanced LED grow lights even have features like automatic timing, light spectrum calibration, and more. They’re certainly quite a bit more expensive than HPS and fluorescent bulbs, but they pay themselves off quickly with the results and low power draw needed.

                LED grow lights have a distinct advantage in that they don’t produce much ambient heat at all. This makes temperature regulation of your grow room much easier. If you can afford it, we absolutely recommend getting some good LED grow lights! You’ll likely end up upgrading one day anyways.

CFL/Fluorescent– Another common bulb, fluorescent lights are available basically everywhere and quite cheap! They also generate a lot of light and don’t produce too much heat. If you’re really strapped for cash, then it’s your lowest price for sure.

The problem with non-LED light sources is that different stages of growth for plants prefer different light spectrums. Different amounts of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ light wavelengths at different stages of growth will have a pretty significant impact on the growth of the plant.

With some LED grow lights you can control the exact color ratios to best benefit your plants. With HID bulbs like HPS and MH or fluorescent lights, you’ll want to swap them out at different stages of growth to accommodate the types of light that the plants like most.

This can go quite in-depth and we recommend reading our ‘Best light types for each stage of growth for weed’ to get a deep understanding on how this all works in-depth.

All in all, we recommend a good LED grow light. Spend some more now and you’ll be so happy you did not long into your quest.


                Just like us, plants need their vitamins and minerals! While they get a lot of what they need out of sunlight and water, your little flowers are certainly going to need some extra nutrition to grow the way you want them too. Ever seen a bodybuilder not drinking protein shakes?

Even more important than good nutrients is the soil itself! The difference between good and poor quality soil is monumental and often forgotten in the growing world. It’s really easy to find good soil too, just go to your local gardening center and you’ll be sorted out right away. Get a nutrient-neutral soil if you’re not exactly sure about what to look out for.

Hydroponics are also a thing but not really quite beginner-friendly and a discussion for another day. If you’re a first time grower, just don’t even think about hydroponics for the first few harvests you go for!

                Fortunately, there are tons of different cannabis-specific plant formulations out there and in general, they’re all pretty good. Different brands and blends have different nutrient ratios, however there are some simple formulations which work for all stages of growth, making shopping much easier.

                 There’s a seemingly never-ending debate on the best nutrient ratios and types for each strain, so try not to get caught up in all that information!


                While it’s not quite something you need to worry about at all if you want to grow weed outside, it’s an incredibly important aspect for growing cannabis plants inside which is often forgotten.

Without oxygen, we would die, and without carbon dioxide, cannabis plants will die as well! Adequate air circulation and ventilation is essential for your plants. Doubly so if you use HID grow lights which produce a lot of heat!

 Too much heat can have serious consequences and unfortunately kill some plants, stunt their growth or worse, result in a fire. Also providing the plants with carbon dioxide is very important to help them grow.


                Especially if you’re looking to begin a stealthy grow room setup, the most important aspect initially will be the smell created. Does growing a weed plant smell very much? The answer is an absolute yes. The smell is about as intense as some freshly ground bud.

                If you would feel uncomfortable about someone entering your place right after you ground some bud and you don’t want them to know, then you really need to consider smell.

                Buying a high-quality grow tent will help to mitigate that issue if it’s well-build, it should be airtight except for the ventilation slots and such. It’s definitely worth it to spend a little more money on a good grow tent in this case.

                You will absolutely want a carbon filter. If you have an airtight grow tent and a good inlet fan, then you would lastly need a high-quality carbon filter for the exhaust stage of your grow tent.

                A good carbon filter will help neutralize almost all odors. It’s a good idea also to have a passive odor-neutralizer as well like the ONA odor neutralizer.

                Surely you can go without a carbon filter if you don’t mind or care about smell, however if you’re at all considering a stealthy grow room setup, then a good carbon filter is an absolute must.


                The next biggest topic to think about is which strain is best for you to grow, especially for the first time. This will depend greatly on your end goals and growing potential. If you have a very small DIY stealth grow setup, you won’t be able to farm strains like Big Bud or others that grow very large.

                Of course there are different species of cannabis, Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and the often-forgotten brother, Cannabis Ruderalis

                Cannabis Indica oftentimes is characterized by its short and bushy stature.

                Cannabis Sativa grows instead quite tall and skinny.

                Cannabis Ruderalis is often used to cross-breed other strains to produce different genetics. Oftentimes hybrids made with Cannabis Ruderalis are very small plants but are very durable and are auto-flowering.

                Auto-flowering – What’s the difference?

                What auto-flowering means is that the plant doesn’t depend on a light cycle to begin different stages of growth. Rather, auto-flowering strains begin to automatically change stages of growth depending on their age.

                A large amount of seeds available on the market have auto-flowering traits, however be sure to make sure it is an auto-flowering rather than a photoperiod plant when you go to buy your seeds.

                In general, auto-flowering varieties are much friendlier for beginners to grow, unless you plan to grow weed outside and then it’s much simpler to grow a photoperiod plant.

                There are a handful of commonly recommended seeds which are the best strains to grow for a beginner. First-timers rejoice, these strains have become extremely popular because of the quality of their yield, simplicity to grow, and availability basically everywhere.

                What is a feminized seed?

                You’ll probably see this everywhere, normal seeds and ‘feminized seeds’. What’s the difference? Well, only female cannabis plants are in the end desirable for our applications. Save yourself the hassle and buy feminized auto-flowering seeds. It’s the most beginner-friendly and simple way to get started.

Otherwise, you might have a huge headache on your hands once your cannabis plants grow only to discover it’s a male plant and has pollenated all your female cannabis plants. Just buy feminized autoflower seeds instead!

                Northern Lights

                A classic- Northern Lights is remarkably easy to take care of, yields well, produces top notch flower, and actually produces quite a small amount of odor! It’s a go-to for many stealth grow room setups for those reasons and you can’t go wrong with it.

                Blue Dream

                Good for a first time grow, Blue Dream is resilient, simple to manage, produces high quality bud, and is a favorite smoke all around the world. Chances are, you’ve seen this strain before and for good reason.

                White Widow

                One of the most popular strains around the world, White Widow is another Dutch classic which has award-winning genetics. Simple to grow, yields very well, and produces very high-quality flowers, it’s one of the most common strains to grow for first timers.


                Not just UK Cheese, but almost all of the Cheese phenotypes have remarkable growing traits. High yields, pungent flower, and resilient to molds, temperature swings, and other factors, all the Cheese varieties are terrific, especially if you want some particularly pungent bud.

                Super Skunk

                Many of the Skunk-type genetics have been loved around the world, and an old-timer strain like Super Skunk possesses terrific traits for growing. An old-school favorite with a classic flavor profile and smells like good old skunk, it’s also very simple to grow and has been grown thousands of times by first-timers across the world.

                There are far too many strains out there to even make a list from, but in our eyes those are the 5 most common and best strains to grow for the first time. There are hundreds of resources around online and unless you really go wrong, you’re bound to get a very pleasant harvest.


                It seems like a lot of info and to be honest, it is. It took quite a while for me to soak in all the information and successfully grow weed for the first time. In the end, it depends a lot on your goals and motivations.

If you’re after a simple harvest without going for the craziest potency or massive yields, then your path is going to be much easier to start. Start with a resilient and reliable strain for a headache-free setup.

                Check out our DIY micro growing weed guide for more information if you’re curious about a small-scale grow for personal use and sharing with friends!

                Growing cannabis is extremely rewarding and not only do you get to save a ton of cash in the long run, but puffing on your own plants that you nurtured and cared for yourself is such a satisfying experience.

                Unless you’re really an expert in junking and DIY handiwork, you’re looking at investing a few hundred dollars to get started. Don’t skimp out on lighting and prepare yourself to spend a couple of moments each day tending to your precious plants.

                If you’re still uncertain and not so clean on some steps, feel free to leave a message and we’ll help you out immediately. The /r/microgrowery sub Reddit is chock-full of helpful people and information as well!

                If you’re really considering growing cannabis plants long term, it’s so worth it to invest in high-quality gear. “Don’t buy nice and you’ll buy twice” as the saying goes and especially with growing gear, you’ll be upset you didn’t get good stuff the first time.

                Check out our Best Grow Tents guide for more information on some of the best pre-made grow closets and tents on the market. We included things like the best budget grow tents or those for high-end use.

                We hope this growing weed guide for the first time helped you out and you’re able to get going from here!

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