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Common Mistakes When Growing Cannabis

Last Updated: February 28, 2023By Joshua Mezher
Most people who grow weed for the first time usually go in with nothing but passion and enthusiasm. However, cannabis is a fickle plant that requires a specific set of conditions, often adjusted during the different developmental stages. When cannabis thrives, it will produce thick, sticky, and flavorful buds. 

Without adequate research and the proper equipment, growers tend to make many mistakes. These mistakes may not kill your garden, as cannabis is a hardy plant known to grow in the wild, but they will definitely impact your buds’ volume, potency, and flavor. The following are some common mistakes people make when growing weed and how to avoid them:


If you’ve ever had an indoor potted plant, the most you had to do was water it regularly and give it enough sun. Many first timers tend to do the same when growing weed, and it rarely leads to ideal results. Overwatering can be caused by watering too much at a time or too often, using a growing medium that holds a lot of water but little air, or using a growing medium without good drainage at the bottom. It’s a fairly common mistake, even for growers who have some experience. Most of them just want to provide enough water for the plant to thrive but tend to go overboard and overwater their weed. 

When you overwater a plant, you are essentially drowning the roots by preventing them from getting enough oxygen. A cannabis plant that’s starved for oxygen will droop or curl, especially after watering. The individual leaves will also curl down and droop, eventually developing yellow or brown spots (chlorosis). Extreme cases of overwatering can result in plant death due to oxygen starvation as well as nutrient deficiencies, but once you realize your mistake, restoring the plant to its original glory isn’t that hard. 


Related: How To Water Cannabis Plants 

How to Avoid Overwatering

If you are planting your weed in soil, only water when the soil feels dry up to your first knuckle or if the pot feels light. Hold off on watering if the soil is still wet and muddy. Plants grown in coco coir should be watered every 1-2 days. If the medium stays wet up to 3 days after watering, reduce the amount of water you give to the plant, only increasing it as the plant grows bigger, like when she enters the flowering stage. You can also use the pot’s weight to gauge whether or not it’s time for watering. 

Make sure you use an appropriately sized pot, especially for seedlings. Using a larger pot with a smaller plant often leads to overwatering. Start them in a smaller container, then transfer them into a larger one as they get bigger. Additionally, improving your drainage will allow extra water to drain out of the bottom.

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Another common mistake that many growers make is providing too many nutrients. Usually, growers will supplement their plants’ nutrients with plenty of inorganic nutrients from a place of concern. However, providing too many nutrients to your plants will disrupt water flow throughout the plant, leading to “nutrient burn.” This can be observed by the yellowing or browning of leaf tips that will travel inwards and cause the leaves’ ends to become twisted and crispy. If the issue isn’t addressed in time, you risk losing foliage, which will ultimately impact your yield’s volume and quality.

Some growers are just given the wrong information. Plenty of nutrient companies provide nutrient systems with a feeding schedule, but unfortunately, most of the recommended nutrient dosages are too high. Bottled nutrients like minerals help increase growth rates and yield as they are easily absorbed but, when too many nutrients are provided, the plant will absorb more than it needs, causing problems with water flow. Cannabis seedlings or plants growing in soil with high nutrient levels such as fresh compost or a nutrient-amended soil mix can also experience nutrient burn.


Related: Best Hydroponic Nutrients For Weed

How to Avoid Overfeeding

For starters, keep an eye on the foliage condition as the plant grows so you can catch the issue in its infancy. Although nutrient burn can be reversed, leaves that have already yellowed and wilted will not be able to return to their original condition. 

Make sure your plants receive enough light. The more light they receive, the more nutrients they use. Keeping them in low light can lead to nutrient burn even if you provide the right nutrition. 

For growers using bottled nutrients, opt for formulas that have been designed specifically for cannabis, and use the appropriate nutrients for the different stages of development. If it came with a feeding schedule, start with only half of the recommended dosage, and slowly work your way up as the plant grows. Finally, make sure you grow the weed in an appropriate medium. Some grow mediums, like manure or a nutrient-amended soil mix, contain nutrient levels that are too high for cannabis plants. This is especially the case for seedlings, which can end up absorbing much more nutrients than they need.

Mismanaging the pH

Plenty of growers have no idea that local pH levels play a great role in plant health and development. The pH level refers to how acidic or alkaline the grow medium is. You could provide all the nutrients the plants need in the correct amounts, but if the pH balance is a little off, your weed will struggle a lot. When the local pH isn’t properly managed, the plants will have a hard time absorbing nutrients, leading to sickly, discolored leaves, unimpressive buds, and poor growth and development in general. In fact, most nutrient deficiencies tend to stem from pH imbalances.

Root pH affects the bioavailability of nutrients, which refers to the type and amount of nutrients that can be absorbed through the roots. Depending on the local pH, different nutrient molecules take on different chemical forms. The roots require the nutrients to be in a certain form to easily absorb them. With the wrong local pH, the nutrients will take a form that is difficult for the roots to absorb, leading to nutrient deficiencies even when the nutrients are present.

How to Avoid pH Imbalances

Cannabis plants thrive in soils with a slightly acidic pH, with the most optimum pH being 6.0-7. For those growing in coco coir or using hydroponics, a pH of 5.5-6.5, which is slightly more acidic, will do the trick. You can use either a digital pH pen or a pH Measurement Kit with drops or strips to measure water pH and a PH adjuster (a bottle of “PH Down” and a bottle of “PH Up”) to adjust the water pH.

Using the Wrong Genetics

Many a cannabis grower has first tried their hand at farming cannabis with seeds they found in a bud. If you enjoyed the bud the seeds came from, then germinating them in a pot may seem like a fantastic idea. However, bag seeds (as they are called) don’t usually fare as well as the grower would hope. In fact, using bag seeds is the equivalent of tossing a couple of rings at a stick and hoping one of them sticks. Sure, you’ll probably land a hit or two, but it’s a far cry from what you could have achieved if you carefully tossed one ring at a time. 

The seeds you find in a bag of weed may very well be males, duds, runts, or even hermaphrodites, and only female seeds produce buds. And because the genetic traits you want may not have been stabilized into the strain, the buds your weed plant creates may be entirely different from the ones you found them in. Whether you’re a highly experienced grower or an eager beginner, using seeds with poor genetics will not create the results you seek. If you invested in grow mediums, lights, and nutrients, the chances of recouping those costs are minimal at best. 

Related: Marijuana Leaf Identification And Lookalikes


How to Avoid Using Bad Genetics

As tempting and cost-saving as it may be, do not use the seeds you find in your buds to grow cannabis. The only way to avoid using seeds with bad genetics is to purchase the seeds from a reputable seller. When you start with a Pot for Pot, we’ll share our list of quality seed banks, and send you a discount coupon for your seeds!

Additionally, be very careful if you start with clones, as they are known to carry bugs. To prevent pests like spider mites or thrips from infesting your entire crop of cannabis, make sure you get them from a very reputable source. Inspect them thoroughly before bringing them home and, if you can, quarantine them for a week or two until you are sure they are free from pests and disease. 

Insufficient or Too Much Light

Most first-timers assume cannabis’ sunlight needs are similar to other potted plants, and the only light they provide is from a single incandescent bulb, a reading light, or a shady windowsill. 

Other growers provide adequate light using grow lamps but hang them either too high or too low. If your grow lights are too high or you haven’t provided sufficient light, the plants will spend too much energy growing higher and higher to reach the light. 

In this case, you may notice your plants are tall with a lot of space in between the nodes. The energy that could have been used to develop healthy structural integrity will be spent on elongating the trunk towards the light, leading to thin, weak plants that cannot support their own weight. On the other hand, placing your grow lights too close to the cannabis plants will increase the heat the plants are under, leading to burn damage. Increased light levels will also cause the plant to take in more water, meaning more nutrients are absorbed. That could also lead to nutrient burn. 

How to Avoid Issues with Light

For indoor cannabis grows, you should invest in LEDs that can deliver high light levels without generating too much heat. Cannabis plants need intense light to form big buds, so make sure you adjust the height levels as they grow without going overboard. Our Light for Pot is the perfect solution for growing a single cannabis plant. 

Finally, place your grow lights at an optimum distance from the plants, not so high that they don’t get enough light and not so low that they suffer heat damage and nutrient burn.

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Ignoring Privacy

As much as you may love weed and the process of cultivating it, not everyone feels that way. Cannabis can be quite aromatic as it develops, and if you have an entire garden, your entire neighborhood may be overwhelmed by the smell. 

Even though cannabis is legal, attitudes towards it are still divided, and subjecting folks who are not fans of cannabis deals a major blow to the home grow movement. 

On the other hand, some folks love cannabis but aren’t willing to pay for it. If you don’t keep your home grow private, you may find your entire crop stripped of its buds when harvest time comes. With big marijuana companies lobbying to ban home cultivation, disregarding privacy and your community only brings them closer to their goal. 

How to Avoid This

Having a garden full of big, pungent cannabis plants is a sure way to get on your neighbors’ bad side. To avoid this, invest in a cannabis filtration system. Avoid growing cannabis in low-fenced gardens adjacent to other houses, and don’t place pots on windowsills that offer people an unobstructed view.

Another easy option is growing strains that have a less noticeable odor, like auto-flower strains. Cannabis comes in many options, after all. 

And there you have it: six of the most common mistakes people make when growing weed. They will affect your final yield and, in extreme cases, can even cause plant death. Don’t worry, though; most of them can be fixed as long as they are addressed in time and proper steps are taken to restore the plant. If you do plenty of research beforehand and invest in the right tools, you’ll end up with big, juicy buds come harvest time. And if you have any questions along your grow journey, a Pot for Pot is available to help with live ongoing grow coaching from seed to harvest.  Just email help@apotforpot.com.
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