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Cannabis,  Grow Guides

How To Grow Cannabis Organically: Seeds, Soil, Containers & Care

The topic of “how to grow cannabis” has such a funny vibe about it. If you browse around online, you’ll see there are many cannabis growers with extremely strong opinions about “the right way” to grow cannabis, though all of their methods vary… Esoteric language, expensive supplies, and complicated recipes or instructions are often used, making it a very intimidating and confusing subject for new home growers.

I am here to hopefully take some of the mystery out of it for you! The methods we choose to use for growing cannabis here at home are pretty dang simple! Sure, there are some steps to follow and supplies to gather, but growing cannabis is not all that more complicated than growing high-quality organic food at home. Or at least that is how we approach it. All you need is rich healthy soil, a large container, and either cannabis seeds or started seedlings – called “clones”.

Read along to learn about our preferences for soil, containers, seeds, and how to get started growing cannabis at home, organically!

This article will get you started with your growing season, then check out the follow-up posts for ongoing care – with tips on routine fertilizing, organic pest control, and how to harvest, dry, and cure your cannabis too. Keep in mind that our goals are not all about high yields. The goal is to grow safe, high-quality, organic cannabis that we can utilize and enjoy with peace of mind – knowing how it was treated from “bean to bowl”. It is about quality over quantity, though we end up with more than enough anyways!

A giant top of a cannabis plant, also called the COLA. It is in full bud, and a hand is behind it, showing just how large it is. There are resinous sticky crystals and brown-red hairs.


This post is intended for people living in states who are legally allowed to grow cannabis at home, either medicinally or recreationally. If you have any questions about this, please refer to your local cannabis regulations. Note that today’s post is also geared around growing cannabis naturally outdoors, so I will not touch on light deprivation or indoor grow set-ups. I do plan to write an indoor grow guide in the near future, but most of the tips in this article can easily be applied to an indoor grow too!

Let’s dig in.


Where to get cannabis seeds or clones

Keep in mind that cannabis has not been legalized at the federal level – with the exception of low-THC, high-CBD hemp. Therefore, even if you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, shipping cannabis seeds and products across state lines is technically still illegal. But it is commonly done nonetheless. To my knowledge, people buy cannabis seeds online fairly easily and without issues. However, if cannabis is legal in your state, the most safe and “by the book” way to procure seed or started plants (clones) is from a licensed cannabis store.

Here are a few reputable places that discreetly sell cannabis seeds online:

Keep reading to the “Cannabis Growing Conditions” section below for information on exactly when and how to start cannabis seeds (or plant clones).

Feminized, Regular, or Autoflower Seeds

Cannabis comes in many shapes and sizes! Obtaining feminized seeds or plants guarantees that they will flower. Aka – they’ll grow buds. “Regular” seeds could grow up to be males. They’re pretty useless unless you want to breed plants. Any males in vicinity will pollinate your female plants, make them produce seeds in the buds, and reduce their THC development. Most people cull the males before they produce pollen to avoid this. We grow with feminized and sometimes regular seeds too.

If you do grow regular seeds, see this article to learn how to determine the sex of your cannabis plants in the early pre-flower stages. You may also want to start regular seeds a few weeks earlier than you would feminized seeds, which allows for ample time to ID the ladies (or gentlemen).

For a super-quick growing season and small, manageable plants, you could try autoflower cannabis types. Autoflowers are available in feminized, sativa, and indica options too.

Young cannabis seedlings we started from seed. If the seeds are ‘regular’ (not feminized) we usually pot them up into larger nursery pots (shown in the background on the right) until we can identify if they’re male or female. Once we identify the ladies, then they are transplanted into their final grow bags, shown on the left. If this sounds too involved, stick with feminized seeds to start!

Strains: Sativa vs Indica

Sativa-dominant plants are typically more uplifting and energizing. Sativa plants also get taller, lankier, and take longer from seed to harvest. Indica-dominant strains finish a little faster, pack on fatter buds, and are generally shorter and wider plants. These make them a preferable variety for northern climates with shorter growing seasons. Indica is also known for more of a mellow, sleepy, heavy, couch-lock kind of vibe.

We generally prefer uplifting, happy, energetic sativa-dominant hybrids – ones that are balanced with enough indica to keep things smooth, relaxing, and still make for a great night of sleep. “Maui Wowie” is a long-standing favorite here, and “Rosetta Stone” is our new go-to lately.

Beyond all of these broad categories, each strain will also have unique attributes that may make it more or less desirable to you. Find what suits your needs! What works for us may not be what works for you. To read more in-depth on the differences between sativa, indica, and autoflowers (including their health benefits) check out this post.

A short bushy autoflower cannabis plant, just starting to produce buds. It is inside a greenhouse with other small plants around it. Only a couple feet tall.
Autoflower cannabis plants in the greenhouse, in smaller 5 gallon smart pots. They take up far less space, and time!


If you checked out our post about how to build the perfect organic soil for raised beds, our methods for building the perfect cannabis soil isn’t all that different.  We’re shooting for something that is rich, biologically active, full of micronutrients, and has an excellent balance between moisture retention and drainage. Reference that raised bed soil post if you want to dive deep into detail, but otherwise here is a quick-and-dirty for cannabis soil:

I’m going to give you all two options below. One is a little more involved, which is crafting your own soil from scratch. This is what we do. The second option uses pre-made soil, and requires less ingredients and steps upfront.

Either way you choose to go, please note that we follow a no-till method. That means the soil is a one-time upfront cost, aside from some amendments you’ll need on an ongoing basis. Those last a long time before needing replenishing too! At the end of a growing season, the mature cannabis plant is cut down at the soil line, and the roots left in place to decompose over the winter with the aid of worms and light moisture. The soil is used year after year in the same container, improving with age. This is also called ROLSrecycled organic living soil.

Two large 25-gallon fabric bags full of soil are sitting inside a plastic shed.
Here are two of our 25-gallon cannabis grow bags, full of recycled organic living soil. These are kept in a shed over winter (and some outside too), and kept alive with an occasional light watering. The soil is reused the following season.

Option 1: Our Organic Cannabis Soil Recipe

Combine the following ingredients. If you plan to fill several large containers (like grow bags – discussed below) then it may be easiest to mix all of these in a very large tote or even spread out on a tarp, and then add some to each bag. Note that it is best to pre-moisten the peat moss before mixing it with everything else. Peat tends to be hydrophobic when dry, and can make your soil less likely to absorb water well if it is mixed without wetting first.

Soil Base:

  • 1 part Canadian sphagnum peat moss (We often use Roots Organics or Premier – both found at our local ‘grow shop’.)
  • 1 part high quality compost  (We love Malibu’s Biodynamic Compost, but it’s only available on the West Coast. There is a similar East Coast option by Coast of Maine. You could use aged homemade compost, or shop around to see what is available. Maybe there is a local worm farm in your area?)
  • 1 part aeration additive (We prefer 3/8-inch Lava rock, aka lava cinders. You could use pumice or perlite instead.)

Evenly mix in the following amendments:

*In the recipe above, when I mention the amendment amounts “per cubic foot of soil”, I mean the total combined volume including peat moss, compost, and aeration. Also note that all of these amendments are things we also use in the garden, and last many seasons!

Curious about what all these things are for?

Kelp meal contains over 70 different vitamins and minerals. It helps promote overall plant health, vigor, and tolerance to stress, pests ,and disease. It is also a renewable, sustainable resource – so that’s a huge plus.

Neem meal enhances microbial activity, making your soil even more alive! It also strengthens root systems, and can help control unwanted nematode populations, fungus, and soil pathogens.

Crab or Crustacean meal is high in chitin, which stimulates the soil food web and beneficial microbe activity. It may also help combat root knot nematodes. This meal contains both macro and micronutrients as fuel for the plants.

Rock Dust contains micronutrients and trace minerals that are essential for a plant’s core biological processes to work at their strongest, such as nutrient uptake and photosynthesis.

Gypsum contains calcium and sulfur, and helps the plant better utilize and uptake potassium, which is one of the key macronutrients that all plants depend on for life. In the “NPK” ratio for all fertilizers, the K stands for potassium. Adequate potassium availability and uptake enables plants to photosynthesize, produce energy and important enzymes during growth, and also assists with water uptake and drought resistance.

Oyster shell flour is an excellent source of calcium for the plants, as well as phosphorus. Adequate calcium carbonate protects plants from heat stress, makes them more resistant to disease and pests, strengthens plant cell walls, and increases nutrient uptake and overall vigor. Oyster shell flour also acts as a pH buffer.

Here is a little video of our organic living soil in action:

A note about peat moss:

Peat moss gets some flack for being not very sustainable. However, it also gets some of the best reviews and results for growing cannabis. Cannabis likes very slightly acidic soil, which peat moss naturally is. It is also an incredibly common ingredient in almost all bagged soil, so it’s hard to avoid in the gardening world. Aaron put together our soil before we were fully aware of the environmental concerns. Because we are reusing and recycling it each year, the best thing for us is to continue utilizing it!

Some people who grow cannabis choose to replace the peat moss portion of this recipe with coco coir, which is a more renewable, sustainable material. I can’t speak to its effectiveness because we haven’t used it for cannabis, though we do add a little coco coir to our raised beds sometimes, and also use it as bedding in our worm bin. Honestly, we have heard not-so-great results and read numerous studies that show coco coir has inferior performance to peat moss.

Option 2: Use Pre-amended Bagged Soil

If mixing up all those amendments sounds a little too “extra” for you, you could do the following instead:

Use mostly pre-made, high-quality, bagged organic soil. If you have access to it, try to add in a little rich aged compost, worms, worm castings, and/or aeration too! Experiment with building your own soil, with a premade base. Check out this post on how to start a super simple worm bin, if you’re in need of worm castings! They can also be purchased.

For this method, you could skip a lot of the additional amendments upfront, though you’ll still want to add some as the growing season progresses. Cannabis is a hungry plant! The choices and availability of bagged organic soil options will vary depending on where you live. If you can, get top-of-the-line stuff – it is going to be more pre-amended for you.

Examples of popular cannabis soil brands to keep an eye out for are Roots Organics products, Fox Farm’s Ocean Forest/Happy Frog, or Recipe 420 by E.B. Stone. Even some of the Kellogg or G&B Organics could work well, especially when premium compost is added. Check to see if there are any hydroponic stores or “grow shops” in your area. Those stores cater to cannabis growers, and are more likely to carry premium bagged soils over the stuff at big box nursery centers.

Now that you have a soil choice in mind, what are you going to put it in?


We prefer to grow our cannabis in grow bags, and I’ll explain why below. If you want to stick your plants in garden beds or right in the ground, be my guest! This is just what works for us. Check out how to build a durable and deep raised garden bed here.

Benefits of Grow Bags

The preferred container for growing cannabis for many people, ourselves included, is in large fabric grow bags. As opposed to a hard-sided container, they promote better aeration, drainage, and even moisture. Solid containers like 5-gallon buckets could be used, but have the tendency to be drier on top and soggy on the bottom. Grow bags also accomplish something called air-pruning. When the cannabis plant’s roots near the edge of the bag, the exposure to air naturally prunes them back. This is a way to keep the plant happy and healthy in its given container, naturally limiting itself and keeping the roots healthier. In contrast, a solid container allows the plants roots to continue to grow in circles around the container and themselves – becoming root bound. This is not a good thing.

Grow bags are great because they allow people to grow cannabis in a variety of living situations, be it on a patio, indoors, or in a greenhouse. By using a container, you have ultimate control over the soil you choose to fill it with.

Additionally, you can make them mobile!  We make rolling dollies to sit all of our cannabis grow bags on, out of 2×6’s and heavy-duty casters. See the photos below. That way, we can easily roll or rotate the large (and heavy!) plants out of our way or into better sun as needed. If you do the same, make sure you get casters that are rated for at least 50 to 80 pounds of weight per wheel, minimum. Ours are 2″ and okay for the flat patio, but 3-inch wheels probably would have made it even easier to move.

Three images in one. One shows a homemade wood dolly - a square set of boards with two inch casters  or wheels attached to the bottom. Then it shows a large black plant saucer that sits on top of it, from several angles. The grow bag sits on top of all of it.
Our DIY dollies with casters. Three redwood 2×6 boards are held together by a supporting 2×4″ in the opposite direction, screwed into each board. To catch runoff, we use large plant saucers. This one is 25-inches (top rim to rim) and can hold the 25-gallon grow bags that are 21″ at the bottom. Lava rock is sitting in the bottom of the saucer to keep the grow bag from sitting in standing water.

Grow Bag Brands and Sizes

The bags we prefer to use are the Smart Pot brand, or GeoPot. These are extremely durable and long-lasting. You get what you pay for.  We have used cheaper grow bags in the past and they rip and degrade within a season or two of use. Smart Pots will last for years and years. We have bags that are three years old and still as good as new. Call me silly, but I also love being able to choose tan or brown colored bags. I like a pretty garden space and prefer the look of those to the stark black choices.

The size of your grow bag will dictate the size of your cannabis plant, and its health. Obviously, the size of your space will determine how big of bags you can use too. The smallest I would suggest for a traditional photoperiod plant is about 15 gallons. We generally use 20-gallon or 25-gallon bags for those big girls.

If you have a lot of room and want really large plants, you could go even larger!  On the other hand, if you are growing autoflower cannabis plants, a 5-gallon or 7-gallon bag would work just fine. Not sure what the difference between a photoperiod and autoflower cannabis plant is? Check out this post that explains it all.

Okay, we have our soil and our bags… now on to the most important part of this post: the cannabis itself.

Aaron sits at the back patio table with a beer. Many plants are around the patio, including three large cannabis plants. They're all on wood dollies and moved aside while we're enjoying the patio.
See how big they can get? Those are our Maui Wowie girls. Also note the DIY dolly below the grow bags. We can easily roll them aside when we want to enjoy our patio space, and put them more in the middle when we’re not outside.

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In most places, cannabis seeds are started indoors in March or April, and transplanted outside in April or May once the risk of frost has passed. Basically, cannabis seedlings need to be protected from freezing or other harsh conditions – just as any other seedling does! If you aren’t sure about your area’s frost dates, stop by this article. In it, I share veggie seed-starting calendars for every USDA hardiness zone. For cannabis, you can essentially follow the timing recommendations for tomatoes (but on the later end of the given windows).

Depending on the strains you are growing and your summer daylight hours, the average cannabis plant will continue to grow larger in size (in its vegetative state) until the days begin to shorten and it receives less than 12 hours of sunlight per day (e.g. after summer solstice). Then, it switches into its flowering stage and begins to develop buds. Most outdoor cannabis plants will be ready to harvest in September to October. The exception to this would be for autoflowers, which can start and finish their entire life cycle in as short as 3 months.

Starting cannabis from seed

We prefer to grow from seed. Once we obtain seeds, we treat them pretty much like any other garden seed!  They’re germinated in 4” pots full of seedling start mix, inside on a heat mat. Keep the containers covered and moist until they sprout. Ideal germination temperature is around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

After sprouting indoors, cannabis seedlings need strong bright light – such as that provided by a supplemental grow light. Unfortunately, a sunny window will not provide enough light, and the plants will get extra tall, weak, and leggy. Once our seeds pop indoors, we move the cannabis seedlings to our greenhouse for a few weeks before going fully outside. We also use lights for growing autoflowers in the off-season in the greenhouse. (See this article for more information about choosing and using grow lights.)

To read more in-depth information about how we start seeds, check out our seed starting 101 post!

Four small cannabis seedlings are in 4" round pots, in a greenhouse among many other pepper and eggplants. There is a grow light above them.
Cannabis seedlings in our greenhouse, being treated just like the peppers, eggplants, and other garden plants!

Note that you do not need a greenhouse or fancy supplies to start cannabis! If you don’t have a heat mat, I suggest pre-soaking the seeds in non-chlorinated water overnight before planting. This will aid in germination. In lieu of seedling start mix and little pots, another option is to germinate the seed inside a moist root riot cube, then plant the whole cube in its final grow bag after it sprouts. If you aren’t equipped to raise seedlings indoors for several weeks, plan to start in late April to early May. Most locations will be adequately warm enough by then for the seedlings to go right outside after germination (or to sow seeds directly outside, if you wish).

Once they’re a few weeks old and the weather is right, we transplant our seedlings outside to their final large grow bag. When they are transplanted, we sprinkle some mycorrhizae in the planting hole and on any exposed roots. Mycorrhizae enhances nutrient uptake, and disease and drought resistance. If you did have your seedlings indoors under lights for a few weeks, don’t forget to properly harden them off before moving them outside! This helps to strengthen them and prevent transplant shock.

If you are growing from clones instead (such as those you purchase at a local dispensary, or obtain from a friend), you can skip straight to potting them into grow bags outside.

Two large fabric grow bags on a patio garden, with small cannabis plants inside. There are raised beds in the background. There are flowers, colorful swiss chard, and mustard greens.
Some young cannabis plants, recently transplanted into their final large grow bags. The small support stakes will be replaced with larger ones as they grow.

Sun and Support

Full sun is best! If you have a wide open location that receives full sun all summer and into fall, you’re in luck. We have changing sun patterns, with some shade from our house and trees to contend with. That is the beauty of putting the grow bags on dollies – we can move them around to receive the most sun possible as the seasons change.

Provide support for the main stalk with a sturdy stake. As the plant gets larger and starts to put on bud weight, you may find the need to further support individual branches. This will depend on the strain. Some growers get crazy with their support and training systems! We start with a small stake for seedlings (shown above) and then swap it to a 5 or 6-foot tall stake as the plant matures.


In regards to water, the goal is to provide consistent, even moisture. Do not let the soil completely dry out between watering, but don’t drown it out either. As with many things, this will vary a lot depending on your climate. If you’re in a very hot and arid place, you will need to water more frequently than someone in a cooler coastal climate like ourselves.

As the plant grows and the root ball gets larger, it will drink water faster and therefore need more, and more often. I will write a follow up post about watering and fertilizing (which often go hand-in-hand) throughout the growing season soon.

If possible, use dechlorinated water. It isn’t a deal-breaker, but the plant and soil microbes will definitely appreciate it. If you are on city tap water, allowing a bucket of water to sit out overnight can help the chlorine dissipate. We mostly use our captured rainwater. Another option is to use a simple hose carbon filter to remove chlorine.


Mulch the top of your grow bag to maintain a healthy soil. We love using biodynamic accumulators that not only provide moisture retention, but will later break down into more nutrients and energy for the cannabis. Some examples of biodynamic accumulators are borage, comfrey, yarrow, and dandelion greens. Fava bean greens are also excellent for green mulching, since they’re nitrogen fixers! If you don’t have access to these types of plants, straw or hay will work.

A close up of a cannabis plant leaf, with the container of soil and mulch in the background. The mulch is very colorful, with yarrow, comfrey, borage, lavender, dandelion greens, and straw.
I don’t know about you… but to me, that mulch is looking super sexy! Yarrow, comfrey, borage, lavender, dandelion greens, and straw.

Another popular mulch option is to use an organic cover crop seed mix, and lightly working it into the top inch of soil when you first plant your cannabis seedling. As it gets watered, cover crop will grow under the canopy of your plant. It becomes a living mulch, and also enhances your living soil food web. As it grows tall, you can “chop and drop” mulch with it. That is when you trim it and leave it in place to decompose as green mulch.

And just like that, you’ve given your cannabis a stellar start! You’ll be enjoying your own homegrown organic bud in no time.

Once you have your cannabis off to a strong start, come learn about the ways we routinely fertilize our plants! Also, how to keep the pests at bay:

Last by not least, when the time comes, here an article all about processing your cannabis: “How to Harvest, Dry, Trim, Cure, & Store Homegrown Cannabis: The Ultimate Guide”. When IS the time right to harvest? You’ll learn that here too. This guide is basically everything you need to know, from the best timing, temperature, humidity, methods, and more.

Once you have your homegrown goodies properly dried and cured, it is all ready to use: whether you like to smoke or vaporize your cannabis (read this important article on the subject), make cannabis-infused oil for edibles, homemade cannabis tinctures, or create healing topical salves. The options are endless!

I hope this all took some of the mystery out of growing cannabis for you. Please feel free to ask questions and pass this post along. To the left, of course. Wishing you the bet of luck with your growing adventure!

DeannaCats signature, keep on growing


  • Jessica

    I love your site. You guys got me started with sourdough, kombucha brewing and veggie gardening! I’m newer to veggie gardening (second year and much better than last year so far) and I haven’t grown cannabis in probably 25-27 years. Back then I used a small hydroponic unit and it was fairly easy. I haven’t even smoked in that long of time either. With all the stuff going on in the world I’m feeling the need to try this. So I have some seeds and will be attempting autoflower indica 🙂 Its already Mid May in NJ so I’m not sure if it’s too late, indoors is all I have experience with in regards to cannabis.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Jessica, it’s amazing to hear all that you have taken up and that your veggie garden is doing better than last year! Gardening is a learning process that never ends, results can also vary year to year due to weather and such so there are a number of variables to consider, gardening is also just as good for our mental health as it is for our physical health so enjoy the process. As far as growing cannabis outdoors, it is not too late, especially since you are growing autoflowers which usually only need about 90 days from sprout to harvest. Try and keep them dry for the most part if it is going to be raining and give them plenty of sun. Since autos have such a short lifespan, try not to stress them too much as they don’t have as much time to recover. Keep it simple and they will grow. Check out our article on How to Harvest Cannabis so you will be prepared when the time comes, and if you don’t care to smoke the end product, we also have articles on making your own oil, or making your own tincture which has become one of our favorite ways to consume cannabis. Hope that helps and reach out if you have any questions along the way, good luck!

  • Ben

    Hi, I recently ran across your site and was a bit interested in what your PH ended up. I’m a growing newb myself so I was wondering as Peat Moss can have a low PH, but if mixing it with compost it should bring it back up to resonable numbers correct? What I’m curiouse about is the gypsum added. Would that not lower your PH again?

    Thanks for the article. I plan on following the recipe this year.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Ben, using high quality compost helps neutralize the acidic peat moss and honestly through the years, we have never tested our soil and we don’t test our water or teas for pH either. Growing organically makes growing a lot easier, gypsum actually won’t affect the pH of the soil, it’s more there to offer a good source of sulfur. My recent soil mixes have become more simplified with 60-65% Roots 707 soil, 25-30% Malibu compost, and 5-10% 3/8 inch pumice or lava rock. I still add in most of the amendments listed in the soil mix section but I may add a little less since the soil mix has some amendments as well. Hope that helps and good luck!

      • Kasia

        The information on your site is guiding my garden plan this year – thank you so much for your gift of knowledge!

        Is there another soil that you would recommend in lieu of the Roots 707 soil? I am having a difficult time sourcing it on the east coast. Could Fox Farm Ocean Forest work? I saw it mentioned in “Option 2” above.

        • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

          Hi Kasia, Fox Farm Ocean Forest will definitely work just fine. It doesn’t have to be the Roots brand or the 707 in particular as there are likely other options available to you as well, use what you can find locally, if you are in the Northeast you may be able to get Coast of Maine Lobster compost or some of their soil mixes as well. Hope that helps and have fun growing!

          • Kasia

            Coast of Maine is so much easier to locally source. Thank you so much for responding!

            It looks like Coast of Maine offers a comprehensive pre-made mix specifically for cannabis (Stonington Blend) as well as a base soil (Bar Harbor Potting Soil). If it were you and you purchased the base soil, would you add the amendments in the amounts listed in Option 1, or only add 30% compost and 5-10% pumice or lava rock like you are with the Roots Organics 707? The potting soil already has 70 – 80% sphagnum peat moss, composted manure, perlite, aged bark, and fertilizer so I’m not sure how to approach it.

          • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

            Hi Kasia, glad you are able to get Coast of Maine easily as they have quality stuff! You could go with either soil blend and I would probably add 1 cf of compost for every 3 cf of soil, I usually still add some amendments even though the soil will have some. If you have neem, kelp, and crab meal as individual amendments, I would still had 1/2 cup (or just under) of each for every 1 cf of soil/compost (although not entirely necessary). If you have an all purpose vegetable, tomato, or vegan amendment mix, you can likely add 1/2-1 cup amendment mix per 1 cf of soil. Until you know exactly what you are working with as far as soil and amendments are concerned, it’s better to play it safe at first and just amend or feed your plants once they are off and running so you don’t stunt them with too much nutrition initially. Hope that helps and have fun growing!

          • Kasia

            You are AWESOME!! Thanks to finding your goldmine of a website and instagram, I am super excited to see how my garden turns out this year! Thank you so much.

  • Jim Duszynski

    Aaron and Deanna,

    My wife and I really enjoy all of the info you provide on your site.

    I see your comment above on topping plants, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions on topping of autoflower plants? Mine are indica and about 16 inches tall with 5-6 sets of leaves. They are already starting to form flowers at 6 weeks old. They are growing indoors and have a very upright structure, not short and bushy. I was thinking of topping them now to ‘force’ a bushier structure.

    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!


    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Jim, I typically avoid topping autoflower plants and have no experience doing so. Although I have heard of people that do top their plants with good results, maybe growing indoors will help them rebound more quickly. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Lizzy, it really depends on how in depth you want to get with the soil. If you have or want to keep a “living soil”, I will usually just overwinter it and keep and eye on the moisture level, maybe add small amounts of kelp meal here and there but you want to keep the soil moist without being overly wet so the microbes and worms (if present) can still do their thing. Come spring, maybe a month or two before you want to plant into your final container, top dress and scratch into the surface a top dress of various amendments (around a 1/2 cup for 15-25 gallon bags), then plant cover crop seeds such as clover, rye, oat, buckwheat, peas, etc. to jump start your soil. When it comes time to transplant, cut all of the cover crop down to the soil line, leaving their roots in place, make a hole for your transplant and that’s that. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Jose

    Hey i first wanted to say that your guys are amazing and i absolutely love ya content. You have definetly earned a fan for life!!

    I did have a couple questions . When growing autoflowers does the pots size determine how often i have to top dress/ foliar spray/ teas? Im curently trying to decide between 5 gallon pots vs 15 or 25 gallon. I wanna follow your growing schedule from your “How to Feed Cannabis, Organically: Top-Dressings, Teas, & More” article but having big pots is not really ideal for my grow space. But at the same time if small pots are going cause me more work for my auto, i wil prefer the big pots.

    Thank you again for all the tips. Hope you have a bless day.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Jose, thank you so much for the support and we are glad that you enjoy the content. Usually 5 to 7 gallon bags are more than big enough for autoflowers. You could use 15 or 25 gallon bags if you wanted to plant 3 or 4 per bag. The only way a smaller pot will make it more work for you is if they start to drink too much water and dry out faster but that usually isn’t too much of an issue unless you are growing outdoors in really hot conditions. I feel that teas are the best way to feed autos as their lifespan is so short, whereas top dressing amendments can take up to a month before they are broken down enough for the plant to use. Giving your autos a tea of neem and kelp meal every week or two should be enough to keep them going well, especially if you are using good compost or compost tea as well. Hope that helps and good luck! Let us know what you decide on doing and how the grow turns out.

  • Rob


    Great content, as always. I have a question regarding the regular addition of soil amendments to the container in seasons following the initial. I created the custom soil blend with the recommended amendements last year and I’m ready to plant my new autoflower seeds in the same container. What amendment blend do you recomend adding regularly year after year?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Rob, I would just stick with the amendments that you first used in your soil blend. Usually we would add about 1/2 the amount that we first used as a refresher for the new season, if you added rock dust or biochar your probably don’t need to add more as it lasts for quite some time in the soil. From there, you just move on to feeding the soil throughout the season as your plants progress. Hope that helps and good luck with the growing season!

  • Kendra

    Do you have advice on topping off the plant? I’ve received some info that when the young plant has 4-5 rows of leaves or 10″ tall to cut off the top node to encourage it to branch and create more nodes. I’m not sure if this is more geared towards indoor grows or should be done outdoors as well. This year is my first outdoor grow and I’m just now at that point with my plants. Thanks in advance.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Kendra, many people indoors and out like to top their plants at the top and even the side branches as well to create a very bush plant with a lot of flowering sites. The times I have topped I will usually wait until the plant is 3 to 4 feet tall but you want to do it before it starts flowering. I usually like to leave the plants in their natural “Christmas tree” shape (no topping at all) outdoors as that is how they evolved to receive the most light possible from the sun. You can also trim off the lower 1 or 2 nodes and let most of the growth occur towards the top as the lower few branches can have more fluffy flowers as they don’t usually get as much light. Hope that helps and reach out if you have any other questions. Good luck!


    Hey ya’ll, I usually get my seeds locally in Cali but thought I’d try one of your listed reputable companies, Nirvana. Unfortch right off the bat payment was sketchy and they told me my order was “flagged” and they needed a picture of my cc. I said I didn’t feel comfortable with that as I was already using their 3rd party cc company and they said that’s ok they’ll cancel the order. A month later and no charge back on my card so I emailed and Customer Service told me that the cc company went dark on them and they can’t do a charge back. Anywho, in the process of disputing with my cc company so just wanted to give you a heads up it may not be so reputable of a company.

    Could you recommend one that you’ve personally used?

    Thanks for all you do guys!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Thanks for the heads up Shannon, we used Nirvana a couple years ago without any issues so I am not sure what that was all about. Anyway, our last few orders have been through JBC Seeds (PayPal option) which is a great company as far as we have experienced. Depending on your budget and what strains are of interest to you, we like Bodhi Seeds, Useful Seeds, and Katsu Seeds which are all available at JBC. A smaller breeder that will sell directly to the customer is Inkognyto Genetics , we grew his Blueberry OG last year which was quite nice. Hope that helps and let us know if you have any other questions, thanks.

      • TanyaAZ

        First I want to say how much I love your posts! Thank you so much for sharing❤️

        I’m in the hot Arizona desert, which naturally has a few roadblocks when growing during the summer. Microclimate, afternoon shade, etc become a must.

        I’m on my second cannabis grow, but first photo period grow. People are telling me Mid April to Mid May is too early to keep my plants outside, that they need 15+ hours of sun from the time they sprout or they’ll flower. After reading your posts 1000x, I’m under the impression that this is false. I haven’t given my plants more than 13.5 hours of light since sprouting and was planning to set them out when we have 13+ hours of strong sunlight per day. They’re looking great, but as a newbie, I’m nervous. What’s your take on this?

        • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

          Hello TanyaAZ, thank you so much for your support and we’re glad you enjoy the articles! Many outdoor growers start their plants outdoors in March with no problems at all. Putting your plants out whenever you want will work just fine, our back patio where we grow barely gets more than 12 hours of sunlight during the longest days of the year and the plants will still grow 6 to 7 feet tall in 25 gallon grow bags. We oftentimes don’t start our plants until June (keeping them outdoors only) and they still will grow in the vegetative cycle for 8 to 10 weeks before they show signs of flowering. I’m sure you will do just fine, let us know if you have any other questions and keep us updated on your progress, good luck and happy growing!

  • Emlyn Williams

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the great article.

    I am in South Africa, Cape Town and we do not seem to have Neem or Crab meal amendments.
    Do you perhaps have alternatives I could use?
    Also Oyster Shell flour alternative.


    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Emlyn, you could do without the amendments that aren’t available to you and your soil mixture should be just fine. Maybe add 1/4-2/3 cup alfalfa meal and 1 cup blended malted barley per cubic foot of soil mixture instead. You could also kick start your soil by planting cover crop seeds and cutting the grasses or legumes down when you transplant a seedling into your mixture. Keeping your soil active and alive will help your plants out far more than any one amendment can. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • sheila

    Hi there. Wondering why you use lava rock in tray as opposed to gravel or wood chips. Trying to decide if it is necessary/better to purchase? Thanks

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Sheila, lava rocks are porous and they have the ability to absorb water, it allows whatever water runoff occurs to be wicked back up into the pot without the container/root ball sitting in water. Although it isn’t necessary to do either, In your case I would opt to just leave the pot directly in the tray instead of using gravel or wood chips. Hope that helps and good luck!

        • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

          Hello Aleksandr, that’s unfortunate your friends have to think that way, especially since this plant can and does help so many people.

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