Before you begin growing marijuana, I implore you to check the legality of doing so in your state. If you are growing illegally (and get caught) there will be consequences; just make sure that if you’re willing to do the crime you’re willing to do the time.
Personally, I wouldn’t condone any illegal activity, but I’m also aware that in some places it is legal to grow the plant for medicinal purposes (and that some of you will grow it anyway!); as the owner of this hydroponic website, I believe it is my duty to help you grow the best plants possible — that includes marijuana. If you are going to grow weed, you might as well do it right!
My focus is on helping you find the best hydroponic system for marijuana on the market; there won’t be any dodgy advice from dealers here, just practical advice from a gardener’s perspective. I’m happy to help you get set up with the best possible system for maximum growing effectiveness, but as I know that some of you will be using this advice for illegal activity, my advice will stop there: if you want growing advice you’ll have to look elsewhere, I’m afraid.
Still, if you read and follow the advice here you’ll end up with a fantastically efficient marijuana growing system; I also hope that some of the information here will open your eyes up to the science behind the growing process, to help you understand what it is you’re doing and why you’re doing it (Science, bitch!).
There are several different types of hydroponic systems; each works on a very similar premise: feeding specifically prepared nutrients to your plants through a specially designed system. By doing this, you are creating the perfect growing conditions for your plants and can achieve substantially higher growth rates and yields than by planting outside in your garden.
When it comes to choosing a system to grow marijuana, I would point out that there aren’t really any wrong types of system. No single system will damage your plant and every one is capable of outperforming traditional growing techniques. With that said, and despite some people being fiercely vocal in their support of a particular type of system, I would personally recommend an ebb and flow system. These work by flooding the growing area with the pre-prepared nutrients (the nutrient solution) and then draining it away. Simple.
Not only are ebb and flow hydroponic systems simple to set up and maintain, but the fact that the nutrient solution is drained away means that it is unlikely that your plants will be overfed, which can result in clogging up of the root network. This makes them an ideal system for beginners.
If you want to know specifically which system to buy for growing cannabis plants, have a look at the following three:1
Oxygen Pot Systems
The first system is the Oxygen Pot System. Just look at it! It’s one of the most distinct systems on the market and definitely looks the business with the striking green trim and buckets. By choosing the Oxygen Pots you’ll definitely have something that will look pretty damn impressive.
The system isn’t only recommended for appearance though; all the equipment is highly functional and it will definitely do a great job at growing marijuana. The 55 gallon central reservoir will mean only minimal maintenance is needed, and if you need to go away for an extended period of time you will be able to feel confident leaving the system running.
It’s available in a 6 bucket variety or a 12 bucket variety. The 12 bucket variety will allow you to grow twice as much, at only a slight increase in price. Besides the number of buckets, everything else on the system is identical. The system is on the expensive side, but I think it offers fantastic value (you’ll be able to grow large quantities of any plant for probably over a decade — a wise investment!). Check the growing laws in your locality: some states specify that you can only grow a certain number of plants for medicinal purposes (the 12 bucket system would undoubtedly exceed this limit!).2
Hydrofarm Megagarden System
Next up we have the Megagarden. This is a system that featured strongly in our top 10 hydroponic systems. It’s relatively inexpensive, and, despite not having many of the fancy features of some of the top-end models, this nifty little system offers almost unparalleled value.
It’s less striking to look at than the Oxygen Pots (that’s an understatement!) and due to its smaller size is only capable of a lighter yield; however, the cost-conscious among you will be able to see this system for what it is: a fully-functioning starter hydroponic system at a bargain price!
If price is your primary motivator, you could always check out the list of the best low-cost hydroponic systems. They might not be ebb and flow systems but you can still achieve some great results.3
Viagrow Ebb & Flow Hydroponic Tray System
Finally we have the Viagrow. Again, this system isn’t as flashy as the Oxygen Pot, but it is a very serious looking system, and one that you will achieve great results with.
This system, for me, has an almost commercial look to it, and I think that is the best way to look at it. It’s a good size, with good components and has everything a commercial enterprise would need, all packaged up into a nice little system that you can use in your home. If you are less concerned with aesthetics and more interested in performance, you won’t go far wrong by picking up the Viagrow.
Like most commercially available systems it’s available in several sizes, meaning you can select a unit based on your space considerations and how much marijuana you are looking to grow.
The Growing Medium
The growing medium is essentially what replaces the soil within the hydroponic system.
There are a number of options available to you, but I won’t go into much detail here (I’ve written a whole article on the topic for those of you that want to know more).
I’m here to offer practical advice, and personally, if I were using an ebb and flow system, such as the ones above, I would be looking to use a combination of coconut fiber and grow rocks.
Now, it is worth highlighting that you definitely should not select just one of these growing mediums! They both have strengths and weaknesses, but when used as a combination (50-50 mix) each material’s strength counteracts the others weakness. They should be used together or, if you don’t want to do that, find something completely different.
If you have decided against using an ebb and flow system, a different growing medium might be more appropriate — check out the table at the bottom of this article for more guidance.
Now, for most plants you are able to buy pre-mixed nutrients designed to suit its specific needs; for marijuana this isn’t the case (for hopefully obvious reasons!).
Putting that information aside for one moment, the whole point of a hydroponic system is to feed carefully selected nutrients to your plants, therefore we need to find a suitable product. In general, all-round nutrients — such as those sold by Miracle-Gro — are designed for regular house plants and won’t be very effective for growing marijuana.
I would advise that you pick up two nutrient products from Dyna-Gro. To start I would recommend the “Foliage-Pro” product, which is designed to support plants during the vegetative state, before progressing to the “Bloom” nutrients during the flowering stage.
When used in conjunction with one another for different stages of the grow cycle, you’ll find you have a very effective nutrient solution that will produce strong, healthy plants capable of impressive yields!
Now, if you can remember as far back as your high-school biology lessons you’ll remember that plants need sunlight for photosynthesis.
If you can find a relatively well-lit part of your house then you might not need to invest in a lighting system; however, if you’re planning on growing your plants somewhere dark, or you want to maximize your marijuana plant’s growing efficiency, then you will need to invest in a lighting system to replace (or in addition to) natural sunlight.
Really, there are two options of grow lights available to you: the more old school method is to use high intensity discharge lights, while the modern method is to use LED grow lights.
High Intensity Discharge Lights
You can get many variations of these grow lights and using different elements will produce a different range of colors. This is very important during growing, as marijuana plants need different colored lights during the different phases of the growing cycle.
In general, it is recommended that you use two different lights: metal halide (MH) is on the blue end of the light spectrum and is effective during the vegetative stage, whilst High Pressure Sodium (HPS) is towards the red end of the spectrum and is especially efficient during the flowering stage.
Thankfully, most grow light systems can be purchased with both types of bulb included. My personal recommendation would be the iPower Digital Grow Light which covers the entire range of the spectrum and is able to provide your plant with all the light it could ever need! It is available at a heavily discounted rate at Amazon, but make sure you select the “2 Bulb” system which includes an MH and HPS bulb (the 1 bulb system only includes the HPS bulb).
These lights do kick out a fair bit of heat, which some people claim is a negative. Sure, if you put your lights only inches from your plants this may cause them to overheat, but I actually think the by-product of using this grow light is beneficial. The heat isn’t wasted, and can be used to keep the plants in the growing area nice and warm, which will allow them to grow at optimal levels (particularly useful if you are growing in an attic or basement!). If this is something that particularly concerns you there is a version of the grow light that includes hood cooling.
If you do have problems with overheating, you can pick up a ventilation system to help you out too.
LED Grow Lights
The new breed of grow lights are the LED variety. These tend to be much smaller and look much more advanced, but achieve similar results to the high intensity discharge lights.
Only one light is needed, and the LED is capable of covering the entire light spectrum. They are much more efficient to run, using considerably less electricity (approximately 85%) and also kick out far less heat. If you are worried about heat surveying helicopters patrolling your area looking for grow sites, well, you’re probably better off going for this type of grow light.
There are plenty of good LED lights on the market, but I would personally recommend a TaoTronics model. This light is very versatile, coming with many different settings which allow it to emit specific light colors dependent on the stage of the grow cycle. It has an effective in-built lighting plan which you can select from, and is designed to minimize the number of Watts used which will extend the lifespan of the bulbs. In fact, this product comes with an expected life span of over 50,000 hours. That means that if you use this light for 12 hours a day this product will last for more than a decade! That represents fantastic value, and you should see this as a long-term investment.
The final stage when setting up the perfect hydroponic system for marijuana is a grow tent. Now, not everyone will want to invest in one of these, and they aren’t an absolute necessity, so if you chose not to buy one, that’s fine; you will still be able to grow big yields, quickly.
Grow tents are beneficial though, and it goes without saying that if you want the absolute optimum growing conditions then you should look into getting one. Not only do they create the perfect indoor growing area, but they also create a certain level of discretion (particularly useful if you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing!).
They are lightweight and very easy to set up (they are made from fabric) which will allow you to easily pull it down if necessary and transport it elsewhere. If you are not planning on growing year round they also fold away nicely, without taking up too much space. They come with a highly reflective interior, which will work in conjunction with your grow lights to fully illuminate the growing space, providing your plants with all the light they could possibly need. They are also effective at keeping in the heat that is given off by the grow light, so if your plants are in a cold area of the house you won’t have to worry about them getting too cold; the grow tent acts as insulation for them.
The most cost effective products on the market are the Lighthouse Hydro Hydroponics Grow Tent. Not only do they provide great value, but the reflective interiors are amongst the most efficient available and the lightweight fabric exterior is surprisingly resilient. Plus, they are incredibly easy to set up, which is great if you’re a beginner!
The Lighthouse also comes with a window, which whilst seemingly simple is also very practical; it allows you to check on your plants without entering the tent and letting all the heat out!
The best thing about the Lighthouses (other than the price!) is the range of sizes they come in. You can get smaller tents for personal use with dimensions as compact as 32″ by 32″ right the way up to almost commercially sized grow tents at 120″ by 60″. Obviously, the size of your growing area and your desired yield size will likely determine the size of the grow tent that you choose.
Just make sure you measure how big your hydroponic system is and choose a grow tent size that will comfortably fit it inside!
Now You’re on Your Own!
So there you go! If you follow this advice you should be able to set yourself up with one of the best hydroponic systems possible, customized for the needs of marijuana. Sure, if you get every component available the front-end costs can be quite high, but you have to look at it is an investment; not only will you be able to grow much higher quantities than you would otherwise be capable of, but the actual quality of the plant will be far higher too, giving you a much better experience!
The system will also last you for a decade and probably beyond, making it a worthwhile investment if you smoke a lot of weed; if you factor in the amounts you currently spend on buying marijuana, you’ll probably save enough money to pay for your entire system well within a year, and everything you save after that goes straight into your wallet!
If you have any questions about the equipment and the setup, feel free to get in touch and I’ll do my best to help out.