A True-Blue Indoor Grow
So you want to grow some dank erb’? Live in Australia?
Are you just completely confused by the guides provided by ‘yanks’, which commonly use the insane imperial system? Are you sick of being told to buy products that only ship within the United States?
If so, this guide is for you!
I’m going to be honest here, and say two things.
Firstly: I’m not an incredibly experienced grower. I can only share what has worked for me… and a lot of that is based on many hours of research. I have had great results, however – and I am VERY satisfied with them.
Second; this setup isn’t exactly the cheapest one around. You will be facing a ~$1150 price tag, just to get started. You will probably return on that investment in the first grow.
I used this setup to grow around 8-14 ounces (200-400g) of that sticky icky, every 3 months.
Are you ready to do the same?
Let’s learn how to grow cannabis indoors in Australia!
The following guide breaks down all of the items required into their own dedicated posts. Click the links below to browse alternatives, or learn more on why we made the decisions we did. This list can be modified and ‘played with’ however you wish; we actively encourage experimentation within your own growing operations.
This is by no means is a ‘definitive guide’… you can consider it more of an easy how-to for any beginners out there, looking to get started!
The Quantum Board HLG’s are incredibly efficient LED grow lights.
You can purchase them in Australia at Quick Bloom Lights for $525! If you’re lucky, they’ll give you a discount if you ask them. 😉 You can purchase it on eBay for the same price… but, occasionally you can find a discount code to get it cheaper! (Check OzBargain)
A bit expensive, but the light will pay itself off in the long run; particularly in comparison to HPS lights. Take a look at our article on how to choose the right grow light for you, for more information on why the HLG 260W was chosen.
You will also want to get yourself a 24-hour timer switch for $16 on eBay. This switch will allow you to program how long your lights are on for.
Whether you pick up a tent for your indoor grow (or not) is really up to you; but we highly advise it.
You can pick up a 90cm x 50cm x 160cm grow tent for $89 on eBay. We like this tent because it fits very nicely into a mirrored closet. It’s not very wide, but it’s sufficient for 3 smaller plants, or 1 very large, well-trained plant….
Feel free to grab a 90cm x 90cm x 200cm tent, if you need the space! Need to create an indoor grow room with custom dimensions? Check out our DIY Guide on How To Build A Custom Indoor Grow Room!
You can read more about selecting and maintaining your tent in our “Tents for Growing in Australia” article.
When looking to select your cannabis seeds, you need to remain aware of a few main things.
Cannabis seeds are diverse, and there are many different varieties to choose from. Seeds can be placed into a few primary categories: Indicas, Sativas and Hybrids. CBD-rich Ruderalis genetics are another favourite amongst growers. Ruderalis genes are often used for medicinal purposes, and generally bred with Hybrids to create new, unique, auto-flowering strains.
Does this all sound a little confusing?
It’s not, actually. It’s super simple; just keep reading!
Consider which strain will work best within your own circumstances. You’ll need to consider height, flowering time, the amount of yield, along with the psychoactive and palliative effects. Be sure to consult the infographic below to figure out which variety of seeds will work best for you.
Here are some easy-to-grow strains, organised into their genetic varieties. It’s important to note that the non-auto-flowering plants’ finish time is based on their flowering time. Typically, you will vegetate your plants for 2-4 weeks before flipping them to flower – so add that on to their completion time.
Indica Dominant Strains
Northern Lights by Sensi Seeds
Genetics: 90% Indica | Height: 100-120cm | Flowering Time: 6-7 Weeks
Blue Cheese by Barneys Farm Seeds
Genetics: 80% Indica / 20% Sativa | Height: 80-90cm | Flowering Time: 7-8 Weeks
Critical Kush by Barneys Farm Seeds
Genetics: 100% Indica | Height: 100-110cm | Flowering Time: 7-8 Weeks
Rug Burn OG by Rare Dankness Seeds
Genetics: 20% Sativa / 80% Indica | Height: 60-120cm | Flowering Time: 7-9 Weeks
Sativa Dominant Strains
Blue Dream by Humboldt Seeds Organization
Genetics: 70% Sativa / 30% Indica | Height*: 160-200+cm | Flowering Time: 9-11 Weeks
*Make sure you don’t vegetate for too long, and be sure to train this beauty!
Green Crack by Humboldt Seed Organization
Genetics: 60% Sativa / 40% Indica | Height: 80-140cm | Flowering Time: 8-9 Weeks
Girl Scout Cookies by The California Connection
Genetics: 60% Sativa / 40% Indica | Height: 80-140cm | Flowering Time: 8-9 Weeks
Genetics: 35% Sativa / 65% Indica | Height: 40-100cm | Flowering Time: 8-10 Weeks
Northern Lights Auto by Royal Queen Seeds
Genetics: 80% Indica / 20% Ruderalis | Height: 80-120cm | Harvest Time: 9-10 Weeks
Amnesia Haze Automatic by Royal Queen Seeds
Genetics: 50% Sativa / 20% Indica / 30% Ruderalis | Height: 50-100cm | Harvest Time: 10-12 Weeks
Should You Grow With Bagseed?
In case you weren’t aware of what ‘Bagseed’ is… it’s simply what the name entails – the seeds you find at the bottom of your baggie.
Random bagseeds are often less stress-resistant, and often develop phenotypical hermaphroditism or stress-induced self-pollination, especially under poor environmental conditions. You’re also growing untested genetics – which isn’t recommended for beginners.
Is Your Breeder/Vendor Reputable?
Not all seeds are created equal. A little bit of research into the breeders will go a long way. Otherwise, you may fall victim to a marketing ploy. There are usually multiple versions of the same strain, as the genetics have been bred and mixed in similar ways. Problem is… if you have different genetic parents, you’re liable to get very different genetic results.
We recommend you do a quick google search on the breeder. See if their reputation holds up. Grow journals can also be of great assistance. You can use Grow Diaries (an online tool) to track your progress, and check on other people who are growing with the same genetics!
Make Sure Your Seeds Are Feminised
If you can purchase feminised seeds, you want to; as it will streamline the entire growing process! You only really want female plants, as they produce the flowers – not the males. A lot of time and money can be saved if you just get your hands on some feminised seeds.
When it comes to mediums, it doesn’t get much more classic than soil.
Soil is the most popular medium for growers and producers of organic cannabis. Soil can be used for indoor growing – but it’s mainly used outside.
The big difference between the two mediums is that coco coir contains no nutrients, whereas fertile soil is alive and typically hosts entire ecosystems.
When it comes to sourcing the soil for your plants, you can always pick some up from Bunnings, or at a local nursery. The best soil for cannabis is likely going to be a premium potting mix. The Osmocote Professional 25L Premium Potting Mix from Bunnings will do you alright, for just $8!
If you’re after some of the better soil, check out the CANNA Terra Professional soil from CANNA. You can purchase CANNA soil in Australia in a lot of hydroponic stores and nurseries. Take a look here to find your closest dealer.
If you’re looking for some incredible, high-quality organic soil, you can also check out Easy As Organics! They offer soil which you only need to water; that is, for the duration of its growing cycle, no added nutrients are required.
Use the code FABEAO2020 at checkout for 20% off orders over $100 at easyasorganics.com.au.
Growing Schedule For Indoor Soil
This simple cultivation schedule is a great foundation for beginners.
Please keep in mind that the schedule should not begin until your seedling or cutting has established itself in the container or raised bed, and is developing at a healthy rate. Only then should you begin “Week 1”.
After a few weeks, you should notice unparalleled peak plant health, displayed by incredible leaf turgor, plant vigour, intoxicating aromas and dark green, shiny leaves, virtually resistant to pests and disease.
In between topdressings and teas, water lightly as needed to ensure the soil medium remains evenly moist – but not so wet that water runs out the bottom of the container. Water as little or as much as required to maintain the perfect soil moisture. The amount of water will vary, depending on plant life stage, pot size, temperature, humidity and other factors.
For more information on soil mediums, topdressings, teas, and other alternatives for your plants, check out our dedicated article on organic soils – and our guide to plant soil mediums.
Tips for Watering
Watering technique is the key to success in living soils.
Water thoroughly until the soil is evenly hydrated and equalised; but not so much that you see runoff. You should be able to squeeze the soil in your hand, with only a drop of water coming out.
A performing soil must contain a balance of air and water for roots and soil microbes, to access oxygen and expel CO2. When the moisture content of your soil is dialled in, you will notice amazing plant health and general vigour.
Using as little water as possible (0.2-0.6 EC), as slowly and as often as possible, is best. Smart pots and/or Blumats can help create the most stable and aerobic environment possible.
Oversaturation of the medium with water is a common beginner mistake that promote growth of anaerobic bacteria, which can attract pests and disease to the plant.
If the soil is watered too much, the soil porosity will be completely taken up by water; preventing any air from entering the root-zone… which will not only slow plant growth to a halt, but also set the stage for pests and other unfavourable soil conditions.
Drying out leads to microbial activity significantly decreasing, and also makes the soil hydrophobic, leading to an increased tendency for water to run straight through the soil and out the bottom, without wetting the soil very well.
Proper watering practice is extremely important, when it comes to maintain a thriving aerobic bacterial colony. Oversaturating the medium, letting the medium dry out too much, feeding a dry medium too quickly, or feeding to runoff, can all create issues with microbial life that struggle under fluctuating root zone conditions.
Root-colonising bacteria – often pre-inoculated into soils – can create all the Biostimulants in bottled products.
These aerobic bacteria require sources of sugar for nutrition, in order to get to work and perform a range of functions. These functions include increasing passive nutrient availability, turning plant-unavailable salts into plant-available nutrition, breaking down organic matter, altering gene expression, outcompeting harmful bacteria and increasing plant metabolism. That’s a lot of pluses!
Yucca and aloe extract both work well as wetting agents; both to rewet dry hydrophobic soil, and to keep soil moist longer.
They’re very good at keeping microbes happy in higher temperatures, too.
Where tap water is bad, extra amendment with biochar and worm castings can help account for extra salts being dumped into the medium. Water quality testing is often readily available to determine if filtration might be necessary.
If your water is particularly hard, or tastes particularly bad, it might be worth looking into acquiring rainwater, using a sediment +/- carbon filter, or using a RO filter to mix with tap water back to 0.3 – 0.6 EC. You want water with an EC of around 0.3 to avoid water leaking nutrition into the solution, as this can cause issues (even without runoff).
Water containing chlorine and/or chloramine can have a very negative cumulative effect on microbial life. If your water supply contains chloramine, using an RO filter and remineralising to 0.3 – 0.6 EC may be necessary. Aquarium chloramine binders may be an option as well.
Once again: only supply water to keep the soil just moist enough.
This is very important.
Be Kind to Your Seedlings!
When you first plant into properly prepared, hydrated living soil, you may find you don’t need to water again for some time, as the seedling establishes itself. This is the most common time for growers to over-water.
Avoid the temptation – wait until your seedling begins to take off!
Blumat is an automated drip-feed system that senses the moisture of the soil. It can be used to irrigate your indoor cannabis grow, and is especially effective in ‘no till’ and ‘super soils’.
If you’re frustrated with the prospect of hand-watering your plants, this alternative may be for you.
Coco Coir is an alternative to soil that you can use in your indoor grow. We recommend using 2×5 gallon (7.5x19L) smart pots in a Coco Coir grow.
Coco coir is a very popular choice for indoor cannabis cultivation. It allows for complete nutrient control, encourages fast growth, and provides efficient drainage of water. Coco Coir is made from fibrous coconut husks. Often referred to as ‘soilless soil’, coco has a similar look and feel to dirt.
Coco Coir is a mostly inert medium, containing cation exchange sites that naturally contain K and Na. These sites will preferentially suck up Ca and Mg, releasing K and Na. Removing the Na and K is known as ‘buffering’.
Natural, unwashed coco coir contains coco fibre (good large fibres), and coco peat (bad, dusty fibres). Coco requires washing before use to remove coco peat, and also before reuse due to coco fibre degradation, which creates more coco peat over each grow.
The medium has a moderate ion exchange capacity, and is prone to salt build-up without regular checks. You will need to be providing balanced nutrition to your plant and medium at all times, with additional CaMg to buffer the coco — both before use, and during the grow — ****as the coco fibres degrade.
At 100% medium saturation, properly prepared coco should still able to provide ideal root oxygenation to a mature root system, when mixed appropriately with perlite or ‘coco chips’.
You must always keep your entire coco:perlite mix visibly moist in order for nutrients to be dispersed. Coco has a wide angle of nutrient solution wicking — ****or ‘dispersion throughout medium’, when wet… but this dispersion angle becomes narrow when dry. Coco can be difficult to remoisten once dry.
You can use anywhere between a 50:50 coco:perlite mix, up to a 100% coco mix. Consider external VPD conditions and your intended watering method, when choosing upon a mix. The less perlite, the more moist the root environment becomes; meaning less regular watering is required. 70:30 coco:perlite or 50:50 coco:chip are very common and reliable mixes. Coco fibres with coco chips can aerate similarly to a coco:perlite solution.
Much like humans, plants need nutrients and food to thrive. Cannabis is no exception!
So, what are the best nutrients to give your cannabis plants in Australia?
Are you doing an all-organic grow? Is it a hydroponic or coco coir setup, or are you just using straight-up potting mix?
When growing hydroponically, you’ll typically be growing without soil and using a substrate, instead; like rockwool, clay pebbles, coco-coir, or some other sort of mix. Most indoor cannabis is grown hydroponically, even if grown in buckets or pots. Often, they’re still watered by hand. So don’t think ‘hydroponic’ has to mean a fully automated pump/water irrigation system! Typically, nutrients for hydroponic cannabis are delivered in liquid form. These nutrients need to be diluted, so they’re not too strong for a plant (too much will kill your plants!)
Nutrients are typically split into two types: Part A and Part B. This is because you want different amounts of certain nutrients at different times within the plant’s life cycle.
Products marketed as “grow” solutions are high in Nitrogen (N), which make it excellent for your plant’s vegetative growth. Products marketed as “Bloom” are high in Phosphorus (P), which help with flower development.
You need to be very careful when mixing up your hydroponic nutrients; too much will cause plant damage and/or death! Start with lower amounts and slowly up your dosage to full strength.
For around $120 (including delivery) you can get yourself the complete range of nutrients needed for growing hydroponically. You can also check out our detailed article on nutrients for more information.
The ‘Nutrient Cascade Effect’
It is important to understand that plants have a defined biological sequence of nutrient uptake.
They need a baseline of nutrition, with all nutrients present, at all times — without a weak link.
Calcium is involved early in this sequence. Deficiency in Calcium commonly limits the uptake of other nutrients. The nutrient sequence of cannabis starts with Boron, which makes the root system disperse sugars into the medium. These sugars feed the microbes, which transform silicates (Si) into Silicic Acid, which stimulates Calcium uptake.
These elements should be present in a bioavailable form to plants at all times, as the plant requires. If one nutrient in this sequence is less available, the uptake of all other elements in the sequence will prove more difficult.
Maintaining a balanced spectrum of nutrients in the medium is important. Spiking certain nutrients at certain times of the grow will assist you in achieving your end result.
Biostimulants are a natural alternative to Plant Growth Retardants. They can be found in extracts — or produced by microbes that colonise the roots of the plants.
Much like PGRs, Biostimulants alter the metabolic expression of plants… yet, unlike dangerous Plant Growth Retardants, they’re organic and non-toxic.
Acute headaches, lowered fertility and chronic liver failure are just some of the documented effects of consuming PGR-treated cannabis via smoke inhalation. Cannabis grown with natural Biostimulants do not produce these symptoms when consumed by humans.
Natural Biostimulants make your buds fat, without leaving nasty chemicals infused into your bud. They work in synergy with the natural chemistry of your plant; symbiotically utilising the root systems and microbes, which empowers your plant to focus its energy on growing big and strong.
The end result is almost always a more robust, disease-resistant plant, which produces bigger, healthier fruits in flower.
You can use many different types of containers for your cannabis. We are simply offering a few suggestions for beginners. These are generally the common pots used for the purpose of growing cannabis indoors.
Standard Plant Containers
These are typically made of clay. They are easy to find at any gardening store. You can also find them at Bunnings.
The biggest issue with these pots is their weight: they’re a bit heavy. It can be difficult to move these buggers around. They do retain water really well, though. This could be a positive or negative, depending on your grow.
These pots are made from plastic. They have holes all over the sides, allowing for greater aeration and faster drainage.
They’re also very cheap, and easily purchased on E-bay. The pots come flat-packed; you assemble them yourself.
Personally, I love these pots. You can even use the holes to help train your plants. They do drain very easily, requiring your plants to be well-irrigated. On the upside, it’s harder to over-water your plants!
Fabric or ‘Smart’ Pots
These pots are similar to Air Pots. Their fabric design allows the roots to receive more oxygen, and provides better drainage.
‘Smart’ pots do dry out quicker than your average clay pots… but they’re super cheap, very effective, and easily purchased online for cheap on eBay.
Just take a bucket and put some holes in the bottom for drainage.
A bucket will help you hold onto water longer than Air and Smart Pots. They’re like a clay pot, but much cheaper. If you’re growing large plants, buckets can be a great choice!
If you’re considering setting up a hydroponic growing operation, with a water pump and a reservoir of water, you’ll be looking for hydro containers. This is where your cannabis will sit in water.
Typically, you use baskets with clay balls as a soil medium. We don’t recommend this setup for beginners.
Checking and adjusting for pH is an important to ensure your plant is absorbing nutrients optimally.
Cannabis plants thrive best in water that is between 5.5 – 6.5 pH, growing in coco-coir. I would suggest aiming for a pH of around 6.0 for growing hydroponically. If growing in soil plants, best to work at around 6.0 – 7.0 – a pH of around 6.5 will make your life very easy.
Remember, though; you don’t need to be exact. Just buy a pH meter, and be sure to keep it within range. If you want to know more about watering and acidity levels, check out this link.
Topping, Cropping and Low Stress Training
Vegetative Training starts at 4 weeks. Growing from seed in a rockwool cube, and germinate seeds in a paper towel. Once roots are poking out of the bottom of the rockwool, the seeds are placed onto a 4L coco coir container bed and grown out to their fourth or fifth nodes.
When placing your rockwool cube into coco coir… do not completely bury the rockwool cube. You only want to partially cover the cube.
The aim is to get good coco coir contact with the roots at the bottom and sides of the cube, allowing for aeration. Until your plant has rooted into the coco, partially covering the cube will ensure the roots are not stunted.
Use of microbial and kelp products can help alleviate transplant stress.
The plant is then ‘topped’ back to the third node. You can clone that ‘topped’ section of plant, and save it to be a potential mother plant later – that is, if you have the space/time and care, and it turns out to be a keeper plant.
Once the plant has recovered from its ‘topping’, and has been growing again for about a week or so, I transplant the seedlings into a final growing medium – usually a 5 gallon ‘smart pot’ with inch-layer perlite on the bottom, then coco coir.
In vegetative stage, you want to break the apical dominance of the plant; getting as many equally thick stems growing as possible. There are a few ways to do this:
Training your plants in the first 2-3 weeks of flower is crucial for even canopy development. Break apical dominance as evenly as possible between new plant arms, as the size of the stem/arm is relative to nutrient carrying/bud size making capacity of that arm. It’s easier to break, the earlier you start tying things down.
The tops of the plants that get the most intense light will grow preferentially. You want to use super-cropping and LST to tie the thickest/longest plant arms lower than the others, until they catch up in growth, development and size.
Plant ties (rubber with wire centre) and U-shaped metal stakes are good for tying down plant arms in early vegetative stage, to begin breaking apical dominance.
Your plant can double in size in just a few days, rendering all of your previous training fairly useless. Daily supercropping, LST and tucking growth under ‘SCROG’ (Screen of Green) netting is recommended, until fruits are well and truly growing.
Let’s face it: most of us don’t like the idea of our house reeking of cannabis – even if we’re keen on growing indoors. So, we need to figure out a way to mask the smell.
It’s actually much easier than one would expect, with the help of a carbon filter and an exhaust fan.
Air circulation and heat control are crucial for masking smells; they are also important for plant’s overall wellbeing.
Keeping the air moving helps protect your plants from mould, bud rot and mildew. Controlling the heat keeps your plants from getting stressed under tough conditions.
To give your plants the best chance of surviving and growing big and healthy, you want fresh air in your tent, and you want the air to continually circulate. This is where an exhaust fan comes in handy. You’ll want to purchase one to take the hot air produced by your grow light outside of your tent. When it extracts this air, it will go through a carbon filter which will mask 99% of the smell. Your exhaust fan will ideally come with some silver exhaust tubing for directing where the hot air will go to.
This is sufficient for tents no bigger than 90cm x 90cm x 180cm.
However, if you’re around this size or bigger, we strongly recommend a 6” exhaust fan. The 6” fan will give you the option to expand if you so choose to. It also has two speed options; fast and slow. The one we have selected on eBay that has ducting, noise reduction clambs and a carbon filter will set you back around $285.
For more information on ventilation and why it’s so important, click this link.
A Friendly Aussie Shopping List
HLG Quantum 260W Board Light: $525
24-Hour Light Timer: $16
Grow Tent: $89
Coco Coir mixed with perlite: $45 per 50L bag … or
High Quality Living Soil: $55 per 50L bag
Nutrient Kit: $120
Seeds: $10 Each (x4) (Grab some extras!)
Pots: $15 each (x4)
pH Meter: $15
pH Up/Down: $25
4″ Exhaust Fan w/ Tubing and Carbon Filter: $ 107
Clip on 6″ Circulating Fan: $40
Rockwool Cube: $9
SCROG Netting: $20-40
Zip Ties, Powerboard, Double Sided tape, Duct tape: $30
(Hit Up Bunnings!)
GRAND TOTAL: ~$1,150
Congratulations! Assuming you followed all of these directions correctly, you should be well on your way to cultivating your first set of cannabis plants – and all within the comfort of your own home. Of course, we at F.A.B know you’re all actually waiting for growing cannabis to become a legal practice before you actually try this one out… cough, cough. Wink, nudge.
For a more detailed account on how to grow cannabis indoors, here are all of the sub-articles we’ve written and linked to in this article. Best of luck in all of your green-growing endeavours!