Growing cannabis is a beautiful blend of art and science and one strain that truly embodies this is Northern Lights. With its strong genetics and legendary reputation, cultivating Northern Lights cannabis can be a highly rewarding experience for both beginners and seasoned growers alike. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the step by step process of growing Northern Lights, starting from seed selection all the way to harvesting and curing your abundant buds.
Understanding Northern Lights
Before embarking on your journey to grow Northern Lights, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of this remarkable strain. As we discussed in our previous article about the history of Northern Lights, it is an indica dominant hybrid renowned for its soothing and euphoric effects. Its genetic makeup combines Afghani and Thai landrace strains, resulting in a versatile plant that produces exceptional resin.
Northern Lights typically grow to a manageable height, making it an ideal choice for indoor cultivation where you have better control over environmental factors. It also boasts a relatively quick flowering time, usually maturing within 7-9 weeks.
Selecting the Right Seeds
Choosing the correct seeds forms the foundation of successful Northern Lights cultivation.You have three main choices; regular seeds, feminised seeds and autoflowering seeds. Your decision should be based on your personal preferences and level of experience.
Regular Seeds: These seeds give you the opportunity to grow both male and female plants, which allows for breeding experiments or maintaining genetic diversity. Experienced growers often prefer regular Northern Lights seeds as they enjoy exploring the intricacies of cannabis genetics.
Feminised Seeds: By choosing feminised Northern Lights seeds, you ensure that only female plants will grow, eliminating the need to identify and remove males. This option is popular among both novice and experienced growers who want a hassle free cultivation experience.
Autoflowering Seeds: Autoflowering Northern Lights seeds automatically transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage, regardless of light schedules. These strains are ideal for growers seeking quick and low maintenance harvests, especially in regions with shorter growing seasons.
Choosing the Optimal Growing Environment
While Northern Lights is known for its adaptability, creating an appropriate growing environment is crucial to achieve maximum yield and quality. Here are your options;
Indoor Cultivation: Growing Northern Lights indoors grants you full control over environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and lighting. For the best results, it is recommended to use good quality soil or hydroponic systems and invest in appropriate lighting equipment, such as HPS or LED grow lights.
Outdoor Cultivation: If you have a suitable outdoor space, you can cultivate Northern Lights plants under natural sunlight. Make sure they receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily and protect them from pests and unfavourable weather conditions. Outdoor cultivation may lead to larger plants and potentially higher yields.
Greenhouse Cultivation: Greenhouses provide a middle ground between indoor and outdoor cultivation. They offer protection from the elements while still allowing natural sunlight to nourish your Northern Lights plants. This option can be especially beneficial for growers in regions with extreme weather conditions.
Preparing the Growing Medium
When it comes to preparing the growing medium, there are two popular choices;
Soil: Many growers prefer high quality organic soil as it provides essential nutrients and a stable environment for root growth. Consider using a soil mix specifically designed for cannabis cultivation to ensure your plants receive the right balance of nutrients.
Hydroponics: Hydroponic systems deliver necessary nutrients through water instead of soil.
This approach has the potential to promote faster growth and potentially higher yields, but it does require diligent monitoring and upkeep.
Germinating Your Seeds
Once you have your seeds and the appropriate growing medium prepared, it’s time to initiate the germination process for your Northern Lights seeds. Follow these step by step instructions;
- Take a small container and fill it with high quality seedling soil that has been moistened.
- Place your Northern Lights seeds evenly on the surface of the soil, ensuring proper spacing between them.
- Gently cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Find a warm and dark spot (around 70-85°F or 21-29°C) for your container and maintain humidity by covering it with either a plastic dome or plastic wrap.
- After several days to a week, you should see your seeds sprouting. At this stage, you can proceed to transfer them into their final pots or containers.
Transplanting and Vegetative Stage
Once your Northern Lights seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves, it’s time to transplant them into larger pots or containers. During the vegetative stage, which usually spans 3-4 weeks, your plants will primarily focus on developing strong roots and healthy foliage.
Essential tips for the vegetative stage:
- To promote healthy vegetative growth, it is recommended to maintain a light schedule of either 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness or continuous light for 24 hours.
- It’s important to keep the humidity levels between 40% and 60%, while maintaining a temperature range of 70-85°F (21-29°C).
- Adequate ventilation should be provided to ensure proper air circulation, preventing the formation of mould and mildew.
- When it comes to nutrients, using a well balanced fertiliser with higher nitrogen content will help support the growth of leafy foliage.
Once your Northern Lights plants have reached the desired size, you can initiate the flowering stage by adjusting the light schedule to have 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of darkness (12/12). This change in lighting will trigger the plants to start producing buds.
During the flowering stage:
- Maintain a consistent temperature ranging from 65-80°F (18 27°C), while keeping humidity levels within a range of 40% to 50%.
- Modify your nutrient regimen by incorporating higher levels of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to encourage proper bud development.
- Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate measures if necessary.
- As your Northern Lights plants progress in growth, it’s important to provide support for the large buds to prevent branches from snapping.
Harvesting and Curing
When it comes to harvesting and curing Northern Lights, timing is crucial to achieve the desired potency and flavour. Here’s a step by step guide on how to harvest and cure your Northern Lights buds;
- Harvest the buds when the majority of trichomes (tiny, crystal like structures) on them have turned cloudy or amber. You can use a magnifying glass to examine their colour and appearance.
- Trim the buds by removing any excess leaves and stems.
- Hang the trimmed buds in a dark, well ventilated space with a temperature ranging from 60-70°F (15 21°C) and humidity levels between 45-55% for approximately 7-14 days.
- After drying, store the buds in airtight containers like glass jars for an additional period of 2-8 weeks to allow them to cure properly. During the first week, remember to open the jars briefly each day to release any excess moisture and achieve your desired flavour and aroma.
In conclusion, growing Northern Lights cannabis seeds can be an incredibly fulfilling experience for enthusiasts at any level of expertise, whether you’re just starting out or have years of cultivation under your belt.
By choosing the appropriate seeds, creating an ideal growing environment and diligently caring for your plants at every stage of their growth, you can savour the rewards of your hard work in the form of strong and resinous Northern Lights buds. It’s important to remember that each step of the process, from germination to curing, demands careful attention and patience. However, the final outcome is truly rewarding; a bountiful harvest of one of the world’s most renowned and cherished cannabis strains.