A popular misconception about growing weed is that you need large amounts of space get a good yield on your harvests. In reality, a miniature cannabis plant is a great option for those who lack the space or resources to do a larger grow at home. While full sized grows are great as well, there are plenty of options available for those who wish to grow in a small space. Specialized growing equipment and small cannabis strains make growing tiny plants easier than ever.
The basics of growing a small cannabis plant
Micro growing is gaining popularity as a way for growers with limited space to produce surprisingly large yields. The key to growing small pot plants is using every inch of your available space efficiently. There are three main considerations for successfully doing a miniature grow:
Get the right cannabis strain
A good plant strain can make or break your small indoor grow. Ideal strains for small spaces are ones that grow dense, short, and bushy. In general, the shorter and stockier ruderalis or indica-style strains are much better suited for small grows than thinner, sativa-style strains that grow tall. Sativa strains can grow up to 3 times in size while flowering, generally making them a poor choice for indoor growing (unless cross bred with something like ruderalis).
You will also need to decide if you want to use autoflowering strains or photoperiod strains. The difference between these two is that autoflowers will grow and flower on their own, while other strains require special lighting cues to begin blooming.
Determine your setup
Small grow setups can be done in all sorts of confined spaces. These include DIY tents, cupboards, boxes, closets, hidden corners, and even down low attic spaces. Regardless, the minimum amount of space you need to do a grow is roughly 14in x 14in x 28in.
Advanced growers can purchase equipment such a miniature grow tent, small led lights, or even compact ventilation solutions. These items, especially a good set of led grow lights, can really turbocharge your harvest yields.
Pick your favorite growing techniques
Once a suitable strain has been chosen and a grow room has been prepared, it’s now time to consider your grow methods. Some things may need updating to accommodate a smaller size setup. These include:
- Your plant watering schedule
- Considerations for soil and root space
- Growing styles (sea of green, screen of green, etc…)
- Topping and plant training
- Your plant flowering schedule
Optimizing your growing techniques for a small indoor grow will ensure high yields that make the most of your grow space.
Best plant strains for growing your miniature cannabis specimen
As discussed earlier, ruderalis and indica-style cannabis strains are the superior choice for growing plants indoors. Not only are the plants themselves shorter and stockier, but they also have dense, thick buds that really maximize their yield weights by volume.
It can be tough choosing between autoflowering and photoperiod plants. Since autoflowering strains bloom on their own and have a reputation for durability, they are relatively low maintenance and are also very newbie friendly.
Thanks to selective breeding, newer autoflower strains also have much more THC than earlier (low THC) autoflower breeds. See our article on cannabis ruderalis plants for more information
Photoperiod plants, on the other hand, require a change in environmental lighting to determine when to grow (generally a reduction in hours from 16 to 12 a day). Therefore, they need to growing space with no light pollution, and also careful monitoring of their daily lighting.
The tradeoff is that these plants tend to have higher yields than auto flowers, and the grower also has more control over their plants because they can decide when they should flower. See our article on photoperiod cannabis plants for more information.
There are many seed banks, such a Royal Queen Seeds or Dutch Passion, that have a wide range of cannabis strains perfect for small spaces.
Best autoflowering strains for small spaces
There are several autoflowering cannabis strains that work great for small spaces. The best autoflowering cannabis plants for small indoor growing are:
Royal dwarf was specialty bred for small stealth grows. It was created by cross breeding a classic skunk strain with a ruderalis plant. With the proper growing techniques, it can grow under 18 inches before it is ready to harvest. The compactness and versatility of this strain make it a great option for all kinds of small indoor growing spaces. These plants can be ready for harvest in 8-9 weeks
True to its name, easy bud is a great strain for beginners. It keeps a very short stature (under 20 inches), making it ideal for a stealth grow either indoors or outdoors. This plant was bred by combining white indica and ruderalis. Due to its strong indica genertics, this plant produces a relaxing high. These plants can be ready for harvest in 8-9 weeks
This is another indica-heavy strain that works great for small quick grows. Similar to easy bud, it produces a very relaxed, chilled high. This plant is very fast growing, and can be ready for harvest in less than 8 weeks.
Best photoperiod strains for small spaces
This strain is produces a strong, energetic, heady high. It has a very bright, citrusy smell and flavor. It responds very well to training techniques such as manifolding. The buds are very big, and provide a great yield even when kept small.
This indica-heavy strain is a nice cross-breed of afghan and Northern Lights. It produces heavy, somewhat sedating, full bodied effects. These plants are fast growing with dense buds, but tend to stay very short, making them ideal for growing in a small space.
Royal cookies is a cross breed (bred by royal queen seeds) of the famous girl scout cookies brand. This strain is very indica heavy, producing a nice body high. These plants can be trained to stay short, making them another viable option.
Basic equipment setup for growing small indoor plants
Cannabis plants cultivated indoors in tiny spaces require all of the same gardening elements as larger setups. These include:
- A confined growing area, such as a cupboard or tent
- Fresh air and proper ventilation
- An appropriate sized grow light
- An appropriate grow medium such as soil
A good setup with the above elements, sized down appropriately, will get the most out of your small space.
Setting up a grow area in a small space
An ideal small growing space will have a combination of the following characteristics:
- Light sealed to avoid light pollution (especially important for growing photoperiod plants)
- Air-sealed with proper ventilation
- Climate control
The classic low-cost version of a small setup is a cupboard that is lined with foil. Such a set-up can be done and maintained very cheaply. See our article on the cheapest indoor grow setup for more information.
Make sure that your space can properly accommodate the number of plants that you wish to grow. Overcrowded spaces for plants grown indoors can lead to issues with ventilation, light burn, and even diseases such as mold.
Should I buy a small grow tent?
People with bigger budgets have the option of buying a small grow tent. These grow tents are usually 2-3 feet wide and 2-3 feet tall, and are perfect for growing in small spaces.
We highly recommend grow tents, as they are a ready-made grow space solution that can house all the necessary growing equipment in addition to your plants. They are also designed specifically to be light and air sealed, with a reflective inner surface that reflects light back to all parts of the plant.
Best grow light setup for a small grow
Every setup needs a proper grow light to maximize bud yields. For miniature grows, even a small grow light can ensure that the cannabis plants get all the energy they need to reach their potential.
Use CFL or LED grow lights
It’s best to use fluorescent CFL or LED grow lights when growing in a confined space. The advantage to these light types is that they don’t give off too much heat. Usually, small grows require that the lights be placed fairly close to the plants (due to space constraints). This can make the cannabis plants susceptible to light burn if the lights run too hot.
In general, LED grow lights are the best choice for this type of setup. These lights are very energy efficient and long lasting. Additionally, despite their lower heat and energy usage, these grow lights can be very high intensity. This makes them the top choice for maximizing yields in small spaces.
It’s worth noting that even when using LED lights, it’s possible for your plant to get light burn. Make sure to carefully consider your space and light requirements when selecting your wattage.
Don’t use HID or HPS grow lights.
High powered HID or HPS grow lights are not recommended for small grows. These lights produce a lot of energy, making them very popular for traditional indoor grows. However, they are far too hot for growing in a small area. Additionally, they require lots of equipment (such as controllers and ballasts) to set up properly, meaning that they may take up too much space.
Ventilating your setup correctly
Even in small spaces, good airflow is absolutely vital for growing healthy plants. Proper air flow brings in new CO2 for the cannabis plants to breathe. Additionally, good air circulation for plants grown indoors can help prevent diseases such as mold or bud rot.
Small, inexpensive, grow setups can use something as cheap as a small clip-on fan to keep the air circulating. Something like this is a reasonable solution for growers with limited budgets.
Growers who wish to maximize their setup should consider getting a small exhaust fan. This type of fan can be had for less than $20, and will help ensure that air flows properly through your growing area. Ideally, an exhaust fan can be paired with a good intake fan for a constant inflow of fresh air.
While strong cannabis smells can be an issue for larger grows, there is less concern for smaller grows as they tend to only have a couple of plants. However, if smell is an issue for your small setup, consider getting a carbon filter and attaching it to you exhaust fan. This will ensure that smells from your grow room are filtered from the exhaust air.
Choosing your grow medium and pot size
Soil is generally the preferred grow medium for cultivating cannabis in small spaces. While soil-less hydroponic setups can be popular for bigger operations, they are generally less practical for small grows where there are space considerations.
To keep your plant size small, you will want to reduce the available soil for your plants. This is done by keeping your plants in small containers that restrict the available root space. Small root systems below ground can only support small plants above ground.
The final size of your plant will depend on the size of the pot that your grow it in, as your plant’s size is directly related to the size of the root system that supports it. Choosing the right pot size for your plant will depend on how much space your have in your grow area, and the number of plants that you wish to grow.
Bigger pots will lead to larger sizes than a small container would. In general, the following relationships hold between pot size and plant height:
- 500 mL pot: 6 inches
- 3L pot: 10 inches
- 5L pot: 2 feet
In general, we would recommend the 3L pot for a small, efficient grow.
Growing techniques for a small plant
Once you have your strain selected, grow space ready, and seeds planted, it’s time to consider your growing methods. Proper maintenance of your plants will ensure that you get the most out of your grow.
Pick a grow style
There are several growing methods that allow you to grow cannabis effectively in a small space. Most of these are “short” growing methods that keep the plants from growing too tall. The most popular of these methods are: sea of green, screen of green, and manifolding.
Sea of green (Sog)
Sog is a popular growing method that involves keeping your plant’s vegetative stage very brief. This is done by switching the available light for your plants from 16 to 12 hours to induce blooming earlier than normal. Once the plant enters the flowering stage, all energy will be spent on producing buds, and the plant will stop growing outwards.
This method is used to grow several small plants in proximity to one another, keeping their size small. This method keeps high yields despite the small plant size by packing in more plants to a given area. It also shortens the growing cycle, allowing for more harvests each year.
Our sea of green article discusses this method in much greater detail.
Screen of green (Scog)
Scog is another popular short growing method. This method places a “screen” of criss crossing rope across a grow area. When the plant grows above the screen, it is then bent over the rope so that it grows back down. This method ensures that plants grow out sideways rather than tall. It creates a dense canopy of cannabis at the screen level.
Manifolding is a growing technique that requires a fair amount of time and energy per plant. Therefore, it works well if you only have a small number of plants to work with. This technique involves trimming and training your plant so that all branches come from a single point at the bottom. This not only creates orderly plant growth, but it also is a good way to ensure that your plant does not grow too tall.
Topping and training your plants
Techniques such as topping or LST (low stress training) can be very effective in controlling your plant growth. These training techniques allow you to limit the height of your plants, which can be especially useful if you’re trying to grow a sativa plant indoors.
Low stress training involves gently bending the main plant stalk early on in the plants life cycle, and tying it down to the pot itself. This makes the plant grow more flat, rather than tall. It can also help improve light penetration by opening up the space between your plant branches.
Topping involves removing the top part of the plant when it is a couple weeks old. This will cause it to grow much shorter and wider than it would otherwise. Don’t do this too early in the seedling phase, though, as this can stress the plant too much.
You should be careful when watering smaller plants. As previously discussed, small plants are generally grown in smaller pots and have limited root systems. These small root systems should not be overwatered, as they need periods of dryness to absorb oxygen. Overwatering can lead to issues with nutrient absorption, and in some extreme cases can even cause root rot.
Make sure that you design your grow area so that it is easy to reach and water your plants without disturbing them. If you find it hard to water your plants without splashing water onto them, try taking them out of the grow space to water them. Excess water on plant growth can lead to mold or bud rot issues, especially in a confined space.
When to initiate the flowering stage
Growers using an auto-flowering plant can skip this section. Autoflower plants will bloom on their own and need no outside intervention to start their flowering stage. They can be kept small using the strain selection, growing area setup, and growing techniques previously discussed in this article.
All other strains need an indicator for when to begin blooming. When a plant begins to flower, it will no longer spend energy growing branches, leaves, and roots. However, it can still increase in size a significant amount due to the additional bud growth.
We recommend blooming your plants once they’ve reached half the height of their grow area. Some growers can be caught off guard when a plant continues to grow in size, even though the grower initiated the flowering phase. This issue can be made more difficult when the size of the growing space is already small.
With the proper adjustments and considerations, growing cannabis in a small space is no more difficult than growing it in a larger space. Properly adjusting to a small grow area means doing the following things:
- Picking a good cannabis strain: We’ve discussed several strains that were bred specifically for small space or stealth grows, and will grow well in a small area.
- Setting up the grow space properly: Make sure to use the correct lighting and ventilation for your given area. Also, restrict your plant’s soil to ensure they do not grow too large.
- Utilizing proper grow techniques: Proper grow techniques can keep your plants healthy and your grow manageable.
Incorporate these three things and your small area harvest yields will rise significantly.