GSC, also known as Girl Scout Cookies, has an ironic name. Behind its innocuous title lies an extremely potent marijuana strain. Its THC content ranges from 18% to 28%, and it rapidly produces a euphoric cerebral high. Even seasoned smokers feel the power of GSC! It’s hardly a surprise that so many marijuana lovers are attempting to grow their new favorite strain.
In this growing guide for Girl Scout Cookies, we offer eight steps and tips. Make sure you follow them as closely as possible, or else you will end up growing a different, and inferior GSC strain.
Things to Know When Growing the Girl Scout Cookies Strain
- Girl Scout Cookies seeds are difficult to locate (unless of course you browse the seed selection at Homegrown Cannabis Co). If you’ve been able to obtain some, count yourself lucky.
- The GSC strain is robust and resistant. You can get high yields (up to 4 oz per plant) both indoors and outdoors if you manage your grow well. However, due to the high THC content of Girl Scout Cookies (up to 24% in some genotypes), trichome maturation and timing of harvest towards the end of flowering are crucial.
- GSC is a terpene-rich strain, so curing is particularly important to prevent a harsh, chlorophyll-filled smoke.
- End-of-cycle photoperiods have a significant impact on preparing a GSC grow for harvest. Up to 10% more THC can be harvested by turning off all light to the plants at least 24 hours before harvest.
How to Grow the Girl Scout Cookies Strain: 7 Key Tips
1 – Start with an inert soil
A strong terpene and cannabinoid profile is the norm when growing Girl Scout Cookies, and as a result, it is a “hungry” plant that prefers nitrogen-rich soil. In order to adjust nute levels and keep track of your soil during each step of the grow, use a high-quality inert organic soil (Promix HP is our favorite).
2 – Establish a healthy rootball early
This is likely the most crucial advice for anyone learning how to cultivate Girl Scout Cookies. Because GSC’s terpenoid and cannabinoid profile is so complex while the plant is in bloom, forming a strong rootball during the early veg stage is crucial. The plant will, after that, have the ability to absorb significant amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients. In fact, you’ll have difficulty getting this strain to flower and will only come close to the plant’s potential in terms of resin and THC output if you create a big rootball early on. In our opinion, organic seedling booster from Homegrown Cannabis Co. provides the most significant nutrient combination for GSC, as it aids in early establishment of a lovely root network. The seedling booster is sadly not available separately, but you can buy it as part of Homegrown’s Powerup fertilizer packages, which you can use at every stage of your GSC grow (the basic kit costs roughly $40 – If you click on the link above or below, it will take you to the various Powerup fertilizer kits Homegrown sells. Just click on the “Nutrients” option at the top of the page to browse their options.)
The Girl Scout Cookies strain has an iconic terpene profile, but it is a sensitive plant as far as the need to build a strong rootball early in the veg stage. The best success we’ve had is with Homegrown Cannabis Co’s Seedling Booster kits, which help establish rootballs that are big enough to accumulate up the nutrients GSC needs in order to achieve the full potential of THC and terpene production.
3 – Be bold and amp things up
Almost everything you do when growing Girl Scout Cookies is done with the intention of increasing THC production and yield. It is virtually impossible to “out-watt” GSC, so from early veg through your 12-on/12-off flowering period, run your LEDs at full power.
4 – Perfect your selective pruning technique
Every cannabis strain needs selective trimming to produce buds, but Girl Scout Cookies needs it more than any other. To direct light energy toward future bud sites (rather than things like shade leaves), you have to cut off certain branches of your plants. Pruning away leaves on the inside of your plants will significantly enhance the amount of light energy that reaches bud sites. Of course, you should preserve the outer layer of fan leaves since this is where most photosynthesis occurs. However, be careful not to start pruning too soon because Girl Scout Cookies is sensitive to stress in the early veg stage. Wait to begin selectively pruning until the plant is around 4-6 weeks old.
5 – Use specific low-stress training (LST) methods
If you want any respectable output with Girl Scout Cookies, you must use low-stress training methods in addition to topping, trimming, and selective pruning. A wide horizontal canopy is achievable via training, encouraging branches’ lateral growth rather than vertical expansion. Growers utilize LST in many ways, but the simplest is gently bending your main branches and securing them to pegs in the ground or the side of your pot. This promotes even canopy maturation and inhibits unwelcome upward growth. LST and other methods like SCROG are important because they increase the amount of light that reaches blooming sites.
6 – Key in on the pre-harvest Light’s Out period
Many DIY pot farmers turn off all lights two or three days before harvest. However, based on our experience with Girl Scout Cookies, a preferable method is to keep the plants on a 12/12 schedule, but reduce LED intensity by around 50% during the 12-on time. This can be achieved by reducing the system’s wattage output, or simply changing the angle of the light or their distance from the plants. This method tells the plants that they have one final chance to absorb nutrients and produce resin, because “winter” is just around the corner.
7 – Cure to perfection
Getting the post-harvest curing process just right is an art form in and of itself, as you are probably aware. The nugs must cure in glass jars for at least 72 hours after you’ve dried the branches and clipped, bucked, and pruned your buds. According to our research, Mason jars should be filled loosely to the top and sealed afterward, which is the optimum method for curing. Make sure to “burp” the jars twice daily for around 10 minutes while keeping them in the jars for 72 hours (simply open the lid and let air in for about 10 minutes). Open the jars after the 72 hours has passed; if you detect a beautiful, deep aroma of dank cannabis, you’re probably in the clear. Your buds were likely too damp when you placed them in the jars to cure if you detect even the slightest hint of ammonia. When this occurs, remove the nugs from the jar, allow them to dry for another two to three days in the open air, then repeat the curing procedure before storing them away for long-term storage.
Additional Tips for Growing Girl Scout Cookies at Home
Focus on Top-Shelf Genetics
Girl Scout Cookies is an indica-dominant (60%) hybrid that’s a cross of OG Kush and Durban Poison. Although it is known for its hard-hitting nature, it gradually courses through your body, and you’ll experience a lengthy feeling of relaxation. Its sedative properties mean it is a great evening smoke as it enables you to stay energized for a few hours before helping you sleep.
Regardless of how much care and attention you put into growing GSC, you will not enjoy a high-THC crop if you settle for mid-level or low standard seeds. Most newbies grow seeds any way they can, but try as they might, they’re never able to produce crops as good as the buds they found them in.
You need to locate a reputable seed bank and acquire clones, which isn’t an easy process with Girl Scout Cookies despite the popularity of the strain. When you purchase clones with top-shelf genetics, you are virtually guaranteed a healthy and potent GSC crop unless you mess up the growing cycle. Fortunately, this guide will ensure that doesn’t happen!
Consider Growing GSC Using the Sea of Green (SOG) Method
As Girl Scout Cookies is an indica-dominant strain, the famed SOG method, renowned for forcing flowering at an early stage, is a viable growing tactic. Typically, you can expect your plants to remain in the vegetative stage for 6+ weeks. With SOG, you force the issue to ensure the phase lasts just two weeks. As a result, you can harvest your GSC crop much sooner.
The Sea of Green method has an array of benefits. For instance, you can use it when you only have access to a small grow room. It lets you enjoy a bountiful yield even if you don’t have a vast amount of space. You speed up the growing process by subjecting your plants to a 12-hour light, 12-hour complete darkness light cycle, which helps it move into the flowering stage faster.
Here’s a quick primer for this indoor growing method:
- Either germinate seeds or take cuttings to create clones.
- Use the 18-6 light cycle (18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness) until your GSC plants are at least 10 inches tall.
- Change the positioning of your plants and try to fit two per square foot of space.
- Use the 12-12 light cycle.
- Your GSC plants should begin to enter the flowering cycle. Wait for an especially dense formation of buds. Trim the branches underneath, and use them as your clones.
- Wait until at least 70% of the pistils turn an orange/brown color, then harvest.
- Girl Scout Cookies has a flowering time of 9-10 weeks.
Train Your Crop to Achieve the Greatest Yield
GSC’s yield is typically described as moderate, with 10 ounces per square meter when grown indoors. This figure equates to around half of what you get with the cannabis strain Blue Dream, for example. As a result, it is essential to consider all possible methods to produce a generous yield. This is where the process of ‘training’ cannabis plants come in.
There is High-Stress Training (HST) and Low-Stress Training (LST). HST involves removing parts of the plant, while LST doesn’t directly damage your Girl Scout Cookies crop.
The purpose of ‘training’ is to change your crop’s chemical balance. Naturally grown weed produces the main cola (the highest bud), which grows as tall as possible. It looks nice but isn’t a sound growth plan if you want a significant yield.
The plant hormone auxin is responsible for dictating the growth of your cannabis, and you will find the highest concentration near the top. This is the reason why your marijuana plants focus much of their growth via the central stalk.
When you use the right training techniques, you decrease this upward growth and benefit from more colas and more weed! Here’s a snapshot of the methods available.
- Topping: This is the easiest HST method and involves removing the top of the plant with your fingers. The top buds become two new branches, and the plant receives a ‘shock’ that helps growth in the lower limbs as well.
- FIM (F*** I Missed): This complicated method involves taking away a small and specific part of the top of the marijuana plant. When you do it correctly, you produce four off-shooting branches. It is time-consuming, challenging, and places your plant at risk of infection, but it does produce spectacular yields.
- Stem Mutilation: You bend the branch until its fibers break and the branch folds. Be careful not to tear the stalk’s skin or break the branch! When done right, stem mutilation provides more light to the bottom part of the plant.
This involves bending the plant during its growth cycle. You tie down branches that become overly long. When the top of the cannabis plant is pulled down into an ‘L’ shape, you distribute the chemical auxin more evenly. Eventually, you’ll expose a significant number of bud sites at a level height. During the flowering stage of a cannabis plant, the colas grow upwards, and your plants produce even more of them.
Creating the Ideal Climate
Girl Scout Cookies is a sturdy plant and handles temperature fluctuations better than the majority of marijuana strains. Even so, it grows best in a mild, dry climate; think the Mediterranean in fall. Overall, you can’t go wrong if you keep GSC growing in a room with a temperature of between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Maintaining the right temperature is the easy part of the equation. Humidity causes all manner of problems for new growers. As a rule of thumb, maintain high humidity during the vegetative stage to reduce salt levels. As the plant enters the flowering stage, decrease humidity. We also recommend exposing your GSC to drier air during flowering to increase trichome production and reduce the risk of mold.
Rather than delving into a complex outline of the right humidity levels, it is best to keep things simple. Make sure your Girl Scout Cookies plants are in the 50-60% range during the vegetative stage. Reduce the rate by 5% each week until it is 30%. It is especially important to get the level down to the low thirties in the last two weeks before harvesting; use a dehumidifier if you can.
The extra dry air will force the buds to protect themselves with additional resin. As you probably know, the resin is a beautiful sparkling outer layer of trichomes loaded with THC.
Boost Terpene Content
Girl Scout Cookies is known for its sweet and earthy aroma with hints of mint and chocolate. As you break up the bud, the smell becomes stronger and more alluring. If you enjoy the scent of GSC, try and increase your crop’s terpene content because that’s what is responsible for the pleasant smell.
- Avoid chemical nutrients if possible: Check the ingredients of the product. If it includes the likes of Ammonium Phosphate and Magnesium Carbonate, avoid! When feasible, use nutrients made from living things such as worm castings, bone meal, and kelp.
- Reduce nitrogen in the flowering stage: Although your plants need lots of nitrogen during the vegetative stage, they require more potassium and phosphorus when flowering.
- Restrict nutrients six weeks before harvest: Your plants need nutrients to power their vegetative growth. Once they stop growing new leaves and stems, it is time to reduce their intake significantly. If you continue to add large amounts of nutrients, especially nitrogen, your crop could have a chemical taste and smell.
- Add blackstrap molasses: Sugar-based or carbohydrate supplements claim to improve the smell or sweetness of your buds. However, they are often expensive, and blackstrap molasses works just as well. You can buy them at a grocery store, and they add trace minerals, sugars, and amino acids. Add the molasses to the water used on your plants in the final few weeks of growth. 0.5 teaspoons per gallon are usually enough. Don’t use molasses if you are growing your Girl Scout Cookies hydroponically.
- Expose your plants to UV-B light: Although UV-B light exposure is bad for humans, it potentially increases the trichome production of your plants. If possible, expose your GSC to as much sunlight as you can. Failing that, CMH /LEC grow lights are arguably the next best source of UV-B light.
Grow GSC Indoors
Although the yield from outdoor growing is perfectly fine, GSC produces the highest returns when either grown indoors. A greenhouse, where you can maximize the performance of the cannabis training techniques outlined above, is also a good option. Unless you decide to use the SOG method, it will probably take four months for your cloned seeds to become usable marijuana.
Like all strains, GSC has a 5-step growth cycle:
To ensure a guaranteed female plant, choose cloned seeds with high-quality genetics. If you want to do it correctly, a proper indoor setup will cost $1,500+. It includes growing lights, a tent, fans, growing supplies, and of course the cost of the seeds. Supplies include different sized containers because you have to move your plants as they get bigger.
Then there is the small matter of lighting. Remember, your GSC needs 16 hours of light a day during the vegetative stage and 12 hours during the flowering phase. You will use a substantial amount of electricity. If you live in a state where growing weed is illegal, this excessive energy use will attract suspicion.
Girl Scout Cookies is hard to find outside of Colorado or the West Coast, and it has typically weak side branches and stalks. Make sure you feed your GSC adequately. As it has OG genetics, your Girl Scout Cookies will need extra magnesium and calcium. You can increase the strength of the plants by supplying them with potassium silicate.
Overall, GSC is known for its ability to handle a high average level of base nutrients and boosters during early and peak bloom. If you see burning on the leaf tips, dial back the nutrient intake. Make sure you also check growth for signs of deficiencies.
Prioritize a Healthy Harvest
The ‘pistil method’ is an age-old way of determining when a marijuana plant is ready for harvest. The pistils are the ‘hairs’ on your buds. However, experts prefer the trichome method because it is even more accurate.
When the majority of pistils on your GSC plants are sticking out straight and are still white, it is still far too early for harvest. By the time 50% of the pistils become darker and curl in, you are very close to the right time. Remember, the longer you wait, the higher the THC content.
For a GSC strain with the highest level of THC, wait until 60-70% of the pistils have darkened. If you want to exacerbate the sedative properties of Girl Scout Cookies, wait until 75-90% of pistils have a brown/orange color.
This method requires using a magnifying glass to check out the trichomes on the plant’s buds. Look for trichomes with a tiny ball on top, as this is where you find most of the THC and other cannabinoids. If your GSC plants glisten with gorgeous mushroom-like trichomes, it is time to harvest.
Drying & Curing
You have waited four agonizing months (less if you adopt the SOG method), but finally, you can cut down your plants and use them, right? Not yet! Failure to cure and dry your weed will reduce its potency and overall quality. The first step is to dry your GSC. This can be as easy as hanging the cut and trimmed plants from hangers in a storage room. Ideally, the room will have a temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level of 50%.
After you cut down your Girl Scout Cookies plants, you have to trim away the extra leaves before trying to dry the buds. We recommend purchasing wide mouth mason jars for storage. You also need a hygrometer to measure the humidity of the inside of the jar when the weed is finally stored there.
The cannabis drying process can last 3-7 days. You will know it is time to cure your weed when the outsides of the bud feel dry to the touch, and the smaller stems snap rather than bend. At this stage, store your buds in the mason jars, but make sure the containers are only 3/4 full. There needs to be a little space because you have to shake the jars daily for the first few days.
Open the jars once a day for a week. Then, check every couple of days. Make sure the humidity in the jar remains at 60-65%. Although you can use the weed after a couple of weeks of curing, leaving the buds in the containers for 6-8 weeks should provide the most potent, aromatic, and tasty cannabis.
Final Thoughts on Growing the Girl Scout Cookies Cannabis Strain
An ounce of GSC costs around $150 in Oregon but routinely exceeds $300 on the West Coast. If you live in California and produce 20 ounces of GSC from a grow cycle, you have anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 worth of beautiful, potent marijuana, and it should cost you far less to create a premium quality indoor setup.
Best of all, you can grow it as often as you like. By using the SOG method, you could produce dozens or even hundreds of ounces a year, depending on the size of your grow room. Follow the tips outlined above to create potent Girl Scout Cookies that potentially boost appetite, aid restful sleep, and ease the aches and pains associated with a host of medical conditions.