Growing cannabis during the vegetative stage
Growing cannabis can be very enjoyable pastime that can give you some amazing benefits at the end. Many acclaim that growing marijuana is just as enjoyable as using it. However, not everyone can get big yields and enjoy those big buds that bloom at the end. Growing cannabis is an art, and we are here to teach you the roots. Literally! This article is on how you can make maximum use of the vegetative period in a cannabis plant. Increase yields like never before by following our tips on growing the bushiest plants in the neighbourhood.
What is the vegetative state?
There are two major stages in a cannabis plant’s life cycle. The first is the vegetative state where the plant does all its growing. The second stage is the flowering stage, where the plant then grows its bud and flowers. In the vegetative state the plant does all of its growing through leaves and the stem. It’s main objective is to get big as possible to ensure that it flowers successfully.
When does the vegetative state end?
Unlike most plants in the Flora kingdom, cannabis depends on light to change its growth stages. This is known as photoperiodism. Cannabis being a seasonal plant will grow as much as it can when there is light available, once the season changes and the darkness sweeps in it will start to flower. Therefore as long as the plant gets enough light, it can grow forever. The only exception for this are autoflowering plants. Autoflowering plants are genetically programmed to flower after a set period of time regardless of light cycles.
The best light cycle to increase yields
Light is the most decisive factor when it comes to cannabis. However, it is not something you need to wrack your brains about. The guidelines for light cycles are quite simple. Stick to the basics and you can never go wrong.
18 hours of light is the base for the vegetative period. This should work fine for all strains in the market. Sure, for some strains having 24 hours of light might be the best, but giving a plant 24 hours of light can be a coinflip if you are a beginner. While it does provide your plant with the maximum potential to grow it comes with a few possible drawbacks.
Growing cannabis in a tropical/hotter climate?
Having your grow light on for 24 hours can raise your grow room temperature by quite a bit. There have many instances where plants have wilted and drooped when it got too hot to handle. Drooping is a major issue, if your cannabis plant is big/bushy enough, drooping can cause the plant to snap. The stem of the plant will lose strength as it loses water, thereby increasing the chances of it snapping.
Certain strains have tolerance to heat and prefer 20-24 hour light cycles, Sativas such as Durban Poison or Super Silver Haze or for instance are native to warm climates and can tolerate longer days. If you are growing such a strain, then it is better to go with it. You can grow autoflowers on a 24 hour light cycle as they require no change in light to begin flowering. However remember all living things need rest and recovery, so whenever you attempt to grow any plants on a 24 hour light cycle watch closely for any signs of stress to the plant such as drying leaves, drooping branches or discolouration. If you see any of these signs then you may be causing your plant stress and you should change your light cycle to incorporate a recovery period of darkness of at least 2-4 hours per day.
Always remember to keep the grow lights switched on for a minimum of 18 hours a day. If you go below this level to save energy it is possible that your plants might start to flower prematurely resulting in lower yields.
How long should the vegetative state last?
This is purely a choice. The grower controls when the cannabis plant starts flowering (unless it is autoflowering or it is grown outside). But for good measure always let your plants grow for a minimum of 6 weeks. The ideal time period is between 6-8 weeks. Depending on how big your plant gets, you can adjust the vegetative time period.
Even though cannabis plants can start flowering as early as 4 weeks, we do not recommend it. At 4 weeks in, the plant is barely beginning to mature. If you create a flowering environment the possibility of having big buds and big yields are close to zero. Therefore always let your plants grow out.
How to take care of your plant to increase yields
Cannabis plants are some of the toughest plants in the world, hence the nickname weed. During the vegetative state, your plants will need a lot of resources. Cannabis plants grow quickly and the better you take care of them higher the yields.
Give adequate amounts of water
When we mean adequate, we mean adequate. Only add in water when the top player of soil feels dry to your touch. Overly watering your plants will cause drooping and can ruin a crop. Make sure your pot/container has a good draining system to remove the excess water. If there is too much water in the soil it can promote the rotting of roots.
Always take special care when adding nutrients. We have an entire article dedicated to nutrition, make sure to give it a read. Bottom line; always be careful. Start adding nutrients at only half its strength, allowing the plant to adjust to the influx of minerals. Take special care to monitor the soil pH.
The best temperature for a cannabis plant ranges between 24 °C to 30 °C. If it is not possible for you to control the temperature, try to keep it at room temperature. Never let your plants experience cold temperatures and near freezing values.
Circulate your air
Put a fan or a draft. It may seem funny but having air circulation is very important for two major reasons.
The first is that it will remove stagnant air pockets. Pockets of air can get wedged between tightly packed plants. These air pockets can heat up and cause local discolouration’s or drooping.
Having air circulation also strengthens your plant. It is common among big yielding varieties that a plant gets too heavy during the flowering period. All those big buds will weigh down the plant. If it cannot support them, the plant branches can snap. Having wind blowing will cause the plants to sway and move. This will instinctively cause the plant to strengthen in order to bear the air currents.
TIP – Want really increase your yields by up to 200%? To really get the most of of your cannabis plants try a plant training technique such as LST, mainlining or ScrOG. These training methods are great to implement early on in the plants veg stage. They can help you to increase your yields by adjusting the shape of the plant so that it absorbs light more efficiently. In some cases you can increase yields by up to 200%! Read our guide on plant training.
What to watch out for!
No nursery will ever grow without an issue popping up. Even the most gifted and dedicated growers will experience a problem occasionally. Recognizing a potential setback quickly is what allows them to have a successful grow every season. In this section we will discuss the problems one might face.
Your plant should at no point in the vegetative phase give out unpleasant smells. The only source of aroma is during flowering or when the plant is transitioning from the vegetative phase to the flowering phase. A bad smell could mean possible rotting. Locate the source immediately.
Mold is commonly mistaken for trichomes as they look quite similar. But molds tend to appear in dense patches on the leaves and bud sites. The most common type of mold is white in color. Certain strains such as Cheese Feminised are known to have a certain level of resistance to developing mold, so growing with a strain like this will reduce the chances.
Your plant is supposed to be bushy. If you cannabis plant is growing tall with a lot of spaces in between branches, it is possible that the light source is not strong enough. Increase the lumen count.
Discolouration of leaves
The only period where discolouration is accepted is when the plant is reaching the end of its flowering phase. Any other form of discoloration is not normal. It could mean a deficiency in a specific nutrient.
How to water seedlings
We added a special segment for watering your seedlings because a lot of beginners mess up right here. Cannabis seedlings are are incredibly delicate. One could say that this is the most vulnerable state a cannabis plant can be.
During its seedling phase, cannabis seedlings do not need copious amounts of water. For safety we recommend waiting till the first inch of soil has dried up before administering water. Make sure to water the area around the seedling and not pour water directly unto it. If the grower waters the seedling directly there is a chance that the soil bubbles up from the force, causing the roots to be exposed. You could also damage the seedling under the weight of the water pouring onto it.
It takes experience
No one becomes an expert grower overnight. Therefore do not get disheartened if your first season of growing doesn’t come out perfectly. There is always room to improve.
As a final growing tip for new growers consider starting out with an autoflowering strain. Growing an autoflowering plant can be a huge boost of confidence as they can be harvested quite quickly and have lesser parameters to control. They are also hardy strains due to their genetics so they can withstand relatively cold environments.