The vegetative stage, also known as the growth stage, is the first stage in the life of a cannabis plant. It is a period of growth in which the plant focuses on getting big and strong. When a plant only grows with stems and leaves (no shoots), it is considered to be in the vegetative stage.
Indoor growers can keep cannabis plants in the vegetative stage for as long as they like, providing at least 18 hours of light a day. This is usually accomplished by setting your grow lights on a timer.
Unlike outdoor growers who rely on the sun's cycles for plants to start budding, indoor growers have more control over the final size and shape of their plant.
The exception to the rule about daylight hours are the auto-flowering varieties, which automatically go from start to finish in about 3 months, regardless of the daylight hours they receive. Auto-flowering marijuana strains need 18-24 hours of light a day from seed to harvest.
Having a light period that lasts more than 18 hours each day will make the plant think it is time to grow. As long as cannabis plants have more than 18 hours of light per day, they will remain in the vegetative stage, growing only stem and leaves.
Some people will keep their lights on 24 hours a day during this stage while others will keep their lights on a schedule where they will be on 18 hours and off for 6 hours every day.
What is better?
The answer depends on the grower you ask, and it may even be different from plant to plant. Most strains of grass are fine and will flower when given 24 hours of light a day in the vegetative stage. However, some strains can improve with 18/6.
If the cost of electricity is a big concern, you can decide on a 6/18 light schedule to help keep electricity costs low. This also allows growers to use the 6 hours of darkness to help cool down the growing area. If your grow area gets too hot at certain times of the day, you can schedule your 6 hours of darkness to occur during that time so that the lights don't work when it's hot.
If you are concerned that the temperature will drop below 70 ° F (20 ° C), then 24 hours of light a day may be the best choice, because it can help keep your plants warm.
There will always be growers who think that cannabis plants need some time with the light off (a dark period) to have optimal growth, while others believe that the extra hours of light are better as they give their plants slightly more growth. fast in the vegetative stage.
On average, most indoor growers grow their plants for 4-8 weeks. The plants are capable of beginning to flower within 3 weeks of germination, but the resulting plants will be small. Most growers choose to let the plants vegetate longer because giving them more time to grow results in larger plants, which tend to produce higher yields as long as there is enough light to cover all shoot sites. That being said, you can still produce quite a few buds with many small plants growing at once, as long as you fill your growing space.
Daily care in the vegetative or growing stage
In the vegetative stage, your job is simple. Cannabis plants are fast growing and hardy at this stage.
To keep your cannabis happy and healthy, you need to do the following:
WATER - Water the plants when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. In pots, make sure that the water can drain freely from the bottom.
NUTRIENTS - if you provide nutrients, start using the nutrient program included in ½ strength, and only increase to higher nutrient levels if necessary. Simply add the targeted amount of nutrients to the water before giving it to the plants or adding it to the reservoir. Manage pH levels if you use liquid nutrients.
LIGHT - Use your vegetative grow light as directed. Just turn on the grow lights and stay at the recommended distance from the tops of your plants. Outdoor plants will continue to vegetate until the days start to get short. Indoor plants will remain in the vegetative stage as long as they receive more than 18 hours of light per day.
NEITHER VERY COLD NOR VERY HOT - Cannabis plants prefer a comfortable or slightly warmer room temperature. 20-30 ° C is great. Avoid low humidity (below 40% RH) in the vegetative stage if possible. Never allow plants to experience freezing temperatures.
AIR CIRCULATION - Make sure the crop receives a constant supply of fresh air so the plants receive the CO2 they need to grow, and keep the air moving so there are no hot spots and the leaves are always moving.
Some things to pay attention to during your first growth:
- Strange coloring or spots on the leaves. It is normal for some older, lower leaves to turn yellow or brown and die as the plant matures. It is also normal for all the leaves to start to turn yellow in the last week or two before harvest, as the plant draws nitrogen from the leaves onto the mature shoots. Aside from those exceptions, your leaves should (optimally) always look green and healthy throughout growth.
- Be on the lookout for leaves falling, curling, or dying at a rate of more than a couple of leaves every few days. If your plant is losing more leaves than it is growing, there is a problem.
- Any type of rot or bad smell often indicates that there is bacteria, mold or rot. Research your system to see if you can find the source of the bad smell. If your plants start to smell really bad towards the end of the flowering stage, this is totally normal.
- Watch for signs of mold on your shoots or leaves. If you see something on your leaves or buds that doesn't look like trichomes, you may be seeing the first signs of mold. A common mold looks like white powder on your leaves and is known as "Powdery White Mold."
- Very slow growth means something is wrong.
- Be on the lookout for "stretching" or when your plant grows very tall with a lot of space between nodes, instead of getting bushy and growing lots of leaves. This usually indicates that the plant needs more light and is trying to "reach" the sun.
- Watch for any signs of insects, including traces of mucus, eggs, spots, etc.
Don't worry about every little thing, but if you feel like your plant may be having some kind of problem, try to identify it and fix it ASAP! Many times a problem can be fixed if it is detected in the early stages, and it will not have an effect on performance.
How often should I water my plants?
Especially if the young plants are in a large pot, avoid giving too much water at once until the plants start to grow faster. Once the plant is regularly growing new leaves and stems, begin watering using the techniques we will explain below:
If nutrients are added to the water:
1- Wait until the top of the growing medium is dry to an inch deep (up to the first knuckle - use your finger just to poke a hole in the soil and see if it feels dry).
2- Add water until you see at least 20% additional runoff water coming out of the bottom of your pot.
3- Go back to step 1
Note: If the water takes a long time to come out of the bottom, or if the pots take more than 5 days to dry before the next watering, you may have a drainage problem.
If it grows in the soil without added nutrients:
1- Try to give only enough water so that half of the pot is moistened, without going overboard, you are not going to cause a leak through the bottom. We don't want to remove existing nutrients.
2- Beware of excess water! The soil is rich enough to provide nutrients until the crop can be easily overwatered.
Some growers also use the "lift the pot" method to decide when to water the plants (basically wait until the pot feels "light" since the plants have used up all the water). It is up to you to decide which is easier.
Am i the correct temperature?
Make sure to always check the temperature of your plants, not the ambient temperature of the room. Check the temperature directly under the light where the tops of the plants are. If the temperature seems too hot for your hand after 10 seconds, it is too hot for your cannabis and you need to take steps to lower the temperature. If it's just a hot spot, you can use small fans to disperse the heat and provide good air circulation in the room.
Cannabis plants cannot withstand cold temperatures. Lowering the temperature too much can kill the cannabis plant. So if the plants are kept in a cold area (for example, a basement), take steps to prevent the plants or roots from getting too cold. Grow lights will help keep the plant warm, but make sure the undersides of the plants have a protective barrier against anything that may be too cold.
Vegetarian cannabis plants prefer a comfortable or slightly warmer room temperature. 20-30°C is great. Avoid as much as possible low humidity in the vegetative stage.
What if I have problems?
It is important to keep a close eye on your personal garden during your first few crops, and it is inevitable that you will make some kind of mistake or have some kind of problem with your plants.
No grower has a "perfect" crop ...
A good grower always keeps a close eye on his plants, so he can detect and correct any problems before the plant is permanently damaged.
It's okay to make mistakes. Just stay alert and fix them!
Marijuana plants are very resistant, especially in the vegetative stage. As long as any problems that are damaging them are fixed, they usually recover quickly and go on to produce fine shoots. Nutrient problems or deficiencies that happen to marijuana in the vegetative stage do not have much effect on flowering as long as the problems are corrected immediately
How long should the vegetative or growing stage last?
The length of this stage is a matter of personal preference. Most cannabis plants need at least 3 weeks in the vegetative stage before they start to flower, but after that you can choose how long your plant spends in this stage (unless you are using an auto-flowering variety), because you are the one who "flips the switch" and moves the plant into the next stage of life: flowering.
Wait, but how do I change my plant from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage?
When you start with a seed, even with an autoflowering plant, you will always have at least 2-3 weeks of vegetative growth before sprouts start to form, no matter what you do. Growers generally allow their plants to remain in the vegetative stage from a few weeks to a few months.
The size your plant reaches in the vegetative stage has a huge effect on your final yields, as larger plants produce more bud sites than smaller plants. However, you need enough light to cover all your bud sites or they will never develop properly. Light is like food for sprout growth!
Some people put their cuttings or clones right at the flowering stage if they want to harvest quickly, although this makes the plants extremely small. For example, super stealth growers who grow in small hidden spaces, such as in a computer case, would want to bring their plants into bloom almost immediately to keep their plants as small as possible. It's also important to remember that container size and grow lights make a big difference. Small containers constrict roots and prevent plants from growing as much as they could, and small lights prevent shoots from getting as plump as they could.
We recommend at least 4 weeks in the vegetative stage with more than 18 hours of light each day for the best results. Plants that are forced to start flowering before 4 weeks do not perform much compared to the amount of work that is done. That said, keeping plants relatively small has some benefits!
A good rule of thumb ...
Your plant is likely to double in size (maybe a little less, maybe more) since you put it in the flowering stage; This is known as the stretch of bloom. So make sure you finish the vegetative stage before the plant reaches half the final height you want, or your cannabis plants may outgrow your growing space during the flowering stage!