The vegetative stage of cannabis is where the plant’s growth truly takes off. At this point, you’ve transplanted your plant into a larger pot and the roots and foliage are developing rapidly. This is also the time to begin topping or training your plants.
There are a number of changes to consider once plants go from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage:
Marijuana light cycle: 16 hours a day
Vegetative stage length: 3-16 weeks
Marijuana light cycle: 16 hours a day
The first marijuana plant stage begins with the seed. A cannabis seed should feel hard and dry, and be light- to dark-brown in color. An undeveloped seed is generally squishy and green or white in color and likely won’t germinate.
If you buy a clone from a grower or breeder it will be a seedling, so you can skip the seed germination phase.
Santa Maria, Gorilla Glue and White Widow x Northern Lights are among the many cannabis varieties that flower quickly. All of these strains have a flowering phase of six to eight weeks, shaving around a month off the entire process.
All plants, including cannabis, need sunlight, water and nutrients to survive. To ensure your plants grow as quickly and healthily as possible, you need to ensure they have all three in the correct quantities. You can add nutrients to the soil with fertilizer or directly into the water if you are using a hydroponics system. Read our blogs for more information about how much water and light your plants need at each stage of the growing process.
When your cannabis plants receive less than 13 or 14 hours of light a day, they will automatically start to flower. In the natural world, harvest occurs in the autumn, when the hours of daylight begin to decrease. Indoors you can mimic this and speed up the time of harvest.
4. Plant clones rather than sowing seeds
It may sound obvious, but one of the easiest ways to reach harvest quickly is to choose seeds with short flowering times. Always buy seeds from reputable and established sellers who will display growing and flowering times on their websites. The aforementioned Northern Lights feature a two-month flowering phase, while others, such as Sour Diesel need to flower for more than 2,5 months. Strains with longer flowering times generally tend to perform better outdoors because they receive more sunshine. However, varieties with short flowering phases often produce cannabis of equally good quality.
You could also give your plants a full twenty-four hours of daylight during the vegetative phase to encourage leaf and stem growth. This will enable you to reach the flowering stage a little sooner without compromising so much on the eventual yield.
A practical solution, if you are really impatient, is to cut short the vegetative phase. The yield will be less but much more than by entirely skipping the vegetative stage. Let your plants vegetate for a shorter period than that accepted in order to switch to flowering more quickly. The yield will certainly not be extraordinary, but always more than by making the plant flower from the sowing stage. It could take three more weeks, for example, in which case you will be able to harvest after about 14-15 weeks.
However, there are consequences mainly relating to growth. The buds will stop growing, which will affect the yield, although the THC content won’t necessarily be affected. Plants grow during the hours of daylight so if these are reduced to speed things up, the harvest will inevitably be smaller.
You can force photoperiod strains to mature almost as fast as autoflowering cannabis by putting them in 12 hours of darkness every day from the time they germinate. It works, but your plants will not get nearly as big or yield as much as if you had allowed them to veg for the normal 4–6 weeks.
As a general rule, autoflowering cannabis will mature at a faster rate than photoperiod strains because they contain a percentage of ruderalis genetics. Ruderalis evolved naturally in cold places like Siberia where the summers are very short. They had to develop the ability to produce flowers and seeds quickly to ensure the survival of the species.
GIVE YOUR PLANTS LESS THAN 12 HOURS OF LIGHT PER DAY DURING BLOOM
This is a hotly debated topic, but you can leave your lights on 24/7 and your cannabis plants will be just fine. Unlike some other plants, they don’t need a dark period each day to be healthy. In fact, they’ll stay shorter, grow faster, and get bushier under a continuous light period.
Note that breeders are now reducing the amount of ruderalis they use to create autoflowering hybrids in order to increase yield and potency. As a result, some may take a little longer to be harvest-ready, or require a 20/4 or 18/6 light cycle for flowering.
Growing indoors is almost always faster than growing outdoors, mostly because you can control the lighting. You can tweak a few other things in the name of speed too.