In our last installment in this series, we took an up close look at the major differences between the vegetative and the flowering stages of cannabis growth. Now it’s time to discuss the timing of the flowering stage. Since the decision to begin flowering is solely dependent on the grower, it is important to know exactly when and how to begin flowering. Understanding this transition is vital in order to maximize yield and improve the overall quality of your marijuana.
How to know when it’s time to flower your cannabis
During the vegetative stage, the cannabis plant grows and will continue to grow until you start the flowering process. Flower too soon, and you risk a yield that is smaller than desired, but waiting too long to flower the cannabis can surprise you with a plant to large to manage indoors.
Each plant and each grow is different and unique, but there are some key indicators that will help guide you as you approach flowering time. When you are choosing the proper time to flower the plant, you need to consider:
- how long the plant has been in the vegetative stage (its age)
- the amount of room you have for it grow
- the type of strain
- the growing method
*At Smokey Okie’s, we grow indoors, so this article will focus on that style.
The plant size can be affected by the type of strain — indica versus sativa. Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier, while their sativa counterparts grow extremely tall. This is important as well, because you want to ensure that you leave enough space for your plant to grow for a few weeks once flowering begins. Plants will grow toward light, so neglecting to leave enough room can bring your plant too close to the light and burn your buds. That’s why it’s important to know the genetic makeup of your plant prior to beginning its growth.
Another important aspect to remember is to ensure the health of your plant prior to flowering. Health issues are more difficult to remedy once in the flowering stage, so addressing any distress or unhealthy signs of a plant is crucial before flowering. You can find signs of an unhealthy cannabis plant in our vegetative stage blog series. Once your plant has reached a maximum height for your space and has healthy, green leaves, you can begin to flower your plant.
How to begin the flowering stage of cannabis
Flowering your cannabis plant boils down to one factor: light. Cannabis will flower when the amount of light reduces to a certain number of hours per day, also called a photoperiod. Outdoors, this happens naturally with the seasons. Indoors, we have the benefit of controlling the seasons in order to harvest more frequently (all year long). There are some plants that automatically flower (i.e. Autoflowers). But for regular photoperiod cannabis, you will need to separate the two light cycles.
During the vegetative stage, we provide our plants with 18-24 hours of light to promote growth. To begin flowering, we drop that photoperiod down by about half and provide the plant with only 12 hours of light per day, 12 hours of darkness.
There are a few ways to do this:
- Immediately shifting from 16-24 hours of daylight down to 12 hours per day
- Choosing to gradually bring upon this decrease to align more with a natural light reduction schedule you might find in nature. Many choose to reduce the hours slowly over the course of 2-3 weeks.
- Giving the plant 1-2 days of complete darkness in order to provide for a rapid kickstart to flowering and then transition back to the 12 hours of daylight per day after that initial darkness.
Once you begin the flowering stage, you will enter what is known as the post-vegetative stretch. Our next installment will focus on how to prepare for and navigate that high-growth period.