[Sticky] The Vegetative Stage of a Cannabis Plant
After germination is successful, your seedling will grow a few leaves, and a root ball big enough to feed itself. This is where the vegetative stage of a cannabis plant begins.
In this guide, we will discuss what vegetation is, and what techniques can be applied throughout veg to increase your final yield. Also, we will cover how vegetation works in autoflowering cannabis plants. But for now, let's get an idea of what vegetation actually means.
If you have any questions about vegetation and cannabis, then feel free to ask for help in our cannabis growers forum
What is Vegetation
In the younger stages of a cannabis plants life cycle, it will go through the vegetative stage. Most plants will go through this process in their life cycle. This stage is when plants develop leaves, branches and stems. They also grow roots, and store up as many nutrients as possible. This is because the plant is always preparing itself for the flowering stage. The more it can store now, the more it can use later to make flowers.
The plant will grow lots of leaves, as these will be used for photosynthesis. The more leaves they have, the more light they can absorb, and the more food they can eat.
Vegetation can range from four weeks, to years depending on what cannabis plant you are growing. A cannabis plant can be kept in vegetative stage indefinitely, if the light cycle is right.
Vegetation Light Cycles
Most cannabis growers will vegetate their plants under 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness. But this isn't the only light cycle that will keep a cannabis plant in "veg".
Cannabis plants can grow under 24 hours of light. On the other hand, it can veg under anything from 14 hours of light, and 10 hours of darkness. Any less light than this, and the plant will produce the hormones to begin flowering.
When a plant has reached an adequate size, you can flip the plant to flower, by changing the light cycle to 12 hours on, and 12 hours off. At this point, vegetation has ended.
Spectrum of light for vegging cannabis plants
In their natural environment, a cannabis plant goes through its vegetation stage during spring. This means the light is in a slightly more blue spectrum than during the summer time. Because of this, most lights used for vegetation, are blue in colour.
If you have LED lighting, use the function with the most blue spectrum, and bring it more to red or purple as the plants grow heavier into veg.
You might be growing with HID bulbs. Metal halide is the ideal bulb for vegging cannabis plants. This bulb can be used all the way up until week 2 of flower. At this point you will need to use HPS, for a more red spectrum of light.
How long to veg your cannabis plant
A cannabis plant grown from seed, can not begin to flower until the plant has reached maturity. This will take around 4 weeks. You can tell when a cannabis plant has reached maturity by the way the nodes grow, for example;
If the plant is not ready for flowering, the nodes will grow side by side, like this:
If the plant is mature, and ready for flowering, the nodes will grow slightly off set, like this:
When internodes are growing offset, the plant is ready, and can be flowered at any time by changing the light cycle. But you need to make sure she is the right size, to make sure you make the most out of your grow space.
How big to grow a cannabis plant in veg
After you flip the plants to flower, they will undergo 2-3 weeks of " the stretch". During this time the plant will double, and maybe even triple in size. This needs to be taken into account when your are vegging the plants.
A good rule of thumb is veg your plant for around 4-6 weeks. But it will depend massively on how much space you have.
It is always better to have enough room for air to flow around the grow room easily. So though you might like monster plants, it is not ideal. Here is an example:
Give a cannabis plant around 2ft square of space. Vegging a plant with this space for around 4- 5 weeks is perfect. With some advanced growing techniques, like LST and topping, you can fill this space comfortably.
In a 1.2m grow tent, you could veg four plants for around 5 weeks before flowering them. This will result in a nice full tent of big colas.
Auto flowering cannabis plants work differently. Their veg period is predetermined by their genetics. As mentioned previously, a cannabis plant won't flower, until it reaches maturity. The same applies to an auto.
After popping an autoflowering seed, you will have to wait for around four weeks, before the plant starts to flower. This will give you some time for LST, and topping, but you can not increase the veg time by increasing the light period.
Autos do veg, like many other plants, it is just that you can't extend it, so use your time wisely. Keep stress to a minimum and have at least 18 hours of light on your autos.
Advanced Growing Techniques Used in Veg
Because you can extend the veg period of a cannabis plants grow cycle, you can put a plant under more stress. When a plant is stressed, growing can slow down, or stop. This is ok in a photoperiod plant, as you can add an extra few days to the veg period if you need to.
There are many techniques that are applied in veg, that will increase the overall yield of your plants. These techniques are fun, and will make the most out of your grow space.
Topping: Removing the top of the plant, to split it into two main colas. This also redistributes hormones, and will cause more bigger buds to grow during flower. Using this technique is very common among indoor growers. This is because it helps control the height of the plant.
LST: This is when you tie down branches and stems to keep the plant growing horizontally. This will keep the canopy even, and increase the amount of light available to the plant. This technique is usually applied after topping a cannabis plant.
Scrogging: This is also called " Screen of Green". This is where a plant is trained, below a grid or net. Similar to LST, but no tying, and the screen holds the plant at a level canopy. This technique will bring you your biggest yeilds.
Super Cropping: By gently snapping the inside of a stem, you can increase the amount of nutrients that can be pulled through it. Some growers like to "super crop" as a means of High Stress Training.
Final Notes on Vegetation of a Cannabis Plant
Don't be scared, a cannabis plant is very, very resilient! As long as it isn't an auto, you can experiment a bit with some of these methods. You may break a stem here and there, but that can be fixed with some tape, and some time. Never panic, help is always available in our cannabis growers forum.
What ever you decide to do, you will enjoy it. Use the vegetative stage of a cannabis plant to your advantage. It will increase your yield, and your love for growing.
Thanks for reading! You can find more information on anything related to growing in our cannabis grow guides. All of our guides are written by experienced growers, and members of our cannabis growers forum. If you have any questions, sign up. It is free, and we are always happy to help!
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