So, now that you have successfully germinated your seed and nurtured your young seedling it’s time to plump your lady up! The next stage of development, the vegetative growth stage, is going to be all about maximizing growth. This can be a very vulnerable stage; your mission is to make sure your plant is strong and healthy.
Now is the time when you start feeding, determine gender and set a good foundation for a great harvest.
In its natural environment, cannabis develops from a seed to seed-producer in one season. Marijuana plants can grow from a few centimeters up to 2 and even 3 meters during a 6-month cycle, making energetic vegetative growth vital. Now, of course, quality is the most important but you still want quantity and to get the best bud, you need a healthy and vigorous vegetative growth stage.
As the grower, the nurturer, the caregiver, it’s your job to give your girls everything they need to develop properly before they flower, this will lead to a strong and prosperous flowering stage. This means healthy vegetation i.e. foliage, a sturdy structure to support the weight of heavy buds as well as a strong root system.
For outdoor growers, the vegetative growth stage can last between 4 and 6 months; Indoor growing in soil, from 1-2 months. However, with hydroponic indoor grows, a well-rooted cutting can grow for just one week before her flowering stage. Obviously, the period of growth all depends on your style of cannabis growing. Whilst the superfast auto-flowers can almost omit vegetative growth stage entirely.
During the vegetative stage, be careful with irrigation. As the plant grows larger and larger, it will require more water to keep up with the development. It will be very easy for your plant to dehydrate at this point. If your leaves are curling she is drying out if her leaves start yellowing she might be getting too little water or not enough sun.
TEMPERATURE, WATERING, AND NUTRIENTS
The roots should be kept at a slightly lower temperature, around 18/19 degrees Celsius. Make sure the soil is warm enough, especially early on. Remember, your roots need to develop properly for the rest of the plant too.
During this stage, your plants will need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, ie: NPK, During vegetative growth your girls will want more nitrogen and less potassium and phosphorus but later when they are flowering they will want less nitrogen and more potassium and phosphorus. If the leaves start turning yellow she has probably become deficient in either sunlight or nitrogen.
If you choose to grow in soil use a good mix as it will contain enough of these key nutrients for the first three weeks to a month. Seedling soil mixed with manure and coarse river-sand will provide a lot of food for your girls during the early days of vegetative growth. After that feeds such as Nitrosol and Sea Grow are great to use, at first feed twice a week
following the instructions on the label. The bigger your ladies get the more fertilizer they will need. The dose of your feed-water will need to increase or given more frequently.
Fertilizers comprised of worm castings, different types of guano, and other types of plant food will help you get the nutrients you need from natural sources. Essential nutrition will result in super healthy growth in your plants.
Be sure not to overwater your plants this will result in more stem growth rather than in the buds and remember to allow your plant’s root systems to dry out slightly between irrigations. This will also let the plant suck up more nutrients when you do water.
When your cannabis plant is in its vegetative stage, it will only grow roots, leaves and stems, no buds or flowers at all. You can tell when the vegetative state has ended when the plant starts growing gender-specific parts in addition to leaves and vegetative growth.
Gender is definitely something you want to be certain of as soon as possible, mixing male and female plants will completely ruin your crop.
A well-known method for determining gender is to cautiously scrutinize the 5th set of leaves on your plant. This should be done right before the plant begins to flower. Indica’s and hybrids with Indica genetics will display their sex between the leaves of the plant just before they flower.
Carefully look between the stems and leaves, you should be able to see either tiny white fiber like hairs, pistils or any bud forming the plant is female. Should the plant have a small ball or pollen sac instead of a fiber or tendril then your plant is defiantly male. This method is quite easy, however, it’s not the most reliable, and sometimes it can be very difficult to find the developed sex organs if they are too small.
Be careful of hermaphrodites, they can sneak in there at the last moment and pollinate your girls which you definitely don’t want as it will lead to a bud loaded with seeds! Before the flowering stage and even during the 1st week or so of flowering keep checking for those sneaky little hermies.
NIGHT AND DAY
Apart from auto-flowers, marijuana is a photoperiod plant i.e. it is triggered into flowering when the days start shortening, as summer moves into winter. While there are less than 12 hours of darkness, your plants will remain in vegetative growth. When the hours of darkness increase to 12 hours or more, the plant/plants will begin flowering even if the plant is a little well-rooted seedling.
You can force your plant to flower by adjusting the light cycles in a grow room by mimicking a change of seasons. However, for the outdoor growers, we have to wait for the day to start shortening or use a black tarp or cover to block out the sun.
Now is the time for patience, good things take time, not too long to go until you’ll get to enjoy your ladies’ vigorous buds at harvest time.
For now, my fellow growers, good luck, and happy growing!
Written by MJ, January 2018