There are plenty of steps involved in the process of
If you’ve been reading my “From Roots to Harvest” series so far, I’ve broken down every important step of growing cannabis plants indoors. So far, I’ve shared the following:
Now we’re moving on to the next step of growing weed. I’m going to walk you through how to prepare for the cannabis flowering stage. My goal is to make sure you’re all set up with the tools and tricks you need to make sure your plants are bountiful come time for harvest.
When to Harvest Cannabis
The time is now, or is it? Transitioning cannabis to the flowering stage is the final step before those precious buds we have been waiting for to start growing. There are a few things to keep in mind before flipping to flower.
Plant size is a must to consider depending on the size of grow space. This is because as our cannabis plants enter the flowering stage, they will have an initial surge in growth. We must ensure we have left them adequate space, because plants will double in size (if not more).
Maturity of plants is another thing to consider, flip the lights too soon, and you risk having a very small yield with underwhelming buds. I personally will always wait for the plants to show they are ready. To me, this is when the pistils (white hairs) start to show. The female cannabis plant, which produces the flowers, will be the only sex to show these hairs. I’ll talk more about determining the plant sex below.
Plant health before initiating flower is another aspect we must consider. Deficiencies and other plant health issues are more difficult to remedy during the flower stage. You want that proper bud we are all chasing, so keeping your girls happy and healthy is key.
Prepare for the Cannabis Flowering Stage: Adjusting The Light
Flower time is here — you are ready to switch those timers over to 12 hours of darkness. Let’s take a few steps to ensure you have a bountiful harvest. There are several different techniques many growers like to utilize in an attempt to grow the biggest, most terp-filled, frosty buds. Let’s go over a few different methods and help you choose which may be best for you.
When growing inside a tent, our light source will normally be stationary unless using a light mover. This means some training can and will go a long way. Throughout our last article on the
Pruning & Shaping Plants
When the time has come to start pruning and shaping my plants, I always make sure to start with clean tools. I give all my scissors a wipe with alcohol to ensure it kills off any old plant material. You will be cutting the plants, so being sure you’re not introducing or spreading pathogens as we do our plant surgery is a must.
I start by stripping the lower portion of the plant. This is because by removing the lower nodes that won’t receive adequate light, we are ensuring the juice of life thrives to the parts of the plants we want. Another best practice for me is to strip the plant down to three or four nodes from the top of each branch. I have found this keeps lower larf buds to a minimum while ensuring proper growth of those top colas we are all after.
At this time I also do a minor defoliation. My preferred method is tucking away (tucking blocking leaves behind branches), so I only remove fan leaves completely that cannot be tucked away. We must always be careful, because removing too much of a plant at one time as well as the timing of doing such, can add stress that we don’t always want.
A general rule for me is to never remove more than a quarter of plant material each time. Ensuring we do our major stripping and defoliation before we flip to flower gives our plants time to heal and get ready for their next stage in life.
Adjusting Your Lighting Schedule for Cannabis Flowering
Our plants are now ready for the transition to flower. This means (unless growing autos) that we need to adjust our light schedule to include a minimum of 12 hours of darkness. These hours of darkness will initiate our flowering cycle for our weed. Growing indoors, we must ensure no light leaks during these hours of darkness as it may induce hermaphroditic tendencies and other issues, just one more issue an indoor grower needs to pay attention to.
Identifying Sex & Removing Unwanted Cannabis Plants
Sexing our cannabis plants is easy and very important. If our plants haven’t already started to show signs of their sex, then they most definitely will within their first few weeks of light change. It is crucial to remove any male cannabis plants away from the females before any pollination occurs. Identifying male from female cannabis plants is fairly easy once we know what we are looking for.
How to Identify Female Cannabis Plants
The female cannabis plant — the pride and joy of our indoor jungles. When female, this wonderful weed plant will show unique reproductive organs if comparison to a male cannabis plants. Females produce little white hairs, which are called stigmas, out of the bract. These will show in the same location as their male counterparts.
Many novice growers will see the beginning stages of the bract’s development and think they have a male, but within another week or so from seeing initial growth, you will notice a perfect white hair protrude, and that’s when you can smile. This is your tell tale sign that a bountiful harvest is in your future.
How to Identify Male Cannabis Plants
The male cannabis plant is something most indoor growers are trying to avoid, unless cannabis breeding is your plan. The male cannabis plant does not produce any calyxes and stigmas; instead it makes pollen sacs. The male cannabis plant will start to show signs of sex naturally within three to six weeks of veg regardless of the light schedule. It should also be noted that most times the male cannabis plant will grow more vigorously when compared to a female cannabis plant.
What we need to keep an eye for here when identifying male plants is the tiny ball-like structures at the beginning of a node. These are pollen sacs, which once mature will burst and pollinate any cannabis plant within a few miles that it comes in contact with. This is why we must carefully remove any males from the tent before pollen sac maturity happens.
To carefully remove male plants from the grow, I simply put a garbage bag over the male plant before removing it from my tent. This will help reduce any accidental pollination from disturbing the plant while removing.
Watch for Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants
Hermaphrodite cannabis plants are the absolute worst case scenario when growing cannabis. Cannabis has an evolutionary trait, which allows both female and male flowers to grow. Stress has been known to be a major factor bringing on these traits. It must also be noted that poor breeding practices have dramatically introduced this trait in many strains we see today, especially when speaking about feminized seeds.
This is one of the most worrisome and damaging traits I’m noticing in the novice online breeding community as well as one I hope to be speaking on in the future. A true hermaphrodite will have both genders of flowers on either side of the nodes, sometimes growing side by side.
Banana hermies, as I call them, can be a lot more difficult to identify as they do not create separate male flowers. These plants will create your typical female flowers with no signs of male organs. It is only later on that they grow partial male organs, which are called stamen. Stamen will drop small amounts of pollen within the garden. It must be noted that the banana hermie and standard hermie are both devastating to your indoor grow.
Feeding During the Cannabis Flowering Cycle
Feeding schedule will vary drastically throughout your grow, especially when it comes to the flowering stage. Your cannabis plants will begin to require a different feed of your NPK scale (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).
Throughout your grow, nitrogen has been the heavier of the nutrients being fed. Now that we are in flower you will notice that your flowering nutrients lean heavy on phosphorus and potassium while weaning back on nitrogen.
When just starting out growing, it can be very daunting to choose which nutrients to go with. I’ve personally found that using Green Rush Nutrients is such a breeze. Organic, simple and to the point, their products have helped make growing so enjoyable.
I hope my “From Roots to Harvest” series helps you feel a little more comfortable getting going on growing indoors. Be sure to follow these steps to ensure you have a healthy cannabis flower staging for your beloved plants.
Always remember the cannabis community is like no other, and help is always available — just ask a fellow growmie!