The flowering phase is the much-awaited stage in a cannabis plant’s life. Whether a grower is cultivating weed for recreational use or medicinal use, it’s rewarding to find your plants are in this crucial stage. And to better help first-time cannabis growers, this guide will help you identify the first signs of the flowering stage. You need to determine that your plants are finally in the flowering stage because many things will change once these have crossed this stage.
What is The Flowering Stage in a Cannabis Plant?
The flowering stage is the next stage after the vegetative stage. It is when plants finally grow buds. It is during this time when your plants have finally stopped growing. This is because all its energy will be used to manufacture flowers.
The flowering stage is crucial for both male and female plants. Think of the adolescent stage in humans when young males and females finally resolved their identities. It is during the flowering stage when you can readily tell the gender of your plants. Males look different from females and this will be further discussed later.
By identifying males from female plants, you can remove males from the growing area if you want to produce weed. But if you want to grow seeds or if you wish to breed new plants, you can let your male plants remain.
What are the Different Stages of the Growth of a Cannabis Plant?
Before we head to the different signs of the flowering stage let us first identify the different cannabis plant stages. Take note that unlike other plants that live for a long time, cannabis plants are annual plants. These plants will only live in one growing season with a typical season moving across the different months of the year. Because of cannabis plants’ fast-growing phase, you can’t take chances and overlook the flowering stage!
There are only two growth phases of a cannabis plant: the vegetative phase and the flowering phase. The vegetative or growing phase starts from the time you sow seeds to the period before the flowering stage. Flowering is from the day the pre-flowers form to the final day before harvest.
But for detailed information on the different phases of growth of a cannabis plant, here are the five different growth stages:
1. Germination Phase
The germination phase is a very short stage in a cannabis plant’s life. It starts when the seed is sprouted. Cannabis seeds may be sprouted using water, soil, or inert growing medium. During the germination phase, the seeds open and the very first structure called the taproot pops out.
The taproot is a fat root where the different root systems emerge from. In soil, the seed orients itself until the taproot is pointing directly to the ground. Meanwhile, small round leaves also emerge from the seed. These are cotyledons of the seed and not the first leaves that the plants make. It can take a few more days for new jagged leaves or leaves with serrated edges will pop out. These are the very first leaves that the plant makes on its own. This is when the germination phase ends.
2. Seedling Phase
The seedling phase starts when the plants have grown their first leaves. If the seeds were not sprouted in soil, it will need to be transferred to soil or the preferred growing medium. This is another short phase and will end as soon as the plants are stronger and are ready to be transferred to their final growing pots.
3. Growing Phase
The growing phase begins instantaneously as the plant begins to grow stronger branches, stems, and leaves. It is the phase when the plant is actively preparing and growing. You will notice that the plants are growing new leaves daily and are also growing taller or wider depending on their genetic characteristics.
The growing phase is the longest phase of a cannabis plant’s life. The length of this period depends on what type of cannabis it is and the type of strain. Usually, Cannabis sativa plants have the longest growing or vegetative phase because of their size and plant structure (some sativas can grow up to 10 or more feet!). Meanwhile, Cannabis indicas grow much faster while Cannabis ruderalis strains have a very short growing phase. Plants can switch to the flowering stage in as quick as 7 to 9 weeks.
4. Pre-flowering Phase
The pre-flowering phase is very short and this is when you can readily tell if your plants are male or female. It is during this time when you need to remove the males from your garden if you wish to grow weed and to allow males to remain if you want to cultivate seeds or breed new plants. We will discuss this phase in-depth later.
5. Flowering Phase
The flowering phase immediately starts after the pre-flowering phase. It ends right before the harvest period. This is a shorter phase compared to the growing phase but for fast version plants, you can expect faster flowering phases and therefore, faster harvests.
6. Harvest Time
Harvest time is the time when you cut your buds from the plants. Harvest time is not a stage as plants have been cut and the usable parts saved. Right after harvest time are the drying period and the curing process. You cannot overlook these periods as these are very important in manufacturing good quality weed.
What are the First Signs of the Flowering Stage?
Now we come to the part on how to identify the first signs of the blooming phase or flowering stage. We will identify these signs relevant to regular plants as this type of plant has male and female plants.
The flowering phase happens to all types of cannabis plants and this phase starts with the pre-flowering phase.
After healthy and mature cannabis plants are subjected to a 12-hour light and 12-hour dark period for a few days, your plants will start to grow pre-flowers. Take note that autoflowering cannabis doesn’t need to be exposed to this type of lighting schedule as these will flower automatically when the plant is mature.
You will know that your plants are already in the pre-flowering phase when you notice the following changes:
The Presence of White Wispy Flowers Called Pistils
These structures grow in a junction between the main trunk and branch. When you find these on your plants, this means that you are growing female plants. These structures will be ready to receive pollen from male plants.
When the pistils are allowed to mature and not to receive pollen from male plants, these will grow weed. But if the pistils are allowed to receive pollen, these will soon grow seeds.
The Presence of Green Bags or Sacs
The presence of green bags or sacs in the same area where pistils are located means that you are growing male plants. Inside these sacs is pollen. In time, the sacs will mature and open to release pollen. Wind action or the use of other carriers like humans, pets, and insects will deposit pollen to the pistils to form seeds.
Your Plants Stop Growing
It is also very noticeable that cannabis plants during the flowering stage will stop growing. Cannabis plants will divert all its energy it gets from light and the nutrients in the soil and from fertilizers to growing flowers or buds. It will stop growing altogether, it will stop making new leaves and stems as well.
Why Feminized Cannabis Seeds are Preferred?
Regular seeds are a mix of female and male plants. The problem is, you cannot determine the gender of your plants while still in their seed form. You still need to wait until the flowering stage to find out if you are growing male or female plants. Seed banks say that in a bag of seeds, males could be half of the seeds inside the package sometimes more.
Because of this, you will naturally
- Grow more than what you need to compensate for any males in the pack.
- Spend more resources than what you need to spend. You will take care of all your plants, equally providing light, food, water, and good soil to prepare for possible female plants.
- Pay a higher electricity bill as you need lighting with higher intensity, fans, and dehumidifiers to care for all your plants.
All is said and done, you’ll only get females around half or more than half of your plants! You’ll still get smaller yields with more work!
But with feminized cannabis seeds, you don’t need to worry about a lot of things.
- There’s no need to save your plants from possible accidental pollination.
- You don’t need to spend money on electricity, and other plant needs.
- You don’t have to grow more plants to compensate for possible males
- You can confidently grow all your female plants.
Feminized seeds are far better than regular photoperiod cannabis seeds in more ways than one. It’s the best for first-time growers, for impatient growers, and for people who don’t want to deal with male plants. But, it’s not for breeders as you don’t have male plants to pollinate female plants. It’s not for people who want to grow seeds either.
Plant Requirements During the Flowering Stage
Now that you know the early signs of the flowering phase, it’s time to get to know the different ways you can care for your plants during this most important time. Here are some tips for you
Prop Your Plants Early On
This is important weeks before the flowering phase especially if you are expecting large and dense buds. Use sturdy planks or metal supports and some rope or thread to secure your plants. Sativas are known to grow larger and heavier buds and without supports, your plants can easily fall or topple over.
Use Fertilizers that are Meant for the Blooming Phase
If you must apply fertilizer, use products that are for the blooming phase. Some nutrients are no longer needed by flowering cannabis like nitrogen and these should be absent or present in very small amounts in fertilizers in the blooming phase.
Some nutrients should be present in higher amounts during the flowering phase like potassium and phosphorus. These nutrients are important during the blooming phase to boost bud health and size. These are present in higher amounts in flowering phase nutrients. You can find good quality blooming phase fertilizers from cannabis growing supplies shops. Usually, the growing and blooming nutes come in a pair.
Reduce Humidity Levels
Humidity levels of cannabis plants change over their growth. During the seedling phase, a higher humidity level is needed while growing plants need lower humidity levels. In the flowering phase, plants need much lower humidity as you need to counter mold development inside the growing area.
Molds develop in high humidity, moist areas and if you don’t check your humidity levels, you can end up with moldy buds which won’t be good when smoked. To avoid this, remove moisture and enhance humidity levels ASAP.
Protect Your Buds from Pests and Molds
Don’t let pests and molds eat your hard work in a single night! Protect your plants from pests by keeping a close watch. A few bugs and pests could mean there’s more nearby. Always be on the lookout for pests and remove them at once. If you’re going to use pesticides never apply these to the buds as these can change the taste and flavor of your buds. Keep your growing area clean and moisture-free to avoid common insect pests and mold.
Continue Your 12/12 Lighting Schedule
Continue the 12/12 lighting schedule to help your plants boost bud growth and development. Use powerful lighting and keep lamps away from your buds to avoid burning them.
By learning the first signs of the flowering stage of cannabis plants, you can avoid pollination. You can also start to provide care that’s relevant to your plants at this stage. Good luck with growing your own medical or recreational cannabis supply!