The Flowering Stage Of Cannabis Week By Week
Slip-ups during the flowering phase can significantly affect the size and quality of your harvest. With a few simple tricks, however, you’re guaranteed a great harvest every time.
- 1. The first few flowering weeks
- 2. Week 1 (transition stage and stretch)
- 3. Week 2
- 4. Week 3
- 5. Week 4
- 6. Week 5
- 7. Weeks 6, 7 and 8 (late flowering stage, right before harvest)
- 8. Pro tips for a better harvest
- 1. The first few flowering weeks
- 2. Week 1 (transition stage and stretch)
- 3. Week 2
- 4. Week 3
- 5. Week 4
- 6. Week 5
- 7. Weeks 6, 7 and 8 (late flowering stage, right before harvest)
- 8. Pro tips for a better harvest
When the light cycle provides your cannabis plants with longer hours of uninterrupted darkness, they enter the flowering stage. Your plants will stop growing and instead put their energy into producing buds (flowers). Outdoors, this will normally happen when the days get shorter around the end of summer. When you grow indoors, flowering will begin once you switch your lights to 10-12 hours of darkness.
For most cannabis strains, the flowering period will last about 7-9 weeks, although some sativas require even longer for their buds to mature.
What happens during flowering and at what exact time can somewhat vary depending on the particular strain you are growing. So don’t expect your plants to follow this schedule to the T; see it more as a general guideline that you can go by. Let us look at the flowering phase of cannabis week by week.
THE FIRST FEW FLOWERING WEEKS (WEEKS 1, 2 AND 3)
When the flowering period starts, it isn’t an abrupt change in your plants’ growth. Cannabis won’t just stop growing and then go into flowering right away. In these first weeks of flowering, many cannabis strains may indeed undergo a considerable growth stretch. This is important to know when it comes to feeding your plants properly, but also if you want to give them sufficient space to grow.
|(Week 1)||(Week 2)||(Week 3)|
WEEK 1 (TRANSITION STAGE AND STRETCH)
In the very first weeks of flowering, your cannabis plants will be in the transition stage. Thinking that winter is not far away and that she will soon have to carry a big load of bud, your plant will likely grow rapidly. Some strains can almost double in height during this time. Because of the fast growth that your plant is undergoing now, this early flowering phase is also known as the stretch phase.
While your plant is putting in quite some overtime to gain size and height, she will grow a number of new leaves mostly at the top of the main colas. Your cannabis plant is busy growing “green stuff,” like leaves and stems so she can become stronger and sturdier.
Important things to know in this early stage of flowering.
Although your plant has officially entered the flowering phase, she will now have an increased need for growing nutrients. You should not abruptly change your nutrient schedule and use flowering nutrients from one day to the next. It is usually recommended that you continue to give growing nutrients for at least one more week once flowering starts.
With the stretching of cannabis in early flowering, you may possibly want to think about training techniques such as low stress training (LST). This is where you bend the stems down and away from the centre of the plant so you can get an even canopy for a more efficient use of your grow lights. This can help you obtain much better yields later on.
In week 2 of flowering, you may spot the first white pistils growing on your female cannabis plants. These fine and wispy white hairs will develop at those locations where the big fan leaves meet the main stem. It is these fine hairs that will later become buds.
If your cannabis plant happens to be a male, it won’t grow these “hairs,” but will instead grow small pollen sacs. Should you grow regular, non-feminized plants where you don’t know their gender, now is the time when you should “sex” your plants so you can separate the males from the females. The males won’t grow buds and will also pollinate your females, causing them to grow seeds. This is something you do not want to happen.
To properly feed your plants once they start to flower and to initiate the first signs of growing buds, you should check your nutrient manufacturer’s schedule. It is normally around this time at week 2 where you will have to increase flowering nutrients to help your plants reach their maximum yield potential.
Your cannabis plants have still not entirely stopped growing and will now be about 50% bigger than what they were just three weeks earlier. Although still stretching a bit, the stretch will now gradually slow down and soon come to a complete halt.
At the locations on the plant where you previously saw some hairs, you can now see the first signs of real buds developing. There still won’t be many resin glands and trichomes on your plants, which means that the smell won’t be too pungent yet either.
This phase of flowering where your plant is starting to spend increasingly more energy on growing flowers is particularly critical. Make sure that the nutrients you give are appropriate and check the labels for the recommended dosages.
As your plants become more picky, you should check for potential deficiencies that could manifest in various ways, such as discoloured, yellowing leaves or loss of leaves entirely. At the same time, you should also check your plants for signs of possible overfeeding (“nutrient burn”) that could show up around this time as well. Nutrient burn will usually show in the tips of the leaves becoming discoloured. If this happens, you need to cut down on feeding.
|(Week 4)||(Week 5)|
At week 4 of the flowering stage, your cannabis plants will likely have stopped growing altogether and are now spending all their energy on growing buds. There will still be white hairs sticking out from the buds, but the buds themselves will become bigger and fatter with each day. With more and larger buds growing, your plants will now produce more trichomes, making the odour a lot more noticeable at this stage.
Since your cannabis plant will have stopped growing, you won’t have to pay attention to training your plants any longer. Where you bent down branches before, now you may possibly consider holding them up should they require structural support.
In week 5 of flowering, you can observe the buds all over your plant becoming thicker. You may also spot new buds growing in new places such as along the main cola. With buds abounding, your cannabis plants will get fatter every day. This is a surefire sign you are in full flowering mode. At this point, your plant will have a very intensive odour. Ensure that you have a good ventilation system in place if you grow indoors or in a region that doesn’t allow for legal cultivation.
Some of your cannabis plants’ previously white pistil hairs may now be turning darker into a brownish or amber colour. At the same time, when you check the trichomes of your plant, you may spot some of them becoming opaque. The trichomes becoming milky white and the hairs turning darker are all signs of your plants not being too far from harvest.
|(Week 6)||(Week 7)||(Week 8)|
WEEKS 6, 7 AND 8 (LATE FLOWERING STAGE, RIGHT BEFORE HARVEST)
Not all cannabis strains require the same amount of time for their flowering, but many varieties will be ready to harvest in these last three weeks. There are, however, not too many strains that will be ready before week 8.
Flushing Your Cannabis Plants
Depending on the flowering time of your particular strain, the time for flushing your cannabis plant is normally two weeks before harvest. When you “flush,” you stop administering nutrients and give the plant only plain, pH-balanced water in these final weeks. This will get rid of (flush out) salts and minerals in the soil which will make for a better and more pure-tasting bud. Otherwise, your smoke will be quite harsh and can have an unpleasant, chemical taste.
Check Your Plants For The Right Harvest Time
To find out when it’s time to harvest your plant, you can use a jeweller’s loupe or a small microscope to regularly check your plants’ trichomes. You can observe whether the trichomes turn from clear to a milky white colour. If many of the trichomes you see are still clear and transparent, it means it’s still too early for harvest. But when most of the trichomes have an amber colour and an opaque clarity, this means that the THC content of the buds is at its maximum and the plant is ready for harvest.
PRO TIPS FOR A BETTER HARVEST
Guiding cannabis plants through their flowering phase can be intimidating, especially for rookie growers. Follow these simple tips to ensure you always end up with a great harvest:
• SEXING YOUR PLANTS
Most growers identify the sex of their plants in the final week of vegging or the early weeks of flowering. Remember, males develop pollen sacs that look like small balls, and need to be culled or separated from your females if you want to avoid them getting pollinated.
Also, keep an eye on your female plants as they flower to catch any hermaphrodites. While it’s not common, some cannabis plants may develop both female and male flowers, while others may develop stamen (colloquially known as “bananas”) as a final attempt to create seeds in response to heavy stress.
• FIX PROBLEMS BEFORE FLOWERING
If you’re an indoor grower, you have the advantage of controlling when your plants start to flower. Make sure to use this to your advantage and only ever flip your plants to flowering when they’re 100% healthy. You don’t want to be correcting nutrient deficiencies or fighting pests and diseases while your plants are budding.
If you’re growing outdoors, you have less control over when your plants start to flower. Instead, you’ll want to pay close attention to the calendar and fix any issues before the end of summer.
• MAKE THE TRANSITION INTO FLOWERING AS SMOOTH AS POSSIBLE
Flowering plants require different humidity levels and temperatures than vegging plants. Rather than changing the temperature, humidity, and light cycle at the same time, we recommend gradually changing the temperature and humidity over two days, then letting your plants grow accustomed to these changes by leaving them in veg for just a few extra days before flipping your lights.
• GET YOUR LIGHTING RIGHT
Cannabis plants like red and orange wavelengths during flowering (between 580–700nm) to encourage the ripening of their flowers. For best results, use a grow light with this spectrum during the bloom phase.
• DON’T TRANSPLANT CLOSE TO BLOOM
Transplanting shocks your cannabis plants. Always avoid transplanting right before or during the flowering phase to avoid damaging your yield potential.
• TRIM EXCESS FOLIAGE
Before flowering, make sure to train and trim your cannabis plants a bit to allow as much light as possible to reach its bud sites. Now, every grower has their own approach to trimming, but we like Kyle Kushman’s recommendation: “If the tip of a branch doesn’t break at least 50% of the height of the plant, it’s gone”. The idea here is to help your plant concentrate its energy only on the bud sites that’ll produce the best product.
Also, remember to always trim yellow or dead foliage during flowering. While your plants should stay lush and green up until about week four, some of their foliage will stop thriving as they devote more energy to bud production. This is completely normal, and you can safely remove any leaves that turn yellow or dry out completely.
• KEEP HUMIDITY AT 45%
Bud rot is a serious issue that can ruin an entire harvest. To protect your plants and optimise their growth, keep the relative humidity of your grow room at 45%.
• CLOSELY MONITOR TEMPERATURE
Flowering cannabis plants like daytime temperatures of 20–23°C and nighttime temperatures of around 15–18°C. Make sure to watch out for sudden drops or spikes in temperature when you turn your lights on/off. Sudden drops can shock your plants, while sudden rises can cause condensation to form on the surfaces of your buds, leading to bud rot.
• USE A CARBON-FILTERED AIRFLOW SYSTEM
Supplementing with CO₂ during the bloom phase can enhance growth and yield. If you can, aim to keep CO₂ levels at 1,000–1,200ppm during flowering.
• AVOID NUTRIENT BURN
You can’t compensate for nutrient burn during flowering. Make sure to follow a strict feeding calendar and remember to stop feeding two weeks before harvest and flush your plants.
• SUPPORT HEAVY BUDS
It’s not uncommon for flowering plants to buckle under the weight of their buds. Use bamboo stakes and string to support heavily loaded branches and ensure they get as much light as possible.
• AVOID LIGHT BURN
Like with nutrient burn, you can’t compensate for light burn during flowering. Remember to keep your lights a good distance from the top of your canopy. Light burn not only damages healthy foliage but can cause calcium deficiencies in the early flowering phase. If the tops of your plants start to bleach during flowering, it’s likely you need to lift your lights!
• USE FULVIC ACID DURING PREFLOWERING
Using fulvic acid in the late veg/early bloom phase can help increase the size of your buds early on. Also, remember to give your plants more calcium during bloom in both hydro and soil setups.
Growing weed can seem complicated and challenging. Cannabis plants, after all, are sensitive, and a single slip-up during the bloom phase can significantly impact the size and quality of your yield. To guarantee a great harvest every time, remember to bookmark this guide to the flowering phase and read it over before you flip the lights on your next batch of plants!
Watching your cannabis plants flower is both exciting and daunting. Click here for an in-depth overview on how to guide your plants through the bloom phase.
Cannabis Light Schedules: Vegetative Stage vs Flowering Stage
Cannabis plants keep getting bigger and bigger with long days, and start making buds when you give them long nights.
Cannabis is a “photoperiod” plant, which means the amount of light received each day decides when the plant starts flowering or making buds. This article explains how much light a day your photoperiod cannabis plants need to grow and start budding, so you get to a happy harvest day. What about auto-flowering strains?
Vegetative – Seedling or clone leads to Vegetative Stage –
Give 18-24 hours of light a day
Flowering – Flowering (Budding) Stage leads to Harvest –
Give 12 hours light & 12 hours dark each day
Seedling or Clone
While not technically a “stage,” all grows start with cannabis seeds or clones.
Plant your seeds or clones when you’re ready to start growing! What are clones? https://www.growweedeasy.com/cloning
Some outdoor growers start their plants indoors to give them a headstart before putting plants outside.
If you’re growing cannabis outdoors with seeds, you should wait until a few weeks after the spring equinox to put your seeds outside. In the northern hemisphere this means seeds go outside in-or-after April, In the southern hemisphere seeds go outside in-or-after October.
For growers starting with cannabis clones, generally you should wait a few weeks longer than with seeds. Cannabis clones are more prone to flowering early outdoors than seeds, so you might want to put your clones out in late Spring or early Summer. (What are clones?)
If you live in a cold climate, you must also wait until after the last frost before putting your plants outside. Freezing temps will kill cannabis plants. Strain choice is very important. Some strains flower earlier than others. For outdoor growers in cold climates, it’s important to make sure you grow a strain that is matched up with your local weather, so that plants are ready for harvest before temperatures drop.
The vegetative stage is one of the most important parts of the life of your cannabis plant.
The vegetative stage is the growing stage of the plant. When in veg, cannabis plants grow bigger and taller, growing only stems and leaves. As a grower, you are able to control the size and shape of your plants in the vegetative stage using simple training methods.
During the entire vegetative stage the plant does not produce buds at all. It only grows stems and leaves. During the vegetative stage plants tend to grow very fast, especially when conditions are right.
What keeps cannabis in the vegetative stage?
Short nights keep cannabis plants in the vegetative stage. You can keep a cannabis plant in the vegetative stage for basically forever as long as the plant continues to get short nights (shorter than 1s-12 hours, depending on the strain).
Cannabis will stay in the vegetative stage as long as the plant gets short nights (less than 11-12 hours of darkness each day)
Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, you must make sure your cannabis plants get at least 13 hours of light each day to stay in the vegetative stage. If your plant gets a few long nights, it may start budding before you want.
The plant can receive as much as 24 hours of light a day while in the vegetative stage. Many indoor growers provide 18-24 hours of light a day (known as 18-6 or 24-0 light schedules) during the vegetative stage to encourage faster vegetative growth.
Don’t want to worry about light schedules? For growers that don’t want to pay attention to light schedules, there are auto-flowering strains of cannabis, which will automatically go through their whole life in about 3 months no matter what light schedule is provided. For some growers, an auto-flowering strain may be more simple than a traditional (photoperiod) strain.
Most indoor growers provide 18-24 hours of light a day (known as 18-6 or 24-0 light schedules). Giving your cannabis plants more hours of light each day in the flowering stage will encourage faster growth.
Lingo: When a grower provides 18 hours of light a day and 6 hours of darkness, this is commonly known as the 18/6 light schedule. For 24 hours a day, this is referred to as the 24-0 light schedule.
As long as your plant is getting plenty of light a day, your plant will automatically stay in the vegetative stage from late spring until late summer. Every strain is a bit different.
Cannabis starts budding when plants get at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night. After plants start budding, they must continue to get long dark nights until harvest or they may revert back to the vegetative stage.
Indoors most growers put their plants on a 12-12 schedule to initiate flowering. Outdoors the plant will naturally start budding in late summer when nights are growing longer and longer as winter approaches. Just make sure plants aren’t exposed to light during their dark period!
What is 12-12 Lighting?
The indoor grower will need to artificially induce flowering/budding in plants by changing the light schedule so the plant receives only 12 hours of light a day, and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness.
Once the plant is changed over to the flowering (12/12) light schedule, there is generally another 6 weeks-5 months (average 2.5 months) before the plant’s buds are ready for harvest.
Outdoor growers wait until their cannabis plants start naturally flowering on their own, usually after mid-summer when days start getting shorter than 12 hours.
It’s important to make sure plants aren’t exposed to light at night during their dark period, even street lights or spotlights, as this can prevent cannabis plants from flowering properly.
Growing Indoors? Not Sure When To Switch To Flowering?
So indoor growers have a choice to flower their plants whenever they want… When is the best t ime to start flowering your cannabis indoors?
The real answer is that it’s a matter of personal preference and also depends on what end result you’re looking for. There are two major considerations when choosing the right time to switch to 12/12, the age of the plant and the height of the plant:
Age: Some growers feel that a marijuana plant which has been grown from seed will not produce as many buds or have enough resin production if the plant is not given at least 60 days in the vegetative stage to mature before it’s changed over to the flowering stage. This is not true. many growers initiate flowering soon after germinating a seed in order to keep plants small and short. This is often called “12-12 from seed.” Just remember, no matter what you do, a young cannabis plant will not start flowering until it is 2-3 weeks old. Even if you put a seed on a 12-12 schedule from the beginning, it will not start properly budding for about 3 weeks. When growing with cannabis clones, age is not an issue and growers can switch directly to flowering once your clone has established roots. This is because even though a clone may be small, it’s still a ‘mature’ plant since it is made of a piece from a mature plant. Rooted clones tend to grow much faster for the first few weeks than plants grown from seed. In any case, age is not much of an issue, and you should switch your light schedule at the time that best fits your needs.
Height: A general rule is that your marijuana plant will double or triple in size during the flowering stage from the point where you first change over the light schedule to 12/12. Some plants will grow more, some will grow less, but a good rule of thumb is to change your light schedule over to flowering when your plants have reached half of their final desired height. Bending, known as “LST” or “low stress training” can be used to control colas that get too tall. Simply bend too-tall colas down and away from the center of the plant. Some growers will even slightly break or “supercrop” branches to get them to bend at a 90 degree angle. For those growing in a small space, height may be the primary concern. However, there are many techniques available to grow a short, bushy weed plant or basically train your cannabis plant to grow into any shape you want.
Here’s an example of LST to keep a plant short:
In optimal conditions if height and space is not an issue, you would probably want to vegetate your cannabis plant for 60 days or more before switching it over to flowering. This gives your plant plenty of time to grow big (so you get bigger yields), and allows new growers to dial in their grow before plants enter the sensitive flowering stage. In the vegetative stage, it is easy to recover from problems, but problems are a lot more serious in the flowering stage, where mistakes can dramatically hurt your final yields.
Giving cannabis plants more time in the vegetative stage, and taking time to train them to fit your space, will give you the best final yields. However, if space is tight, then it’s better to switch when the plant is half the final desired height, or even to just attempt to flower your cannabis plant straight from seed.
After the vegetative and flowering stage are over, it is time to harvest your plants!
What do I need to know about light cycles and flowering my marijuana plants? Plants keep getting bigger and bigger with long days, and start making buds when you give them long nights.