Cannabis grows fast during the seedling and vegetative stages. Once you hit the flowering part, which is what you’ve been working towards, everything seems to slow to a crawl. During this stage, you can also have some errors and correct them without any or few repercussions. The best and easiest time to fix problems is before flowers start to pop. Once you see the first signs of the flowering stage, all bets are off. Every step matters to boost potency and yield.
Week 1-3: Transition Stage
The flowering stage doesn’t start when you change from 18-hours or 24-hours of sunlight to 12 hours daily. The additional time in the dark helps trigger the flowering stage. Cannabis flowering time begins when you see the pistils, which are tiny red or organ hair-like structures.
Your plant’s most significant growth spurt starts with week one. It might even double in size during this time. Additionally, you’ll see several new leaves around the main cola. You’ll need to increase nutrients at this time to match the plant’s growth rate.
The first white pistils will start to pop in week two. You’ll see these develop around the fan leaves first. Keep an eye out for tiny pollen sacs. These are signs of male plants. You need to remove these immediately to prevent cross-pollination. Pollen from a male can decrease the potency of your plants.
The popular botanicals are still growing quickly in week three. Now is when you’ll see buds start to form. However, they’ll still look odd with more pistils than flower. It’s also the time when mineral and nutrient deficiencies begin to show. If you notice discoloration in the leaves, the plants receive too many nutrients, and you need to cut back some. Also, in week three, despite the increasing number of resin glands and trichomes, there’s only a slight smell.
Week 3-4: Real Buds
Get ready for the slowdown. Now’s when the growth rate will slow to a crawl. Instead of growing up and wide, the plants are focusing on the flowers. During this stage, work on training to produce the maximum yield. Additionally, you’ll see real progress. For example, with the production of more trichomes, the stickiness factor and fragrance of the flowers increase significantly. Now, the buds will finally start to resemble the pungent nugs you’re working towards.
Week 4-6: Fatter Buds
During this stage, your flowers will grow bigger and thicker. They’ll also need support. To prevent snapped stalks and broken stems, create a support system to keep your flowers safe. You don’t want breakage before they’re ready to harvest. In week five, you’ll see the pistils turn dark brown, rust-like, or amber-colored. In addition to appearance, the flower’s aroma is unmistakable now. Consider a ventilation system with a charcoal filter to scrub the air for indoor growing. However, for outdoor growing, unless trees or similar natural buffers surround your land, there’s not much you can do to control the pungent smells of cannabis flowers.
Week 6-8: The Pistil Watch
You’ll be tempted to pluck some buds early at this point. Don’t. To get the maximum THC level, you want to wait until the trichomes change from clear to milky white. During this time, you’ll need to flush your cannabis plants. This step involves stopping all nutrients and only using pH-balanced water. The best way to view the trichomes to check for harvest is with a jeweler’s loup. Don’t wait until every trichome is milky white. Start the harvesting process when you see it start to change color.
Remember, some cannabis strains won’t need week eight or longer. Many indoor-grown auto-flowering plants are ready at the eight-week mark. So, you might need to start the flushing process earlier.
Week 8: Harvest Time is HERE!
When it’s time to harvest, your plants will be huge, flowers bursting with sticky trichomes and producing an overpowering aroma. The leaves will start to yellow, but that won’t affect the flowers or THC level. As much as you want to save the leaves by adding nutrients, don’t. They have no role in the flowers. Additionally, the extra nutrients can harm your buds. Nutrients past the last two-week mark can ruin the aroma and taste of your perfect flowers.
However, if the buds start to look unhealthy in the six- to eight-week marks, such as looking burnt or discolored, harvest your buds early to prevent a complete loss.
Q & A:
What does flowering time mean?
One of the first questions new growers want to know is what flowering time means and how they can achieve it quicker. It only includes the duration from the first signs of the flowering stage to the harvest. When you see pistils form, flowering time starts.
How many days does flowering take to harvest?
It depends on the strain and if you’re growing indoors or outdoors. For example, indoor almost always has a faster cannabis flowering time because you control the environment. It can take anywhere from five weeks to sixteen weeks or an average of eight to twelve weeks.
To break it down more—An indica takes about eight to twelve weeks, and a sativa takes longer about ten to twelve weeks. Additionally, a hybrid falls in the middle between six and eight weeks.
How do you sex cannabis plants?
Between week three and six, pre-flowering will start. By week four, you will be able to see the sex of each plant. You want to remove all male plants before week six to prevent cross-pollination. Use a jewelers loupe if necessary to take a good look at the higher stalk/branch junctions. Males will resemble balls at the end of a stick and continue to look like a sack of bananas growing.
Females aren’t as ball-like. Instead, they’re more oval and slender. The big test is the calyx and pistils, which look like white hairs protruding from it. You don’t have to destroy the male plants. They’ll make good mulch for your vegetable garden. However, keep the pollen far from your females, or they’ll decrease the potency.
Does flowering time mean from seed?
No. Flowering time means from the first signs of the flowering stage to harvest. The plants take an average of three months to go from seed to harvest. Some auto-flowering plants grown indoor can finish faster, in eight weeks from seed.
THE FOUR STAGES OF GROWING CANNABIS
Germination: 3 to 10 days
Seedling: 2 to 3 weeks
Vegetative: 3 to 16 weeks
Flowering: 8 to 16 weeks
How often do you water during flowering?
It depends on the size. Larger plants will need watering more often. You never want the soil saturated. However, dry isn’t good, either. If you’re growing outdoor, you need to pay attention to the outdoor temperature, rainfall, and humidity. The rule of thumb is underwatering (a little) is better than overwatering plants. When plants start dropping, they need water. However, you should see them bounce back up in a few hours. The cannabis plant is remarkably resilient.
How long does it take to flower after switching to 12-12?
The time it takes can vary, but the earliest you’ll see the first signs of the flowering stage is three weeks from the seed. Auto-flowering plants start as early as three weeks, no matter how much sunlight they get.
How do you calculate flowering time?
Flowering time begins when you switch from an 18-hour or 24-hour lighting cycle to a 12-hour. You can’t start this any earlier than three weeks. However, you don’t start to calculate flower time yet. The visibility of pistils defines flowering. The first sign of the flowering stage is the formation of pistils. Additionally, if you don’t see pistils and only get “balls,” you have a male plant, and you want to get that out of there quickly. To avoid costly males in your garden, only use feminized seeds or clones.
What do buds look like when they start to form?
The first stage leaves the flowers looking like small balls with hairs sticking out. The hairs are the pistils. During each week of the flowering stage, the buds will get bigger and thicker until their ripe and ready to pick.
Should you remove fan leaves during flowering?
Yes. But you shouldn’t randomly pluck them off. It can increase yield when done correctly. But if you don’t follow a specific order, it can reduce yield. Avoid the bud sights and remove about 20% of the largest fan leaves.
Growing most cannabis strains isn’t difficult if you follow a guide for the plant type. The most important skill you need to produce premium buds from home is patience. However, some varieties are more challenging than others. When you choose a cultivar you want to cultivate, review the instructions to see the suggested experience level. Start with a beginner’s strain and move to more advanced strains are you learn more. While you wait to harvest your first flowers, hit up KushFly for delivery of your favorite flowers or prerolls ready to smoke.