Ready, Steady, Grow: Part 3
Congratulations, you’ve made it through some of the trickiest stages of the cannabis life cycle, the germination and seedling phases. You’re now in the vegetative stage…
Words & Images: Tiffany Jordaan, Founder of Grow With Us Club
The ‘veg’ phase can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. If you’re growing photoperiod seeds, they will only switch to the next stage (flower) when the light cycle shortens, to have less daylight hours. Some breeders will keep a ‘mother’ plant in the ‘veg’ stage for years, constantly producing baby clones.
* Have you forgotten about the cannabis cultivation timeline? Brush up on your knowledge here
Transplanting & New Growth
At the start of the vegetative stage, you’ll want to transplant your seedlings into bigger pots or grow bags. There’s a saying that goes, ‘the bigger the roots, the bigger the fruits so find a pot/grow bag that will allow the roots to happily spread out to fill the new container. You’ll also want to be on a regular watering and feeding schedule which works for your plants in your environment. By this stage, you should be starting to be more in-tune with your plants and what they need.
Read more about when and why we transplant our cannabis babies here
As well as our guide to a successful transplant here
Plant Health: How To Diagnose & Treat Issues In The Garden
The veg stage is where most of your growth will happen. Your plant should be producing new growth points constantly and the new leaves should be green and healthy. Check your plants regularly so you are able to notice, diagnose and treat any issues as soon as you can. With time, pests and deficiencies become exponentially more difficult to treat so stay vigilant, diagnose them promptly and try your best to nip them in the bud before they begin.
Since a number of issues could cause your plant to suffer, my advice is to use a diagnosis guide, then find and apply the recommended treatment. Wait a few days, then check the new growth to ensure the problem is resolved. If your new growth is improving, it generally means the treatment was effective. Remember, most treatments need multiple applications to fully combat any issue and prevention is always the key. I’d recommend finding a reputable range of organic pest control options and have them on hand when necessary.
We love this step-by-step guide from Grow Weed Easy to diagnosing and fixing most plant problems.
As well as this guide to diagnosing and treating the problems
Companion Planting: The Cornerstone Of A Healthy Garden
When you’re growing in bags or pots, it can be easy to forget that your cannabis babies form part of your garden as a whole. It’s important to remember that your plants are a part of your garden’s ecosystem. Companion planting is the process of growing other beneficial plants in close proximity to your cannabis. Companion plants can help control pests, improve soil quality, increase yields and even up the terpene profile of your harvest. We suggest recycling the grow bags from your previous stage and planting natural pest repellents like marigolds or pungent herbs like mint and basil.
You can read more about companion planting here
Training Techniques To Increase Yield
Most growers are after a good yield and employ specific methods to encourage greater growth and more flowers come harvest time.
It’s important to understand that cannabis is apical by nature, meaning that the the majority of all the water and nutrients absorbed by the roots is pushed to the highest part of the plant.
Training techniques essentially trick the plant into thinking there are multiple apical points so it sends all the good stuff to multiple tops, creating an even canopy which will result in a bushier, higher-yield plant.
Plants can be trained from the 5th node (the 5th set of true leaves) and you can continue training at regular intervals throughout the vegetative stage however I’d recommend allow your plants enough recovery time to avoid stressed babies that could go into early flower or start showing hermaphrodite traits. Neither of these are desirable.
There are three main training techniques you can use:
The process of removing the apical point (at the stem) to create multiple tops.
(Side note: You can clone the tops that you cut off during this process but be warned, cloning is not easy )
This technique is less accurate and simply skims the edges off the new growth to create multiple growth points on each top. This method is slightly easier and requires less recovery time for the plant. This is our recommended training technique for beginners.
Bending Or Tying Down Branches
By bending branches and tying them down to your bag or pot, you can trick the plant into thinking it has multiple apical points. We recommend using plant wire and pegs. You want to have a dynamic training system that allows you to tighten up the ties gradually over time, slowly forcing the plant to grow out and expose more growth points to the sun.
Please note: Training techniques are not recommended for autoflowering cannabis plants as they have a very short lifespan, so we don’t want to waste time recovering from training. We want all our plant resources to go into producing new growth. Autos do not like to be trained, leave them to grow naturally.
You can read more about the benefits of training here
And you can read our guide to training here
Identifying Females, Males & Hermaphrodites
As the seasons change - with the sun starting to rise later and set earlier, and the days becoming shorter and colder - so will your babies.
In nature, this is the plant’s signal to reproduce to ensure they live on for another generation.
As a grower, this is your signal to be proactive. The male cannabis plants contain minimal traces of THC (the psychoactive component) and need to be removed so they are not able to pollinate and fertilise the females… We need the girls focusing all their precious energy and attention on growing lots of beautiful flowers, not producing seeds! Anyway, you can always use the leaves, stems and roots of the male plants in lovely canna-teas, smoothies and juices, so nothing goes to waste!
You can also consider using ‘light deprivation’ techniques to postpone or induce the female’s flowering cycle.
Cannabis can also present hermaphrodite tendencies. During periods of stress, the plant will produce both male and female parts in order to self-pollinate. Hermaphrodite flowers are poor quality and far less potent so they also need to go. Removing the males and hermaphrodites may seem cruel, but it will save the rest of your harvest, so it is essential.
Find out more about the anatomy of the cannabis plant here
Learn how to identify females, males and hermaphrodites here
Be sure to check back next month for Part 4 of the Series, where we'll be focusing on the flower phase as well as how to harvest to increase yields.
If you need more information before then, visit Grow With Us or DM us via Instagram. I’m happy to help!
Read Parts One and Two of the Series and Shop Grow Kits here