When your seedling has thrust its head through the soil, it enters into the vegetative stage of growth. Vegetation simply means to be growing.
The vegetative stage is a short time where your marijuana plant will be growing as fast as possible. Photosynthesis begins immediately. This is the period where your plant will develop its height, stem thickness and will start developing side branches. During this time, it will also develop its future bud sites
This is a period of great natural stress for the crops, so care must be taken to maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity level, in addition to providing sufficient water, along with the nutrients required to obtain maximum development.
Transplanting is done during this period, it is always best to transplant as few times as possible, as each transplant shocks your plant and stunts its growth for a few days. Your plant has to be handled gently during each transplant. Some people let their plant sit in the dark until it recovers from the transplant. Some will keep the typical light schedule.
Overwatering or underwatering also shocks your plant, forcing growth to a halt for a short time, so be sure and check your plant often and make sure that it’s getting sufficient water, but take care not to give it too much.
Lighting is mandatory for good vegetative growth. It is crucial to prevent sudden blackouts, a lot of hours of sudden daylight, or light leaks, since these issues will cause your plant to become a hermaphrodite.
Regular potting soil provides sufficient nutrients for the first 2 – 3 months. After that, your plants need to be inspected frequently to spot symptoms of nutrient deficiency and treated immediately if any problems are found.
Marijuana will remain in a vegetative state until the lights are switched on – this is often called flipping. When your plant is determined to be ready for flowering, or if space and time are of great concern, then your plant is ready to go to flowering stage.
The flowering stage of your cannabis plant
Once your marijuana plant has reached 12 inches, or to the height of your choice, it is time to start the flowering phase. The plant will start to preflower, then it will fully flower.
You can now expose your plant to a regular 12 hours of daylight / 12 hours of night cycle. Alternatively, you can begin with 14-hours day light / 10-hours night cycle and gradually adjusted until the 12/12 cycle is attained. Some growers will take the light steadily back into a 10/14 schedule, or even as far back as an 8/16. This is determined by each grower’s taste.
Pre-flowering usually begins in the fourth week. Pre-flowering can only be determined with a closer look at your plant. At the 4th node down the stem, you should be able to see a tiny pear-shaped node. This node determines if your plant is female. You should also see two miniature pistils. Occasionally the pistils will not develop for several days during the start of pre-flowering. Make sure you determine if your plant is male or female before you choose to pull it.
The complete flowering starts 1 to 2 weeks after altering the light schedule. In a few days, most or all the nodes on the marijuana plant will be covered in white pistils. These will begin to develop into flowers, which will reach their maturity in 6 to 8 weeks’ time.
The buds will also develop at these nodes. They will be covered with white crystals, and when close to maturity the trichomes will be able to be seen. These start out as white and clear, then turn amber or get darker, and the small white pistils turn red or get darker as well. When you find these changes beginning to occur, pay close attention to your plant, because soon they will be ready for harvesting.
The buds are ready for harvest when the trichomes are white, or you may wait until they darken. Most of the time only some buds will be ready while the trichomes in others are still developing. If this should happen, you can then cut off the ripened buds and leave the rest to grow for a week or two more. This will guarantee a maximum yield and it won’t kill your plant.