Prior articles in this series discussed the vegetative and the flowering stages of marijuana growth in hard and fast terms. The vegetative stage is when the plant grows, and the flowering stage is when the plant produces fruit. However, there is a period of transition between the two phases that muddies the waters a bit and should not be glazed over–the post-vegetative stretch.
What to Expect During the Post-Vegetative Stretch
In our last installment, we talked about knowing when your plant is ready to “flip”. Flipping your cannabis plant means that you are transitioning the cannabis from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage. We also learned that the way to initiate the flowering stage is to adjust the ratio of light and dark hours that the plants receive. When you make this adjustment and the flowering stage has begun, you will notice that your plant begins to grow rapidly for the next few weeks.
During this post-vegetative stretch, you can expect your plant to stretch, doubling or even tripling in size. While some growers prefer their plants not to stretch because of lack of space, we believe that the post-vegetative stretch can be leveraged to benefit your overall success. It’s true that the post-vegetative stretch can cause spindly plants with low yields when the stretching is not governed. However, the post-vegetative stretch can also be a very exciting time during your cannabis growth because as the plant grows, it provides more potential for production and that means more yield for you.
Tips and Tricks for the Post-Vegetative Stretch
- Research your strain
The lineage of your cannabis strain can tell you a lot about how to best prepare for the growth and stretch of your plant. While the traditional advice in the world of cannabis has always been that Indica strains tend to be shorter and bushier, and sativas tend to be taller and skinnier in shape, we have not always found that to be true. In fact, we find more and more diversity in characteristics among strains that a simple dichotomy just cannot capture. Instead, you should research the breeder of your strain and see what information they have published on the growth characteristics of their strains.
- Proper use of Trellis Netting
The proper use of trellis netting is your best tactic in your effort to control the wild growth you will see in the next two weeks. We suggest placing your trellis over the plants before you “flip” the light cycle. As the plants begin to stretch day by day, weave the branches under the netting to spread out the plant.
- Proper Grow Space
One of the most important aspects to remember before planting your cannabis and especially during the post-vegetative stretch is to ensure that you have the proper amount of room for your plant to grow. Too much room and your plant may not get enough light, but not enough room and you risk burning your buds as they stretch and get closer to the light source.
- Breeder Instructions
If you source your seeds from a reputable breeder, they will have instructions on the type of growth to expect during the post-vegetative stretch, which is helpful when planning your grow space. (You can even see if try to contact them directly through email and ask specific questions; that is what we do!)
- Watch For Signs of Distress
Don’t misinterpret stretching for light with the post-vegetative stretch. If a plant stretches toward the light, but has less leaves and flowers, it’s likely suffering from a lack of light. Comparatively, the post-vegetative stretch is something that happens immediately after flipping the light cycle to 12/12.
- Research your strain
Training Options During the Post-Vegetative Stretch
At Smokey Okie’s, we are well prepared for the post-veg stretch after having experienced and dealt with the problems that come from being not so prepared. And by changing our practices, we help our plants to grow in a way that achieves the largest yields and the highest quality buds for our customers.
If you are a novice or at-home grower, you need to control the chaos and wild growth that comes with the post-vegetative stretch. There are a number of ways that you can do this:
- Set up your trellis netting in advance. If you flower in a separate room from where you veg (as we do), then go into that room and set up your trellis before bringing plants in. If you veg and flower in the same space, just lay the trellis over the plants before you flip the light cycle.
- Weave the branches through the trellis netting. Attempt to grow the plant horizontally as it fights to grow vertically.
- Adjust everything on a near daily basis. You will see new growth just about every other day.
- By spreading out the plant, you are able to occupy more square feet of space, which means more of your plant gets the light at the surface of the canopy. This will increase your yields and size of buds.
Once you navigate the post-vegetative stretch, everything is downhill after that. Just stay ahead of the plant – defoliate again in a few weeks (week 5) and maybe once more before harvesting. As long as you got in there during the first 2 weeks and tucked those branches and defoliated everything in the beginning of flower, the rest of the flower cycle should be a breeze.
Next, when your cannabis plant is covered in sticky, trichome buds, it’s time for the fun part–harvesting. Our next and final installment will walk you through the harvest process and provide insight into the best methods. Stay tuned!