This post continues our series on How to Grow Cannabis Indoors in Oklahoma. In the picture above, you see that immature plants still in veg look much different from mature plants in the flowering stage. In this post, we will discuss the Vegetative Cycle of Photoperiod cannabis plants, and give you tips to maximize your crop’s potential by implementing several practices during the vegging phase.
Although this information applies to indoor cultivation in general, it is important to keep in mind the geography of where you are growing and where your advice comes from. Growing conditions vary from one geographic location to the next, and even indoor environments are affected by the outdoor climates and conditions. Our grow is located in central Oklahoma, and therefore our discussion of all things growing comes from applications in this environment. With that preface out of the way, let’s move on to discussing the vegetative cycle of cannabis plants.
The Vegetative Cycle is when cannabis plants grow in size and structure prior to flowering
In a photoperiod plant, there are two primary cycles of growth: the Vegetative period and the Flowering period.
In the Vegetative period, your plants are growing so that they will be of sufficient size to eventually produce the desired amount of flowers, or buds. In the outdoors, this occurs in the summer months when the amount of daylight exceeds the amount of darkness.
When growing inside, the grower will put these plants under lights for the majority of each 24 hour cycle, with very little darkness. The grower might opt for 16 hours of light, with 8 hours of dark; 18 hours on, 6 hours off; 20 hours on, 4 hours off; or the Veg Room might stay lit 24 hours, non-stop with no darkness.
While in the vegetative state, the plant will just keep growing, but never flower. Therefore, in order to achieve the fruit of the plant, the plant must entering a flowering period. To trigger the flowering period, the Plant now needs an equal or greater amount of darkness, which allows it to rest and produce the beautiful, valuable buds which are the object of the cultivar.
How to design your Vegetative Space for your indoor grow
In our last article, we explained the first step of the growing process whereby you either plant a seed or cut a clone to start your next cannabis crop.
If you are doing a lot of cloning, as we do in a commercial setting, you will want to have a separate propagation area for cutting clones and rooting your clones. You can also do this in your vegetative room. If you do not have the space or are a home grow, you can use the same space for everything, you will just not be able to perpetually harvest year round, although you will be able to get multiple harvests per year.
If you must use the same space, such as a grow tent, then you will put your plants under your lights for 18 or 24 hours a time, and then when they have reached the height you desire, you would then flip your light cycle to 12/12, meaning twelve hours of light, and twelve hours of darkness.
Training your cannabis plants while in the Vegetative State
While your Plants are in vegetative state, you must take advantage of this time to train your plants. In cannabis cultivation, almost all problems (as well as victories!) can be traced back to veg. What do we mean by this?
Well, let’s take a look at the big picture, and work backwards.
Your ultimate goal is to have a large yield of good, quality bud. That means, you want fat colas with fat buds, and a lot of them. Light density is probably the most important factor in getting a fat, dense, high THC bud. And having multiple colas comes from having multiple tops of equal height. Achieving these things can be traced back to what happened in Veg.
In the vegetative state, the immature plant is pliable and can be moved around. It also can recover from injuries, because it is so early in its development. All of this amounts to a plant that can be topped and trained.
Topping your Cannabis plants to achieve more tops, more colas and more yield
Topping is a method whereby you find a bud site, or “top,” on an immature plant, and you snip it off. If you are new to this, what happens in the next week may surprise you: the cropped top will have sprouted into two branches, that become two tops (usually more, because each branch will have multiple tops).
In this video below, our Director of Cultivation, Smelly Ellie, demonstrates how to top your plants.
You should train your plants in veg to create an even canopy
So the topping method is used to create more tops. It can also create more even tops, because the injured, topped, branch will retard its development for a week, while it generates new growth for the new tops, allowing other lower branches time to catch up in height.
However, you can also even out your canopy height with low-stress training methods. This simply means that you use bamboo, stakes, trellis, and/or whatever else to get control your plant so that it does not grow wild, but instead grows according to how you want it to grow!
Training in veg is very important, because it will affect how your plants behave when they are flipped into flower. If they are properly trained, then they can be woven into the trellis to create an even canopy of colas. Plants that were poorly managed in Veg will prove very difficult to manage during the Flower stage.
In the next article, we will discuss the flowering stage and what needs to be done in that phase to achieve a good crop.