The vegetative stage refers to a specific phase in the life cycle of a cannabis plant when it focuses on vegetative growth rather than reproductive development. During this stage, the plant primarily grows leaves, stems, and branches, establishing a robust and healthy structure before transitioning into the flowering stage.
In the vegetative stage, cannabis plants require specific environmental conditions and care to promote vigorous growth. Here are some key aspects to consider during this phase:
- Light: Cannabis plants in the vegetative stage require a longer duration of light exposure per day, typically between 18 to 24 hours. High-intensity light sources, such as metal halide (MH) or LED grow lights, provide the necessary spectrum and intensity to support optimal growth.
- Nutrients: Providing the appropriate nutrients is crucial during the vegetative stage. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are primary macronutrients required in higher quantities, along with secondary macronutrients (calcium, magnesium) and micronutrients (iron, zinc, etc.). Using a balanced fertilizer formulated for vegetative growth can help meet the plant’s nutritional needs.
- watering: Cannabis plants in the vegetative stage generally require regular watering to ensure adequate hydration. However, it’s essential to avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root problems or nutrient deficiencies. Allow the top layer of the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent waterlogged conditions.
- Pruning and Training: The vegetative stage is an ideal time for pruning and training techniques to shape the plant’s structure and encourage bushier growth. Techniques like topping, pruning lower branches, and using plant training methods such as low-stress training (LST) or scrogging can help optimize light distribution and promote more abundant yields.
- Environment: Maintaining proper environmental conditions is critical for healthy vegetative growth. Ensure the temperature remains within the optimal range of 70-85°F (21-29°C) and relative humidity (RH) between 40-60%. Good airflow and ventilation prevent the buildup of excess humidity and minimize the risk of pests and diseases.
- Transplanting: If starting from seed or cuttings, the vegetative stage is the appropriate time to transplant the plants into larger containers with fresh, well-draining soil or a suitable growing medium. This allows the roots to establish and expand, providing a strong foundation for future growth.
The length of the vegetative stage can vary depending on the desired plant size and the strain being cultivated. Some growers maintain plants in the vegetative stage for several weeks to achieve larger sizes, while others opt for shorter vegetative periods for smaller plants.
Once the vegetative stage is complete, growers typically transition the plants to the flowering stage by adjusting the light cycle to a 12-hour light/12-hour dark photoperiod. This change triggers the plant to shift its focus to reproductive growth, leading to the development of flowers or buds.