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As we mentioned in Step three: Marijuana Vegetative Stage; the vegetative stage ends when your plant is 18 inches of height, and it has developed at least 5-7 branches. However, the Flowering stage officially starts when your marijuana plant start growing its aromatic flower (or soon to be your buds). It's a very important stage in your marijuana plants' life cycle, so you need to pay a closer attention to it.
The flowering stage can last for about 7-9 weeks for most the strains out there, however, in some strains, especially some of the sativas, it may need more time for for their buds to mature.
Once the right time to move the plant from a vegetative stage to flowering stage comes, your lights should be ON 12 to 14 hours a day. Again, you can control it manually or get a light timer controller, it can be expensive, but it's a peace of mind; it will help you to keep a tight and regular schedule.
During the time your plant is exposed to light, you should set your temperature between 71°F and 77°F.
When the lights are out, temperature is generally about 10-15°F cooler than the lights-on temperature. This temperature drop will help the plant to go through its normal life cycle process.
As for the humidity, it should be 40% to 50% at all times, higher than that may create pest issues.
In the first couple of weeks of the flowering stage, and before your plants start growing buds, it will be transitioning from the vegetative stage to the actually flowering stage, professionals call this the "Stretch Phase."
The plant starts growing rapidly to prepare itself to carry its flowers (marijuana buds), sometimes even double its height. It will also start developing a whole bunch of new leaves and stems for extra strength and sturdiness.
Tip: As your marijuana plant starts stretching and getting bigger, it's a recommended practice to bend the stems down and away from the center of the plant (see the video below). This practice is well known as a Low Stress Training (LST), it will help to get an even light distribution on the plant, and eventually a more efficient use of your grow lights, and ultimately a lower electricity bill and a better yields later on.
With all this drastic development and growth happening in the plant, you will have to pay attention to the growing nutrients. Start a gradual nutrients schedule so you won't have to change the nutrients intake abruptly.
Around the first two weeks through the flowering stage, the plant will need certain nutrients to help it to reach its maximum bud production. Specifically when your cannabis plant starts flowering.
What you need to do is simply go back to the soil you used, and check its feeding manufacturer’s schedule (we decided to go with FoxFarm Ocean Potting Soil, remember!).
For beginner marijuana growers, Liquid Nutrient Trio Hydroponic Formula is the way to go. Instructions to use on the back for recommended dosages.
Later in the flowering stage, your marijuana plant may abruptly stop growing. Stretching will slow down gradually and soon will come to a complete stop and starts putting all its energy on flower production.
You will also start notice first signs of real flowers developing, nevertheless, you won't see many trichomes (Resin Glands) on your plants, which means the smell won't be as strong.
If you weren't sure of the gender of your plant, now is the time to tell where you can separate them. In the first week or two after moving the plant from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage, you will start spotting the first white pistils (the female organs of a flower) growing on your marijuana female plants, which will ultimately become the buds. On the other hand, if you had a marijuana male plant, you will see instead a small pollen sac.
If you're growing your weed for the buds, and you don't care about producing seeds, separating the two genders is important!
The buds you're looking to smoke come from the female, the male purpose is to pollinate the female plant to start growing seeds. So again, if you just want the flower and no seeds, don't mix the female plants with the male plants.
Related article: If you want to start growing the seeds too, here is what you need to do: Cannabis Seeds 101: How To Produce Your Own Seeds.
As your plants start growing and developing more leaves and flowers, it may also develop potential shortfalls, such as discoloration, yellowing leaves, loss of leaves entirely, or nutrient burn (signs of overfeeding).
"Nutrient burn" is an important and very common problem a beginner marijuana grower may face. It's when the marijuana plant was exposed to high level of nutrients, which eventually accumulate in the tips of the marijuana leaves and turn them into yellow or brown. If this happens, simply cut down on nutrients feeding.
Around week 4, the plant will keep producing more trichomes, and the smell is a lot more noticeable now.
In week 5, you will start noticing new buds growing, however, many of older buds have become more mature and thicker, which makes the whole plant a lot, relatively speaking, heavier. It's a sign that your plant is in full flowering mode. Keep in mind, in case you want to keep your cannabis growing hobby discrete, the plant will have a strong and very noticeable odor.
Related article: Controlling Smells & Odors in The Grow Room.
You will also notice the pistil hairs may turn into darker (brown or amber) color. Furthermore, you will spot some of the trichomes becoming dim (milky white, rather bright). Both signs that you are not too far from harvesting your buds. Exciting!
Which means stopping feeding the plants with nutrients and only feeding it with pH balanced water. This usually takes place couple of weeks before harvest. This process will "flush out" any minerals, chemicals and salt in the soil, which will help to produce better buds, otherwise, smoking your weed will be harsh and may have chemical taste to it.
Regular, by using a magnifier glass, check the trichomes on your marijuana plants' buds. If there were still clear and transparent, that means it's still too early to harvest.
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