When it comes to a marijuana plant (or rather any plant’s life cycle), it goes through a number of stages starting from being a seed. Flowering is the final stage of the life cycle of the marijuana plant before the harvest begins. However, while other stages are relatively simpler in comparison, flowering is the period where growers need to take the best care of the plant and need to know all the intricacies of how to nurture the plant.
Experienced growers would know that the marijuana plant has a number of flowering stages. Week by week there are a number of changes which become more and more evident with every passing day. There’s a lot that new growers need to know when it comes to the flowering stage. Over the course of this article we shall be taking a detailed look at the flowering stage of the marijuana plant and provide you with all the information that you need to know!
If you are a beginner, this article will help you understand what flowering is and how to take care of your plant during the flowering stage. If you are already an experienced grower, this article will help you improve your plant’s health during the flowering phase and provide you with tips on how you can improve your flowers. We shall be taking a detailed, week by week look at the marijuana plant as it goes through the flowering phase and answer a number of other questions related to flowering. Do note that for the purpose of this article when we say ‘marijuana plant’, we mean a photoperiodic plant and not an autoflowering plant. However, let us first take a closer look at the overall growth cycle of the marijuana plant.
Growth Cycle of the Marijuana Plant
The marijuana plant goes through a number of different phases, including the flowering stage, before your weed is ready to be smoked by you! This is the journey from being a seed to being a mature plant ready to be harvested. Here’s a look at how your marijuana plant grows –
- Seed – This is the first and the most basic unit of growth. The marijuana plant starts growing as a seed and here, the growers need to make some good choices. The seed should be bought from a credible seed bank and the growers need to know the THC and CBC percentage that the plant growing out of this seed will provide. The genetics of the seed also matter a lot – which plants have been crossbred to create this seed will determine the flavor and the taste of the plant. Furthermore, you need to check the seed physically as well: it needs to have a hard shell and needs to be dark in colour. Having a seed which is soft and pulpy, or green and yellow in colour is a sign of it being a premature seed and it will not result in a healthy plant, or will not germinate at all! These are the things you need to take care of at the seed stage.
- Germination – The seed is then kept in a dark and warm area with a lot of moisture which will lead to the germination. This is the process popularly known as ‘sprouting’. Here, the seed grows a sprout, which can grow from either direction. It has to be then planted in the mud with the sprout facing upwards. Usually, it has been observed by some growers that if the sprout emerges from the top or the bottom portion of the seed, it is a female plant (which is what you need for flowering), while if the sprout grows from any other side of the plant, it is likely to be a male plant! However, you can be assured of feminized seeds if you buy them from a credible seed bank. Once the germination has taken place – you can then plant your seed in a pot in a mud.
- Seedling – This germinated seed now grows into a seedling. It is at this stage that the plant needs the maximum possible care. This is because it is very vulnerable and very small. Here, you will see a couple of leaves emerging from the plant. The shoot will still be very soft and not so stable and the height of the plant will be very small as well. This is your plant as an infant – you need to take care you’re not providing excessive water and heat to it. Though the lighting needs are pretty high. During this phase the plant requires lights which are on the bluer end of the spectrum. You also need to take care that insects and pests stay away from seedlings.
- Vegetative Growth – As more and more leaves start appearing, the plant grows out from the seedling stage to the vegetative stage. This is where the shoot grows into a stronger, thicker stem and new branches start to come out. This is the phase which witnesses the most rapid growth in plant’s life cycle where you will see your plant increase not only in size but also in thickness. The plant will become much more green than you see it to be in the seedling stage. Here, the plant needs blue lights but also a mix of different lighting spectrums for ideal growth. The plant, in the vegetative growth, is also best suited for training processes which will help shape the way it grows. This is also the right time to trim and prune your plant because it can heal pretty well in this stage. In the vegetative growth stage, the plant requires about 16 to 18 hours of light and between 6 to 8 hours of darkness.
- Pre-Flowering – You will know that the vegetative stage is coming to an end when the plant starts growing identifiers via which you can determine its sex. Till now you really can’t tell the difference between a male and a female plant but at this stage, you will notice that at the nodes (the juncture where branches come out of the stem), sex organs of the plants start to grow. For the male plants, these will be pollen sacs and for the female plants, it will be pistils. It is at this pre-flowering stage that you start reducing the lighting time of the marijuana plant which will push it into the flowering stage. This is also the phase where the plant needs more red light than the blue light in order to prepare for the bloom to take place. The lighting also needs to be reduced from 18 to about 15 hours.
- Flowering – The light plays an important role here (unless you’re growing an autoflowering plant). When you’re a few weeks into the pre-flowering phase, you should then trigger your plants to enter flowering by reducing the lighting from 15 hours to about 10-12 hours. This is the phase in which the flowers start to bloom, grow and mature. In this phase, red light is of prime importance and bloom nutrients are needed. Here, the humidity needs to be reduced and unneeded parts of the plants can be cut off so that the resources go towards the development of the flowering parts. This stage, the previous stage, and the next stage will be the ones we shall focus in detail on.
- Harvest: This is the final phase where the plants have fully matured. Here, you need to flush the plant so that excess nutrients are utilized or drained away, prepare the flowers for harvest, then cut them off, and dry them – and finally store them in a manner that they will last you for long. More on this phase in a bit.
Marijuana Flowering Stages: A Week By Week Analysis
Now that you know which the seven stages of growth of the marijuana plant are, let us now deep-dive into the flowering stage. Flowering as a process begins at the pre-flowering stage and lasts until the harvest stage. All in all, this stage can take anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks. Here’s a detailed, week-by-week analysis of the flowering stage of the marijuana plant. We have split this into five phases –
1. Week 1 to 3 (Pre-Flowering and Transition into Flowering)
The pre-flowering phase is where you will begin to realize that the plants gender is being clearly revealed to you. Before that you can make guesses but can’t really be sure. However, in pre-flowering, you will notice that plants are growing their sex organs and identifiers in the nodes. The nodes are basically the point at which the branches come out from the stem. Once you have identified the male plants, you need to separate them from the female plants. The female plants are the ones which you will focus on growing.
Here, you need to adjust the lighting because this is how the plant enters from pre-flowering to the flowering stage. You need to reduce the lighting hours to about 10 to 12 and this would trigger the plants to enter the flowering stage! You would see that the buds are increasing and the size of the buds begins to grow.
2. Week 3 and 4 (The Budlet Stages)
Buds are still forming and becoming bigger. However, in this stage you will notice that some leaves, especially towards the bottom of the marijuana plant are turning yellow or brown in color. This is happening because the plant’s priority now is to grow the buds and have them bloom and not the vegetative growth. This is also the time when your plant will start getting that distinct smell that you associate with marijuana as terpenes start getting produced in larger numbers. You need to look out for signs of diseases or nutrition burns – as well as light burns. If you spot any such burns, check if your light is too close to your plant or if you’re providing too much nutrition.
3. Week 5 and 6 (The Flattening Stages)
Here, the pistils start to stick out of the buds. You will need to provide enough water at this stage of the growth of the plant to ensure it remains healthy. If there are portions which are yellowing out, carefully snip them away as these are the portions that you won’t be needing. However, make sure that you are not removing too many leaves because the leafier the plant is the more light it will absorb. Also if you’re new to defoliating we recommend you do it very carefully and one leaf at a time.
4. Week 7 and 8 (Attaining Maturity)
Now this is the stage most people are imagining about when they say or hear about ‘flowering’ of the marijuana plant. This is the stage where plants have attained full maturity and the flowers are ripe. By this point of time, all vegetative growth has completely stopped and no new leaves will appear and existing ones will soon start drooping or falling away, especially from the bottom of the plant. You no longer need to provide nitrogen as a nutrient from this point on. Start raising the lights a little so that flowers don’t feel the burn due to the stress caused by the light. You must also ensure that the air flow is increased at this point because the flowers can’t handle heat. The humidity needs to be lowered so that plants get nutrients and water from the soil and not from the moisture in the air. Buds start becoming bigger and reach their biggest size in this phase.
5. Week 8 and Beyond (Harvesting the Marijuana Plant)
The white pistils will now mature into orange. This is the biggest indicator that harvesting should begin very soon. At this point of time you need to stop providing nutrient-rich water and instead provide plain water with a balanced pH so that all the excess nutrients are consumed by the plants or get washed out. Make sure the moisture is minimal and airflow is sufficient to prevent bud rots. The smell, at this point of time, will be the strongest that you’ve felt up until now. The plant is at its most sensitive phase since it was a seedling and practically any change to the environment around it is likely to cause stress so be very careful during this final week of flowering.
Expert Tips for the Flowering Phase
Here are some tips that every grower, be it a beginner or an expert when it comes to growing the marijuana plant, needs to follow. These tips will help you grow a better plant – as well as ensure that the flowers bloom bigger and better and you get the best quality weed at the end of the process.
Understand the Lighting
You need to understand the lighting. First off, use LED grow lights – full spectrum lights are the best for your plants. LED lights consume the least power while giving you the best lighting. These grow lights also provide you with the red as well as the blue spectrum of lighting, which means you can use it for all phases of growth. Now when it comes to lighting, during the flowering phase, the lights need to be moved closer to the plant while the photoperiod (the hours for which the plant receives light) will reduce. In this phase about 12 hours of light is enough for the plant. Ensure that you are providing the best lighting and the right photoperiod to get best possible gains.
Tweaking the Humidity
Humidity plays an important role when it comes to the growth of the plant. It must be known that during the vegetative stage, plants need high humidity. This is because it allows them to absorb water directly from the leaves. While you will still water the roots, more water is absorbed from the leaves due to the humid environment. This also ensures that the roots don’t really have to stress themselves out to fetch water from the plant. During the flowering stage, however, you need to reduce the humidity so that more water travels via roots. This is important because nutrients are mixed with the water and provided to plants and the roots can absorb them when the humidity is low.
Providing the Right Nutrition
In the point above, we talked about providing nutrients via the roots. Nutrition is critical for plants at all stages, but particularly the flowering stage. This is because nutrients give the plants that extra edge when it comes to blooming big flowers. They help your plants develop a taste and a flavor, as well as ensure that they remain healthy. At a time when the plant is stressed out due to rapid growth of the flowers, nutrients help provide a boost – an extra edge which helps the plants grow better flowers. There are special and dedicated nutrients for the flowering stages of the plants which growers should buy to ensure they are getting good growth.
Flush Before You Harvest
Flushing your plants is also very important. About a week before you start the harvest procedures, you need to ‘flush’ your plants. Flushing is basically the process of removing all the excess nutrients or utilizing them. In this process, you start providing plain water (with a balanced pH) which will ensure that all the excess nutrients are then consumed by the plants or get drained off. This process is important because after you harvest, having weed with excess nutrient deposits causes taste or potency issues, and is not considered good quality weed. Hence, flushing is always advisable. Sometimes you also need to flush mid-growth in case there are excess nutrients caught in your leaves or your roots which block the path of other supplies that your plants need to grow.
Cutting Off Dead Weight
By dead weight we mean all the non-flowering branches and other similar elements can be cut off once you’re midway into the flowering stage. You do not need all of them anyway and they consume resources which would otherwise go to the flowers. Pruning and trimming your plants at the right time would be an effective strategy when it comes to the vegetative stages and cutting off the unneeded portions during the flowering stage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Marijuana Flowering Stages
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about marijuana flowering stages:
1. Which is the best light for the flowering phase?
LED grow lights are generally considered the best lights when it comes to the flowering phase of the marijuana plant. Especially the red-spectrum of grow lights which help the plant get better blooming flowers.
2. How long does the flowering process take?
Flowering usually takes anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks. This is a process where you need to be observant of the plant and be quite careful with how you are providing it the essential elements like light, water and nutrients.
3. How can you consume the weed after you’re done with harvesting it?
You can smoke your weed and consume it in bongs, joints, or other similar equipment, make oil, waxes or other concentrates out of it, vape it, or use it as an edible by mixing it in cookies and brownies, etc.
We hope that by this point in the article you are fully aware of the flowering stage of the marijuana plant and everything that there is to know about it. For beginners we have introduced the flowering phase and have provided week by week guidance on what you can expect from the plant during this blooming phase. For the pro-growers and the experts who have been growing this plant for quite some time now, we have provided some extra tips as to what they can do to enhance the growth of their flowers. If there’s something that you feel we’ve missed out on or if there’s something more that you want to know about, drop us a mail or let us know in the comments and we shall get back to you soon! Till then…
….Happy Growing! 🙂
Table of Contents