The Vegetative Stage

Posted by Mike Warren on

The vegetative phase is a period of the growing cycle that takes place after germination and before flowering. It is a period of growth where a plant focuses on getting big and strong. During this stage the plant is only growing stems and leaves (No Buds). The vegetative stage is where the plant's growth truly takes off. At this point, you've transplanted your plant into a larger pot and the roots and foliage are developing rapidly. This is also the time to begin topping or training your plants. Be mindful to increase your watering as the plant develops.

Indoor growers can keep cannabis plants in the vegetative stage for as long or short as they want by providing at least 18 hours of light a day. This is usually accomplished by putting grow lights on a timer. Unlike outdoor growers who are reliant on the sun cycles to get plants to start making buds, indoor growers have more control over the final size and shape of their plant. Having a light period that lasts 18+ hours each day will make cannabis think that it’s summer/grow time. As long as cannabis plants get 18+ hours of light a day, they will remain in the vegetative stage, growing only stems and leaves.


                How to tell when autoflower is flowering: the vegetative stage

Indoor growers usually provide either a 18-6 or 24-0 light schedule during the vegetative stage of cannabis. 18-6 means 18 hours of light and 6 hours of dark each day. 24-0 means 24 hours of light with no darkness each day. Some people will keep their lights on 24 hours during this stage while others will keep the lights on a schedule where they’re 18 hours on and 6 hours off every day. We recommend the 18-6 light schedule. The reason being, is because we feel it is healthier for the plant, and also it encourages growth. Think of It like when we were all young kids having growth spurts. We were constantly eating, constantly growing, but what else did we all need and do a lot of during that time? SLEEP! We needed our sleep, andwe needed our rest in order to grow and be healthy. Thats exactly what we want for our plants. We feel that the best way to do that is with and 18-6 light cycle. Also some find that root development occurs much better with an 18-6 light cycle. “Plants grow up in the light, and down in the dark”.

There will always be growers who feel that cannabis plants need some time with the light off (a dark period) in order to have optimal growth, while others believe that the extra hours of light are better since they give your plants slightly faster growth in the vegetative stage. Whichever light cycle you choose is fine, its all a constant learning process. Try different things and have fun with it! You’ll find what works best for you.

On average, most indoor growers vegetate their plants for 4-8 weeks. Seedlings are able to start flowering as early as 3 weeks from germination, but the resulting plants will be small. Most growers choose to let plants vegetate for longer because giving them more time to grow results in bigger plants, which tend to produce bigger yields as long as you have enough light to cover all the bud sites. That being said, you can still produce quite a bit of bud with a lot of small plants growing at once as long as you fill up your grow space.


Daily care during the vegetative stage   

  • Provide Water- I like to water when the top inch of my soil is dry. Make sure water can flow freely from the bottoms of your containers.
  • Nutrients- When using nutrients always start out by using 1/2 strength of the recommended dose and work your way up to full strength. Simply follow the directions on the bottle/bag and add to your water or reservoir before giving to your plants. 
  • Provide light– Use your vegetative grow light as directed. Simply turn grow lights on and keep at the recommended distance from the top of your plants. Outdoors plants will continue vegetating until days start growing short. Indoors plants will stay in the vegetative stage as long as they’re getting 18+ hours of light a day.
  • Not too cold, not too hot – Vegetative cannabis plants prefer a comfortable room temperature or slightly warmer . 70-85°F (20-30°C) is great. Avoid low humidity (below 40% RH) in the vegetative stage if possible. Never allow plants to experience freezing temperatures. We like to keep temps right around the 78-82 degree range, thats where we find our “Sweet Spot”. For humidity we like our range to be between45-55% humidity. With these settings, your plants will best be able to convert light into energy for growth. Temps can be slightly higher if running co2.
  • Air circulation – Make sure plantsgets a constant supply of fresh air so plants get the CO2 they need to grow, and keep air moving so there are no hot spots and leaves are always moving/rustling. Outdoors you may want to put up wind breaks if it gets too windy so plants aren’t being waved around.

The length of the vegetative stage is a matter of personal preference. Most cannabis plants need at least 3 weeks in the vegetative stage before they will start making flowers, but after that you get to choose how long your plant spends in this stage (unless using an auto-flowering strain) because you’re the one to ‘flip the switch’ and get your plant to enter the next life stage: flowering.

When you start with a seed, even with an auto-flowering plant, you will always have at least 2-3 weeks of vegetative growth before any buds start forming no matter what you do. Growers generally allow their plants to stay in the vegetative stage from a few weeks to a few months.

The size your plant achieves in the vegetative stage has a very large effect on your final yields since bigger plants produce more bud sites than smaller plants. However, you need enough light to cover all the bud sites or they will never develop properly. Light is like food for bud growth! YUMMY!

Well thats a little info on the Vegetative Stage!  


Always remember that No grower ever has a “Perfect” Grow. A good grower always keeps a close eye on their plants.  


Its always ok to make mistakes! That’s how we learn and that’s how we GROW! No pun!



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