MarijuanaGrowGuide - Growing Marijuana Guide - Vegetative Stage
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Your plants are now ready to grow!
Now that your plants have sprouted, it's time to watch them grow. You want your plants to grow up big and strong before you transition them to the flowering stage where they will actually be producing the buds. This stage which will last 4-6 weeks and in general, the longer you wait, the bigger the plant, and the higher the yield. Please note that there is a point of diminishing returns at which waiting any longer will actually reduce yield, but 4-6 weeks is perfect.
As your plants get bigger and bigger, they will begin branching off into several leaf branches. You may begin to notice rudimentary sex organs showing up at the nodes, but in general you will not be able to sex your plants until you move to the next stage.
Once your plants start hanging over the edges of the cups significantly, it might be time to move them to larger pots. I would recommend using 5 gallon pots as these will be able to support the plants throughout their entire lives. To transplant them, simply fill one of your new pots with soil and dig a small hole to fit the plant. Take a utility knife and cut 4 large slits all the way up the sides of your solo cups. The soil should come out together very nicely. Then, simply place the plant into its final home and fill in the empty spaces with loose soil. Be careful when transplanting as this can be a fairly stressful time for the plants.
Throughout this stage, you should be using mostly lights in the blue spectrum range. Look for daylight bulbs and if the package displays color temperature, you want 6,500K. The lights should be on for 18 hours and off for 6. Pick a sun-up for when the lights should turn on and keep this the same throughout the entire plant's life. We will only ever be adjusting the sun-down time. Try to keep the plants in complete darkness when the lights are off as light leaks can increase the propencity of hermaphrodism (having both male and female parts).
If you are using CFLs or fluorescent tubes, you should place the lights within a couple inches of the tops of the plants. They can even be touching the plants as these lights do not produce much heat, but 2-3 inches away is ideal. If your lights are too far away, it might cause your plants to stretch. Since you are growing indoors, you want to control height as best as possible and for the best yield you want bulky strong plants, not tall lanky ones.
Keep a thermometer in the room and monitor the temperature. While the lights are on, the temperature should be between 70-85 degrees Farenheit. During lights-off, the temperature can drop a little. A humidity detctor can be useful as well. Try to keep the humidity between 40-60%, though this is harder to control. Both of these devices can be purchased at grow supply stores, hardware stores and even Walmart.
If you used potting soil with nutrients already included, you will not need to use any nutrients at this stage. A lot of newbies overfertilize and can end up damaging the plant. Be careful if you are using nutrients and follow the directions that come with the product.
Your primary responsibility to your plants at this stage of life is to water them and provide them with light. Do not overwater your plants! Only water plants when the top of the soil is dry and crusty. Plants can handle periods of drought much better than torrential floods. Waterings will end up taking place once or at most twice a week. Look for drooping leaves as this can be a sign of overwatering.
Your plants will tell you how they feel by the way their leaves look. In general, any deviations from strong green leaves is a sign that something might be wrong. There are many things that can cause these deviations. This guide summarizes many of the issues plants can face and what causes them.
You will also need to protect your plants from any invading critters that want to snag a bite of your plants. In general, you'll want to remove any bugs you see the moment you see them. The only exception is carnivorous bugs which will actually help control the population of other bugs in the garden. Good bugs are spiders and lady bugs. If you find you have an infestation of small plant-eating bugs adding some lady bugs is a nice organic alternative to insecticides, though if it comes down to it, insecticide is sold at your local grow supply store.
Once your plant is about half as tall as you would like it to be, at least around 18" and has 4-6 main leaf branches, you can begin the flowering stage. At this point in time, plants may begin showing signs of their sex. To learn how to determine sex, visit he Sexing Plants page. Below are several pictures of healthy plants during the vegetative stage.