Building Strength in the Vegetative Stage
The veg stage is where a grower gets down to business. Providing just the right amounts of food and water, creating a healthy environment, and paying close attention to your plants are essential in this stage of your plants’ lives.
A cannabis plant's vegetative stage is when it relies on light, proper nutrients, and several other factors to increase its strength and size.
Almost everyone who grows weed does so for a huge harvest, but it’s important not to rush to the finish line. This is the time to pay close attention to your cannabis plants and provide them with the best care possible.
During the vegetation stage, cannabis plants require a base nutrient that is higher in nitrogen for the creation of amino acids, proteins and other essential nutrients that provide plants with a sturdy structure. Choosing an N-P-K product with the letter N is in the highest position will ensure your plants get all the nitrogen they need to flourish. A potting mix that is reinforced with organic materials and even mineral fertilizers will require less feeding than a medium like stonewool.
Let the Sun Shine In with Grow Lights
During the vegetative stage, indoor plants need at least 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness a day to grow, but as long as they receive more than 13 hours of light daily, they’ll stay in the vegetative stage forever. LED grow lights are a good choice for growers who hope to harvest less than one ounce a month. Other lights to consider for your indoor grow space are fluorescent grow lights and high-intensity discharge (HID) grow lights.
Spoil your Soil
For a standard growing mix, fertilizing twice a week should suffice. For more frequent feedings, experienced growers use the base nutrient at a lower rate. It’s also important to keep the pH levels between six and seven for robust plants at the vegetative stage.
Like other flowering annual plants, cannabis requires at least 16 essential nutrients in small amounts for proper development. From building proteins to storing energy, these elements regulate nearly every facet of a plant’s development, and their absence will be obvious.
While plants access oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen through air and water, remaining elements come through the roots. Besides nitrogen, you’ll need the following elements for stronger plants in the vegetative stage:
When feeding the plants, start by following the manufacturer's recommended label rates divided by two. If your plants appear happy, increase the rate slowly with each feeding. However, be careful to not go over the maximum recommended rates. Indoor grown cannabis plants thrive in large containers and under high ceilings. The bigger the growing environment, the taller and more vigorous your plants will grow. Use preferably white containers with good drainage and only water plants when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. It’s also helpful to use chlorine-free or filtered water in between feedings to avoid excess nutrients accumulating in the soil or irrigation system, rendering them unavailable to the roots.
Next, tweak your feeding program to improve plant development. Let’s have a closer look at the various ways to grow strong cannabis plants during the vegetation phase.
- Transition to Veg Phase: Hardening-Off and Transplanting
- Starting Off Right: Feeding Cannabis in the Vegetative Stage
- 17 Essential Elements for Cannabis
A Growroom of One's Own
Vegetative cannabis plants prefer a balmy room temperature or slightly warmer, between 68-86°F (20-30°C). Anything below this range will likely have a negative effect on plant growth, or even kill the plant. Meanwhile, temperatures higher than 86°F could cause the plant’s leaves to burn, lead to heat stress and other complications. Additionally, plants grow better in an environment with a relative humidity of 40-60 percent and a constant supply of fresh air to prevent hot spots and mold. Your leaves should always be moving.
Prune Away the Afternoon
Take time daily to prune yellowing leaves that are eating up energy that the rest of your plant could use. Pruning insufficient bottom shoots and sick leaves from between the branches and the trunk of the plant also means more light for the leaves at the top. Additionally, topping your plant while it’s still young will allow your plant to grow flatter and bushier with many more bud sites for a fabulous harvest.
The size of your plants in the vegetative stage will have a considerable effect on your final yields, so take the right steps from day one. With a little TLC during the vegetative stage, your plants will grow vigorously and pay you back come harvest.
Written by Karen Lloyd | Freelance Writer, Digital Marketing Expert
Karen Lloyd is a freelance writer, digital marketing expert and hippy at heart in the city with a small studio, spacious deck and enormous passion for all things cannabis, urban gardening and food equity in Toronto.