Since each grow is unique, growers should be careful when copying the methods and techniques used by others. They may actually end up giving you dramatically different results than what you intended. Some growers believe that plants grown from seeds must be given 60 days of maturation in the vegetative state. It is important to remember that young seedlings cannot start properly flowering for 2–3 weeks. However, when growing from clones, age is not an issue.
Growers can switch to the flowering stage as soon as the clone has established a solid root system. In optimal conditions, plants should be kept in their vegetative stage for approximately 60 days. This time period should give the plant the opportunity to maximise yield and acclimatise to growing conditions. This is important because complications and mistakes are much more difficult to recover from during the flowering stage. It should be noted that this time period is just a recommendation. If maximum yield is not a priority, or if growing conditions will not permit for a lengthy vegetative stage, plants can be flowered long before the 60-day benchmark. The most important consideration is the amount of space available for your plants. The longer that plants are kept in a vegetative state, the taller they will become.
As such, vegging your plants for too long in a confined space can result in an overgrow situation. Plants that grow too high can potentially reach too close to light fixtures and suffer damage as a result. Ideally, you should never let your plants reach closer than 30cm from the lights above them. However, growers risk burning or frying their buds if they allow them to reach any closer. Be sure to consider the light fixtures being used in the grow. Some bulbs glow hotter than others, and this will certainly affect the minimum distance that should be kept between the plants and the lights. How long you let your plants grow in their vegetative state should also depend on the kind of strain that you are growing. The genetic differences between indica and sativa strains must be considered when making the switch to the flowering stage. That is because indicas and sativas behave differently during flowering. Indica strains are known for producing shorter, thicker, bushier plants when compared to their sativa counterparts. Typically, they will gain only 25–50% of their height in the flowering stage. By comparison, sativas are known for their height, and for their ability to keep growing taller throughout the flowering stage. They have been known to double their height from the first day of flowering until harvest. Keep in mind that these characteristics apply to pure sativa and indica strains. Most strains will demonstrate characteristics representative of both kinds since they are not 100% indica or sativa. When dealing with hybrids, make sure to research the genetic makeup of the plant so as to have a better idea of what to expect during the grow. A basic rule of thumb for growing hybrids is to expect that the plant will grow to be twice the height it is at the end of its vegetative state. The planting method chosen for the grow will also affect the timing of the switch. The difference between growing from seeds or clones will affect the growth rate of the plant’s root system. If the plant has not established a solid root system, then there may be issues and complications during the flowering stage. Clones can grow very tall very quickly, forcing growers to make the flip to flowering based on plant size alone. However, growers should make sure to give their clones the necessary amount of time to establish themselves before flowering. Seedlings can be flowered much earlier, but remember that they will require 2–3 weeks before being able to do so. Different growing methods such as the sea of green (SOG) method, the screen of green (ScrOG) method, lollipopping, and super cropping can all affect the switch.
Depending on which method you choose, your flowering time will likely be different. Sea of Green (SOG) This method relies on flowering plants early so that they only produce one large bud. This method is usually employed with indica strains that are packed tightly together in the grow space. When using this method, plants should be flowered when they reach a height of between 15–30cm. Screen of Green (ScrOG) This method utilises a mesh screen that is layered horizontally above the plants. The screen is typically placed 30–60cm above the base of the plants. When using this method, plants must remain in a vegetative state for several more weeks than with the SOG method.
Lollipopping is a technique that involves removing the lower growth of the plant that receives very little to no light. Because plants need light to grow, these regions will produce smaller buds and drain the plant of energy that could be better spent elsewhere.