Early flowering is an occasional headache for outdoor growers, but usually there are clear reasons and easy solutions. Our guide explains more. Re-vegging is a process that allows you to get a second harvest out of a cannabis plant. Learn how to re-veg weed plants from Leafly. Discover the complete plant life cycle of the cannabis plant to further your knowledge of marijuana trimming and production.
Why is my outdoor cannabis plant flowering too early?
Occasionally outdoor cannabis growers experience problems if plants go into bloom far earlier than they should. Without the vital climatic support of warm weather and intense sunlight, early bloom is unwelcome and confusing for the grower, often resulting in small plants and poor yields. There are a few reasons why this could happen. The good news is that the solutions are easy to implement.
|●||When does cannabis start flowering outdoors?|
|●||Key reasons why outdoor plants flower too early|
|●||Pros and cons of early cannabis flowering outdoors|
|●||Can you reverse an early flowering cannabis plant?|
|●||Give love to your cannabis seeds and you’ll get it back|
When does cannabis start flowering outdoors?
Normally, cannabis starts to flower in response to the changing seasons and the impending arrival of autumn/fall. This is an evolutionary safeguard to ensure that the plant has time to produce and ripen the cannabis seeds. This ensures the next generation of plants for the following season.
Outdoor photoperiod cannabis plants
Photoperiod feminised cannabis strains tend to enter bloom as they sense the day length shortening. Short daylight hours are an indication that the autumn/fall is approaching, the plants respond with hormonal changes triggering bloom.
|Cannabis guerrilla growing, 10-point strategic plan|
Outdoor autoflower cannabis plants
Autoflower strains initiate bloom at a point dictated by their genetic composition. This is usually around a month after autoflower seed germination, but on slower flowering autoflowers it can take up to 2 months. The grower isn’t able to initiate autoflower bloom by trying to artificially manipulate the grow environment or light hours. Instead the plants flower ‘automatically’ at a time of their own choosing.
|Autoflower vs feminised outdoor cannabis growing|
Outdoor regular cannabis plants
When planting regular cannabis seeds for outdoor growth the onset of bloom is the same as that when using photoperiod feminised cannabis seeds. Long hours of darkness, or a sense of decreasing day length, is sufficient to initiate bloom in regular cannabis strains.
Pro tip: How to detect early flowering signs for cannabis? Look for signs of pre-flowers where the branches meet the main stem. These give an early indication whether the plant will be male or female. Female plants show a calyx which may have a couple of hairs (pistils) growing out. Male plants, which may show their sex sooner than female plants at the same stage of development, produce small ball-like growths that look similar to miniature grapes.
Key reasons why outdoor plants flower too early
Even the best outdoor grows can have unexpected issues, such as early flowering. Usually the reason is simple to find.
Starting your plant too early
If you get your outdoor plants going early in the season, e.g. around March the dark overnight period is still long enough to force photoperiod feminised strains to bloom.
This can be an issue for the growers that were tempted outdoors a little too early in the season (perhaps due to a freak early heat wave). The best option is to ensure that you have a period of artificial light to break the period of overnight darkness.
A security light, or similar, which comes on for just a few minutes will do the job and ensure the plant remains in vegetive growth. With prolonged vegetive growth the plant can grow into a large size, especially if it was started early in the year.
In Europe many that grow at Southern Latitudes (Spain, Italy, Greece etc) will start their outdoor plants as early as February, perhaps with protection from a heated greenhouse/polytunnel (if local conditions are still a little too cold). Using artificial lights on for a small part of the overnight ensures the plants grow in veg mode even though the days have perhaps only 9 hours of light.
Outdoor growers that put their plants out in e.g. May often never see their outdoor plants flower too early. That’s because the number of daylight hours in May is significantly higher than March, making it easy for photoperiod feminised cannabis strains to settle into veg mode with the long summer days.
|Full collection of Dutch Passion outdoor cannabis seeds|
Dark period exposure
Even though it may be warm enough to grow cannabis outdoors there may be insufficient light to allow vegetive growth. It’s one of the challenges for those growing in countries where the hot weather arrives slightly before the longer days.
It can also be a challenge for those with heated greenhouses/polytunnels who are keen to start their outdoor cannabis seeds as early as possible. Some strains can have slightly differing responses to the length of the day. One strain may grow in veg mode under a given day length, whereas a different strain may respond with early flowering.
Abrupt light cycle switch
The stress of a sudden change in light cycle can also shock a cannabis plant into early bloom. This could happen, for example, if a plant grown on a 24-hour indoor grow cycle was placed outdoors.
The sudden change in the amount of light hours can be stressful to the plant which may respond by flowering – even if outdoor light hours are more than 12 and the plant might normally be expected to grow in veg mode.
Again, the problem is easily solved by giving the plant extra artificial light during the evening. Perhaps by bringing the plant into a lit garage at night or arranging a security light to occasionally come on and light up the area where the plant resides.
|How to move your indoor cannabis plant outdoors|
Pro tip: Some cannabis seed genetics are known to flower early. ‘Fast’ photoperiod feminised seeds (e.g. Think Fast) contain recessive (i.e. non-dominant) autoflower genetics, meaning you may be able to harvest a month earlier than usual. For outdoor growers with unstable late-season weather, ‘fast’ photoperiod strains along with autoflowers may be the best options.
Pros and cons of early cannabis flowering outdoors
Many people traditionally associate early flowering outdoor cannabis as a problem. A sign that the plant will be small, with lower yields than expected. But to some growers early flowering, if properly controlled, can be used to great advantage.
• Early flowering outdoor cannabis strains is a term often used to describe traditional outdoor photoperiod strains that finish earlier than usual. These can be very useful strains, especially if your late-season weather can be bad. ‘Fast’ photoperiod strains with recessive autoflower genetics such as Dutch Passion’s Think Fast finish in September in the northern hemisphere, that’s around a month earlier than many traditional outdoor strains. Perfect if you can’t guarantee the autumn/fall weather.
• Those that enjoy growing multiple successive outdoor autoflower harvests find it is a convenient, and fast, way to spread the risk. With 2 or 3 successive autoflower harvests each year, it’s not a disaster if one of those crops fail.
• Those that want to start their photoperiod feminised seeds in February will find that the long nights may force their plants into early bloom far too early in the season, resulting in poor growth and results.
Can you reverse an early flowering cannabis plant?
Thankfully you can! But prevention is better than cure. Take time to look at your grow situation and identify any possible causes. Would it help if you could improve the transition process when moving an indoor plant outdoors – perhaps adjusting light hours gradually? Are you trying to plant out too early in the year when the nights are simply too long? Is a particular strain repeatedly going into early bloom when the others are behaving themselves?
When to re-veg an early flowering plant outdoors?
If early flowering issues are something that you have seen before then it makes sense to initially grow your preferred outdoor cannabis seeds in containers, rather than rooting them directly into the ground. With your plant in a container, it is easier to move it to an area that receives additional artificial light to break the long night hours.
Those with indoor grow rooms can simply bring the plant to an indoor grow room. Autoflower plants can’t be reverted to vegetative growth, but cannabis plants grown from feminised seeds can be re-vegged. Just put them under 18-24 hours of light.
Those growing in a greenhouse or a patio/back garden may find some security lighting that comes on during the evening (even if only for 30min or so) will be able to break the bloom cycle. You will get heavier yields from an outdoor plant that was restored to veg growth after a premature (and undesired) flirtation with bloom. Some growers report that sativa strains may be easier to re-veg than indicas.
When not to re-veg an early flowering plant outdoors?
If your plants have only gone into bloom a month earlier than expected (as opposed to 2-3 months) you may wish to simply leave it to continue bloom rather than attempt a re-veg. The early finish may even be beneficial if you occasionally struggle with poor weather around the normal bloom time.
|Top-10 tips for growing cannabis outdoors in cold weather|
Pro tip: Make sure you can finish up by the end of the outdoor season. Being realistic, rather than excessively optimistic, about the length of your grow season is a key quality of the experienced outdoor cannabis grower. A few checks online will show you the likely dates of the first late-season frosts & general weather concerns.
If you do have doubts about your ability to finish photoperiod feminised strains in time, then autoflower seeds are the best alternative. Northern European growers in general, and UK growers in particular, can suffer especially difficult outdoor grow conditions. The following guide to growing cannabis outdoors in the UK contains numerous proven tips and advice for those growing in variable climates.
|How to grow cannabis outdoors in the UK|
Give love to your cannabis seeds and you’ll get it back
Many of the challenges of outdoor growing can be avoided if the grower is able to buy proven outdoor cannabis seeds. Not only should you have solid, reliable genetics which will behave and grow/bloom predictably. But you should also benefit from professional breeding techniques & natural selection which will ensure in-built genetic resistance to some of the common diseases.
Most importantly of all, professionally bred outdoor cannabis seeds will have what it takes to cope with variable weather and cool/grey conditions.
An outdoor grow will often be around a 5-6 month process, so it makes sense to invest time in research before you buy cannabis seeds. If you need some extra inspiration from those that have already grown Dutch Passion outdoor seeds then please check out the hundreds of grow reviews in the Dutch Passion blog site where you will find all the grow archives.
How to re-veg marijuana plants
Cannabis is an annual flowering plant, its life cycle limited to just one season. In the wild, it grows from a seed, flowers, and dies, all between spring and fall. Once a female plant dies, it will drop seeds, which are responsible for carrying genes through to the next growing season.
But it’s possible to hack this process to give cannabis plants a second growing season. A grower can manipulate a plant and force it to revert from the flowering stage back to the vegetative stage again. This process is known as re-vegging, or regeneration, and it allows you to harvest buds from a plant, then grow the same plant again for a second harvest of buds.
Cannabis has a short-day photoperiod, meaning it transitions from a vegetative period to a flowering period—when it starts growing buds—because the amount of light it receives reduces. This happens outdoors as autumn approaches and days become shorter. Indoors, growers “flip” weed plants into the flowering stage by manually reducing the amount of light they get each day.
Altering a cannabis plant’s photoperiod schedule after harvest will allow you to re-veg it.
Benefits of re-vegging cannabis plants
Reduce vegetative periods
A cannabis plant that has undergone a full growing season will have a complex and robust root system. If re-vegging a weed plant, it will move through its second vegetative phase quicker if it has a mature root system, whereas clones or seeds will take longer to establish roots.
Eliminate mother plants
Growers will sometimes keep mother plants, which are plants that always stay in the vegetative stage for the purpose of cloning only. But keeping mother plants takes time and space. Re-vegging allows you to get rid of mother plants, freeing up space in your grow for plants that only produce buds. It also saves time and resources, as you won’t have to tend to mother plants.
The process of taking a clone from a flowering plant is a re-vegging technique known as “monster cropping” (more below), and it can produce more vigorous and bushier plants. If done correctly, monster-cropped clones have the potential to create plants with higher yields the second time around because of an increased vegetative mass, stronger stems and branches, and more nodes for potential buds.
Cloning/Preserving a phenotype
If cloning a weed plant, growers usually need to take a clone of a plant before it begins flowering. But if a grower neglects to for any reason, that phenotype, or the genes of that specific plant, will get lost. Re-vegging is the only way to preserve an exact replica of a particular phenotype once it has transitioned into the flowering state.
Disadvantages of re-vegging cannabis plants
Re-vegging is hard to successfully pull off, even for seasoned growers. It takes a few weeks for new growth to appear so you might be wasting time and space waiting for new growth only for it to not happen.
Most growers who re-veg say that yields decrease the second time around. So while re-vegging may cut down on the amount of time it takes to grow a plant, it might not produce as much.
Stress on the plant
The re-vegging process is highly stressful on a plant and even if it does re-veg successfully, aberrations often occur, such as unusual leaf growth and hermaphroditism. Re-vegged plants are more delicate and must be given more attention and care.
Types of re-vegging
There are a few ways a cannabis plant can revert from its flowering stage back to a vegetative stage.
Probably the easiest method, this will allow you to harvest a plant for buds and then re-veg it for a second growing season. This is typically done with indoor plants, as you’ll need to control the amount of light they receive.
When harvesting a weed plant, leave a few healthy buds and branches intact at the base of the plant. Reset the plant’s photoperiod back to a vegetative schedule: 18 hours of light/6 hours of dark a day (as opposed to the 12 light/12 dark schedule it had when flowering).
Also, change the plant’s nutrient regimen, giving it nutrients more conducive to early-stage growth. It will need more nitrogen for root and leaf development, as opposed to the high amounts of potassium and phosphorus it likely received during flowering.
Post-harvest re-vegged cannabis plants often take a little bit of time to take off at first and some strains may not even be receptive to this method at all. Early growth on a re-vegged plant may exhibit stress-induced mutations like single-fingered leaves and odd node patterning, but these issues should go away after a few weeks if re-vegging is successful. Plants that re-veg successfully can display increased vigor after the initial transition.
As mentioned above, cloning a plant while it’s in the flowering stage is called monster cropping. To successfully do this, take clones from the lower branches of a plant when it’s in the second or third week of flowering.
Take a clone as you normally would, but be sure to remove all visible flowering nodes from each clone. This will improve the clone’s ability to root out by halting flower production within the cutting.
As with post-harvest re-vegging, monster cropping may result in stunted and mutated growth at first, but with proper care and training, this method can produce massive plants with increased vigor and foliage growth.
Cannabis plants will unexpectedly revert back to vegetative growth if there is a disturbance in their photoperiod schedule—for example, if they receive 12 hours of light a day for a while, and then start to get more than that.
This can occur both indoors and outdoors, usually because of a light leak or a light timer malfunction when growing indoors, or from planting outside too early in the season when growing outdoors.
Even the tiniest of changes in a cannabis plant’s light cycle can cause it to flip back to a vegetative state, and some plants may even turn hermaphroditic, growing both male pollen sacs and female flowers.
From Seed to Bud: The Plant Life Cycle of Cannabis
The popularity of marijuana plants is rife at different angles. However, it is the simple life cycle that makes the herb unique. From a seed into a mature bud, the cycle is one of the easiest to master. Below is a breakdown of how the plant grows until it reaches maturity.
The life of a cannabis plant starts immediately when the seed is sown into the ground. The rate of germination of the seed depends on the conditions it is exposed to. First, if the seed is watered regularly, it germinates at a fast pace. Colour and texture determine the quality of the seed, and to a great extent, the time it takes to germinate.
A healthy seed should be dry and hard. It should also have a dark-brown color. It is advisable to avoid sowing seeds that are white or green since the probability of germinating is negligible. High-quality cannabis seeds take between five to ten days to sprout.
The Seedling Stage
The seedling stage in cannabis takes place immediately after the seeds germinate. A standard cannabis seedling should have leaves containing a single-ridged blade. During the growth stage, the cannabis plant should be green.
During the seedling stage, it is advisable to reduce the rate of watering to protect their delicate stems. Besides, the risk of the plant developing mold and getting diseases is also higher during the seedling stage.
The seedling should be watered after two days. Overwatering the seedlings is a common mistake many growers make, which might affect the time taken for the cannabis to grow and develop. Also, the seedling should be kept in an area with free circulation of air and sunlight. This allows the chlorophyll to form and crucial cannabinoids to accumulate in the leaves.
If the right conditions are adhered to, the seedling stage should take between two and three weeks. Most importantly, the seedling stage should also be exposed to a source of light for at least 18 hours a day. Sunlight is the most common source of light used by cannabis seedlings. However, the sophistication in technology has led to the improvisation of LED lights, which provide the same light properties as the sunlight.
The vegetative stage is considered the time when the marijuana plant starts to mature. During the phase, the leaves become full, and the stems sturdier. The rate of growth also hastens, giving the plant a bushy appearance.
During the vegetative stage, it is advisable to transfer the plant to a place where it will attain the full size. In addition, the watering style should be changed. In this case, the water should be poured further from the stalk to protect the roots from being exposed. The stage takes approximately three to sixteen weeks and requires about 18 hours of light.
During the flowering stage, buds start to form on the cannabis plant. It is also during this stage that the sex of the plant begins to manifest. Once the male parts have been identified, they can be separated to prevent them from germinating the female ones.
The formation of buds is more prevalent in week 6 and 7 in the cycle. It is also advisable to avoid pruning leaves and branches two weeks before the marijuana starts to produce flower buds.
During this phase, the plant should be watered less, and the plant exposed less to light. The plant should receive less than 12 hours of sunlight in a day. Less exposure to light allows the cannabinoid levels in the plant to increase. The rate of watering during this stage should be lower.
Once the buds have matured, harvesting can take place. It involves plucking the branches from the plant and hanging them to allow excess moisture to evaporate. It is also during harvesting that bud trimming takes place. This consists of removing fan leaves from the buds together with sugar leaves. However, the removal of sugar leaves from the buds is less common since they contain a high amount of THC. Once the marijuana trimming has taken place, the seeds can be prepared for planting again.
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