The better you get to know your cannabis plants, the more likely you are to benefit from a generous harvest. Having a bunch of cannabis plants in the vegetative stage is great, but it’s not until they begin flowering that things get really exciting.
Unfortunately, it’s during the flowering stage that most inexperienced growers tend to make the biggest mistakes. One of which being obliviousness to the fact that there are in fact four stages of flowering. Each of which contributes significantly to the final result, and therefore deserves your acknowledgement and attention.
Contrary to popular belief, a flowering cannabis plant won’t necessarily benefit from a heavy and continuous dose of fertilisers or boosters. In fact, it is often true to say that less nutrients equals better results. In any case, avoiding nutrient toxicity by being too generous should be prioritised.
For the cannabis cultivator looking to get to know their plants at a more intimate level, here’s a brief overview of the four stages of flowering:
First up, the pre-flowering stage begins when the white hairs (or pistils) start showing up in the nodal areas. It’s at this moment that anyone cultivating cannabis indoors should switch to a 12-12 lighting cycle, mimicking outdoor conditions during the autumn. Continue feeding your plants as you did during the vegetative stage, slowly transferring to the P-K (phosphorus and potassium) side with time. Switching too quickly from vegetative nitrogen-rich fertilisers to rich phosphorus and potassium products could harm the health of your plants and affect the quality of the final yield.
2. Early Flowering
As the pistils continue to extend and the calyxes grow, your plants have entered the early flowering stage. At this point, the flowers look like spiny white balls, rather than the more quintessential cannabis buds. It’s worth remembering that during the early flowering stage, your plants are still growing (horizontally and vertically) and could stretch out considerably over the coming weeks. You should by now be switching to a more phosphorus and potassium-rich nutrient diet, while turning daytime temperatures down to around 23° C. Again, this is to mimic outdoor conditions during the autumn.
3. Peak Flowering Stage
Things start getting really exciting when the bud sites start combining to form an intricate mosaic of colourful calyxes and white pistils. As your buds are now growing at a much faster pace, you’ll want to accelerate your switch to phosphorus and potassium fertilisers. However, this is also the point in the process when you’ll need to be as meticulous as possible with both nutrient provision and the conditions your plants are exposed to. Even the slightest mistake could harm the development of the flowers, reducing the potency and generosity of the final yields. Bear in mind the buds will be getting heavier and heavier, so you may need to provide adequate support for the stems of your plants.
4. Late Flowering - Maturation Stage
Last but not least comes the maturation stage, which paves the way for the final harvest. During this stage, you should gradually reduce the nutrient amounts you provide and pretty much eliminate nitrogen from the mix. Over the course of the week or so before harvesting your buds, you should use pH-controlled water to ‘flush’ the nutrients out of the plants that aren’t advisable for human consumption. The buds become heavy and dense, the sticky coating of trichomes takes on a milky colour and the fragrance emitted is unmistakable.At which point, you’re ready to harvest, dry and cure your buds, ready for use.