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When to Switch Plants from the Vegetative Stage to the Flowering Stage for Indoor Grows

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Here is an important question to ask yourself when the plants are in the growing process. When do you switch your plants from the vegetative to the flowering stage? You need to know because when done in a timely manner it will help ensure your plant’s success.

However, before you make that decision, you should consider several factors such as the age of the plant, the maximum height that the plant can obtain within your setup, the type of strain(s) being grown, the source of the plant (from seed or clone), and the growing method being employed. Making the switch too late can result in overgrowth or burned buds. Cultivators need to be aware of all of the conditions and how they can affect the final product.

Since each grow is unique, growers should be careful when copying the methods and techniques used by others. They may end up giving you dramatically different results than what you intended.

Does Age Matter?

Some growers believe that plants grown from seeds must be given 60 days to mature in the vegetative state, but this is not necessarily true. What you need to remember is that young seedlings cannot start properly flowering for 2–3 weeks. However, when growing from clones, age is not an issue. Cultivators 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. During this period the plant will be able to acclimatize to the growing conditions, this will also help maximize its yield. If time does not allow and producing a maximum yield, then plants can be flowered well before the 60-day period. Please remember the time frame is just a recommendation.
It is also important to understand that it is much more difficult to recover from complications and mistakes when the plant is in 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.

Is There A Maximum Height?

Space should always be a consideration when deciding how long you keep your plants in the vegetated stage. The longer they stay in a veg stage, the taller they grow. So, if space is limited and you veg your plants too long, suddenly you find you’re growing in a confined area, and the plants become overgrown.

Plants that grow too high and get too close to the light source can be severely damaged. Some lamps are hotter than others. Depending on the light source the lamps being used in the grow will certainly affect the growth of the plant. Another consideration is, how long do you let your plants grow in their vegetative stage? The answer is, it depends on the kind of strain you’re growing.

There are genetic differences between strains that is necessary to know before switching to the flowering stage. Consider the strains you’re working with. For example, if when making the switch and you’re working with pure indica and sativa strains, they need special consideration because they grow differently.

Pure indica strains are known for producing shorter, thicker, bushier plants when compared to their sativa counterparts. Indica strains will gain only 25 -to- 50 percent 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. Please remember, these characteristics apply to pure sativa and indica strains.

Most strains will show characteristics of both indica or sativa since they are not 100% pure. When dealing with these hybrids make sure to research the genetic makeup of the plant. In that way, you will 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.

Clones or Seeds?

You have a choice of choosing the planting method for your grow. 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, cultivators 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.

Growing Methods

There are a number of growing methods, and each method may differ depending on which you are choosing. This can affect the timing of when to switch the plants to the flowering stage.

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 utilizes a mesh screen that is layered horizontally above the plants. The screen is typically placed 30–60cm above the base of the plants. This allows them to grow right through it. When using this method, plants must remain in a vegetative state for several more weeks than with the SOG method.

Lollipopping: Lollipopping is a method that involves trimming the lower branches of the plant so that only one large bud grows. This directs the plant’s energy towards the top, allowing it to develop one thick, strong bud. This method typically involves a height-based flowering switch. Sativas are usually switched when they reach 30–45cm since they grow so much during the flowering stage. Indicas are switched when they reach a height of around 100cm, giving them more time in the vegetative state.

Super Cropping: This method is designed to produce very heavy yields from a minimal number of plants. As such, plants grown using this technique need to remain in the vegetative stage for longer. Super cropping involves bending upper branches down to allow more light to reach the lower parts of the plant. This keeps the height of the plant in check throughout the grow and allows for a longer vegetative period.

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