Marijuana Bloom Shocker: There Are Four Marijuana Flowering Phases…Not Just One!
Posted by John Foster | January 07 2013 | 60757 views
By John Foster
What bloom phase is this Headband marijuana plant in? (Hint: read the article, and you’ll find out!)
(Click to enlarge)
Bloom phase. Buds glistening with THC. It’s what we live for. All of us who grow marijuana are focused on our buds in bloom phase. And that’s how it’s always been presented: bloom phase. One grow phase, one bloom phase, and then you harvest, but…
When I paid daily, intense attention to my blooming marijuana plants, I realized bloom phase is much more complex than we’ve been led to believe. Finding a deeper understanding of bloom phase gives us definite advantages in growing bigger, better buds.
The first thing to recognize is that bloom phase is not just one flowering phase that lasts from the time you flip your hydroponics lighting to 12-12 until the time you harvest.
It is far more accurate to say marijuana has bloom phases. Plural. Four of them, to be exact.
What’s really cool is each bloom phase benefits from a different mix of optimized nutrition, and you can use that fact to get heavier harvests with more THC.
No longer do we have to stick with the old school idea that the only nutrients change you make is going from an N-heavy fert in grow phase to a P/K-heavy fert in bloom phase, and throwing in a P-heavy bloom booster on top of that.
Turns out there’s a lot more you can do for your plants than that. For example, some growers gradually phase out their grow phase nitrogen-heavy grow base nutrients and gradually phase in bloom phase base nutrients.
And before we get into other details about marijuana’s four flowering phases, let’s first acknowledge that the length of the four flowering phases is determined by genetics, nutrients, and grow room conditions.
If you’re growing Sativa-dominant marijuana strains, you’ll see longer marijuana flowering phases than if you’re growing Indica-dominant strains.
If you have light leaks during your 12-12 dark cycle, incorrect growing conditions, or defective hydroponics nutrients, your blooming marijuana plants won’t mature as rapidly as they could. Nor will they produce as much THC or weight.
Now, let’s take a look at marijuana’s four flowering phases:
Pre-flowering—Even before you switch your lights to 12-12, your marijuana plants may be “showing sex.” Female primordial flowers, usually with only two white hairs at first, show up at stem junctions. With clones, this may happen soon after the root system is well-set. With seed-grown and cloned plants that have ample root systems, pre-flowers are a clear sign your cannabis plants are mature enough to go into 12-12 lighting.
Early flowering—Starting a few days after you put your lights to 12-12, pre-flowers begin turning into budding sites and then into “early flowers.” Fast and generous development of budding sites and early flowers is crucial if you want larger yields and earlier harvests. You can use products like Bud Ignitor that create more budding sites faster. In early flowering, your buds change as more white hairs develop, and as buds build calyxes, resin glands, and small support leaves. Near the end of early flowering phase, marijuana early flowers turn into tight, dense clusters that start to fill in stem internodes. This phase usually lasts 1-3 weeks after you switch to 12-12 lighting.
In early flowering phase and in the flowering phases after it, when you provide your marijuana plants “extra” phosphorus, potassium and carbohydrates, you set up a heavier, more potent harvest.
Peak flowering—When your buds are well-developed, with fully-formed resin glands and mature floral structure, you’re in peak flowering. This marijuana flowering phase is very important…it’s when your marijuana lays on the most THC, size, and weight. Problems with temperatures, humidity, pests, diseases, conditions or hydroponics nutrients during peak marijuana flowering phase sharply reduce your final output. Peak flowering phase is when you’re most advised to use bloom boosters such as Big Bud.
Every cannabis strain is different (sometimes every cannabis plant is different even if from the same mother or seeds), but adding the right amounts and ratios of phosphorus and potassium during peak bloom is guaranteed to increase bud size, THC, and value.
Be careful not to let your plant canopy get too warm (above 76F), because excessive heat causes buds to stretch so they’re thin and airy.
Monitor your peak flowering buds with a magnifier to track development/condition of your resin THC heads…this is the most accurate way to determine when buds are ready for harvest.
For more information about monitoring marijuana for harvest timing, read this great article here. Peak bloom phase is usually the longest phase of your 12-12 cycle, lasting 2-4 weeks.
Late Flowering- When your resin glands and bud hairs are starting to deteriorate, but are not so deteriorated that your marijuana is overripe, your plants are in late flowering phase. This is usually the last 10-19 days before you harvest the plants.
For example, if you’re growing a strain that has an 8-week flowering time, weeks 7-8 will be late flowering phase. Using stimulants like Overdrive add weight and THC during this late phase by pushing your marijuana plants to add more bud value at a time most growers don’t think their cannabis plants are able to deliver more weight and THC.
After Overdrive, you stop using all nutrients and flush your plants just before harvest to get rid of pollutants and stored fertilizer salts.
I get it that realizing the 12-12 cycle has four marijuana flowering phases instead of one long phase is more complex than the old school idea. But just like humans have distinct growth phases (infant, toddler, child, adolescent, young adult, middle-aged, elderly, deceased), marijuana does too.
And we all know that dietary inputs and other factors need to be adjusted to make the most of each growth phase, whether it’s for humans or marijuana plants.
In practice, this means you now feed your marijuana plants a varied 12-12 light cycle hydroponics nutrients diet tailored to make the most out of each flowering phase.
Instead of dumping a simplistic formula of “bloom” base nutrients and a P-heavy bloom booster in for the entire 12-12 cycle, you provide smarter nutrition tailored to building the best cannabis flowering structure in each of the four phases.
The result? More resin glands, earlier maturation, larger buds, and more value from every marijuana plant you grow.
Ok, so take a look at the photo of my Headband plant that accompanies this article. What marijuana flowering phase is the Headband plant in?
If you said “early flowering,” you are right on the money! This fine marijuana plant needs at least ten or more days before it hits peak flowering.
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Monday, 07 January 2013
Article by John Foster, on Jan. 7th 2013