I remember an advertisement from a hydroponics nutrients company, saying its products create “explosive growth” and bigger yields.
I knew what bigger yields meant — larger harvest weight with more resin glands per gram of bud. But the “explosive growth” phrase didn’t make much sense to me. I was sure it didn’t mean the plants would actually explode. That would have been a dire outcome for all.
So, I called the company and asked its technical advisor to define “explosive growth.” He said it’s most commonly experienced as a plant’s sudden growth spurt in grow or bloom phase. In grow phase, cannabis plants might quickly gain height and structure, while in bloom phase, explosive growth is when they show quick increases in bud size and number and/or size of resin glands.
The technical advisor went on to explain that explosive growth is sometimes the result of natural genetic tendencies timed to the plant’s physiologic maturation. Cannabis has physiologic markers revealed as observable growth gradients.
For example, when a marijuana seedling sprouts, it stays a few inches high for a week or two while it creates leaves, a thicker stalk and roots. Looking at the seedling, it seems frozen in time, not doing much, not gaining height or becoming noticeably wider.
But all of a sudden, usually by the end of week two and if the garden is well run, the seedling exhibits suddenly noticeable height gain every day. It’s almost like somebody flipped a switch. In reality, what’s happened is the plant was done building the leaf, root and stalk infrastructure needed to support fast and visible growth aboveground.
The empowering news for marijuana growers is you can do many things to push your cannabis plants to their highest genetic potential, thus accelerating natural growth cycles to achieve faster crop turnarounds and bigger crop rewards. When you do those things in a garden that has been run using nothing more than mediocre inputs and conditions, you see explosive growth.
Digging For Data On Explosive Marijuana Growth
The explosive growth phenomenon in marijuana cultivation could be described by the analogy of a car very slowly rolling downhill, but then it suddenly accelerates. What causes the sudden acceleration? It could have been that the vehicle was being operated with a foot on the brakes or the handbrake was on. When the driver suddenly disengages the brakes, the car immediately rolls faster.
Or it could have been that the vehicle operator was only lightly pressing on the gas pedal, and then pressed a lot harder all at once, so the vehicle quickly accelerates.
Perhaps a simpler analogy is a car on level ground traveling at 55 miles per hour, because that’s the speed set on the car’s cruise control. If the cruise control is reset to 75, the car rapidly accelerates away from 55 mph, until it hits its higher target speed.
The good news is, when you’re growing marijuana, you can spur your plants to suddenly accelerate their metabolic processes. This gives you faster maturing crops with heavier buds and more resins.
After I understood what explosive growth meant, I began reviewing several years’ worth of my grow diaries, looking for evidence of explosive growth.
Grow diaries have been an essential part of building my knowledge and success in growing marijuana. When you measure and monitor your plants on a daily basis and record your observations, you can then dissect your grow op performance, discover what’s working and what’s not, and use the information to improve your grow op when you run subsequent seasons.
I write down grow data by hand in the grow room, then transfer it to my computer. I also use grow-room photography to record visuals, dates and times.
If you use automated hydroponics grow-room monitoring, dosing, and controller gear, you get data collection, collation, graphing, charting, and comparison capabilities that far exceed what you can do with your own brain.
As I analyzed my grow diaries, I noticed entries describing sudden, positive changes in grow-phase growth rate or bloom-phase bud development that weren’t just part of the plants’ natural genetic developmental clock.
I made a list of grow-room conditions, inputs, and any cultivation tactics — such as topping, altering light cycles, adding lights, changing nutrients feed programs — that could correlate as causation for those sudden, desirable changes in plant performance. I also looked at the factors present in my most successful seasons, hunting for common causalities.
The Chemical Reactions Behind Growing Marijuana
Standard explosions are chemical reactions, and it’s useful to remember that your marijuana plants grow because of a constantly changing dynamic of chemical reactions fueled by 18 essential inputs including oxygen, carbon, light wavelengths, and the 14 nutrient elements growing cannabis absorbs through its roots.
The rate and efficiency of your plants’ chemical reactions — photosynthesis being the primary driver of all other plant chemistry — are affected by the ratios, quality, application modality and amounts of those 18 inputs.
Your plants’ internal chemistry and metabolism are also greatly impacted by your outdoor garden or indoor marijuana grow-room environment, water, lighting and other ambient features.
In the majority of grow rooms and outdoor marijuana gardens I’ve studied, the growing protocols, practices and materials are the agricultural equivalent of driving a car with the handbrake on, or not applying enough pressure on the accelerator pedal.
It’s important to understand that chemical reactions drive hydraulic flows that extend from your cannabis plants’ roots and continue all the way to the topmost buds and leaves. Photosynthesis and other metabolic functions drive the hydraulic transport system that creates pressure gradient differentials, resulting in an upward flow of oxygen, moisture, and nutrients into the roots and vertically skyward.
Another important part of botanical chemistry is your growing marijuana plants take in carbon dioxide through their leaves, use it in photosynthesis, then release the photosynthesis byproducts of oxygen and moisture through the leaves. As oxygen and moisture are released through leaves (this process is called transpiration), the plant sucks up more nutrients and moisture through the roots, and on and on in an endless cycle until the plant’s life is over.
Limiters And Enablers To Explosive Growing
Explosive growth is influenced by two major factors: limiters and enablers.
A limiter is any form of input, input parameter or environmental condition that works against the ability of your marijuana plants to give you ultimate performance at the upper limits of physiologic and genetic potential.
An enabler is any input or condition that stimulates your plants to maximum performance, a.k.a., explosive growth.
Note that limiters and enablers might be the same genetic material, cultivation technique or grow-room condition, but how those factors are presented to the plants may determine whether they enhance or degrade plant performance.
Take for example something we’ve talked about before, vapor pressure deficit. Simply put, VPD is the density of relative humidity in the air around your plants, which directly impacts whether their leaves can transpire or not.
If relative humidity is too low, plants use more water, and too much transpiration takes place. This stresses plants while also cycling too many nutrient salts through too quickly, and that can lead to nutrient burn.
Conversely, when relative humidity is too high, not enough transpiration takes place, and this is an explosive growth limiter. The plants become hydraulically stagnant because they can’t discharge moisture from the leaves at a rate and amount fast enough to create upward hydraulic mobility, which intakes moisture and nutrients through the roots.
When relative humidity is within the ideal range, it’s an enabler.
VPD is just one of many limiting or enabling conditions that may interfere with or catalyze optimal plant performance.
Water is an explosive growth enabler when you’re using the growing technique of reverse osmosis water, provided to your plants in the right amount and at the right time while using pH Perfect hydroponics base nutrients to ensure your plants absorb nutrient elements efficiently.
But water is a limiter if you use polluted water, or provide too much or too little water too infrequently or too often.
The same goes for grow-room ambient carbon dioxide levels. Sometimes more doesn’t mean better. Ambient atmospheric levels are at historic highs in our recent geologic epoch, nearing 400 parts per million. These levels create climate change. In your grow room, ambient CO2 gives your plants enough carbon dioxide to fuel normal rates of photosynthesis.
But when you add CO2 to your grow room to increase ambient levels to 1000 parts per million (ppm) during lights-on cycle, photosynthesis increases as long as all your other inputs and conditions are upgraded and adjusted to take advantage of the increased CO2 levels.
In fact, when I reviewed my grow diaries, the clearest explosive growth incident I found was when I added tank CO2 to my grow-phase grow room, at 1000 ppm. The plants had been gaining an inch in height every 3–5 days. However, when I added the CO2 and made some concurrent adjustments, they started adding an inch in height every 1–3 days! One grow diary entry even told me the plants gained an inch in height in an 18-hour lights-on cycle.
Please note that if I hadn’t adjusted other grow-room conditions and inputs to take advantage of the ambient CO2 increase, I wouldn’t have enjoyed explosive growth like that. Rather, I’d have wasted CO2.
Further, if you go higher than 1000 ppm CO2, you harm your plants and decrease rather than increase photosynthesis and other important cannabis metabolic functions.
This is a clear example of how the same cultivation practice (i.e., adding CO2) can be a limiter or enabler, depending on how you manage it.
Explosive Growth: Sudden Vs. Chronic
Explosive growth is a complicated topic, so let’s go back and review what we’ve learned.
First of all, explosive growth is primarily witnessed as a sudden, acute increase in grow phase height and structural development, or as a sudden, acute increase in bud development and resin gland formation. Sometimes, this comes from natural plant development. It can also come because you created new conditions that lit the fuse for explosive growth.
What’s really cool is that in an ideal, near-perfect marijuana garden, explosive growth can be a chronic, highly desirable condition.
In this ideal grow situation, you’ve already optimized your inputs and environment, so your cannabis plants are already performing to the maximum of their genetic and physiological capability.
In my experience observing dozens of grow ops, I’ve found that constant explosive growth is rare, and that most growers don’t know how to flip the switch and induce this form of plant prosperity. But when you know how to dial in explosive growth, you get:
- Faster-growing, sturdier grow-phase plants that are ready for bloom phase sooner and have a better structural foundation that’ll support heavier, more resinous buds.
- Faster finishing bloom phase with heavier buds, and more cannabinoids and terpenoids per gram of bud.
- Healthier plants that better resist pests, diseases and stress.
- Shorter overall crop seasons for faster turnover and more harvests per year.
- Increased profits and return on investment.
Stay tuned to Big Buds for more articles about how to run your marijuana grow room or outdoor marijuana garden to get explosive growth. When you get our info on how to dial in your garden’s inputs and conditions to push your plants to their maximum genetic potential, you’ll love growing cannabis even more than you do right now.