By Robert Bergman, ILoveGrowingMarijuana.org
After an entire season of taking good care of your marijuana plants, it is easy to sit back and relax during the flowering stage of their life cycle. This is one of the worst things you could do, however, as this stage needs to be just as carefully monitored. Perhaps even more so than the earlier stages of growth. As you have already invested so much time and effort into growing your plants, it would be even worse to lose them, or ruin the harvest this late in the game.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most important tips to have a successful flowering stage for your marijuana plants. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig in because following the below tips could mean a vastly better, and more potent, harvest in the end.
Adjust your indoor grow lights as needed
Many growers don’t know that during the early stages of the flowering stage, marijuana plants are prone to shoot upwards in an odd growth spurt. This growth spurt can vary in how extreme it is, according to the strain of marijuana plants you are growing. It can even continue well into the mid-flowering stage.
Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more growing tips
Because this increase in height is often unexpected, it is easy to forget that you will need to adjust the grow lights, as the plants are probably getting uncomfortably close to them after such a growth spurt. Make sure to adjust the height of the lights to keep them a safe, healthy distance from your plants so they don’t get too warm.
Keep looking for male flowers
Just because you had already identified and removed the male marijuana plants from your crop before the flowering stage began, doesn’t mean you are out of the water. In fact, it is not uncommon for a hermaphrodite to develop during the flowering stage, thus leading to male sex organs that will pollinate your precious female plants.
For this reason, inspect your plants carefully during the flowering stage. If you spot a male flower — characterized either by their clearly male pollen sacs, or the yellow banana-like shape –, you should remove the entire site of the bud to ensure that no pollen escapes, and touches your female flowers. If one pollen sac escapes your notice, it could ruin your entire crop of female buds.
As you may already know, a female plant that has been fertilized will stop focusing its resources on growing its buds, to be bigger and more potent. Instead, it will stop that type of growth altogether, and will grow seeds instead. You don’t want to smoke seeds, so it’s crucial that no males — hermaphrodite or otherwise — are present in your crop.
Go easy on the nutrients
No matter what kind of nutrients you are using — organic compost, or store-bought chemicals — overdosing your plants on nutrients is not a good idea during the flowering stage. It also leads to an unpleasant taste. The reason it is so dangerous to burn your plants with nutrients during the flowering stage is that it is their latest stage of life, and there will be no time to bounce back from the damages caused.
Unless you are seeing clear signs of a specific nutrient deficiency, and you have already tested it to make sure it isn’t masking a pH balance issue, you should never add more nutrients beyond the plants’ normal food. In fact, they need smaller and smaller doses of nutrients as harvest time approaches.
If there is an obvious nutrient deficiency, introduce more of that nutrient very gradually. Always be wary of nutrient burning your plants, and take as many precautions as possible.
Keep an eye on the pH levels
Most issues that occur with marijuana plants are actually just from incorrect pH levels, specifically in the root area. The pH level is crucial regardless of what kind of growing medium or setup you are using. You might be having a pH problem if the leaves are starting to get wrinkled or curled, or if your plant is exhibiting signs of a nutrient deficiency.
Whatever problems you have, always check the pH levels near the roots to see if that is what is causing the issue. If you are growing in soil, the pH level at the roots should be between 6.0 and 7.0 while hydroponic systems should be between 5.5 and 6.5.
The good news is that testing the pH level is quite easy and inexpensive — in addition to being useful at every stage of growing. So regardless of where your plants are in their growing progress, you should buy yourself a pH testing kit.
Keep the humidity down
Another aspect of the growing conditions that is easy to forget during the flowering stage is the humidity level. This is because, for most of your plant’s life, the humidity level is supposed to be higher. During the flowering stage, however, the humidity level must remain below 45% at all times. Use a dehumidifier, if necessary.
Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more growing tips
If the humidity of your grow room is higher than 45%, it is likely that your plants will begin to develop mold in their buds. And every grower knows that moldy buds are wasted buds. Many times, buds may even appear to be completely fine because the mold is growing on the inside, meaning that the grower won’t notice until it is far too late to do anything about it.
Flush out the nutrients before you harvest
A vital thing to remember — for your own health, as well as the quality of the buds — is that you should flush out the marijuana growing medium a week or two before you actually harvest the plants. The idea is to completely remove the nutrients you have been feeding your plants — whether chemical or organic — so that none of it remains in the consumable product at the end.
The way to flush out the system is to use neutralized water, which means it has an absolutely balanced pH level. Test it before pouring it into your grow system. This can also be utilized in the case of a pH imbalance in the soil, or if you have a nutrient toxicity issue.
Time the harvest right
One big question that many new growers ask is how long they should keep their indoor marijuana plants in their flowering stage of growth. The answer is that this only depends on the strain, what you want the end result to be like, and your own personal preferences. Most strains require between two and four months to be in the flowering stage. After that point, the harvest should be done.
The timing of your harvest also depends on what type of effects you would like your marijuana to have on the user. If you prefer a more energetic high, you should err on the earlier side. If you prefer a relaxed high with the classic feeling of couchlock, harvest a bit later. Just don’t harvest too late or too early, as it will either decrease the effects or it will change them to a type of high that is undesirable.
Do not harvest until the pistils are at least half (preferably more) darkened, or when the trichomes are mostly white and milky, as can be seen with a microscope or magnifying glass. Patience is key when timing the harvest right.
Curing marijuana buds
Once you have removed the buds and dried them properly (again, patience is key in this stage), it is important to remember that curing the buds plays an equally important role in keeping your plants healthy during their flowering stage. Store them in airtight jars in a dark, cool environment.
Every day, open the jar and move the buds around, as well as check on them to make sure there is no mold developing. After a while, limit this to twice a week. If you do this consistently for several weeks, your buds will be even higher quality than they would have been otherwise. Longer curing is also an option (for several months, for example) if you would like to keep improving the flavor and aroma more and more.