The fact that you find yourself reading this most likely means that you’re either currently dealing with some marijuana plants that seem to be stuck in their vegetative stage and won’t enter their flowering stage and start to bud, or are simply doing some extra research for how to address this when it happens.
First of all, know that there are a variety of reasons why this can happen, and while the fact that your pot plants might not be budding due to various cultivation issues, it could also be related to the plant’s sex or even the attributes of various cannabis strains.
In the sections below, we’ll go over some of the most common reasons why your otherwise seemingly healthy plants might not be entering their flowering stage and producing the buds you’ve been waiting for. However, before doing so, while it may seem like the obvious is being stated here, if your weed plants aren’t budding when you think they should make sure you double-check the information provided by the cannabis retailer or online distributor from whom you purchased your seeds or clones from as some strains are ready in six weeks and others can take 10-12 when grown indoors, and outdoor crops can run the gamut from August through early-November.
Only Female Cannabis Plants Produce Buds
So, to start things off, one reason that your cannabis plant may be stuck in its vegetative phase is that it might actually be a non-bud-producing male plant, as opposed to a female plant.
If you’re scratching your head thinking “But, I planted feminized seeds?” remember that there’s about a 10% or less chance of ending up with a male plant. So, for example, if you purchased 10 feminized seeds, while you will likely end up with 10 female plants, there is about a 10% chance you could end up with one male plant
The way that you can easily determine if your plant is male is to examine its nodes, which are located where the leaves and side branches shoot out from the main stalk. Female plants will grow small pre-flowers, which will have a couple of hair-like pistils protruding from them, and males will have what is known as “pollen sacks,” which will keep multiplying until you have what looks like a small clustering of green grapes. When these nodes first appear on your weed plant, it may be difficult to tell them apart, but after about a day or two you should be able to.
Check for Light Leaks
The first thing to check for when you’re an indoor grower is to make sure that there aren’t light leaks in your indoor growing space, as some cannabis plants are so light sensitive that even the slightest leak that breaks through the complete darkness could throw off its completion of the vegetative growth.
Other cannabis strains are uber-sensitive to their light and dark schedule, so the light has to be turned off and on precisely so that they get the exact same period of uninterrupted darkness every single day.
Other precautions to take so that your plants get the full dark cycle they need is to cover up any digital timers, thermostats, etc. with LED indicators, and if you don’t live alone, then locking the door to your indoor grow room is wise so that your housemate(s) or partner, etc. don’t accidentally interrupt the hours of darkness your plants need.
Indoor Photoperiod Plants
If you’re an indoor cultivator growing a photoperiod strain, know that photoperiod cannabis plants won’t enter their flowering stage unless they get at least 12 full hours of darkness in every 24-hour period. In fact, as a related side note, this is why many growers tend to prefer to do indoor cannabis cultivation with photoperiod plants as they then control the light schedule using timers and grow lights, etc.
Generally speaking, most photoperiod strains should start to form buds about 1.5-3 weeks into the 12/12 lighting schedule (12 hours of light per day/12 hours of complete darkness). In theory, you can attempt to “force” your plant to enter their flowering phase when they’re germinated seedlings, but for all practical purposes, you probably would want to wait to start the 12/12 schedule until your plants are old enough to reveal their sex, which is usually at around 6 weeks.
If you’re growing a sativa-dominant strain that even after 21 days on the 12/12 light cycle still isn’t producing any cannabis buds, you may want to try an 11/13 or 11/14 schedule for about seven days. This is because sativas sometimes need additional darkness as compared to an indica or 50/50 hybrid.
If none of these things are working for your indoor plants then two other options are to: 1) imitate autumn conditions by decreasing the temperature by a bit, decrease humidity levels, and reduce their hours of sunlight by 1-2 hours; and 2) “shock” your plants with 24-48 hours of uninterrupted darkness.
Indoor Autoflowering Strains
Autoflowering strains usually start their bloom period aka flowering stage on their own about five or so weeks after their germination period, which is one of the reasons cannabis growers love growing them.
However, every so often the internal mechanism of an autoflowering plant does fail to kick in, which will result in its staying in its vegetative growth period.
If your autoflowering strain isn’t entering its flowering period and producing buds the first thing to do is to just wait, as sometimes they just need a slightly longer time period than usual. However, if nothing has changed after three weeks, then you should try changing its light cycle to 12/12, which should be enough to get your plants to exit their vegetative stage and begin to flower.
How to Force Outdoor Plants to Bud
When it comes to growing your crops of cannabis outdoors, getting enough light is all taken care of thanks to the sun shining overhead. As a general rule of thumb, most strains that are planted in the spring should be producing buds by the autumn, with some as early as August and others as late as late October.
If you are an outdoor grower who is wanting to get your outdoor plants to bud earlier, the number one best way is to grow your seedlings from autoflower seeds. If, for example, you live in an apartment in the city and just have 1-3 plants in pots on your balcony where you can’t exactly control the surrounding urban lights, one way to ensure that your plants are getting the proper dark periods that they need is to install some sort of coverage that will block out the light for however many hours your plants need.
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