Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Veg Stage

Cannabis growing is a very nuanced and intricate process, with multiple growth stages all playing a crucial role in the end result. 

The cannabis veg stage is a foundational and developmental period in which the plant establishes its structure, health, and prepares for flowering. Sometimes overlooked, but undeniably essential, the cannabis veg stage sets the foundation for robust growth, high yield and cannabinoid production potential. 

What is Cannabis Veg Stage?

cannabis veg stage in Hey abby

The cannabis vegetative stage is a critical stage of growth in which the plant focuses its resources on growing foliage and branches, leading to (hopefully) a robust structure before transitioning into the flower or "bloom" stage.

During the weed vegetative stage, the plants' primary focuses are:

  • Growing lush foliage: This is needed to convert light into usable energy for the plant. The more energy available to the weed plant, the quicker it will be able to grow;
  • Producing vigorous vertical growth: The plant will naturally want to grow upwards and towards light, to absorb as much light as possible. This is known as "phototropism;"
  • Rapid root development: It's necessary for uptaking optimal levels of water and nutrients, to help in producing foliage and large cannabis yields.

This stage lasts anywhere from 3-16 weeks, depending on various factors like genetics, environmental conditions, lighting, feeding, desired size, and if you are growing plants indoors or outdoors

Why Veg Stage is Important for Cannabis Growers?

The cannabis veg stage is crucial. It sets the table for what the plant is capable of producing in the flowering stage.

If the plant isn't cared for properly, it will lead to less than optimal flower production and/or flower quality.

weed vegetative stage

Plant Structure

Structural development is the main focus of the plant during veg. If your plant doesn't develop strong stems and branches, it won't have the foundation needed to produce or support large buds during the flowering stage.

Root System

The weed plant is also trying to develop and expand its root structure throughout the vegetative stage. It needs a healthy, large root system to absorb enough water and nutrients, and sustain itself!

Roots are quite literally the plant's lifeline, and are critical in the plants' overall health and yield potential.

Foilage

cannabis leaves in the veg stage

veg-stage cannabis plant in Hey abby grow box

Foliage is also a main focal point of growth during the cannabis veg stage. If the plant doesn't develop enough healthy leaves, it will not be able to photosynthesize (convert light into usable energy) properly and use light energy to metabolize and transpire (uptake and move water and nutrients through the plant). In the end, it'll lead to weaker, thinner, and less desirable growth.

During the vegetative stage, the plant presents opportunities to apply different training and pruning techniques. Techniques such as topping, FIMing, low stress training, or defoliating can all enhance plant productivity by improving airflow, boosting light exposure, and optimizing structure.

All these methods will promote ideal growth, create additional flowering sites, and consequently increase the potential for higher yield and better quality.

Giving Your Plants the Best Care for Ideal Vegetative Growth

Throughout the weed vegetative stage, there are several factors you'll want to focus on to maximize the plants' growth. 

1. Environmental Temp & Humidity

cannabs vegetative temp and humidity.jpg__PID:8220cca6-ce8d-46fc-a464-0c39ae9eda6e

During the veg stage you want a warm, and humid environment. 

Keeping the environmental temperature around 80°F (26.7°C) will increase the transpiration rate, and help encourage cannabis to uptake ample amounts of water and nutrients! 

Humidity levels in this stage typically needs to be quite high. The ideal humidity for cannabis in veg stage is between 40%-60%. Higher humidity levels will help produce lush and vigorous growth, and also promote a strong extensive root system! 

2. Light Schedule & Spectrum

You want to provide the cannabis plant with full spectrum lighting, but during the veg stage, the plant will respond well to a bit extra blue in the spectrum (400-500 nm) if possible.

The extra blue light promotes development of leaves and stems, as it's more easily absorbed and processed by the plant. It will help the plant grow more quickly - this mimics the natural tendency of plants to grow towards the blue light of the sky.

Typically, cannabis plants in the veg stage need (at least) 4 hours of darkness to recover, and rebuild hormones and sugars used during the period of light. Personally, I prefer to give my plants 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness. This schedule allows for plenty of light exposure while providing sufficient time for the plant to recover and prepare for further growth when the light turns back on.

At a young stage, the plant does need super intense light, but remember to start it off low. As it gets bigger, it will be able to handle increased levels of light!

3. Watering (for Container Growers)

watering cannabis in the veg stage.jpg__PID:a6ce8d56-fce4-440c-b9ae-9eda6e9e1c16

When watering your cannabis plant in the veg stage, you want to water it frequently! 

There are 2 reliable methods to determine when your plant needs watering:

1. Feel the weight of the pot: Get a feel of what the pot feels like after the medium is fully saturated. As the plant drinks water from the medium, the pot will get lighter. Aim to water the plant when the pot feels about 3/4 lighter than it was when fully saturated!

2. Use the finger test: Stick you pointer finger into the growing medium, about knuckle deep. Check if the tip of your finger feels moist. If you do feel it, then the meidum still retains moisture towards the center. If it feels dry, it's time to water. You want to apply water when the medium is in between fully dry and fully saturated points!

To make sure the water makes its way through the medium evenly, and prevent dry pockets or channeling in the medium, use a watering wand or device with a shower head-style diffuser.

4. Airflow

Providing cannabis plants with proper airflow is important. You want to create a slight breeze around the whole plant, and especially throughout the canopy. Ideally, all the leaves of the plant should have a slight flutter or movement.

If there's no proper airflow, the plant can build what is called a "vapor barrier." This barrier traps humidity, causing the plants' pores (stomata) to close and limit its transpiration. That could result in much slower growth.

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5. Feeding

During the weed vegetative stage, the plant consumes high amounts of Nitrogen! Nitrogen helps produce chlorophyl, which is the phytochemical (internal palnt chemical) that keeps the plant green and converts light into usable energy for the plant!

A lower EC value in the veg stage can encourage growth, while a higher EC value can restrict growth. (You can use Hey abby's 4-in-1 Bluetooth Meter to monitor its level easily.)

Think of the roots like a straw, and the dissolved nutrients in the water as ice cubes; the more ice cubes present in the water, the harder it is to drink from the straw!

Cannabis plants thrive with a balanced nutrition. During veg, feed your cannabis with the proper nutrient ratio and balance. It's also crucial to adhere to your feeding regimen!

6. Training

training cannabis in veg stage

follow instructions in hey abby app to train plants in veg stage

There are many types of training you can apply during the cannabis veg stage.

Structural training like topping, SCROG, and lollipopping can help the plant produce many main branches and tops. This can potentially lead to higher yields and better quality buds.

It's also better to incorporate light training, and feed training during the veg stage. Both have a similar process: you will gradually increase the light intensity, and EC value of feeding, to match what the plant will receive during flowering.

It's essential to complete all training, whether structural or otherwise, about 3-5 days before transitioning your cannabis into the flowering stage. This will prime the plant for flowering, reduce stress, and allow the plant to recover while it's still growing leaves and branches.

Growers' Common Mistakes in the Vegetative Stage

Improper Pot Size

Growers, new growers especially, will often plant their seeds or clones directly into a large pot. This will take much longer for the roots to develop, and will result in a much slower initial growth and a longer veg stage.

It's best to use "pot progression," an effective method for transplanting cannabis. Start your clone or seed in a 1 gallon (or smaller) pot, and let it fully root in before transplanting it into its final, larger pot.

Once the roots are able to reach the bottom, and all walls of the smaller pot, it will then be safe to transplant into the larger pot.

Overwatering

Overater is a brutal, and common mistake! Overwatering can cause a myriad of issues, and even kill the plant!

To avoid overwatering cannabis, use the moisture test methods mentioned above to determine when you plant needs water!

You need to let the grow medium dry BACK between waterings or feedings, instead of drying OUT completely.

Overfeeding

Overfeeding is an issue seen amongst many new growers. When feeding the plant in the cannabis veg stage, you don't need to have a super high EC value of the feeding.

Often, people are sold unnecessary products and end up using 10+ different bottles or products to feed the plant. This leads to a doubling, or trippling-up on specific nutrients, causing nutrient deficiency, toxicity and lockout, and resulting in an overfed and sickly plant.

MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER when it comes to feeding cannabis plants. In fact, as mentioned previously, a lower EC value in the veg stage can encourage growth, while a higher EC value can restrict growth. A good EC value for cannabis fertilizer in veg stage is between 1.0-1.5 ec!

Improper Environmental Conditions

Often times growers will keep the environment too cool, or too humid! Low temp paired with high humidity is a recipe for mold and disease on your weed plants!

Try to keep the environment around 80°F (27°C), with 40%-60% RH, and ample airflow throughout the plant!

Excessive Lighting

Hey abby grow box Samsung light system

Hey abby's Samsung full-spectrum LED system

Many novice or misinformed growers will have their light on too high of an intenstiy, and run the light for much too long. The plant does not require tons of light in the veg stage. It needs moderate lighting, and a dark period to allow it to rebuild spent resources used while the lights are on.

Shoot for an 18 hours on, 6 hours off schedule!

healthy veg stage cannabis plant grown in Hey abby
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FAQs

1. How do you know when your plant is in veg stage? 

The cannabis plant will only grow foliage and branches in the veg stage. There will be no flower growth.

2. How long to keep cannabis in veg stage?

The duration of the cannabis vegetative stage can vary widely, spanning anywhere from 3 to 16 weeks. Several factors influence this timeframe, including genetics, environmental conditions, lighting setup, feeding regimen, desired plant size, and whether you're growing indoors or outdoors.

3. How many times can you top a plant during the vegetative stage?

It depends on the structure you are trying to achieve and training techniques you are applying. You may top it once, or up to 4 times.

4. Does longer cannabis veg stage mean higher yields?

It can! It all depends on how you care for and train the plant during this period. Typically, if you top and train the plant heavily, it will help increase the yield potential, but also prolong the veg stage.

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