How To Tell If Marijuana Is Flowering

Flowering Begins

For first time growers, the most anticipated point in the process of growing your own marijuana is the begin of flowering. During your first grow, you will probably be checking every day to see if you’ve entered the home stretch and can anticipate your first harvest. This post is aimed at first-time growers who are eager to see their first results, and nervous as to whether everything is going the way it should!

The appearance of the fine, white pistils are the first recognizable sign that a marijuana plant has begun flowering – click on the image above to enlarge it and see the pistils in closer detail. The plant in the picture is a feminized, autoflowering “Pineapple Express” plant, and is approximately 5 days into flowering.

Most home growers are now using autoflowering/feminized seeds, so I will focus on identifying female flowers. If you are using standard seeds, please see the link below for our eBook on home growing – it is loaded with useful tips on how to maximize your harvest and produce the finest possible quality from your plants, and also goes into depth on identifying male vs. female plants. Also see our post on “Growing More Females From Your Standard Seeds.”

Autoflowering plants can be expected to show their first pistils after a set period of time (generally about 30 days), whereas standard plants require a change in the light cycle to begin flowering. Once you shift your light cycle to flowering, you can generally expect to see pistils, as pictured above, within a week.

Pistils protrude from the calyxes of the plant, which are commonly known as “buds”, and are the female flowers on a cannabis plant. At the begin of flowering, the calyxes are underdeveloped and often only visible if present at leaf nodes along the stem of the plant. In time, the calyxes will develop into thicker “buds”, and increase in number as the plant matures. After a couple weeks, you will also be able to see trichomes on the buds and neighboring leaves by using a strong magnifying glass, jeweler’s loop or pocket microscope. Trichomes are the part of the plant that contain THC, CBD, and the other cannabinoid compounds that we growers are aiming to harvest.

It is worth noting that sampling immature buds (eating, smoking, cooking, etc.) to “test the plant’s potency” is a bad idea. Not only do the immature buds not yet contain a significant quantity of useful compounds, but cutting into the maturing plant is a bad idea – you will cause the plant undue stress, hampering the growth process and potentially opening up the plant to attack from insect pests and molds. As anxious as you are to “get to the goal”, please hang in there – your patience will pay off!

An important side note, and an affirmation of the previous post about seedling care:

The picture is from a client’s home grow, and the plant actually began flowering after only slightly more than two weeks of vegetative growth. Although this may initially seem like cause for celebration (“Wow! That went fast – now we can get to the buds!”), the plant will unfortunately produce only a small quantity of buds due to it’s rather short stature!

This grower had consulted about 10 days before this, saying that the plants leaves appeared discolored and had dried spots on the edges of some leaves. Our guess is that the potting soil that they used – which contained fertilizer – had stressed the plant, and flowering kicked in even sooner than normal. The earlier discolored/dried patches on leaves symptoms were likely “nutrient burn”, which we helped the client remedy in time to save the plant. I’ll try to get some more pictures of this plant as the buds develop and show you how she’s doing.

best regards

glenn panik

[Writer Glenn Panik’s “How To Grow Cannabis At Home: A Guide To Indoor Medical Marijuana Growing”, is available on iTunes here, for the Amazon Kindle or via Smashwords here. You can also order the ‘stealth title’ of our information-packed ebook for the Kindle here.]9781476121598.225x225-75


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

62 responses to “How To Tell If Marijuana Is Flowering”

  1. happyyogurt says :

    ty vry much tht was more thn helpful

  2. jeremy says :

    I am a first time grower and my plant is about 2 feet into growth now.ibelieve the flowering stage has begun due to the small white pistils i see..anyways.very anxious to see if everything pans out.its outside and gets water everynight.ANY MORE ADVICE WILL HELP PLZ thankyou

    • attackontitan97 says :

      Any luck bro? I have the same idea as you man, and am getting its male , its female , and its getting me pissed! Iknow its a female but yet people who grown says it could be male

      • glennpanik says :

        If you only have the one plant, there’s no harm in growing it out a bit longer and seeing if it’s male or female. Generally the only concern with male plants is that the pollen sacks will open and ruin a crop of females (pollinate the young buds, and the energy goes into seeds rather than buds). best regards, GP

      • JRAY420 says :

        so what exactly makes u think its a male??

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi – sorry about the late reply. You should be seeing clusters of pistils by this point, or at least many more all over the plant, especially higher-up on the plant. Keep the plant in full sun, and let the soil dry out in the top 2 inches or so before watering, and then water thoroughly. Cannabis prefers a good drench and then a “drying out” phase (relatively speaking), rather than having constantly wet roots which can lead to root rot. You can also begin adding a small phosphorous supplement to the water to support flowering. cheers, GP

      • Donald says :

        I have a few outdoor plants it’s my first grow ,when do I start to change my nutes over to flower they r already in preflower do I change now or wait till it gets more white hairs any help would be great full thanks

      • glennpanik says :

        This depends a bit on your growing substrate… if the plants are in soil, I’d suggest stopping veg. phase nutrients now, let the plants get motivated to flower. The soil holds enough nutrients to sustain them, and you don’t want too much nitrogen as they enter flowering, to avoid “leafy” buds. Then when you can establish that they are fully into the flowering phase, start in on the nutrient plan for flowering. If you are using a nutrient-poor substrate, then you may not want to stop fertilizing entirely, but rather taper off and up into the new plan. cheers, GP

  3. Geraldo says :

    Ok you guys! My neighbor ( grown weedback in the days) said my plant could be male BUT WAIT! There are NO pollen sacks just white hairs and its been about a week since iI seen those white hairs? Anyone can help me”?

  4. julian green says :

    I got a clone from the shop some Bubba and its showing white pistols up the stem on the nodes, does that mean its going to flower soon ? Someone plz help.

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Julian,

      Yes, white pistils appearing is the first sign of flowering. Keep at it – all is well!
      cheers, GP

    • JRAY420. I would say ur in the very beginning stage of flowering!1 says :

      yes shes will start to grow more and more white pistals and eventualy the calyxes will begin to swell and form buds, Before u know it u will have white pistils everywhere.I would say ur in the very early stage of flowering!

  5. julian green says :

    I got it outside in some organic soil watering it twice a week at the most.

    • glennpanik says :

      That’s perfect – always let the top 2-3 inches of soil become dry to the touch and then water thoroughly.

      • julian green says :

        Thank you for the reply I appreciate it, I have a few more questions if you don’t mind, 1st is do I realty need to put nutrients during the flowering stage or can I just use water? 2nd is should I put it on the Calender ? 3rd is how long should it take from now for full development? Sorry for all the amateur questions but is my first grow.

      • glennpanik says :

        I will recommend our ebook here – there is detailed grow info for every step of the flowering phase in there. Basic tips: Flowering is the time for higher Phosphorus/lower Nitrogen fertilizer. If you’re in doubt of hat to do, don’t risk hurting your plant, and just go with good old H2O! If you noted the date when flowering began, you can expect to harvest in 8-10weeks. Again, our book will help if you are unsure. cheers, GP

  6. Nathan says :

    Hi, my plant displayed the pistils from the leaf nodes at the stem 3 weeks ago. But since then, the plant has continued growing with no visible sign of a bud. The stem pistils developed into a tiny ball like form (different from the male ball). Please let me know if this is normal or if i’m doing something wrong.

    • glennpanik says :

      Do you have the plant outdoors, in natural light, or inside under timed lamps? At this time of year in many climates, plants outdoors will begin to show pistils, and then will not show further development until a few weeks later, which is normal. If you identified pistils, then the “ball like form” you mentioned is likely a developing calyx. best regards, gp

  7. you know says :

    First time grower and its a female looks beautiful smells great got soil from 99cent store Everything cheap and shes great guess cuz im female too so momma knows best

  8. billy says :

    Does a female how loads of pistels

    • glennpanik says :

      Yes, a female will show more and more pistils after a few weeks of flowering. Eventually the calyxes will begin to fatten, forming what we call “bud” 🙂


    • JRAY420. I would say ur in the very beginning stage of flowering!1 says :

      yes generally a female will show the white pistals and a male will show these little pollen sacs that eventually open up into a little flower spreading pollen everywhere.those white pistals are there to capture the pollen released from the sometimes u can get a hermaphrodite which has both pistals and male flowers and can actualy pollinate itself and form seeds!

  9. Karl says :

    Hey I’m a first time grower I’m growing under 2 CFls with a bog standard seed all together it’s about 3000 lumen and in 2 months my plant has grown 19inch I keep them on 24/7 as shown great results I also use Dutch pro soil grow, and my plant has started forming long white pistols with small sacks BEFORE I have switched to 12/12 I was wondering if this is normal and should I switch now? Had pistols for a week.
    First time grower let me know please.

  10. Bob says :

    I have an og kush plant 8 weeks into flowering and my buds are tiny if anything but a grip of white pistols my tricombs are still clear but the tips of my leaves are brown like they are burnt. No nutes for last 3 weeks so I know no nute burn. Will my buds fill out or what should I expect or do? I read online they can flowering for 10 weeks but it looks like it’s done with its cycle. Any help will be appreciated. I can send a pic if that helps.

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Bob,
      It’s hard to say without a picture… buds often do fill out near the end of flowering more, and browned leaves can be caused by a variety of circumstances. Have you monitored your temperature? Any insect pests present, or mold? cheers, GP

      • Bob says :

        No pest it’s a little above ideal heat since I’m using a 1000 hps lamp in a 2x2x5 tent. I can send picture if you let me know how.

  11. Drake Lindsay says :

    What are nutrent burns and how could i tell if my plant is suffering from it?

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi, Nutrient burns often look like “burnt” leaves – browning around the edges, or yellowed/browned dying patches on the leaves. This is caused by using too much fertilizer or even an overly rich soil. Young plants in soil don’t really need any fertilizer, since cannabis is perfectly capable of flourishing in meager soil. best regards, GP

  12. Sir Canso Sardines says :

    Another noobie grow here. My ? Is if the soil that im using is keeping my plant healthy then should the extra phos be a waste of time or a risk to her? Shes been going strong and healthy and the pistils are showing up every where thick and long so it seems that the budding has started. If it isnt broke why fix it? Just wondering

    • glennpanik says :

      I would agree – if the plant is healthy and pistils are full and thick, then your soil is probably providing all the plant needs at the moment. You could water with a mild “tea”, such as a mild molasses solution, to support microbal activity in the soil. This aids in making the nutrients in the soil available to the plant without artificially supplementing nutrients and running the risk of overdoing it! best regards, GP

      • Thea says :

        My baby just entered the flowering stage 1 week ago . now there are the pistils all over and clear n yellow sacs all over is my baby doing the right thing? I wanna say it’s a female but un. Sure at this point plz help

      • glennpanik says :

        If there are yellow pollen sacs as well, it sounds like your plant may be a hermaphrodite. This is not entirely uncommon, and will likely self-pollinate the buds, leading to development of seeds and less bud than you had probably hoped for. You can try to hunt down and pick off as many pollen sacs as possible, which may help save the plant from producing mostly seeds! cheers, GP

  13. Ric says :

    I bought a clone from the club last Friday and I transferred it into a 5gallon bucket. Growing fine. But it was two big heavy leaves that’s there hanging off the bucket. There not brown. Still green. Should I cut them or let it grow?

  14. Jeremy says :

    hi i got two plants its my frist grow its been 36days since i planted them is it time for them to show if its a male or female they still ant showing ones bigger then the other

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Jeremy,
      If you haven’t switched the lighting cycle to 12/12, then flowering won’t begin (unless you have auto strains). Pick up our eBook for more info if you need help! best, GP

  15. Kimo says :

    Hi, I have about 15 plants outside my patio. I just transferred one plant into a pot. But when it sits in the direct sun it droops. Just wanted to know if there’s an reason for that being.

  16. mark sweeney says :

    my plants about 5 weeks in. Looking good See small white pistols. I can also smell a slight shunk smell in what I assume are the females plants. A few plants have no smell. Are those male plants?

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Mark,
      Generally, male flowers develop before female flowers, so if you have all the same strain growing, then just hang in there and check every day for those male “banana” looking flowers. If you see them, then remove those plants to prevent pollinating your buds! best, GP

  17. Todd says :

    High. .I have a issue with one of my plants. .it’s a bushy plant it has what appears to be bud’s at the top of every branch but no white hair’s. .it teaches also has what looks like a set of balls only in 1 spot. .item a little confused with what looks like bud’s but no white hair’s. .any help would be great. .

    • glennpanik says :

      Sounds like a hermaphrodite, likely from a “feminized seed”, no? You can pinch off the male flowers as they appear, and no more nitrogen fertilizer – that will keep the buds from getting too bushy. You may want to flush the soil if you used nitrogen fertilizer recently. cheers, GP

  18. Madison says :

    This is my very first time growing from seed, and I am MORE than excited to see the flowering begin on my first successful plant! I am unsure of how to feed her at this point since I have put her into the flowering stage. Any suggestions? She has just started to produce a few of the pre-flower hairs. (Excuse me if my terminology isn’t right…I’m a rookie…lol)

    • glennpanik says :

      Sounds like you’re on the right path. Take it easy for a bit – only water when the top two inches of soil are dried. No nitrogen fertilizers, but after a few weeks, you could supplement carefully with a solution of flowering fertilizer. Best wishes, GP

      • Madison says :

        Thank you for the advice! I have done LST on my plant, so it has grown quite a large/wide canopy. She is starting to flower in many places. I have used a nitrogen fertilizer since I have put her into the flower stage. Should I flush the soil to get rid of nitrogen remnants?

  19. Billy bob says :

    Question am I doing good job I got one that 2 foot has flowers from top to bottom and it’s looking like a Christmas tree would u like to see

  20. slotstick says :

    First timer, my female is doing something weird, it’s growing just fine but it’s producing one, three, four, five, leaves. It’s in central Fla and always outdoors, what’s the cause of this mutation?

  21. Marshmello says :

    Hi I am also a new grower mine is in aquaponic system I believe all are female plants. They are about 2 feet tall when they go into flowering will they still grow also.

  22. michiibird says :

    Reblogged this on

  23. jeszter says :

    Hey there….I hav a white widow about 2 feet high an white pistols mostly at the top….but what is another good supplement for phosphorus?

    • glennpanik says :

      I would recommend a couple doses of properly administered phosphorus, then topping the soil with good compost, and then watering regularly with no phosphorus. Phosphorus is not the only ingredient in growing proper thick buds, but a very natural balance… Let natur edo the job, and you’ll reap the rewards! cheers, GP

  24. Stephan Herholdt says :

    I just started growing my plant she’s looking healthy but i need advice. If i put her outside will she grow faster or slower/ depending on how much water she needs. So my question is how often should i water her i dont want to over water the plant.

    • glennpanik says :

      As long as the weather is still warm & sunny where you are, sunshine is the best light for plants, hands down! Use the rule of thumb that the top 2-3 inches of soil should feel somewhat dry before the next watering. Water sufficiently for your container so the water will reach, but not saturate the roots. Always be sure that excess water can drain (gravel and holes in bottom of pot is a good idea) to prevent root rot. best regards, GP

  25. Krista La Bel says :

    My plant is only maybe 3 inches tall but looks like it is starting to Bud at the top. Out of 30 seeds this is the only one that has grown is there a way to stop it from flowering so it will get bigger and bushier? It is very difficult to get seeds here it is in a 4-inch container and has gone from inside to outside due to traffic inside the house, I have never had this much of a problem before any suggestions. I would appreciate some anonymity As I Grew From my husband where is my job is drug drug free

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Krista,

      For anonymity, I assume you didn’t use your real name… That’s up to you. Notify me if I should delete the reply. I can’t help you much unless I know what seeds (autoflower, standard, etc) you are using, and what your light schedule is. It sounds like you might really benefit from our grow eBook. I’m glad to reply here, but picking up the eBook will get you the know-how to get the same results that we post here on the blog.
      best regards
      Glenn Panik

  26. bubba lee says :

    I am having the exact same thing happening to my plant, that is described in the main topic post. It looks identical to your picture of the first stages of flowering, and mine too has a few leaves slightly discolored and look nutrient burnt. However, the plant is progressing quicker than anticipated and looks good.. In your post, you mentioned that you “gave the plant a “remedy” that may have saved it?” Now I am worried that I need the info for that remedy or it will die??

  27. Sajin says :

    Helpful article.thank u, this helped me a lot

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: