How To Tell If Marijuana Is Flowering
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.
[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.]