Once your plants have settled into the soil and really started taking off, it’s time for late veg training! Throughout this late veg period (weeks 3-4ish) you should continue to be surprised every day by growth. While they are filling out, start gently training their shapes for optimal growth:
1: WHEN TO START TRAINING
Timing is everything!
As your plant grows, you’ll notice that pairs of branches, or nodes, are shooting off from the stem at different angles. You’ll want to wait until each of your plants has about eight nodes.
What you want to create in late veg training is an even canopy, so even though some plants may be growing faster than others, wait until all of them have enough nodes so you can train them to create a level surface under your grow lights.
2: PUSHING LIGHT
Bump it up!
When your plants start reaching this 7-9 node stage when you begin training, it’s time to start light bumping. Turn your lights up with the dimmer and bring them down closer to the plants.
If you start to see some light burn (light green leaves, curling or maybe spotting), keep the brightness but raise the light up a bit. You want them to get used to bright light, too, so if you do start to see some light burn, raising the light is better than dimming it.
Experiment! It’s time to find out now how much light the plants can take, so don’t be afraid of a little experimentation. Stay vigilant!
3: CROP AND TOP
Redirect the plants’ energy!
Once you have enough nodes on each plant to work with, get in under them and snip off the bottom two nodes, close to the stalk. These bottom branches are going to be struggling to receive light if they keep growing below the rest of the plant, and they will use up a lot of energy that you want going to your bud sites.
Then you will top your plants. Cut the stalk off at an even height for all the plants. If you have a plant with eight nodes, then you cut off below the top node. So, with the bottom two nodes gone, and the top node gone, you will have five strong, healthy pairs of branches on each plant.
Topping is important because it redirects the plants’ growth hormones to all the branches, instead of just pushing straight up. This will give you stronger, healthier flower sites!
Remember, keep your canopy consistent, so if you had to let one of your plants grow to nine nodes before the others grew eight, chop off the top two and make them all even.
4: TUCK AND BEND
Get those plants in shape!
After letting the plants get over the initial shock of topping, now you can start shaping the plant as a whole.
Tucking is a technique practiced and popularized by Nebula Haze, where all those big fan leaves that grow from the main stem are tucked underneath the branches they cover. You may notice they like to keep flopping back on top, so every day you tuck it under again until it learns to grow like that, giving the branch more light.
You also want to start training all the branches to be catching light on the same level, so start gently bending the upper branches downward until they are even with the tops of those growing from below. The idea is to get a nice, even, dense canopy of every flower node exposed to the light.
Remember, this late veg time is roughly a two week process, so don’t overstress your plants. Just a little training every couple of days and you will start to see results.
5: STRIP BEFORE FLIP
Once you see a good consistency in your canopy you can start turning your brain onto the next phase. And just before you flip your plants into the flower stage is the time to strip off the excess fan leaves. Get in close to the stem and strip away those big fan leaves, and get some of the bigger ones on the branches, too.
Don’t go too crazy right now; your aim is just to create good airflow and light penetration right now. Taking off too many leaves will stress your plants out at a crucial time. Just thin things out a little, making sure to get any big leaves covering bud sites.
If you’ve been keeping up with your plants; keeping the soil moist and the lights bright, you should be seeing a robust acceleration in growth throughout this stage. The clipping and topping will shock them for a moment, but you’ll quickly see how more energy is fed to the branches as you train them to achieve that beautiful, even canopy. Be gentle and patient throughout this phase.
When you see that full canopy and you’ve cleaned out some of the bushy leaves, it’s time to move on to flower! Click here to see what it’s all about!