Here you are! You’ve raised your seedlings all the way through the veg state and you’re ready for flower!
But are you?
Do your plants look ready?
The flowering process is the longest of the whole grow, so before we really get into talking about flipping to flower, it’s really important to make sure you’re where you want to be. You want your plants looking really healthy; nice dark green leaves that are full and vibrant.
Are your plants shaped the way you want? Training is a process, and sometimes you may want to extend the veg time a little longer until you get the even canopy you want. And remember that during flower, your plants will double in size at least, so make sure you have enough room to accommodate that growth.
If it’s not looking good, it may be better to just scrap this grow and start over. Now is the time to make that decision.
If your plants are looking healthy and in the shape you want, you can start the flip. Aside from the switch in your soil amendments (from Base to Boost, if you’re using Earth Dust, for example), there are a few key things you want to do during this stage.
1. CHANGE DAILY LIGHT INTEGRAL
You are the sun, pretending to be autumn!
To get your plants to start putting energy into flowering, you want them to think that it’s moving toward autumn (the time for flowering in nature). The biggest way to do this is by dialing back the amount of light they get each day. Lights should now be on a cycle of 12 hours on, 12 hours off.
This will trigger a natural response in the plant to start producing flowers.
2. BRIGHTEN YOUR LIGHTS
Step up the day glow!
Changing the light cycle will lessen the amount of light the plants get, but you don’t want them missing out on those life-giving rays, so once the cycle is reset, you can begin dialing up the brightness on your dimmer. The change in the cycle is to trigger the flower response, but you still want your plants absorbing as much energy as possible.
Bear in mind that plants are delicate and slow to accept change, so you don’t want to suddenly blast them with the brightest lighting possible. A little bit every day is good, to allow them to get used to the increased brightness.
3. RAISE AND SLOWLY LOWER YOUR LIGHTS
Don’t burn your babies!
At the same time you are increasing the brightness of your lights, you also want to be dialing in the best distance from the canopy. When you initially raise the brightness, back your lights off. Raise them up high and progressively lower them back down as you ease up the brightness. Your plants will recognize that there is more light in your grow space bouncing around. Too much focused light, however, will burn them out.
Eventually, you will find a sweet spot where your plants are drinking in all the light and looking very happy without showing any signs of burning. Give them as much as they can healthily take. Listen to your plants. They will tell you what they like.
4. WATCH FOR PISTILS
Girls rule and boys drool!
Around weeks 3-4 or the flower cycle, as you are watching your plants, you will start to see flower sites. Look for leaves that are growing more tightly bound; not big wide fan leaves anymore, but more joined together. There you should see little hairs starting to form. These are pistils – the beginnings of your buds!
Watch very carefully for little balls. If the bud sites look like those little balls and not hairs, then that’s a male plant. Get it out of your garden right away! Male plants will cause pollination and seeding. You don’t want that in your buds!
Soon, you will see these flower sites start to swell. The little patches of hairy pistils with their small, joined leaves growing around them will expand and become more prominent. This is called the calyx. Once you see that, it is time…
Strip the duff, let them fluff!
You should now be seeing the main flowering sites all growing together around that even canopy you trained in late veg. You will also see a bunch of fan leaves and lots of more scraggily, larfy growth along the branches below.
Get your trimmers, get a good playlist of music going, and get down under your plants to start stripping away all that extra growth. This will take some time. Be patient and gentle with your plants.
When you are done, it should be very clear why this process is called lollipopping – you should see long, bare sticks leading to beautiful candy bud sites on top. This will make your plant direct all its energy to those robust flowers in the canopy without worrying about the duffy stuff below that would never have grown into much because it couldn’t get enough light.
With lollipopping done, take a moment to step back and admire your growing crop. You’ve been busy these past few weeks. Late veg and early flower are hard stages – lots of very attentive care for your plants. You have changed their diet, you’ve changed their light cycle, you’ve watched them bud and you’ve stripped away all the undergrowth.
Congratulate yourself. You deserve it!
But you’re not done yet…
Late flower is the most truly fun and rewarding time! Click here to see why.