The Basics Of Plant Care

Cannabis plants will grow like most other plants and will eventually fill out into a Christmas tree shape toward the end of their flowering cycle.

From its vegetative cycle to its flowering cycle the cannabis plant develops in three most noticeable sections. The top cola, the midsection and the base. The top cola will develop a large amount of bud and generally is a very flower-full part of the plant. The mid-section contains bud and stems along with old and new leaves. This section will fill with buds that grow in between the nodes near the stem. Although these buds will generally be smaller in size to the main cola they should be just as potent. The bottom section of your plant will contain the large fan leaves and a small amount of bud. Also towards the bottom of the plant you will see some dead leaves that are about to fall away and may look yellow.

Once a grower knows about the plant's different sections they can treat each section to get the most out of their plant. The bottom fan leaves are generally not smoked and are used only to gather light for your plant. If your plant is growing under an artificial light source and you do not think that these fan leaves are receiving much light then you may think about cutting them away. This is NOT a good idea. Fan leaves produce sugar that is used in bud production. If you cut away the fan leaves you may cause your bud growth to stunt causing you to finish up with a smaller harvest. Leave fan leaves alone where and when you can.

The only times when you should remove a fan leave is when it is either dying, badly burnt or covering a large bud mass. In a SOG or a ScrOG set-up you may want to remove a fan leaf or two because it is covering the bud mass of another plant. Light is the probably the most important factor in bud development and if the fan leaf is preventing light from reaching the bud, then you may want to remove it.

You should remove any dead leaves from the bottom of your plant and throw them away. Never leave the dead leaves on your soil as a fertilizer. These dead leaves tend to attract unwanted pests.

Thinning:

This really only applies to outdoor growers, but some indoor set-ups such as ScrOG, SOG and BOG may need to be thinned.

Growers like to grow their plants in a uniform condition. That is - growers like all their plants to be the same height. That way we perfectly arrange our light so that it is too far away or close to the tops. If one plant is racy then we would have to adjust the light to suite that plant. This means that we may end up with light gaps like the following.

-Distance from Plant A to light is 1 meter. -Distance from Plant B to light is 0.5 meters. -Distance from plant C to light is 8 inches.

In this case you could imagine the plants in a slope shape in there grow environment. Obviously we are going to be wasting light, not to mention space on this set-up so we need to prevent this slope from happening. That is where thinning comes into play.

The reason for the slope or curve is because some plants might tend to be a bit racy. Some of the plants will try to grow quicker than others to try and receive more light. If this happens the racy plant will cause the smaller ones beside it to receive less light. To control racy plants we use a process called thinning.

If you discover a few racy plants then just cut them down to the same level as the others (called pruning) or remove them all together. Once you have done this you will see all your plants growing nicely along at the same level.

Now, do not throw away the cuttings from the thinning before you read the next line. You can clone these cuttings into new plants!

By the time you have finished your thinning you will have an even grow area with some clones that you can use to grow more bud.

Now the other thing to remember is that some people may tend to thin the other way round. That is - leaving the taller ones and remove the smaller ones. Again in Cannabis growing the taller plants are generally male and the smaller ones are female if you have started from seed. Do you want a garden full of possible males?

During the thinning process you may want to tackle some dead leaves or leaves that have some mould build up on them. Mould looks like a rust or fluff on the leaves and will most of the time spread to other parts of the plant. So why not cut these away too while you thin your grow area.

Thinning your grow makes it look nicer and tidier and helps to improve your overall yield.

Light Bending:

Light bending occurs when a plant tries to grow at an angle towards the light. You may have seen some of the outside plants in your grow area bending towards the light to try and get their share. If your plants bend too much they will eventually grow towards (or even into) another plant. This is not good as they will cover other plants. Also during flowering the buds can get heavy and may cause your plant and pot to fall over. To avoid light bending simply switch your plants around from day to day. If a plant leans too much one way, then take it towards the middle of the pack or turn the plant around. It only takes a day or two for the plant to bend back straight again. If your plants can not be moved, such as in the case of hydroponics in conjunction with a ScrOG grow, then you may have to tie your plants up so that they do not bend.

Figure 11.1 - Here is an example of some tied up buds.

Figure 11.1 - Here is an example of some tied up buds.

If you are outdoors and you have a massive problem with this then you may have to cut away some surrounding foliage to allow more light to get in at your plants. If you can not do this then try to use a small stake and thread, such as bamboo, to keep your plant upright. Remember that if your plants are bending then they are trying to tell you something. They need more direct light!

Pruning:

Many a marijuana cultivator have taken a pair of clippers to the top of their plant just above the last branch formation during the 3rd or 4th week of vegetative growth. The top is removed by shearing it away at the stem. This can also be done during the thinning stages. What happens next is that the main stem may split off in two or more directions. This creates a V shape at the top of your plant. The end results after flowering are two or more top colas instead of one. Now, many a cannabis grower will tell you that this is a great thing to do and sometimes it is. Two top colas instead of one does sound appealing but alas it must be said that this TOPPING method of pruning does not always work out the way you think it will.

Figure 11.2 - The results of Pruning by Chrisesq.

Figure 11.4 - This is a good example of what a young topped plant looks like. As you can see the main stem has been clipped to produce 2 new stems.

Picture by Strawdog.

Figure 11.4 - This is a good example of what a young topped plant looks like. As you can see the main stem has been clipped to produce 2 new stems.

Picture by Strawdog.

Sometimes the plant will produce two small top colas instead of two big ones. This really depends on the strain and the environment. Many a grower have managed to bring a plant into growing more than six top colas by this method. Each strain will have a threshold for bud production, which can not be improved on. Some plants when grown fully without pruning do not reach their threshold. The strain Blueberry is a good example of this. If you grow blueberry without topping you will not achieve maximum bud production from that plant, but if you do top the blueberry you will. Other strains are not so flexible and by topping you will not increase bud production. The two top colas will simply be sharing the same volume of bud that a single cola would have produced on the same strain. So pruning for production is strain related and grow related. You need to find a strain that responds well to topping.

It is advised that you experiment with this pruning method. Do this with 2 out of 10 females with every grow you do. You will find in time that during this vegetative prune you will be able to shape your plant. Plants are generally pruned 3 - 4 weeks into their vegetative cycle but can be pruned sooner or later or more than once. Pruning during flowering will cause problems with bud production because the plant will divert its energy from bud production into branch and leaf production. The results will be a slower rate of Bud growth.

Remember how we spoke about Indica plants being small and Sativa plants being tall. Well if you learn to prune your plant right you can generate small bushy Sativa plants that grow in tiny spaces. Without pruning the Sativa plant it will probably stretch to five feet and more.

For every stem or branch you prune, the cut area will develop two more branches. Look outside at any tree. See how the stem divides into branches which sub-divide into more branches which divide into new shoots and leaves. Well some marijuana plant only grow a main branch out from the stem and this may stay that way throughout its entire grow. Any filling out usually occurs when new leaves and branches develop at the nodes. Some lateral branches may develop new shoots but these are somewhat small and thin and do not support much bud growth. If we prune our plant we can make it more like the tree that we see in the garden. There is also a limit to how much we can prune. Let us follow a prune path for a moment.

If we prune the stem, it will split into two. We can prune both these two new stems and end up with four stems. We may try to prune each of these four stems to try and create eight stems, but this depends on the strain and its branching limit which is genetically based.

We may be able to prune some of the lateral branches but again if the plant has reached it threshold it will not produce more new branches. All strains are different in this respect.

Prune cuts are made using clippers at a 45-degree angle to the shoot being cut.

Bushes:

Some people like to keep their plants small and wide. Cannabis plants are great for making bushes with. It is a simple process. During the 3rd week of vegetative growth prune half the plants branches and leave the other half. Never remove all the branches. Cannabis plants need at least 50% of the leaves to continue growing without stunting problems. If you go less that 50% you may stunt your plant. Do not prune just one side of the plant. Prune per side to achieve the 50%. You may also prune the main top cola if you wish the cola to split into two or more parts.

Wait until the 4th of 5th week of vegetative growth and prune the other half. (Only do this if the prune cuts you previously made have grown new branches and leaves.)

During the seventh week of vegetative growth you will notice that your plant has become more concerned with growing outwards than with growing upwards.

Let us pretend that we have a plant with 8 shoots. That means it is 4 nodes high. We perform our pruning as described and we end up with 16 shoots, but our plant is still 4 nodes high. Now this does not mean that we can keep doubling our shoots forever. Pruning just pushes the plant to grow all its shoots early. If you keep pruning up until the eighth week of vegetative growth with a plant that is 4 nodes high, the most amount of shoots you will get will be about 32. They do not really go beyond this factor much, but again this is strain dependent. Now each new shoot has a junction point or a node that it grew out from. Each node should produce some bud during the flowering stages. It is more than possible to create a marijuana plant that droops down over the sides hiding the pot. Not only that but different strains grow in different sizes. It is more than possible, with the right strain, to have a single plant cover an entire desk using this method.

Training:

This has been discussed before in the indoor growing set-ups with ScrOG and SOG. Training is simply the art of tying down your plants main stem so that it grows in a shape pattern. Mainly this is used to prevent plants from reaching their natural height without pruning (although you can also prune trained plants without a problem).

Training is done by simply attaching a piece of thread to the stem and bending the plant over. The thread is then locked down to either another part of the stem or a piece of the grow room frame. People have managed to grow all kinds of shaped plants using this method - from corkscrew shapes to complete full circles. Some growers even like to grow their plants horizontally across during the vegetative stage of growth. During the flowering cycle the light is moved above the plant to encourage thicker bud growth along the main stem. Sometimes this method does not work so well, but when it does the overall bud production can be excellent.

If during your training, a stem should break, simply hold it in place again using a stake/stick support and bind it with cheese cloth or a cloth bandage wrap with pours. Applying honey to the wound also has its benefits. If you rub honey into the wound the plant should be able to heal itself a bit quicker. Watch out for any new growth at the break area and try to trim these away should any be produced because they will try to break away the upper part of the stem, effectively TOPPING your plant.

Figure 11.5 - Picture of a Stem Break by

Slowhand.

Figure 11.5 - Picture of a Stem Break by

Slowhand.

Increasing Yield:

The yield is the amount of smokables that your plant will produce at the end of its grow. Now at this stage you should have a fair idea of the following.

The history of Cannabis, how it is used, different species and strains, THC, types of seeds and where to get them. The life cycle of the marijuana plant, how to germinate seeds, propagationr transplantingr male/female sexing, basic indoor/outdoor/guerrilla growing, security, Lights, light spectrum, HID, Lumens, soil types pH, soil nutrientsr potsr wateringr environmental control, soil flushing, Air, 12/12r flowering, SOG, ScrOG, Cabinet growing, hydroponicsr hydroponics nutrientsr the bubblerr outdoor growing and plant care.

With this amount of information you should be armed to the teeth and ready to tackle any ideas about where you want to grow, how much you want to grow and what you need. So the question may still be in your mind - "Can I actually grow marijuana?"

Many people can grow it without a problem.

How many people can grow good thick potent bud? Now that is the question!

You see this is what Marijuana is about. How much you know and the more you know the better the results will be. This hobby is so interesting that it is more addictive than the substance produced at the end of the day (marijuana has no physical additive properties but growing it is so rewarding that you may become addicted to growing!). I know plenty of growers who gave up smoking pot and yet continue to sit at home and develop new strains. It is a very addictive hobby.

The more you grow the more you will learn about what your plant needs. The two most fundamental factors in high yield growth are -Strains (good genetics) and Light.

Optimal light along with good strains will lead to great yields and bud plentiful plants. Of course high yields may not mean highly potent bud. Potency depends on the strain and how your plant is grown, remember.

Many a grower have found that some of the grow bloomers and advanced feeding products actually produce greater amounts of bud but reduce the potency and produce a different taste. To understand which feeding products are better to use than others requires a degree of experimentation on your part, but experimentation is what growing is all about. To discover new methods of growing the marijuana cultivator MUST experiment and through FAILURE learn MORE!

Cloning:

Cloning is a simple method of replicating your plants. In most cases a clone is taken from a mother plant and grown out into a whole new plant. The clone will contain the exact same genetic code as its mother plant.

Figure 11.6 - Picture of some clones in soil by

Slowhand.

Figure 11.6 - Picture of some clones in soil by

Slowhand.

Figure 11.7 - Picture of some clones in a hydroponics starter kit by Mia Stoner.

Figure 11.7 - Picture of some clones in a hydroponics starter kit by Mia Stoner.

In a selection of 30 seeds you may find a nice mother plant that you wish to keep. You can keep here genetic profile indefinitely by cloning her.

Figure 11.8 - Picture of a clone that has just been cut from a mother plant by Slowhand.

Any cannabis plant can be cloned once it has been grown to a certain height. The best place to take a cutting for cloning is above a node which has at least 2 nodes above it. The smallest cuttings on average are 3" in length.

Once the cutting has been taken it is placed in the growing medium and should form new roots over the next week to three weeks depending.

Cloning straight to soil has a low success rate. Leaving clones in water also has a low success rate. The best medium for cloning is rockwool cubes.

Not only that but in order to increase your success rates with cloning you may wish to purchase some rooting solutions such as Clonex ($3) which can be bought from most grow shops.

Figure 11.9 - Picture of homemade clone chamber by Tick.

Figure 11.9 - Picture of homemade clone chamber by Tick.

Make sure that you use a clean instrument and even better a sterile instrument when you make your cut. Take the cutting and dip the cut area into the rooting solution before placing it in the rockwool cube hole. Clones do not need much light to root. Try to avoid using the bigger grow bulbs for cloning. A simple window with some outdoor light is all that you will need for that clone to root. Many people use Fluro lights for clones.

Figures 11.10 and 11.11 - Clones can be kept in small places, by Tick.

When the clone takes root in the rockwool you will see the roots jut out from the sides of the cube. When this happens the clone is best transferred to its new grow medium, which can be soil, hydroponics or aeroponics.

This is the most successful way of producing clones on the market today. You may even live in a country where the trade of cannabis clones is legal. The great thing about cloning is that you can create 100's of female plants from one single female.

Here is another method of cloning called Air Layering written by Strawdog.

How to air-layer a clone.

ITEMS NEEDED: PLANT!

Match sticks or Tape

Razor blade Rooting hormone Tweezers Plastic wrap Scissors

(1) Sterilize all your cutting tools before using them.

(2) Find a branch that is at least 1/8 inch thick with a minimum of two nodes.

(3) Use the Razor Blade to split the branch vertically / lengthwise.

(4) Use tweezers to open the slit. Do not break the branch totally.

(5) Get ^clonex' and apply it to the open wound. Tape a match stick parallel to the stem for support.

(6) Pack the open wound carefully with any grow medium, or use a rockwool cube to cover the area (just split the cube down one side and slide over the branch).

(7) Wrap the area with the small plastic bag. The effect of this should be a funnel shaped plastic wrap enclosure.

toothpick (Clonex)

(8) Pack the bag with grow medium before closing with tape.

(9) Use a pin to create holes around bag. This will allow soil/medium to receive air.

(10) Use an eyedropper to keep the soil wet. Do this everyday. After 2 weeks your cutting will have developed roots and you can cut away the branch below the roots. Now you have a clone with roots ready for growth. You can choose to remove the plastic bag if you feel that it is too tight to allow all the roots to pass through it.

Growing Soilless

Growing Soilless

This is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to growing organic, healthy vegetable, herbs and house plants without soil. Clearly illustrated with black and white line drawings, the book covers every aspect of home hydroponic gardening.

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