How to Tell If Your Cannabis Plant is Flowering?

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Added 21 February 2022

The flowering phase is the much-awaited period when growing cannabis. 

You want to know whether you're going to get buds or seeds. 

For the uninitiated, only female marijuana plants produce buds, whereas the males produce seeds, so we are always hoping for female plants unless you're a breeder

Therefore, most growers wait with bated breath to see the plant produce pistils — the first sign of flowering. In other words, it's the time when you start seeing the fruit's flowers of your labor.

But how do you know when your plant has reached there? And what do you do then?

During this time, your plant will experience many changes. Therefore, you need to learn how to identify this stage and take care of your plant accordingly.

Many beginners wonder if their plant has actually started flowering. It's hard to differentiate between pistils and other parts of the plant. If you're one of them, this article is tailored just for you. 

Read on to understand everything about cannabis' flowering phase. 

What is the Flowering Stage?

The flowering stage follows the vegetative stage when your cannabis plant finally grows some buds. Then, the plant uses all of its energy from nutrients and light to produce flowers.

This is the phase when you also get to know whether your plant is female or male — an essential aspect of cultivating cannabis. 

So, if you want to produce more seeds or rebreed your cannabis strain, you can keep the male plants. However, if you're not interested in breeding and want cannabis buds instead, you can remove the male plants.

The flowering phase consists of a few stages, such as the following:

  • Stage 1: Transition from pre-flowering to flowering (week 1 to 3).
  • Stage 2: Formation of budlets (week 3 to 4).
  • Stage 3: Buds grow bigger (week 4 to 6).
  • Stage 4: Buds begin to ripen (week 6 to 8).
  • Stage 5: Buds finally become ready for harvest (week 8).

Let's look at each of these weeks in detail. To explain the process further, we have used Grower Wachsemilian's journal as an example. 

Week One

Week 1

This is the first week of flowering — the period of transition from pre-flowering to full flowering — where your plant gradually slows down the growth and starts producing buds. 

During this week, some strains may even double in height, which is why it's also known as "the stretch."

Week Two

Week 2

During this week, your plant starts directing its energy away from growing stems, branches, and leaves towards producing pistils. These pistils will gradually become buds in the following weeks.

Week Three

Week 3

Now, your cannabis plant's vertical growth comes to a complete halt. But, don't worry, this is a good thing because your plant will focus all of its energy on growing flowers from the pistils.

Week Four

Week 4

This week, you will notice most of your pistils turn into buds. The budlets will grow more, looking more like cannabis buds as the week progresses. 

Week Five

Week 5

Your plant is now in its full flower phase in week five. The original buds will start becoming more prominent and, along the main stem, you will see new buds forming. 

You will also start noticing trichomes on the plant, noted with a distinct odor. Ensure your plant has enough ventilation during this time.

Week Six

Week 6

During this week, your plant will undergo three changes:

  1. The buds will grow more and start ripening
  2. The pistils will turn from white to amber 
  3. Trichomes will become more opaque and milky white

These three changes are a sign your flowers are almost ready for harvest.

Week Seven

Week 7

This is the week of being patient — the buds will continue to develop along with pistils and trichomes. That's it.

Week Eight

Week 8

Finally, your cannabis plant is ready for harvest. Remember, your plant is ready for harvest when most of the trichomes are cloudy or milky white, and the pistils have turned dark and curled inwards.

If you've done everything right, the plant should show a hefty dose of trichomes. Of course, this depends on the genetics as well, so choose your strains wisely. 


What are the First Signs of Flowering in Cannabis?

Now you know the different phases of the flowering stage, but now it's time to identify when your plant has entered the flowering phase. 

This process begins with your plant entering the pre-flowering phase — when you switch your light cycle from 18/6 to 12/12, your plant will enter the pre-flowering stage. This is the time when you will start noticing the first signs of cannabis flowering.

Growth of Green Sacs

Male cannabis plant

If you notice your plant is growing green bags or sacs where pistils should be, it is a sign that your flowering plant is a male. These sacs contain pollen that gets released when the sacs mature. 

Wind, insects, pets, etc., will then carry this pollen to the pistils of female plants to form seeds.

Emergence of Pistils, White Wispy Flowers

Cannabis pistils

On the other hand, if you notice white, wispy flowers on the plant where the branch meets the trunk, it's a female plant. These wispy flowers are pistils that receive pollen from male plants to grow seeds. 

When you allow these pistils to mature without receiving any pollen, they will grow into your beloved cannabis buds. However, if you let the pollen reach them, they will grow cannabis seeds for rebreeding. 

Halted Plant Growth

The most significant sign that your plant has entered the flowering phase is when the plant completely stops growing in height. This often scares many new growers, but you need not worry.

The plant stops growing because it focuses its energy away from growing stems and branches, directing it to the growing buds. 

What are Some Tips for Flowering Cannabis Plants?

Once you know your cannabis plant is flowering, you need to take certain precautions to prepare it. This ensures your plant has the right environment for growing bushy buds. Here are a few tips for your flowering cannabis plant.

Support Your Plant

If you have used any specific training methods to grow bigger, bushier buds, you must ensure your plant has adequate support to grow those buds. Otherwise, your plant may topple under its weight.

So, use sturdy planks and threads to secure your plant up. This will take some weight off your plant to not fall over.

Do this, especially if you are growing a trained Sativa strain, as they tend to grow tall and produce large buds.

Use Bloom-Specific Fertilisers

During the flowering stages, your plant will no longer need nutrients like nitrogen, but some nutrients have to be in higher amounts, like phosphorus and potassium.

So, you need to give your plant bloom-specific fertilizers that contain the right kind of nutrients. Remember, always choose high-quality, organic fertilizers to ensure a safe bud development and unadulterated flavor.

Reduce Humidity in the Grow Room

Unlike the seedling or vegetative stage, your plant needs a lot of humidity to grow big. However, during the flowering stage, your plant needs lower humidity levels. 

Plus, lowering the humidity reduces the chances of mold development on your plant as it removes excess moisture from the grow room.

The humidity levels should be:

  • Early flowering stage: 40% to 50% RH
  • Late flowering stage: 30% to 40% RH

Protect Your Buds From Pests and Mold

You must also keep a close watch on your plant, so it does not develop pests or mold — these would significantly hamper your buds' flavor, potency, and smell.

Remember, a few bugs are a sign of many nearby. And if you notice any dark spots, funky smell, or spongy texture on the buds, it's a sign of mold.

Keep your growing area clean with the proper humidity levels to prevent mold and pests. Also, if you use fertilizers, always choose organic ones and never use them on the buds as they can damage the buds' flavor and smell.

Continue the 12/12 Light Schedule 

Your plant needs light the most in the flowering stage as it grows buds. If you give it inadequate light during this time, the buds will not grow as big. Plus, your months-long efforts of growing bushier buds may go to waste.

So, continue the 12/12 light schedule throughout the phase and ensure the lamps are away from the buds, so they don't experience light burns.

Summary: How to Tell If Your Cannabis Plant is Flowering?

The flowering phase of your cannabis cultivation is perhaps the most exciting phase of the process — you finally get to see your months-long efforts return the rewards with bushy buds. 

Remember to understand the stages of the flowering process, so you are not surprised when you see something growing at the junction of the main cola and branches (it's the pistils or green sacs). 

Then, look out for the common signs of cannabis flowering, like the following:

  • Growth of pistils or green sacs at the base of the branches
  • Halted plant growth after you switch to 12/12 light cycle
  • Pistils turn into buds around week 4 of the flowering process

And ensure you tailor your culture to meet your cultivation goals. 

If you are growing cannabis to rebreed, you can keep the male cannabis plants around the female ones. On the other hand, if you want to grow buds to smoke, remove the male plants as soon as they show the green sacs. 

Please don't wait too long, or they might pollinate the female plants, and your efforts will be worthless.

Lastly, give your cannabis plant the right environment to grow. If you have trained your plant, give it adequate support to grow big buds without toppling over. In addition, remember always to use organic, bloom-specific fertilizers, turn down the humidity levels, and protect your buds from pests and mold infestation.

Stay tuned to know more about cultivating cannabis the right way.


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