What to do if Your Outdoor Cannabis Plant Flowers too Soon?

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Added 26 February 2023

As cannabis growers, we are always excited to harvest the plants as soon as possible so we can enjoy our bushy buds! 

But growing cannabis is about patience and you need to wait until the trichomes on the buds turn the right color.

But what happens if your plant decides to gift you with an early flowering stage? Should you be excited since you’ll be harvesting it sooner than expected?

Not always! 

Early flowering cannabis generally spells a problem and it has the potential to affect the yield. 

This is because early flowering cannabis plants have not grown to their full potential and will grow fewer buds, which can sometimes not be so potent. 

For some growers, early flowering may not be such a big problem, either. 

Which one are you and what can you do next if your cannabis is flowering too soon? 

Read on to know all about early flowering cannabis, its fixes, and prevention techniques. 

When Does a Cannabis Plant Start Flowering Outdoors?

When Does a Cannabis Plant Start Flowering Outdoors?

Typically, an outdoor cannabis plant begins to flower at the end of summer, right after the summer solstice. During this time, the days start getting shorter and the nights longer. 

Note that your location or latitude does make a big difference on when your cannabis starts flowering, it can either be a little early or a little late. But generally, cannabis starts to bloom after the June solstice (20 or 21 June, depending on the year) in the Northern Hemisphere, and after the December solstice (20 or 21 December) in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Your cannabis plant does not have a calendar or a watch, it aligns with the seasonal change due to the shortening of daylight hours. When the days shorten, your cannabis plant experiences hormonal changes, which triggers the flowering stage. This happens in photoperiod cannabis plants that are reliant on daylight hours. 

But what if you have an autoflowering cannabis plant? Autoflowering plants do not rely on daylight hours. Instead, they run on their internal genetic clock. With an autoflowering cannabis plant, you don’t really have much control over when it flowers as it does not respond to daylight conditions in terms of growth stages.

Generally, autoflowering cannabis plants start flowering one month after seed germination, regardless of the light conditions. Note that in some cases, slower autos can take up to two months to flower. 

Why is My Cannabis Plant Flowering Too Soon?

Why is My Cannabis Plant Flowering Too Soon?

You’re expecting your cannabis plant to start blooming after the summer solstice, but it suddenly starts flowering earlier than expected. While not a common problem, early flowering in cannabis can happen once in a while. If you’re a serious grower, you’re likely to face this problem a couple of times in your career.

Remember, early flowering is not the same as a cannabis strain prone to flower early. The latter is the nature of the strain, but early flowering is a problem — it indicates that either the genetics of the plant are wonky, you as a grower have made a mistake somewhere, or your location isn’t suitable for that particular strain. 

Early flowering cannabis occurs for various reasons, as mentioned below, and it’s best avoided unless you want your plants to be smaller or don’t care about a significant yield. In that case, you can even force-flower your cannabis plants.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of early flowering in cannabis.

Pros of Early Flowering Cannabis

Many growers intentionally want their cannabis plants to flower early, as it offers a few benefits to the grower. Here are some of the advantages:

1. Faster Harvest Time

If your cannabis plant flowers early, you can harvest them early. The result? You get to enjoy the fruits of your labors (aka buds) a lot sooner than otherwise. This generally benefits only growers who cultivate cannabis for personal use. 

2. Better for Some Outdoor Growers

Some outdoor growers living in the northern regions that are prone to long winters can really benefit from early-flowering cannabis. When this happens, your cannabis plant is safe from frost or mold problems that can occur with a plant growing into the winter season. 

3. Keeps Your Plant Smaller

If you’re a discreet grower, you don’t want your cannabis plant to grow too big and peek out of your garden. That’s inviting attention. However, if your plant starts blooming sooner, it will be a lot smaller and easier to keep hidden even after the flowering stretch.

Cons of Early Flowering Cannabis

There aren’t as many cons to early flowering cannabis, but the cons are still bad enough to make early flowering a problem and not a benefit for most growers. 

1. Smaller Yields

The biggest downside of early flowering cannabis is a smaller yield since the plant does not have enough time to grow big before it starts flowering, resulting in fewer bud sites. Since most growers grow cannabis for the yields, early flowering is a problem that must be avoided. 

2. Potentially Lower Potency

Another major downside of early-flowering cannabis is that it may not be as potent as you’d expect due to lower cannabinoid levels. 

3. Less Time for Training and Shaping

When aiming for the best yields, many growers employ training techniques to give their plants a desired structure, resulting in better bud development. But when a plant blooms too soon, it may not give you enough time to train it properly. This also results in lower yields than expected. 

These downsides are the reason why you should be worried when your cannabis plant starts flowering too soon. Read on to know how to fix it. 

Causes of Cannabis Plants Flowering Too Soon

Causes of Cannabis Plants Flowering Too Soon

A cannabis plant does not start flowering too soon unless something has gone wrong along the way. But since so many factors affect the growth of cannabis, it can be a bit tricky to identify the problem. You can’t fix the problem unless you identify it, so it is important to figure out what has caused your cannabis plant to flower too soon.

Here are some of the common causes of early flowering in cannabis.

1. You Germinated the Seeds Too Soon

Many times, growers often make the mistake of germinating their seeds too soon — perhaps due to an early heat wave, impatience of growing a plant, or wrong calculations. Whichever reason it may be, it can cause your cannabis to flower too soon.

When your cannabis plant starts growing early in the season when the daylight hours are still relatively shorter, the longer nights can still be long enough to trigger the flowering stage in photoperiod cannabis strains. 

2. Wrong Choice of Strains

When growing cannabis, you want to ensure you have the right strain for your region and environment, but even with all due diligence, you may still end up with a strain that’s wrong. 

This is because, genetically, some strains are known to flower too soon even if the environmental conditions are proper. It generally happens when photoperiod strains contain recessive autoflower genetics, which can sometimes push it to bloom sooner than expected. 

Some of the strains that are notorious for flowering too soon are Wedding Cake, Gorilla Glue, Sweet Purple, White Berry, Durban Poison, Speedy Chile, Critical Kush, and Himalayan Gold. 

3. Abrupt Light Cycle Switch

In an outdoor environment, ideally, the light switch is not sudden but a gradual process. The days start getting shorter by minutes every day until they are short enough to trigger flowering. 

But occasionally, it can experience an abrupt light switch due to weather anomalies or if you move your indoor plant outdoors, shocking your plant into flowering too soon. 

4. Exposure to Long Dark Hours

One of the major challenges of growing cannabis in countries where hot weather doesn’t go hand in hand with longer daylight hours is ensuring the light is enough to support the vegetative growth of the plant. This is also common for growers using greenhouses where the temperatures are controlled but the light is usually not. 

So, if your cannabis plant is exposed to long daylight hours earlier than expected, your plant may start flowering too soon. 

5. Giving too Little Light as a Seedling

When growing cannabis outdoors, there is a high chance that you’ll be germinating the seeds indoors and then relocating them outdoors. The light is very different in both environments, especially if you haven’t perfected your indoor lighting system to mimic the natural light. 

For example, the indoor light should match the outdoor light in terms of hours, and the light falling on your young cannabis plant should be at least 5000 lux. Under such circumstances, your cannabis plant can grow thin and long, and sometimes, flower too soon. 

What Can You Do About Early Flowering Cannabis?

What Can You Do About Early Flowering Cannabis?

More than likely, early flowering cannabis is a problem as it can significantly affect your plant’s yield. But there is no reason to panic just yet. You first need to ensure it is flowering.

1. Make Sure It is Flowering

Many new growers make the mistake of misidentifying their plant’s growth stage. For example, they may mistake pre-flowering cannabis for flowering cannabis and start panicking.

To avoid this, thoroughly examine your cannabis plant to ensure it is not in the pre-flowering stage. Look for the pre-flowering hairs or pistils on the plant, which can be confused for stigmas. But stigmas generally develop four weeks after pre-flowering hairs. 

Also, did your cannabis plant experience the flowering stretch? This phenomenon occurs when the plant enters the flowering stage and experiences massive growth — some plants can grow twice as big during the early flowering stage.

So, check for pre-flowering hairs and keep a track of your plant’s growth to distinguish between a pre-flowering and a flowering cannabis plant. 

2. Reversing Early Flowering in Cannabis

If you’re sure that your cannabis plant is flowering too soon and not in the pre-flowering stage, you need to take quick action — you can still save your plant. The first thing you should do is inspect the plant and the environment to figure out what might have caused this to happen.

Use the causes mentioned above and cross-reference them and you’ll quickly identify why your cannabis plant may have flowered too soon. 

PROTIP: Always maintain a growth journal for your cannabis plant from day one, so it’s easier for you to identify any anomalies in the plant’s growth or the weather, which will help you figure out not only this problem but many more when growing cannabis. 

3. Break the Bloom Cycle

Fortunately, early flowering cannabis is not the end of the world. In most cases, you can reverse the flowering stage in your cannabis plant. More or less, this is related to lighting if you’re growing a photoperiod cannabis plant. 

So, the best way to break down the bloom cycle is to adjust the light hours and force your cannabis plant into vegging again. The goal here is to put the plant back under 18 to 24 hours of daylight and gradually decrease it over the next weeks. This can be done in various ways.

If you’re growing cannabis in a container, you can simply move the plant to a well-lit area after sundown, like your garage or the living room. Just ensure the space has enough light to support a cannabis plant. 

If you’re growing cannabis in-ground, you can place a greenhouse over it — a basic kind, no need to splurge — and give it an extra hour of light using auxiliary lights. Just make sure they are water-resistant. 

This will not only restore your cannabis plant to the vegetative stage but can also improve the yield, according to many growers. Many users also report that it’s easier to restore Sativa strains compared to Indica strains. 

In any case, if you’re growing an autoflowering plant, you can’t do much to restore it. It runs on an internal genetic clock, so it’s better to let it run its course. In the future, you should avoid the same strain if it’s not suitable for your weather or fix the problem that may have caused it to flower too soon. 

Instances Where You Shouldn’t Re-veg Your Cannabis Plant

Restoring your cannabis plant to the vegetative stage, or re-vegging, may seem the ideal approach to fix an early flowering cannabis plant, but it may not always be the right choice. Here are some instances where you should avoid re-vegging cannabis plants:

1. It is Early Flowering But Not Too Early

If your cannabis plant has started flowering a month earlier than expected, it is often better to let it bloom instead of re-vegging it. An early harvest can be beneficial if your region experiences harsh weather later in the season. 

The reason re-vegging is not recommended here is that it takes a lot of time, and by the time you’re done with it, the season may have ended entirely. It generally takes a couple of weeks for the plant to re-veg and another two weeks to transition to the second flowering stage. 

You don’t want your cannabis plant flowering too late either as it can expose your plant to harsh environments with low light conditions, which can not only hamper the yield but also make your plant prone to mold or other diseases.

2. It is Too Far Into Flowering

Another instance where it is better to let your early flowering cannabis bloom is if it is too far into the flowering stage. Re-vegging will involve the use of bright lights, and when this is done later in the flowering stage, it can affect bud development, thereby reducing your yield even further. 

Additionally, some strains cannot handle light changes and can end up turning into hermaphrodites, which is a much bigger problem to handle. Not only does hermaphroditism ruin the buds with seeds but can potentially pollinate other cannabis plants in the vicinity.

3. The Plant is Not Healthy Enough

Even if your plant has started flowering three weeks prior and is not far into flowering, you should avoid re-vegging it if it’s not healthy. Re-vegging is a stressful process for the plant as you are essentially turning back the clock, and it can shock the plant.

If your plant shows any signs of illness, you should ensure it gets all the right nutrients and conditions to support it through the flowering stage. Your yield will be low but still potent. Re-vegging a healthy plant, on the other hand, may stress it out so much that the entire yield could get compromised. 

4. You Prefer Smaller Plants

If you don’t mind having a smaller plant, especially when you want to keep your growth discreet, let your plant bloom and reach harvest on its own. Re-vegging is stressful and if you can avoid it without suffering losses, you should let your plant bloom as is. 

How to Prevent Early Flowering in Cannabis?

How to Prevent Early Flowering in Cannabis?

Since early flowering cannabis occurs due to environmental factors, it is likely to happen again in the future. So, to avoid it, follow these tips.

1. Choose the Right Strain

Genetics plays a major role, so it is crucial that you choose the right strain that suits your local weather. Always purchase your seeds from a reputable seed bank as they give all the information about the strain and its requirements. 

Additionally, avoid fast-growing strains or ones with autoflowering recessive traits as they are more prone to flowering too soon. You should also discuss with other local growers to find out which strains grow best in your local region. 

2. Plant at the Right Time

Depending on your region and local climate, you should always plant your cannabis at the right time to ensure it gets adequate sunlight during its growth. For example, if you’re growing cannabis in the Northern Hemisphere, you should plant it between late spring and early summer. 

3. Add a Security Light, Just in Case

If the season is short in your region, you can even add a security light during the vegetative stage of your plant. The light can come on for as little as half an hour and it will do its job to keep the plant in the vegetative stage until it is ready to flower. This will also help your plant grow big!

4. Grow Cannabis in a Container

If light issues are common in your region, you can simply grow your cannabis plant in a container. Doing so makes it easier for you to move the plant to a well-lit space when the daylight hours get shorter. 

5. Prune the Plant

Pruning is another way to prevent your plant from flowering too soon. This is a training method where you snip off unnecessary parts of the plant like shoots and branches from the bottom tiers, which are the first to flower. 

Pruning will also improve your plant’s light and air exposure, leading to better bud development. Research this method and implement it in your garden to see exceptional results.

6. Provide the Right Nutrients

Cannabis plants need macro- and micro-nutrients, but in varying ratios, depending on their growth stage. For example, cannabis prefers an NPK ratio of 3:1:1 during the flowering stage and 1:3:2 followed by 0:3:3 during the early and late flowering stages, respectively. Of course, you can mix and match these ratios depending on their growth.

Ensure your plant gets the right nutrients so it does not confuse lack of nutrition with the changing season, which can sometimes cause cannabis to flower too soon. 

Summary: What to do if Your Outdoor Cannabis Plant Flowers too Soon?

If your cannabis plant has started flowering too soon, you need to be wary as it can spell disaster for your yield. And this is usually caused due to improper lighting conditions if you’re growing photoperiod cannabis.

For autoflowering cannabis, it can be a faulty internal clock or just bad luck. There’s nothing you can do here except avoid the same strain in the future.

But if you are growing a photoperiod cannabis plant that’s prone to flower early, you can still save your plant by re-vegging it. It is tricky and not always the best approach. So, use the tips mentioned above to figure out if re-vegging is the right approach and take suitable steps to fix early flowering in your cannabis plant.

In any case, you must avoid this problem from occurring in the future. So, choose the right strain that does not contain a recessive autoflowering trait, plant at the right time, add security lighting if required to compensate for the lack of daylight hours, or grow cannabis in a container. Do these steps and you will never face early-flowering cannabis again. 


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