Many gardeners overlook the importance of their plant’s vegetative growth stage. Instead, they focus on the flowering stage when their plants finally begin to blossom with buds. The truth, however, is that the vegetative stage is equally if not more important. Whether you are growing medical marijuana or any other plant you intend on harvesting, you need to provide it with proper lighting during the critical vegetative stage. Only then will your plant reach its maximum potential in terms of size and health.
The typical vegetative stage for medical marijuana plants lasts anywhere between 4-6 months when its grown outside. Growing a healthy marijuana plant is a slow, meticulous process that takes time, patience and dedication. Thankfully, growing them inside is a bit faster when done correctly. Using light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs will naturally encourage faster growth while providing your plants with the appropriate type of lighting. Don’t just use any type of grow light for your plants, as it may prolong the process. If you are looking to grow big, healthy plants in a short amount of time, stick with LED lights.
There are dozens of different types of LED grow lights on the market. With such a large selection, how do you know which one to choose? For vegetative growth, it’s recommended that you stick with blue spectrum LEDs with a wavelength around mid-400 nanometers. When your plants begin to flower, it’s usually best to swap them out your LED light for a deep red spectrum around 660 nanometers. Following this basic rule of thumb will create vibrant, healthy plants.
So, how much light should you give your plants during vegetative growth? Some gardeners claim that a full 24 hours of light works best, while others give their plants just 18 hours of light. While both of these options will result in a healthy bloom, I’ve found that full 24 hours of light is ideal when using LED grow lights. You see, LED grow lights don’t release the same amount of heat as other grow lights; therefore, they really don’t have any negative effective on plants’ growth, even if they’ve been running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When your plants are ready to flower, you should force them into a “dark” stage by turning off the light. Give them at least a full 24 hours of darkness to encourage a healthy flowering stage. Don’t worry, this won’t phase a healthy plant.