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When Should I Change My Light Schedule for My Marijuana Plants

Lighting plays an extremely important part in the growing of cannabis, which is a photoperiod plant.  This means that light determines when the plant is going to start flowering and budding.

Once your seedlings or clones reach the vegetative or growing stage it will stay there for as long as it gets less than 12 hours of light every day. This is the most important part of your plant’s life and during this stage, it grows rapidly. They grow bigger and taller by the day when the conditions are right, but only stems and leaves.  There are no flowers or buds during the vegetative stage.

Whether they grow indoor and outdoor, ensure that your plants get at least 13 hours of light to stay in the vegetative stage and keep growing.  During this period, they can be exposed to 24 hours of light per day to encourage faster growth.

To understand the time schedules for indoor growing it can be explained this way:  plants that are exposed to 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness in a 24-hour period are grown according to an 18/6 schedule.  A 24/0 schedule means no darkness in 24 hour

If your plants are kept outdoors they will also stay in the vegetative stage as long as they get enough light per day, however, the strains do differ slightly. The plants will start budding when the nights or the darkness becomes longer. At this stage, they need at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness every night otherwise, they will revert to the vegetative stage.

When growers decide to initiate flowering indoors they put their plants on a 12/12 schedule.  This means that the grower will have to ensure that the plants get 12 hours of light and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness.

Outdoor plants will start budding in late summer, early autumn when the nights grow longer and the days shorter as winter approaches.  They will start flowering naturally once days get shorter than 12 hours as long as the darkness is not interrupted by street or other lights.

Once the indoor plants start flowering it takes about an average of 2.5 months before the buds are ready to harvest.  This can vary between 6 weeks to 5 months, though. The indoor growers can decide when they want their plants to start flowering by controlling the amount of light and darkness the plants are exposed to. There is no hard and fast rule as to the right time to initiate flowering, however, there are two important aspects to take into consideration namely the age and height of the plant.

The fact is that a young plant will not start flowering before it is two to three weeks old.  The plant is not necessarily going to produce more buds if it is kept in a vegetative state for a long period of time like 60 days, for instance.  Many growers prefer their plants to start flowering early in order to keep them small.   This lighting method is said to be called “12-12 from seed”.

Clones are little cannabis plants which are cut from the mother plant and left to make roots of its own.  Once the roots have developed it is considered a “mature” plant even though it might still be small because it was grown from a mature plant.  These plants tend to grow faster than ones grown from seeds and growers can change their light schedule whenever they want to initiate flowering.

As far as the height of the plant is concerned it is safe to change the light schedule to flowering once your plants have reached half of their desired height. Generally, the cannabis plant will double or triple in size during the flowering stage from the time that you changed the light schedule.

Auto Flowering Seeds

Auto-flowering plants, or Ruderalis, are not “photoperiod” strains and will start flowering once they reach three to four weeks of age. Their buds are mature two to three months from seed.  These plants from auto seeds can normally be harvested around three months after germination.

With auto-flowering cannabis plants, growers do not have to concern themselves with light schedules since the plants will start blooming after a few weeks irrespective of any light schedule.

Impatient growers should resort to auto-flowering plants because they will be able to harvest faster than any other cannabis strain.