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Marijuana Vegetative Growth Pruning

Marijuana Vegging and Lighting

Growing marijuana has two major stages: vegetative and flowering.  During the vegetative phase your plants will establish a solid root system and full leaf development to prepare them for the final flowering phase, the actual marijuana buds.

We recommend using Golden Tree by Humbolds Secret during the vegetative phase.

Marijuana will stay in the vegetative growth cycle if it is given anywhere between 18 and 24 hours of light per day. The vegetative growth cycle is usually only two to four weeks long in most indoor strains and will be completed in the third to fifth months of growth depending on the marijuana strain and conditions.

Marijuana Vegetative stage

The marijuana plant can only grow as fast as it can produce energy required for new growth. The more large leafs it has the better it is a photosynthesis and so grows faster and faster. With perfect hydroponic conditions strong marijuana strains can grow up to six inches per day. Once you are past the middle of the vegetative stage the number of blades on each leaf will decline and the stem (phyllotaxy) changes with internodes, the space between two sets of leaves on the stem, will start to decrease in length.

Lighting for vegging

Marijuana requires about 14% of the light spectrum to consist of blue light to prevent stretching. Insufficient blue will lead to spindly, weak cannabis plants with long internodes (the vertical spacing between branches.)

High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps generally only have 3-6% of their spectrum in blue which is why they are generally not recommended during the vegging phase.

The most popular choices are T5 fluorescents and Metal Halides (MH) and full spectrum LED grow lights. Micro growers often use compact spiral fluorescents (CFLs). They work fine, but are not nearly as efficient (light to heat ratio) as T5s, LEDs or MH. Relatively new to the scene are LEDs with the top models working brilliantly. Another new entry to the field is Ceramic Metal Halides (CMH) which display a fuller spectral distribution than standard MH.

Marijuana Vegetative stage MH lighting

How much light do you need?

That is not an easy question to answer because it depends on your plant spacing, genetics, state of maturity, room temperature, the distance of the lamp to your plants, the reflectivity of your walls, the efficiency of your lamp and so on. A general guideline for MH and T5 is to have a minimum of 50 Watts of power for each square foot but you can get away with far less using LEDs.

Your lights should be on from 18-24 hours per day. If you choose less than 24 hours, a timer is highly recommended to keep a regular schedule.

A big part of your lighting is capturing the photons that are not directed to your plants. Covering the walls with flat white paint, mylar film, or Reflectix all work well.

Marijuana grow room conditions

Be sure to keep your grow room between 70°F- 85°F (21.1°C– 29.4°C) degrees during the day. It is OK to have a 5-15 degree drop at night. Humidity should be in the 45 – 55% range. Get plenty of fresh air and keep it recirculating. More about the correct temperature for marijuana.

Cannabis nutrients

Cannabis requires three primary or macro nutrients for optimal health. These are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) or NPK.

All plant-food labels include the percentage of these three elements in numerical form and are presented as N-P-K levels. The optimal ratios for growing weed are up for debate. More about marijuana nutrients is here.

Marijuana Vegetative Stage nutes

Micronutrients are equally important, but only very tiny amounts are required and many, if not all, are readily available in potting soils without the need to add extra. If you are growing hydroponically, then these must be added regularly. These micronutrients or trace-elements  are: Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S), Manganese (Mn), Boron (B), Zinc (Zn),  Iron(Fe), Molybdenum(Mo), Chlorine(CL) and Copper (Cu).

The second biggest damager of your weed after overwatering is over-fertilizing. No matter how many times this is stressed, new growers seem to have the need to ‘push’ their plants. More is not better. Excess nutrients will ‘burn’ your cannabis plants. A sure sign of ‘nute-burn’ is that the tips of most of the leaves will turn brown. This is how your plants attempt to void the extra chemicals.

marijuana nutrient burn
For very young plants (1-3 weeks) use nutrients at ¼ of the manufacturer’s recommended level and then s-l-o-w-l-y increase over time to full strength. Note that every cannabis strain has different requirements and tolerances and that the manufacturer’s recommendations are only a guideline. If you observe your plants carefully, you will learn what they need.

Less is better than more, as less may slow growth a little, but more can stunt or kill your marijuana plants.

When to switch to flowering (budding)

Once again, there is no correct answer. Some growers switch at two weeks to create small, single bud cannabis plants; others will veg their plants for up to four months to create monsters. The variation is enormous and depends largely on your goals and setup.

It is important to note that your cannabis plants will ‘stretch’ or continue to add height after the flowering phase is induced by switching your light cycle regimen to 12/12. The amount of stretch is strain dependent, but the general rule of thumb is that indicas will double in height and sativas will triple in height and hybrids will be somewhere in between. This is useful for determining the maximum height to ‘veg’ before switching. Let’s say that your HID light must be no lower than 16” above your plants and your container size is 12” and the highest the bottom of your lamp can be is 84”’ and you are growing a sativa. Your actual vertical plant growing zone is 84” (lamp height) – 16” (lamp distance to plant) – 12” (container) height = 56” / 3 = 18.7”. This gives you the maximum height for your sativa plant before switching to flowering.

In the same setup, an indica strain would require 56”/2 or a switch at 28” in height.

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From the forum

How to Grow Marijuana Forum - Growing Marijuana Indoors & Hydroponics

72 thoughts on “Marijuana Vegetative Growth Pruning

  1. ok, first time grower, i’ve been growing for 2 weeks and 3 days in soil, light is 5 watt pure white diod (heard diods were good and cheap choice). 24/7 light, pouring a little water 1 time per 2 days, i keep the soil a little wet. Anyway, all is good, i’ve got the 2 bunny leaves, 1 set of blade leaves, and 1 set just started growing. The problem is the height..its leaves are developing, but it’s height is not, almost 3 weeks and its about 5 cm tall …. is anything wrong? thanks

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    • Mario, you’re watering wrong. Marijuana likes to be wet then dry hence, you should water the crap out of them until there is visible water in the tray under the pot. Then do not water again until soil is thoroughly dry on top and just barely moist 2-3 inches down, now it is time to water again. Mine in 5 gallon cloth pots get watered about every 3-4 days, it depends on temperatures and humidity. I live in a dry climate so humidity is not much of a factor but temps. always are as it can get pretty cool at night here. If you keep the soil moist all the time you will develop fungus gnats (little black flies that live in the soil) guaranteed! Check the weight of your pot when bone dry then water it and observe the weight. When it is light add water. Also use a ph balanced nutrient like SensiGrow and SensiBloom. If you already have gnats, they will die out once the soil drys but you will need to kill the lava in the soil, do this by adding 16 oz. of hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water and water with this the next time you water. This will kill the larva and oxygenate the soil.
      Good luck and Happy Growing

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  2. Mike.. You can vegetate your plants as long as you want . I have 2 indicas that I just put into flower, that are 6 months old! They are big bushy ladies and will have large Kolas!

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  3. I have just started 4 auto feminized ,1st question what’s the difference between ‘auto’ and regular feminized. 2nd ,How often should I feed them have them on 16/8 under 600 watt hps

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    • I used the same cfls through out the whole grow. But I used up to 96000lumis. Started with fewer, then added more as they needed. I had great results, fox farm soil. But it is strain based. Special kush #1 from royal queen seeds. Not lots of light penetration unless doing side lighting too. Still had heat issues, but live in a desert.

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  4. Barbara Reynolds

    I planted seeds outside may 1. It is July 19th and my plants are 7 foot tall. Getting 12/12 sunlight. They all look like females from what i have gotten from u tube and google.I still dont have any flowering tho. My plants are huge but why dont I have any buds forming yet? 11 Weeks of vegetative stage seems long. And they are growing over my neighbors fence

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  5. I have 3 plants that are about 5 weeks old and the are only 5/6 inches tall with a three leaf span I checked the temps lights and soil for nut.s and I have them on a 20/4 cycle is is normal for them to be this short?

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    • Sounds like you need a better light. Or if you do have a good mh or hid light, try putting it closer to your plants. Maybe that will work :-)

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  6. I have 6 plants under a 400 watt mh they r growing good they r 2 weeks old and r about 6 to 8 inches tall someone told mr to go ahead and switch to the 12/12 light cycle should I do that and also can I use my mh bulb for flowering and will a hps bulb work in the lamp I got the mh bulb in

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    • Hi there. When you switch to 12/12 is down to personal preference. You will be able to switch now, but the longer you wait the larger the yield will be. Have you thought about topping? If you pinch out the main growing tip, two tips will grow in its place and, with most strains, this will increase your yield.
      Your MH bulb is unlikely to be able to flower your plant successfully. Putting an HPS bulb in your lamp depends entirely on the make of lamp. You should ask the manufacturers. I have done it before with no problems, but when I asked that very question on a forum I was told that I risked causing an explosion! So I cannot tell you that it is OK. Just send an e-mail to the manufacturers and ask them.

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    • It all depends on the type of ballast you have and whether or not the igniter is in the bulb or not

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  7. I’ve got a dwc bucket going. I noticed it got a few spots on it. When i investigated i noticed my ppm was very high so i did a water change using a little extra water on my mix this time. 2 day into week three and i’m have problems with my ppm raising on me again anyone know how to keep my ppm in range better.

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    • Are you having temperature issues? What temp. is the reservoir?
      Temperature affects the ability of your plants to take on nutes. It sounds like they are taking the water, but not the nutes.
      This is a complicated question that could be easier helped on a forum. Try joining the forum of this site (link on the bar above) and asking the question there….

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    • Are you checking before or after adding nutrients? Im doing a dwc too. I just do my water testing before. Tap water, distilled or reverse osmosis water for you? Im using tap water that sits a week before using and General Hydroponics flora kit. The water in my area is about 7ph out of the tap. I need 2 ml of ph down to bring it to where I need it. The indica is short and bushy and the sativa is tall and lanky. sjmatin54 at gmail.com if you want discuss more.

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  8. Have two little plants about a week old they are about 3half inches high have to sets of leaves and an using flu resent uv bulbs have them at 25’c they are still small and in soil how long do I keep them on the uv bulbs ? When can I put them in my grow room with my 600w sodium light.? They are on 24hrs just now but when I put them under big light should I keep them on 24/24 or 6/18
    Any help would be great
    Thanks

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  9. Actually, I was looking for a little info. What is the typical root ball size of a Indica plant. I was thinking about using a four qt. hydro. deep water system. I think I’ll be alright don’t you? Kind of stealth.
    Thanks

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  10. ok so for vegetative growth the light should be 18/6 maybe for 8 weeks for a good size plant , and after 8 weeks go to 12/12 for flowering ?

    btw, i have never grown before so i wanted to know before i started.

    Reply please c:

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    • That is correct. You can switch to 12/12 when your plant is a good size and you want it to flower. From then on it will take whatever the given flowering period for your particular strain is. Most are around 8 weeks but can vary from 6 for real quick strains up to more than 20 for authentic hazes.

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  11. first time grower, I purchased thc bomb feminized indoor seeds, after the first 2 weeks I placed the pots outside, boy!they are growing fast,the pots are 14″ in diameter, the plants are 2’+ tall.
    my question is if i leave them out they will not flower till oct. or nov. what do I do to stop the vegetating state and speed up the flowering? Do I really have to buy lights for inside? can I place the plants by the window for 12 hrs, and in a dark room for 12, will it work without purchasing all the stuff I read about?

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    • 12 hours light 12 hours of dark, you can even store it in a closet for the dark period.

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  12. So I been growing for 2 days 18/6 for light n dark under 75w and I got a lot of long white stems. Yay I’m so happy

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  13. i purchased clones and they are 2 weeks old now i have them under a 600 watt light how high should it be away from them?. i would also appreciate some help on how long i should have the feeding pump on for at the minute i have them feeding for 1 hour then the pump is off for 3 hours and then back on for an hour and so on throughout the 18 hours that the light is on is that enough? any help on this matter would be helpful as this is my 1st time growing hydroponically.

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  14. Mary Jane Baby

    Me and my boyfriend are starting some plants, we started them off in soil and the sprouted up about 3 weeks ago, we have them on 16/8 for now, but not sure when we should make the change, we are limited on space for we are attempting this in a small 4ft tall and 3ft wide closet. Looking for tips on how to keep our plants short but still produce a good amount in the end..Any helpful tips?

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    • Charles Wooldridge

      Pinching works great in this instance. Keeps them short and bushy.

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  15. Theoretically they will keep on growing as long as you keep them on a long light cycle. Topping and pruning will definitely encourage more veg growth, although the type of strain will also make a difference. If you have enough space a huge SCROG grow would be interesting, I’ve always wanted to but don’t have the space.

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  16. first time and just put plants on 12-12,there about foot and half and been growing for 2 months,does this sound right? can anyone help me plz

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    • yes 8 weeks at 12/12 lighting dont rush it it will pay

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  17. I want to keep my plants in vegetation…not interestec in flowering or buds. Reason is that I want to juice the leaves. What is the best way to yield massive vegetation…should I top them to allow for wider vegetation and give the undergrowth a chance to grow better?

    Thanks

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    • Hi Sweetz, I wonder if juicing it in veg will have medical benefits, or if you have to wait till flower. Does anyone know this?

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  18. i was wondering if anyone knows where i could get good seeds where they wouldnt catch them at the boarder again.I have wasted to much money trying to get them to ny

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    • Yes, go thru attitudeseed.com, I’ve never had a problem and 99.9% of the time they’re females. (If thats what you want) Good Luck!

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    • I ordered seeds from Original Sensible Seeds, They came within 2 wks to Buffalo, NY

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  19. beccyibbs@hotmail.com

    respect to your 40 years.we,re first timers,can you help and advice in any way as i,m off to bye new seeds today.respect.

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    • I’ve always heard about 2 inches from the top of your pot, like 3-5 gallon sizes. Works for me, good luck!

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  20. Planted my baby from a seed. She is a beautiful 4 1/2 feet with sexy long white flowers everywhere. She is in a small closet. Should I staat 12/12 cycle. Or is thee a cycle after that? I haveo dea what she is but I know she is gunna begood! Also shold Istill be pruneing at this stage?

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  21. been growing for 40 years i get 5 crops a year veg 24/7 for 3 months under 1000 watt lights then put in 12hrs light 12hrs dark well be ready in 3 months then leave some buds on plant and put right back under 24hr light and well regrow even faster than when you first started them GOOD LUCK

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    • You leave some buds on the plant, and go back to 24 hour light (flower bulb)? Does that send the plant back to veg? I’ve kept the same schedule as you Mr Bill..Veg for 24/7 under 1000 watt. Then I reduced light to 8 dark/16 light for a few days.. Then 12/12. I was told to gradually get to 12/12, since I had been lighting 24/7. This is my first crop.. I’ve learned so much.. They look lovely and smell amazing.

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    • Hey Mr Bill, I run my lights 24/7 during veg using a 1000 watt. I have never left buds to keep growing. I like that idea. So do I cut branches to take the mature buds? Do I go back to veg nutrients again, or flower nutes? I’m a hydro grower..10 plant max.

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  22. thanks m8 my laptop keys wernt working so had to use a 1 instead of an l sorry but thanks for info.

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  23. @edward dude if you typed normal and made coherent sentences, someone might be able to assist you.

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  24. i just had a crop off a friend to mined has hes parra about the pigs its my first time i put um on 12/12 1 WEEK AGO HOW 1ONG B4 I TAKE1ITES OFF AND DRY ITS MY FIRST TIME AND HAVENT GOT A C1UE ANY HE1P P1EAS????

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  25. I am getting a white powdery substance on my leaves I have been using the same dirt fo 3 cycles . Could this be the issue???

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  26. I have 2 baby plants growing under one light which is 75w and they are growing but idk if im doing it rite???

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  27. find an old barn site or cowpen that hasn’t been used in awhile and you will get some fabulous, low-maintenance plants.

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  28. 1st time growin i have 4 plants using a 400 watt hps and a fishtank light for the bottom bloodmeal nutrient organic soil foil an ish my plants arent really growing i might have 12/12 too soon theyre still small already startin to bud.

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  29. I got 1 skunk plant inside a old fridge under 1 CFL bulb out 2 inches above it. Its growing great the fridge help keep the humidity just right… don’t plug the damn fridge in ofcourse duh

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  30. i have 5 plants. i got them nov. 2nd but they were already started when i got them. they were maybe 3-4 inches.

    now i’d say they are a little over a foot. i was told to water them every other day and miracle grow every other time i water. i have been. i cut the suckers off. i didn’t know about the dark cycle though. they get 8hrs dark 16 light. that’s what the timer was set on when i got it. they haven’t been in complete darkness since i’ve had them.

    Don’t get me wrong they are most of the time but when i go in that room i’ll turn the light on. i’ve just been using 2 sets of flourescent lights. is that okay? i read i need a hps light so they will flower. where do i get one at? this is my first time and i would appreciate any help anyone has to offer. thanks so much

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  31. The distilled water quote is correct store in your grow room so it will be at the right temp.

    Also put in spray bottle to spray plants for extra humidity i live in Las Vegas nv and need extra humidity. Also no one ever mentions how deadly nicotine is to your plants, so if you smoke it will be all over your hands so be sure to wash hands every time you go into the grow room, also keep your tools sterilized

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  32. Dude whos leaves sagged-overwatered-Dude who uses distilled water..Right on. MH for Vegative then when foot and a half hit em with total dark for 36 hrs then HPS-I’m on my 43 year of growing do I have some stories lol

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  33. i dont use fertalizer. buy the right soil, (Foxfarm organic with bat guano) and water with distilled water, and you never have to fert or adjust Ph. distilled water is exactly where its supposed to be on the Ph scale, ALLWAYS. i dont even have a Ph kit. my last plant gave me 3 ounces of awsome.
    simple rules. HPS, distilled water(i bought my own 1 gal distiller for 100 bucks. i only drink distilled. my fish only breed in distilled. bamboo only makes progress in distilled. distilled water is the cleanest water in the world. why wouldnt you water your plant with distilled?)a fan on 24-7. blow the plant around. makes them strong. pick your plant up. if its light, water it. if its got some weight, let it dry out a little. it wont die. help a little by spraying the leaves with distilled water. YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE HOW BEAUTIFUL A PLANT GROWS ON DISTILLED WATER. better listen. this is my 30th plant, and i know from proof.

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  34. after your seed starts and you put it in soil.when do you first start using fertilizers and “food”.

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  35. well i strated a seed a three weeks ago its about 6 inch but now its starting to get cooler out and i want to bring it inside?????? also whats wrong with the old light balb .. its a real real low budget grow. thanks

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  36. U might need a fan the stalks might be week and it could also be the light as well cuz I’m gussing its indoors

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  37. matthew, i think it might be your lights, try pulling them a little bit to get rid of excessive heat

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  38. I have some strains in a hydroponics system in the 3rd week of vegitative growth and last nite the leaves were drooping on my raspberry and strawberry cough’s so I thought I was over feeding them and turned off the timer to the water & nutrients. when I got up this morning and checked to see if it had helped they had collapsed. does anyone know why any information is much appreciated. This is my 1st grow and it’s not as easy as I thought. thank’s

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  39. read up mike, indoor plants sometimes only 4 weeks generally only up to 3 months at the most, if you want big plants that is, and after flowering starts they may triple in size

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  40. Mike, do some reading. the plants can stay in the veg stage as long as you want them to. as long as you havent cut back the light to 12/12, the plant will continue to grow. thats how mother plants are cared for. when your ready to start your plants in the flowering stage, cut back the light to 12/12 and watch your buds began to form! go on youtube dude.

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  41. dik head hahaha every plant type has its own grow period wait till the hairs are orange n dyiny if there is no males around because the hair will get pollen n make seed then the hairs die earlier or leaves are goin yellow

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  42. so how long do they stay in vegetative growth i was thinking maybe 6 to 7 months

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