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An annual plant, cannabis is propagated from seed or grown from clone, and the result is a product that can be consumed both recreationally and therapeutically. Between propagation and flowering – the onset and conclusion of the cultivation process – there is a significant step that the plant must take to properly mature: the vegetative cycle. 

Known simply and colloquially as “vegging,” the vegetative cycle of the cannabis plant takes place during the first two-to-three months of an outdoor grow cycle and is characterized by an increase in leaflets and plant matter. Following the summer solstice, shorter days and longer nights push the cannabis plant into flowering.1

For indoor plants, the process is somewhat more complex and involves manipulating the season’s natural tendencies with lighting. Generally, cannabis plants grown indoors are set to one of two light cycles: 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness per day; or 24 hours of light per day. Both of these cycles will convince the plant that it is early summer, and thus the plant will not flower while vegging.2

What advantages can the vegetative cycle present? Whether vegging indoors in order to transplant outdoors, or vegging indoors to flower the plants indoors, the cycle can translate to a number of advantages for cultivators. In the former scenario, vegging indoors can minimize the variables inherent to an outdoor grow, while maximizing the potential for strong and vigorous plant growth. Of course, this same set of benefits is available to growers in an indoor setting. 

In addition to motivating stalwart plant growth, the vegetative cycle may also be responsible for another series of tasks, namely helping with cannabinoid and terpenoid development, though the science is still inconclusive in this area. Recently, researchers have started to debate whether cannabinoids are solely present in the glandular trichomes of flowering cannabis plants, or whether THC and CBD, among other molecules, is also found in significant content in the rest of the plant during development.3

Even with research into the cannabis plant at an all-time high, scientists are still unclear when it comes to the particular factors that control biosynthesis and the distribution of cannabinoids within the plant. One study found that there are differences in the cannabinoid contents of seedlings, vegging, and flowering plants. Without question, this brand of research helps to underscore the potential significance of the vegetative cycle.4

To cultivators, the vegetative cycle remains one of the most important parts of the process. Like development of the body and mind of an adolescent, it is at this stage that the cannabis plant begins to form not only the physical attributes it will be characterized by, but also the character it will be defined by. Now that the plant has grown, from a seedling or cutting, to a vegging plant, it can be placed into flowering and, soon, used for a multitude of medical and recreational purposes. 

  1. “Cannabis and cannabinoids: pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutic potential.” https://books.google.ca/bookshl=en&lr=&id=JvIyVk2IL_sC&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=cannabis+vegetative+cycle&ots=ADjOsbrGlM&sig=6Bv6FqXUJVo1WMmJoN1tePKbevA#v=onepage&q=cannabis%20vegetative%20cycle&f=false
  2. “Nico’s nuggets: understanding light and dark cycle during veg and flower stage.” https://hightimes.com/grow/nicos-nuggets-understanding-light-and-dark-cycles-during-veg-and-flower-stages/
  3. “Cannabinoid composition in seedlings compared to adult plants of cannabis sativa.” https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/np50060a004
  4. “How to start your cannabis plants indoors and move them outdoors.” https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-how-to-start-your-cannabis-plants-indoors-and-move-them-outdoors-n399

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