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Unquestionably the most important aspect of the cultivation process, the flowering cycle of a cannabis plant is an exciting period for cultivators. Having planted clones or propagated seeds, and been patient through the vegetative cycle, cannabis growers can, in flower, begin to truly see the fruits of their labour. 

Outdoor cannabis plants will typically begin the flowering cycle after the summer solstice in late June. The real beauty of working with outdoor plants is that the time of flower and the finish is contingent on the type of strain, and genetics that is being grown out. While most outdoor plants will start developing flowers in mid-summer, the variety of cannabis being cultivated does factor into the equation.1 

Indoors, the flowering cycle is dictated exclusively by the grower and the light cycle he or she chooses. When wanting to induce flowering, cultivators need only set their lights to a 12-12 cycle. Mirroring the environment cannabis plants experience outside in late summer and early fall, indoor plants will begin to produce flowers, sometimes called buds, which can later be consumed whole, or extracted, for therapeutic purposes.

While a common misconception is that trichome-rich buds form in the light during the flowering cycle, the opposite is in fact true. Cannabis plants form flowers at night, or indoors during the 12 hours of darkness they receive per day. In fact, if a cannabis crop gets any light during the blackout period, the plants can revert back to the vegetative cycle, or become hermaphrodites, which should not be consumed.2

Lighting is one of a number of safeguards that should be employed when entering the flowering cycle. Of course, there is more work to be done on the plant than at any other stage of its development and, as a result, there are more variables to consider. From plant maintenance to feed cycles, flowering entails a host of minor processes that should be practiced with diligence.

Timing is of particular significance in the context of flowering. Outdoor plants will generally be ready for harvest by the end of September, or early October. It’s at this time of the year that rain and cold weather can lead to so-called bud rot and other issues can take hold. It is important to harvest the plants when seasonably viable, or the plants come under threat from the climate. From the start to the end of flower, it usually takes about three months.3

With indoor plants, it can be a little more difficult to gauge when to harvest. Again, typically speaking, indoor cannabis flowers for roughly 8-12 weeks, depending on the strain, and when to harvest them is revealed by the plant’s trichomes. When trichomes develop a translucent colour, THC concentration has reached its peak, and this is the time most cultivators usually harvest their plants.4

  1. “The flowering cycle of cannabis plants.” https://www.cannabis.info/en/blog/flowering-period-plants
  2. “Timeline of the cannabis flowering stage (12/12 to harvest).” https://www.growweedeasy.com/cannabis-flowering-stage
  3. “How long does it take to grow cannabis?” https://cannabistraininguniversity.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-grow-cannabis/
  4. “When to harvest marijuana plants according to trichome ripeness.” https://www.alchimiaweb.com/blogen/harvest-marijuana-plants-trichome-ripeness/

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