You are hereDon't Make These 6 Flowering Stage Goofs

Don't Make These 6 Flowering Stage Goofs

by Nebula Haze

Fat marijuana plant about to be harvestedYour marijuana is focusing completely on making buds during the flowering stage.

During this stage, plants often need a little extra TLC as they are not putting as much effort into their health.

Unfortunately, this happens to be the exact time that most beginning indoor growers tend to get comfortable and start forgetting about their plants.

As an indoor marijuana gardener, your actions during the flowering stage have a huge impact on your yields and the final potency of your buds.

Here are 5 simple yet effective things to pay attention to, so your Flowering Stage goes great, and your plants produce a huge, picture-perfect harvest every time!

1.) Watch out for boys messing with your girls

Keep an eye out for unexpected male plants or hermies (hermaphrodites; girls that grow "male" parts).

Hermies generally come in two forms. Either it looks like you're growing male pollen sacs among your flowers, or you'll see the signature hermie "yellow banana."

Basically look for balls/pollen sacs or yellow bananas growing among all your beautiful buds and white hairs. Definitely remove them on sight to prevent uncontrolled pollination. I often will remove the whole bud site just to be safe.

Female marijuana plant turns hermie and grows ballsMarijuana hermie growing a yellow "banana"

Even a single pollen sac can ruin your whole crop if it bursts, by spreading pollen and "seeding" all the females.

All pollinated female buds will stop fattening up and instead focus on making seeds. As a result, you get seedy buds and low yields. Some growers purposely produce hermaphrodites in a process known as rodelization. Pollen gathered via rodelization  produces all-female (feminized) seeds when used to pollinate buds.

2.) Make sure indoor grow lights don't get too hot/too close

During the first month of the flowering stage, many cannabis plants go through a dramatic upward growth known as "the stretch." Yet for some strains, the plants may continue to grow taller for most of her life, even after the initial flowering stretch.

Indoors, it's common for plants to be inching closer and closer towards grow lights without the grower realizing it. Always keep a barrier of space between your plants and your lights!

3.) Monitor pH of Your Root Zone

More than 50% of the marijuana plant problems submitted through our plant doctor service end up being the result of too high or too low pH in the root zone.

In hydroponics pH management is crucial to your success. Even when growing in soil, pH has a big effect. Some growers get lucky, yet if you're having unexplainable problems, I highly recommend at least checking the pH and eliminating that as a possible cause.

pH problems can cause wrinkly leaves, curling, and what appears to be a wide variety of nutrient deficiencies.

Basically, plants can't absorb nutrients when the pH is off at the roots.

pH Problems Manifest in a Variety of Ways, as demonstrated by the examples below:

Optimum pH varies a bit from strain to strain, and between different growing mediums, but a good rule of thumb is maintain a root pH of 5.5-6.5 in hydroponics, and 6.0-7.0 when growing marijuana in soil.

If you've been monitoring pH from the beginning, continue to monitor pH. Don't get too comfortable and let this slide now!

If you haven't been monitoring pH and suddenly get a bunch of unexpected problems, check this before you take any other drastic measures!

A pH kit is cheap, and easy to use.

When I first got a pH kit, I was amazed at how much stronger and resistant to problems my plants were once they started getting the optimum pH at their roots. This allows plants to easily absorb all the nutrients they need, so they can focus on making buds.

As a result, you may need lower nutrient levels overall, which often results in smoother, tastier buds.

Learn what you need to know about pH right here (it's simpler than you probably think!):

4.) Don't overdose plant with nutrients

Organic nutrients like compost tea can give marijuana nutrient burn just like any other nutrientsGoing overboard on nutrients (even organic nutrients like compost and worm tea) can ruin your yields and makes buds taste terrible!

This is the worst thing you can do late in the flowering stage, when your plant will be unable to recover.

Never raise nutrient levels unless you've ruled out a pH problem and then do so slowly.

It's normal for your oldest, lower leaves to start yellowing and falling as harvest approaches, this doesn't mean add more nutrients.

Plants need less and less nutrients as they approach harvest, it's natural for leaves to start yellowing, especially older leaves towards the bottom of the plant.

5.) Keep Humidity Below 45% to Prevent Mold

Keep humidity low in the flowering stage to prevent gross bud mold like thisIn the flowering stage, humidity should be kept below 45% to prevent mold.

When humidity gets too high in a grow room, the plant pulls excess water in through the leaves which increases your chances for mold, especially in fat buds.

Sometimes you may think your buds are totally find, then find a gross moldy mess in the middle, like the bud pictured to the left. 

Never smoke moldy buds!

Some growers will dramatically drop the humidity of the grow room during the last few weeks of flowering using a dehumidifier.

This actually stresses your plant in just the right way, and may increase resin production.

6.) Flush your plants right before harvest with plain pH'ed water (no nutrients)

I recommend flushing plants with plain, pH'ed water for the last 1-2 weeks before harvest to leach out any extra nutrients.

A plain-water flush will improve the overall taste and smell of your buds, especially if you've gone a bit overboard with nutrients.

Hint: Add a bit of regular blackstrap molasses (a teaspoon or two per gallon) to your water during the second half of flowering as a cheap yet effective alternative to those expensive supplements that improve bud flavor.

How long does the Flowering Stage last? When do I harvest?

The time spent in flowering depends heavily on your strain, as well as the effects you'd like to produce.

Most strains need 2-3 months in the flowering stage before they're ready to harvest, though some strains are a bit faster and some strains, such as hazes, can need as long as 4 months of flowering before they're ready.

Some growers prefer to harvest on the earlier side for more of a "buzzy" high while other growers harvest later for more of a "couchlock" high.

  • Harvesting too early causes low yields and non-potent buds
  • Harvesting very late produces buds that tend to cause sleepiness

When you harvest at the right time, you get the best yields. Plus you get the effects you want.

The best thing to remember with harvesting is to be patient. A lot of people get too eager to harvest buds, and they end up taking their plants down too early. Wait for a few signs before you take the leap:

  • At least 50-70% of the hairs (pistils) on the buds should have darkened and started curling in
  • Marijuana trichomes (seen here up close) are a great indicator of exactly when to harvest Use a jewelers loupe, handheld microscope, or (my personal favorite) a USB microscope to look at your buds. You know you're ready for harvest when most of the clear trichomes(little mushroom looking growths) have turned mostly milky white colored, with a few amber/yellow trichomes. When they're ready, they'll also start to lean over from the weight of the bulbs on top.

Here's a complete guide to knowing exactly when to harvest your marijuana:

For the geeks like me... here's an article explaining the science behind picking the right harvest time to acheive optimum cannabinoid levels:

Bonus: Trimming & Curing Your Newly Harvested Buds

Once the plants are cut down, you can trim the leaves off of them and hang them up to dry.

DID YOU KNOW? You can trim all the buds off a plant and put it back under under 24/0 light to get her to revert back to the vegetative stage. One reason you might do this is if the plant has been a huge producer and you want to take clones. After a month or two, the plant will have fully recovered and started growing vegetatively. At this point, clones can be taken. You can even put a re-vegetative plant back into the flowering stage and harvest again.

It is possible to take clones during the flowering stage, but these clones are tougher to get to take root, and for some reason clones taken from flowering plants tend to display odd growth. Some growers take clones from the flowering stage on purpose, with a technique known as "monster cropping," to take advantage of this odd growth to produce bushy monsters.

There are many ways to dry your buds, such as hanging them from a string, leaving them spread out on netting, or even just laying them out on cardboard.

Curing Your Buds
Once your buds are dry, leave them in a airtight jar, and place the jar in a dark place.

You can open the jar every so often and jostle the buds a bit; this is also a good time to make sure you don't smell mold and buds still feel dry. It's good to do this more often at first(once a day in the beginning) and slowly do it less(once every 3-5 days). After about 2-3 weeks of this process, you'll have great herb! Cure even longer, up to 6 months, for continued improvement in flavor/smell.

Learn more about harvesting and curing your buds:


Nebula Haze holding article published in Skunk MagazineAbout the Author: Nebula Haze

Marijuana has literally saved my life, and I'm dedicated to showing you how easy it can be to grow.

That's why I'm dedicated to bringing free growing information to the world on


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