by Nebula Haze
What is “Sea of Green” (SoG)?
“Sea of green” is the idea of growing many small cannabis plants instead of just a few bigger plants. The advantage is that you can get to harvest more quickly because each plant doesn’t have to get nearly as large to support the same total number of bud sites. If each plant only needs to get half as big, it takes much less time to harvest!
“SoG” (Sea of Green) refers to growing a “sea” of many marijuana plants, then putting them into the flowering stage when they’re still small.
Since each plant doesn’t get very big before the switch, the time to harvest time comes a few weeks earlier. However, since there are so many plants and bud sites, you get the same yield as you would from bigger plants.
You often don’t need to do much plant training in an SoG setup, so you spend less time each week that would have gone into training if you wanted to achieve similar results with a bigger plant.
Note: To add another confusing term into the mix, ScrOG (Screen of Green) is something completely different, and involves using a screen to grow a flat canopy of buds. A lot of names for common cannabis growing techniques don’t necessarily seem all that well thought out 😉
Pros of Sea of Green
- Great yields
- Not much effort spent training
- Fast time to harvest
- Option to grow many different strains at once
Cons of Sea of Green
- More time-consuming to take care of more plants. Watering and accessing plants in the back can be tough!
- Not a good choice for growers with plant limits
- Plants are often crammed together, which increases your chance of mold or mildew if humidity isn’t under control, if there’s poor air circulation, or if plants get too leafy.
- Some plants might grow dramatically different from the others (for example, being much taller or shorter), which can be a pain when you have a lot of plants to work with and you’re trying to keep everything as even as possible. If you’re growing more than one strain, this can be an even bigger problem.
These plants were in the vegetative stage for about half as long as the plants in the previous picture, AND they had significantly higher yields!
For this grow style, growers usually switch to the flowering stage when plants are around 4-6 weeks old. Plants switched sooner than 4 weeks may not have enough time to get the most out of an SoG setup. Adding an extra week or two of veg, so each plant gets bigger can make a pretty big difference in yields too, so it’s about finding that balance between getting to harvest as quickly as possible versus harvesting a lot of bud.
Many growers also “top” their seedlings by removing the tips of seedlings when they have about 4-6 pairs of leaves. Topping can increase the number of buds sites, but if you have enough plants, you will have enough bud sites. It’s often easier to grow fewer plants, so for a grower with time concerns, you can get a lot of the benefits of Sea of Green with fewer plants by simply topping your seedlings and giving them an extra few days or a week in the vegetative stage.
For SoG, wait to switch to 12/12 until plants are this size or bigger (note: young plants like this can and will double or triple in height after the switch to 12/12).
After the switch to 12/12, plants start stretching and getting bigger.
Here you can really see the SoG in action after all the plants start making buds. Even though each plant didn’t get very big, there are many, many bud sites! They completely fill the entire space!
Another Example of Sea of Green
Here’s an example of SoG in action during the vegetative stage using those eight seedlings. Notice how quickly the whole space got filled up since there were so many plants. It went from empty to completely filled in about four weeks. By the last picture, all eight plants are already flowering. Each of those plants will be able to support a fat main cola in this setup, and it took less time than if the grower had tried to fill that space with just one plant.
Thanks to GIVE_ME_ATTENTION for making this moving gif of an SoG in action!
When using SoG, it’s up to you to decide how many plants and how big you let them get before you switch to the flowering stage.
Some growers flip to flowering when plants are just a few weeks old and a few inches high. Other growers may wait a bit longer to achieve bigger plants. If in doubt, I recommend waiting an extra week for the best result 🙂
Another example of a small SoG setup
Flowering was initiated right after the above picture. Here are those same plants a little over a month later, after they’ve started making buds.
Notice how much taller the plants are at this stage. In an SoG setup, make sure you don’t underestimate how much your plants will stretch after being switched to the flowering stage! Sativa strains and very young plants that switch to flowering are well-known for stretching a lot!
SoG is how you achieve plants that look like the one below at harvest (why was this plant defoliated?)
In some parts of the world, SoG isn’t as popular as other training techniques because growers have legal limits on how many cannabis plants they can have at any one time. SoG uses a lot of small plants instead of training fewer big plants to fit your space so, if you have plant limits, this is not the best use of your space.
But for those who can grow as many cannabis plants as they want, SoG may be a fast choice to get an even canopy and a lot of buds with very little plant training!