Out of the many questions by cannabis growers, the one that’s frequently touched upon is about how to grow cannabis fast. It’s a natural question and a very valid one at that. Growing cannabis requires expertise, knowledge, and patience. Yes, you need to be patient to get to those buds at the end of it all, but who wants to spend months at a stretch?
There must be an easier way, after all. And, there is. Growing cannabis is easy. There’s no need to make it complicated. But, to harvest the buds faster? Is that even possible? Yep. Very much. Use these tips to speed up your grow at any point between germination and harvest. Learn practical ways to make things go faster in either veg or flowering, inside or out.
Autoflower or Photoperiod Strains?
Autoflowers are special types of cannabis plants. Cannabis plants can be divided into Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis strains. Out of these, Sativa and Indica became very popular while Ruderalis was somewhat left behind. However, in recent years, the importance of Ruderalis has been noted by thousands of growers across the world.
As a general rule, autoflowering cannabis will mature at a faster rate than photoperiod strains because they contain a percentage of ruderalis genetics. Ruderalis evolved naturally in cold places like Siberia where the summers are very short. They had to develop the ability to produce flowers and seeds quickly to ensure the survival of the species.
Ruderalis wasn’t as potent as Sativa or Indica, though. But, thanks to technology and passionate breeders, they are now as potent as photoperiod strains.
Another important reason that sets autoflowers apart from photoperiod plants is that you can harvest your buds faster. With photoperiod strains, the vegetative period where the plants grow require at least 10 weeks. Growers provide 18/6 hours of light/darkness in this cycle. Once they switch to 12 hours of darkness, the flowering begins. This period requires another 8-9 weeks.
As you can surmise, photoperiod plants require at least 5 months from seed to harvest. However, there is no distinction between the vegetative and flowering cycles for autoflowers and they flower irrespective of light and darkness. Most autoflowering strains such as C4 Auto and Blackberry need only 8 weeks to flower!
The plants need at least 3-4 weeks to grow well, and if you include 8-9 weeks for them to finish flowering, you can finish the entire cycle in just 3 months! So, if you grow autoflowers, you automatically have an edge over the others.
Take Photoperiod Strains Straight To Flower
You can force photoperiod strains to mature almost as fast as autoflowering cannabis by putting them in 12 hours of darkness every day from the time they germinate. It works, but your plants will not get nearly as big or yield as much as if you had allowed them to veg for the normal 4–6 weeks.
If you want to use this method, you can start with either clones or seeds, but you’ll need to grow a lot of them in sea of green (SOG) fashion if you want enough herb to hold you over to your next harvest. Most plants will be dwarf-sized and only yield 28g or less each.
Use training techniques
There are several training techniques you can employ on your cannabis plants. However, not all of them will work on autoflowers. The best part of growing autoflowers is that they give great yields even if they aren’t trained at all.
Also, note that the plants need to be very healthy to train them. If in doubt, don’t train them until you’re really sure that you have the expertise. Here are a few techniques that are best for autoflowers.
LST is short form for Low-Stress Training As the name suggests, the key is to stress the plant just enough to push it to grow faster and better. In this method, the branches are tied to the sides so that the center of the plant gets more light. This method works exceptionally well for big plants.
With this technique, light is distributed in a uniform manner and you won’t have to deal with popcorn buds. Also, marijuana plants tend to grow better when stressed. It’s a natural defense mechanism that makes the plant heal quickly. Autoflowers need to be trained carefully, but since LST is about minimally stressing the plant, it works pretty well.
This is another technique to help the plants grow more. The top of the plant is cut off so that the main cola divides into two. This works very well, especially if the plant is small and has fewer nodes. Since this training method won’t stress the plants too much, they are best for autoflowers.
Very similar to topping, this method involves pinching the top of the main cola. Unlike topping, the tip of the main stem isn’t cut off entirely, but it’s just pinched off so that it develops more colas. You can expect several colas in this technique.
Overwatering is one of the most common ways to kill a cannabis plant. Not only cannabis plants, but this applies to most plants in general. Overwatering also slows down the growth of the plant drastically. When the roots of the plant have enough water, they rarely try to push their boundaries, and you’ll end up with a plant with reduced yields.
On the other hand, if you don’t over-water and let the roots seek water, they grow more secondary roots. This is a basic, scientific fact. A good way to follow the wet and dry cycle is to touch the soil and figure out whether it’s wet or dry. If the soil is wet, just don’t water the plant at all. And, if the soil is moist, wait a couple days until it’s completely dry.
The trick is to water just before the plant starts to wither. Once you’ve grown several plants, you will know when to water the plants at the right time. If growing indoors, it’s even more important to not over-water the plants since they don’t dry very quickly.
Another method to check when to water the plants is to weigh them. Just lift the pots. If they feel too heavy, they have too much water and you’ll have to wait. On the contrary, if you can lift them easily, it’s time to water them – as simple as that.
Use the best containers
Cannabis plants love fabric pots. Fabric pots like Smartpots are best for all plants, but when growing indoors, it becomes an important factor. In fact, you should stick only to fabric or Airpots when growing indoors because it takes a while for the soil to dry. This doesn’t apply if you’re growing hydroponically, but if you’re using soil, you need all the help you can get.
Fabric pots encourage the roots to travel to the sides of the pot in search of air. Roots require oxygen to grow. And strong roots mean that you get strong plants. When the roots reach the sides of the container, the tips die and secondary roots are produced automatically. This results in a sturdy plant that has a solid root system.
Airpots contain many holes that aid the roots to receive oxygen. The idea is to prune the roots of the plants. Many gardeners prune not only the stems but also the roots of the plant. This requires a lot of experience, though. Pruning forces the roots to grow aggressively and this inadvertently helps the plant.
Plastic containers are good, but they don’t suit indoor grows much. When you water the plants, plastic pots tend to hold more water since they are designed that way. Eventually, the roots are waterlogged and you can see the water pooling at the top whenever you water.
If you have only plastic pots, simply drill more holes in the pot so that it drains well. It’s important to let the water drain completely so that you don’t encounter root rot and other issues.
TIPS FOR FASTER OUTDOOR GROWS
Harvesting early outside is a little tricky. The obvious answer is to use autoflowering strains—and this does work. Depending on your weather, you may be able to harvest at least three times each growing season. Outdoor growers can also make photoperiod strains mature a little faster. Here are two things to try.
Cover Outdoor Plants to Force Bloom
Cover your outdoor plants with a tarp or other light-proof cover in the early evening and remove it the next morning. This works just like a grow tent to give your plants 12 hours of darkness each day to force them to bloom. As a bonus, you’ll end up with bigger, denser, more resinous buds when you’re done because the sunlight they do get, during the height of summer, will be much more intense than what they would receive during the fall months when outdoor cannabis plants normally bloom.
Pollinate Your Plants and Harvest Early
This last tip might shock you. Pollinate your flowers and they’ll ripen faster.
This doesn’t mean you’ll ruin your grow with a bunch of seeds. Pollinate by hand about a week before you want to harvest. As soon as the buds are fertilised, the plant will switch its energy away from flower formation to seed production and the maturity rate will escalate. The next week, when you harvest, the seeds won’t even be noticeable because they haven’t had time to form a hard shell.
You can grow marijuana fast if you put your mind to it. However, growing cannabis is an art. It’s important to be patient and let the plant do its thing. Sure, you can do a lot to harvest the buds faster, but you need to leave the plant alone to do what it knows best.