ch vertical stem growth, and not enough bud growth.
When we see a plant that is for example four feet tall, half or more of the height is in stem growth, and most of that stem growth is NOT stem that is covered in sticky, gooey, dense, large-diameter buds-we see a big problem.
Indeed, many of you who are growing indoors have a limited amount of height to grow in. You have your lights above your plants, of course, and this limits how tall your plants can get. You need to get the most bud growth per inch of stem. That's why you need your plants as short and productive as you can make them.
Outdoors, you probably don't have light-related physical height limitations- after all, the sun is pretty far away and your plants are not likely to bump into the sun anytime soon, but you do want your plants to be as short and productive as possible. The shorter they are, the less likely they are to be seen by rip-offs and police.
But it's obvious to us from looking at reader photos that many growers are not using several easy ways to get bigger harvests by controlling the ratio of stem to bud, and by limiting vertical height.
So as always we at Soft Secrets are the only people giving you the insider secrets from the world's most successful growers so you get bigger, better harvests and make the most from your grow equipment, nutrients, electricity and time.
Please note that these yield-boosting instructions have to be applied slightly differently, depending on whether you are growing clones or seedlings, indoors or outdoors, and on the particulars of your overall crop season length.
Give Them Lots of Light Early
Some people think you should be very gentle with clones and seedlings when it comes to how much light you give them early on.
But the most successful growers pump high intensity light onto their clones and seedlings as soon as they can. It's true that clones sometimes need to be rooted under fluorescent or lower-intensity light because they haven't developed a root system that can handle huge demands from intense photosynthesis or intense heat from grow lamps yet. Yet, we've seen clones rooted under sunlight and high intensity light, no problem.
It all depends on the genetics, quality and health of your clones and seedlings. For example, if you want to baby your
clones, at least make sure as soon as possible after they have their sufficiently strong root systems to put them under high intensity lights or full sunlight.
Put them about 60 cm. under the lights, and keep your grow room at ideal temperatures so they don't overheat. Growers often put clones or seedlings way far away from their lamps because they are afraid of giving them too much light and heat. Well let us tell you, seedlings especially can handle adult levels of light as long as you keep the heat off of them.
This means you don't put the plants so close to your lamps that the temperature at the top of the leaf zone is higher than 27 degrees C. If you put your hand right where your plant's leaves are, and if the grow light burns your hand after a few minutes, that's probably too close and too hot for your plant.
You definitely need to air exchange and cool your grow room effectively so the temperature in the zone where your plants are closest to your lights is not over 28 degrees C. High grow room temperatures, combined with too much nitrogen and CO2, cause too-tall plants that produce less bud weight, too much leaf, and too much stem.
If you are growing outdoors, you can do a few days of partially shading your seedlings or clones to get them used to full sun. But again, give them adult levels as light as soon as you can.
Here's why: in their earliest days of growth (including while a seedling has not yet even emerged from whatever you sprouted it in), if clones or seedlings sense they are not getting enough light, their stems will stretch, stretch, stretch towards the light source.
In some cases, we've seen a seedling with 13 cm. or more of bare stem before it even has its baby leaf set on it. This creates a weak, leggy, spindly plant that is later to be too tall, with too long space between leaf sets (internodes), and which if it produces at all will have to be supported by stakes and strings.
Better to let your plants know as soon as you have rooted them or sprouted them that there's plenty of light for them so they don't have to stretch. Give them lots of light as soon as you clone them or as soon as the seedling emerges from whatever you sprouted it in!
Here's how you can tell if you have the right amount of light when growing seedlings: a properly grown seedling getting enough light will have its baby leaves (they are not serrated) within 3-4 cm. of the soil line, and will have its first set of true leaves (serrated leaves) within 3-6 cm. of the soil line.
Trim Early for Bushy Growth
After your seedlings have their third or fourth set of true (serrated) leaves, you want to trim their topmost growth tip (which is called the "apical meristem").
This is the topmost growing portion of your plant. It will be a very tiny set of true leaves emerging from the stem. You will need a magnifying glass or photographer's loupe, and a pair of sharp, very small scissors.
When the tiny, topmost leaves are about half the size of the lower, fully-developed true leaves, you want to cut them off just above where they emerge from the stem.
DO NOT CUT THE STEM OFF BELOW THE TINY SET OF TRUE LEAVES! ONLY CUT THE TINY LEAVES JUST ABOVE WHERE THEY EMERGE FROM THE STEM!
After you do this, your plant will generate two sets of true leaves, and a horizontal growth pattern, where you would have had only one set of true leaves and a vertical growth pattern if you had allowed the plant to grow naturally.
You can also do this trimming on any side branching stems as the plant develops. Find the apical meristem of the side branches, and trim almost all of the tiny, topmost leaves. This will make the side branches develop double heads and encourage branching.
Until about 4-5 weeks into your vegetative phase for seedlings, and about 3 weeks for clones, you can trim some of the apical meristems to get doubling and horizontal development.
These timelines are general guidelines. Another way of looking at it is that you want to stop trimming your apical meristems at least two weeks before you intend to flip your plants into flowering by starting your 12 hour light cycle. You want it so that your plants have had a chance to develop all their doubled sets of true leaves after your final trim- long before you start them blooming. If youtrim your plants and then start bloom phase too soon thereafter, your plants may take a longer time to go into bloom.
You also have to be careful not to trim too many apical meristems. And you don't want to trim the same apical meristem(s) too often. You need to let the doubled set of true leaves develop for a week or more and examine it and the plant's profile before you decide if you want to double your doubles by trimming again.
You need to pay close attention to the profile of your plant, and the regrowth
of the doubled sets of leaves from each cut, and be wise in how you do this procedure. Trimming is an art and a science. You may find that your first attempts at trimming don't work perfectly. Be conservative at first until you see what happens when you trim.
But after you have mastered this, you will be rewarded with bushier, denser, better-producing plants. You will be basically doing topiary on your cannabis to give you a dense, bushy, horizontally shaped, more round, bigger diameter plant - instead of a leggy, vertical plant with huge gaps between internodes.
Please note that this procedure can also be applied to clones, except of course that clones already have true leaves and you can just cut the apicals from every stem set that you want to see doubling from.
Please also note that this procedure on average will result in your plants taking a bit longer to mature and be ready for flowering. Trimming also means you have to feed your plants more nutrients, because you are making them work harder. Rest assured that when you see one plant giving you many ounces of kind bud, it will be worth the effort.
Give Them Even Light By Rotating, Tying Down, Side Lighting and Reflecting
Light is a nutrient. Your plants drink it in through their leaves. The more light your leaves get, the more buds your plant will produce up and down the stems. We love it when we see photos of plants that have buds covering the entire length of their stems from the very bottom of the plant to the very top.
Now, take a look at your garden's light profile. How much light is each of your leaves getting? If you want too-tall plants that grow leggy and produce narrow little buds and lots of stems, just make sure your plants get only light from the top with little or no light penetration into the plant leaves below the canopy.
But if you want to get way more and way bigger buds, you have to feed intense light to every leaf set, including the lowest ones. There are various ways to do this:
Feed Them Special Ingredients Instead of Ingredients that Promote Leggy Growth
A lot of fertilizers you feed your crops have too much of the wrong kind of nitrogen, and not enough phosphorus and potassium and other ingredients. This creates lots of stem and leaf growth but it doesn't promote shorter, bushier, more productive plants.
There are ways to use fertilizers so you get shorter, bushier, more productive plants. These include:
about two weeks into your grow cycle with seedlings and one week into your grow cycle with clones. Of course, your plants need nitrogen to grow well and you may see a little leaf yellowing which should be corrected by adding nitro in again until leaves are lime green. But nitro causes excessive leafing and stemming, so you need to use it sparingly while monitoring your plants for nitro deficiency at the same time. There's a balance you'll find between too much nitro and too little. The color of the leaf is a good indicator of nitrogen presence in your plants. If the leaf is lime green, it's healthy. If it's very deep green or yellowish, it's getting too much, or too little nitrogen.
get more production. Push your plants, monitor them carefully, and you can as much as DOUBLE YOUR YIELD!
So now we've just given you easy to use insider secrets on increasing your yield. These tips have nothing to do with plant genetics. Obviously, if you are growing a Thai Sativa, you are going to get a leggy, taller plant than if you are growing Afghan Kush.
You need to look at how much vertical height you have, and your overall growing conditions, when you are selecting seeds or clones to grow from. When you are breeding your own seeds, it's best to select male and females that are short, well-branched, and dense. Breed them, and keep breeding them so your plants are genetically likely to be short and productive.
If you are very lucky, you might be using genetics that naturally branch, go horizontal and have multiple growth tips, but these are rare genetics, and it's more likely you will have to use the procedures we outlined above, and selectively breed your own genetics, to get the kind of short, wide, harvest-heavy plants we're talking about here.
The thing you need to know is that if you take two seedlings both grown from the same seed, and you trim one as we explained above and don't trim the other, and grow them side by side in the same garden and allow each to ripen fully-- you will get a bigger harvest from the trimmed plant.
In some cases, you will get double or more weight from the trimmed plant as compared to the untrimmed!
We urge all growers to be creative and scientific in growing their plants so they get huge gobs of crystally, potent, mind-altering bud from every plant they grow, no matter if from seed, clone, indoors or outdoors.
Remember: just planting a seed or rooting a clone and then parking it outdoors or under a grow light is not good enough for you. Follow the above advice, pay close attention to your plants as you experiment with making them shorter and more productive, and you will do better than Nature!