Knowing what the typical eight-week feeding schedule looks like is helpful for growers wishing to gain a better understanding of the nutrient, water, and lighting requirements for each stage of plant growth. When you know what to expect, you will know what to watch for. Noticing differences between the expected outcomes and what is currently happening in the garden will help improve the gardener’s skills and confidence.
The first week of the feeding schedule is all about giving the plants time to adjust to the light and growing conditions. Keeping half of the lamps on is a good starting point for the first week. Plants should get between 16 – 18 hours of light each day, and the temperature within the growing area needs to be near 70° F. Plants should get water every other day and the ideal amount of water is about 8 ounces.
The humidity of the growing area should also be checked every other day. The ideal level of humidity is about 70%. You should check the pH level of the water the plants are receiving every other day. The proper level is around 6.0. This helps the plants absorb all the nutrients they need in the early stages of growth. Spraying the plants each day will help keep the humidity level where it needs to be.
The growing conditions for the plants heading into week two will remain largely the same as week one. One difference to note is the amount of light the plants will receive. Rather than having half the lamps on, turn on all the lamps. You will want your plants to be about two feet away from the light source to allow them to absorb the maximum amount of light. Monitor the heat level underneath the lamps so they don’t get too hot and burn the plants.
Week two is the time to decide if the plants need to be transplanted into larger containers. If the roots of the plants are poking through the bottom of their containers, it is time to move them. This is also the time to add some additional nutrients for the plants. You will want to use something high in nitrogen to help the plants thrive at this early stage.
The second week is also a time for the stems of the plants to gain some strength. The best way to help this process is by putting a fan in the room with your plants. Make sure the fan sits very near the plants, so the leaves are blowing in the wind a bit. As you care for your plants each day, make a note of how wide the canopy of leaves is. Once it looks like the leaves are covering the entire top of your planting area, it is time to prepare for the flowering stage.
At the start of week three, the plants will move into the flowering phase of their growth. You should cut the light source back down to half of the lamps being on, and the plants need about 12 hours of light per day. The reasoning behind lowering the amount of light per day is to trick the plants a bit into thinking autumn is on the way. When the plants experience fewer hours of daylight, they will produce flowers. The plants need about 32 ounces of water per plant every other day during the third week.
Entering the flowering stage, you should shift the lights you are using at this point to provide red-spectrum light. This is the same light the plants would absorb during the fall growing season. There won’t be any noticeable changes in the plants for a few weeks, but it is important to stick to the new feeding schedule so the plants continue to develop. During the next few weeks, the plants will consume a high amount of nitrogen, so it is vital to continue to feed the soil a supplement that has a high nitrogen content.
Watering should happen when the soil appears to be slightly dried out, and the best method is to spray the bottom of the plants with a good amount of water. This helps the roots absorb as much water as possible right away. Keeping a close watch over the plants in week 3 is critical to catching any issues before they become more serious. You should monitor the leaves and stems and continue to measure the temperature and humidity levels in the growing area.
At the start of week four, turn all the lamps on and make sure they are maintaining a safe distance from the plants. As the plants grow the light should be adjusted upward. If the top leaves are curling, that is a sign they are getting too hot. The amount of light per day should stay at 12 hours, but the amount of water the plants need will double. Each plant should get 64 ounces of water every other day.
The composition of the soil will need to change in the coming weeks, so this is a good week to rinse it out. Flushing the soil involves using water that has a slightly higher pH level. Something between 6.5 and 7 will work. Do not add any nutrients near the end of week four when doing the watering. Let the water flush the nutrients out. When the plants enter the next week of growth, they will need more phosphorus and less nitrogen.
The amount of light, hours of light and amount of water should all stay the same in week five. The plants will start showing signs of flowers developing during the fifth week. They will first appear as tiny hairs and will eventually turn into spheres that have hairs coming out of them. The spheres will turn into flowers within the next few weeks. The plants will use a lot of energy to produce the buds, so continue to feed the soil the proper nutrients. The plants will now need more phosphorus to help the flowers develop. There are several fertilizers that encourage blossoming but maintaining plant health throughout each stage of growth will enhance fertilization efforts substantially.
Water levels should be closely watched during the fifth week because the plants are consuming large amounts of it. Feel the soil at various levels to check for moisture content and make sure it does not dry out at all. This is also the stage of the growing process where you can cull the male plants to prevent unwanted pollination of female plants.
The spheres with hair growing on them should increase in size during the sixth week. This is a good time to check how close your plants are to the light source. They need to absorb as much as possible, but you don’t want the tops to burn. You can use your hand to feel for the proper temperature at the top of the plants. You should continue to monitor the overall health of the plants by looking for any signs of abnormal growth, discolored leaves, or any other symptoms of stress.
During weeks seven and eight all the major growing conditions should stay the same, including the amount of light, duration of the light, amount of water, and intervals of water. The seventh week is where you will see floral clusters developing. The plants might get large enough to need some external support to keep them standing. You can use some simple plant sticks alongside the stems to keep the plants growing. Make sure the plants do not fall over as this will hinder their growth. The end of the seventh week is another time to flush the soil with water slightly higher in pH. When you add the new water, do not add any nutrients. The plants will require a new set of nutrients heading into week eight.
Entering week eight, the buds will be at the stage where they need more potassium. The potassium will help the buds ripen and get harder. There are several booster fertilizers that you can add to the soil to bring the potassium levels up. Getting the nutrient levels right in week eight will give you the highest quality of marijuana.
As the plants get closer to harvest time, the main thing you should monitor is the color of the pistils. When they turn to an orangish brownish color, the plants are ready for harvest. Wait until the majority have turned color before you start the harvesting process.
Within the next week, the buds will start to increase in size and ripen. The buds will be dense and heavy and the production will be high. Some of the bottom leaves will turn yellow, but that is not a cause for alarm. This is a normal part of the process. You should continue to give the plants that same amount of water, but lower the amount of added nutrients gradually. At the end of the week, flush the soil and cut back on the level of nutrients.
Feeding your soil the proper nutrients, monitoring the temperature of the growing area, keeping humidity levels ideal and giving the plants the proper amount of water will lead to a bountiful harvest.
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