After your plants have gained several new sets of leaves and have developed enough root mass to keep up with more intense conditions, they are ready for vegetative growth. The vegetative stage of a plant’s life cycle is crucial if you want to end up with healthy flowering plants. During veg, your plant will continue to develop a strong root structure and sport several sets of new leaves. The goal here is to grow your plants as strong as possible so they will be hearty enough to deal with any harsh environmental issues that pop up throughout the life cycle.
During veg, the right lighting is a significant factor affecting the kind of yield you will have in the end.
Metal-halide lamps are specifically designed for vegetative growth, and include the correct color spectrum to promote new leaf and root growth. I highly recommend the new Blue Diamond metal-halide bulb. I’ve been growing for a long time now, using many bulbs over the years, and the Blue Diamond still amazes me. Try to avoid using a high- pressure sodium (HPS) bulb for veg—they’re not designed for this stage.
Be sure you have the correct container size for your vegging plants. Start with something like a 5x5-inch square pot for the first week or so, until you have a strong, healthy root structure. Then you can transplant into a bigger container, such as a 3-to-5 gallon pot. This size of container will give the plants’ roots enough room to grow. If your container is too small, you risk the plant becoming root- bound, which will slow growth and diminish your yield. The same goes if you’re using hydroponics. Whether you’re growing in rockwool, hydroton, coco coir, or any other medium, start small and build up.
Perhaps the most critical part of ensuring your plants thrive during veg phase is watching out for insects, such as spider mites, thrips, fungus gnats and whiteflies. You need to keep a close eye out for these pests because the vegetative stage is the best time to eliminate them. Most pesticides, including organic ones, can affect the quality of your flowers in the bloom stage, and compromising your final product is the last thing you want. Plants are much smaller and easier to treat during veg phase, so deal with invaders now.
Vigilance is key. Observe your plants every day using a jeweler’s loupe or high-powered magnifying lens to inspect the tops and undersides of the leaves. Also, you should keep an eye out for fungus gnats in your soil or hydroponic medium. Indoor gardening is not a lazy person’s game. If you slack, you may discover over time that problem insects have multiplied, and then you have a larger, more difficult task ahead of you. Stay watchful, and deal with any problem as soon as you find it.
Most of the common insects I have mentioned can be dealt with simply by using neem oil. It’s 100% organic and works very well if applied early and correctly. For heavy infestations, you can use something like an insecticide bomb or fogger, but beware the toxic effects these sprays have on human health. Make sure you are outfitted with safety gear, and only bring out the big guns if you absolutely have to.
If you happen to spot fungus gnats, you may also want to use what is called a drench or soil drench. The fungus gnat larvae live in your soil or hydroponic medium, so they require a different approach. All the products you need should be available at your local hydroponic store or on the Web.
Remember, during veg phase, your plants are still children. It’s your job to raise healthy teenagers that will bloom into handsome and productive adults. And yes, I’m still talking about your plants. Until next time, fellow growers.
Grow big or go home.
- During veg, the right lighting is a significant factor affecting the kind of yield you will have in the end.
- Be sure you have the correct container size for your vegging plants.
- The most critical part of ensuring your plants thrive during veg phase is watching out for insects.
- Vigilance is key. Observe your plants every day to inspect the tops and undersides of the leaves.