Vegetative Growth

The marijuana vegetative stage is when your plant develops from a seedling and prepares to grow the flowers you eventually smoke.  Energy produced by the plant is put into growing healthy roots, stems, and leaves which support the buds created in the flowering stage of marijuana growth.

In this category we will cover when your marijuana plant is ready to start and finish its vegetative growing, along with what lighting, water, and nutrients to supply it with.

When is a plant in marijuana vegetative growth?

A plant is in vegetative growth when your seedling has finally developed its rooting system and starts to rapidly produce recognisable marijuana leaves.
During the marijuana vegetative stage, your marijuana plant will maximise its photosynthesis to produce as much green, leafy foliage as possible, using the light, water, nutrients and CO² provided in its environment.  Optimising these elements can lead to a plant growing up to an inch a day!

A typical amount of time a marijuana plant spends in vegetative growth is 4-6 weeks but it can last as little as two weeks or for as long as you like, especially if you’re keeping a mother plant for clones.

Grow tip: Marijuana vegetative growth is an ideal time to take clones if you are particularly impressed with the strain you are growing.


If you’re growing indoors, you should be giving your plant at least 18 hours light in every 24 hour cycle.  As well as needing lots of light, marijuana in vegetative growth also requires a whiter light to replicate that of mid summer.  A bulb that is rated 6500k is perfect for vegetative growth.

Nutrients and Water

During vegetative growth use a fertilizer that is higher in Nitrogen.  Your plant uses Nitrogen for stems, leaves and the other green parts of your plant. To tell if your plant is in need of watering you can test the soil to see if it is dry to touch.  If it is, your plants need watering.  Bear in mind that as your plants get bigger, they will need more water so it’s likely you’ll need to water your plants at least every other day.
Both under and over watering will cause the leaves of your marijuana plant to droop.  It is easy to tell the difference; under watered leaves will be wilted and lifeless, over watered leaves will be firm and curled down.


It’s during preflowering that you are able to establish the sex of your plants. Marijuana grows its pre-flowers between the fourth and sixth week of vegetative growth, developing on the fourth or fifth point where leaves are connected to the main stem (internode) down from the top. Once a plant’s pre-flowers have shown, it is mature enough to induce flowering.  Pre-flowers are also an early indicator of a marijuana plant’s sex, although It will be difficult to tell for certain until you’ve put your plant into flower.  The diagrams below may help you to decipher what the sex of your plant is.  You can also use our guide to male and female marijuana plants.

Male and female preflowers



Rootbound cannabis plantTransplanting during the marijuana vegetative stage is quite common when growing in soil and takes place to maintain a plants healthy growth.  If a plant has outgrown its container, it will become root bound, stunting its growth and leaving your plant looking sparse.  You can check your plant for root bound problems by removing it from its pot and checking if the roots have matted around the sides and the bottom of the pot. Avoid problems during transplanting by keeping the medium moist.

Grow tip: Pick up the pots to see if the roots are visable. If you can see the roots, it may be root bound and need closer inspection.

Training and Trimming

Vegetative growth supplies you with an opportunity to train your plant to increase the number  and size of budding sites for when your plant goes into flowering.  These techniques are used to put the plant under a small amount of stress, which makes it react and go into overdrive to fix the problem.

What problems can you face during marijuana vegetative growth?

Split stemsSplit marijuana stem
Keep an eye out for split and wounded stems.  Plants with wounds will be stressed, grow slower, and are inviting for pests and diseases.  You can fix it by simply fastening a zip tie or something similar around the affected area, making sure you close it without squeezing it too tight and suffocating the stem.  Remove the tie once the split has repaired.

Stunted growth
If your plant seems to plateau and stop growing in its first weeks of the marijuana vegetative stage, it means growth has stunted.  This can be caused by a number of factors; the grow environment being too cold, and over or under watering.  Marijuana plants are pretty resilient and can recover from stunted growth.  However, if you do not fix the issue quickly, there is a point of no return.

Nutrient Burn/Deficiency
Nutrient burn or deficiency during the marijuana vegetative stage can occur in a variety of different forms and tends to show on a marijuana plants leaves.  Problems with nutrients are normally caused when you are supplying the plant with the wrong amounts.  Check your PH and PPM (parts per million) as this can affect the amount of nutrients your plant can take in.  In most cases, the best way to deal with nutrient burn is to flush your plants.  Once you have worked out what your plant is missing from its diet, take care to readjust your plants nutrients accordingly.

37 comments on Vegetative Growth
  1. Green Man

    Hi, yes 4-6 weeks veg will work well for mainlining

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    Rating: -3 (from 3 votes)
  2. Ricky B Buffalo

    So all strains should be veg for 2 to 6 weeks and does that include a high yielding technique such as mainline or manifold?

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    Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
  3. Green Man

    Hi there, this isn’t common really – only in mature plants. The cause is most likely low branches that touch the soil and gain roots, especially with big outdoor grows. It’s not common for this to happen from seed.

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    Rating: -2 (from 8 votes)
  4. MBC

    On outside plants, I had seeds making more than one stalk in the same rootball. How many stalks can one rootball have, and what is common? One rootball is one plant.

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    Rating: -3 (from 9 votes)
  5. Toni reynolds

    What are some ideas for hydro grow pots? Never done this before. I’ve grown outside,but by the time it’s ready to harvest the critters and thieves don’t leave you much for the work you put into it. So I’m needing any advice I can get.

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    Rating: +2 (from 10 votes)
  6. blackthumbgirl

    If I clone from a female can any of the babies turn put male?

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    Rating: -13 (from 33 votes)
  7. blackthumbgirl

    I have 4 baby clones that I just transplanted into pots. My roots were about 6-10 inches long. I used super soil for potting. I have only grown 1 plant before and she is just flowering. I am using an LED light on an 18 hour schedule. HOWEVER – I have no idea how frequently or how much to water my babies? I am using the basic Nectar of the God’s for nutrients. I know the mixing is per gallon but need to know how much to water each plant? Did I mention that my flowering plant is the only thing I’ve every grown – thus my name…. I have MS and this provides the best relief possible for me.

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    Rating: +12 (from 34 votes)
  8. Greenethumb420

    Flint try putting a little layer of clay pellets over your dirt it will keep your soil from being exsposed..also the clay pellets hold water so try cutting back on the watering…also try poking holes in the soil on the outside of the pot not in the middle you don’t want to hit the roots

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    Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
  9. Thomas

    I have 3 plants going now for just under a month and a half, 2 of the 3 are growing just fine but I have one where all the top leaves are starting to bunch up and swirl into one another how do I fix it? I am growing in 5 gal buckets under a high pressure sodium lamp. I mist and water regularly and every 3 days I feed them tomato plant food any suggestions?

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    Rating: -9 (from 61 votes)
  10. Robert leslie

    I have four plants that are growing slow. They are only 3 weeks in the vegetation state. When will the branches start?

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    Rating: -1 (from 7 votes)
  11. Rsixiron

    How often do you top your plants or do you top them at all?

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    Rating: +1 (from 11 votes)
  12. Colby

    Hurrah! At last I got a blog from where I be capable of really get useful facts regarding
    my study and knowledge.

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    Rating: +1 (from 5 votes)
  13. Steve

    My plants are about 8 weeks old, stunted at first because temp was to cold but doing fine now at about 16-18 inches, First leaves with 5 fingers are huge and only leaf on stem, Just above every large 5 finger stem is another stem with branches and several
    7 finger leaves. Trouble is that each plant has about 6 huge 5 finger leaves that are blocking light to most of the rest of the plant, Do I need to pinch the stem of the 5 finger leaves so they die and allow the rest of the plant to recieve more light and if so, can I pinch all of them at once or do I need to do 1 or 2 at a time so as not to stress the plant to much. I love your website, Have learned alot, Thank You

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    Rating: -10 (from 88 votes)
  14. Bobomarley

    I am just getting started with my first grow. Just dropped my seeds in water today. I have a MH/HPS 400 W ballast. When shopping for bulbs I came across and MH rated at 7200K.
    All my research tells me to use a 6500K is this an area where more isn’t necessarily better? Same with the H PS I have found a bulb rated at 2000K but again all the research says to use 2700 K
    Any feedback is appreciated thank you

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    Rating: +9 (from 31 votes)
  15. 8Bit

    9 finger leaves are definitely nothing to worry about. It’s all genetics, pure and simple. I’ve had numerous plants with as many as 13 fingers on a single fan leaf…others, just 7. I’d be more worried if you ever have a plant with no more than 5 fingers per leaf, honestly…like I said, purely genetics.

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    Rating: +1 (from 13 votes)
  16. Kevin

    I’ve been a grower for over 35years I’ve always found when I’m having an issue with like yellowing go back to basics check PH make sure the PH levels are good for your application in soil I’ve fond 6.75 to 7.25 in hydro which I prefer I try to keep it around 5.75 but from 5.50 to 6.0 is good but if your PH is good. in soil check the moisture and not just on the top poke a hole in the top of the soil and check down an inch or so if it’s dry water it if it’s wet cut back on the water. if it’s just the bottom that are yellowing don’t panic go back to basics if you panic and start fooling around with feeding fertilization you could make it worse just cut the lower yellowing leaves off..out site out of mind but if the yellowing has spread up the plant you need to check your chems !! PH or PPMS IF your running hydro flush the system for 2/3 days then start your chems IF your running soil flush the soil basics guys!!

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    Rating: +7 (from 13 votes)
  17. pat

    I have five different plants growin outside in the vegetative state but all are taking different forms is their any way of knowing whats type if plant I have this early

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    Rating: -6 (from 12 votes)
  18. yuny 36

    I have 3 plants bout 1 month old they are bout9 to 10 inches long and I need to know when can I change the hours of vegetative stage from 24/24 to 18/6 can you help me

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    Rating: -9 (from 33 votes)
  19. Gareth

    My plants r growin nice but my leafs have 9 yes 9leafs on them can you tell me wot this means please

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    Rating: +8 (from 24 votes)
  20. Rob from renton

    johnson.. I was to understand that lower yellow leaves means over watering.. just back off a bit and it should be fine… but if they start to wilt, bump it back up.. Iv had yellow lower leaves and its not gonna die because of it (that I know of)………….. what Im lookin for is what does sog and scrog and all that stand for?

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  21. johnson

    Im having the same problem my bottom leaves are turning yellow

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    Rating: -3 (from 13 votes)
  22. jeannine powers

    I have been growing for 60days my plants are about 22 inches high so do I wait until day 75 to start flowering

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    Rating: 0 (from 22 votes)
  23. linda

    As my plants r growing the bottom leave are turning yellow with brown spots. As those leaves r dying but my plant is still growing. Buds r developing now. What do I do?

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    Rating: +2 (from 24 votes)
  24. 420doug

    I’m growing my first plant and it was doing great but now the lower leaves are turning yellow and have little brown spots and it’s just moving up the plant, fast. What do I do?

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    Rating: -2 (from 30 votes)
  25. C Stuart

    when the plants are in the Vegetative Growth period how do you train and trim plants? I am a new grower and need more info on this. Thanks for any info

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    Rating: -1 (from 53 votes)
  26. brecko

    hey there…can I keep my seedlings under the 6500k cfls just on a table like ive been doin for the last week or so until my area is done?..theyre growing just week plus a day or so and theyre growin fast…im gonn abe growin some feminized ones in a couple days but I wanna make sure that while I get the tent done that I can already germinate them and leave them out of the tent for a few days without any harm to them…thanks..

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    Rating: +8 (from 16 votes)
  27. mizzou grown

    I have been growing bud years but want to switch to sea of green my question is do you trim or prune every third set of leaves when growing see of green.

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    Rating: 0 (from 36 votes)
  28. BeautifuLunatic

    when and how do you train and trim the babies? I am a new grower and need more info on this.

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    Rating: -2 (from 40 votes)
  29. Green Man

    What type of gnats are they? Fungus gnats, whit fly etc. Depending what it is will depend on how easy it is too treat!

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    Rating: -2 (from 12 votes)
  30. Flint

    I’m growing in a closet and I’v got 1 in veg state and 2 seedlings.
    I have lost two crops of 4 to 5 plants each to what appears to be
    nats. I tried to get rid of them using apple vinegar and water.
    It’s not working and I want to move my one veg state plant into
    flowing. How can I get rid of these little pest?

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    Rating: +7 (from 23 votes)
  31. Green Man

    It might be possible that your plant is root bound which would be a potential reason for the stunted growth and nutrient lock out. What size container are you using?

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    Rating: 0 (from 6 votes)
  32. Gerjuan

    My plants seem stunted.I don’t know what’s problem. I haven’t over or under water.Its bee a few weeks they don’t absorb water nutrients for feeding , so they just set.Im waiting for soil to completely dry before I start,because it looks like some deficiency lack of nutrients.

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  33. Green Man

    We should be able to, whats the problems?

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    Rating: -2 (from 6 votes)
  34. larry

    i am having a problem with an outside plant of mine ,can u help???

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