Congratulations! You've taken the first successful steps on your cannabis cultivation journey, having skillfully germinated your seeds. You're now just a few months away from reaping the fruits of your labor - your first bountiful harvest!
Growing marijuana seeds, however, is not always without its struggles. One question we sometimes get asked is, "why is my weed plant growing tall and skinny?". The answer to this question lies in the issue of 'stretching', where your seedling grows mainly in height, and not in width, resulting in tall and skinny plants.
What is stretching?
When a sprouting seedling, or even a slightly mature cannabis plant, starts reaching upwards with a long, slender stem, it's a phenomenon we call "stretching". It's a clever strategy employed by the plant to inch closer to its life-giving light source by vertical growth, ensuring it soaks up every possible photon.
This stretching predominantly manifests during the plant's growth phase, forming a long and slender stem. Yet once the plant embarks on its blooming journey, growth for most cannabis varieties grinds to a halt, putting all their energy into producing bountiful buds.
However, there's an interesting exception to this rule - the vivacious Sativa species. These lanky variants have a knack for adding some extra inches to their height, even during the flowering stage. As youngsters in their vegetative stage, Sativa species are known to stretch out a tad more than others, which means they are more prone to grow into tall and thin plants.
Related article: What Does a Weed Plant Look Like
What if stretching gets out of hand?
Stretching, while natural, can sometimes turn excessive, resulting in tall and skinny plants: all stem and little leaf. What prompts this unusual growth, and what steps should you take if your cannabis plants show such behavior?
The reasons behind the towering and scrawny appearance of your weed plant can be multifaceted. That's why we delve into the most prevalent causes and provide you with tangible solutions. Let's initiate our exploration with the challenges that overly tall and skinny weed plants may present.
Problems with tall and skinny weed plants
- The stem becomes too weak - this can cause a weed plant to fall over or the stem to break.
- Problems with nutrients - tall plants will put their energy mainly into growing taller when that energy could be better used for even growth.
- Burnt plants - tall cannabis plants are more likely to grow too close to the light source, putting them at risk of burning.
- Problems with humidity and temperature - stretching the stem can lead to problems with humidity and temperature.
Reasons of tall and skinny cannabis plants
There are several reasons why marijuana plants develop a long and skinny stature during the vegetative stage. These are the most common reasons (and their respective solutions):
- The light source is too far away from the cannabis plant
- The used lighting is unsuitable
- Light source is too weak
- Plants are too close together
- The plants are kept too long in the vegetative stage
When your grow light is positioned too far from your weed plant, it acts like a beacon from the sky, luring your plant to reach upwards in a quest for light. This can result in tall and skinny plants.
The remedy is as straightforward as bringing the light closer to your plant, essentially shrinking the distance between the light source and your cannabis plants (a.k.a. the light distance).
Always keep an eye on the temperature - a light source that's too close might singe and damage the foliage. A good rule of thumb to ensure your plant's comfort: if the heat from the light feels too intense for your own hand, it's probably too intense for your green friend too.
The kind of grow light you select can also play a significant role in the stretching saga of your cannabis stems. Interestingly, orange and red hues tend to foster long, spindly stems, while a cool blue glow encourages the growth of thick, sturdy ones. It's almost like your marijuana plants respond to the lights with their own colorful dance of growth!
For instance, using metal halide lamps during the vegetative stage can help curtail excessive stretch, leading to shorter, more robust stems. So, as you navigate your growing journey, remember that choosing the right lighting is more than an illumination game - it's a subtle interplay of color that directly influences how your weed plants develop.
When your light source doesn't pack enough punch, your plant will inevitably search for more light - it's a survival instinct. Fortunately, the solution to this predicament is a simple upgrade.
Harness the power of brighter light. The brighter your light source, the more your marijuana plant will thrive. Think of it like this: if you're growing your weed plant under a weak light source, it's like asking a sunflower to bloom in the shade. The plant will undoubtedly strain and stretch in search of more light. To guarantee robust growth, ensure your lamps are powerful enough to bathe your plant in abundant light.
Consider kick-starting the growth process under the balanced tones of cool-white and warm-white fluorescent lights, or perhaps an HPS lamp, known for its versatility in supporting both growth and flowering stages. These alternatives are sure to give your plants the light and life they crave!
As you delve deeper into the mystery of why your weed plant resembles a tall, slender reed, you're likely to stumble upon a term - 'SARP', short for Shade Avoidance Response Phenotype.
SARP is a fascinating phenomenon where your cannabis plant, like the aforementioned sunflower chasing the sun, stretches towards the light that her neighbors are inadvertently blocking. This behavior is testament to the fact that your weed plants are sentient beings in their own right, adapting and responding to their environment in remarkable ways.
A weed plant is essentially a sun-worshipper. She thrives best under the generous warmth of direct sunlight, soaking up her life-giving rays with enthusiasm.
A simple way to encourage broader growth is by giving your plants a bit of breathing space. Spacing them further apart allows light to reach every leaf, promoting robust and wide growth.
Keep in mind, a weed plant loathes the shade - it's an outright party pooper for their growth and flowering phases. A lack of full, direct light dramatically increases the chances of your plant stretching out. So let your green companions bask in the glory of light for their optimal growth.
Cannabis plants, with their audacious growth, can rapidly shoot up, transforming your grow space into a verdant jungle. You may be tempted to resort to drastic strategies like Super Cropping to manage this burgeoning greenery. However, the trick lies in a simpler approach - don't overextend the vegetative phase.
By switching to the flowering stage right when the guidelines for your specific strain suggest, you avoid the marathon growth spurt. It's about timing the transition just right, allowing your plants to bloom beautifully without turning your growing space into a towering green labyrinth. This way, your cannabis cultivation journey remains an enjoyable venture, not a battle with the tall and skinny green giants!
Extra tip: Low Stress Training
Consider adopting the technique of Low Stress Training (LST), a kind and nurturing way to guide your weed plants' growth trajectory. Think of it as a gentle yet firm nudge to your weed plants, encouraging them to spread out instead of shooting up.
With LST, you can literally shape your plants' growth, guiding them to develop a broad, bushy form rather than becoming a tall and skinny plant. You'll be amazed how a bit of plant whispering, combined with this respectful method, can help your plants flourish in harmony with their environment, yielding a more robust and fruitful harvest.
LST is indeed a testament to the power of gentle persuasion over brute force in the realm of cannabis cultivation. Learn more about this training technique in our guide to Low Stress Training.
Buy Indica or autoflower seeds to avoid unnecessary stretching
As we've explored, stretching in weed plants isn't inherently harmful - it's a natural response with a clear purpose when your plants grow tall instead of wide. Plus, different strains have their unique growing patterns, with some naturally inclined to stretch more than others. The key is to understand how to prevent unnecessary stretching in a simple, non-disruptive way.
Consider growing our autoflower seeds or Indica seeds - these varieties are like the compact, low-growing shrubs of the cannabis world. They naturally tend towards a lush, bushy form rather than stretching out, which is a characteristic you can leverage in your favor. Another option is to take a look at our small weed plant seeds, a collection of our shortest weed strains.
What have we learned?
In a nutshell, we've learned that while 'stretching' is a natural response in marijuana plants seeking light, it can result in unusually tall and skinny structures. Several factors can lead to this, from far-off or weak lighting to overcrowded growing spaces and prolonged vegetative phases.
Solutions include adjusting light placement and intensity, spacing out your weed plants, timely transitioning to the flowering stage, and adopting practices like Low Stress Training. Planting autoflower or Indica seeds can also help avoid unnecessary stretching due to their naturally compact growth patterns.
Managing these aspects effectively ensures your weed plants grow robustly, steering clear of the unnecessary growth spurts that could hinder their optimal development.
If you want to learn more about the art of cannabis, simply visit our Learning Center for more articles like this. If you are a beginner, you will love our Grow Guide for Beginners, which will guide you through the entire process of growing your (first) marijuana plant, from seed to harvest.