Stretching is a very common way for plants to adjust to its environment. By stretching, it can move towards a light source or it can branch out and grow vertically as well as horizontally. However, stretching can be detrimental to cannabis plants because it can severely decrease its yield. Stretching can also weaken its branches and result to breaking or the entire plant falling to the ground. Stretching also occupies a lot of space and therefore could be very hard to manage especially for indoor breeders. These are why most breeders don’t want stretching and avoid it at all costs.
Why autoflowering cannabis plants stretch
Autoflowering plants are genetically modified plants that already begin to grow in just 3 weeks as compared to regular cannabis plants that grow after 3 months. Autos are ready for harvest in just 8 weeks giving growers more yield per year because they can grow weed three times a year depending on the dark season from the location.
Because of these amazing qualities, autoflowering cannabis plants have tremendous energy needs. These plants will do all they can to get food and sunlight and if there are limited resources it will compensate by stretching.
Autos will stretch vertically to reach a light source. These could result to weakening of the plant’s branches and stems and can even lead to burnt leaves and stems if it gets too close to the light.
Growing autos too close to each other can also cause stretching. These plants are just like any other plants; grow them too close to each other will result to competition and of course the tallest one will get more light and more food.
Autoflowering plants also stretch because it’s just their nature. Sativas are cannabis strains that are known to be leggier than indicas and therefore these plants can’t help but grow taller.
How to avoid stretching
You can prevent stretching in autoflowereing plants by following these simple tips:
- Don’t grow tall cannabis strains
If you have no room to grow tall cannabis plants then don’t grow them! Despite the demands for sativa strains, there is just no reason why you should grow them if you don’t have room. A good rule is to do your research and find out how tall a plant would be by the time it has matured; this would be a good indication of how much room you need to provide for your plants.
- Improve your light source
Possibly the best way to avoid stretching is to improve your light source. Autoflowering strains generally love to be showered with light because they need all the energy to grow and bloom according to their unique genetic make-up. There are many kinds of light sources to choose from. Ideally the most suitable light source is one that will flood the room with light. If you must use reflective material to concentrate light better then use them.
LED lighting is the most common light source used by modern growers since this type can efficiently light your grow room with the most minimal power consumption. On the other hand, the best reflective material to use is Mylar or blackout canvass because these focus light better and will not crease or tear easily. Other reflective materials like aluminum foil, reflective blankets, panda sheets, Styrofoam, white blankets and using paint are very common but are not recommended unless there are no other materials left to use. Also, investing on the best light source or light sources is a good start to make sure that your plants, and other future crops will be healthy and strong.
- Give your plants more room to grow
If you grow your plants too near to each other there would be no room to grow horizontally. Crowding will result by the time your plants grow and bloom. If there is not enough lighting to feed all your plants they will tend to move up and stretch. Therefore you must allot room for your plants to grow. Place pots farther apart especially when these start to grow larger considering their actual appearance and size as they turn into adults. If you are growing them indoors, don’t try to crowd them in one room but instead give each plant adequate space to grow and bloom.
- Give plants more breathing space from the ground up
Adding a small fan at the bottom of the crop can help improve air flow which can reduce stretching. Usually when plants feel that there is not enough room and there is poor air circulation from underneath these will try to compensate by growing taller. Cannabis plants will continue to grow tall because it senses this unusual condition and therefore improving air flow can help avoid stretching.
Challenges in growing autoflowering plants indoors
A lot of growers face the challenges of growing autoflowering cannabis indoors because they want to control and monitor their crops in a more efficient manner. Indoor growing also helps you get the best yield since plants will end up healthier and the strain more potent since you are able to control its food, water and light source.
There is no doubt that autos will give a good yield however you must still do your research and get to know more about the strain you have chosen. If for some reason your plant becomes too tall for its own good you may trim off some excess foliage or it. Pruning will clear up excess leaves and stems but will also give your plant room to breathe and grow.
More so, autoflowering plants don’t grow from clones and therefor you must grow them from seeds. Autoflowering seeds are very expensive and therefore you must observe utmost care when growing autos indoors.
And finally there is the question of how much food and water does autos need. Technically auto seeds will grow in all kind of conditions but will still need adequate amounts of light, water and food to grow healthier and taller. Stretching is mostly the result of the absence of any one of these factors.