Chilli's in vegetative growth

Chilli's showing healthy vegetative growth

Too many people give their plants too little time in the vegetative growth phase. There seems to be a sense of urgency, to get those flowers, to get those fruits and then to restart this short growth cycle again.

Instead of vegging for around 4 weeks (or more if you have the patience), we’re hearing of plants vegging for as little as 2-3 weeks and in extreme cases sometimes just a week! This results in plants not reaching their full potential before flowering begins, with the subsequent yield not at its optimum level. Those extra few weeks really do make all the difference!

Build Up A Great Root System

Just as you would during propagation and when germinating seeds, you want to ensure that the root system is in good shape during vegetative growth before moving on to flowering. If the roots aren’t healthy, plant growth can be quickly affected.

Healthy Roots After Vegetative Growth

Check out those cucumber roots! Grown using Great White mycorrhizal additive

The vegetative stage is the perfect time to introduce some beneficial bacteria into your growth media using a mycorrhizal additive such as Great White or Plant Magic Oldtimer Granules. These help to improve nutrient and oxygen uptake, giving better root and plant growth while also benefiting from added protection against disease, pathogenic bacteria and fungi.

Give Your Plants A Strong Framework

Your goal throughout vegetation should be to grow your plants as strong as possible, building that all-important framework it needs to bear impressive fruits and yields. Think of your plant as a human. A baby doesn’t have as much strength as a young child, and a young child doesn’t have as much strength as a teenager. It takes time to grow and develop into an adult.

Grow Nutrients, Silicon & Mycorrhizal

Vegetative growth base nutrients, silicon supplements and mycorrhizal additives

Plants are similar. With enough time and the correct grow nutrients that have a high nitrogen ratio - such as Shogun Fertilisers Terra Grow if growing in soil, or Canna Coco A&B if growing in coco coir - you will allow your plants to flourish. Keeping a plant in veg for just a little bit longer means it can really toughen its stems, allowing them to thicken so when flowering time comes around, the plant can easily support the abundance of fruits grown.

Silicon supplements, such as Buddhas Tree Solar Green Power or Shogun Fertilisers Silicon will help to enhance cell wall strength. This protects your plant from diseases and pests, as well as making your plants sturdier, allowing them to bear more and heavier fruit. This will not happen overnight though – the plant needs time to grow and produce these strong results.

Ensure The Environment Is Suitable

Throughout the vegetative stage, your plants do not need 24 hour lighting. In natural circumstances, the plant will get a 'time off' period (when the sun goes down!), so it makes sense to follow suit when growing indoors. We’d recommend an 18 on, 6 off light cycle to give your plants the little break that they need. The choice of light is also important, it's possible to veg under a CFL, but for optimum results, we recommend a dedicated Metal Halide lamp. Dual Spectrum HPS grow lamps can also be used with good results and the advantage of these is they don't need to be changed to a Red Spectrum lamp when flowering starts.

Digital Thermometer

Digital Thermometer reading a cosy 27°C

Likewise, the temperature should also mimic real temperatures. Between 25-28°C is the ideal range for most plants during daylight, with the drop being around 6-8°C at lights off. This will all depend on your plants and the humidity in the room though so it’s a good idea to test temperatures and see how your plant is reacting.

Once out of propagation, your humidity should ideally be around 50-70%. Too high and your plants will struggle to transpire properly. High humidity is also the perfect place for powdery mildew or fungi to grow, and you don’t want that! You can use a Digital Thermo-Hygrometer to easily monitor your grow room temperatures and humidity, enabling you to simply see what’s happening in the environment!

Don't Ignore The Importance Of Vegetative Growth

To put it simply, don't be in a rush to switch to the flowering phase, be patient and give your plants that extra couple of weeks of vegetative growth. At harvest, they will thank you as fruits and flowers will not only give a greater yield, but also improved quality. Give it a go on your next grow as you really have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Originally published on 3/2/17. Updated on 7/3/18.