Nico’s Nuggets: Flowering Cycles for Beginner Growers

Hi Nico! I am a beginner grower and am a bit confused here… I have a plant growing that I just recently transferred inside. It’s been growing for about four months now, but it’s growing little buds already. Do I need to trim those off, or do I need to let them grow? For how long? When is harvest time? I know I need to build a grow box eventually, right? Thanks for all your articles and videos, they are a true inspiration! – Krystal S. via the mailbag at

Hello, Krystal! Thanks for reading and watching my videos. I am glad they are helpful!

One of the toughest aspects of cannabis cultivation to understand as a beginner is how this special plant actually produces her fruit. It’s important to know that most cannabis varieties require a specific photoperiod to trigger flowering and growth of their precious buds. With the exception of auto-flowering strains, cannabis plants need 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness to begin flowering. This cycle mimics the fall harvest season outdoors in most areas of the world.

Indoors, it is easy to achieve the necessary photoperiods by setting your light on a timer for 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of dark. Outdoors, this is obviously a bit harder as you are on the schedule of Mother Nature and the Sun. Certain techniques can also be deployed outdoors, however, to deprive your plants of sunlight and create 12 hours of darkness. However, in your situation it sounds like you have had your plant outside where it was receiving more than 12 hours of light and less than 12 hours of dark, thereby keeping her in a vegetative state for those four months.

The small buds you see are likely the beginning of her flowering cycle, induced either by the shortening of days outside, or by the move indoors. You do not want to trim these buds, rather let them grow and develop into large nuggets that you will soon harvest and smoke. Just be sure that you plant is female and you are not looking at the pre-flowers of a male plant. The first signs of a male plant will be the elongation of the internodes near the top third of the plant. As the male plant stretches, very small yellow or pale green growths will appear. They will take the form of a single tiny shoot that will develop into a hanging cluster of pods that eventually fill with pollen.

Assuming you have a female plant growing, the next step is to make sure you have enough light over her and that your photoperiods are set at 12/12. To do this you can use a simple household light timer and an HID (high-intensity discharge) lamp. This fixture will require a ballast and bulb, preferably a high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulb of 250 watts. You do not need to build a “grow box” per se, but some sort of enclosure like a closet or grow tent will do just fine. This is mostly for your sake, so as to keep the light pollution to a minimum and reflect light back onto the plant for the sake of efficiency (now that you’re paying for the light).

Simple light timers like these can change your light and dark cycles to 12 hours on, 12 hours off very easily.

From the time flowering starts, you will have approximately eight weeks before it is time to harvest. This depends largely on the genetics and strain you are growing. When you see the resin glands, or trichomes on the outside of the buds begin turning from white to amber, it is time to cut your plant down and begin the drying and curing process which you can read more about here. Once dried and cured, it is time to enjoy the fruits of you labor!

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ’em over to Nico at and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!

Top photo:  Triggering the flower cycle is easiest in a closet or tent.

Follow Nico on Social Media: @Nico_Escondido (Twitter) & @Nico_High_Times (Instagram)

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