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When Does Flowering Start Outdoors?

Most cannabis plants are photoperiod plants.

In other words, they initiate the flowering process in response to changes in light exposure.

When growing outdoors, once the hours of daylight decrease and your plants are exposed to longer periods of darkness, their internal clock switches on and triggers the start of flowering.

Reduced daylight hours begin just after the summer solstice.

So if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, expect flowering to occur between June 20-22.

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, it occurs between December 20-23.

The timeframe for cannabis flowering outdoors is a distinct evolutionary trait designed to preserve the plant species for generations to come. As soon as cannabis senses autumn approaching, it flowers to produce seeds that ensure new life in the coming season.

Now, many people don’t realize that…

There Are Actually Three Distinct Flowering Stages

You see, there’s a preconceived notion that your cannabis plants only undergo two flowering stages.

In fact though, there are three, and each requires unique nutritional needs to reach their peak development.

Here’s a look at each…

Pre-Flowering Stage:

During the pre-flowering stage, you’ll notice the sex of your plants: male, female, or hermaphrodite.

Your plants will also grow taller and start preparing to support massive bud weight, which means it’s a good time to fortify their structure so they’re strong enough to hold up bulky, dense, frosty buds.

By strengthening stalks and stems, you’ll build the study foundation needed for ultra-productive flowering in the stages to come.

And by referring to this recipe, you’ll know exactly what to feed your plants during early flowering.

Mid-Flowering Stage:

As summer progresses, your flowers grow thicker and your plants start packing on substantial bud weight.

Trichomes, which contain cannabinoids, begin to form on each bud, and with the proper nutrition and optimal environment, you can expect your flowers to start swelling in size.

Late-Flowering Stage:

This is the ripening stage, where cannabinoid and terpene development reaches its peak and distinct aromas become the strongest. You want to monitor your plants closely during the late-flowering stage, because depending on your goals, you’ll end your crop cycle once you’ve reached your desired level of potency.

Keep in mind that harvest times depend on the type of strain you’re growing; while some indicas are ready as soon as early September, some sativas won’t be ready until at least December. You’ll also want to consider the unique cannabinoid and terpene profile of different cultivars and how long each requires to reach maturity.

During the flowering stage, you can maximize your yields with these bud-bulking strategies.

Pro Tip from The CCI Black Book – The Definitive Roadmap for Successful Commercial Cannabis:

CCI Black Book Expert Tip - Using trellis for cannabis growing.

Cannabis industry expert Jack Whipple recommends spacing a trellis so each bud has enough space to grow and remain sturdy until harvest. Discover more cultivation tips and visit this page to download a free chapter of The CCI Black Book. The result of experiments across millions of square feet of commercial gardens, this proven roadmap reveals how top growers consistently yield 3-4 lbs of top-quality flower per light.


To break it down further, here’s a look at…

The Flowering Stage, Week By Week

Your plants will change weekly in the flowering stage as they mature in their development and progress toward harvest.

Here’s what to look out for:

Week 1: During this transition week between veg and bloom, you’ll see rapid stem and leaf growth with the reduced daylight hours.

Week 2: During this pre-flowering week, expect small budding sites to begin forming at the nodes on your female cannabis plants.

Weeks 3-4: An exciting time in the bloom phase, you’ll begin to see your pre-flowers transform into familiar cannabis buds. Resinous trichomes, which contain high-value cannabinoids and terpenes, start forming. You’ll also notice hair-like pistils appear, which are the female reproductive parts. The calyxes, which encase both pistils and ovules, swell to form the main body of the bud.

Weeks 5-6: During these critical weeks of flower maturation, your buds will grow denser and pack on trichomes, which change from clear to a cloudy or amber color depending on the cannabinoid content. Cloudy trichomes are THC-rich, while amber trichomes indicate higher levels of CBN.

Weeks 7-8: You’ll decide to harvest your plants between this window of time. Once your buds are dense, resin-drenched, and exhibiting the desired potency level and aromas, you’re ready to reap the rewards of all your hard work.

Advanced Nutrients Outdoor Feeding Chart Example

You can use any Advanced Nutrients fertilizer, biostimulant, or biological in an outdoor grow environment. However, you’ll need to adjust the schedule around the transition to bloom, as it’s based on natural changes and not a fast “switch.”

See the chart below for reference:

Advanced Nutrients Outdoor feeding schedule - Jungle Juice

Advanced Nutrients Outdoor feeding schedule - how to grow stage by stage.

What Happens If You Start Flower Outdoors Too Early?

Without optimal weather conditions, intense sunlight, or a robust vegetation stage, early flowering can often yield poor crop results, including weaker plants and smaller harvests.

Here are some of the main reasons for early cannabis flowering outdoors and how you can prevent it:

  • When you start your plants too early (like March), the ample darkness is enough to trigger early flowering. If you do start your crop cycle around this time, supplement the daylight with artificial light to ensure your plants undergo enough robust vegetation to support a fruitful flowering stage.
  • An abrupt light switch can trigger early flowering, like transitioning an indoor veg plant on a 24-hour light cycle to an outdoor location. Even if there’s still 12+ hours of daylight outdoors and you’d typically expect the plant to remain in veg, the sudden drop in light can stress the plant enough to prompt flowering. To keep your plants in veg in this situation, supplement your outdoor grow with artificial light.

Keep in mind that if you’re coming up against unpredictable weather conditions during the typical bloom phase, then early flowering may actually work to your advantage. It could mean the difference between producing a viable harvest and losing your crop to Mother Nature’s whims.

Cannabis flowering stage timings.

What About Autoflowering Strains?

Autoflowering seeds don’t require photoperiod changes in order to transition to flowering. Instead, they have an automatic system – like an internal clock – that triggers the bloom phase. So if you need more flexibility in planting time, they can be your ideal choice. As soon as they’ve reached a certain height, they begin to flower.

Plus, because many autoflowering strains complete their life cycle in just 60 days, they can be a great choice for growers who want to produce more harvests per year. And if you live in a colder climate, you could benefit from autoflower’s predictable harvest time, planning your crop cycle before the frost damage becomes an imminent threat to your success.

However, photoperiod strains tend to have more potential for larger plants and increased yields. And with more genetic variations available, they’re a great option for experienced growers seeking a specific cannabinoid and terpenoid profile.

Knowing when to start your plants outdoors — and keeping a close eye on them throughout the flowering stage — is key to achieving the cannabis harvest you deserve.

Subscribe to our newsletter now and enjoy more helpful tips and tricks on growing world-class cannabis from our cultivation specialists!


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The Advanced Nutrients Team

Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

If you are a grower, visit this link to find the closest Advanced Nutrients Authorized Retailer. If you are a retailer, visit this link to identify our official distributors.

Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

Yes! If for any reason you are not absolutely thrilled with the results you achieve when you use our products, just bring the unused portion, along with your original sales receipt, back to the place of purchase within six months, and ask for your money back. Find out more about our Grower Guarantee here.

Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.

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