Of all the things that can go wrong when growing weed, cannabis plants falling over has got to be up there with one of the most devastating.
Fortunately, plants are designed to stay upright. So, catastrophe is easily avoided as long as conditions are maintained within certain acceptable parameters. In other words, if your plants do fall over, it probably means your set-up is out of whack.
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Why Do Cannabis Plants Fall Over?
Cannabis plants can droop and fall if their stems become too long, thin and spindly to take the weight of the leaves and flowers. Under normal conditions, this shouldn’t happen, although plants do have a tendency to stretch when they are stressed.
Though it might seem counterproductive, stretching is actually a defence mechanism. One that cannabis plants resort to in order to grow as quickly as possible during tough times. When something’s not right, a plant will use up its energy reserves to accelerate its growth in the hope of reaching the flowering stage and passing on its genes.
On the whole, stretching is more common in grow rooms than outdoors. And often begins shortly after germination if one or more environmental factors are slightly off-key. Therefore, beginners who haven’t mastered the art of keeping their plants happy are likely to notice a fair degree of stretching.
How To Avoid Seedling Stretching
In the great outdoors, cannabis plants receive their light directly from the sun and their nutrients from the Earth. However, indoor growers must play the role of mother nature. Ensuring that plants have everything they need to grow robust and bushy.
Lighting, for instance, is a major responsibility. When cannabis seeds germinate, they need to receive the right amount of light to get off to a healthy start. A lack of lumens at this crucial point in a plant’s life can set the tone for a horror grow.
If not enough light is available, a young plant will assume that it is being shaded out by other vegetation. It may then respond by stretching to rise above its imaginary competitors. Even when a grow room is sufficiently lit, a seedling may not receive sufficient photons if it is too far away from the light source.
To avoid this early stretch, make sure to position your lights about five to seven inches above your seedlings. At the same time, remain vigilant to ensure that your plants don’t get burnt. Take evasive action such as raising the bulbs or lowering the light intensity if plants start showing signs of heat stress.
The type of lighting used can also influence how plants grow. Red and orange wavelengths, for instance, encourage long, thin stems, while blue light results in stockier plants. While cannabis benefits from the full light spectrum, emphasising the blue end during the vegetative stage can help prevent plants from growing too tall and falling over.
Nutrients Help Plants Stay Up
If you absolutely nail all these lighting issues and still find that your plants are stretching, you may want to check that you are providing enough nutrients. Nitrate-derived nitrogen, for instance, helps cannabis plants become nice and bushy, while ammoniacal nitrogen is less easily absorbed by the roots. Using the wrong nutes can therefore make a massive difference to the sturdiness of your crop.
Temperature and airflow are also important factors that can sometimes go awry in a grow room. Keeping the heat within the range of 19 to 20 degrees Celsius during the daytime, with a slight drop at night, will keep your plants nice and happy. Too much fluctuation outside of this optimal range can panic a plant, causing it to stretch as it attempts to find a more suitable environment.
Meanwhile, air circulation prevents mould and other infections while stimulating leaf movement, which helps to stimulate the growth of strong, thick stems.
How To Stop Potted Plants From Falling Over
Choosing the right pot for your pot is more complicated than it sounds. Growing containers need to be able to hold the correct amount of water and nutrients while also leaving enough space to ensure plants don’t become root bound. At the same time, too tall and narrow pots can leave plants vulnerable to falling over when disturbed.
The obvious solution is to use shallower, wider containers. However, doing so can result in vital nutrients becoming too spread out, meaning a plant’s roots may not be able to access them efficiently.
In such cases, it might be better to simply stabilise your potted plants using canes or tomato cages. At the same time, be sure to follow all of the above advice to prevent plants from stretching and becoming too leggy, as this will drastically reduce the chances of a plant fall.
Add Stakes to Support your Plant
Augment your plant’s growth by supporting it with plastic stakes. These allow the plant to grow with the help of a structure (I get by with a little help from my friends!)
Which Cannabis Strains Are The Least Likely To Fall Over?
As with all aspects of cultivation, genetics play a key role and should be the first thing cannabis growers consider when planning their crop. On the whole, Sativa cultivars tend to grow much taller than Indicas, which usually remain short and bushy.
This makes the latter less likely to be toppled, especially if they are being grown in pots. Opting for compact Indica strains like Bubba Kush or Wedding Cake may therefore be a good idea for those concerned about their plants falling over.
Similarly, autoflowering varieties generally remain much smaller than photoperiod cannabis plants. This makes cultivars like Girl Scout Cookies Auto and Jack Herer Auto highly resistant to falling over.