Connect with us

Grow Guides

What is Light Dep Weed? (Light Deprivation Techniques)



When you’re getting started as a grower, the first consideration is always “outdoor vs. indoor. Once that’s decided, there’s more to consider for maximum quality and yields while reducing the cost and carbon footprint of your greenhouse or outdoor grow. With our grow bible, you can immediately use techniques like light deprivation, more commonly known as “light dep,” to speed up your outdoor grow. 

Growing light dep cannabis plants taps into the plant’s sensitivity to changes in light hours to flip from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage (photoperiodism). Using this technique, outdoor growers can choose to force the plant to flower earlier than it would have done on its own.

The light dep technique isn’t all magic, though. There are a few downsides to consider. But overall, it’s a great tool to be aware of when using a greenhouse or outdoor grow. 

How does light dep work? 

With the light dep technique, you can bring the control of artificial lighting that indoor growers have outdoors. It lets you decide when plants flower instead of waiting on the seasons to change. It might take some extra diligence and adherence to a schedule or an automated system, but it can be worth the effort.

In a typical outdoor grow or greenhouse, your plants will start to flower when the days become shorter at the end of the summer or, in the case of autoflowers, automatically. If you don’t live in one of the prime locations for cultivating cannabis, this may not be an option, as fall can bring bad weather in many regions. 

Browse our selection of outdoor marijuana seeds to find the perfect strain for you!

Cannabis seeds that grow really well outdoors

Buy Outdoor Seeds

  • Easy to grow
  • Beginner friendly
  • Guaranteed germination
  • Grow guide available

By using shades, tarps, roll-up walls, etc., the light dep technique can help you get the most out of the grow calendar for your area by limiting the sun the outdoor and greenhouse plants get. Similar to indoor grows, growers do this to, in effect,  turn out the lights. With darkness coming earlier, the plants will start to flower when you want to instead of when the plant wants to. The light dep technique allows growers to utilize the natural sun while gaining the benefits of indoor grow harvest control. 

What are the benefits of light deprivation? 

Using light deprivation techniques for cannabis can be great for speeding up outdoor cultivation and completing a harvest in a short season. It’s also good for avoiding cold and rainy weather in the later summer. This can be a lifesaver if bud rot is an issue for you.

If you’re growing in areas with a long growing season, you can use light deprivation to stagger harvests (e.g. multiple harvests in one season) or run one group of plants with light dep and another traditionally to get the best of both worlds. Light dep can get you from seed to harvest quickly when growing photoperiod cannabis cultivars. 

Another pro of cultivating with the light deprivation technique is that it allows you to utilize the sun’s energy, reducing your costs for lights and your carbon footprint. Getting the outdoor sun in a light dep scenario is also great for giving your plants everything they need without worrying about the tech inside. In outdoor grows or greenhouses, the light dep technique has been in agriculture for many years. Its application to growing cannabis is helpful and sure to stick around. 

Check out the Marijuana Grow Bible, if you want to learn more about growing this magnificent plant.

Are there any cons to light deprivation? 

As great as light dep weed is, there are some things to consider that aren’t so great. First and foremost, by controlling the timing of your plants’ flowering phase, you’re reducing time spent in the vegetative stage. This means you’re getting smaller plants overall with fewer flowers per plant than full traditional outdoor grows or greenhouses. 

During light dep, your plants need to be in the dark. That means tarps or covers should stay on and not be interfered with, as bright light exposure can affect the transition from veg to flowering. Covering plants in some regions will generate additional heat and humidity in the garden, which must also be dealt with.

For example, if you’re running light dep in a warm location, you might need fans or other cooling to keep the temperature down. The downside of running this cultivation method outside is that you must be there every morning to open the plants and every evening to close them again. Doing this twice a day can be very time-consuming or labor-intensive, depending on the size and style of your grow. In some situations, it can also result in tears appearing on the tarp, which can cause light leaks.

Automation can free up some time but comes with associated costs and maintenance. While not perfect, the light dep technique can be the right method for you or, at the very least, a good tool to be aware of if you need to harvest earlier or maximize your growing season.

Want a great outdoor strain to try? Get our outdoor seeds mixpack for your next grow.

Outdoor Marijuana Seeds Mix Pack

Buy Outdoor Mix Pack

  • Amnesia Haze feminized
  • OG Kush feminized
  • Super Skunk feminized
  • Saves up to $138

What type of seeds are best for light dep?

Start with photoperiod cultivar seeds when planning to grow outdoors with the light dep technique. Since autoflowers don’t rely on the light to flower but instead mature with age, they are not suitable for this. 

Photos will switch to flower when you change the light schedule to 12/12. In addition to that, some cultivars may grow better under light dep conditions. In particular, those that are vigorous and fast-growing, since you’ll be cutting down on veg time, are best.  You want your plants as big as possible before switching to flower.

Choose a cultivar right for your region and consumption preferences. As long as it’s not an autoflower, you can’t go wrong trying the light dep technique. 

Here are some great seeds to use while practicing light dep:

Indoor vs. outdoor weed: Which is better? Find out all the answers in our ultimate comparison guide.

Indoor vs outdoor vs light dep – what’s the difference? 

There’s a pretty solid line separating outdoor and indoor cannabis, as cultivators and consumers all have their preferences. The line is being enforced by recent studies that look at indoor vs. outdoor setups.

If done well and in good environments, indoor flower will have higher THC, but outdoor flower will have higher terpene content and less anxiety-inducing THCA. If we throw light dep into the mix, the line gets blurry. No current studies take light dep into account, but I’d hypothesize that most light dep flower would be similar to outdoor flower as the light being used is the same.

In some controlled greenhouses, using light dep may be more closely related to indoor conditions, especially those supplementing with lights. This difference is still being investigated further by the community but largely comes down to your preferences, grow setup, budget, and perspectives.

Can you use light dep without a greenhouse?

The light dep technique is often used with greenhouses as they house structures that can be used to support and attach tarps on the roof and walls. This is not needed to benefit from the technique, though. Any outdoor grow can be set up to run light dep, but it may take a little extra work. You can build frames around your outdoor plants to hang light-blocking material or try various other methods to block the sun. The goal is to get the plants in complete darkness consistently. Different grow setups may offer different solutions. Remember to monitor your humidity and heat levels as they can run higher due to light dep. 

light deprivation technique using a greenhouse
Light deprivation technique using a greenhouse

Growing marijuana in a greenhouse is easy! Here our grow guide with tips and tricks for your next greenhouse grow.

How to setup light dep at home

In the cannabis industry, large greenhouses run automated light dep systems to run this process at scale, but it can also be done at home. The material for any setup can be the same. Start with black and white greenhouse plastic sold in big sheets or rolls. The material has UV-resistant white on one side and black on the other. Stretch it across your plants or attach it to frames that can be moved over plants outdoors

If you’re cultivating in the ground, you can build permanent frames to make the process easier. If you’re cultivating in pots, you could move them into a dark space instead of covering them. The solution for light dep will be slightly different based on your setup, but keep in mind that when you switch to flower, you’ll need to consistently keep the plants in complete darkness for 12 hours a day until harvest.

Make sure to set up a reliable and easy system to work with over time. For small grows, this can be as simple as a small wooden frame or plastic hoop house. If you’re looking for more detailed information on how to do this, I suggest reading our guide on setting up a light dep.

My free harvesting mini-guide has a handy cheat sheet, be sure to download it below!


The light dep technique isn’t revolutionary to agriculture but has started to gain traction in outdoor cannabis cultivation recently. It gives outdoor cultivators the ability to decide when to harvest rather than waiting on the seasons. This helps avoid inclement weather, potentially get more than one harvest out of the same season, and reduce energy costs by relying on the sun’s natural light. 

Using light dep is always a good option if your growing season is short or particularly humid and cold towards the end. While bringing many benefits to the table, there are some potential downsides to keep in mind with light dep like harvest size, humidity, and temperature and keeping your plants dark during the day. Light dep is used in all levels of cannabis cultivation but can be started simply and worked into regular home growing methods to have outdoor and greenhouse flower ready earlier in the season. 

Being able to harvest quicker means you can learn quicker, and there is always more to learn in the world of cannabis cultivation.

Keep on growing!

Source link

Continue Reading


Best Feeding Schedule for Autoflowering Cannabis Plants




Plants need food like the rest of us. And just like us, knowing what food leads to what outcome within the body is essential. Cannabis plants have different nutrients that help power other systems within them, and these can typically break down into micronutrients and macronutrients. The three main components you’ll see contributing to the primary growth of a cannabis plant are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, commonly referred to as NPK.

Proper nutrient feeding is crucial to the growth and development of any cannabis plant, including autoflowers. A well-designed autoflower feeding schedule ensures plants receive the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients at the right time and in the right amounts. In this article, I’ll walk you through the best nutrient schedule for autoflowers and provide some tips to maximize the yield and potency of your autoflowering cannabis plants.

How to plan a feeding schedule for your autoflowers

When to start feeding an autoflower plant? 

Knowing when to start feeding autoflowers is as vital as any other part of the growing process since this can make or break the rest of the grow cycle. Giving every nutrient to a plant five days past sprouting from seed could cause shock and hinder its growth for the rest of its grow cycle. It’s better to be safe than sorry about this, as feeding too early can cause stunted plants and minimized yields. You’ll want to start branching out from PH-balanced water around week 3. At that point, the plant has grown enough to harness and thrive from additional nutrients. 

Want to know how to germinate your autoflower seeds properly? Read our beginner’s guide to germinating autoflower seeds to ensure a proper start to your grow!

How often should you feed an autoflower? 

One of the most common mistakes growers make happens when they start overwatering/overfeeding their plants. While it might feel like more water equates to yield with a plant, that’s far from the truth. Knowing how often to feed* autoflowers can affect plant health, size, stress, and yield quality. 

*When watering with nutrients, this is often referred to as “feeding” the plant. 

You need autoflower seeds before you can begin feeding them! ILGM has some of the most popular and easy to grow autoflowering seeds available. Click below to see our collection!

Bergman relaxing while plant grows

Buy Autoflower Seeds

  • For new and experienced growers
  • Easy-growing, low maintenance
  • All popular cultivars

What are the benefits of feeding autoflowers?

An autoflowering cannabis plant can typically do just fine without additives, but when you’re growing for yield, it’s best to try and optimize your plant’s growth with nutrients and a feeding schedule for autoflowers. Feeding your autos makes them healthy, quick-growing, and more potent. You can even provide specific inputs that enhance aspects of the plant, like sugars and terpenes. 

Will training affect the feeding schedule? 

Training will not affect your autoflower feeding schedule, though I recommend only using Low-Stress Training methods to maximize your yields. High-Stress Training isn’t a viable option with autoflowering strains since the shock and stress of super cropping and topping hinder plant growth.

Nutrient requirements for autoflowers

The different types of nutrients available for autoflowering plants

Organic vs. Inorganic

A common argument in the growing community centers around organic inputs versus synthetic fertilizers (nutrient salts). Some claim that organic nutrients produce better-quality cannabis, and others claim that the cannabis plant can’t tell the difference between either of the inputs since a nutrient is a nutrient. 

Organic vs synthetic nutrients cannabis plant
Organic vs synthetic nutrients cannabis plant

For synthetic fertilizer, the argument in favor of this method believes inorganic nutrients are cheaper and more convenient, and the control over what nutrients you provide to the plant is more precise and controlled than organic methods. For organic fertilizers, the argument in favor believes organic fertilizer reduces the chance of overfeeding, which causes nutrient burn. It also helps keep the biome within the soil intact, which helps produce a more efficient nutrient pipeline for the plant. 

My opinion? You can go either way. Whatever method of fertilization works best with how you plan to grow should be the method you choose. Our cannabis Grow Guide is an excellent place to start.

Slow-release nutrients

An aspect of organic growing that’s celebrated is its slow-release nature. This means that nutrients from the inputs become available over time, which can pose a problem if your plant is nutrient deficient. Organic farming methods like Korean Natural Farming (KNF) and JADAM have developed strategies to deliver nutrient teas that aid in quick-release for nutrient deficiencies. 

Bottled nutrients

bottled marijuana nutrients
Bottled marijuana nutrients

There are a lot of producers of synthetic fertilizer on the market, and most will tell you that they have the secret sauce that leads to 3-pound plants and the highest quality cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Most give you those main three NPK components in varying amounts, typically with different additives.

If you’re interested in bottled nutrients, I highly recommend looking at ILGM’s line of nutrients, from seed to harvest; this will help you grow strong and healthy plants.

Marijuana Fertilizer

Buy Cannabis Nutrients

  • Fertilizer
  • Grow kits
  • Plant Protectors
  • Grow bible

What are the best nutrients for autoflowers?

Macro and micronutrients 

When dealing with cannabis nutrients, they are typically divided between macronutrients and micronutrients, each adding value in a different area for the plant’s growth. The plant requires macronutrients in relatively large amounts, whereas micronutrients are needed in much smaller amounts.

Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium are macronutrients responsible for chlorophyll formation, root development, water regulation, and much more. Micronutrients like Iron, Zinc, and Copper act as enhancers to macronutrients, helping boost different areas of plant development that result in a more robust, higher-quality cannabis plant.

Check out our guide if you’re looking for a more comprehensive overview of the best nutrients for autoflowers!

Can you grow autoflowers without nutrients?

flushing marijuana plants
Flushing a marijuana plant

It’s entirely possible to grow a plant using just water. Although no plant NEEDS additional nutrients, it will produce a much smaller yield with potentially less potent flowers. Nutrients give your plant the best ability to grow to its full potential while optimizing its ability to produce both potency and yield.

Giving your plant only water is called flushing, a practice to remove excess nutrients from the soil to leave your plants with tepid water. The two times growers typically do this is at the end of a flowering cycle or if a plant has nutrient lockup and needs to be flushed to receive nutrients again.

What does Epsom salt do for autoflowers? 

Epsom salt (also known as magnesium sulfate) is a combination of magnesium and sulfur, both of which help bolster cell wall growth and chlorophyll production. Think of Epsom salt as a booster to your plant’s other mechanisms for development, and it aids in making nutrients more bioavailable to the plant. Adding Epsom salt to your autoflower nutrient schedule can aid in plant growth and help maximize the short time you get to grow your autoflower.

Signs of underfeeding and overfeeding autoflower plants 

The cannabis plant is a visual organism that shows when it’s stressed or has nutrient deficiencies. Knowing the signs is half the battle to get your plant back on track to thrive. Depending on the severity, overfeeding and underfeeding can cause your plant distress and stunt its growth, affecting your end product.

Underfeeding occurs when the plant receives too little nutrition and can’t sustain its growth. Indicators of advanced nutrient deficiency are drooping leaves, yellowing leaves, and dry soil. Underfeeding also harms the plant’s immune system, making it susceptible to pests. Understanding a proper autoflower nutrients’ schedule helps keep your plants hydrated. 

Nutrient Underfeeding symptoms
 Nitrogen  Leaves turn yellow, curled leaves, small leaves.
 Phosphorus  Dark spots on leaves, curled leaves, slow growth.
 Potassium  Weak branches, rusty color on leaves, slow flowering.
 Calcium  Curling on lower leaves, slow flowering, yellowish-brown spots on leaves.
 Magnesium  Dried out leaves, rust spots on leaves, sickly appearance.
Autoflower nutrient underfeeding symptom chart

Overfeeding occurs when the plant receives more nutrients than it can absorb and use, resulting in a buildup of excess nutrients in the soil that causes “nutrient lockup.” Similar to underfeeding, signs of overfeeding include burnt or yellowing tips of leaves, twisted leaves, and drooping leaves. Additionally, the plant may exhibit slow growth and poor root development, which leads to stunted growth and smaller yields.

Nutrient Overfeeding symptoms
 Nitrogen  Greener leaves, weak branches, less water uptake.
 Phosphorus  Burned tips, thin leaves, spots on leaves.
 Potassium  Burned leaf tips, curling of lower leaves, spots on leaves.
 Calcium  Stunted growth, wilting leaves.
 Magnesium  Dark green leaves, stunted growth.
Autoflower nutrient overfeeding symptom chart

Feeding schedules for autoflowers

An autoflower feed schedule can be split into three stages: Seedling, Vegetative, and Flowering. Each step needs different nutrients to accomplish different aims, whether that’s to help with blooming, vegetative growth, or resin production.

Seedling Stage 

autoflower seedling stage
Autoflower seedling stage

At the beginning of an autoflowers life, it can be highly fragile since it’s actively growing out its uptake systems. Think of this like giving a newborn a steak to eat; maybe they need protein, but the delivery method is too harsh for their stage in life. As a seedling, cannabis plants need specially diluted starter nutrients; this helps bolster growth while making sure not to overwhelm the plant and shock it before it gets the chance to grow.

Read our guide on the best soil for autoflowers to ensure you make the right choice for your seedlings and their long term success.

Once your seeding is growing and can handle receiving more nutrients, you can consider giving your seedlings a foliar feed to ensure you aren’t heavy-handed in your feeding. If you want to start with that feed after PH-balanced water, using a 3:1:1 NPK ratio helps spur root growth and chlorophyll production to kickstart your plant’s health and development.

Vegetative Stage 

Vegetative stage of cannabis plant
Vegetative stage

During the veg stage, the plant mainly looks for nutrients to facilitate growing stalks and spreading its roots. In vegetative nutrient feeds, Nitrogen is the main component of chlorophyll production and plant growth. To bring this back to human terms, think of this period like a growing teenager who can’t ever get enough to eat!

Like the seedling stage, you’ll want to use nutrients with an NPK ratio of 3:1:1 to help boost root development and plant growth. 

Flowering Stage

Flowering stage
Flowering stage

Your flower stage is when you’ll move from feeding your autoflower for vegetative growth to feeding for bloom growth, focusing on the flowers and their secondary metabolites. Growing for vegetation at this stage will result in a high leaf-to-calyx ratio, which means less medicine and more harshness in your smoke.

A formulation of a 0:3:3 NPK ratio will aid your autoflower in creating robust, healthy flowers filled with your favorite cannabinoids. 

Below, I’ve put together an autoflower feed chart to help guide you through your feed schedule:

Autoflower Feeding Chart
Week Feed
Week 0 (Germination) PH-Balanced Water
Week 1 (Seedling) PH-Balanced Water
Week 2 (Vegetating) 3:1:1 (25%-50%)
Week 3 (Vegetating) 3:1:1 (75%-100%)
Week 4 (Vegetating) 3:1:1 (100%)
Week 5 (Pre-flowering) 1:3:2
Week 6 (Flowering) 1:3:2
Week 7 (Flowering) 1:3:2
Week 8 (Flowering) 0:3:3
Week 9 (Flowering) 0:3:3
Week 10 (Ripening) PH-Balanced Water
Week 11 (Flushing) PH-Balanced Water
Autoflowering Nutrient Feeding Chart


Feeding schedules are an integral part of growing your autoflowers; knowing when to start, stop, change from nutrients to water for flushing, and knowing what nutrients you want to use makes all the difference to your plant’s growth. Macronutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium are the main elements that drive plant growth, whereas micronutrients like Iron, Zinc, and Copper are supplemental and encourage those same growth systems. Proper feed schedules and knowing how to dose your feeds properly can lead to high-yielding, potent, and healthy plants. 

Know how to perfectly time your autoflower harvest so you can maximize your yield. Download our free mini harvesting guide.

FAQs About the autoflowering feeding schedule

When do autoflowers produce trichomes? 

Typically, autoflowers will begin to show trichomes early in their flower stage. Once the plant transitions from vegetative growth to focusing on flower production, its energy starts to be routed toward resin production. Once the pre-flowering stage begins after the plant flips, you’ll see trichomes shortly after buds show themselves.

When should I start autoflowering nutrients?

The best answer to how to feed autoflowers is not to start too early; around 1.5-2.5 weeks in, you should begin providing it nutrients. This can vary depending on your seedling’s performance, but it’s best to play it safe and wait till later so your plant doesn’t get a nutrient burn or lock up and stunt its growth. 

Do autoflowers need darkness during flowering? 

No! Due to the unique characteristics of autoflowers, they do not “require” any amount of darkness while they’re being grown. While there tends to be a sweet spot of 6 hours of darkness during flower to maximize autoflower yields, there isn’t a hard and fast rule about light splits. Some darkness can be helpful so your plants can “sleep,” but there’s far more liberty with a lighting schedule for autoflowers than photoperiod plants. Some growers have given their autos 24 continuous hours of light.

Source link

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2021 The Art of MaryJane Media