Any changes during the flowering stage can be a cause for concern whether you are a rookie or an experienced grower. If you’re wondering whether it is normal for leaves to die during flowering, this article should put your mind at ease.
Is It Normal for Leaves to Die During Flowering?
It is normal for cannabis leaves to die during flowering. At flowering, the plant uses the nutrient reserves from the leaves to spur bud production. Though the plant doesn’t use a lot of nitrogen at this stage as it does phosphorous and potassium, it will still draw nitrogen from the lower leaves, turning them yellow before they fall off.
During the final stages of flowering, your plant’s job is to protect the buds. It sheds the fan leaves to focus on growing bigger buds and produce more resins and oils. The buds are also the plant’s main focus because they carry the seeds that the plant needs for posterity. As the plant reaches maturation, the buds ensure continuity of the plant-line.
Your plant will essentially self-cannibalize by getting rid of disposable parts, such as the fan leaves, so that it can concentrate its energy on bud formation.
Most growers view yellowing leaves as unsightly and do all they can, including adding more nutrients to ensure the plant retains its pleasant green hue. This might work for you as it ensures the plant has enough nutrients and won’t stress draining the leaves. Most growers who adopt this method prefer to feed their plants until they begin flushing. The motive is to continue spoon-feeding the plant— guarantee enough resources to bud production. The problem with this method is that you risk producing harsh smokes.
Naturally, the plant will get rid of anything it doesn’t need to focus its energy on the all-important buds. Whether you add nutrients or not, the plant will shed off the fan leaves in the final stages of flowering to prevent itself from spending too much energy synthesizing nutrients in unimportant parts.
Will the Leaves Still Die During Flowering If I Grow My Plants Indoors?
Whether you grow your plants indoors or outdoors, the plant still needs a lot of food for flowering. No matter what you do in the grow room, your plant will follow its natural path of germination, vegetation, and finally flowering—where it sheds the fan leaves.
When growing cannabis plants in grow rooms, every detail is controlled. As you approach the end of the flowering stage, the leaves die to signal that the plants are almost ready for harvest.
Towards harvest—two weeks to harvest— we flush the plants to get rid of extra nutrients that remain in the buds, making the smoke harsh. Overloading the plants with nutrients to prevent the leaves from dying during flowering results in an unnatural color and may negatively impact the flavor.
Why Do Leaves Die During Flowering?
Botany 101; when any part of the plant is not making positive energy or nutrient contribution to the plant’s growth, it dies off. This process is normal for all plants, including cannabis.
Female cannabis will focus all its energy and resources on bud production during flowering. Thus it will use all the resources available and draw more from the reserves in the fan leaves. The fan leaves become nitrogen-deficient, turn yellow, and die.
The leaves turning yellow and dying helps your plant in two ways. First, the plant conserves the resources that could have been lost on the fan leaves. This energy will help in fattening the buds— improving your yield. Secondly, the dying leaves open up the plant, exposing the buds to the lights and improving airflow within the plant.
Exposure to the light helps the buds grow healthier and bigger while superb airflow within keeps bugs away. A flowering plant that grows in these conditions gives high-quality buds because the optimum conditions potentiate the flowers. And since the plant shall have drawn all the nutrients from the leaves, the flavor and taste also improve.
When Should I Be Worried?
You should be worried if you are losing a lot of leaves and not just the bottom fan leaves. The flowering stage uses up a lot of nutrients. It is also the stage when any nutrient deficiencies become more pronounced. You also want to make sure that you’re watering your plant adequately as moisture stress— either overwatering or underwatering will cause yellowing.
If the loss is happening too early in the flowering stage, the plant will be unable to synthesize enough nutrients to keep fattening up the buds. Losing a lot of leaves can also be an indication that the plant lacks specific nutrients.
The leaves may also die during flowering if there’s a glitch in the light schedule. Light burn can stress the plant, dehydrating the leaves and killing them. During the flowering stage, give your plants 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
If you notice your plant is looking jaundiced and the stalk is starting to turn brown, the chances are high that you are overwatering your plant. Consider reducing the amount of water as you let your plant drain whatever’s left in the medium.
Should You Prune the Leaves That Die During Flowering?
At flowering, you shouldn’t put the plant through any stress. Any mishap that might lead you to bruise the plant will reduce your yield substantially. The plant doesn’t have time to heal. You should, therefore, let the plant shed its leaves naturally. But if you decide to remove the leaves, only touch the dead ones— help the plant drop them off. However, do not pluck anything on the upper 3rd section of the plant—stick to the dead fan leaves. And it’s not pruning— if you can’t pick the leaves out by hand— if you have to use a tool, you probably shouldn’t remove them. You don’t want to shift your plant’s energy from bud production to healing.
There are some exceptions to this rule. When you’re growing a bushy strain, you might be forced to cut off the leaves blocking the light to give the buds a boost of light as they inch closer to harvesting. But still, keep the invasion to the minimum. Don’t chuck out huge branches because massive leaf loss can reduce photosynthesis activity.
Dying leaves at flowering is mostly a harmless process. The plant is merely shaking off the extra burden so that it can channel its energy to what matters— bud development. If you’ve watered and fed your plant well, the dying leaves at flowering should be a moment of celebration.