How to tell if your pot plants are happy

Published May 14, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / OlyaSolodenko

In the early days, it’s relatively easy to tell whether or not things are going well. A seed either sprouts or it doesn’t, and most seedlings reach towards the sky once they break free from the hard shell. Of course, there are rare incidents, like when baby marijuana plants seem to self-exterminate with no visible reason behind it. Still, for the most part, you can tell how things are progressing when a seedling is young and making leaps and bounds towards its next phase of life.

When a crop gets a little bit older and better established, visible growth slows to a minimum, resulting in days on end where there doesn’t seem to be any change. This can be worrisome, and without a one size fits all health test to administer, growers are left to wait, watch and hope for the best, but there are some reliable indicators you can watch out for, noticeable signs that suggest you’ve got a happy and healthy plant in your care.

1. Vibrant colors

Cannabis plants are known for their vibrant green colour, but did you know they come in a wide variety of different shades and hues? Most are green, but some are blue, purple, black, or even gray, and these colors tend to become more prominent and vibrant when marijuana plants are happy and healthy. Dull shades or patches should be approached with caution, as they could show that something is wrong or needs correcting.

2. Damage-free leaves

Marijuana plants boast several different types of leaves, including fan leaves that are the furthest from the stem, which means that they get the least amount of nutrients. They are also the largest, most obvious and easiest to visually assess, which is why this is a great place to look for damage. Unexplainable cracks, veins, patches or holes indicate that the plant is in danger, be it due to pests, a lack of nutrients, or some other problem. However, if your pot plant has thick, luscious, vibrant whole fan leaves, then you can rest easy knowing that you’ve got a healthy one.

3. Consistent growth

Cannabis plants grow a lot when they’re small, but as they progress to the point of bud development, the daily increases in height and thickness do tend to cease. This is normal, but if at any other point, yours stops growing or producing new branches and leaves, then it might not be very healthy. A happy plant, on the other hand, will continue to grow no matter what phase of life it’s in, even if it’s only a small amount each day.

4. Bud production

Marijuana plants will develop flower only in the final 8-11 weeks of their life, at which point most of the foliage branches and extensive root system will be established. It will be flow at first, with tiny buds appearing along nearly every part of the plant, but it shouldn’t take long to see their size explode as they grow wider and denser with time. If a week or more goes by, and you don’t see any change in your plant's bud production, then you might want to check things like lighting and PH levels, but if they are progressing, then you’re probably well on your way to a successful harvest.

5. Thickness

Sativa strains are known to tower over most Indica varieties, with a thin, spaced-out look that appears more tree-like than bushy. Still, no matter what type they are, the thickness of these plants should improve over the course of the growing season. If they don’t, that’s a good sign that your plants aren’t very happy with their level of care, but as long as you see some progress in the thickness department, that should ease your mind.

How to make your marijuana plants happy

Now that you know how to tell whether or not your pot plants are healthy and happy, it’s time to take a moment to highlight some of the best ways to keep them in such uplifted spirits.

1. Make sure they get enough nutrients

Cannabis requires a much different type of plant care than the average veggie garden or indoor houseplant, and if you don’t provide it, your yield and the health of your crop will suffer for it. So don’t make this mistake and feed your marijuana plants all of the nutrients they need through things like food and sunlight.

2. Provide sufficient water

This species is a tropical one, so it loves hot, humid, wet conditions. For this reason, regular and generous watering and even misting can make your cannabis plants happy. Too much of a good thing can be dangerous but finding just the right amount can significantly increase your yield and the overall health of a cannabis crop.

3. Keep pests and disease at bay

Keeping deadly diseases and pests away is easier said than it is done, but it’s not impossible, as long as you’re willing to go through the motions to secure your cannabis plants. Things like coffee grounds in the soil, introducing ladybugs, and keeping sick plants away can do wonders. By placing barriers between your marijuana plants and the dangers and enhancing the natural security of your garden, you’ll be sure to make them happy.

4. Leave room to breath

Cannabis seedlings start out really small, which might make it seem like a good idea to grow several close to one another. Unfortunately, it won’t take long for them to branch out as they mature into full-sized plants, and by this point, they need room to stretch. If they don’t have it, they’ll be competing with surrounding plants for precious resources such as water and light, a fight that isn’t likely to leave them as happy or healthy as they could be if they were spread out sufficiently.

5. Maintain a consistent level of care

The key to growing any type of plant is consistency, as they tend to grow to rely on what we give them. So, if you’re pampering a crop for weeks and then leave for several days offering no water or replacement for your care, it’s very likely that you’ll arrive home to a very wilted-looking garden. No matter what your plans might be, plant care should always be made a top priority that is, if you want to ensure that yours reach their fullest potential.

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