What cannabis leaves can tell you

Published Jan 25, 2019 05:34 p.m. ET

 If cannabis leaves could talk, we would all be growing fantastic buds. Learning to interpret the leaves will make you say hallelujah to a beautiful, healthy crop.

Let's look at the function of leaves. One could call them the plant's life support system. There are fan leaves and sugar leaves. Having green leaves is essential to photosynthesis; the green color allows the marijuana leaf to become the plants own solar panel.

You might be wondering; how many leaves does a pot leaf have? In general, we can say that the marijuana plant gives us three different types of leaves. The sativa with long slender leaves that can develop up to 13 fingers.  The reduced amount of chlorophyll accounting for the lighter lime color could be part of the reason for the extended flowering period of this strain. The indica has short, wide fingers usually 7 – 9  fat fingers on each leaf. If you like the idea of having a moderate amount of  leaves, this type would be the one to go for, as growing one might get you a 9 leaf plant, though it might also get you a 7 leaf weed plant. The darker deeper shade of green common to the Afghan origin tend to have extra broad fan leaves. The accelerated blooming cycle could be contributed to the darker color due to a higher chlorophyll content.

Ruderalis leaves only develop 3-5 slender fingers on quite thin leaves. Somewhat like the leaves on a young sativa plant. These are special leaves that can flower independently however many hours of light it receives. This plant has evolved into a process known as auto-flowering.

Each of these plants can succumb to a few diseases or shall we say ailments. The identifying of pests early on will keep your plants healthy. Look for the telltale sign of the dreaded leaf miners, noticeable from the tunnels they leave as they eat their way through your leaves.  Neem oil should be used if you spot any. Always be looking for eggs and larvae as well as the dreaded mold or fungal spores. Yellowing and rapid browning on a pot leaf from these sources can lead to the destruction of your whole crop.

Noticing that your leaves are turning yellow could be an indication of over fertilization and heat stress even nutrient deficiency. Yellow leaves often are from fluctuations in pH.  When the roots cannot reach all the nutrients they need from the growing medium, a situation known as nutrient lockout occurs, the most common reason for the leaves turning yellow.

There are many different uses for the leaves from our plants. Most people put the big fan leaves straight into the compost heap; they are very low in cannabinoids. However, an up and coming trend is to use them for your smoothies. This way you get all the health benefits without getting high. Teas are great also.  If you would like a little high at tea time, rub the leaves in coconut oil the adding of fat will activate the cannabinoids on the leaves.

The trim leaves known as sugar leaves, perhaps for the sweet gift they give us, who knows anyway these leaves which we get from trimming during harvesting are great for homemade concentrates and edibles. This trim can be converted into pretty good hash.

Remember to look at your leaves! They can speak to you if you’re able to listen to what they are saying.

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