Revegging, or simply reveg, is exactly what it sounds; it is the process of reverting a cannabis plant that is already flowering back into its vegetative life cycle.
The cannabis plant has four primary lifecycle stages: germination, seedling, vegetative, and flowering. These stages are characterized by growth and development and determined by a combination of genetics, nutrients, and environmental factors.
Outdoor growers know better than anyone that cannabis plants initiate flowering based on seasonal changes. Short-day flowering cannabis plants (also known as photoperiod plants) have an internal calendar that triggers floral initiation into the flowering stage when there are fewer than 12 day-light hours. 1 2
Annuals are plants that grow in a linear manner transitioning from the vegetative stage to flowering once in their lifetime, and ultimately dying after flowering. Perennials on the other hand, are plants that have the ability to cycle between vegetative and flowering growth many times depending on environmental factors like temperature and daylight hours. 3 4
This is particularly interesting because cannabis cultivators have traditionally treated cannabis as a single-harvest, annual plant. The cannabis reveg technique calls into question whether cannabis is actually an annual or a perennial.
It’s important to note that not all cannabis varieties (cultivars) can be successfully revegged. Some cannabis cultivars will not tolerate the stress of being manipulated back into the vegetative growth cycle and can begin to display signs of hermaphroditism or even die. 5
Why reveg your cannabis plant
There are many reasons a grower may want to reveg cannabis instead of just planting from seed or clone. Some growers reveg cannabis intentionally with the purpose of multiple harvests from the same plant, some prefer to reveg with the intent of cloning during flowering, and others may have to reveg in extreme circumstances in an attempt to save a cannabis plant with desirable traits.
Here’s an undocumented personal example. In 2020 a licensed indoor cannabis cultivation facility was broken into and every plant was stolen…except one! The owner’s first instinct was an obvious one: Take cuttings (propagate or clone) from the one plant left behind to repopulate the facility. The only problem was that this plant was already well into flowering and cuttings are typically taken during the vegetative stage. The owner was previously told that they were to never take clones from or force a flowering plant back into veg. Willing to risk his only remaining plant, he not only repopulated his entire facility, but he revegged the same plant four times over two years!
How to reveg a flowering cannabis plant
Step1: Prior to revegging your plant, remove as many flowers and stems as possible, leaving only a few tiny ‘popcorn’ buds at the lower nodes on the plant.
Step 2: Adjust the grow environment from flowering conditions to vegatative conditions
Step 3: Watch and wait patiently for a few weeks, plant should revert from flowering back to veg.
The vegetative life stage is defined by the rapid and abundant growth of new leaves, stems, and other non-flowering parts. This is the key sign that your plant has successfully re-entered the vegetative stage.
Exact environmental conditions will vary based on cultivation method and the grow environment, but some cannabis plants can successfully be forced from flowering back to vegetation simply changing from flowering conditions to veg conditions. The optimal temperature, humidity, and nutrition a cannabis plant needs to thrive can vary from one cultivar to the next, but there are some general ranges to follow.
Flowering conditionsVegetative conditionsTemp:65-75 F(18-24C)70-80 F (21-27C)Humidity:40-50%55-65%Daily light ratio (light:dark)12:12 18:6
How long does a cannabis plant take to reveg?
After a few weeks of reverting the grow room back to vegetative environmental conditions, new vegetatitve shoots should begin to sprout from the flowering growth left behind. Since vegetative growth is nitrogen rich, changing from a potassium- and phosphorus-rich nutrient regime to nitrogen-rich regime can help promote the reveg process. 6
If successful, all floral growth will begin dying and falling off of the plant while new vegetative growth begins to appear more and more frequently. Once new vegetative growth is regular and healthy, the plant can be treated like any other plant in the vegetative stage.
Reveg cannabis plant considerations
Revegging is less of a science and more of an acquired technique that requires practice, patience, a good eye, and a green thumb. Actual growing times can vary as all cannabis plants are different, fine tuning the grow environment gives you the ability to adjust and monitor how your plant is responding. Older, woody growth can take much longer and is less likely to successfully reveg in comparison to greener, more tender growth.
While claims of revegging streaks range from a few years to over a decade it is important to remember that not all plants will reveg successfully. If you are curious about revegging a cultivar you like, it’s best to clone that plant and to try revegging the clone of your favorite cultivar, just in case things don’t work out.
Cultivated and photographed by Steven C Philpott
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