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Is 12-12 From Seed Worth It?

Will the “12/12 from seed” cannabis growing technique give you huge yields? In a word, no… but there are benefits to initiating the flowering stage as soon as possible. Giving a 12/12 light schedule from seed germination is a great way to create tiny “bud stick” cannabis plants, which may be perfect for a small stealthy marijuana garden. When modified slightly, the same basic technique can create bigger plants and bigger yields while adding little to no extra time before harvest. And then there is the matter of genetics. Certain strains give better results than others.

The “12 /12 from seed” technique aims to initiate the flowering stage immediately after germination. Learn about cannabis light schedules.

This creates small “bud stick” plants that are typically ready to harvest in 3-4 months. Check out this beautiful example of “12/12 from seed” by Fuel.

If you haven’t heard this term before, “12/12 from seed” means giving your cannabis seedling 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day from the moment of germination. Providing a 12/12 light schedule initiates the flowering stage and causes cannabis plants to start making buds. The idea of this technique is to get seedlings to start flowering as quickly as possible to reduce the time to harvest. Once a plant has started flowering, most strains are ready to harvest within 12 weeks. The sooner you get a plant to start flowering, the sooner you get to harvest.

There’s just one major problem… 12/12 from seed often causes stunted growth and small yields. This results in yields that are often less than 1 ounce per plant, even under strong grow lights.

This seedling took nearly 4 months from seed to harvest under about 150W of fluorescent lights and yielded only 1/2 of an ounce.

I think it looks kind of cool, but 1/2 ounces is not a great harvest after waiting so long. I’ve found you can tweak the light schedule to double or triple your total yield per plant without necessarily increasing time-to-harvest or plant height. More on that below!

12/12 from Seed – What You Need to Know

Something that’s a bit confusing about 12/12 from seed is it seems like seedlings should start flowering immediately. They don’t. I’ve found that photoperiod seedlings won’t start flowering until they’re 3-4 weeks old no matter the light schedule. That means your harvest won’t come any sooner if you initiate 12/12 before seedlings are 3 weeks old. When you give the plant 3-4 weeks of 18+ hours a day, THEN switch to 12/12, you often get better results because plants are quite bigger when buds start forming, without adding much (if any) time to harvest.

Most seedlings won’t make buds until they’re at least 3 weeks old from germination. There’s nothing you could do to get this little seedling to start flowering.

You often get better yields by giving plants 18+ hours of light a day for the first 3-4 weeks. These plants got 18/6 until they reached this size.

I started the 12/12 light schedule right after the above picture. They ended up yielding a lot more than my plants that were given 12/12 from seed in the same setup. Yet they didn’t get much taller or take longer to harvest.

Here are those same plants a month later after they started making buds (plants double or triple in height after the switch to 12/12, especially young plants)

A few weeks of extra light, in the beginning, seems to achieve plants with longer and fatter buds (why was this plant defoliated?)

Plants reward you for giving them a little more time to grow. For example, a solid 4 weeks of 18/6 before 12/12 creates plants that are ready to harvest around the same time as a plant given 12/12 from seed (3-4 months, depending on the strain), but significantly bigger yields.

If you’re worried about plants getting too big, you can gain complete control of plant shape by topping and bending plants to stay flat when they’re young. This increases the amount of bud produced without raising the overall height.

Many people who give 12/12 from seed have chosen this technique to ensure plants stay as small as possible. That’s why it’s common to see these plants in very small pots (like solo cups). Just like with bonsai trees, restricting root space is an effective way to reduce overall plant size. Plants kept in solo cups rarely get bigger than one long bud stick, especially when given 12/12 from seed.

Restricting root size reduces plant size dramatically, especially when combined with 12/12 from seed. Look how big this plant is in relation to the lighter!

12/12 From Clone – When You Want TINY Plants

If you want to grow the absolute smallest plant possible, “12/12 from clone” may be a better choice than 12/12 from seed. A clone is a piece of a bigger plant that was removed and forced to grow roots. Since a clone is technically the same “age” as its mother plant, it’s pretty much a mini mature plant as opposed to a seedling. Because they’re already mature, clones start flowering almost immediately after getting 12/12. That can result in some REALLY small plants at harvest.

Unlike seedlings, clones will start flowering almost immediately after getting 12/12. If you start with small clones in miniature pots, you end up with short buds on sticks at harvest.

These “12/12 from clone” plants are cute and fun! Though not necessarily the most productive when it comes to actual yields.

Auto-Flowering Strains – When Time is of the Essence

Some growers want to use 12/12 from seed to get to harvest as soon as possible, but it’s not actually the best option for a quick harvest. If you’d like to be able to harvest plants even sooner than 3 months, consider giving autoflowering plants a try. Most autoflowering strains are ready to harvest just 2-3 months from germination. That’s less time than almost any photoperiod plant will take, no matter what light schedule you provide. Even better, autoflowering plants on average yield 1-2 ounces each (more if you care for them well), which is better yields than most “12/12 from seed” plants.

The “modern” version of 12/12 from seed is simply using an autoflowering strain. They don’t need special light schedules and are ready to harvest in just 2-3 months from germination.

Autoflowering plants are typically given 18-24 hours of light a day their whole life, which allows them to get bigger in less time than plants under a 12/12 schedule.

Auto-flowering strains are ready in 2-3 months from seed, and yield an average of 1-2 ounces/plant. You can yield even more with low stress training (LST) and great care.

Use “Sea of Green” (SoG) to Maximize Photoperiod Yields

If you want to grow photoperiod strains (or can’t get your hands on autoflowering seeds) but still want to produce big yields as fast as possible, the “Sea of Green” grow style may be a good option. Sea of Green is simply the idea of growing many small plants instead of just a few bigger plants. It works great for photoperiod strains to produce a quick harvest and great yields. It’s kind of halfway between “12/12 from seed” and a typical grow.

For this grow style, growers usually switch to 12/12 when plants are 4-6 weeks old. Since adding a little extra time to the vegetative stage often increases yields, you need to find a balance between getting to harvest as quickly as possible versus harvesting the biggest yields.

For SoG, wait to switch to 12/12 until plants are about this size or a little bigger (note: young plants like this can and will double or triple in height after the switch to 12/12)

SoG in Action – Make sure to fill the entire space under the grow light with plants and you will get a sea of buds!

How Much Weed Does One Plant Produce?

“How can I grow as much weed as possible?” You know that’s what’s on your mind when you ask or wonder about plant yield. Old and new marijuana growers (and scientists and politicians ) alike want to know how to get the highest yield per plant and per grow. Planning and practice can make a huge difference– especially when you are only growing one plant!

But, ultimately let’s not forget that the cannabis plant is a sentient being. She’s alive! Her growth is dependent on many factors and the same plant can produce a pound in one situation and a couple grams in another. Below we will detail the known factors that impact yield and potency, discuss where things can go wrong, and where things can grow right.

What is yield? (wet vs. dry yield)

Yield is the amount of weed you get when you harvest your marijuana plants. This is only the buds themselves, removed from the stems. This is most often measured once your marijuana buds are dried and trimmed. This is generally measured in grams, ounces, and pounds. The “lid” is not a used measurement anymore.

One of the most know measurements currently is an 1/8th (of an ounce) which is 3.5 grams. This is commonly found in dispensaries as well as something one might purchase from their friendly neighborhood weed guy. In this picture below, only two perfectly grown and cured buds were needed to reach this weight!

Wet and dry cannabis does not weigh the same.

Immediately upon harvesting, your buds will be quite heavy. That’s because, like humans, freshly harvested cannabis flowers are 75 – 80% water by weight. Once dried and cured, the actual harvest you get is about ¼ of the wet weight. So, if your harvest weighs out at an ounce at first cut, when it’s all said and done, you will have a quarter ounce of homegrown weed to smoke.

To estimate your dry yield from your wet yield, just multiply the wet yield by 0.25 to get an idea of what you’ll have to share with your friends (or stash away for yourself)!

This varies slightly depending on if you grew a sativa-dominant or an indica-dominant strain. Sativas are notoriously more airy so if you weigh your sativa harvest wet, you will get 20 – 22% dry. Indicas tend to be a bit chunkier so if you weigh your indica harvest wet, you will get 22 – 25% dry.

​​Yield vs. Potency

Yield is an important factor to consider because cannabis is an annual crop; there’s only one harvest per plant. After harvest, the plant is dead and returns to compost. Yield is the weight of the buds that you harvest. Yield should not be confused with the potency of these hefty green nuggets. Potency is the strength of the cannabinoids found in the trichomes on your cannabis buds.

In other words, you can have a high yield of low potency buds. Or you can have a low yield of high potency buds. In a perfect world, you’d get a high yield of high potency buds and we are going to discuss how to make that happen!

What to do to increase your weed plant’s yield?

Let’s get the most out of your homegrown medical (and recreational) marijuana. Best plant performance and yield are the result of growing the right strains under the right conditions. The most important factors being: light, plant density, fertilizer, temperature, duration of the flowering growth stage, and plant variety. In sum, the TLDR version is:
blast as much light as you can afford, grow less plants to fill your space appropriately, feed your plants just enough but not too much, keep the space not too hot and not too cold, don’t harvest early, and don’t buy shit genetics
(bag seed gamblers are included!)

Light to Increase Weed Plant High Yield

The yield from an indoor-grown cannabis plant largely depends on the light the plant receives. Cannabis plants, being photosynthesizers, receive all their energy to function from light.

The type, quality, and amount of light you provide your marijuana plant directly influences yield and should not be taken lightly (see what we did there?)

Sunlight is the most powerful light us earthlings have access to, so if you are able to give your plant direct sunlight, do it! Sunshine is also free, and that is a big plus. The only downside is that we cannot control cloudy or rainy days and winter makes it challenging to grow with the limited amount of sunlight (the freezing temperatures also don’t help).

Moving to an indoor grow environment, w hen it comes to lighting fixtures, it does not benefit you to get the cheaper option. And we know how challenging it is to pick the right light- – there’s so many options out there! (incandescent, CFL, HPS, LEDs)

We do not encourage growers to use incandescent light bulbs when growing indoors. To get enough energy for your plant, the bulb would put off too much heat and not be fun to see on your electric bill. CFL bulbs are equally useless. Stick to new technology to protect your plants and your wallet.

While HPS light fixtures are historically the choice for those who want to maximize their indoor cannabis crop harvest, they are slowly fading out from commonplace. An experienced grower can expect to harvest a gram of weed from each watt of HPS light provided to the plant. This means that if the light is a 400-watt HPS bulb, then 400 grams of weed could potentially be harvested. However, LED light technology is getting more advanced. LEDs are: 1) cheaper to run than HPS and 2) run cooler than HPS which also lowers the cost of air conditioning and 3) reduces the likelihood of burning your plants with too much light.

When choosing an LED light fixture for your weed plants you are up against a surplus of options and information.

The most important metrics to look for in a lighting fixture are PPF, PPFD, and energy usage/efficacy . If none of these are present, you may want to look at a different fixture.

PPF, PPFD, and photon efficiency are measurements related to PAR. PAR is photosynthetic active radiation. PAR is not a unit of measurement but instead defines the type of light needed to support photosynthesis.

PPF is how much PAR a lighting system produces each second. This is not often listed as it does not show how much of the measured light actually lands on your plants but is a useful metric to calculate how capable a light fixture is at creating PAR.

PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density) is the measurement of how much PAR actually arrives at your plant. This is a spot measurement and is typically highest at the center point beneath the light and decreases as light ripples outwardly. This changes with the distance away from the plant. Ideally, the higher the better but a single measurement won’t tell you much– you want the average taken from many measurements throughout the coverage area.

Photon efficacy is a way of defining how good a lighting fixture is at converting the electrical energy into PAR light that your plant can actually consume. This is not often listed in the spec sheet for most lights. Instead, most light manufacturers list the wattage, either total electrical watts or watts per square foot. Knowing the wattage is good to budget the main cost of your indoor cannabis grow. But the wattage doesn’t give the best information about the quality of light as watts are a measurement of the energy coming into the light fixture (from your electric bill) where photon efficacy is how good the light is at giving your plant energy.

We suggest paying attention to whether or not the company you want to buy a light from lists the actual wattage or the watt equivalent. (Hint: if they are only disclosing the watt equivalent, the light is most likely not strong enough for cannabis.)

LED wattage and incandescent wattage aren’t the same.

Many LEDs are marketed with their “incandescent equivalent” wattage, referring to the brightness of the LED. For example, a 10 watt LED may say “75 watts” on the package and in fine print say that the brightness is equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent. But for growing cannabis, you’re going to want an actual real 75 watts (or higher!) from your LED lamp .

Can I give my weed plant too much light?

The answer in fancy, science talk:

Effectively, within the range of practical indoor PPFD levels—the more light that is provided, the proportionally higher the increase in yield will be. Therefore, the question of the optimum LI [light intensity] may be reduced to more practical functions of economics and infrastructure limitations: basically, how much lighting capacity can a grower afford to install and run? – Victoria Rodriguez-Morrison, David Llewellyn , and Youbin Zheng

In plain English:

No, not really! For a vegging photoperiod cannabis plant, you will want to give her a minimum of 18 hours of light a day– some give 20 hours or even keep the lights on 24/7. We know that a lot of good growth happens during the dark period when the cannabis plant has time to rest so we suggest either a 18/6 or 20/4 light cycle for photoperiod cannabis in the vegetative stage.

Same goes with autoflowering cannabis, with an autoflower seed indoors, you’ll want to give it 20 hours light / 4 hours darkness each day.

When it comes to using light to maximize yield, maximize the light intensity to meet your budget.

Grow Less Cannabis Plants to Get More Weed

In some ways you may think that if you pop more marijuana seeds or get more clones that you will get a bigger harvest in the end. This is not always true.

Each cannabis plant wants her own space. Planting more than one seed in a pot leads to competition between plants for the shared nutrients and reduced yields. As seen in this photo below where two seedlings starved each other and both ended up dwarfed:

The size of the container that you grow your pot in matters, too. Outdoor plants have the potential of reaching extreme oak tree size when planted directly in good soil (which can be hard to find) and allowed to flourish in an open, sunny space. Indoor cannabis plants, become much like a goldfish in either a fishbowl or an aquarium or an ocean, you will grow a different size plant from the Mini Complete Pot Grow Kit (1/2 Gallon) to the Medium Complete Pot Grow Kit (5 gallon) or the Large Complete Pot Grow Kit (35 gallon) . The bigger pot, the bigger plant (and the more pot).

Growing in a grow tent, consider the total space as well as the size of your containers. It may sound like a good idea to pack a small 24’’ x 48’’ x 60’’ tent with as many pots as possible but this will limit the canopy space for your plants to fill. Best to give each pot space for the plant to fill out.

Growing less plants means:

  1. A longer vegetative stage. This means bigger plants. Bigger plants have bigger harvests and higher yield. When growing photoperiod cannabis indoors, it is time to transition your tent to flower when the tips of the leaves of each plant begin to touch. More plants touch each other faster.
  2. Less plants to manage! You know each one personally and can tell when even the slightest thing is off which means you can catch pests and diseases before they become a major problem. This also means that you will have more time for defoliation and advanced pruning techniques to maximize your yield!

In the same space with a 600 watt HPS lamp, you can either get 37.5 grams from 16 plants, 150 grams from four plants, or a pound from one single plant! Don’t compromise on plant density; the more space you give a single plant, the more she can blossom.

Best Grow Mediums to Maximize Harvest

Yield can also vary based on the particular grow medium you use. It has been clearly documented that using hydroponics to grow marijuana can result in 20 percent more yield compared to using soil indoors.

Hydroponics increases yield because it is the most efficient way to feed plants. The grower supplies all the nutrients that the plant would naturally need to find for herself in the soil.

But, hydroponic systems are also 1) more expensive to set up and run, 2) can take time (like several runs) to dial in a nutrient feeding schedule and 3) can go wrong if your plants are fed too much.

At the simplest level, fertilizers come in varying NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) formulations. Fertilizers that are richer in nitrogen are ideal for the vegetative phase, and those richer in potassium are better suited to the flowering phase. Growing hydroponically you need to know which nutrients your cannabis plants need during their different stages of growth and have that ready.

Whether you opt for organic, inorganic, or a mixture of the two is more of a personal decision. The important thing is that your marijuana plants receive enough nutrients to give you a higher yield per plant, but never too much. Unlike light intensity, there is a sweet spot for nutrients when it comes to growing marijuana. Too much of a good thing can negatively impact your plants. Unfortunately, finding the right balance between enough nutrients and excess nutrition usually comes with experience.

Soil grown marijuana can pull down some epic yields as well. But not all soils are created equal. For example, one person growing marijuana in loam soil may have a richer harvest since loam soil is easy for the roots to penetrate. On the other hand, clay soil could lead to a dismal yield since it doesn’t easily drain and can be quite compact, making it difficult for cannabis roots to grow.

That’s why a Pot for Pot specially formulated our Superb Soil to contain just the right amount of nutrients to maximize cannabis growth. With a Pot for Pot kits, there’s no need to add additional fertilizer because their soil has everything your plant needs from seed to harvest . It isn’t just easy to use, it’s optimized for marijuana growth.

Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.