Home Grow #7: Reading Leaves

Home Grow chronicles Dianna’s personal journey as a medical cannabis patient who registered and was approved by the Canadian government to grow cannabis in her home. Dianna’s experience is one grower’s point of view. Her ideas are neither the best or only proven methods for growing medicinal grade cannabis.

The leaves are talking, are you listening? Boveda blogger Dianna Donnelly examines her ladies’ leaves to check their health and well-being during their extended veg stage.

So by now there are cannabis leaves scattered all around my apartment. Last week in the laundry room, I deftly picked off a dried cannabis leaf from the bottom of a dirty sock! The best part is, I’m cool with it all. This free feeling is so counter to how I’ve felt using cannabis for the previous 16 years.

Fifteen years ago, I attempted to grow my inaugural androgynous sprout. It never matured to the point of shedding leaves. These days, my garden is lush with my three wise ladies and seedlings of various ages. Every which way I look, there are green leaves of distinct shades and sizes. Beautiful.

Cannabis growth in an apartment.


The branches are many and the leaves are dark green and massive. At almost 12 weeks old, my girls are growing leaves like it’s their job! Their leaves are powerhouses that turn sunlight into fuel—sugars, enzyme and chlorophyll.

More leaves sooner is just one more benefit of choosing cannabis clones over seeds. Clones are like babies who arrive with teeth!

Legitimate data is scarce to substantiate whether clones have a substantial leg-up over seeds. Many fellow home growers, however, have their own theories and opinions. Theoretically, a clone cut from its mother is ready to flower as soon as it’s fully rooted. (With some clones this can be as few as 14 days!)

Now, I don’t know if I’d flower a clone that young, but it is technically a self-sufficient plant that’s sexually mature. For a seedling to mature sexually, it takes much longer. How long? With so many different strains, each with their own genetic maturation timeline, it’s impossible to say for sure. However, between weeks four and eight, a cannabis plant will begin to show “pre-flowers” beginning at branch internodes. This is how a cannabis plant reveals its gender.

Male cannabis plant pre-flower.

Cannabis reveal party! (It’s a boy!!!)

2 versus 4 to 8

So in the end, looks like clones can save a home grower between one and two months depending upon the strain. That’s a big head-start toward harvesting your own medicine.

At each stage of growth, my girls have amazed me. They’ve simply blown my mind since their final transplant. As I indicated in my most recent post, I expected my girls to rest and recuperate for two weeks after their big move.

But rest, they did not! By the end of week two, they were literally bursting out of their closet. Branches were fighting for space to get closer to their “sun,” and pushing little green leaves out everywhere.


A look at how tall Dianna's cannabis was growing.

I was like Jack watching his beanstalk grow but too enamored to worry!  Before long, my girls were almost as tall as I am. (And I’m 5’3″.) Suddenly I was like a parent whose daughter’s growth spurt resulted in her towering over me!

Since my girls were much larger than most closet-grown cannabis plants, no doubt their vessels or phloem and xylem were working very effectively. The larger the plant; the larger the “vessels” through which a plant can transport energy! From a botanical standpoint, it’s clear why my girls took off at this stage. By now, my home grow routines were firmly set and consistent.

 Plants like the same light, the same food, the same water. Some can even get picky about what time they’re fed!



For plants, leaves are more than just decorative energy-makers. Leaves are multi-functional, their purposes varying and continually evolving. There is more than one kind of cannabis leaf and new ones always growing. Check out Seshata Sensi’s overview of Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Cannabis Leaves

If the roots are the brains of the plant, then the leaves are its hands and vocal chords. A leaf communicates the plant’s genetics, age, health and future. Every single day, cannabis leaves play show-and-tell. The best way for me to decipher a plant’s health is to examine and touch its leaves.

Stages of cannabis leaves.

  1. Fan leaves are the largest and oldest leaves on a cannabis plant. They may be the “chattiest” leaves of all. (No doubt because of their high content of chlorophyll resins and many other phytonutrients.) For a plant-dwelling pest or microorganism, a fan leaf is an inviting all-you-can-eat buffet. All it takes is a bit of munching for the leaf to show its wound to the home growers. No problems, here.
  2. A limp leaf is a thirsty leaf, but a yellowing leaf can be so much more. One of the main nutrients used during vegetative growth is nitrogen. When a plant is low in this nutrient, it will show it with yellowing leaves.
  3. Often home growers unknowingly over fertilize their cannabis plants because the roots don’t have a voice! But within hours, the leaves show their discontent.
  4. Leaves can also communicate Ph problems in the soil or water that can compromise a clone’s health and output.

Nutrient cannabis comparison chart

This chart helps home growers like me correctly identify nutrient-related issues. Info like this makes the rounds on gardening forums. I learn so much about home growing from other cannabis enthusiasts. Two trusted cannabis forums that I follow are: The Grower’s Network and the AutoFlower Network.


Thankfully, my girls’ leaves were communicating complete health and happiness!

The leaves undulate in the cross winds from the fans installed at either end of their home grow closet home. The movement makes the girls stronger and more resilient. (And able to produce more cannabinoids and terpenes! Good medicine, indeed!)

As my plants sway in the breeze, some days I feel more like a chaperone to a 24-hour cannabis dance party. Their growth mesmerized me so much that I let them veg for two more weeks. The knowledge of what comes next—though exciting—kept me from wanting my girls to grow up. Sometimes gardening can make us feel like parents.

– Dianna Donnelly

Dianna Donnelly is a cannabis educator, blogger, and freelance writer living in Kingston, Ontario. She counsels new patients on the safe and effective use of medicinal cannabis and believes that with enough time, cannabis, and coconut oil she can heal the world.

Dianna Donnelly’s posts are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Boveda of any of the products, services or opinions of Dianna Donnelly. Boveda bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this post or links to the posts. Contact Dianna Donnelly for answers to questions regarding her content.

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