Some growers flip to flowering when plants are just a few weeks old and a few inches high. Other growers may wait a bit longer to achieve bigger plants. If in doubt, I recommend waiting an extra week for the best result 🙂
Many growers also “top” their seedlings by removing the tips of seedlings when they have about 4-6 pairs of leaves. Topping can increase the number of buds sites, but if you have enough plants, you will have enough bud sites. It’s often easier to grow fewer plants, so for a grower with time concerns, you can get a lot of the benefits of Sea of Green with fewer plants by simply topping your seedlings and giving them an extra few days or a week in the vegetative stage.
“Sea of green” is the idea of growing many small cannabis plants instead of just a few bigger plants. The advantage is that you can get to harvest more quickly because each plant doesn’t have to get nearly as large to support the same total number of bud sites. If each plant only needs to get half as big, it takes much less time to harvest!
Another example of a small SoG setup.
In some parts of the world, SoG isn’t as popular as other training techniques because growers have legal limits on how many cannabis plants they can have at any one time. SoG uses a lot of small plants instead of training fewer big plants to fit your space so, if you have plant limits, this is not the best use of your space.
Cons of Sea of Green.
When using SoG, it’s up to you to decide how many plants and how big you let them get before you switch to the flowering stage.
Here you can really see the SoG in action after all the plants start making buds. Even though each plant didn’t get very big, there are many, many bud sites! They completely fill the entire space!
For this grow style, growers usually switch to the flowering stage when plants are around 4-6 weeks old. Plants switched sooner than 4 weeks may not have enough time to get the most out of an SoG setup. Adding an extra week or two of veg, so each plant gets bigger can make a pretty big difference in yields too, so it’s about finding that balance between getting to harvest as quickly as possible versus harvesting a lot of bud.
Flowering was initiated right after the above picture. Here are those same plants a little over a month later, after they’ve started making buds.
These plants were in the vegetative stage for about half as long as the plants in the previous picture, AND they had significantly higher yields!
Note: To add another confusing term into the mix, ScrOG (Screen of Green) is something completely different, and involves using a screen to grow a flat canopy of buds. A lot of names for common cannabis growing techniques don’t necessarily seem all that well thought out 😉
Thanks to GIVE_ME_ATTENTION for making this moving gif of an SoG in action!
You often don’t need to do much plant training in an SoG setup, so you spend less time each week that would have gone into training if you wanted to achieve similar results with a bigger plant.
Since each plant doesn’t get very big before the switch, the time to harvest time comes a few weeks earlier. However, since there are so many plants and bud sites, you get the same yield as you would from bigger plants.
Another Example of Sea of Green.
Pros of Sea of Green.
The setup in the picture above produced a fantastic amount of high-grade weed! However, the setup in the picture below produced even more in much less time!
These five auto-flowering plants started at the same time in this DWC setup. Without any training or special time schedules, they grew into this at harvest!
“SoG” (Sea of Green) refers to growing a “sea” of many marijuana plants, then putting them into the flowering stage when they’re still small.
SoG setups are sometimes popular with those growing many auto-flowering strains since these strains cannot be trained with most of the traditional plant training methods.
SoG is how you achieve plants that look like the one below at harvest (why was this plant defoliated?)
Here’s an example of SoG in action during the vegetative stage using those eight seedlings. Notice how quickly the whole space got filled up since there were so many plants. It went from empty to completely filled in about four weeks. By the last picture, all eight plants are already flowering. Each of those plants will be able to support a fat main cola in this setup, and it took less time than if the grower had tried to fill that space with just one plant.
Notice how much taller the plants are at this stage. In an SoG setup, make sure you don’t underestimate how much your plants will stretch after being switched to the flowering stage! Sativa strains and very young plants that switch to flowering are well-known for stretching a lot!
How to Make Your Own Sea of Green.
For SoG, wait to switch to 12/12 until plants are this size or bigger ( note: young plants like this can and will double or triple in height after the switch to 12/12).
After the switch to 12/12, plants start stretching and getting bigger.
But for those who can grow as many cannabis plants as they want, SoG may be a fast choice to get an even canopy and a lot of buds with very little plant training!
This article provides a detailed overview of SOG and offers tips and advice on getting the best from this cultivation method.
SOG is a low-stress growing technique that involves cultivating a huge number of small plants in a limited space. As the name suggests, your crop will look like a sea of green plants. Those who use this method also enjoy a shorter growing cycle. As a result, they can increase their number of annual harvests.
The limited space required means that only small grow rooms are required. It also helps you get the best from your grow lights.
What Is the SOG Growing Method?
Once you have gained enough experience, it is possible to harvest every 45 days or so. In theory, you could benefit from eight harvests per calendar year! Consequently, the SOG method is ideal for commercial growers. If you’re growing for personal use, you don’t need too many harvests. However, SOG ensures you don’t have to wait long to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Here are a few things to note with SOG:
As experienced growers know, not every technique is suitable for the thousands of available cannabis strains. An increasing number of people find that the best SOG results come from cloned plants. This means using cuttings from a mother plant to get genetically identical plants. When you use such cuttings, you derive the benefit of equal growth rates.
That said, if you use the right lighting and genetics, you could get approximately half an ounce per plant. In the best-case scenario, you could benefit from up to an ounce per plant. If you use the SOG method to grow 20 plants per square meter, your yield could exceed 20 ounces in this instance.
The number of plants per square foot that you can cultivate with SOG depends on your growth space’s size. Once you calculate that, you can decide how many plants you want and the size of the pots.
Clones also have the advantage of becoming mature faster than seeded plants because they are already more developed. With clones, your canopy is the same height and produces the same number of flowers.
Tips on Using the Sea of Green Method.
When you’re ready to proceed, force the plants into the flowering stage by exposing them to a 12 hours of light, 12 hours of darkness schedule. Once you see a dense canopy of buds forming, trim the branches underneath and use them as clones. Wait until enough pistils have turned brown or the trichomes become cloudy before harvesting.
With the sea of green growing method, you force your plants into the flowering phase early. This is because you only need the plants to reach half their full size to ensure cola development. As well as having a shorter vegetative phase, the flowering cycle is also cut short.
Once you have chosen your cuttings, make sure they are exposed to at least 18 hours of light a day until they are 10+ inches tall. About two weeks after transplanting your clones into bigger pots, tie a bit of string to each branch. Next, gently bend the branch until it sits flat rather than reaching up. Take the string off once the branches thicken during the flowering stage.
Experienced growers often top their seedlings by removing their tips once the plant has at least four pairs of leaves. By doing this, you can increase the number of bud sites. However, if you have several plants already, you don’t need to top them because you already have enough bud sites.
How Many Plants per Square Foot Can You Expect to Grow with SOG?
Please ensure that each plant has sufficient soil to develop a healthy root system. If you plan to cultivate 10-12 plants per square meter, use pots with a capacity of 7-11 liters, which equates to around 2-3 gallons.
Even so, the flowering time depends on the cannabis strain. If you use cannabis plants with a lengthy flowering period, you lose speed as a primary SOG technique benefit. In general, an indica is a better SOG strain than a sativa due to its faster flowering time. Also, sativas grow taller, which is not what you want when using the sea of green technique.
In theory, you could benefit from eight harvests per calendar year!
Nonetheless, you’ll find that indica-dominant hybrids are a better option. Here are five to bear in mind:
Cultivating marijuana indoors with artificial light is convenient and could result in high yields. You can use a multitude of tactics to further boost your crop’s level of cannabis production. The Sea of Green (SOG) method is one example.
The clones are often selected from a specific phenotype of a strain which is particularly suited to the sea of green system. One other advantage of growing sea of green marijuana from clones is that you are guaranteed a grow room of uniform, identical plans with the similar nutrition needs.
Type: Feminised seeds.
Once in 12/12 light conditions your plants will bloom with much of their resources focussed on the main cola. Don’t expect your plants to reach the same height as normal, remember they are growing in small containers with no veg time (or very little veg time). Side branching will be limited too. But with so many extra plants, yields should be higher than average.
When and how to start your sea of green grow.
Many SOG growers use cuttings/clones from a variety which they already have good experience with. Not all strains are suited to producing a dominant main bloom without a significant period of veg growth. To get the maximum sea of green yields you need to use a strain that produces heavily and rapidly under sea of green conditions. In the very best commercial sea of green results all you can see at harvest is a room full of short plants each with a full, heavy main bloom.
The committed sea of green grower is aiming for maximum yields, preferably in the shortest possible time frame. Therefore it makes little sense to cut corners with low quality grow lights, poorly designed grow rooms or unproven genetics.
Plant type: Sativa.
With so many plants packed into your grow room, you can’t expect lavish side blooms nor do you really want them in a sea of green system. Only the main bloom will get the space and light required to reach full potential. Many growers remove the side branches that are below the canopy to allow the plant to focus growth on the main bloom. The side branches and shoots below the canopy can be removed and used as new cuttings for your future sea of green grows. The presence of separate rooms for veg and bloom greatly simplifies the life of the sea of green grower.
THC: Extremely High.
Gorgeous-looking buds of Kerosene Krash grown in SOG.
How much does a sea of green yield?
LED delivers improved quality, reduced heat, superior reliability and a superior light spectrum. An LED bar system is ideal to get even light PPFD levels from corner to corner.
If you select the most suitable genetics, the sea of green technique is a way of producing rapid and heavy crop cycles. Little time is spent on vegetative growth, making harvests faster and more frequent.
A sea of green pot size of 4-6 litres is not uncommon. The small container size allows you to compress more plants into your grow space than usual. Often sea of green specialists use square plant containers to allow them to utilise their space more efficiently and cram in as many plants as possible.
Step 2: Vegetative growth in SOG.
Most sea of green growers prefer growing feminised photoperiod strains rather than growing autoflower seeds. Yes, in a small container an autoflower will grow in a smaller structure with a lower height and reduced side branching. However you can’t force an autoflower straight into bloom. The plant, rather than you, chooses the moment to bloom.
THC: Very High.
The sea of green growing method in soil is perhaps the easiest way to start. But many hydroponics (soil free) growing specialists use sea of green hydroponics. This has the benefit of faster growth, but it may come with added complexity as you try to set up e.g. several ebb & flow systems in a small space with limited access around your plants. If you can manage the extra demands that come with a hydroponic sea of green set up then you will benefit from possibly faster harvest cycles and increased yields.
Flowering: 8 weeks.