The 12/12 Method: The New Craze in The Canna-Cultivation World
Cannabis growers all over the world are constantly seeking new methods and ways of cultivation; this is especially true for indoor growers because of space restriction. They believe that having limited space should not hinder their plant growth and yield.
The introduction of a new method known as the 12-12 from seed method has gained wide acceptance among the indoor cannabis growers. The photoperiod cannabis strains usually flower based on their light cycle, this is usually recreated by the indoor cannabis growers to keep them in their vegetative phases and enable them flower. The 12-12 in the name refers to the 12 hours each of light and darkness the plant is exposed to immediately after germination.
The normal method which has been used for a long time is to use an 18/6 cycle in the vegetative phase which takes about 2-4 weeks before switching to a 12/12 light cycle for the flowering phase. However, the 12/12 technique skips the traditional vegetative phase entirely to force them into flowering immediately by making use of the 12/12 light cycle. Rather than the plant focusing on developing its size and leaves, it is tricked into flowering immediately in a bid to reproduce.
It is especially appealing for growers who have serious space problems as the plants grow much smaller and manageable than the regular plant which went through the vegetative phase. They are a lot less bushy and have fewer branches and can produce an average of 5 harvests per year in some cases thus making it more attractive for those growers who don’t have a lot of time. The 12/12 photoperiod growing method is an economical and space-saving way of growing your cannabis plant. It takes an average of only 7-9 weeks straight from seed to harvest which is quite faster when compared to the regular cannabis growth.
The 12/12 method of cultivation does not need any special care except changing the duration of its light cycles. The plants are still to be treated as always, receiving care and love from the grower as always in terms of growing medium conditions, nutrients, pest and disease control among others. This should be monitored most especially while the plants are young just like it would be during a normal bud cycle.
They are easier to maintain as there are far fewer leaves to handle while trimming thus freeing up your valuable time.
It allows for good light penetration to the plants and an easier maintenance routine as the plants are accessible and can be moved around.
They are capable of growing in a tiny area
it is money-saving as there is a reduction in demand for resources like water, nutrients, and electricity across the board and reduces wear and tear on the moving components.
It allows for efficient space-saving as the plants have fewer side branches and do not spread excessively like those grown using the regular method.
The 12/12 cannabis growing method has both its opponents and proponents as some believe that plants that are produced using this method give growers lower yields as a result of being unable to produce budding sites and have lower concentrations of THC. On the other hand, some growers say it is so effective that it produces very good and bountiful cannabis harvests with some of them claiming to get as much as one gram of weed per every watt of light used. Although this might not be the case, the 12/12 cannabis growing method has its merits and will continue to be adopted by many cannabis growers over time.
Resterilizing the grow area after every crop is important to keep it clean and sanitized.
Keep mold and mildew at bay by regularly checking your plants especially those in areas with less light.
The right cannabis plant variety is important for this cultivation method as some varieties like Indica are known to not work well with this method. Hybrids and the Sativa varieties are known to work well as their growth and root development make them ideal candidates for this method.
Powerful lighting and air circulation system ensures that your plants get strong lighting and enough air to develop well.
Your plants will notice any abrupt changes in lighting so use the right one such as the HPS lamps from the beginning and a poor lighting system will result in stunted growth.
It is important to keep in mind that a cannabis plant that has undergone the 12/12 method of cultivation will look different from your regular plants. This is because the photosensitive hormones on your plant make the largest cola its highest point and the plant will likely have a few short branches with only a major bud. However, this is where the difference ends as there is no means of identifying cannabis grown through this method through flavor and effect.
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!