Don’t Leave ‘Em Hangin’!

Understanding the anatomy of your plants will lead to a better understanding of plant processes and how you, as the grower, can aid them. Last week we briefly discussed roots. This week we look at leaves. And next week, we’ll continue to build upon this discussion and get into photosynthesis, which, if you are anything like me, gets you super excited. Remember, only through science can we achieve perfection in horticulture!

Leaves are instrumental in plant development, as they are the sites of photosynthesis and food production. Thus, these processes are directly correlated with plant yield and trichome production (i.e. potency).

To begin, leaves use light energy to combine carbon dioxide (CO2) with water (H2O) and nutrients to create sugars (or plant food). In order to breath in CO2, leaves must open tiny little holes on the underside of the leaves called stomata. The stomata are located on the leaves underside for obvious reasons, such as dirt and water cannot clog them as easily, plus the shade helps prevent mold and mildew from forming on top of them. On one square inch of leaf underside there may be as many as 50,000 stomata.

When evaporation of moisture occurs within the leaves, it allows for more water to be drawn up from the roots. When water is brought up the plant from the roots sugars are sent down to be stored. The more water that is drawn up, the more nutrients come up with it. This leads to healthier leaves and more energy production. More energy means more plant growth.

Leaves Tell All
Because leaves are the most visible part of the plant, they provide us with an easy-to-read chart of the plant’s progress. Color variations or physical deformities tell us about mineral deficiencies within the plant. The size and thickness of the leaves tell us about its food production and reserve energy.

Leaves do not repair themselves, so they are an excellent indicator as to how well a plant is doing. This is also important to remember, because when a sick or dead leaf is seen, it is best to remove it because it will no longer function properly and will use more energy than it can produce. Pruning or removing dead and discolored leaves is an effective way to promote efficient energy production. Be careful, however, not to remove more than just a couple of leaves per day so as not to shock the plant or cause unneeded stress.

The Importance of Pigments
Photosynthesis is a miraculous process whereby specialized cells in the leaves harvest light energy for use in sugar production. These specialized cells are known as “pigments” and each pigment is responsible for absorbing a specific frequency (color) of the light spectrum. Chlorophyll-a and –b are the most well known pigments, but carotene, phytochrome and phycobilin are also very important. These pigments have the amazing ability to extract energy from light by converting photons to electrons, which then can be used in the carbon-fixing reaction that creates sugars and starches (or plant food).

Stay tuned for an upcoming digital grow piece on the specifics of photosynthetic processes and how exactly the anatomy of the cannabis plant, along with external factors such as light and CO2, turn the world into plant food and turn plant food into high-grade marijuana!

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ‘em over to Nico at Edit.Grow@hightimes.com and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!