Re-green your garden

An important process to be learned by the serious pot horticulturist is the revitalization of a budded and mature plant back to its vegetative state. This technique is called the “re-green” method.
The usual reason to re-green is to continue the existence of a highly desirable plant. However, the wise pharmer will clone all potentially desirable plants while they are in the veggie stage. Although sometimes this doesn’t happen or the clone attempt may fail, this isn’t really why you should be using the re-green method.

The re-green technique is most useful in determining which of your desirable plants are the most photo-receptive. Photo-receptivity refers to the way in which a plant is destined to respond to a light schedule. Some strains are more photo-receptive than others, meaning that they will respond more readily to changes in light-cycle timing.

Less photo-receptive strains become “stuck” in their bud or flower cycle, while extremely non-photo-receptive plants will flower regardless of light cycle, even when constantly under light. Although useful for guerrilla outdoor gardening when you want the plants to mature early, these non-photo-receptive varieties are difficult, if not impossible, to re-green. It is the more photo-receptive strains that we want to focus on when attempting the re-green method.

If a plant is more photo-receptive and easily re-vegetates, then it will more than likely clone well and grow more vigorously than one that does not. So the re-green method is capable of helping to determine which of your potential breeding and cloning stock will be the most productive. This is very important information for anyone seriously interested in breeding plants.

One of the main tricks to the re-green method is to begin the process as early as possible. The catch here is that it will take a certain amount of time in order to determine the desirability of a given plant. By desirability I am referring to the overall quality of the finished product ? how good does it taste? Look? Smell? Feel? How good is the finished product? Once a plant has declared its overall finished product desirability, it is time to begin the process.

Generally speaking, most Indica varieties will almost fully express their desirability by the sixth week in the flowering cycle indoors (11 to 13 hours of light per 24 hours). However, many Sativas may take up to nine or more weeks in the flowering cycle indoors to fully express their individual desirability.

Doing the re-green

The only preparation for the re-green process is to be sure to leave a few of the lower branch and leaf nodes of the plant intact during harvesting. Once the plant has “proven itself worthy” of re-greening, it is removed from the bud room and harvested down to above the lower, intact branch and leaf nodes. That is, the plant is harvested, but the lower branches and nodes are left for the new growth to (hopefully) rejuvenate from.

Sometimes all that is left at the bottom of the plant are buds. This is fine; simply leave the lowest healthy looking set of buds and harvest all above that point. (Note that this early-harvested bud can provide an excellent and somewhat rare finished product that usually exhibits a more “head” or “psychedelic” experience, worthy of connoisseur appreciation!) The remaining stump with a few nodes attached will need to be moved to a separate space, consisting of fluorescent lights set for a vegetative cycle (18 or more hours of light per 24 hours). The remaining nodes, leaves, buds and/or branches need to be as close to the fluorescent bulb as possible without touching the bulb.

If the plant was in a smaller container (two gallon or less) and is showing signs of root bind, then transplanting to a larger pot may be in order. But if the plant’s container is large enough and the plant does not appear to be suffering from, or near, root bind, then the same container may work fine. Either way, the next consideration involves increasing the plant’s nitrogen uptake. As in the veggie cycle, a high nitrogen, low potassium and phosphorous fertilizer is required to inspire fresh growth. The re-greener plant is kept on a high nitrogen fertilizer all the way through this process.

If the candidate plant is going to rejuvenate, the new growth will sprout from within one of the leftover nodes, branches or buds. I have seen some plants declare rejuvenation within a couple of days, while others may take a month or more to show new growth. Others will never rejuvenate at all. Usually the dictates of space will determine how long one will want to attempt the process for each individual plant. As space demands increase, the less desirable and slower re-greener plants will need to be thinned out accordingly. Once the highly desirable candidate plant has declared its re-green ability by sending out fresh green growth, it is time for the next stage in the process.

This stage consists of nurturing the fresh growth and eventually pruning away the old growth. All attention is focused on the fresh growth making certain that this growth has the best access to the light. As the new shoots develop, the old and matured bud and leaf material are cleared and trimmed from around it. Extra care needs to be practiced as these new shoots may be very delicate and fragile. A “surgeon’s hand” with a pair of precision scissors is most definitely an advantage at this stage. In time the new shoots will grow to dominate the remaining plant, stretching beyond the bud or leaf node that contains it.

More fingers

Generally speaking, the faster and more completely a plant expresses this process, the more photo-receptive it is. There is however, another criteria that helps to fully determine a given plant’s photo-receptivity ? its ability to fully return to a vegetive stage.

Experienced pharmers know that as a plant matures through its flowering cycle the number of leaflets, or “fingers”, per leaf decrease in number. A healthy vegetive plant may have seven, nine, eleven or more leaflets-per-leaf. (As a general rule of thumb, Sativa plants are capable of producing more leaflets-per-leaf than Indica. Some Sativa may have leaves with as many as 13 or more leaflets-per-leaf, whereas most Indica will never have more than five or seven.)

As the plant matures through the flowering cycle, the number of leaflets-per-leaf decreases from nine to seven to five to three and finally to one leaflet per leaf on the fully mature plant. During the successful re-green process this factor reverses itself, and the leaflet-per-leaf ratio increases as the new leaf sets present themselves, from one to three to five and so on.

In my opinion, the plant is not considered rejuvenated until at least five leaflets per leaf are apparent. The more leaflets-per-leaf that can be coaxed from the plant before cloning, the better. By the time the plant is back to showing at least five leaflets-per-leaf, the re-green shoots will probably be ready for cloning.

Cloning the shoots

Once the rejuvenated plant has produced adequate shoots that have successfully returned to a vegetive state, it is time to consider cloning of the shoots. At this point it is important that the shoot or shoots be developed enough to both produce a successful clone, and leave enough rejuvenated material on the re-greened “mother” to continue growth (and keep the mother alive). To satisfy both of these ends it is always best to wait until the re-green shoots are large and healthy enough. As with so many other aspects of this hobby, patience is indeed a virtue.

Once a shoot is satisfactory for cutting, any standard or desired cloning procedure will work. The “mother” plant, or any of its rooted clones, for that matter, may be maintained to act as a clone producer, or may be returned to the bud room to flower again. Generally speaking, most highly photo-receptive plants make excellent clone-producing mothers, due to their productive ability. As long as the proper conditions for the plants’ health are maintained, the plants will yield their superior productivity.