Plants are beautiful. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and are magnificent to behold. But, there is something that I feel is overlooked far too often when we take in that beauty and that something is the stem.
I know, the stem is just the highway to the main attraction and really isn’t all that much to look at but the truth is, stems are excellent at telling you when something is wrong with your plant. The stem of a cannabis plant is no different, my lovelies.
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of a mass grow operation and have had the pleasure of walking into grow rooms so vast that it feels like you’re walking through a jungle and I can tell you that stem health can make or break an entire plant or worse, an entire crop.
Think of the stem of a cannabis plant as your skeleton, sturdy and firm, but fallible. To maintain the health of our skeletal structure we take vitamins and eat a healthy diet. The same can be said for the lovely cannabis stem, which, when healthy and happy, is thick and sturdy and able to handle the weight of its buds.
The color of the stem is also a powerful indicator of how the plant is doing as well. When the stem is healthy, it appears almost waxy and is a shade of green that can make your mouth water. When the stem is experiencing stem rot, it will start showing warning signs in the form of sickly, yellowish-brown shades that begin at the base of the stem.
If these warning signs are spotted, then it is possible that the cannabis plant is experiencing Damping Off more commonly known as Stem Rot. Stem rot is started by several varieties of seed- and soil-born, parasitic bacteria/fungi within the soil or hydroponic growing medium, and some of these little assholes can kill a cannabis plant before it even sprouts. Should the warning signs of root rot go unnoticed, the stem will exhibit more severe signs of distress by developing brown lesions which will eventually turn into super attractive reddish-brown sunken cankers.
Cankers are open sores on the stem of the plant and they typically form between the nodes on the stem. When these beauties show their faces, it is a sign of the beginning of the end for the plant unless foliar feeding is implemented. Foliar feeding is the application of liquid fertilizer on the leaves of the cannabis plant. Without feeding the plant in this way, the disease affecting the stem will prevent the adequate supply of nutrients to the leaves and flowers of the plant. Even with the use of foliar feeding, which is a “fix” until the plant has finished flowering, the stem will eventually lose its vascular strength and the plant will wilt and eventually fall over and it is a sad sight to behold...trust me.
Now, I know a lot of us stoners will say “we aren’t buying weed for the lumber” but, that lumber does deserve some love and recognition because, without a strong and healthy stem, flowering plants like cannabis would not be able to support the overall weight of their foliage and would collapse on themselves like a dying star. So, the next time you grow a plant or are just enjoying nature, take some time to appreciate mother nature's engineering prowess and enjoy the exhibition of might that is so proudly displayed by the trees around you.
Thus ends my love letter to the stem.