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Why is my Cannabis Plant Growing Tall and Skinny? Preventing Cannabis Stretchy Stems

why is my cannabis plant growing tall and skinny

Why is my cannabis plant growing tall and skinny? This is a question that many growers may face early in the growth cycle.

When young cannabis seedlings are deprived of light, they frequently exhibit symptoms of various other issues. Still, if they grow extremely tall without producing any leaves, it’s a clear indicator that they require a brighter atmosphere. To raise the amount of light, you must purchase stronger grow lights or relocate your existing grow light nearer to your plants.

Reasons why your cannabis plants are stretching

A cannabis plant can stretch for various reasons. You can’t always stop a plant from producing long stem cannabis, no matter how hard you try. Here are answers to the general question of ‘why is my plant growing tall and skinny.’ Let’s start with the most primary triggers right away.


Sometimes the issue is the strain of cannabis you are attempting to grow. Some cannabis stretching can be caused by other factors like lighting or the amount of time it is allowed to veg. However, there are a few seedlings stretching cannabis strains. If you have a limited cultivation space that is not very tall, you should avoid certain cannabis plant strains that are recognized to grow very tall. Agent Orange, Amnesia Haze, Blueberry, Bruce Banner, and California Dream are naturally cannabis stretching strains.

Lengthy vegetative phase

Another reason for leggy cannabis seedlings is that you have allowed your plants to remain in the vegetative stage of cannabis for too long. If you haven’t guessed, the vegetative state is all about gaining height.

Tall cannabis plants outdoors
Tall cannabis plants outdoors.

Cannabis plants expand in width during this stage, but it is also when they become quite tall. Your cannabis plant should grow to about half its maximum height during the vegetative stage.

Insufficient light supply

The other most common reason for your plants stretching too much is that they aren’t receiving sufficient light. Your cannabis plant will struggle to use a light bulb or grow light that does not produce enough watts and brightness to assist plant life. It will do everything to get closer to the light and absorb more of its rays. This will also lead to a tall and skinny cannabis plant. This is more of an issue with fluorescent lights than with anything else.

How you supply light (too much on the top and less on the sides)

Another problem that could affect your cannabis plant’s stretch is that all of the light is directed at it from the top. This is not usually an issue, but it can be. Using reflective materials enables light from the top to be reflected, strengthened, and guided from the sides at your cannabis plants. Cannabis plants, like all plants, will grow in the direction of the light.

Methods for lowering the risk of stretching on your cannabis plant


Another excellent measure to reduce novice cultivators from wondering ‘why is my cannabis plant growing tall and skinny’ is to keep the lights at a suitable distance from the crops. It’s important to stick to the ideal light cycle for cannabis. The lighting you use will also influence how tall your stems grow. Orange and red lights induce taller, thinner stems, but thick, short stems are induced by blue light. Using metal halide lamps during the vegetative stage will result in short stems. You can also use infrared light to control the height of your plant. When the lights are turned off, you use these.


The temperature has an impact on how your cannabis plant stem grows. The longer the stems grow, the temperature increases. At 60°F, your plant’s stems will widen, and its growth will slow. When the temperature rises above 80°F, the stems and buds begin to stretch. When your buds are too close to the light, they grow tall and thin. Don’t mistake it for a minor burn because it isn’t! The heat from the lamps can be intolerable for buds. Air-cooled lamps are excellent for preventing much of the heat from entering the room.

Air circulation

Excellent air circulation allows the stems and leaves to become thicker and stronger while limiting how tall it grows. Strong air circulation can cause stem and leaf motion, enhancing and broadening the stem while slowing vertical growth. Winds will bend the stem and cause small rips in the plant’s tissue.

Grow lights equipment

Using the proper type of grow lights can help reduce your cannabis plants stretching too much. In general, using a high-intensity HID grow light is your best bet. Remember that HID lights produce the most lumens and light force compared to LED and fluorescent lights. In reality, while HID lights are expensive and require a fairly complex setup, they are by far the best option for avoiding tall and skinny plants.


Avoiding cannabis plant strains that develop quite tall is one great way to ensure that you do not question yourself ‘why is my cannabis plant growing tall and skinny.’ Cannabis Sativa, in general, is the kind of cannabis that develops very tall. Indica strains and many hybrids are stalky and shorter than Sativa cultivars.

Issues with your cannabis plant growing tall and skinny

Weak stems

One of the most severe issues that can arise from a pot plant that is too tall and skinny is that the primary stalk becomes too weak to support the entire plant. It may bend, collide with the walls, collapse, or end up on the ground, none of which are ideal or desirable. If any of these things happen, it will be a significant issue.

Problems with nutrients

Another problem that may arise from cannabis stretching is that your plants will not absorb, process, and direct nutrients towards the buds. The more effort and nutrients your cannabis plant expends easily to stay upright, the taller and skinnier it becomes. The more energy it expends and nutrients it wastes to remain upright, the less energy and nutrients are accessible for better development, particularly when developing buds. Find out more about cannabis deficiencies and how to prevent them.

Limited grow space

If you have limited space, your cannabis plants beginning to get too close to the lights, or even touching them can lead to other problems. Aside from literally running out of room and having to do a lot of trimming, your plants can start hitting the lights making the buds and leaves burnt, leading to poor yields.

Picture of Ed Rushford

Ed Rushford

Ed Rushford’s impact on cannabis growing is undeniable. Though he tends to focus primarily on 2 areas, plant training techniques and dealing with disease, pests, and other problems, he has offered many insights into how cannabis plants live and grow. That’s not to say that Ed is unfamiliar with the complete life cycle of cannabis, from seed to harvest, but he uses his widespread knowledge to hone in on the minutia and niche areas of growing cannabis. Ed’s goal is to spread knowledge and allow for everyone to become better growers. About this Author

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