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cannabis plant only growing 3 leaves

Cannabis plant only growing 3 leaves

If your plant is growing 3-point leaves in response to stress, all you need to do is correct the issue and/or wait for plants to grow out of it.

It is a stress response when a healthy plant “reverts” back to 3-point leaves. Typically this happens when there are major changes in light quality or light schedule. For example, the following plants were switched from a fluorescent light to a powerful LED. A few days later, all the leaves were growing with only 3 points. In this case, there was nothing really “wrong” as much as different. The plants adjusted to the light and started growing regular leaves within a few weeks.

But what if you had a plant with “normal” leaves that starts growing 3-finger leaves? What does that mean?

The second set of leaves after germination usually has 3 points each. After that, leaves normally have more than three.

What causes 3-point leaves?

This article explores the cause of 3-point cannabis leaves (when each leaf has 3 “fingers”).

Example of a tri-leaf seedling. This is caused by a harmless (but cool-looking) mutation. Plants may grow like this from seed to harvest, or they may grow out of it.

Smoke blocked out the sun, triggering 3-point leaves in these outdoor plants

Cannabis leaves most often have 7 points

Cannabis plant only growing 3 leaves

Cannabis Growth Timeline

1. Germinating: 1-7 days
2. Seedling: 2-3 weeks
3. Vegetative: 2-8 weeks
4. Pre-Flowering: 1-2 weeks
5. Flowering: 6-8 weeks
6. Harvesting

4. Pre-flowering

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3. Vegetative Growth

Male: Small green sacs full of pollen will be seen on the node areas.

Cannabis plant only growing 3 leaves

Like I mentioned above, single blade leaves or a three leaf weed plant is primarily caused by a fluctuation with photoperiod lighting. While rare and unlikely, other factors such as heat stress and bugs can also lead to this phenomenon. However, most cases occur because of plants with photoperiod stress. On the other hand, certain strains are more prone to irregular growth. OG’s and Skunk’s tend to demonstrate this characteristic most often; though I wouldn’t go as far as declaring them a 3 leaf cannabis strain.

Sometimes with clones or from seed, you will encounter a cannabis plant with irregular growth. Stress is the primary cause for a one leaf or three leaf weed plant. It usually is the result of a plant that started flowering, stopped and reverted back to vegetative growth. Photoperiod fluctuation will not only stress your plant out, but it will also diminish your harvest potential dramatically. To avoid this situation, indoor growers should employ a good timer. Timers are cheap but are very important for maintaining a stable photoperiod for your plant. If you are an outdoor grower, look for light sources like patio lights or street lamps that might be affecting your grow.

Three Leaf Weed Plant

If your plant is experiencing any type of irregular growth, do not take clones. Always take clones from healthy, stable mothers! Gardeners looking to clone a plant with one or three fingered leaves should wait for normal vegetative growth to resume before doing so. To increase the odds of your plant resuming regular growth, place in a stable environment. Make sure you plant gets enough light, water and fertilizer. Some gardeners claim that plants that are forced to re-veg never quite get the yield of the original. Probably because one and three leaf plants tend to produce stringy loose buds. If your plant has 3 leafs, looks healthy and is flowering, I would recommend staying on course. At that point, there is really nothing you can do that late into flower.

We avoid this problem by maintaining a stable photoperiod environment. Sometimes we employ the Gas Lantern Routine when vegging our plants outdoors. This trick works great for almost all strains, but we have experienced the rare exception. Although very rare, some plants are more prone to flowering than others and will flower despite using the Gas Lantern Routine.


I hope this short blog helped a little. Lastly, if you have any questions please post them in the comment section. If you are interested in learning even more about growing cannabis, please check out my blog. Here are a few of my most recent posts: