Have you ever wondered if there’s a connection between our favorite plant and the summer solstice? It turns out there is! 

If you’re an astronomy nerd, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of the summer solstice. The longest day of the year, the solstice is central to many of humanity’s oldest spiritual traditions—in fact, Stonehenge is home to one of the world’s largest solstice celebrations – thousands gather to witness the sun rising through the structure. 

But what you might not know is that there’s an equally strong connection between the summer solstice and the cannabis growth cycle. The solstice has traditionally been used to measure out the growing seasons of this ancient plant and is still used today, even in the era of high-tech indoor cannabis farming.

Cannabis plant in a sunny field

Sunshine and the Grow Cycle

To better understand why the summer solstice is so critical to establishing an ideal outdoor growing schedule, we need to take a closer look at the world of traditional agriculture. Before developing traditional weather forecasting technology, people used publications like the famous Farmer’s Almanac to determine when to plant, tend, and harvest all kinds of crops. 

Each plant has its ideal conditions for growth. Understanding the different sun exposure of plants in the northern and southern hemispheres is critical to creating the conditions plants need to thrive. This is especially true for cannabis, which uses a process called photoperiodism to determine when to flower. So even for growers working indoors, recreating the cycles of the natural summer solstice can help produce a superior cannabis flower.

The Sunshine/Cannabis Connection

Like many of the people who indulge in it, cannabis loves the sunshine. Photoperiodism enables cannabis plants to register times when there’s a variation between the daily sunlight and the darkness of night. This ratio changes as the earth tilts in its spin across the sun, causing seasons to change. The hemisphere experiencing warmer weather is tilted towards the sun in the summertime, meaning the people (and cannabis plants!) in that hemisphere experience shorter nights, longer days, and warm, sunshiney weather.

Cannabis plants track light patterns to know when they need to grow and when the time has come to flower. This tracking helps ensure they’re using their resources appropriately, flowering only when they’ll have the environmental reserves to support new growth. Indoor growers who want to encourage their plants to produce new growth use grow lights and other forms of indoor farming technology to simulate the earth’s natural light pattern–mimicking the cycles of the solstice. The plant responds to the long days and short nights of summer (whether simulated or real) to use excess energy from the sun to grow new shoots and leaves before the autumn comes.

When Does Cannabis Flower? 

After storing up the excess energy of the summer sun, cannabis plants enter autumn, ready to flower. The extra leaves grown during the summer solstice help the plant harvest more energy from the shorter sunlit hours, while the vigorous shoots grown during that period can help support the weight of new flowers. As soon as the solstice hits and the nights begin to grow longer and longer as the earth tilts away from the sun, plants receive the signal to start bursting into bloom.

Although the summer solstice marks the official start of cannabis flowering season, the actual time plants produce flowers varies considerably depending on the needs of the particular strain you’ve chosen to grow. September marks the start of harvest season for some indicas, but other sativa strains only become ready to harvest from December onwards. Each variety has its own particular photoperiodic needs–but whatever your strain, the solstice signals the beginning of the flowering season to come.

Celebrating the Solstice with Cannabis 

Since the solstice is such an important day for both ritual celebrations and the cannabis growing cycles, it makes sense that many people like to honor both with a little solstice ritual to celebrate the spirit of summer.

Try lighting up a little flower (we love an enlivening, sativa dominant Blue Dream) to celebrate the coming of the flowering season. Pagans traditionally celebrated the solstice by wearing a garland of protective herbs and flowers designed to chase away evil spirits with their beauty and good smells. Recreate the experience with a scented cannabis and herb balm or beauty product, combining the healing power of topical cannabis with a selection of potent botanicals. Or take your solstice picnic to the next level with a quick-absorbing cannabis tincture paired with traditional herbs for an even more powerful solstice experience! 

However you chose to celebrate, the solstice/cannabis connection is a powerful one. So get out there and enjoy the sunshine!