growing cannabis stages

Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from 10-32 weeks, or about 3-8 months, to grow a weed plant from seed. It’ll be quicker if you start with a clone or an autoflower seed.

Marijuana light cycle: 12 hours a day.

Marijuana light cycle: 16 hours a day.

How long does it take to grow a marijuana plant?

Marijuana light cycle: 16 hours a day.

If you’re growing weed indoors, you can grow whenever you like. Keep in mind that the outside environment will affect your grow space—you may need to add heaters in the winter or fans and ACs in the summer. Other than that, you can start seeds whenever you like and flip them into flower whenever you like, depending on how big you want the plants.

At this stage, the plant is vulnerable to disease and mold. Keep its environment clean and monitor excess moisture. Be sure to give it plenty of light.

If you need to determine the sex of your plants (to discard the males), they will start showing sex organs a few weeks into the veg stage. It’s imperative to separate males so they don’t pollinate the females.

Vegetative stage length: 3-16 weeks.

If you’re growing indoors, you can force a weed plant to flower after only a few weeks when it’s small, or after several weeks when it’s big. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until the sun starts to go down in fall for it to flower and then to harvest.

Vegetative stage.

Seedling stage length: 2-3 weeks.

As roots develop, the stalk will rise and you’ll begin to see the first iconic fan leaves grow, at which point your cannabis plant can be considered a seedling.

Within the flowering stage, there are three subphases:

Be very careful to not overwater the plant in its seedling stage—its roots are so small, it doesn’t need much water to thrive.

Notes on marijuana growth phases.

Vegetative plants appreciate healthy soil with nutrients. Feed them with a higher level of nitrogen at this stage.

We can’t stress enough that the timeframes in the above graphic are ranges of time for the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll need to adjust them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.

Harvest happens sometime between September and November. This depends on your local climate, as well as the weather that particular year—one year it could be the end of September, the next, end of October, and growers in the Pacific Northwest will have to pull down their crops earlier than those in Northern California.

Take meticulous notes on when and how you perform each step, as well as what the weather is like. Other notes can include how much water you give plants, at what intervals, and how much nutrients you give them. Pictures will also give you a better sense of how your plants look along the way.

Even if growing outdoors, a lot of growers will start their seeds inside under an artificial light to help them through this delicate stage of marijuana growth.

Everything you have pruned from the plant can serve a purpose, but the crowning glory is the bud. Curing the dried buds is one of the final steps in the process before you can enjoy a relaxing smoke. Patience is essential at this point proper curing can take up to two months and affects the quality of the buds. One easy curing method is to place the buds in a glass jar and leave them there for up to eight weeks. During the first two weeks, open the jar periodically to let in oxygen and “burp” your buds.

Duration: 24 hours to 2 weeks.

First, use your hands to pluck the fan leaves from the buds. Next, use your scissors to trim off the sugar leaves which contain high levels of trichomes and can be used to make cannabis concentrates. You can also save the sugar leaves to use as an ingredient in your favorite edible, such as cannabutter. Others prefer to discard the sugar leaves, but there’s no reason to do so unless you’re trying to preserve space. Lastly, collect the excess resin that sticks to your gloves and put it to work if you create any dabs.

The harvesting stage is when you reap the rewards of your careful planting and cultivation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.

Patience pays off at the end of the pruning stage when you can consume the cannabis you’ve cultivated and effectively store any leftover weed for future use.

Storing Cannabis.

The end of the flowering stage marks an eagerly anticipated milestone in the growth process as you prepare to harvest your crop.

Your plants will also begin to take on a definitive shape at this stage. For example, a sativa plant will become long and narrow, while an indica will be shorter, bushier, and denser with foliage. The sexual characteristics of your plants will also become apparent and you can differentiate between the males and the females now. By the end of the vegetative stage, female plants will exhibit two white pistils and male plants will grow pollen sacs. Be sure to remove these pollen sacs to avoid contaminating your female plants.

One other option to consider is to start growing marijuana in a greenhouse. A greenhouse provides the bright sunlight necessary to raise a healthy plant while offering better environmental controls. For example, darkness is key during certain growth stages, and a greenhouse gives you the control to use blackout shades or roof covering systems. Cannabis also receives protection from the elements in a greenhouse, as well as from animals and pests. However, a greenhouse is an expensive undertaking and not ideal for the budget-conscious grower.

To continue the weed life cycle, you can purchase more seeds or you can breed and clone your cannabis during a final preparation stage. Start growing a whole new cycle of cannabis by choosing a branch that is at least four inches long and cutting it off from your most fertile crop. Then, plant the branch into a rooting solution to grow a new batch of plants that will be genetically identical to the ones you just harvested.

Here we outline each of these important stages in the growth of a marijuana plant and share how you can oversee each one to optimize your crop. Measuring the nutrient feed is the best way to ensure that you are not overloading your plant with any one element or skimping in one area either.

A slightly lower temperature is ideal during this phase. When your plants were seedlings, you maintained a temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but now you can adjust to a range of 68 to 77 degrees. Humidity may also vary more, with 50 to 70 percent sufficient. Give your plants ample light: at least 16 hours a day and as many as 24 continuous hours. Finally, keep feeding your cannabis plants with nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

The flowering stage represents the final stage in the growth cycle but not in the life cycle of your cannabis plants. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.

A precision pair of pruning scissors is your most useful tool at this stage. Whereas a heftier pair of scissors is appropriate at harvest, a more delicate pair does the job for pruning. A pair of gardening gloves is also helpful to protect your hands from the sticky resin of the buds.

Duration: 6 to 8 weeks.

Is it ever too late to harvest a marijuana plant? If the stem is swollen and all the yellow leaves have fallen off, then it is too late to harvest the marijuana. Cannabis at this late stage will likely taste and smell unpleasant, possibly bitter. As a general rule, it is preferable to harvest earlier rather than later. Prematurely harvested weed has not reached its maximum potency, but it will probably taste and smell more desirable than that which has become overripe. So, invest in a hardy pair of scissors and harvest your weed when the time is right!

Image lightbox.

During the seedling stage you will notice your cannabis plant sprouting from the soil and growing a pair of leaves that fan outward from the stem. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.

If you’re wondering which is the most crucial among the stages of growth, the flowering stage is the one to watch! Look out for sticky resin on the leaves and clusters of trichomes as well. The more trichomes you see, the more potent your marijuana plant is becoming. Ultimately, potency also depends on how much time a plant spends in the flowering stage, so if it goes beyond the 8-week mark, you might be in for a pleasant surprise at harvest time.

Whether you use the wet or dry method of pruning, you will need to fully dry the cannabis before proceeding with curing and storage. To dry cannabis, hang the cuttings upside down, perhaps on a clothesline and most definitely in an environment that is not overly moist. Once the plants have dried, you will be ready to complete the last steps of the pruning process.

Indoor cultivators have the flexibility to plant their cannabis seeds any time of year, as long as long as indoor conditions are managed with regard to temperature, humidity, light, and air quality. Light management is especially important as plants cannot survive without the right amount of photosynthesis. In an outdoor garden, natural sunlight does all the work, but indoors you’ll need to invest in a lighting system, such as LED lights or high intensity white light.

The hands-on, sensory pleasure of planting a garden is an experience like no other. Whether you have a green thumb or not, you can grow a marijuana garden at home by understanding the essential life cycle of the plant.

So, how do you know when the harvesting stage has arrived? Your plants will provide you with numerous clues to guide you. For example, take a good look at the pistils on your female plants. If the pistils are mostly brown, then there’s a good chance that it’s harvest time. In contrast, if all the pistils are brown, then you may have missed the optimal moment for harvest and the marijuana will be classified as “overripe.” Likewise, observe the color of the leaves. If the leaves are yellow, rather than green, then don’t delay the start of your harvest.

As with curing, glass jars make ideal storage units for cannabis if you plan on using the cannabis soon. Long-term storage of up to two years necessitates vacuum sealing of containers to keep the weed as fresh as possible. Even in the most tightly sealed jar, cannabis can lose some THC content the longer it is stored. This is one reason why you might like to clone your excess cannabis and begin the growing cycle again.

Pruning Stage.

There are three main locations where cultivators plant cannabis: outdoor, in a greenhouse, or indoors.

Pruning is the next step to take after you cut down and harvest your plants. The purpose of pruning is to round out the buds and, by doing so, enhance the smoking experience. You can experiment with two different types of pruning, wet and dry. Many novice growers find it easier to prune when the plant is wet, so you may like to start there. Dry plants tend to curl at the leaves, which makes them more difficult to prune.

Before you start to plant your outdoor, greenhouse, or indoor marijuana garden, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with state and local laws which can vary significantly. Once you’ve established the legality of cultivating cannabis at home in your state or region, you can begin the first stage of growth and plant seeds.

The germination stage is the first stage in the cannabis plant cycle. As a grower, you will want to maintain an abundance of female plants because they are richer in trichomes than their male counterparts. Trichomes are the white crystals that grow on marijuana plants and contain the sought-after cannabinoids of CBD and THC.

The marijuana plant is a baby at this point in the life cycle. No longer merely seeds, your plants are now officially seedlings. During the seedling stage you will notice your cannabis plant sprouting from the soil and growing a pair of leaves that fan outward from the stem. Leaves will also sprout from the top of the plant while a root system simultaneously develops. While it’s possible for the seedling stage to extend to six weeks, a timeline of two to three weeks is much more typical.

The cannabis plant experiences growth throughout six distinct stages: germination stage, seedling stage, vegetative stage, flowering stage, harvesting stage, pruning stage, and finally a preparation stage for the cycle to start again.

Indoor cultivators have the flexibility to plant their cannabis seeds any time of year, as long as long as indoor conditions are managed with regard to temperature, humidity, light, and air quality. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.

Duration: 3 to 8 weeks.

When the taproot has emerged, you can transfer the seeds to a growing medium. Depending on the strain, your growing experience, and your budget, you might want to use a different growing medium. Some people prefer a hydroponics setup, but first-time cultivators are likely to prefer soil.

Using your own home-grown Mary Jane can be very rewarding. If you’re a cannabis user with a green thumb, then we recommend giving it a go at least once. You never know, you might find your new favorite hobby! Once you get the hang of things, you can start growing more challenging and exciting strains.

If you want to try your hand at cannabis growing, check the laws in your state beforehand. Then, it’s vital to read up on all this related to cultivating cannabis so you can have a successful grow. In this article, we look at the seven steps of cannabis growing and harvesting to help you get the most out of your grow op.

3. Vegetative Stage: 3-8 Weeks.

As a result, you should look out for feminized seeds. Seed banks often sell this type, so they shouldn’t be too hard to find. If you use regular seeds, there is a 50/50 chance you will get male or female plants; with feminized seeds, all your plants will be females.

Once you have your feminized seeds, it’s time to germinate them. Each and every seed contains a cannabis plant just waiting to emerge, but it will need some tender love and care in order to do so. Seeds need heat and water in order to sprout; otherwise, they will remain dormant.

Harvesting early is better than harvesting too late. The weed won’t be as potent, but you will still get something out of it.

If the plant’s stem swells, it stops producing calyxes, and the yellow leaves fall off, then it’s too late. The cannabis is basically useless at this point.

Congratulations! The seed is ready to start growing.

However, some growers prefer to use cloning. All you need to do is cut a branch of at least four inches from the most productive plant in your crop and plant it into a rooting solution. The plant that grows will be genetically identical, making the growing process predictable and easy. It does mean that you get the same every time, though, which can get a bit repetitive.

Final Thoughts: Growing Your Cannabis Through 7 Stages.

Before you start, though, it’s crucial to find out the laws in your locality. Growing weed in a state where it’s illegal can carry hefty penalties, so it’s just not worth it! Make sure you stick to the laws in your state, and you will find the experience much more pleasant.

As a general rule, the seedling should be kept at 77˚F with a humidity of around 60%. Often, marijuana prefers a light cycle of 118-hours of white light per day once the leaves have emerged. You should be using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at this point. Remember that all this is a rule of thumb. To get the best results, read up on the requirements of your particular strain.

Plants use sexual reproduction in order to carry on the species into the next generation. There are male and female cannabis plants which must reproduce. Sometimes, hermaphrodite plants exist, but these are not something you should concern yourself about right now.

If you’re planning on cultivating your own weed continuously, you’re going to need some more seeds. We mentioned removing the males from your cannabis crop, and this means that your females won’t be pollinated and won’t be producing seeds. As a result, it’s unlikely that you will have your own seeds to work with.

1. Germination: Between 24-Hours and 2 Weeks.

Once you have completed your first growing cycle, you will be rewarded with a potent, delicious bud. So what happens now?

Marijuana legalization is spreading. Medicinal marijuana use is now legal in over half of states, allowing patients access to the herb once they have a recommendation from a licensed physician. However, it’s no secret that weed is expensive .

During the vegetative stage, the general rule is to keep the temperature between 68 and 77˚f, and the humidity between 50% and 70%. Once again, nitrogen is the essential nutrient, but you can also increase levels of other key nutrients in the feed. The plants will need 16-24 hours of sunlight.

By the time the vegetative stage comes round, you should have transferred the plants to larger pots. At this point, they will be growing rapidly as they take on more nutrients and carbon dioxide. This allows them to develop leaves and take shape very quickly.

Invest in some delicate scissors – not the same ones you used to cut the plants down. It’s also a good idea to grab a chair because you could be here a while! Wet pruning will also require gardening gloves because the plants will be sticky.