Cannabis growth consists of various phases of plant development. Each has a unique set of requirements, including different levels of light, water, and nutrients for the plants. Understanding these distinct stages and how long each lasts helps farmers determine what their crops require. As a result, it is paramount for growing healthy marijuana.
This article highlights the various cannabis growing stages. Additionally, it also provides essential tips to help you plan ahead and cultivate cannabis successfully. Before diving into the different stages of growing weed, we must first answer some of the most common questions about cannabis cultivation like; how long does it take for weed to grow? And how long do cannabis plants live?
Generally, it takes between 10 and 32 weeks (2 to 8 months) for a cannabis plant to go from seed to harvest. Several factors cause this variation in the plant development timeline. This includes the type of cannabis seeds you use and the sex of the plants.
Choosing whether to grow your cannabis indoors or outdoors is arguably the most significant factor in determining how long they take to mature. Cultivating cannabis indoors allows growers to make a weed plant flower after only a few weeks when it's still tiny or after several weeks when it's bigger.
On the other hand, farmers are at the mercy of the seasons and other natural factors when they grow marijuana outdoors. For this reason, they don't have as much control over how quickly their crops can mature. Moreover, farming cannabis outdoors forces plants to compete for nutrients with other crops.
Weed plants grow and live for one season before dying. In the wild, cannabis plants develop seeds that drop to become new plants. When a fully matured marijuana plant is left unharvested, they eventually die and rot after a few months.
The growth stages of weed can be broken down into four parts:
- Germination (Takes 3 to 10 days)
- Seedling (Takes 2 to 3 weeks)
- Vegetative (Takes 3 to 16 weeks)
- Flowering (Takes 8 to 11 weeks)
Germination is the first stage in the development of a cannabis plant. Although it's the shortest of all weed plant stages, it requires a lot of attention and care from the time a farmer starts selecting seeds.
For effective germination, you must ensure the seeds you use are mature enough. Well-developed cannabis seeds are dry with a hard, coarse texture and a light to dark brown color. Underdeveloped seeds are usually squishy with either a green or white color. Such seeds are unlikely to germinate.
The germination stage usually takes 3 to 10 days, during which cannabis requires 6 hours of light and 18 hours of darkness. The seeds must be in a wet, dark place to initiate germination. Growers keep the germinating cannabis seeds in a cup of water or a slightly soaked paper towel inside a dark cabinet until they are ready to sprout.
Once the seed sprouts, it's ready to be placed in a growing medium, such as soil. A single root called a radicle grows downwards as a stem grows upwards. At this stage, the stem will have two rounded cotyledon leaves, and the tiny plant will break away from the seed's protective casing.
The small leaves absorb sunlight to ensure the plant becomes stable and grows bigger. As the root system develops, the stalk will strengthen and rise as the first iconic fan leaves begin to grow. At this point, the marijuana plant is considered a seedling.
The cannabis seedling stage is the second phase in the development of a cannabis plant. During this stage, cannabis plants start developing the fan leaves that cannabis plants are known for. The seedling stage is also one of the most delicate stages of a weed plant, as the plants are susceptible to mold and diseases.
So, how fast does marijuana grow during this stage? And what does it take to get the best results from one of the most formidable weed-growing stages?
The cannabis seedling stage lasts between 2 and 3 weeks. Plants at this stage require warm temperatures of between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of 60-85%. Having a thermometer and cannabis humidity packs can help you maintain these conditions. The plants also need 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness.
A blue light spectrum is recommended during this stage since the plants require low light intensity. Consequently, it's a good idea to start growing your cannabis indoors before taking them outdoors to keep them under ideal conditions during this vulnerable stage.
Furthermore, since the seedlings have tiny root systems during this stage, it is easy to overwater them. Therefore, the best thing would be to water your seedlings using a sprayer to avoid damaging the roots.
After sprouting from the seed, cannabis plants produce leaves with only one ridged blade. However, the leaves will develop more blades as the plant grows. A mature plant can have between 5 and 7 blades per leaf.
Once your marijuana seedling develops adequate sets of serrated leaves, it enters the vegetative stage. Farmers should then transport their plants to larger pots since the cannabis vegetative state is where the plant's growth truly takes off. Although it's not the lengthiest of all marijuana plant stages, the vegetative phase can take a long while, from 3 to 16 weeks.
During this period, the stems thicken and grow taller, more leaves and branches are produced, and the root system becomes more established in preparation for flowering. The plants require warm temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees Celcius and 40-60% relative humidity. Furthermore, they also need 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness to facilitate their growth.
Similarly, as the plants grow, they'll require more water to aid their substantial growth. The roots will also begin extending outward; therefore, it would be best to start watering your crops away from the stalk. The plants will also need more nutrients, especially nitrogen.
The flowering phase is the last and longest of all marijuana plant stages. It's when the plants begin to produce resinous buds. Most cannabis strains flower in 8 to 9 weeks, but some can take longer. This phase is divided into three substages, each with further plant development.
- Flower initiation: At this stage, the plants continue to grow as the female crops begin developing pre-flowers, which later become buds
- Mid-flowering: During this period, the buds become larger while the plants themselves stop growing.
- Late flowering (ripening): The plants start getting very sticky due to increased trichome density. When this happens, farmers should keep an eye on the pistils of the female plants to determine when to harvest.
The flowering cannabis stages are triggered naturally outdoors when plants receive less light as summer turns to autumn. On the other hand, indoor farmers have to initiate the flowering stage by altering the photoperiod and providing 12 hours of light and darkness.
Still, novice growers may wonder, how long flowering stages are outdoors. And how long is the flowering cycle for weed indoors? Typically, the flowering stage takes between 8 and 11 weeks, depending on the strain. However, it usually takes a shorter period for indoor cannabis since cultivators have more control over the growth of their plants.
Essentially, buds start fattening quickly after the eighth week of the flowering stage. The trichomes and pistils begin maturing and changing from transparent to a milky color. Afterward, you can harvest and cure the buds before packaging them in weed jars and weed bags for distribution or storage.
Many new cannabis cultivators usually have numerous questions, such as; what happens in the different stages of weed development? And how long does it take to grow marijuana? This article offers great insight and provides a headstart for anyone who wants to understand cannabis growth.