Like all living creatures, cannabis plants go through different stages of development from seed to harvest. By understanding the basics of the life cycle of a marijuana plant you will know your medicine better, and in return, enjoy maximized yields while growing healthy, happy, and vigorous cannabis plants in your outdoor or indoor ganja garden.
What’s more, knowing the small yet crucial details related to the growth cycle of your cannabis plants will help you avoid various possible mistakes that might lead to unwanted issues during your cannabis journey.
The truth is, entering the enchanting world of cannabis can feel like starting to study any terms-specific subject such as, for instance, economics, from scratch.
When you are a newbie, regardless of whether it comes to growing marijuana, studying law or trying to learn how to play the piano, beginnings often tend to seem confusing and sometimes even overwhelming.
In fact, you might end up asking yourself if it is really worth the fuss diving deep into any new subject or activity you wish to master. To give you our friendliest piece of advice on that matter, your efforts of learning more about the life cycle of marijuana plants will be well worth it.
None of us gets born as a cannabis grower. Instead, a cannabis grower is born through trial and error, and through keeping an open heart and mind eager to learn more about the amazing creatures that marijuana plants are.
Instead of trying to take giant leaps, go with small, consistent steps. When you look back to the very start of your cannabis growing adventure, a wide smile will appear on your face and a special kind of gleam will appear in your eyes because this is the moment when you will finally be able to realize that your work, dedication, and love for growing cannabis have helped you grow as a person in every meaningful way.
Your Marijuana Plant To Be Is still a Delicate Seed
In the living nature, a seed is the ultimate source of Life. From this perspective, regardless of its tiny size, a marijuana seed contains the miracle of Life in a miniature seed.
It is in the seed where the genetic make up of a cannabis plant is encoded, and that’s why choosing quality marijuana seeds to work with makes such a tremendous difference in your mission of cultivating the green medication in your indoor or outdoor garden.
However, even though a marijuana plant’s ability to grow and develop is greatly determined by its genetics, one must not underestimate the importance of all the environmental factors that play a major role in plants’ overall growth and well being.
With this in mind, if you choose to grow, for instance, the legendary, mighty, all time favorite strain Bruce Banner by opting for cannabis seeds from reputable retailers vs. growing Bruce Banner from seed that you got from any random bud, results upon harvesting can greatly vary due to whether you have managed to provide the right conditions for your green ladies to reach their fullest potential or exactly the opposite.
Anyway, the golden rule for choosing the best marijuana seeds possible remains the same: seeds with superior genetics possess the invaluable ability to give birth to superior cannabis plants.
Breathing life into your marijuana plant to be starts with germinating your marijuana seeds the right way. There are many methods for cannabis seeds’ germination one may choose to experiment with but the method that most experts highly recommend as the most effective one is the paper towel germination method.
Germinating marijuana seeds can take anything from 24 hours to about 7 days.
Germinating cannabis seeds is an easy part of the key stages of marijuana plants’ growth. The tiny seeds will be eagerly waiting for the right conditions to crack their waxy coats open. Just give your ganja seeds warmth and moisture and it is merely a matter of days before you notice the tender taproots appear.
When the taproots reach about 4-6 inches, your baby marijuana plant is ready to be transferred into a small container and step into the next stage of its lifespan: the seedling stage.
Your Cannabis Plant Becomes a Seedling
A cannabis plant is considered a seedling until it develops a set of leaves that possess the full number of fingers (typically 5 to 7 fingers). Marijuana leaves with 5-7 fingers are simply the emblematically shaped leaves that we are so well used to associate with cannabis plants.
It is during the seedling stage when your baby marijuana plant will be gradually producing more and more fingers to its delicate leaves. This process can take anything between about 2 to 3 weeks.
The seedling stage is the point when additional light supplementation can work wonders to help your green babes kick start their life cycle robustly and vigorously.
It is advisable to provide as more light as possible during the seedling stage.
18 to 24 hours of undisturbed light work best for cannabis plants in the seedling phase.
If you are an outdoor grower, the sun will do much of the work for you, however, it is still a great idea to consider exposing your marijuana seedlings to extra hours of artificial light as soon as the sun sets.
Healthy marijuana seedlings will be bright green in color. Light will make them develop dense and thick leaves, branches and stems which is of utmost importance for boosting yields later on since it is healthy foliage that plays a major role in the process of photosynthesis.
Mind that during the seedling stage of your marijuana plants’ development, your green cuties won’t have grown strong roots yet.
Because of this, they will absorb water much more efficiently through their leaves rather than through their roots. Thus, you want to avoid over watering your delicate marijuana seedlings by pouring water directly into the pots. Instead, try to keep the humidity levels high (starting from about 70% in the first week of the seedling phase and gradually lowering humidity to no less than about 60% in the last week of the seedling stage).
In a pinch, simply spray pure spring water regularly onto your marijuana seedlings, their pots, and the surroundings or better yet use a simple humidifier to raise humidity rates like a pro. Do not use tap water as it contains various additives that you want to avoid exposing your marijuana plants’ to. However, it might be good to know that outdoor plants are shown to be more resistant to the additives present in common tap water than indoor plants.
Also, please mind that adjusting humidity levels is nothing more but an excellent means of enjoying better yields. The more you are able to keep humidity levels within the desired range, the better but even if you fail to be that precise, have no worries. Your biggest goal is to avoid abrupt fluctuations in humidity rather than freaking out about following the recommendations 100% accurately.
Quick Heads Up
If you are planning to grow a wonderful autoflower cannabis strain such as Blue Diesel autoflower or Juicy Fruit autoflower, do remember that autoflowers’ key stages differ in terms of timing than those of non-autoflowering cannabis varieties. To illustrate this better, if an Indica strain like the legendary Northern Lights would typically spend 2-3 weeks in the seedling stage, most autoflowers would spend about ½ of the time Northern Lights would spend being a seedling. That’s because autoflowers possess the unique genetics of Cannabis Ruderalis, so it is important to understand that they transit through their lifespan differently (in general, more quickly) than non-autoflowering varieties.
Video by: INDICA INSTITUTE – Cannabis Seedling Stage – How to grow marijuana course for dummies
Your Marijuana Plant Enters the Vegetative Phase
Hooray, your marijuana plant is slowly but steadily getting into its sweet 16s. That’s only in a metaphorical sense, of course, but as you are about to find out, marijuana plants in vegetation do share some little expected traits with an average teenager.
For instance, as they transition to flowering, cannabis plants will become pickier about their environment, and so you need to be much more diligent when taking care of their fattening buds.
As soon as your cannabis plants develop the legendary 5 to 7 fingered marijuana leaves, you will know for sure that the vegetative phase has begun.
The vegetative stage of your marijuana plants’ life cycle can take anything from 2 and up to 8+ weeks.
As you can clearly see, there is a rather big gap when considering the difference of 2 and 8 weeks of time spent in vegetation on an average. That’s why it is so crucial to pick the right cannabis strains to grow according to your needs and your availability when it comes to letting your green babes take the needed time before they transition to flowering.
With this in mind, if you can’t or don’t want to wait too long for your green ladies to get ready for harvesting, it is best to stick with fast flowering cannabis varieties such as the indica dominant Northern Berry autoflower or Purple Kush autoflower. Generally, Indica strains, regardless of being autoflowering or regular cannabis varieties, spend less time in vegetation, and subsequently less time in flowering than sativas such as Acapulco Gold. Therefore, the best choice for cannabis growers who want to enjoy a quick harvest is to opt for indica dominant autoflowering strains.
Anyway, there are certain benefits to letting your marijuana plants spend more time in vegetation, although this is not applicable to autoflowers.
You can intentionally delay switching to the required light schedules of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness as doing so will let your plants develop more of their healthy leaves, branches, and stems. Allowing the foliage to become stronger can make up for significantly increased yields because bigger fan leaves will increase photosynthesis rates, while stronger stems and branches will be able to hold the dense, multiple buds more efficiently.
On the contrary, if you are in a hurry, you can keep your marijuana plants in vegetation for a restricted period of time. Do mind, though, that doing so will inevitably result in decreased yields.
When it comes to autoflowering cannabis strains, keeping your green ladies longer in vegetation becomes quite irrelevant, as you cannot manipulate the triggering of flowering in the same way as with non-autoflowering varieties. That’s because autoflowers, just like their very name implies, start flowering “automatically,” without being introduced to the 12 hours of light vs. 12 hours of darkness schedule.
For non-autoflowering cannabis strains, the vegetation stage is the time for transplanting in bigger containers.
However, with cannabis autoflowers, transplanting is not recommended as it can stress the plants because they transition from vegetation to flowering rather quickly. Therefore, your autoflowers should be planted in their final container as seedlings to ensure best results upon harvesting.
You can choose to introduce your vegetative marijuana plants to 13 and up to 24 hours of light per day.
The results you can achieve by exposing your green ladies to extended hours of light will vary from strain to strain, so there are no fit them all magical formulas on that note. Experience is what will make you understand better how prolonged hours of light exposure during vegetation can enhance the well being of each strain accordingly. That is one of the reasons why keeping cannabis grow journal is so beneficial for both beginners, as well as experienced marijuana enthusiasts alike.
During vegetation, the root system of your green ladies will keep becoming stronger and better developed. Because of this, they will need more water than they used to during the seedling stage. This doesn’t mean overwatering your plants, though. Don’t let them sit in water for too long as this can actually weaken them. Instead, water when about 1 inch of the upper layer of soil feels slightly dry but not completely dry to the touch.
Humidity levels should also be lower for vegetative marijuana plants, as opposed to seedling marijuana plants.
Your goal is to gradually lower humidity starting from no less than 60% by the end of the seedling and the beginning of the vegetative phase and going down to about 40% humidity gradually week by week from early vegetation and up to the peak of flowering. This is necessary in order to avoid the much dreaded mold related issues that can spell disaster to any cannabis grower out there. Apart from ruining your crops, mold can have dangerous effects on your health, too, so do not underestimate the possible harm. Do keep in mind that Sativa varieties like Strawberry Cough are more prone to mold related issues than sturdy indicas like Blueberry.
It is during vegetation when various training techniques such as topping, fimming, lollipopping, mainlining, and SCROGging, among others, can be applied to boost yields and maximize the size of your grow space accordingly. Then again, you need to be extra careful when it comes to training autoflowering strains because your time does to so is limited because of autoflowers’ short lifespan and quick transition to flowering.
It is not impossible to train autoflowers, though, but it is best to approach this process as you become more experienced, and hence, more knowledgeable of the basic growth patterns of the autoflowering strains you are growing in your marijuana garden. For example, you will be much better prepared on what to expect when growing OG Kush autoflower, and thus, how to train it properly, once you have at least 1 successful OG Kush autoflower grow operation under your belt.
Marijuana plants require some proper fertilization during vegetation.
If you are using high quality, rich, fertile soil, you may not need to add any extra nutrients. However, for hydroponic growers, an excellent nutrient blend with higher levels of Nitrogen vs. Phosphorus and Potassium is needed.
You can use coffee grounds to boost Nitrogen levels and/or take advantage of the benefits of cannabis companion plants that are known to boost soil’s fertility such as yarrow and marigold, among many others. But be sure to check acidity levels and monitor them.
As far as fertilizing autoflowering cannabis strains during vegetation is concerned, you want to be very careful with the amount and strength of nutrients you use. Autoflowers are not heavy feeders, and in fact, extra fertilizing might work negatively instead of positively on boosting their growth. Not the least, avoid adding slow release nutrients to autoflowers because, by the time the vegetation friendly nutrients are fully released (meaning, dissolved and available to your plants), they might have already transitioned into flowering when they won’t benefit from higher levels of nitrogen.
A week before the flowering stage kicks in, your best move is to flush out the soil in order to help your pot plants be 100% able to fully utilize the nutrients you are about to feed them during the flowering stage. Flushing out the soil refers to the simple process of feeding your plants nothing but pure water with 0 additives or fertilizers for 7-10 days.
Mind that during the last week or so of flowering your cannabis plants will be into their pre-flowering or pre-budding stage, which is also known as the stretch period since they will rapidly grow in both height and stretch (in fact, your plants can easily grow up with an entire inch within a 24 hour period). Because of this, indoor growers need to pay closer attention to the position of their grow lights to avoid burning their rapidly-growing cannabis beauties.
Last but not least, it is during the vegetative stage when the sex of your marijuana plants will be revealed. As long as you monitor your green beauties closely on a regular basis, it will be effortless to spot whether you are dealing with a female or a male cannabis plant. Females will grow their tiny, fizzy hair-like pistils which will then grow in clusters as the flowering stage develops, forming those delicious buds we are eagerly waiting for.
Video by: highholdman – Cannabis growing time-lapse of Vegetative-stage
Ganja Plant Steps into the Flowering Stage
Ah, for the love of flowering cannabis! Is there any better view for a cannabis grower than waking up to notice that the beautiful flowers of his/her green ladies keep fattening and becoming more fragrant and juicer day after day?
However, the flowering stage is also the time when you need to put your utmost devotion, care, and attention in making sure that your cannabis plants will stay away from any trouble. Certainly, most of the accidental growing mistakes or issues due to pests or disease can be handled quite effectively as long as you react in a timely manner. But the truth is, every mistake during the flowering stage will inevitably lead to decreased yields, and that’s why it is best to treat your marijuana plants as nothing less but queens.
Flowering begins when you switch to providing your pot plants with 12 hours of light vs. 12 hours of darkness yet with autoflowers, flowering begins in the absence of the traditional light schedule.
The flowering stage of your cannabis plants can last from as little as about 4 weeks and up to 10+ weeks, greatly depending on the strain you choose to grow.
By the time the flowering stage kicks in, you will have already established a close relationship with your marijuana plants. Therefore, all you need to do during flowering is to keep showering your plants with love, care, and attention, as every single minute and effort you spend and put into nurturing your flowering marijuana plants will pay off when it’s time for harvesting.
It is during flowering when humidity levels must be kept under best control because high humidity levels (anything more than about 50%) can mean bad, bad news for the well being of your green ladies. Flowering is when you can significantly boost yields by using the proper fertilizers for this purpose.
If you are opting for readily available fertilizers, you want to stick with a higher content of potassium and phosphorus vs. lower nitrogen content.
If you are keen on growing cannabis organically, you can brew your very own aerated compost tea, go for top dressing with bat guano, and/or add a mixture of water and molasses (1 tablespoon of unsulphured molasses dissolved in 3 liters of water) to boost the living microorganisms in soil, thus, boosting soil’s fertility and yields in return. As far as fertilizing autoflower cannabis varieties is concerned, don’t forget the number one rule: autos are NOT heavy feeders so you’d better be very moderate if you decide to use any extra nutes.
The flowering stage is the time to simply stick with a well established watering and feeding routine, as well as light schedule in the case you are an indoor grower. If you are an outdoor marijuana cultivator, do everything possible to keep your green ladies from trouble, such as adding stakes or trellising if needed, and/or building a tiny shelter if the weather tends to get too hot, thus, literally frying your marijuana plants during the peak hours.
Keep in mind that UV light degrades THC so for the sake of the potency of the green medication, don’t let your cannabis plants suffer from light stress further exuberated by high temperatures. As a rule of thumb, if the temperature is too hot or too cold for you to bare, it is too hot or, respectively, too cold for your green ladies, too.
On another note, if you want to reap the benefits of yet another intriguing active cannabinoid, namely CBN (Cannabinol), instead of THC, then you can make UV light work in your best favor as it is known to make THC degrade into CBN.
Pot Plants is Ready to Harvest
Finally, the last weeks of flowering have kicked in. You know that harvesting time is near because the hair-like, fizzy pistils that used to be whitish in color have been steadily turning into brownish-reddish hues. Also, instead of being pointy and perky, the maturing pistils have started to curve and twist as they change color.
It is merely a matter of time before you chop down your plants but do not get to this crucial step before flushing out the soil for one last time in the final week before harvesting.
Harvesting cannabis is also the time when you can get to manipulate the benefits you want to reap through consuming a particular strain.
For instance, if you want to enjoy high levels of CBD, it is best to grow a high CBD strain like CB Dream or CB Diesel. But did you know that you can enjoy highest CBD levels by choosing to harvest your marijuana plants when most or all of the trichomes (the tiny mushroom like resin glands that can be clearly monitored with the use of a digital microscope or a jeweller’s loupe) turn opaque in color?
If you are looking for a more euphoric type of high which can boost your energy instead of making you feel completely relaxed and sleepy, then you want to harvest your marijuana plants when about 70%-80% of the trichomes have turned milky white in color.
When more than 80% of the trichomes have turned from transparent to milky white, the high that you can indulge in will be less potent yet much more calming, relaxing, and stoney.
As a rule of thumb, you want to chop down your marijuana plants at night because this is when the sugars travel up to the juicy buds, thus, increasing the potency of the green medication.
Do not skip on properly drying and curing your freshly harvested cannabis flowers as this has a whole lot to do with the quality of your harvest in terms of potency, flavor, and aroma, as well as smoothness of the smoke.
Last but not least, consider how you are about to store your weed stash the best way. Cannabis humidors can work wonders for keeping your cannabis buds fresh, tasty, and potent for an extended period of time.
However, it might be a great idea to consider experimenting with homemade cannabis tinctures, topicals, and/or edibles since this is one of the many fantastic benefits of growing your very own marijuana: you are not limited in the ways you can enjoy and experiment with cannabis because you save much cash by growing your green medication instead of opting for readily available marijuana products.
The marijuana industry is rapidly developing, and you might be astonished to find out how great the edibles sector has evolved, so why leaving behind? Get your awesome cannabis buds and start making your way into the mesmerizing world of marijuana-based recipes. Now, this is what we call the final stage of cannabis plants’ growth: becoming one with the gorgeous plant you have nurtured ever since being only a tender, fragile seed.
Video by: MSNBC – This Is How Pot Edibles Are Made
Every journey consists of small steps, and this is perfectly applicable when it comes to cannabis cultivation.
The key stages in growing marijuana plants are important pinpoints that can help you make the most from your journey with a healthy dose of confidence and a bright, wide smile. Let your cannabis plants speak to you, listen to their language by decoding the signals they are sending to you and there will be no room for regrets because your marijuana growing adventure is bound to make you a better grower, and in fact, a better person after each grow mission. The life cycle of a cannabis plant starts from a seed, goes through growth and bloom, and that is nothing more and nothing less but an extraordinary opportunity to witness the miracle, beauty, and wisdom of life unfold in front of your very eyes.