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Cannabis Growth Stages: A Breakdown Of The Plant Life Cycle

All Cannabis Growth Stages

Cannabis cultivation is a delicate dance between the plant and the cultivator, with each growth stage requiring specific care and attention. As the cannabis plant progresses from seedling to flowering stage, it undergoes a series of transformations that call for different amounts of light, nutrients, and water to thrive.

Understanding the different cannabis growth stages and their respective duration is crucial for providing your plants with the right care at the right time. Whether it’s knowing when to prune, train, trellis, or harvest, recognizing where your cannabis plants are in their life cycle is the key to unlocking their full potential and maximizing your yield.

How Long Till The Marijuana Plant Fully Grows?

The journey of growing a marijuana plant is a fascinating and rewarding experience, but it’s also one that comes with its own set of challenges. On average, it takes between 4 to 8 months for a cannabis plant to fully mature from seed to harvest. However, the timeline can vary depending on several factors, including the type of seed you start with, whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, and your growing techniques.

One of the biggest variables in the growing process is the vegetative stage, which comes after the seedling phase and before flowering. This is when the plant is focused on growing leaves, stems, and branches, and can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the conditions.

Indoor growers have the luxury of controlling the environment and can force their plants to flower at a faster pace by manipulating the light cycle. Outdoor growers, on the other hand, are at the mercy of Mother Nature and must wait for the fall season when the sun starts to go down for their plants to flower and then be ready for harvest. However, outdoor growers can also use light deprivation techniques to control the flowering cycle of their plants.

Cannabis Growth Stages

The growth and development of a cannabis plant can be broken down into several distinct stages, each with its unique characteristics and requirements. Understanding each stage is crucial for the successful cultivation of cannabis. 

So join us to discover the secrets of weed plant’s growth stages:

Cannabis Germination Stage

Seed germination length: 3-10 days.

Cannabis indoor light cycle: 18 hours a day.

Cannabis outdoor light cycle: Direct sun 6 hours a day.

Cannabis germination stage
Cannabis plant in the germination stage.

The journey of a marijuana plant begins with a small, unassuming seed. But don’t be fooled by its humble appearance – this little seed holds the potential for a lush, thriving plant. The key to success is to select a seed that is hard and dry, with a light- to dark-brown color. Avoid any seeds that are squishy or green, as they likely won’t germinate.

Once your seed has sprouted and come to life, it’s time to plant it in a growing medium, such as soil. Watch as the tap root digs deep into the earth, while the stem of the seedling reaches for the sky. As the plant unfolds from the protective casing of the seed, you’ll see two rounded cotyledon leaves emerge. These initial leaves are crucial for absorbing sunlight, helping the plant to grow strong and stable.

As the roots continue to develop, the stalk will rise higher and higher. And before you know it, the first iconic fan leaves will begin to appear. This is when your cannabis plant can officially be considered a seedling – and the exciting journey of growth has only just begun.

Cannabis Seedling Stage

Seedling stage length: 2-3 weeks.

Cannabis indoor light cycle: 18 hours a day.

Cannabis outdoor light cycle: Direct sun 6 hours a day.

Cannabis seedling stage
Cannabis plant in the seedling stage.

As your marijuana plant transforms from a sprout to a seedling, it’s time to watch for the arrival of the classic cannabis fan leaves. At first, the seedling will only produce leaves with a single ridged blade. But as new growth develops, the leaves will start to form more blades, also known as “fingers”. A mature cannabis plant typically has between 5 and 7 blades per leaf, but some plants may have even more.

When your seedling starts to develop leaves with the full number of blades on new fan leaves, it’s officially considered a seedling. Keep an eye out for a vibrant green color, as this is a sign of a healthy plant.

But be careful not to overwater your seedling, as its roots are still small and delicate. Excess moisture can lead to disease and mold, so be sure to keep the environment clean and monitor moisture levels closely. Your seedling also needs plenty of light to thrive, so give it all the sunlight it needs.

If you’re growing your marijuana plant outdoors, many growers will start their seeds inside under artificial light to help them through this delicate stage. And if you’re lucky enough to buy a clone from a grower or breeder, you can skip the seed germination phase altogether and jump right into the exciting world of seedling growth.

Cannabis Vegetative Stage

Vegetative stage length: 3-16 weeks.

Cannabis indoor light cycle: 18 hours a day.

Cannabis outdoor light cycle: Direct sun 6 hours a day.

Cannabis vegetative stage
Cannabis plant in the vegetative stage.

The vegetative cannabis growth stage is where the magic truly happens. This is the time when your plant’s growth truly takes off, and it typically lasts between 3-16 weeks. By now, you’ve transplanted your plant into a larger pot, and the roots and foliage are developing at a rapid pace. This is also the time to begin topping or training your plants, so they can reach their full potential.

As your plant develops, it’s important to be mindful of its water needs. When it’s young, your plant will need water close to the stalk, but as it grows, the roots will also grow outward. So, start watering further away from the stalk in the soil, so the roots can stretch out and absorb water more efficiently.

Vegetative plants thrive in healthy soil with plenty of nutrients. To ensure your plant is getting everything it needs, feed it with a high level of nitrogen at this stage. By providing your plant with the right mix of water and nutrients, you’ll be well on your way to growing a bountiful harvest.

Cannabis Flowering Stage

Flowering stage length: 8-11 weeks.

Cannabis indoor light cycle: 12 hours a day.

Cannabis outdoor light cycle: Direct sun 6 hours a day.

Cannabis flowering stage
Cannabis plant in the flowering stage

The flowering stage is the grand finale of a cannabis plant’s growth journey. This is when the plants start to develop resinous buds, and all of your hard work will finally be realized. Most strains flower in 8-9 weeks, but some can take even longer, especially for Sativa strains.

Outdoors, the flowering stage occurs naturally as the days grow shorter and the plant receives less light. But for indoor growers, the flowering cycle can be triggered by reducing the amount of light the plants receive from 18 to 12 hours a day.

The flowering stage is further divided into three subphases:

  • Flower initiation (week 1-3): During this time, the plant will continue to grow, and female plants will develop pre-flowers, which are the beginnings of buds. Pistils or white hairs will grow out, signaling that the buds are forming.
  • Mid-flowering (week 4-5): The plant itself will stop growing, and the buds will start fattening up. This is when you’ll start to see the buds taking shape and becoming more defined.
  • Late flowering (week 6 and on): Trichome density will increase, and the plants will become very sticky. Keep an eye on the color of the pistils to tell when to harvest.

Once your plant’s transitions from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage, there are a few things to keep in mind. Don’t prune the plants as this can upset their hormones, trellis or scrog your plants so the buds are supported as they develop and air can flow through the plants, and consider giving plants bloom or phosphorus nutrients.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to growing a bountiful harvest.

When Is The Best Time To Grow Cannabis?

Growing marijuana outdoors in the Northern Hemisphere is a timing game. For the best results, growers usually get their seeds between February and April and begin germinating them by the end of April. But it’s not all about the timing of planting – the environment also plays a crucial role.

Many growers start growing seedlings inside in a controlled environment to protect them from the elements and then transfer them outside once they’re a little bigger and the weather is warmer.

If you’re growing clones or autoflowers, you have a little more wiggle room. These plants usually need to be in the ground by the end of June. But be sure to keep an eye on the calendar, as harvest time is just around the corner.

Depending on your local climate and the weather that particular year, harvest could happen anywhere between September and November. Growers in the Pacific Northwest may have to pull down their crops earlier than those in Northern California due to colder weather.

But if you’re growing weed indoors, you have complete control over the timing. You can grow whenever you like, but 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. And when it comes to flipping your plants into flower, the sky’s the limit. You can do it whenever you like, depending on how big you want your plants to be.

Important Notes About Marijuana Growth

As you embark on your journey of growing marijuana, it’s important to remember that the timeframes outlined above are just a general guide for the Northern Hemisphere. To truly succeed, you’ll need to adjust them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.

To truly master the art of growing marijuana, it’s essential to keep a growth journal. This will allow you to track the cannabis growth stages, and look back on your notes to learn from any mistakes. By taking meticulous notes on when and how you perform each step, you’ll be able to maximize the quality and quantity of your buds next year.

In your cannabis grower journal, be sure to note:

  • The weather conditions and how they impacted your plants.
  • The amount of water you gave your plants, and at what intervals.
  • The nutrient amounts you used and when.
  • The timing of when you topped and pruned your plants.

By keeping a detailed record of all of these elements, you’ll have the knowledge and insight you need to become a master grower.


Can you speed up the germination process?

No, keep in mind that cultivating cannabis seeds is a delicate art that requires a specific environment to thrive. These seeds crave warmth and stability, shying away from fluctuating temperatures and excess moisture. Once you’ve delicately planted them in soil, it’s best to leave them be, as tampering with their environment can decrease their chances of survival.

Quality seeds boast high germination rates, but it’s not uncommon to encounter a few duds that simply won’t sprout. However, don’t let this discourage you, as the beauty of cultivation lies in allowing nature to take its course and watching as your seeds transform into lush, thriving plants.

How to tell when a cannabis plant is ready to bloom?

When growing marijuana plants outdoors, the onset of flowering is triggered by the natural decrease in daily light following the summer solstice. As the days get shorter, plants will begin to develop pre-flowers, signaling the initiation of the flowering phase.

Indoors, growers have the ability to manipulate the light cycle to force blooming or “flip” their plants into the flowering phase. By controlling the amount of artificial light the plants receive, growers can effectively trigger the flowering phase at their desired time.

How long can a marijuana plant live?

The growth cycle of weed plants is annual, with a lifespan of one season. These plants will produce seeds that will drop to the ground when the plant dies, which will grow into new plants the following year.

When it comes to harvesting, the plants are cut down and die in order to collect their buds. Therefore, new seeds need to be planted to grow more plants. If the plants are not harvested, they will eventually wither and rot within a few months after reaching the peak flowering phase.

When do buds grow the most?

As the flowering life cycle of marijuana plants reaches its climax, buds begin to flourish and reach their full potential. At the beginning of the flowering stage, you may not notice much budding, but as time progresses, the buds will start to take shape and grow more rapidly. This growth will gradually slow down as the buds become fully formed and mature.

When the buds have reached their peak maturity, it’s the perfect time to harvest your marijuana. The duration of the harvesting process can vary depending on various factors, including the methods used and the number of plants being harvested.


Understanding the growth stages of cannabis plants is crucial for any successful weed farmer. Each stage, from seedling to harvest, requires specific care and attention in order to yield high-quality buds. Properly monitoring and adjusting factors such as light, temperature, humidity, and nutrition can mean the difference between mediocre and outstanding yields.

Remember to always keep a close eye on your plants, and to stay vigilant for any signs of stress or disease. With the right knowledge and approach, you can ensure that your cannabis plants reach their full potential and provide you with bountiful harvests.

Happy growing!

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Comments Of Our Readers!

  1. Whether you’re growing for personal use or commercial purposes, understanding the cannabis growth stages is essential for maximizing its potential! This article certainly explains everything in detail and in a really simple format. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! We always strive to provide our readers with accurate and easy-to-understand information. Thanks for reading, and happy growing!

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