The different stages of marijuana plant growth

Published Jan 25, 2019 05:28 p.m. ET

There are four different stages to a marijuana plant’s growth. Each one a little different than the last, with the plant’s priorities changing as it matures. To fully understand the complete growing cycle of marijuana plants you will need to know what each of the following stages means, and how to spot them.

Weed plant stages

Germination stage - 24 hours to 2 weeks
Cannabis plants use sexual reproduction to produce seed. Almost every seed created will have two parents and will carry the genes of one male and one female plant, with the exception being hermaphrodite plants. Only female plants provide trichome rich bud that contains cannabinoids that produce the high and other benefits such as THC and CBD as well as terpenes. For the best chances at producing a female plant, you will need a feminized seed. They will also give the fastest germination rate. The germination stage covers everything from 24 hours after the germination process begins to two weeks later.

Seedling stage - 1 week to 3 weeks
This stage begins once the sprout is ready to be planted and requires lights. During the seedling stage, the plant will start to produce its first two leaves. This process begins with only two leaves opening to absorb the nutrients from the light source at the very top of the plant. The ideal temperature for this stage is 77F with an average humidity of around 60%.


Vegetative stage - 3 weeks to 8 weeks
The vegetative stage is where things really get going. The plants and foliage will appear to be growing daily at this point. The plants are now able to absorb and process a much more significant amount of nutrients like carbon dioxide. The average height a plant will gain during this phase is between two and twenty-four inches depending on the strain chosen. For a plant at this stage to flourish it will require light for sixteen to twenty-four hours and plenty of nutrients and water. A temperature of 72F and humidity level of between 50% and 60% is ideal.

Marijuana flowering stage- 6 weeks to 8 weeks
This is the final phase of the cannabis plants growth and the most important. During the flowering stage plants will require an even twelve hours on and twelve hours off for lighting. It is important to gradually reduce the number of hours your plant is exposed to light to ensure the least amount of stress. The flowering stage is when males become visible as the plants are reaching a higher level of maturity. It is also when the plant will contain and produce the highest levels of THC, CBD, pistils, and terpenes. For this stage, a temperature of 72F and a humidity of 50% is recommended.

When to harvest your marijuana - 3 months to 4 months
Harvesting your yield is a great feeling and an exciting time for a grower. Between your hard work paying off and the fresh smell of bud in the air, it's difficult sometimes to decide when exactly to harvest a cannabis plant. There are several things to consider such as specified grow time according to the strain you chose, the color of the pistils, and the trichome colors visible on your cannabis plant. The pistol can give an accurate estimate of when a plant should be harvested. They should change from white to a shade of orange when ready. The trichomes are a bit different and should be viewed under a microscope to accurately gauge how prepared they are. A small lens offering a 30x to 100x range should work perfectly. During this stage, trichomes will slowly change. From clear to cloudy and then reddish amber. Amber indicates the highest potency and the best chances that your plant is ready to be harvested. However, some people prefer the cloudy or opaque stage since it offers a more mellow buzz. This stage usually happens between three months and four months and can vary depending on the strain you choose.



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