Growing Weed From Seed Stages

Ever wondered what each stage of growth is like when cultivating DIY weed? In this article, we explain the 7 key cannabis growth cycle stages. With each stage of growing weed, there are tips and tricks you need to know to optimize success and maximize yields. ✓ Find out more here. Understanding marijuana plant stages 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

The 7 Stages of the Cannabis Plant Growth Cycle

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.

Some of these states allow users to grow their own pot at home rather than buying from a state-run dispensary. This can save them money if they are a talented cultivator.

And then there are other states, in which recreational marijuana is legal. In fact, Colorado, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Maine make no distinction between medicinal grows and legal grows. In other words, any adult of legal age can cultivate marijuana in their home, but there are limits as to how many plants you can have.

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.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

1. Germination: Between 24-Hours and 2 Weeks

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.

Growers want to use female plants because these are the only ones that produce a massive quantity of trichomes. In case you didn’t know, trichomes are the white crystals packed full of cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Male plants are virtually useless, but they could end up contaminating your crop if you keep them around.

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.

There are a few ways to germinate a cannabis seed, but most people use the paper towel method. It’s super easy and won’t take long at all. Here’s what to do:

  1. Soak four paper towels in water and place two of them on a plate. Space out the cannabis seeds on top of the paper towel.
  2. Place the other two paper towels on another plate. Use this plate to cover the other one, so the cannabis seeds are inside.
  3. Keep the room temperature somewhere between 70 and 90˚F, and keep checking to make sure the paper towels are still wet.

Check on your seeds every so often. Eventually, a white taproot will sprout from the seeds. Germination can take anywhere between 24 hours and seven days, so be patient!

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.

When handling the seed, be extremely careful. Avoid touching the taproot as it is fragile and may break. At first, you can transplant the seed into 2-inch pots of soil.

Congratulations! The seed is ready to start growing.

2. Seedling Stage: 2-3 Weeks

Once the germinated seeds are planted, they will begin growing. A little cannabis plant will sprout from the soil and begin to develop familiar characteristics. During the seedling stage, it will produce two leaves that open outward from the stem to start receiving sunlight. Next, its trademark cannabis leaves will begin to sprout at the top of the plant as it enters its first growth cycle.

During this time, the plant will also start developing its root system. While this is happening, it is officially a seedling. Pot plants can stay in the seedling stage for 2-3 weeks, but this stage may last for up to 6 weeks in rarer cases. The length of time can vary depending on the strain you’re growing and a few environmental factors.

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.

3. Vegetative Stage: 3-8 Weeks

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.

Vertical growth will take place now, with plants growing taller. We have heard of people’s plants gaining 2 inches in height in just 24 hours!

You will now be able to tell what kind of plants you’re growing as they show their defining characteristics. Sativas will become taller and narrower, whereas indicas will appear short and bushy with dense foliage.

Furthermore, the end of the vegetative stage provides a vital opportunity to look for males in your crop. As plants leave this stage, the females will start developing two white pistils, where males will grow pollen sacs. If you see these sacs, remove the plant from the vicinity before it pollinates the females and ruins your harvest.

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.

4. Flowering Stage: 6-8 Weeks (Most Important Stage!)

The flowering stage is the last stage of growth, and it is the most crucial for you as a cultivator. You can transition plants into the flowering stage by reducing their light exposure. A 12-12 cycle (12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness) is ideal.

When the plants flower, they begin to produce a sticky resin on the leaves. Trichomes will develop, too. This means that the cannabinoids in the plant are developing nicely. The final potency of the cannabis will depend on how long it spends in the flowering stage.

At this point, you should keep the temperature somewhere between 68 and 77˚F, with the humidity at around 50%. You can stop giving the plant nitrogen now, but up the intake of potassium and phosphorus.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

5. When to Harvest Marijuana

Now comes the tricky part: Figuring out when is the right time to harvest! You will have to keep a close eye on your plants to determine when it’s the right time to reap them. Your timing can affect the smell, taste, weight, and potency of the final product.

A good trick is to look closely at the pistils. When they begin to turn brown, and the leaves start to yellow, now is the time to harvest. Generally, experts say you should harvest the plants when 70-90% of the pistils have browned. If the pistils are entirely brown, the marijuana may be ‘overripe’ – it won’t taste good, and its effects will be less pleasant.

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.

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

6. Pruning Your Marijuana

After cutting down the plants, it’s time to prune them. This process ensures you will have rounded and smokable bud. You can perform wet or dry pruning. The general consensus is that the former method is easier. When the plants are dry, the leaves curl in on themselves, and it’s harder to perform the task at hand.

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.

Pick the fan leaves off the buds, and then trim off the sugar leaves. You can use these leaves for edibles, or you can throw them away. It’s also a good idea to collect the resin which accumulates on your gloves to use for dabs – it’s pretty potent stuff!

See also  When To Transplant Weed Seeds

Once pruned, your buds are ready to be dried and cured. And then your work is complete!

7. Preparing for Next Season’s Cycle

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

One option is to buy more seeds from a seed bank. This way, you can keep buying and trying different strains.

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

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.

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.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

Stages of Growing Weed 101 – The Top Things You Need to Know

Weed is a highly complex plant in comparison to most considering it has distinct stages of cannabis growth stages. Unlike other plants that typically grow with just sun, soil, and water – each weed plant stage requires its own specific protocol of nutrients, light, and environmental conditions to survive and thrive. Which makes knowing these stages of cannabis growth from the start that much more crucial for the overall health of your plants. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the stages of growing weed with all the information you need to know for success.

The Germination Stage

As the saying goes, ‘it all starts with a seed’ which holds true for cannabis growth stages.

Unless of course, you’re beginning crops with clones, which is a cutting from a plant in its vegetative state. In that case – you can skip to that portion of the guide but for the most part, seeds still reign supreme especially for home grows.

First thing’s first, you’ll want to ensure the seed you’ll be germinating is viable. If you’re unsure of the quality or viability of seeds there are a few telltale signs to check for. Healthy seeds should be brown in color with visible stripes, and shouldn’t feel weak or be white or green. If you’re waiting to germinate your seeds, or storing them for future crops, be sure to keep them in a cool, dark space like a refrigerator or cooler area of your home.

The act of germinating seeds promotes the ‘popping’ of the initial seedling. This initial sign of life is the plant’s taproot that will take hold in your chosen medium. While some growers do just toss a seed in soil and hope that it takes, germinating the seed before the seedling stage is the best way to guarantee your seed takes life. In the germination stage seeds need –

  • A warm temperature
  • Humidity
  • Air
  • Water

One common way to nurture germination with these factors in mind is a method that requires a couple of plates or a ziploc bag and a paper towel. Slightly dampen the paper towel and fold it in half once or twice. Place the seeds inside the paper towel, and fold the other half over them. You can then place the paper towel in a plastic bag, and store it somewhere dark. Or, between two plates works as well.

In general, you can expect to see your seeds pop in 3-10 days making that duration the entire length of time for the germination stage. Every day or so, check back on the seeds to see if the taproot has emerged and once it has – you’re ready to move onto the cannabis seedling growth stage. So, let’s cover that more in-depth, next.

The Seedling Stage

For the start of cannabis seedling growth, you’ll place the germinated seed and taproot into your medium of choice. It’s ideal to use a small pot size for seedlings with adequate drainage for optimal results. To keep it simple, many growers use solo cups with holes in the bottom during this stage of growing weed.

Once the seed is in its growing medium, soon the growth of cotyledons AKA the first oval-shaped leaves will emerge. From there, upon providing the optimal conditions for seedling growth you’ll notice serrated leaf growth. Over the next three weeks, the seedling will continue growing new leaflets until digitate leaves sprout which are the more recognizable ‘fan leaves’ you’d expect from cannabis plants.

When plants are in the early seedling stage it’s imperative to provide an environment that’ll nurture optimal health. Because cannabis seedlings are more sensitive in this stage, they won’t require as many nutrients to start but will benefit from the following –

  • Water with pH levels ranging between 6 – 7
    • Pro tip: Use a spray bottle to water young seedlings to avoid overwatering.

    In regards to lighting, cannabis seedlings benefit from lower intensities of light with a blue spectrum if possible. As for light cycles, seedlings thrive with 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness to optimize photosynthesis for healthy, overall growth. It’s best to keep lights around 24-36 inches away from the top of the seedling, to avoid burning, but also close enough to provide optimal levels of energy.

    Due to the delicate growth of cannabis seedlings they can be highly susceptible to mold. To avoid any mold issues, it’s recommended to keep the area free of excess moisture and as clean as possible. Last but not least, as cannabis seedling growth progresses the level of nutrients should be slowly increased. This increase in nutrients is vital to the transition of seedlings to vegetative plants, which we’ll cover next.

    The Vegetative Stage

    The vegetative stage of marijuana may be less thrilling than flowering but is just as important for maximized yields. That’s because the veg period is spent bolstering the plant for strong, healthy growth to support the buds you’ll soon be harvesting. To continue favorable environmental conditions, here are a few controls to keep –

    • Warm temperatures ranging between 71 – 79℉
    • Relative humidity kept between 40-60%
    • Watering with pH levels between 6 and 7
    • Increased airflow, and CO2

    A part of the process in strengthening the plant is providing adequate levels of nutrients, with an increase of nitrogen, and establishing a regular feeding schedule. In addition, you’ll want to allow your roots the room to grow which requires the transplanting of your plant into a bigger pot. Without transplanting, your roots can become rootbound. Rootbound is a condition where roots hit the side of the container, and begin circling. If the circling continues, the roots can choke themselves which significantly deters plant health or kills it altogether.

    Some growers will transplant their veg plants into a medium-size pot and then transplant once more before flowering. While others will wait until their veg plants are big enough, and transplant into the final flowering container size just once and avoid the extra step. Each method is appropriate and the decision ultimately depends on the grower’s preference, budget, or size of the room.

    For light cycles, the veg stage of cannabis growth continues to require 18 hours of light with 6 hours of darkness for photosynthesis purposes. Plants will also continue to benefit from higher spectrums of blue light during vegetative growth, which can promote even node spacing, and canopy uniformity. Because each stage of marijuana growth benefits from different spectrums of light, LEDs are quickly becoming the preferred grow light setup for their full-spectrum capabilities.

    While it’s important to monitor the plants closely in every cannabis growth stage, a close eye is even more crucial during the vegetative period if growing with a regular or non-feminized seed. As you may know, cannabis plants are dioecious meaning they can be male or female in sex. However, female cannabis plants are the ones that produce high levels of cannabinoids, like THC that are associated with high-quality crops. So, the veg stage is when growers determine if plants are female or male, discarding any males that pop up immediately to avoid pollination. Typically, plants will show their sex around the 6-week mark for reference.

    All in all, the veg cannabis growth stage typically lasts anywhere from 4-8 weeks. But just because a plant can go into flowering at 4 weeks – doesn’t necessarily mean it should. By doing so you can risk growing a smaller plant than originally intended. The transition from veg to flower will depend on the strain, and upon the specific plant’s health or stature hence the variation in the estimated time range. Ultimately, growers will decide when individual plants or crops are big and strong enough to support the flowering stage of growing heavy buds, themselves, or go based on strain history.

    In fact, – the vegetative stage of marijuana growth can go beyond 8 weeks, and even perpetually. Many commercial growers will keep ‘mother plants’, or varieties forever in veg that have stable, consistent, and trusted end-results. This is where the art of ‘cloning’ also comes into play, as they can ‘clone’ the variety over and over with successful results and without the risk of unknown genetics or phenotypes.

    But how? Plants can be kept in their vegetative stage because cannabis is photoperiod in nature. Meaning, the species requires specific periods of light and dark to begin blooming or flowering. So, without further adieu – let’s move on to the flowering portion of our weed plant stages guide to learn more.

    The Flowering Stage

    Finally, we get to the stage of growing weed when the magic happens – the infamous flowering period. The flowering weed plant stage begins when light cycles of 12 hours of light, and 12 hours of dark get initiated. This occurs outdoors when the days become shorter towards Fall, and indoors when growers set specific schedules of light. During the flowering stage of marijuana growth, here are a few key factors to maintain –

    • Warm temperatures ranging between 65-79℉
    • Relative humidity ranging between 40-50%
    • pH levels ranging between 6 and 7
    • Maintain airflow, and increase CO2

    Lighting is more intense during the flowering stage and a red spectrum is beneficial for the growth of plants. Flowering plants will also benefit from another increase in nutrients, and during the final weeks, growth can be supplemented with the addition of ‘bloom’ solutions that have ample amounts of phosphorous.

    Flowering cycles will differ upon the strain but ranges from 8-12 weeks. During this time, there are a few distinct periods of growth, including –

    1. Flowering initiation (week 1-3) –With new light cycles and amplified light intensity, plants spend the flowering initiation period growing and stretching in size. In this stage, plants often double in size and begin showing signs of flowering like the emergence of pistils, or white hairs. Reaching week 4, bud sites will begin to appear in the nodes of the plant, where the main stem and branches meet.
    2. Mid-flowering (weeks 4-5) –In weeks 4 and 5, plants stop stretching and growing in size and stature and begin packing on weight instead. It’s important to maintain regular and adequate levels of nutrients during the mid-flowering stage of growing weed as this is when the development and production of cannabinoids and terpenes are strongest. The extra strength is also helpful for the fattening of buds, which can be supported by trellis’ or staking and tying. Near the end of mid-flowering, pistils will also begin to darken as the cannabis life cycle matures.
    3. Late-flowering or ripening (weeks 6+)-The final weeks of ‘ripening’ in late flowering is when the flower buds gain the most weight, making the additional support measures that much more important. Especially considering plants can bend and break from bud weight. This is also the weed plant stage when that sticky-icky crystal coating of resinous trichomes becomes more established. These trichomes also play a pivotal role in deciding when to harvest, as their transparency and coloring change as the stages of marijuana growth progress. The flower’s pistils will also transform in color, and curl inward near the end of growth, too.

    When the plant is nearing the end of its cannabis life cycle – flushing is recommended as one of the final steps during the flowering stage. Flushing refers to only watering your plant for the last week or two. Essentially, this ‘flushes’ out nutrients by triggering the plant to use the nutrients leftover in the plant – a crucial step in finishing the flowering stage and increasing plant senescence. Without this step, plants can be less aromatic or harsh upon puff, puff, passing.

    After flowering and flushing, come the final stages of growing weed which is the harvesting of plants, along with the drying, and curing of buds. For more detailed information on the post-growth cannabis life cycle, including when to harvest, and how – we’d recommend checking out our complete guide to growing indoors.

    Nourish to Flourish – The stages of growing weed

    While the stages of growing weed differ greatly there’s one important thing to remember for each – you’ve got to nourish to flourish. Meaning, with each cannabis growth stage, the plant requires a specific routine of nutrients, lights, and environments for optimal growth and health.

    Even though the cannabis life cycle may be somewhat tricky to master for beginners, with the information you gained today you’ll be on autopilot for managing weed plant stages before you know it.

    So, keep staying in tune with all the latest knowledge on navigating the stages of cannabis growth, and providing your plants with the TLC they need. Stay connected to Scynce for more grower tips and tricks by following us socially or signing up for our email newsletter today!

    Understanding marijuana plant stages

    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.

    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.

    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.

    The marijuana growth cycle

    Beginning with tiny seeds and culminating in rich harvests, the marijuana growth cycle can last between 10 and 26 weeks, or as much as half the year. Therefore, growing your own cannabis entails a sizable commitment of time and effort, but the rewards may be equally abundant. In three to six months’ time, you can raise a crop to serve you with plant-based medicine, recreational enjoyment, or both. The marijuana you grow can transform into smokable, edible, and topical treasures that may offer a combination of physiological and psychological benefits.

    The cannabis plant requires differing amounts of nutrients as it grows. There are three primary nutrients for the cannabis cultivator to understand: nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus . Nutrient packages often label these big three components as NPK , based on the chemical symbols for each one. In addition to these most vital nutrients, there is another trio of secondary nutrients to be aware of: magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. Finally, marijuana requires an array or micronutrients which tend to appear naturally in soil. Some of these micronutrients, or trace elements, include zinc, manganese, iron, boron, chloride, cobalt, and silicon.

    The key is balance when nourishing a weed plant. All-in-one mixes tend to be too broad, while overloading with one single nutrient, even those in the NPK group, could be hazardous to the plant’s health.

    Where to plant cannabis

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

    Outdoor cultivators often begin to grow their plants in the spring to prepare for a fall harvest. Choosing the right soil is perhaps the most vital component for outdoor cultivators. Choose a soil chock full of plant nutrients and organic materials, including microbes, earthworm castings, and forest humus. Some soils are even classified as “super soils” because they minimize or eliminate the need for liquid nutrients. Overall, an investment in cannabis-compatible soil is the biggest investment for the outdoor cultivator.

    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.

    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.

    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

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    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.

    Germination Stage

    Duration: 24 hours to 2 weeks

    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.

    You’ll want to purchase feminized seeds and germinate them. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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    On the other hand, male plants are not as useful and could in fact contaminate your female plants. Therefore, you’ll want to purchase feminized seeds and germinate them. Online seed banks are an excellent resource to find feminized seeds.

    Seedling Stage

    Duration: 2 to 3 weeks

    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.

    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

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    Nurture your seedlings in a warm environment with a temperature of approximately 77 degrees Fahrenheit with 60 percent accompanying humidity. Fertilizer (preferably nitrogen-based) and light are also vital during the seedling stage. To determine what’s best for your particular plant, research the strain that you are cultivating. By the time this stage concludes, your plants will have outgrown their tiny pots.

    Vegetative Stage

    Duration: 3 to 8 weeks

    Also called the vegetation phase, the vegetative stage marks a significant growth spurt for your seedlings, which you will need to transfer to larger pots. Growth occurs rapidly during the vegetative stage, with vertical growth especially pronounced. Can you imagine your plant growing two inches taller in just 24 hours? It could happen!

    Growth occurs rapidly during the vegetative stage, with vertical growth especially pronounced. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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    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.

    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.

    Flowering Stage

    Duration: 6 to 8 weeks

    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.

    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

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    The flowering stage also represents the final stage in the growth cycle but not in the life cycle of your cannabis plants. One key distinction of the flowering stage is a reduction of light on your plants. No longer does a cannabis plant require 24 hours of light; 12 hours will be adequate, along with a corresponding 12 hours of darkness.

    A consistent temperature range of 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended as your marijuana flowers, along with moderate humidity of 50 percent. Nitrogen is no longer the most important nutrient; now feed your cannabis plant potassium and phosphorous instead.

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

    Harvesting Stage

    Duration: Varies; Harvesting generally takes place in fall for outdoor plants but can occur any time of year for indoor plants.

    Congratulations! The harvesting stage is when you reap the rewards of your careful planting and cultivation. The challenging part is knowing exactly when to harvest and proceeding with care. If you harvest too soon or too late, your weed may not taste or smell the way you expect, and you could also affect the potency.

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

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    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.

    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!

    Pruning Stage

    Duration: Varies; May begin in spring to anticipate a fall harvest for outdoor plants or start in any season for indoor plants.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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

    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.

    Cloning Cannabis

    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.

    Of course, if you were not satisfied with your harvest, then breeding and cloning would not be a good choice. Perhaps the strain you chose was too potent, or not potent enough, for your preferences. In this case, revisit an online seed bank and take the opportunity to learn the difference between strains. Explore your options and you’ll not only educate yourself about the growth process but you’ll also enjoy the ride.

    Cultivating marijuana at home

    Understanding these stages of growth is the first step towards cultivating a healthy yield of cannabis. Observe the development of your plants throughout the process and consider keeping a journal of their progress. As you work through trial-and-error with your crops, you can pinpoint which techniques work best to deliver the desired results. You’ll also have the satisfaction of seeing a cannabis plant through from its smallest form as a seed to full maturity when it’s ready to smoke, eat, and enjoy.

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