If you’re growing from seed, the first step in the life of your cannabis plant is germination. Once the seed has sprouted, it will immediately grow two little round leaves, called cotyledon leaves, that will be responsible for delivering energy to the seedling until it starts to grow the more familiar fan leaves we all know and love.
Early spring: germination stage Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Early spring: germination stage
During this phase, growers might consider topping and training their plants to encourage outward growth. This provides more even distribution of light to the leaves while also managing overall plant height. More water will be needed as the plant develops large root systems and additional nutrients like nitrogen are beneficial as the plant matures.
Are you thinking about growing your own cannabis? New to being a plant parent? Wondering when you should plant your cannabis seedlings outdoors?
Mid-to-late fall: harvest season Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Most growers top their plants a few times (two or three) throughout the season to encourage outward development and make plants bush out. It’s a good idea to give them an initial top after the plant develops five or so nodes.
One of the most important things to know is that cannabis is dependent on a photoperiod, meaning that it changes from the vegetative to flowering stage when days start to shorten and nights get longer. You want to time things right so your plants can maximize their exposure to light during the summer before fall sets in.
Pruning and cleaning up plants is done as-needed. You want to get rid of dead leaves and lower branches that won’t get light so the plant can use that energy for producing buds in healthier branches.
I can’t stress enough that the time frames on this graphic are ranges of time for the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll need to adjust them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.
Move outdoors/Put in the ground
Growing and harvest times here reflect ranges of time in the Northern Hemisphere. For more growing tips on specific regions, check out this guide on different climates.
Growers in colder climates will need to finish their harvests earlier, sometimes as early as September, for fear of wet, cold weather setting in and molding out buds. Warmer climates can sometimes harvest well into November.
Everything should be cleaned up, dried, and curing well before the Winter Solstice. Now’s a good time to make your own cannabutter, topicals, or tinctures with all that trim from the harvest. Kick your feet up, relax, and hunker down for the cold, it’s been a long growing season!
On the West Coast of North America, cannabis farmers in Northern California have a long season: They can put plants outside early and harvest later into the season because of the region’s relatively warm weather.
Some old school gardeners will tell you to wait until after Mother’s Day to take them outside, and generally speaking, you want them in the ground by the Summer Solstice at the latest.