The growth stages of marijuana can be broken down into four primary stages from seed to harvest:
Once your seed has germinated, or sprouted, it’s ready to be placed in a growing medium, like soil. The tap root will drive down while the stem of the seedling will grow upward.
Notes on marijuana growth phases
We can’t stress enough that the timeframes in the above 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.
As roots develop, the stalk will rise and you’ll begin to see the first iconic fan leaves grow, at which point your cannabis plant can be considered a seedling.
What are a weed plant’s growth stages?
Cannabis plants go through a series of stages as they grow and mature, and those different growth stages call for different amounts of light, nutrients, and water.
In cooler climates, growers should wait on putting plants in the ground until there is no danger of overnight frost, and plenty of sunshine. As Bill Cook, master grower at Kanna-Wise eloquently put it, “a heavy freeze is killin’ your trees.” An old gardener’s rule of thumb is to move plants outside after Mother’s Day, and they should definitely be outside and/or in the ground by the Summer Solstice.
Folks in cooler climates often elect to start plants indoors to keep them safe and warm, waiting to plant outdoors until they’re somewhere between 6 inches and a foot tall and strong enough to handle the environment outside. Even in warm climates, many growers like to start their plants indoors to give them a leg up since seedlings are susceptible to pests, disease, and mold.
Plant companions. “Plant beneficial companion plants like marigolds, basil, lemon balm, or lavender. Not only do they invite pollinator insects into your garden, but they also invite beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, which will prey on cannabis pests like aphids,” recommended Natalie Cox, a horticulturist and cannabis educator in Canada.
Spring to early summer: seedling stage
Photo by: Damien Robertson/Weedmaps
Are you thinking about growing your own cannabis? New to being a plant parent? Wondering when you should plant your cannabis seedlings outdoors?
As far as timing when to sprout your seeds, a general rule of thumb is on or around the Spring Equinox. If you’re not growing from seed but instead buying clones, they’ll already be in the seedling stage when you get them so you don’t have to worry about germination.
Let’s talk about what “weed season” means in the US, and how you can time your outdoor grow to get the best results.
Here are some of great auto-flowering strains I’ve personally grown and recommend. These are all ready to harvest 8-10 weeks from germination:
Counter-clockwise from top left: Alaskan Purple Auto, White Widow Max Auto, Candy Kush Auto, Pink Kush CBD 30:1 (short purple plant), Zkittlez Auto, Gelato Auto
Once your plant is harvested, there is a drying and curing process that takes about a minimum of two weeks before your buds are “ready” for smoking. If you aren’t a smoker and plan on turning plants into edibles or concentrates, you should still dry your buds but typically you don’t need to cure your buds.
The average indoor cannabis grow takes 3-4 months from seed to harvest. The full range is 2-6 months and depends on the strain and desired size of plants.
Fr om day 1 of your marijuana plant’s life to a smokable harvest, you’re looking at 2-6 months. Many factors affect the total time (especially the strain and size of the plant) but the average grow takes 3-4 months .
Auto-flowering plants tend to stay small since they go from seed to harvest in under 3 months. These auto-flowering plants produced about 7 ounces.
You can control the timing if you plan ahead.