Witnessing the life cycle of the cannabis plant is both fun and fulfilling to the growers. Each growth stage comes with its own difficulties and positives, making the whole process even more challenging.
Cannabis goes through an annual cycle that takes anything from four to ten months, depending on the strain and medium of growth. Growers that are not new to the cannabis life cycle know everything in all the phases of growth.
Newbies, however, may not know much. If you intend to become a serious cannabis grower, you need to have all the basics about the cannabis life cycle at your fingertips, which is the reason for this article.
Table of Contents
Cannabis Growth Stages
The cannabis life cycle has five stages: germination, seedling, vegetative, pre-flowering, and flowering. Each stage comes with specific needs that include lighting, temperature levels, water needs, nutrients, and more.
1. Germination Stage
Seed germination is the first stage of every plant, including cannabis. Even though the stage is one of the easiest to handle, you should put quality on top of the things to focus on. You can tell if your cannabis seed has good quality by just looking at it. The seed should have a brownish color, feel hard, and be dry.
The seed contains a germ inside that breaks to form a root during germination. After the seed germinates, the next step is to transplant it to your preferred growing medium. The majority of cannabis home growers germinate their seeds using the old paper towel method. However, there are other methods to germinate the seeds too.
The germination stage takes 24 hours to a week, depending on the strain. Between Sativa and Indica strains, the Sativa seeds take longer to germinate. The germination stage ends after the first cannabis plant two leaves form. The seed loses the husk, paving the way for the beginning of the next stage.
2. Seedling Stage
The seedling stage is one of the most challenging phases in the cannabis life cycle. The seedlings are fragile during this stage and susceptible to several diseases if not handled with enough care. Feeding the seedlings with too much water and nutrients or fertilizer can hamper the growth of the seedlings. During the seedling stage, the most crucial need for the plant is lighting, which should be as much as possible.
If you are growing the seedlings outdoors, you are in luck because you have direct sunlight to take care of the lighting needs. If you are growing the plants indoors, you have to find the best LED grow lights to provide the seedlings with full-spectrum light. Providing the seedlings with ample water and light allows the development of stronger roots and healthy marijuana plants with green cannabis leaves.
Do not expect the number of leaflets and leaf shapes to be the same on all cannabis-growing seedlings because they vary depending on the strain you grow. During the seedling stage, the plants display one leaflet. Towards the end of the stage, expect to see five to seven leaflets in a single leaf. The entire seedling stage takes anything from two to four weeks, again depending on the strain.
3. Vegetative Stage
The vegetative phase is one of the most important and major phases in the cannabis life cycle. It is the stage where most of the growth occurs, with the plants fleshing out before they start flowering. Cannabis plants require lots of attention, nutrients, light, and energy for healthy growth.
During this stage, the plants take the cannabis form you are familiar with if you are a grower. The growth of the plants is rapid in both width and height. Some of the most noticeable things are thick stems with several branches and fully fingered healthy and green leaves.
The rapid growth during the stage maximizes the cannabis plant’s ability to bear flowers with more surface areas for better structural integrities and light exposure, which is the reason for growing marijuana.
Another easily distinguishable feature during this stage is the sex of cannabis. The sex of the plants starts to show towards the end of the phase, which is one way of paving the way for the next stage. It also makes it easier to remove the male plants before they release pollen and fertilizing the females.
Leaving only the female plants ensures that the yield you harvest will be seeds instead of buds. Depending on the strain, the vegetative stage takes anything between one to five months.
4. Pre-Flowering Stage
Though the pre-flowering stage is important in the cannabis life cycle, many growers consider it a sub-stage. The pre-flowering stage is also an extension of the vegetative phase and one-step away from the flowering stage. Plants continue fleshing out with their focus shifting to node and branch development.
Another noticeable feature of the stage is the appearance of calyx at the nodes. During the pre-flowering stage, the plant receives less light and the days become shorter. The plants also need more water during this stage.
Some cannabis growers enhance the formation of buds during this stage by feeding the plants with special fertilizers. Also, phosphorous and potassium based nutrients are common during this stage to enhance and speed up the bud growth process. The pre-flowering stage takes one day to two weeks.
5. Flowering Stage
The last stage before harvesting is the flowering phase, which is also one of the most anticipated stages in the cannabis life cycle. You finally get to see grown buds with clear visibility of the sex of the plants. It gets even easier to pick out the males and separate them from the females before they spread their pollen. The males are easily noticeable by their ball clusters containing pollen.
On the other hand, the females produce flowers with milky pistils. The pungent smell of cannabis is also unmistaken during this stage. The flowering stage takes between one and four months, depending on the strain. It is important to note that the flowering stage, which includes the pre-flowering phase, is the longest in the cannabis life cycle.
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Wrapping It Up
The above stages make the growing cycle of the cannabis plants, and each one of them comes with its specific needs. Some of the cannabis growth stages are more challenging than others do, but they provide the best learning experiences to become better cannabis growers.
Another thing to note is that the time it takes to complete the cycle from germination to harvesting depends on the strain you grow.