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Cannabis Growing 101: Know Your Plant’s Life Cycle

More states continue to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. This has, in turn, spurred the rapid growth of the cannabis industry. Currently, the industry has billions of dollars’ worth in retail sales.

As per the Cannabis Act, adults can grow up to four weed plants per household. However, some territories and provinces impose added restrictions on growing cannabis. Naturally, you would be curious to know about the life cycle of a cannabis plant. 

Read also: What Is Craft Cannabis

If you want to experience the feeling of pride and satisfaction smoking homegrown pot, it’s crucial to know the entire life cycle and what the plant requires to prosper. 

Here is a definitive guide on the different stages from seed germination to harvesting.

Seed Germination 

The seed marks the first stage of a marijuana plant life cycle. Typically, the cannabis seed is hard and dry, with its color shade ranging from light to dark brown. You want your cannabis seeds to produce female plants and no male plants. 


Because it’s only the female plants that produce the trichome-rich flower buds packed with cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. These are usually harvested for smoking, vaping, dabbing, and ingestion. Male plants produce none of that. 

Allowing male plants to grow next to female plants will lead to less bud harvest and may mess up the euphoric qualities of the female weed plant. Only buy feminized cannabis seeds from the various seed banks available. 

The next step is to germinate these seeds. Germination is the growth of a plant from seed following a period of dormancy. The best method to germinate cannabis seeds is to apply the paper towel method. 

Here’s the method:

  • Soak a paper towel in water to make it damp.
  • Fold your cannabis seeds in a wet paper towel.
  • Leave them in a warm dark room for a few days until the seed grows its taproot. 
  • Upon noticing the taproot, transfer the seed from the damp towel into a pot of fertile soil.
  • When handling the cannabis seed, don’t touch the taproot owing to its frailty.

Seedling Stage

Seedling Stage

The planted germinated seeds begin to grow. At the seedling stage, two embryonic leaves sprout and open outwards beyond the stem to receive sunlight. Note that the embryonic leaves look different from the weed leaves that you’re accustomed to.

As the plant enters the initial growth cycle, you will notice the presence of ordinary cannabis leaves. You can expect the baby plant to sprout between four and eight leaves during the seedling stage. Also, the root system starts developing at this stage.

The seedling stage may last for about two or three weeks. The time duration may vary based on:

  • The strain of cannabis grown
  • Soil type
  • Amount of water
  • Humidity
  • Airflow
  • Quality of light
  • Duration of light

Vegetative Stage

The plant’s development accelerates in the vegetative stage. Make sure you’ve moved the plants to a larger pot just before this stage kicks off. The root system and foliage are undergoing rapid growth as they take up more nutrients. 

Due to the rapid growth, your cannabis plant will require:

  • Uninterrupted, dry air
  • Nitrogen-rich nutrients, like seaweed or liquid fish
  • Plenty of soil space
  • Increased watering
  • 16-24 hours of sunlight

All of this together contributes to the growth of your cannabis plant from 7 inches to 2-3 feet tall within three to six weeks. 

The end of the vegetative state allows you to verify whether or not all your plants are female. Female plants will develop two white pistils, while male plants will have small green sack structures to accommodate pollen. If you notice these sacs, get rid of the male plant immediately before the sacs burst open and pollinate with the females. 

Flowering Stage

This marks the last phase of growth. It’s also the most crucial stage. Cannabis plants usually halt their vertical growth when they start receiving reduced natural light or a reduction from 18 to 12 hours of indoor fluorescent lighting in a day. 

To shift your THC trees into the flowering stage, you will need to reduce the amount and duration of light exposure. Leave the plants exposed to 12 hours of light, and then expose them to total darkness for another 12 hours. This light reduction tactic will definitely work. 

Your pot plants need phosphorus and potassium-based nutrients to set cannabis flowers correctly during this stage. When they begin to flower, you’ll notice a sticky resin on the leaves. Long, hair-like strands or trichomes will start to develop over the next 8-10 weeks. This is your source of cannabinoids. 


How do you figure out the ideal time to harvest? The trick is to be observant. Pay close attention to the pistils. When they transform from milky white to brown or rusty orange, this is the opportune time to harvest. 

If you want to harvest your cannabis plant for its strong CBD or THC potency, don’t allow all the pistils to turn brown because it means they are overripe. As a result, you won’t enjoy its full medicinal or psychoactive properties. 

Read also: Why Curing is So Critical for Quality Cannabis

Instead, it’s recommended that you harvest the plant when half the pistils have browned. A higher ratio of white to brown pistils signifies your marijuana is highly potent. On the other hand, a higher ratio of brown/orange to white pistils means your cannabis will be less potent or produce milder effects.

You can use either a sharp pruning tool or a pair of scissors to slice the trunk from the roots when harvesting your bud. 

Using your homegrown pot may be truly satisfying. You can give it a go using this definitive guide and see how it turns out. You never know it might turn out to be your newly found hobby. Over time, you can start planting the most exotic cannabis strains

Ideally, check out the regulations in your locality. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law by growing marijuana in an area where it is not legal. It may attract stiffer penalties. If your state permits it, though, roll up your sleeves and enjoy the experience. 

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