Cannabis Cultivation

The 4 Key Stages to Marijuana Growth

Stages to Marijuana Growth

Understanding the Growth Stages of Cannabis Plants

Cannabis plants undergo a sequence of distinct growth stages, each with its unique needs regarding light, nutrients, and hydration. Recognizing these stages and the duration of each is pivotal to cater to the needs of your plants and make key decisions, such as pruning, training, and harvesting.

The Duration of Growing a Marijuana Plant

Young Cannabis Seedlings

The typical growth duration of a weed plant, ranging from seed to harvest, is approximately 10-32 weeks or 3-8 months. Starting with a clone or autoflower seed can hasten the process. The vegetative stage, nestled between the seedling phase and flowering, will introduce the greatest variability in the growth timeline.

For indoor growers, there’s an option to force flowering within a few weeks. Meanwhile, outdoor growers must align with the natural seasons and can also utilize light deprivation techniques to control the flowering cycle.

A Breakdown of Weed Plant’s Growth Stages

Cannabis seedling getting first true leaves

The development of a marijuana plant can be divided into four essential stages:

  1. Germination (3-10 days): During this phase, cannabis seeds should be hard and dry. Proper germination conditions will promote healthy growth.
  2. Seedling (2-3 weeks): This stage sees the sprouting of the seed and the growth of the initial iconic fan leaves. It’s crucial not to move the seeds too much or overwater them.
  3. Vegetative (3-16 weeks): This stage is characterized by rapid development of roots and foliage. Adequate watering and nutrients are essential here.
  4. Flowering (8-11 weeks): The final stage is marked by the formation of resinous buds. The subphases include flower initiation, mid-flowering, and late flowering or ripening.
Cannabis in Flowering

Key Stages Explained

Germination: Cannabis seeds require a warm, stable environment for germination. Quality seeds are likely to sprout, but patience is vital, as assisting the seeds can harm their chances.

Seedling Stage: When the plant becomes a seedling, the traditional cannabis fan leaves begin to appear. It’s crucial to avoid overwatering and to give ample light during this delicate stage.

Vegetative Stage: This stage is characterized by vibrant growth. The plant will need increased watering, healthy soil, and a high level of nitrogen.

Flowering Stage: The culmination of growth, flowering, varies among strains. Indoor growers can induce flowering by manipulating light, while outdoor growers must align with the natural seasons.

Other Important Considerations

  • Pre-Flower Stage: Recognizing pre-flowers helps in determining the plant’s sex.
  • Early or Late Flowering: Knowledge of your strain will help you adapt to early or late flowering plants.
  • Bud Growth: Buds usually grow most towards the end of the flowering cycle.
  • Lifespan of a Marijuana Plant: Weed plants are annuals; new seeds must be planted each season.

When to Grow Marijuana

Outdoor Cannabis Flowering in Summer

Outdoor growers usually get their seeds between February and April, with harvesting occurring between September and November. The exact timing depends on your local climate. Indoor growers enjoy more flexibility and can grow year-round.

Important Dates and Notes

Many outdoor growers begin as early as February and March, waiting until after Mother’s Day to move plants outside. Understanding local weather and climate is key, and a grow journal to document your experience is highly advisable.


Growing cannabis is a process that requires attention to detail, patience, and an understanding of the different stages of growth. From germination to flowering, each phase demands specific care and conditions. By following these guidelines, you can cultivate healthy cannabis plants and enjoy a fruitful harvest. Your efforts during the long growing season can result in a rewarding experience, as you savor the products of your hard work. Whether a seasoned grower or a novice, continuous learning and adaptation to your local environment will lead to successful cannabis cultivation.

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