When you grow your own cannabis, you’ve got to care for the plants through every stage of their natural life cycle. To help you — help your plants, it’s important to know what to expect during each of these stages. There are four stages of cannabis growing.
During each stage, your plants will experience a different type of growth. And they’ll also have different needs depending on which stage they’re in.
The following overview will help you know what to expect during each stage of the life cycle. This will help you be prepared to give your plants whatever they need so they can eventually produce a healthy harvest of bud.
Stage 1: Germination
During the germination phase, cannabis seeds burst out of their hard shell and begin to sprout.
Water is the key to this phase.
Out in nature, seeds lay dormant all winter long until spring. The seeds soak up a ton of moisture as snow melts and spring rains roll in.
The moisture causes the embryo’s tissues to swell and grow until it splits the seed’s outer shell. From there, the embryo is able to grow into a little sprout.
The young sprout begins sending a root downward into the soil. At the same time, it starts stretching up toward the sun in preparation for its first leaves.
The first leaves a sprout sends out are called “embryonic leaves,” or “cotyledons.” These are small, oval-shaped leaves that help trigger the process of photosynthesis.
As soon as the sprout has a little root established and its embryonic leaves are starting to soak up sunlight, the plant is ready to move on to the next stage.
Stage 2: Seedling
The seedling stage begins when the sprout develops its first set of “real” leaves, the ones that actually look like growing cannabis leaves.
Throughout the seedling stage, the plant will begin growing a strong root structure. It will also start growing taller and sending out additional sets of leaves.
Each new set of leaves will be larger than the last. At this point, the plant grows rapidly, as its bigger root system and larger leaves allow it to take in more nutrients.
Throughout the seedling phase, it’s crucial that your baby plant gets the right amount of water and a ton of light. This will give it a jumpstart on the entire growth cycle.
Stage 3: Vegetative Growth
This third stage is the one where the huge majority of growth takes place.
By now, the plant has a strong root system in place and a few sets of large, healthy leaves. If it gets the correct amount of water, the right balance of nutrients, and plenty of light, the plant will grow quickly.
It will begin setting out more and more branches, each with its own thick foliage.
The plant will continue its intense vegetative growth as long as it’s getting a full day’s worth of light. When the amount of light it gets each day drops down below a certain level, the vegetative stage ends and the flowering stage begins.
In nature, the vegetative stage usually lasts around four to six weeks.
Stage 4: Flowering
Light triggers the flowering phase.
Cannabis plants have a hormone that is light sensitive. As long as the plant gets enough light, the hormone remains dormant.
But when the amount of light the plant gets in a day dips below a certain point the hormone is activated.
This, in turn, triggers the reproductive, or flowering, phase of cannabis growing.
All of this usually begins when a plant gets somewhere around 12 hours of light or less per day.
During this phase, the plant focuses all its energy on producing flowers.
This is the most exciting phase when growing cannabis, as this is when you’ll see the plant start putting out its buds.
As the flowering phase of cannabis growing continues, the buds will get big and heavy. Eventually, you’ll see the trichomes covering the buds change from clear to milky white.
You’re ready to harvest when there are few clear trichomes left, and they’ve all transformed into the crystal-covered, white, frosty buds you’ve been dreaming about.