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The Different Phases of Marijuana

Learn the full life cycle of marijuana from seed to harvestable bud, starting with germination and ending with flowering.

For those of you who plan to grow your own cannabis indoors or out, you need to know the different stages of marijuana plants which are germination, seedling, vegetative and the flowering phase. Our marijuana growing guide will teach you all this up until when to harvest and how to do it properly. If you haven’t got much of an idea on this, you could be ruining your plant with too much or too little light, water, or nutrients.

grow stages of marijuana

1st Phase: Marijuana Germination (3-10 days)

The germination stage can go from 3 days to 10 days. This is the stage where you put your seed in soil, paper towel, water or another medium until it shoots out the white taproot from its shell. You will easily be able to tell when your plant has grown this root out by checking if the shell of your cannabis seed has broken open and a white root is present. When this occurs, plant your cannabis seeds in your pots or container about 1 inch deep into the soil with the white tap root pointing down into your medium. If you are growing hydroponically, read this guide here for more information on germinating in hydro.

2nd Phase: Marijuana Seedling Stage (7 to 21 Days)

The seedling phase of marijuana begins when your plant has sprouted its first set of leaves known as “cotyledon” leaves. These leaves indicate that your plant has entered into the seedling stage and soon after, your marijuana plants will begin to show serrated leaves. These leaves won’t look like the textbook cannabis leaves you might be thinking of but instead are just initial leaves to start the plant off. Once your plant has grown these, it will then develop the typical weed leaves we all know about soon after. These true cannabis leaves can take up to 3 weeks to develop from the seedling stage. Once the true cannabis leaves appear, you have entered the vegetative phase.

3rd Phase: Vegetative Stage of Marijuana (4-17 weeks)

Once your marijuana plant has developed its first set of true leaves, you enter the vegetative stage (veg for short). This is the stage where your plant will develop plenty of foliage, increase in height, develop healthy and hopefully large root systems, thicker stems etc. If your growing outdoors, your plant will begin to grow pre flowers which can indicate its stem. There are also tiny white hairs known as pistils to watch out for on the nodes of a cannabis plant.

After 4-6 weeks, you will notice these hairs form if your cannabis plant is female, feminised or autoflower. At about 3-4 weeks in, if you have a male on your hands, little balls will appear which are pollen sacs in the making.

Sometimes it may take longer for these signs to appear and some say changing the light cycles helps bring out these characteristics.

How long does the vegetative phase go for?

The vegetative phase for marijuana can go for 4-17 weeks. To keep your plant in the vegetative phase, opt to provide 16-18 hours of light per day. To stop this phase, change the lighting down to 12 hours light 12 hours dark. The longer you leave your marijuana plants in the veg state, the bigger it will grow and will likely produce a bigger harvest. At around 6 weeks from seed, most weed plants will show their gender with the pre-flowers that develop. Lots of growers only opt for 4 weeks of veg so they can get a quicker turnaround but this doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger harvest. If you want better results, leave your plant in the veg state for up to 17 weeks if you have the capacity in terms of space, time, nutrients and money.

marijuana different grow phases

4th Phase: Flowering Stage of Marijuana (8-11 weeks)

At any moment you stop providing your cannabis plant fewer hours light, say from 16 hours down to 12 hours, it begins to flower. Cannabis plants need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark to enter in the flowering phase. Be diligent in making sure your plants receive 12 on and 12 off. Do not interrupt the darkness and light ratio at this point otherwise your plant may be adversely affected. Plants that are mistreated may start to revert back to the veg state or become hermaphrodites.

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Flowering stage outdoors

For cannabis plants to bloom or flower outdoors the days need to get shorter. Generally speaking, around February is when the days get shorter to signal to your plants to start its flowering phase.

Autoflower Cannabis Strains

When growing Autoflower strains, you dont need to worry about changing the lighting, the plant will mature ti develop its female traits automatically. No need to switch lights from 16-18 on, to 12 on to 12 off. The autoflower marijuana plant will grow and bloom automatically in 3 months.

Length of the Flower Phase

This depends on the strain you’re growing. As a rough guideline, it takes 8-11 weeks for your marijuana plant to finish flowering. But to be more accurate, indica predominant strains will take up to 8 weeks to flower and sativa takes 10-12 weeks. Hybrid cannabis strains (mix of both sativa and indica) generally takes 6-10 weeks to finish flowering.

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