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3 week old cannabis plant

Cannabis Growth Timelapse: One Chapter at a Time (With Pictures)

Last updated: May 4, 2020

The growth of a cannabis plant can be divided into 5 main chapters: germination, seedling, vegetative, flowering, and finally, budding. Within these stages of growth, many changes occur to the plant that should be noted and carefully watched for by the grower. Here, we’re going to dive into these different stages, to give you an idea of how long things generally take and what to keep an eye out for during cannabis growth.

Chapter 1: Germination

This is where it all begins, the seed. During this formative stage of growth the cannabis seed, once planted or placed in a germination station, breaks apart and the spindly taproot emerges looking for nutrients.

Featured Image Credit: High Times

1-week-old plant

The seed should be hard, dry and darker brown to grey before being used. Younger seeds won’t “pop” as readily. It can take up to a week to 10 days for the plant to finally emerge from its seed, but once it finally does it is ready to be transferred into a more permanent location.

This is assuming the grower is using a germination technique that doesn’t involve direct planting, otherwise, they simply need to wait for the plant to sprout to begin the seedling phase.

Chapter 2: Seedling

As the taproot of the germinated plant begins to take hold, the first set of iconic fan leaves begin to develop. This signals the beginning of the plant’s seedling stage of growth and should be placed in a large growing area immediately if it hasn’t been done so already.

2-week-old plant

The first leaves should be developing at this point, which the plant uses to photosynthesize light into nutrients.

It will grow a bit taller and begin to straighten up during this week. The very first new growths will appear as well, which will be another leaf along with the development of additional blades on the current leaves. Initially, they will be quite small.

Featured Image Credit: Big Buds Mag

3-week-old plant

A healthy plant will start turning a more vibrant green color and those blades will finally start becoming sizable, it will start looking more and more like a marijuana plant at this point. Once these seedlings fully develop these initial leaves and blades, they will be considered maturing and move onto the next stage of growth.

Chapter 3: Vegetative

After those initial leaves develop the plants begin to enter a stage of explosive growth. This is the vegetative stage. A healthy vegetative stage is the period of growth most associated with great yields, as the size of the plant can make a huge difference at the end of it all.

This is also the stage with the greatest variability for the length of time it will take to get through, dependent on strains and growing conditions.

It can last anywhere from 3-16 weeks, so knowledge of the particular strain being used is crucial here.

4-6 week-old plant

Somewhere in this time-frame is generally when the sex of a plant can be determined. The pre-flowers develop here, though they can be quite small, and once sex is determined it is time to separate the males from the females before any fertilization can take place.

Sexing can technically wait until the flowering stage, but cautious growers should remove them now.

Featured Image Credit: 101GrowLights

7-12 week-old plant

The length of the vegetative stage of growth is dependent on the genetics of the plant, as well as the period of time they are receiving light. Plants can technically remain in the vegetative state pretty much indefinitely, but eventually, it will hit its max growth or the amount of growth comfortable for the room and need to be switched over to flowering.

There will be a ton of foliage at this point and the plants will want more water than seems possible. Any training should be done at this stage, as long as the plant is healthy and growing rapidly.

Chapter 4: Flowering

This is the final stage of cannabis growth. All the previous work keeping the plant healthy and structurally sound pays dividends here as the plants begin to produce their buds. All males need to be removed at this point, otherwise, fertilization will occur and the females will lose a fair amount of yield and quality.

Flowering is triggered by the light cycle shifting to 12 hours on and off, so the timing of it will vary from grow to grow but this generally begins around week 13 of a grow.

13-14 week-old plant

This is the transition phase. It technically isn’t flowering at this point, but the plant will begin preparing for bud growth. The biggest growth occurs in this short period, the structure it develops within the vegetative stage is important now as the plant can almost double in height during this transition.

Towards the end of these transition weeks, the first wispy, white hairs known as pistils will begin developing. These are what eventually will become the buds that you’re after.

Featured Image Credit: Reddit

15-16 week-old plant

Those pistils will begin developing larger and larger and become darker in color. This is also when the odor from the plant becomes very apparent, so a good filtration system is a must at this point for indoor grows.

The growth of the plant will begin to slow down here as well, eventually stopping altogether as the plant’s energy will be focused entirely on the buds.

Buds will not have grown too much at this point, so don’t worry if they are still fairly small.

Chapter 5: Budding

17 weeks and onward

The final stage of flowering will have begun at this point for most plants, and the length of time can be variable. Buds will begin to grow very quickly now, seemingly overnight turning into dense flowers all over the plant.

The rest of the growth is up to the plant, but when it seems to be getting close to harvest time flushing nutrients is important for a quality tasting harvest. Simply flush the plants with pH-balanced water and stop administering nutrients at this time to ensure a good harvest.

Featured Image Credit: Reddit

Conclusion

The weeks involved for each plant are variable for a lot of conditions, but this is a good general gist of what each week and group of weeks involve for standard cannabis grow.

Things like auto-flowering plants or quickly growing strains will heavily veer off this, but for the most part, following this guide will give a grower a good idea of what to expect each week of their growth.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels

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Cannabis Growth Timelapse: One Chapter at a Time (With Pictures) Last updated: May 4, 2020 The growth of a cannabis plant can be divided into 5 main chapters: germination, seedling,

Stages of the marijuana plant growth cycle

Cannabis plants, like all living things, go through a series of stages as they grow and mature. If you’re interested in cultivating cannabis, it’s especially important to understand the changes a plant undergoes during its life cycle, as each stage of growth requires different care.

Different stages call for different amounts of light, nutrients, and water. They also help us decide when to prune and train the plants. Determining a plant’s sex and overall health rely on stages of growth as well.

How long does it take to grow a marijuana plant?

Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from 14-32 weeks, or about 4-8 months, to grow a weed plant.

The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative cycle—if you’re growing indoors, you can force it to flower after only a few weeks when it is small, or after several weeks when it is big. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until fall to harvest. The plant will develop buds in the last 8-11 weeks.

The life cycle of cannabis can be broken down into four primary stages from seed to harvest:

  • Germination (5-10 days)
  • Seedling (2-3 weeks)
  • Vegetative (3-16 weeks)
  • Flowering (8-11 weeks)

Seed germination (5-10 days)

Light cycle: 18 hours of light

The first stage of life for a cannabis plant begins with the seed. At this point, your cannabis plant is dormant, patiently waiting for water to bring it to life.

You can observe the quality of the seed by its color and texture. The seed should feel hard and dry, and be light- to dark-brown in color. An undeveloped seed is generally squishy and green or white in color and likely won’t germinate.

To begin growing from a seed, learn more about germination here. This stage can take anywhere between 5-10 days.

Once your seed has popped, it’s ready to be placed in its growing medium. The tap root will drive down while the stem of the seedling will grow upward. Two rounded cotyledon leaves will grow out from the stem as the plant unfolds from the protective casing of the seed. These initial leaves are responsible for taking in sunlight needed for the plant to become healthy and stable.

As the roots develop, you will begin to see the first iconic fan leaves grow, at which point your cannabis plant can be considered a seedling.

Seedling stage (2-3 weeks)

Light cycle: 18 hours of light

When your plant becomes a seedling, you’ll notice it developing more of the traditional cannabis leaves. As a sprout, the seed will initially produce leaves with only one ridged blade. Once new growth develops, the leaves will develop more blades (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.). A mature cannabis plant will have between 5-7 blades per leaf, but some plants may have more.

Cannabis plants are considered seedlings until they begin to develop leaves with the full number of blades on new fan leaves. A healthy seedling should be a vibrant green color. Be very careful to not overwater the plant in its seedling stage—its roots are so small, it doesn’t need much water to thrive.

At this stage, the plant is vulnerable to disease and mold. Keep its environment clean and monitor excess moisture.

Vegetative stage (3-16 weeks)

Light cycle: 18 hours of light

The vegetative stage of cannabis is where the plant’s growth truly takes off. At this point, you’ve transplanted your plant into a larger pot, and the roots and foliage are developing rapidly. This is also the time to begin topping or training your plants.

Spacing between the nodes should represent the type of cannabis you are growing. Indica plants tend to be short and dense, while sativas grow lanky and more open in foliage.

Be mindful to increase your watering as the plant develops. When it’s young, your plant will need water close to the stalk, but as it grows the roots will also grow outward, so start watering further away from the stalk so the roots can stretch out and absorb water more efficiently.

Vegetative plants appreciate healthy soil with nutrients. Feed them with a higher level of nitrogen at this stage.

Flowering stage (8-11 weeks)

Light cycle: 12 hours of light

The flowering stage is the final stage of growth for a cannabis plant. Flowering occurs naturally when the plant receives less than 12 hours of light a day as the summer days shorten, or as the indoor light cycle is shortened. It is in this stage that resinous buds develop and your hard work will be realized.

If you need to determine the sex of your plants (to discard the males), they will start showing their sex organs a couple weeks into the flowering stage. It’s imperative to separate the males so they don’t pollenate the flowering females.

There are a number of changes to consider once your plant goes from its vegetative stage to flowering:

  • Your plants shouldn’t be pruned after three weeks into the flowering stage, as it can upset the hormones of the plant.
  • Plants should be trellised so that buds will be supported as they develop.
  • Consider feeding plants with blooming nutrients.

What week of flowering do buds grow the most?

Buds typically grow the most toward the end of the flowering cycle, around week 6-7. You probably won’t notice much budding out at the beginning of flower, and it will slow down toward the end of the cycle, when buds become fully formed.

Once the buds have reached full maturation, it’s time to harvest.

This post was originally published on July 18, 2017. It was most recently updated on January 17, 2020.

It’s important to understand the changes a growing cannabis plant undergoes during its life cycle, as each stage of growth requires different care. ]]>