Growing marijuana at home is an excellent investment for any person who appreciates the plant for recreational or medicinal purposes, but you don’t go from tiny seeds to resin covered buds overnight.
In general, it takes roughly a few months, give or take a few weeks for your marijuana plants to be harvest ready, and lots of factors can affect the time it spends in the pot (or water bath, if you prefer a hydroponic set up). Read on to learn more about the growth cycle of a cannabis plant, and how you can influence its health at each stage to encourage a fatter, healthier harvest.
Ages and Stages
There are four stages marijuana plants need to go through before you can turn your sticky buds into something smokeable, or whatever form you prefer your cannabis to take for ingestion.
- Seed + Germination: Perfect little marijuana seeds need to be germinated before they can be planted in your favorite medium for the next phase of their life. This process can take as little as three days, but can last as long as two weeks in some cases. As soon as your seeds have developed a taproot, they’re ready to be transplanted and enter the next stage of their growth cycle.
- Vegetative: This stage begins once you’ve planted your seed with its 1/4 to 3/4 inch long taproot in your growing medium. Over the next month or so, you can watch as the seedling bursts through the surface and converts all that much needed water and sunlight into energy to help it produce a sturdy stalk, stems and leaves. This period can last anywhere from three weeks to two months and longer depending on the breed and strain, particularly if it has been crossbred with ruderalis to take advantage of its autoflowering capabilities.
- Flowering: After the necessary vegetative stage comes the flowering stage, when your marijuana plants will begin to produce flowers and sticky, crystalline resin, and this can take 8-12 weeks. Bare in mind, the longer a plant stays in the vegeatative stage, the more likely it will produce a more bountiful harvest. The same can be said for plants that spend longer flowering over those with a shorter flowering stage, as buds have more time to bulk up.
- Dry + Cure: Technically not part of the “growth” period of a marijuana plant, this period is part of the waiting game, and is integral to good ganja. When you’ve finally harvested the buds (being sure to leave a decent amount of stalk), the final stage, where you dry and cure the buds for long term storage, can take from two weeks to a month or longer. When done properly, not only does this period ensure you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for as long as possible, but it can also improve the flavor, aroma, and potency of the bud, as well as reduce the chance of your smoke causing headaches or other unwanted effects.
Indoors vs Out
Like all plants, marijuana plants thrive outdoors, but indoor gardens can take their growth to the next level.
Indoor cannabis gardening allows you to have complete control over the atmosphere, you can dictate temperature, humidity, water, nutrition, and when the light cycle changes to trigger the switch from vegetative to flowering stage.
A main benefit to growing indoors over outdoors, your cannabis garden can grow year round. Outside, marijuana plants are beholden to the natural cycle of light and dark, and buds begin to form sometime around the end of June when the daylight hours begin to dwindle after the summer solstice. Generally speaking, most marijuana strains are ready for harvest sometime mid to late October. Wait too long and the cooler weather can have significant impacts on your final product.
Marijuana planted outdoors may take slightly longer to grow, but purists tend to weight the benefits over the cons:
- The sun is the ideal light source, providing all the spectrums a marijuana plant needs to thrive;
- When not confined, cannabis plants can breathe and take advantage of fresh air and natural circulation;
- Taking into consideration the above, outdoor gardening is significantly cheaper, as you aren’t paying for expensive equipment or electricity.
A Closer Look at the Flowering Stage
Although every part of a marijuana plant’s life cycle is important, the flowering stage is the most exciting, as its during this period when marijuana plants truly shine (literally and figuratively). Below, a rough guide to what you can expect as your marijuana baby undergoes one of its final transformations:
- Weeks 1 & 2 Plants will make the transition from vegetative to flowering
- Weeks 3 & 4 You’ll begin to notice “budlets” forming at the nodes where the leaves meet the stem
- Weeks 5 & 6 The buds begin to get fatter, and you will notice more as they develop along the length of the stalk and lower branches
- Weeks 6 to 8 Buds start to “ripen”, crystals begin to form along the surface of the flowering sites and leaves, and the delicate white pistils will start to darken
- Weeks 8 and beyond As budding sites get fatter and pistils turn from white to brown, you will begin preparing your plants for the final flush (to remove excess food and nutrition and improve the overall taste) and harvest.
When you can’t wait
They say good things come to those who wait and its true – the longer you allow your marijuana plants to “do their thing”, the better your finished product. But, if you can’t wait that long, you may want to consider the following strains in your therapy garden:
- Northern Lights – in addition to being a totally well-rounded and easy-to-grow marijuana strain that’s suitable for beginners, Northern Lights is also pretty quick on the draw, and flowers within 7 to 9 weeks.
- OG Kush – a strain that should be on everyone’s bucket list, OG Kush is a potent marijuana that offers up an above average yield within about eight weeks of flowering.
- Hash Plant – considering Hash Plant credits Northern Lights as one of its parents, it should come as no surprise this densely budding plant can be ready for harvest within as few as 40 days of flowering.
- Gigabud – another offspring of a Northern Lights cross, fruity Gigabud will be finished flowering within 50-60 days and will produce a hefty crop of extremely sticky buds.
- Critical Kush – this indica-dominant hybrid only needs 50-60 days of flowering to produce a monstrous yield of 21 ounces per square meter of heavy-hitting weed.
Thanks to modern breeding techniques, many of your favorite strains now come in autoflowering varieties, so be sure to keep an eye on what’s available when you’re ready to start your garden growing.
The final word
Much like choosing an avocado (except with a larger margin of error), there’s a “harvest window” for marijuana plants – if you cut the buds down too soon you risk not allowing them to achieve their full potential, where waiting too long will cause result in plants with more medicinal properties than psychoactive (gardeners seeking medicinal marijuana may want to consider this when selecting strains for therapeutic purposes).
Did you know that allowing your marijuana plants to remain in the flowering period for a little longer can increase the overall yield? It gives your buds a chance to bulk up further. You’ve waited this long, what’s a little longer to guarantee fabulous, homegrown weed?
Great ganja gardens don’t get that way on their own, they start with great seeds, and we guarantee you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for when you shop our wide selection of indica, sativa, and hybrid feminized and auto-flowering marijuana seeds.