Nowadays, many marijuana consumers like to grow their own pot. If it is legal in your state, cultivating cannabis at home has a number of benefits. It ensures easy and relatively cheaper access to the herbs and, more importantly, you can rest assured knowing that the quality of the weed is not compromised in any way. In order to be a successful cannabis grower, you need to have a solid understanding of its lifecycle. Even if you have no plan to cultivate weed on your own, this knowledge would definitely make you a more learned connoisseur of marijuana. Hence this post. Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the journey of weed from seedling to harvest.
Lifecycle of weed from seedling to harvest
We have been using cannabis since the beginning of human civilization. Neolithic archaeological sites in China bear evidence to the fact that our ancestors knew about the herb some 10,000 to 4,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, cannabis was used as a therapeutic to treat medical conditions like glaucoma and hemorrhoids. Over the last century, both medical as well as recreational consumption of marijuana have increased all over the world and a number of countries have either decriminalized or fully legalized it. Spending on legal pot in Canada is expected to reach approximately $5.2 billion by 2024. In places where marijuana is legal, there is no dearth of both online and brick-and-mortar physical dispensaries which sell good quality flowers. Still, there is nothing more exciting than growing your own toke. If you are strict on organic farming, there is no better way to ensure that your weed has no toxic pesticides. But cultivating requires knowledge. The very first thing that you need to understand is the complete lifecycle of weed from seedling to harvest. Let’s break down the whole process to the stages and take note of the unique challenges in each stage.
How long is the entire lifecycle?
Cannabis is an annual plant, meaning its full life cycle is completed within a year. There are three varieties of the plant: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and hybrids. Most of the species reach the end of their lifetime after 4 to 10 months. There are four stages in the life cycle of cannabis:
- Seed germination
If you buy a ‘clone’ from a cannabis breeder, it is already a seedling. So a grower can effectively skip the first stage of the lifecycle which is germinating the seedling from a seed. Still, let’s begin with what is technically the first stage in the life of a cannabis plant – the seed germination.
- Seed germination stage
Like all other plants, the life of cannabis begins as a seed. Good quality seeds are the most essential element for growing potent cannabis plants. Good weed seeds should be hard, dry and brownish. Another very important lesson: not all seeds produce marijuana that can be smoked, vaped or consumed otherwise. Only female plants produce high-inducing trichome-rich cola flowers. Never forget to separate female seeds from the male ones unless you don’t want to waste your labor in cultivating impotent plants.
It takes 3-10 days for the seeds to germinate. Indica is usually faster than the sativa in this case. First a taproot and a stem shrug off the seed casing and then two cotyledons or seed leaves grow out of the stem. When that happens, you have to understand that the germination stage is now complete.
- Seedling stage
This stage begins with two embryonic leaves growing out of the stem. In this stage, the baby plant develops its root system and the first iconic marijuana leaves appear. The plant goes through the seedling stage for 2-4 weeks. This time is extremely sensitive as the seedlings are prone to mould attacks or other diseases. The grower needs to take special care at this stage of cultivation. Once the plant forms all the leaflets for each of its new leaves, the seedling stage ends.
- Vegetation or Growth stage
This stage takes 2 to 16 weeks depending on which particular strain you are cultivating. This is the main growing phase when the plant fully takes off. This is the stage when you need to shift the plants to larger pots or to the plot in your backyard. The success of this stage of cultivation depends on whether your plant is getting enough healthy soil, nitrogen-rich organic nutrients, fresh warm water, light and flowing, dry air. Per day 12 to 15 hours of warm sunlight or 18 hours of fluorescent light is usually recommended. Low exposure to light halts the upward growth of cannabis plants. If you can ensure these factors, your plant will grow rapidly and robustly.
- Flowering and Harvest
This is undoubtedly the most exciting stage in the whole lifecycle while you can watch the trichome-rich ‘fruits’ appearing on the branches and maturing. Usually when the summer fades into fall and the plant starts receiving less sunlight, the plants start reproducing. Those who are cultivating them indoors, can trigger the flowering phase by reducing the light exposure at the end of the vegetation stage.
Cannabis plants require plenty of water at the flowering stage. They are also needed to be trellised so that the weights of the growing buds can be supported. And never prune the plants during this stage, it can upset the hormone balance and ruin the potency of the buds. The buds grow the most at the end of the flowering season. Once your buds are fully matured, it’s time to harvest them. The flowering stage usually takes 6-11 weeks barring autoflowering strains, which can be harvested within a month. Mostly indica varieties take less time – 6-8 weeks. For sativa strains, the harvest time arrives much later – longer than 3 months in some cases.
This is how the lifecycle of weed from seedling to harvest looks like. Now, get some clones from a cannabis breeder and start growing your own marijuana at home!