Grow cannabis 12/12 from seed

Stages of Growing Cannabis

Cannabis, weed, marijuana, kush, ganja – whatever you want to call it, it’s now legal to own and grow in the state of Virginia. So what does this mean for those interested in growing it?

Growing Cannabis for the first time can be quite overwhelming. A quick Google search will lead you to hundreds of results with more information than you can ever sift through. There’s so much to learn – lighting, pH, soils, training methods, curing, and so much more. Where does one start?

It’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of information online. The sheer amount of information can almost hinder you when you’re first getting started. I think it’s easiest to just get started and learn as you go.

Starting with gaining a general understanding of the stages of growing Cannabis is a great place to begin before you try growing for the first time. It will help you have a decent idea of what to expect along the way.

How long does Cannabis take to grow?

How long Cannabis takes to grow can vary based on the variety of the plant and conditions it is grown in. On average, from seed to harvest, it takes anywhere from 10-32 weeks (about 3-8 months). It’s a quicker process if you start with a clone (rooted cutting) or an autoflower seed. The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative stage—after the seedling phase and before flowering.

Stages of Growing Cannabis

Every plant begins with a seed. Cannabis seeds should be germinated just like any other seed. They can take anywhere between 3-10 days to germinate, although it can happen in as few as 24 hours or as long as 2 weeks. To germinate, you can place the seeds in a damp paper towel, which you should then place in a dark place, such as inside a drawer. Check on them after a few days to see if the primary root, called the radicle, has emerged. This will look like a little white “tail” coming out of the seed. Once germinated, move them to damp soil.

Alternatively, you can place the seeds directly in damp soil to germinate and grow, without having the trouble of moving them. For this method, I would recommend a seed starting mix. These are usually lighter and fluffier than traditional potting soil, which gives your fragile germinating seeds a start on the right foot. We carry Coast of Maine Sprout Island Blend Organic Seed Starter Mix. It has additional perlite that aerates the soil and helps prevent damping off. It also has mycorrhizae, worm castings, lobster meal, hen manure, and kelp to get your plants off to a healthy start.

2. Seedling Stage

Once your seed has germinated, it’s now time to move the germinated seed from its paper towel to a growing medium. If you started them in a seed starting mix, you will want to move them from the seed tray to a larger pot with a high-quality potting mix, such as the Coast of Maine Stonington Blend Grower’s Mix. This is a super soil, that works especially well for growing Cannabis. It contains mycorrhizae, kelp, alfalfa meal, fish bone meal, worm castings, perlite, manure, peat, coir, and lobster compost that feed your plant throughout the growing cycle, with no need to use additional nutrients.

Plants are considered seedlings for about 2-3 weeks after germination. During this time, the plant should be moved to a spot with direct sun, if growing outdoors. If growing indoors, set your grow lights to run for 16 hours a day.

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3. Vegetative Stage

After the seedling stage, Cannabis plants move to a vegetative stage. This is the time when the plant focuses on leaf production. It will not produce flowers at all during this stage, as the plant needs to grow plenty of leaves to take up enough photons (sunlight) to create the necessary energy to produce large flowers. The vegetative stage can last anywhere from 3 to 16 weeks, depending on the variety.

During this stage, indoor plants need 16-18 hours of light per day, and outdoor plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (“full sun”), plus several hours of indirect sunlight. They will also need plenty of Nitrogen during this point, as Nitrogen is the nutrient that promotes healthy leaf growth.

4. Flowering

The flowering stage is the last stage of the Cannabis plant life cycle. This is the time when your plant will stop putting as much energy into leaf growth and will instead focus that energy on creating the flowers (buds), which are used for medicinal and recreational purposes.

Stages of Flowering – Source: Katie Plummer

Cannabis is triggered to flower when the hours of light it receives are reduced. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until the sun starts to go down in fall for it to flower and then harvest. If you’re growing indoors, you get to play mother nature and can force your plant to flower at any point. When you’re ready for plants to start the flowering stage, change your lights to a 12/12 cycle ( 12 hours with the light on and 12 hours with it off ). You will see signs of flowering in 1-3 weeks . On average plants will be ready to harvest after 8-11 weeks of flowering.

5. Harvest

Your plant will be ready to be harvested once flowers are compact and the pistils turn orange/brown. These pistils look like “hairs” coming out of the flowers.

6. Drying

To dry your Cannabis, hang sections of the plant upside down in a dark, cool space, such as a closet. You want to aim for 55-65% humidity and 60-70°F in the spot that you’re drying your plants in. Prolonged periods of light, friction from handling, and humidity/dampness can degrade resin glands, so you will want to avoid all of these.

During the drying process, plants lose roughly 75% of water weight, which increases the cannabinoid to weight ratio. It also helps equalize moisture content, preserve cannabinoids, and shed chlorophyll.

Cannabis is ready to trim once the stem snaps when bent, typically after 3-7 days of drying.

7. Trimming

After your plant has dried, it’s time to trim! Trimming makes your fingers very sticky, so wear gloves if this is something you want to avoid. Simply trim off the larger leaves and stems. You can leave smaller sugar leaves if you’d like, as these still contain a good amount of cannabinoids and terpenes that provide the medicinal properties of Cannabis. It’s all personal preference of exactly how much you trim off. And you can save all the trimmings to make edibles, tinctures, salves, and more.

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8. Curing

Curing is an essential part and the last stage in growing Cannabis. It helps the buds achieve full aroma. Curing is as simple as placing your freshly trimmed buds in a glass jar with a lid, like a mason jar. You’ll then want to place the jar in a cool, dark place, such as inside a drawer or in a cabinet.

During the first week of curing, you will want to “burp” your jars. This means you should open the containers once or twice a day for a couple minutes to allows moisture to escape and replenish the oxygen inside the container. After the first week, you only need to burp containers once every few days.

You should allow buds to cure for at least 2 weeks, but some people choose to cure for as long as 6 months. This helps stop the loss of moisture and to preserve flavors and aromas.

12-12 From Seed – Flowering Plants Early

The term “12-12” means you’re giving your cannabis plants 12 hours of darkness, and 12 hours of light every day. “12-12 from seed” mean you’re giving a cannabis plant a 12-12 light schedule from a very young age to force it to flower early (make buds) while staying small.

Some growers are attracted to the idea of 12-12 from seed, because it means that harvest will come sooner. How long does it take to grow a plant from seed to harvest?

But does the 12-12 from seed technique work to give you a faster harvest, and if so, what are the results?

I have changed cannabis plants over to the flowering stage from seed, but no matter what the light schedule, plants don’t start flowering (making buds) until they are about 3 weeks old. Initiating a 12-12 light schedule at 3 weeks old from seed is as early as I’d recommend for this technique, if you choose to use it.

“12-12 From Seed” is a misnomer if you’re trying to force your cannabis to flower early – 3 weeks from seed is the earliest time a plant can start flowering after the switch to 12-12

Make sure to let your young marijuana plants get a minimum 2-3 weeks in the vegetative stage before changing them over to flowering. Your plants will be healthier and will start flowering at the same time as if you started 12-12 from when they first sprout.

Giving a 12-12 shedule when a cannabis plant is younger than that will not work to make the cannabis start flowering – a cannabis plant will only grow vegetatively for the first few weeks of life, and giving them less light will only cause them to grow more slowly.

Some strains of cannabis will naturally start flowering after about 3 weeks, and you don’t need to do anything with light schedules to cause that to happen. These strains are known as “autoflowering” or “Ruderalis” strains.

Many Growers Who Want To Force Cannabis Plants to Flower at a Young Age May Be Interested in Auto-Flowering Strains – No Need for 12-12 and Often Much Better Yields!

I have grown a few plants from seed to harvest just in a solo cup container. I was able to do this by flowering a plant from a young age – giving the plant 12-12 lighting when it was only 3 weeks old (pictured here).

These solo cup plants were able to survive their entire lives in a small container. I wouldn’t recommend a solo cup because they tip over easily, and plants are prone to nutrient and root problems once the flowering stage begins (the root space is just way too small, even when doing 12-12 from seed or using an auto-flowering stage).

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But it’s possible.

The downsides… When your cannabis is kept in a too-small container, you will notice that you have to water your plant much more often than if you kept your plant in a big pot. As time goes on, plants are also more likely to suffer from nutrient problems and root problems because the roots aren’t being give enough room to spread out. When plants become root-bound this way, there’s not much you can do about this besides transplanting your plants into a bigger container.

While I wouldn’t recommend 12-12 from seed, and no longer ever use this technique myself, there are growers who are going to do it anyway.

For those growers who still want to use 12-12 from seed despite the warnings here…

If you are set on keeping potted cannabis plants in small containers for their whole lives, the smallest container you should try is a 1-gallon or 2-gallon container, like the pots pictured here.

Keeping plants in tiny containers may be important when growing in a very space-limited grow space, such as growing in a space bucket for stealth reasons.

There are powerful cannabis growth control techniques that will also allow you to grow high-producing plants, while keeping them short.

But like this extreme girl to the right (less than a foot tall and grown under CFLs), I’ve experimented starting the plants on 12/12 from seed to keep plants REALLY small.

When forcing your cannabis to flower early, plants will stay small and spend almost all their energy on producing flowers/buds on what few stems they have, instead of growing tall or making more colas/nodes.

Some people say that cannabis that is forced to flower too early will not make any buds, but that’s not true. The plant pictured here produced 0.75 ounces of bud after drying. So while 12-12 from seed may not be optimal, it does work.

The problems I’ve had with forcing cannabis to flower early is that since the plant is much smaller, you get smaller yields, but you’re still basically spending about the same amount of time to grow the plant as if you’d grown it bigger.

Compared to 12-12 from seed, growing an auto-flowering strain will generally give you bigger yields for the time, and will be less trouble

With such small plants, you don’t have the time to train your plant, which gives you much greater control over the final shape and size of your plant, improving yields without adding much time.

The other disadvantage to overly small plants is their inability to recover well from problems: you have fewer leaves as a ‘buffer’ so the plant can’t bounce back when something goes wrong such as a pest attack. In a too-small container, as roots get more root-bound, cannabis plants have a harder time using nutrients efficiently, and may start showing nutrient problems.

Growing extremely tiny marijuana plants is fun, but honestly you’ll get the biggest yields by instead investing a little more time in the vegetative stage to train your plant to grow into the exact shape you want. Or just grow an auto-flowering strain.