Good weed comes to those who wait. But just how many months do you need to grow cannabis, and when can you harvest your first yield? Everyone's wondered how long marijuana plants take to grow at some time, and the answer is quite relative but we'll do our best to give you a general idea! Growing your own weed takes time and energy, but when you obtain your first harvest, you’ll know how rewarding it is. Growing weed isn’t hard science,
How long does it take to grow cannabis?
Good weed comes to those who wait. But just how many months do you need to grow cannabis indoors?
The average time for most indoor cannabis plants is roughly four months, but that could fluctuate depending on dozens of factors.
While it’s tough to say when your cannabis strain will mature, you could get a general timeline by reviewing marijuana’s primary stages of development. New growers should get comfortable with these phases to monitor their plant’s progress and schedule their time.
From germination to recreation: the average life cycle of cannabis plants
Traditionally, cultivators recognize four distinct phases in a cannabis plant’s life cycle before harvesting:
- germination: 1-14 days
- seedling: 2-3 weeks
- vegetation: 2-8 weeks
- flowering: 8-10 weeks
You could, however, eliminate the germination and seedling phases if you start with clones rather than seeds. In this overview, we’ll assume you’re beginning with a batch of healthy, feminized seeds.
It also assumes that the seed you have chosen is photoperiod sensitive, meaning that it’s flowering cycle is driven by how much light the plant is exposed to.
1. Germination phase: get your seeds going
You could plant cannabis seeds directly in soil, but most cultivators prefer coaxing out taproots before putting seeds in their growing medium.
Establishing these first roots gives cannabis seeds extra strength during the delicate seedling phase. It also allows growers to “weed out” any weak seeds beforehand rather than wondering whether they’d take root in soil.
The simplest way to jump-start germination is to wrap seeds in a slightly damp paper towel and cover them with a plate. You could also place seeds in a glass of purified water. The important thing is to keep these seeds far from light.
You also should take extra care to avoid contaminating seeds with your fingers. Some cannabis cultivators use tweezers to avoid any unintentional cross-contamination.
Usually, you’ll see white roots sticking out of your seeds in less than one week. There are some rare cases where it could take longer than two weeks, but you probably shouldn’t wait any longer than 14 days.
Monitor your seeds every day for signs of progress, and place them in starter pods once they show signs of development.
2. Seedling phase: growing baby buds
Seedlings should be ready to transplant into your main soil pot after two to three weeks (Shutterstock)
As your cannabis seedlings first reach for life, they will be incredibly fragile. During this early stage, you must use gentle lighting like a dimmed LED or a CFL bulb for 16 hours per day. 1
You should also only mist your cannabis seedlings with pH-corrected water.
Initially, seedlings will have tiny rounded leaves called cotyledons. However, as your plant grows, you should notice the true “cannabis” fan leaves emerge. Generally, people know they’ve transitioned from seedling to vegetation by the number of leaves on their plants.
When you see about four sets of about five fan leaves, your plant should be strong enough to transition to a larger pot. Typically, your seedlings should be ready to transplant into your main soil pot after two to three weeks.
3. Vegetation phase: time to flourish
The vegetation phase is all about growth. During this stage, your plants will rapidly reach upward and grow many stems and fan leaves. To help fuel this growth, vegetative plants need extra nitrogen in their feeding schedules. 2
Arguably, lighting is the most consequential element during vegetation. Since cannabis is a photoperiod plant, it will transition to flowering when you limit the daily amount of light. 3
Interestingly, you could transition from vegetative to flowering any time you want. There’s even a training technique called Sea of Green that takes advantage of this biological feature.
The downside of transitioning out of vegetation early is you’ll have fewer buds. By giving the cannabis plant plenty of time to grow, you’ll enjoy more bud sites, and thus a higher return. If you learn training techniques like bending or topping, you’ll increase your total yield even further.
To keep your strains in vegetation, you need to maintain a light schedule of at least 18 hours on. You could keep this going for as long as you want, but most strains are ready to switch after four to eight weeks. It all depends on how strong your flowers are growing, what strain you’re using, and what kind of yield you want.
4. Flowering phase: see the ‘fruits’ of your labor
In preparation to begin producing flowers, cannabis plants can double their size during early flowering (Shutterstock)
To transition from vegetation to flowering, you need to flip your light schedule from 18/6 to 12/12. The shortening of daylight hours mimics the natural seasonal change from summer to fall and triggers major changes in the plant’s hormones. 4
This causes the plant to shift its focus from growth and development of roots and shoots to the production of pistils as the female plant awaits pollination, which in nature would result in the eventual production of seeds before the plant dies during the winter.
Monitoring flowering plants is similar to vegetation, but you’ll need to transition to flowering nutrients and slightly lower your ambient temperature (~ mid-70s F). You also have to be extra vigilant for signs of mold or hermaphroditism during flowering.
You can determine the sex of a cannabis plant during flowering by looking at the nodes. Male plants have ball-shaped pollen sacs, while females have thin pistil-like strands. If you have a hermaphrodite, it will have both of these features, which means the pollen could disrupt bud production.
The length of the flowering stage largely depends on your strain’s average grow time. The only way to know when to harvest buds is to monitor their size and the color of their trichomes.
For most strains, it takes eight weeks to go through flowering, but it could easily last an additional two or three weeks with sativa strains.
It’s also important to consider that even though this stage is called flowering, that doesn’t mean the plants will solely concentrate on making buds. In preparation to begin producing flowers, plants can double their size during early flowering, so plan your grow space accordingly.
When’s a good time to harvest cannabis?
There’s no set time you should harvest buds from a flowering plant. Instead, you have to rely on your sense of sight to choose when’s a good time to clip your nugs.
Using a high-quality magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe, take a close look at the trichomes on each of your buds. Cultivators usually want most of these trichomes to have a milky-white, opaque appearance.
Clear trichomes are too young, and they will have minimal THC concentration. On the opposite extreme, orange-haired trichomes contain an oxidized form of THC known as CBN. 5 While some people enjoy CBN’s supposedly sedating effects, most prefer to clip their nugs when most trichomes are milk-white.
Want professional-quality cannabis? You’ll need patience!
Cultivators could use a few tricks to speed up the growing process, but most feminized seeds will take roughly four months to reach maturity. If you’re an impatient cultivator, you could opt for feminized autoflowering seeds, but remember these cultivars have a lower overall yield and often lower cannabinoid production.
For those not keen on the tradeoffs associated with autoflowers, consider starting with clones or focusing on indica strains to shave off significant time from your schedule. On average, indicas reach full-flowering weeks before sativa strains.
As a final tip, growers should research their preferred cannabis strains in online growing forums. Each hybrid has a unique growing pattern, and there’s a wealth of strain-specific information now available online. Knowing the estimated time for your cultivar is the best way to get an accurate read on how long it will take to grow cannabis.
How Long Marijuana Plants Take to Grow
Are you not sure how long marijuana plants take to grow? Well, the first thing we recommend is to have patience, something that applies to pretty much everything in life. Plants need enough time to grow and develop correctly, and time is what can tell a nice productive plant from a pile of branches lacking in both foliage and yield.
Today we’re going to talk about normal growth times and the different stages that your plants will go through. Maybe some of these questions sound familiar to you;
- How long does cannabis take to germinate/flower?
- What can I do to make my plants flower earlier?
- Can I speed up the growth?
- Which is the fastest, highest yielding plant?
These questions are probably best answered with the age old phrase, time is gold. Obviously a lot of the answers are quite subjective and we can’t give any absolutely concrete times, but we’ll do our best in this article to provide you with a general idea of how long a marijuana plant takes to grow.
Firstly, we’ll begin by dividing the plants’ life cycle into a series of phases:
Germination is defined as the period and process through which the seed changes from a seed to a sapling.
If you’re planting cuttings, then the germination period is known as the cloning and rooting period.
Germination techniques are varying in method, although the one we tend to use the most and is the most recommended involves damp kitchen paper as a base for the seed; many people use other methods, like damp cotton, straight into the earth or a jiffy, or in water.
Some growers even use germination stimulators that work with the seeds initial metabolism and reduce the germination time to about a day in most cases.
Of course, time is relative. It will depend not just on the strain, but the actual quality of the seed itself. Some determining factors are the age of the seed, how fertile it is and how it has been kept.
Saplings tend to take around 24-72 hours to sprout, although sometimes it can take 5 days and in extreme cases it can take up to 15 days. Make sure to pay attention to the water and humidity conditions, as well as the temperature which should be at around 21-24ºC.
This is also called the vegetative phase. It’s the main period of growth that your plant will go through, and probably the most important.
After managing to get your sapling to sprout and transplanting it (into soil or a jiffy), the growth period begins. Just like the name says, your plants will grow the most it’s ever going to grow and stretch upwards during this period, allowing it to get the correct shape and size to proceed to the next stage; flowering.
Like many of you probably already know, your plants will need more light during the growth phase than any other phase. Generally, 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness are recommended per day. A proper balance between light and dark is the key element to a successful growth period. The light is obviously very important in as far as photosynthesis, but those hours of darkness are incredibly important as well, as during that time there’s an exchange of essential elements in your plants’ metabolisms.
This period will take more or less time depending on the seed, strain and growing method. Autoflowering plants will be much faster than feminized plants and indoor crops are generally much faster than outdoor crops. Also, if you use a stronger light your crops will generally grow faster than those with less powerful bulbs.
It’s difficult to put a number on how long the growth period takes due to environmental and external factors (fertilizers and the grower’s expertise) that can interfere with crops. Generally, indoors autoflowering plants take about 3 or 4 weeks (21 to 25 days) and around 6 to 8 weeks, maybe more, for feminized strains.
Outdoors regular and feminized seeds tend to take around 8 to 9 weeks, but by growing indoors you can mess around with the timings to make them begin flowering earlier.
This is your cannabis plants’ last period. When it starts will depend obviously on the growth period, but the plant must also have the necessary characteristics developed to allow it to grow buds.
This means that sometimes, a month after germination your plant might still look weak or small, which means that you’ll have to let it continue its growth period for more time.
It’s also important to note that autoflowering strains will flower at their own whim; you’ll need to change the light period once they start showing signs. However, seasonal seeds will need to be helped into the flowering phase by a change in light period. To be exact, you’ll need to switch them to a 12/12h light period which induces your plants into the flowering phase.
I know we said that the growth phase’s timing was relative, but true relative is how long a flowering period can take. There really are no rules apart from certain ones preached by seed banks about their strains, although in most cases these rules are simply guidelines.
The important thing to keep in mind when trying to figure out when the flowering period is coming to an end and you need to wash out the roots is how the buds look. Although times stated by seed banks can give you a general idea, the best way to find out is to watch your bud grow until they’re buried in pistils.
Once they’ve developed that fair, the harvest time will be indicated by the maturity and oxidization of the pistils and trichomes, which become that nice amber/honey color.
Indoors, autoflowering strains will generally finish up at around 8 weeks of flowering, and feminized versions can take longer depending on the growth period, and it’s normal for them to take anywhere between 10 to 12 weeks, and in a lot of cases even more.
Drying and Curing:
This stage isn’t even classifiable like the plant’s life cycle, although we can tell you that it’s a process that will take a while and it’s just an important as the plant’s periods when it comes to gett ing top quality taste, aroma, effect and potency.
First, you’ll have to differentiate between drying and curing; the first thing you’ll need to do with your freshly-cut harvest is dry it.
Basically, you’ll have to place your harvest, cut and trimmed, in a dark, cool and dry place in a drying mesh or sock (don’t forget to clean your plants roots out thoroughly towards harvesting time). All you’ll have to do is move the buds around the mesh or sock every day so they don’t become inclined to one side or another.
This process can take a while depending on placement and terrain; from two to four weeks. The sign of a properly dried bud is being able to bend it without breaking it, but while also hearing that nice crispy sound.
After the drying process comes the curing process, like a good cheese.
It simply involves placing all of your buds in a container and leaving it to sit with a periodic opening to let the air flow. Curing can be done in different containers; plastic, glass or wood, although wood is faster than glass and glass is the most recommended as it doesn’t emit or contain any sort of toxic substances.
The container in which you deposit your harvest will need to be kept in a dark, cool and dry place. The only thing you’ll need to do will be to open the container for about five minutes a day so that the humidity can leave your bud, and you end up with a perfectly chlorophyll-free product.
This process can take anywhere from two to six weeks. The main indication of a proper curing is that the bud crunches when pressed in slightly, if you bend the stem it breaks water than bends, and the intense green color should fade, as well as the leafy green smell.
According to these estimates, marijuana takes about three months to grow completely for autoflowering versions, and four to five or more months for feminized strains depending on crop method and expertise. Don’t forget that drying and curing will take a month or two more.
We’re going to insist on the fact that depending on how you grow your plants as well as the strain you choose to grow, each phase will be longer or shorter, and therefore so will the entire life cycle. Feminized strains will take longer to be harvestable, and autoflowering strains will take less time. There’s also a new version called the “fast version” that the Sweet Seeds seed bank has developed. Also, indoor crops will take less time to be harvestable than outdoor crops.
How Long Does It Take for Marijuana Seeds to Sprout?
Growing your own weed takes time and energy, but when you obtain your first harvest, you’ll know how rewarding it is. Growing weed isn’t hard science, especially if you have previous experience with growing plants, so if you learn the basics the rest will quickly follow.
This article focuses on the germination process of growing weed, and the most common germination methods, as well as some tips for success. Whether you’ve chosen indica or sativa, or regular or autoflowering seeds, germination is crucial to the plant’s growth process and the start of its lifecycle, so keep on reading for some helpful tips and information.
How Do Weed Seeds Work?
Weed seeds are the small oval-shaped fruits of the cannabis plant. They’re covered in a subtle membrane, albumen, which keeps the center of the seed healthy until it’s time for germination. At the center of the seed you can find the embryo from which the new plant grows from. This embryo contains the plant’s genetic code and is the place from where the taproot starts forming.
Similar to other plant seeds, cannabis seeds are the fruit of the pollinated flowers of female weed plants that don’t contain any psychoactive effects. However, they can be consumed as food since they’re the source of a lot of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial proteins.
Pros and Cons of Using Cannabis Seeds
When it comes to cannabis cultivation, germinating cannabis seeds is one of the methods you can choose. This method of cultivation has a lot of benefits, but also a few downsides.
Some of the benefits of cultivating marijuana seeds include:
- The presence of the taproot from the germinating seeds provides more support in the initial growth stages of the cannabis plant.
- You don’t inherit pests from the mother plant.
- As a result of the expansion of the cannabis market, you can choose from a huge variety of high-quality seeds from a lot of seed banks all over the world.
- Seeds can be stored for a long time without going bad and still germinate.
On the other hand, the downsides when using cannabis seeds include:
- Having to wait until the plant reaches the flowering stage in order to differentiate whether it’s a male or a female plant.
- Seeds can take a while before they pop (germinate).
- Germinating seeds is harder for newbie growers since it requires more skill.
Cannabis Seeds vs. Clones
Compared to cannabis seeds, cannabis clones are an example of asexual propagation, or replicating from a single parent. The cutting is taken from a stable mother plant and is grown into a genetically stable ang genetically identical plant under the right conditions. The benefits of using clones for weed cultivation include:
- Ensuring that the gender of the new plant is female.
- Knowing which traits your plant will have.
- The cultivation process is several weeks faster compared to a seed that needs to sprout.
- The clone is less delicate than the seed is at the beginning.
- Growing clones is easier since you only need to “plug and play”, so beginners will find this process easier.
How Are Marijuana Seeds Grown?
You can grow marijuana seeds both inside and outside, depending on the conditions, space, and resources available. Generally, growing marijuana indoors requires a dedicated space and equipment, like fans, grow lights, and heating pads. This method is more private and gives you better control, but at the same time, it’s more expensive and demanding. Growing outdoors is the easiest and cheapest way to grow, provided that there’s enough sunlight – at least 6 hours of light daily. The downside is that you’ll be limited to the growing season even though outdoor marijuana yields a lot more weed because the plants grow bigger. If growing outdoors isn’t an option for you, or you want to grow all year long, you can always invest in some quality lights.
Marijuana plants usually start out as a seed, but some growers use clones as well. Basically, a clone is a cut-off from a plant that’s used to grow another plant. Growing weed from seeds is a little more convenient, especially if it’s your first time growing weed, plus, seeds give a stronger plant.
Before the seeds turn into a beautiful marijuana plant, they need to be prepped for transplanting, or in other words, they need to germinate.
What Is Seed Germination?
Seed germination is the process when a plant starts sprouting from seed and continues growing from there. During the germination process, the food reserves present within the seed are converted into sugars that the plant uses to increase in size, causing its root to start breaking through the shell. This is the first sign that they have germinated.
Once emerged, the root is crucial to the plant’s survival as it provides the necessary nutrients from the environment. After this process, the germinated seeds are ready to be planted in the growing medium of your choice.
The simplest and most common one is soil, but in recent years, hydroponics are also becoming popular – Rockwool cubes and coco, especially. The downside of these growing mediums is that you need to be well-versed in pH levels and maintain the optimal pH and nutritional status of your plant at all times.
Germinating Your Cannabis Seeds
There are three most common germination methods.
Soaking Cannabis Seeds in a Glass of Water
This is the simplest method and it’s especially helpful for older seeds as it helps to wake them up, or even seeds with hard shells. The process is pretty straightforward: you need to fill the glass with lukewarm water and soak the seeds. At first, they should float in the water, and sink to the bottom after a few hours have passed. If some of the seeds don’t sink, you can try pushing them gently to the bottom.
After you’ve soaked the seeds, put the cup of water in a dark and warm place, and leave them for 36 hours at most. The seeds that have started sprouting will have a tiny white root sticking out. If, after 36 hours some seeds have no signs of sprouting, we recommend you put them in a warm and moist place to encourage the germination process.
The Paper Towel Method
This method is probably the most popular one among weed growers. You’ll need a kitchen paper towel and two plates. We recommend you use a nonporous paper towel (usually the cheaper brands), as this will retain moisture for longer. Here’s a brief step-by-step guide:
- Moisten two sheets of paper towel and put them on one of the plates;
- Carefully place the cannabis seeds over the wet paper towels;
- Fold the damp paper towels over so that the seeds are well covered;
- Cover with the other plate to create a dark space, but make sure to leave some room for oxygen, i.e. don’t align the plates perfectly;
- Check on the seeds often, about every 5-8 hours, and if you notice that the paper towels have dried even a little, spray them immediately to maintain the moisture.
If all goes well, the seeds should take 24 hours to start sprouting, but if they haven’t (this might happen with old seeds), leave them for up to 72 hours and check on them constantly so they don’t run out of moisture. With this method, you’ll need to be patient, as some seeds just need a little more time.
Germinating Seeds in Potting Soil
You can also mimic nature’s way by germinating marijuana seeds directly in a growing medium. This method allows the seeds to sprout in potting soil and continue living there without the need for transplanting. The upside of this method is that the marijuana seedlings will get used to its home environment from the beginning and it’ll be easier to thrive.
To do this, you need to put the seed about ½ inch deep in moist (not wet) soil. Put some soil over the hole to cover it and press lightly. The seed will germinate under the surface and, in about 4 to 10 days, it should slowly spring to the surface.
So, How Long Until They Germinate?
As you can see, the germination of cannabis seeds depends entirely on the type of seed and the chosen method. A rule of thumb is that it takes approximately 24-48 hours for the seeds to start sprouting, however, there can be some exceptions to this rule, of course. Just remember that moisture and warmth are very important and remember to check on the seeds often.
What Do Marijuana Seeds Need for the Germination Process?
Seeds need the ideal environment to break through and start germinating. Seeing as this process is one of the most important steps in growing your marijuana plants, here’s what you need for achieving the best germination rates:
- High moisture levels – your cannabis seeds need a lot of moisture (about 80%) to help them expand, however, be careful not to add too much water, and always make sure you use clean tap water;
- Warm temperatures – the marijuana plant is a warm-season plant that thrives in springtime, so ideally, you should put the cannabis seeds in a warm place and maintain the temperature between 68°-72° Fahrenheit or 20°-22° Celsius;
- Minimal interference – you’ll need to avoid touching the germinating seeds while they’re going through the process because the taproots (cotyledons) are very fragile and prone to breaking. If you must handle them, wash your hands first, or use clean gloves.
Remember that when the seeds are healthy, they will respond well to this basic setup and you won’t need to do or add anything extra to help your cannabis plants grow.
A Few Don’ts for Successful Marijuana Seed Germination
Even though seed germination is a relatively straightforward process, knowing a thing or two beforehand can help you avoid making mistakes and make the most of your seeds.
- Don’t let the germination container dry out. Moisture is very important to kickstart the process, but maintaining the moisture is even more important. Whichever method you choose to germinate the seeds, we recommend you check up on them daily to ensure that there is enough moisture. This especially applies when you use a heat source to achieve warmth as it may cause the water to evaporate faster than normal.
- Don’t leave the seeds to germinate for too long. This means that you shouldn’t wait for the taproots to grow very large, as they will be very delicate and make the subsequent transplant more difficult for you. Plus, leaving them for too long means that they’ll be exposed to air which puts them in danger of oxidation and further damage. Therefore, make sure they’re about ½ -1 inch long at most.
- Don’t plant the seeds too shallow or deep. This is a common mistake that weed growers make, but it’s easy to be avoided. When you plant the seeds too deep, the seedling won’t get enough air and it may suffocate deep beneath the surface. On the other hand, if you sow the seeds too close to the surface, it will result in weak and underdeveloped stems. Your best bet is to plant the seeds at about ½ inch depth.
- Don’t germinate seeds in the same container. Cannabis seeds need plenty of room to grow, so if you plant several in the same pot, they will compete for light, nutrients, and space, resulting in little branching and weaker roots. This will, in turn, affect the quality of your plant. So, unless the container is big enough, you should give the seeds enough room to thrive.
So, How Long Does It Take for Marijuana Seeds to Sprout?
Seed germination is an essential step in the process of growing your own weed. The average time for marijuana seeds to germinate mostly depends on the type of seeds and the germination method. However, the usual time frame is between 24-48 hours. The most important elements that support seed germination together are warmth, moisture, and peace. Finally, having patience and being diligent will help you achieve the best results. And if you’re looking for more info on marijuana grow times, check out our post talking about how long does weed take to grow.