5 Key Stages of a Marijuana Plant

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by Morgan

Last update:

August 29, 2023

How To Choose The Right Lighting For Your Marijuana Grow Room

Just like other plant species, the cannabis plant also goes through some stages to grow and mature. It is important to understand the life stages of a marijuana plant if you are interested in farming cannabis. Every single stage of growing a cannabis plant requires intensive care if you want to improve your harvest.

It requires a different amount of water, nutrients, and light at every stage of plant growth. You should also decide when to prune and train the plants to flower. You should know how to determine if your marijuana plants are healthy and whether they are male or female plants. In this article, we take you through the five stages of a typical cannabis plant growth.

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Stage # 1 – Germination

Cannabis Plant Germination

Germination is the first stage in a marijuana plant’s growth. Germination is the growth and development of a plant from seed after a period of dormancy. It takes between 3-10 days for a cannabis seed to germinate fully.

When you remove a cannabis seed from the parent plant, it goes dormant until you expose it to moisture. This means when you keep the weed seeds away from the conditions like oxygen, temperature, and water, you can store them for up to a year without affecting their viability.

The decision to grow male or female cannabis seeds depends on whether you want to produce marijuana buds or seeds. After cannabis seeds germinate, you should separate the male seedlings from the females. 

Soak the weed seeds in some distilled water to speed up germination. Also, ensure you only germinate enough seeds that you can plant. You can skip the seed germination stage when you buy a clone from a breeder and plant it as a seedling.

Stage # 2 –  Seedling 

Cannabis Plant Seedling Stage

Seedling is another stage that a weed plant goes through. When the marijuana becomes a seedling, you realize it develops some typical fan leaves. When it sprouts, the seed produces leaves with a ridged blade.

More blades start appearing once a new growth develops. In most cases, a mature cannabis plant has between 5-7 blades in every leaf, although some may have more than this. Your weed seedlings are healthy when they have a full number of blades, and they are a vibrant green.

When your cannabis is at the seedling stage, you should avoid overwatering it. The roots are probably still weak, and it doesn’t need plenty of water to thrive. At the seedling stage, the weed plant is more vulnerable to mold and other diseases. Therefore, you should ensure the environment for the seedling is clean and free of excessive moisture.

Expose the seedlings to enough sunlight to prevent mold growth. This is a delicate stage of growing cannabis. If you are growing cannabis indoors, you can provide some artificial light to prevent mold from attacking the seedlings. Here is how to choose your weed growth lights.

The weed plant’s seedling stage will last from 1-3 weeks depending on the quality of light, humidity, amount of water the seedling receives, airflow, duration of light, and the type of soil.

Stage # 3 – Vegetative stage

Cannabis Plant Vegetative Stage

At the vegetative stage, the cannabis seedling begins to develop strong roots and thick leaves. It grows taller and develops new nodes that produce new leaves and branches in weeks. 

The marijuana plant will need organic nutrients, soil space, flowing dry air, and enough warm water when it starts to grow and produce new leaves and branches. The cannabis plant can grow up to three feet tall in just six weeks if you provide all these conditions. 

Note that how fast the marijuana plant grows depends on the rate at which it can absorb sunlight through the leaves through photosynthesis. This also explains why marijuana plants need at least 12 hours of fluorescent light per day during the vegetative stage.

Once the plant begins to receive less natural light, it halts its upward growth and enters the pre-flowering stage. If you feel like your marijuana plants have achieved the desired height, you can train them to start flowing by reducing their exposure to natural light from 18 to 12 hours a day.

Stage # 4 – Flowering 

Cannabis Plant Flowering Stage

The flowering stage is the last in the growth cycle of a cannabis plant but not in the lifecycle. At the pre-flowering stage, the marijuana plant no longer requires 18 hours of sunlight. At least 12 hours is enough with some 12 hours of darkness.

You should also ensure at least 50% humidity and temperature of 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit as the plant begins to flower. At this stage, nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium are the most important for the plant. Nitrogen is not that useful to the marijuana plant when it begins to flower.

There are three phases in the flowering stage of a weed plant:

  • Pre-flowering: the plant grows as the females develop pistils and buds. This takes 1-3 weeks.
  • Mid-flowering: the plant stops growing, and the buds flatten up. It begins in weeks 4 and 5.
  • Ripening: the plant gets sticky, and the trichome density increases significantly. You have to watch how the pistils change in color and determine when to harvest the plant.

When the marijuana plant goes from the vegetative to the flowering stage, you should:

  • Not prune it because it can upset the flowering hormones.
  • Provide enough potassium and phosphorus to the plants.
  • Ensure the plants are trellised to support the buds.

Stage # 5 – Harvesting 

Cannabis Plant Harvesting Stage

Harvesting is the last stage in the growth cycle of a cannabis plant. You can tell that your cannabis plant is ready for harvesting when you notice the pistils’ hues changing from milky to reddish-orange. The head of the trichomes should also be turning from milky to amber. This means that the trichomes have been exposed to more UV light, which will degrade the THC levels, thereby increasing the CBD to THC ratio. It also means that the cannabis is ripe and ready for harvesting.

If you want to harvest your marijuana with the highest THC, you should make that move when half the trichomes on the plant are opaque. Also, when some hairs grow from the pistils, it is a sign you should harvest the cannabis for another trace of chemical property.

Final Thoughts 

This article has given you a brief on the five stages of a cannabis plant growth cycle from seed to harvesting. However, there is more to cultivating healthy cannabis that you should learn, such as applying the right technology in the process. Learn more about growing cannabis indoors before you can get started.


1. How long does it take for a marijuana plant to grow?

It takes about two months for a marijuana plant to grow.

2. What is a marijuana plant's seed-to-seed cycle?

The seed-to-seed cycle is the number of days it takes for a female marijuana plant to grow from a seed to a mature marijuana plant that produces seeds. It is a rather long cycle and is divided into three different stages: germination, the vegetative growth period, and the flowering period.

3. What would you say is the most important stage of a marijuana plant's life cycle?

The most important stage of a marijuana plant's life cycle is when it's in the vegetative stage. During this stage, the plant is growing and developing, so it needs plenty of light, water, and nutrients. If the plant isn't given what it needs during this stage, it won't grow as big or produce as much bud.

4. What is the recommended temperature and humidity for cultivating marijuana?

The ideal temperature and humidity for growing marijuana is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 to 60 percent humidity.

5. What is the fastest and easiest way to grow weed at home?

There are a few different ways to grow weed at home, but the easiest is to use a soil-less growing medium like coco coir or perlite. You can also buy a pre-made cannabis grow kit, which will come with everything you need to get started.

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About the author 


I discovered the benefits of Cannabis at a young age in 2002, with years of trial and error, my knowledge grew just like my plants. As my love for cannabis unfolded I began to teach and learn, trying to gain as much information and practical growing experience.

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