All Stages of Cannabis Plant Growth Explained For Beginners

by | Last updated Jan 24, 2022

Cannabis plants undergo several phases of growth and development, and these various phases of growth require different quantities of sunlight, water, and nutrients. You need to understand how long it takes to grow weed indoors and outdoor to offer optimal nutrients and assistance for maximum growth. So you will have an idea about the right time to harvest your plants for maximum flavor and output.

All Stages of Cannabis Plant Growth Explained For Beginners

In this ultimate guide, you will learn about the weed lifecycle and the different stages of cannabis growth, from seedlings to harvesting, with instructions. First, let me answer the most important question.

How Long Does It Take to Grow Weed ?

It takes three to five (3 – 5) months to grow weed indoors. However, various factors will influence the growth of your marijuana plants. If you ask most farmers how long it takes to grow weeds, you will not get an easy response.

The time required for cannabis growth will rely on many variables, including strain biology, methods of production, and certain external conditions. It can take eight weeks to 7 months for you to smoke your harvest everywhere.

Stages of Growing Cannabis Indoors

Below, we have some guidance on the schedules of growing marijuana indoors to allow you to prepare for your growth and harvest the final benefits accordingly.

Preparation Stage (0 to 4 Weeks)

You could already be ready with seeds, and your growing room is primed. Awesome! In this scenario, there will be little time to begin growing. Alternatively, the time it takes to purchase and obtain your seedlings, as well as any supplies such as planting bins and fertilizer, will not be taken into account.
This time can vary according to what you want, order, the mail’s pace, etc. Expect the time of preparing anywhere from 0 to 4 weeks when some gear is still needed until you can begin. So, this is the preparation stage before you can begin planting your seeds.

Indoor Growth Stage (8 Weeks to 5 Months)

The marijuana growth stage consists of several sub-stages. These go from germinating the seeds to harvesting the plant for smoking. Let’s explore these stages in detail.

1.Germination of Seeds (1 – 7 Days)

Germinating the marijuana seeds is the first real phase in the development of marijuana. There will be not much to grow at all if anything bad happens with germination, like low-quality or outdated seedlings that won’t “spring.” 

The seed starts the very first step of the cannabis plant. The seed of cannabis should feel harsh and dried and range from light to dark brown. Underdeveloped seeds are often green or white. Moreover, these seeds will not increase. When the seed has grown or bloomed, it is ready to be put, like compost, in a grow tray. The base of the sprouted seed drives down as the sapling stems increase.

high quality cannabis seeds

When the plants emerge from the defensive covering, there are slightly curved cotyledon leaflets from the root. These earliest blooms ensure that the plant gets safe and secure with sunshine. The stem will increase with the roots, and you may see the very first fan leaflets emerge so that your weed could be a seedling right now.

2.Seedling Stage (10 – 15 Days)

Now, you can get started with planting your germinated seeds into seedling container pots. The sprouted seeds will still have embryonic leaves all around the shell, and these leaves will help with the seedling stage. Now you have baby plants that are only a few centimeters in height. Moreover, these baby plants will also have two or three sets of embryonic leaves covering the entire shell.

seedlings stage under LED grow lights weed Indoor growing

At this point, the baby plant will not look like a cannabis plant at all. You can get any seedling container pot and plant your sprouted seeds in it. The seedling stage only lasts for up to 2 weeks. Moreover, during these two weeks, the baby plant will have grown four leaf nodes of the cannabis plant. This is when you can move on to the next stage.

3.Vegetative Stage (2 to 8 Weeks)

When your plant starts to outgrow the seedling container pot, it is time for the vegetative state to begin. This stage is the most important while growing weed indoors. Weed-growers will expose plants to 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of continuous darkness during this vegetative state.

Some people only keep their plants in the vegetative state for up to two weeks, whereas others can take as long as eight weeks to blossom their cannabis plants fully. The duration of this state depends upon the amount of energy and space that you have available without any problems.

During the vegetative state, the plants keep getting bigger and bigger so that you have more to harvest when you are done. This is why you should choose the container path depending upon the duration of your vegetative state.

The vegetative stage

If you only want to keep your plant in this stage for two or three weeks, you should get a smaller pot. On the other hand, if you intend to go with this stage for more than eight weeks, you should get a bigger plant so that you do not have to continuously switch your cannabis plant from one pot to the next. Some people have this problem where they do not determine the pot size according to the duration of the vegetative state.

4.Flowering Stage (5 – 16 Weeks)

The next stage for growing weed indoors is the flowering stage, and this state may take up to 16 weeks depending upon your personal preferences. When you start to see little flowers bloom on top of your seeds in the vegetative state, it is time to switch to the flowering stage by yourself since you are growing weed indoors. Switching cannabis plants to the flowering stage when growing weed outdoors is quite different.

You will see that your cannabis plant will stop stretching and growing, and it will start showing little buds on top. At this stage, you need to focus more on producing what you planted the plant for in the first place. You will start seeing big and aromatic buds on top of the plant.

The flowering stage

Some plants take more than seven weeks to bloom and mature these buds. On the other hand, some plants will only take less than seven weeks to show fully matured cannabis buds. This depends on the strain of your plant, and you need to understand the strain structure before entering the flowering stage. The supplier of your seeds will probably give detailed information about the strain on the packaging.

5.Harvesting Stage (2 to 4 Weeks)

Now comes the time to reap the rewards of what you sowed in the first place. Before starting the harvesting stage, you need to understand that you cannot go directly to harvesting your cannabis plant after the flowering stage.

Some people directly harvest the buds on top of the plant and start smoking them right away. However, the actual harvesting process is a little more complicated and time-consuming than that. You will need to wait for a few weeks to turn your fresh flowers into delicious and powerful weed.

You will have to wait at least two weeks after the flowering stage for your buds to dry up. Once the buds are dry, you can pick them apart and cure them for smoking. It would help if you also understood the proper drying and curing of your cannabis to turn it into the finest quality of weed.

Some people move directly from the harvesting stage to the smoking stage and sacrifice the quality of their plants. For preventing quality loss, you need to dry the weed on wire racks for up to two or three weeks and cure them in air-tight mason jars for another two weeks. After that, your weed will develop high potency and taste, and you can get rid of that unpleasant smell that underdeveloped weed offers.

Stages of Growing Cannabis Outdoors

Growing weed outdoors is comparatively easier than growing weed indoors. The only requirements for growing weed outdoors are:

  • A nice open space
  • Plenty of sunlight
  • Good soil
  • Optimal covering for the plants to shield them from any hazardous side effects of unpredictable weather

However, you should know that photoperiod is a significant aspect of growing weed outdoors. This means that your plants will automatically switch from the vegetative state to the flowering stage when days get shorter and nights get longer.

This is due to the fluctuation in the amount of sunlight and darkness. Therefore, you need to time everything right and start planting your weed crop before the fall season can set in and trigger the flowering stage. It takes almost more than seven months to grow weed outdoors, and here is a detailed timeline of growing weed outdoors.

Preparation Stage (0 to 4 Weeks)


Firstly, you will have to buy the seeds from the right supplier. Moreover, you will have to think about the strain and gene of the plant seeds you want to buy from the supplier because it will largely influence the overall timeline for growing weed outdoors. Some strains take more than seven full weeks to blossom and mature buds, whereas others require less than five weeks. So, think about this beforehand.

Another important element during this stage is the container pot situation. You will have to think about the container pots depending upon the vegetation stage. You will need to get bigger pots if you decide on extending the vegetation stage past eight weeks. Lastly, it would be best to choose the right location. Growing weed outdoors brings plenty of perks. However, it also introduces various challenges to the situation. You will need to find a location that offers:

  • Optimal Temperature Levels
  • Optimal Sunlight Exposure
  • Covering from Weather Conditions

Moreover, there are other things that you need to keep in mind while choosing the right location. The temperature for the surrounding regions should never drop below 12°C, and the temperature should never go above 30°C. Moreover, the chosen location should offer a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight exposure for the plants. This will help with the right cycle during the photoperiod blossom phase. Lastly, it should not be in direct contact with harsh weather conditions like rain, snowfall, etc.

There can be various ideal locations for cultivating your weed plant. However, according to professionals, the following locations in and around your house will serve the best.

*Growing Weed on a Balcony

If you have a balcony in your home, it can easily be the ideal location for growing weed outdoors. This way, you can easily keep an eye on the plants without having to go outdoors. However, the location of the balcony will offer maximum sunlight throughout the day and allow you to shelter the plants in case of harsh weather conditions without too much hassle.

A balcony will offer fresh air and natural sunlight for the maximum blossoming of your weed plant. In addition to this, if you have south-facing balconies in your home, they will offer continuous sunlight throughout the day and help your plants grow better.

Growing weed in a balcony

Similarly, using balconies for growing weed outdoors will also reduce your electricity and water bills as you will not have to do anything special for the plants. You can use the water from inside the home and use electrical outlets from inside the home without setting up anything specifically outdoors.

However, there are also a few drawbacks of using balconies for growing weed outdoors. Sometimes, high-rise buildings will invite strong winds that will expose your plants to danger. Similarly, north-facing balconies of a limited amount of sunlight, and you will have to come up with another method of keeping your plants warm with ultraviolet rays.

*Growing Weed on a Rooftop or Terrace

A rooftop or a terrace is another amazing place for growing weed outdoors. When you plant weed on your rooftop or terrace, you don’t have to worry about getting consistent sunlight throughout the day. Rooftops are known for receiving sunlight all day long. However, any tallest structures in the surrounding area can get in the way of sunlight.

Another amazing benefit of growing weed outdoors on a rooftop or terrace is the great exposure to rainwater. This will greatly reduce your water bills to a minimum during the rainy seasons. Moreover, you can easily conceal your weed crop from the public and your neighbors by choosing a rooftop with a shade. However, a few drawbacks are using a rooftop or terrace for your weed crop.

Sometimes you do not want maximum sunlight exposure for your plants, and this is when you will have to invest in additional coverage for your plants as you move through the different phases of weed growth. Similarly, you will have difficulty protecting your plants against harsh weather conditions or intense heat without additional investments.

*Growing Weed on a Greenhouse

Professional cultivators use specific greenhouses for growing weed outdoors. This allows them to get the best of both worlds (indoors and outdoors), and they can grow their crop without anyone noticing or creating any issues. Moreover, they can also control the natural sunlight depending upon their personal preferences and generate a great environment for maximum growth of their weed crop.

When you go with a greenhouse, you can easily extend the outdoor growth season depending upon your preferences, which means that you do not have to worry about your weed crop’s surrounding regions and the weather conditions. You can grow your weed throughout the year by cultivating the right growth season inside the dome.

Commercial marijuana growing greenhouse in Colorado

Another amazing benefit of using a greenhouse is maximum protection against pests and other outdoor hazards you will have to face when choosing an open space environment. Therefore, you can stop worrying about any animals or predators ruining your weed crop throughout the year.

However, your plants may show some signs of stress if the region experiences heat waves. This is because greenhouses are naturally known to trap heat inside the dome. Another drawback is stale air and constant humidity that can easily ruin your plants. However, you can easily take care of this by installing a powerful ventilation system in place. Fresh air and sunlight will offer optimal weed growth and maturity inside a greenhouse.

Growth Stage (8 Weeks to 7 Months)

Once you have chosen the right location and container pots for your weed requirements, you can move on to the growth stage and start germinating and planting your seeds into the chosen location. Here are the different sub-stages of the growth stage.

1.Germinating the Seeds (1 to 15 Days)

Germination of seeds refers to converting taproots into seedlings, which means that you get your basic seeds ready for the planting process. You need to take into account three specific factors while germinating your weed seeds: darkness, moisture, and humidity levels inside the environment. These three elements will help you easily germinate the seeds and get them ready for the chosen location.

Some people often go with germinating their seeds indoors. However, you can also use an outdoor environment with a shelter to germinate your seeds. You will have to ensure that you offer the right humidity levels in warm or cold climates. However, you will have to understand how much humidity your specific seedlings require to germinate into high-quality seeds. You can read the supplier’s instructions for this process.

2.Seedling Stage (10 to 15 Days)

Now, you can move on to the seedling stage. The seedling stage lasts for up to two weeks. Once you have germinated your seeds, you can start planting them in the topsoil of your chosen location. You should ensure that you are not placing too much pressure on the little seeds.

Professional recommended digging a little hole inside the chosen location, placing the seeds inside, and gently covering the soil without placing too much pressure on padding the soil after planting the seed. This way, you will not ruin the integrity of your seedlings.

3.Maintaining and Vegetating the Plant (6 to 12 Weeks)

Now you have to worry about the vegetative phase of your plants. After you have completed the seedling stage, you will see that little shoots are emerging from your location within the first two weeks of planting them inside the topsoil. Once you have successfully ended the seedling stage, you can move on to the vegetative phase of your weed crop.

During this phase, your plants will focus entirely on the process of photosynthesis. It will help them develop and retain enough energy with the help of sunlight to drive the maturity of weed buds further. This is why you need to choose a location that will offer enough sunlight throughout the stage.

You will see large stems and leaves come out of the soil up to five centimeters high, and this will show you that your plants are going in the right direction. You should also test your soil regularly and ensure that the soil’s pH range remains between 6.0 to 7.0. According to professionals, this range is the most ideal for maximum nutrient absorption when growing weed outdoors.

4.Harvesting Stage (4 to 6 Weeks)

Once you are done with the vegetation phase, the crop will automatically switch to the flowering stage. Once you are done with the vegetation phase, the crop will automatically switch to the flowering stage. You don’t have to do much other than regularly testing the soil and watering the plants accordingly during this stage.

It would be best if you waited at least four to six weeks after the flowering stage to harvest your weed crop properly. Some people who own feral cannabis farms start harvesting the crop right after they see the first signs of blossoming buds on top. Professional recommend waiting at least four weeks before harvesting the crop.

Once you have removed the buds from the top, you will need to properly dry them up and cure them using air-tight jars for up to eight weeks or more. This will help them retain a high level of different flavors and remove any stringent taste from the outcome.

What Is the Bottom Line Here?

Growing weed indoors may take up to 5 months, whereas growing weed outdoors can take up to seven months or more. This depends upon different environmental factors, the strain of your seeds, sunlight exposure, harvesting procedure, etc.

Therefore, you need to plan everything, choose the right hydroponics container pots and location, invest in the right gear, and set the timeline accordingly. Rushing any stage will ruin the outcome. So, you need to be careful and be patient with weed crops.

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