The 4 stages of a weed plant

Growing

Whether you grow with autoflowering weed seeds or feminized seeds, weed plants go through different stages. This is called the cannabis grow cycle.

When growing weed it’s important to understand each stage of the strain. Each stage of the weed plant is unique and therefore requires an unique approach when it comes to care. Think of aspects like light, water and nutrients. In addition, during the different phases, the plant provides important information for the grower. Like if the strain is male or female, but also information regaring the health of the plant. 

Let’s dig deeper into the stages of a weed plant

Marijuana plant stages

When growing weed, female strains and autoflowers will complete four stages before they are mature and ready to be harvested:

  1. Stage 1: Germination of the seed
  2. Stage 2: Seedling
  3. Stage 3: Growth phase (vegetative phase)
  4. Stage 4: Flowering phase

Stage 1 (24 – 168 hours): Germination of the seed

The cannabis seed is the starting point. Seeds can be seen as a sleeping organism waiting for water to enter life. This process is called “germination” and takes on average 24 hours up to 168 hours (7 days).

Reading tip: how to germinate cannabis seeds?

Stage 2 (1 – 3 weeks): The seedling stage (baby weed plant)

When the root pops out the seed and reaches a length of about 1.5 cm, the seed can be placed in a growing medium and exposed to 18-24 hours light. During this stage, the roots will grow downwards and find their way in the medium. The shell under which the first leaves grow will grow upwards.

Reading tip: how to plant cannabis seeds?

Once the young seedling has reached the surface, the leaves will push the shell off and small leafs appear to ensure the seedling receives sufficient sunlight. You now have a baby weed plant

The first leaves often feature only one ribbed finger, but when becoming bigger more branches appear and leaves get more “fingers”. Once the strain develops leaves with five “fingers”, we speak about a “seedling”.

Healthy seedlings can be recognized by their short size and dense vegetation where the leaves have a healthy vibrant green color.

Note: During the seedling stage, the roots of your baby weed plant are still small so it doesn’t need much water to grow so provide water in a gentle and controlled manner. This will prevent your young seedling from drowning. The roots are located closed to the trunk, so make sure to water your young seedlink close to the trunk. In addition we recommend keeping your culture environment clean as seedlings are fragile and susceptible to diseases and fungi.

Reading tip: Your guide to the cannabis seedling stage

Stage 3 (3 – 10 weeks): Vegetative stage

Once the seedling stage has completed the strain will enter the vegetative phase. During this stage the strain needs about 13-24 hours of light each day and will grow considerably. We therefore recommend to repot the plant to a larger pot with healthy, nutritious soil. In that way, the roots have sufficient space which is important for the strain to grow considerably in height and wide.

As the plant gets bigger it will need more water. Please do not forget that the water must be further infused from the trunk.

The growth phase lasts about 3 to 10 weeks and depends on the species. Besides, indoor growers can control the vegetative stage. For example by keeping the strain in the vegetative stage via the licht scheme.

Once the strain reaches the end of the vegetative stage (the pre-flowering phase) the grower is able to determine the genus of the plant. For the cultivation of weed, the grower must separate male plants from the female plants in order to prevent pollination.

Reading tip: how to recognize the sex of a cannabis plant

Stage 4 (6 – 12 weeks): Flowering stage

The final stage of the cannabis plant is called the flowering phase. A flowering stage lasts on average 6 to 12 weeks. In this stage the strain will develop it’s resinous buds. In nature, cannabis plants will start to bloom when the days get shorter (autumn).

Indoor growers get their plant to flower by adjusting the light schedule to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

By the end of the flowering stage, the strain is ready for harvest. A strain is ready to be harvested when the buds no longer produce new white hairs and at least 40% to 70% of the white hairs are brown and dry.

Reading tip: when to harvest weed plants?