The Life Cycle Of Marijuana Plants

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The Life Cycle Of Marijuana Plants

The Life Cycle Of Marijuana Plants

In this article, we’ll be talking about the life cycle of marijuana plants and the various stages of growth that cannabis goes through on its (relatively) short journey to adulthood and maturity.

There will be several major milestones your plant experiences. Knowing what these big changes are before you get there will help give you a better idea of what you can expect as you take care of your cannabis crop. It will also help you keep an eye on health issues as they arise.

With this knowledge, you’ll be better able to fix problems because you would know what the plant is supposed to be doing in a best case scenario. That being said, sometimes you might run into a problem you just can’t fix. For one reason or another, a plant just won’t grow, and nothing you do can change that. But let’s get started with the life cycle of the cannabis plant. It never hurts to know what to expect.

Every life stage that your plant will go through comes with its own challenges and difficulties. By informing yourself about the differences in needs and behaviors of your plant in the various stages you will be more prepared to deal with anything that comes along.

Cannabis seeds

life cycle marijuana seeds

Cannabis uses sexual reproduction to create seeds and spread them. Each single seed is produced by two parents. The cannabis seed contains genes from both the female and the male plants. The exception to this is when seeds are produced by a hermaphrodite plant, but that is a complex process at-home growers don’t need to worry about.

Beneath the waxy coat of a seed hides a tiny dehydrated plant, just waiting to be exposed to moisture and warmth. Once gets water and heat, it sprouts. Otherwise, it grows too old and dies. This is why you can’t keep seeds forever (although some seeds keep better and longer than others). Alongside the tiny plant, seeds also contain a store of calories to start the plant out on its journey. This is known as the endosperm.

Cannabis seeds will lie dormant until they are exposed to water and light. The seeds themselves are fairly hardy, and should be able to survive well in a dark, cool place, given stable temperatures. A fridge or cellar is perfect. The most likely way to cause damage to seeds is low temperature: a temperature below freezing can kill cannabis seeds.

Germinating seeds

life cycle germinating weed seeds

When you’re ready to grow your plant, expose the seeds to light and moisture. The exposure to light and water will activate a series of hormones within the seed and kickstart the growth process.

A single root grows down and splits open the outer shell of your seed, then reaches downward into the soil in search of water and nutrients. At the same time (or just after), a green stalk will shoot upward and two initial cotyledon leaves will appear.

There are different kinds of seeds. Cannabis plants are called cotyledons. This means they have two distinct leaves on their sprout, and they belong to the dicotyledonous group of plants. Read the article How To Germinate Marijuana Seeds for more info

As a sprout, the cannabis plant has two meristems— one at the crown which is known as the “shoot meristem” and one at the root, known as the “root meristem”. The former will become stem and foliage while the latter will become the taproot.

Cell division occurs in the meristem cells of the plant. This is the foundation of plant growth. These multiplying cells occur throughout the plant but are heavily concentrated in the crown and the roots, where the majority of the plant growth occurs.

For quality marijuana seeds check our online seed shop

Typically, as meristem cells mature, they will solidify into a single type of cell: that is, they will become buds, roots, leaves or stems, but will exclusively produce those cells. Once a meristem cell has begun producing roots, for example, it will no longer have the ability to reproduce leaves or stems.

Despite this, it’s important to remember that meristem cells are essentially identical. It is only their location and the precise stimuli they are exposed to that make them react differently. This is an important distinction to keep in mind when cutting clones since the cells at the base of the cutting will become roots, and those at the top will grow into the rest of the plant. Sometimes growers apply auxins like naphthaleneacetic acid to the plant. Auxins are rooting hormones which will help encourage root growth when a new cutting is just beginning to grow.

Information about storing marijuana seeds is also relevant and important for growers. Cannabis seeds contain the endosperm, and the tiny plant (comprised of the root, stem, and two leaves). Metabolically, the plant slows down and enters a static state, essentially putting itself into suspended animation. This allows the seeds to remain viable for long periods of time, but not indefinitely. All seeds are different, but, in general, cannabis seeds lose efficacy after a year or so. That being said, some could sprout even after a period of several years.

Moisture sprouts seeds

life cycle moisture sprouts cannabis seeds

Moisture levels should be kept as low as possible in storage. Moisture can allow fungus to grow or cause premature sprouting of the seeds, both of which are devastating if a grower has any intention of growing viable plants out of the seeds in question. When you do want to initiate sprouting, you’ll need moisture, but even then take care not to let the seeds absorb too much water or molds and rot may become issues.

When you do sprout your marijuana seeds, the moisture enters through the micropyles in the seed. Micropyles are tiny porous openings in the seed. If they are misshapen or clogged with foreign material, it may be difficult to germinate the plants. One solution to this issue is to soak the plants in a water bath. Alternatively, you can scratch the surface of the seed (this process is called scarification). You can nick the seed lightly with a sharp edge or use an abrasive surface. Only resort to these measures if absolutely necessary to help induce germination. Seeds that require a great deal of extra effort to sprout could pass on their traits to future generations, and it would be a shame to create extra work for yourself.

As the little plant hidden away inside the seed absorbs moisture, it will begin to swell and grow. Eventually, it will burst out of the shell, and leave behind the state of suspended animation. At this point, it will require regular heat, water, and air. It will no longer survive in a dry environment.

Seedling stage

life cycle seedling stage weed

As the seedling continues to grow, it will continue to break apart the seed coat that was protecting it. The root systems at the base of the plant will begin to develop, and leaves will begin to spread out and grow at the top of the plant. Soon new leaves will grow and the plant will enter it’s first true growth cycle. From there, the plant will continue to grow bigger and bigger until the buds are triggered to flower.

After about 3-7 days of initial growth, a healthy plant should have grown into a seedling. This stage of growth is defined by a plant that has begun to develop a stable root system, as well as initial growth of “true leaves”, that is, leaves which exhibit the same form and characteristics as mature cannabis leaves. This does not refer to the cotyledon leaves that pop up right after germination.

Your plant can remain a seedling for a broad range of time, anywhere from 3-6 weeks. The duration will depend primarily on environmental factors and the particular strain that you are cultivating.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more growing tips

You’ll always want to pay close attention to your plants, but be especially careful to do this in the early stages of growth. Pay attention to the speed at which the foliage develops. As the plant begins to develop foliage and a stable root system, it will transition into the vegetative stage of growth. This is especially important if you are planning on transplanting. If you want to move your seedling to a new container or environment, now is the time to do it.

The perfect heat during this stage is 77 degrees. Also, humidity is important, just like the time of germination. Nutrients can burn the cannabis seedlings so therefore few are necessary. White light (18 hours per day) is needed from the instant you see the cotyledons, as well as some fertilizer with nitrogen (like grow booster), a temperature between  68- 77 degrees and humidity of approximately 60%.

CFL lights are perfect for seedlings because they don’t produce a lot of heat. You can place the seedlings at 2 inches from the lights so they get enough light. Check these lights at this link.

 

Vegetative stage

life cycle vegetative stage cannabis

This is when your cannabis plant really comes into its own, producing the sort of big jagged leaves you’ve been waiting for. The plant produces so much more foliage because it’s now capable of absorbing and processing a much higher amount of carbon dioxide and other nutrients. During the vegetative stage of growth, the roots will continue to expand and the plant will grow taller. This is the point at which people say you can “watch your plant grow”. A healthy cannabis plant can grow up to 2 inches in a single day!

The duration of the vegetative phase is controlled primarily by light exposure. If you are growing outdoors, this means it will depend on what part of the world you are in. For indoor growers, it means you can keep the plant in a vegetative state for as long as you please. Just remember that you want to be careful about light exposure at this point. We’ll have more on the relationship between light exposure and flowering in other articles. Duration: 1 to 2 months.

Read the article Vegetative Stage For Indoor Marijuana Plants for more info

In this phase, the cannabis plant essentially grows leaves and stalks. It quickly produces a solid structure so it can carry the heavy racemes. The cannabis grows taller and larger and new layers of leaves are added. At this time, you should be able to notice the difference between the cannabis varieties as the side branches reach their maximum.

The temperature should be between  68- 77 degrees, with dampness from 50% to 70%, perpetual white light of at least eighteen hours a day and additional fertilizer with nitrogen.

Flowering stage

life cycle cannabis flowering stage

The end stage for the cannabis plant is the one that’s most important for growers and cultivators (and eventual beneficiaries of the harvest). The flowering state occurs after reduced light exposure, and when a plant becomes sexually mature and ready to spread its genes around. Male cannabis plants usually mature earlier than the female plants, sometimes up to a couple weeks earlier.

When the plant reaches the flowering stage, it will begin to produce large quantities of sticky resin on the outsides of the leaves. The resin is centered on the reproductive parts of the plant, also known colloquially as the buds. These concentrations of resin contain the highest percentages of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that you will find on the plant, THC being the active ingredient most sought after by smokers and medicinal users.

The specific potency of your plant (the percentage of active ingredient in the resin) will be determined by the amount of time a plant has spent flowering. It also depends on whether or not the plant has been pollinated and fertilized.

Eventually, you’ll want to harvest the wealth of buds and deal with all of the processing that follows. That’s almost certainly why you’re growing your ccannabis. For the time being, just understand that the length of the flowering stage can vary depending on what cannabis strain you’re working with and how much control you have over your growing environment. The flowering duration for most strains of cannabis falls somewhere between 6-10 weeks, although given the right strain and the right conditions, this could go on for even longer.

Read the article Flowering Stage For Indoor Marijuana Plants for more info

For practical purposes, you can split up the flowering stage into a couple different sections. First is the phase that occurs right after your plant finishes the vegetative stage. After changing the light cycle, the cannabis development rate increases dramatically and the internodes become shorter so they can form the construction that will carry the cannabis flowers. An internode is the distance on a stem between one node that defines a level of leaves to another node.

During this time, the temperature should remain between 68- 77 degrees, with dampness from 50% to 70%, a light cycle of 12 hours of orange-red lighting per day and fertilizer with nitrogen. The structure of the Cannabis budsshould be almost ready after the pre-flowering phase that probably lasted around two weeks. The development will keep increasing, but less rapidly and the earliest flowers/buds will appear.

Next you’ll begin to see the buds development. In this phase, the cannabis is in bloom and will stop growing. The plant invests everything in the growth of its buds and gets a thicker structure. The buds are heavy, covered in resin and you can smell them. Some pistils turn brown and some big leaves at the bottom turn yellow.

At this time, the temperature should remain between 68- 77 degrees, with a humidity around 50%. There should be a light cycle of 12 hours of orange-red lighting per day and a lot of fertilizer with K (potassium) and P (phosphor) in normal amounts, but no more nitrogen!

About 10 days before the plant become mature you should stop to fertilize the cannabis. You can identify maturity when the buds get an even thicker structure, are more resinous and more odoriferous.  The pistils turn brown, the large leaves turn yellow in large numbers, the buds expand and gain weight and the development of calyces slows down. Depending on the type of cannabis and on your taste, you can start to harvest now.

Flowering for too long

life cycle mature cannabis bud

While you want your plants to flower for a good amount of time, it is definitely possible to let cannabis go for too long. In this over-mature phase, the cannabis plant will stop to have medicinal value because it deteriorates. The cannabis stops producing calyces, the stem swells, the calyces stretch themselves and the leaves become yellow and fall off.

Each phase in the growing process of the cannabis plant has its own specific environmental factors such as humidity percentage, fertilization, light cycle and temperature. All these factor indications should be followed in order if you want to get a good harvest and to guarantee a good medicinal use. Don’t worry, we will go into much greater detail on the various steps you want to take to improve and control the growth and health of your plants.

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don’t forget to download my free grow bible

Robert

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Comment Section

49 thoughts on “The Life Cycle Of Marijuana Plants


By John Cox on 15 May 2015

Thank you for them seeds .I will order some more this fall if all goes well .I have over a 100 or so and hope I get by with at least one-third of them .Thank you again .


By James on 16 March 2016

I waiting on my Bubba seeds too come in,how many days,before I switch to flowering???
Oh and I have a 400 watt led light I’m going to use,should I switch to a hps light once I start flowering ?


By Rick on 17 June 2015

Hi just a quick question
You mention that it’s good to transplant at 77 degrees is that right?

You’ll always want to pay close attention to your plants, but be especially careful to do this in the early stages of growth. Pay attention to the speed at which the foliage develops. As the plant begins to develop foliage and a stable root system, it will transition into the vegetative stage of growth. This is especially important if you are planning on transplanting. If you want to move your seedling to a new container or environment, now is the time to do it.

The perfect heat during this stage is 77 degrees. Also, humidity is important, just like the time of germination. Nutrients


By latewood on 18 June 2015

Sounds good Rick. Seems like you basically answered your own question.


By lee&jo on 20 June 2015

is it ok to re-pot when the plants are in there 1st stages of
flowering ?.


By diane on 20 July 2015

about how much bud can one get from medium sised bushy plant


By latewood on 23 July 2015

lee&jo,
t is possible to replant in early flower; However, you must be really delicate not to disturb too much of the root zone, at this stage. I have done this successfully in the past.

diane,
It is virtually impossible to guess what yield you can expect. It really depends on your grow methods, experience, and the environment you grow in. 🙂

I invite you both to join our support forum, where you will find all kinds of info to research, along with expert advice and friendly members. 🙂


By Louis Lumley on 7 April 2016

I had a plant once who espoused s6ch a condition all due to lack of light


By Lonnie Hunt on 14 September 2015

A few years ago I grew a marijuana plant from seed indoors . one night I woke up and thought a skunk was under the house the smell was so strong. I went into the room where the plant was, the smell was so overpowering I could hardly carry it outside. When I would brake a leaf or any part of the plant RED sap or liquid would flow out and I was wondering what caused it to be red.


By latewood on 15 September 2015

I have no idea what caused that years ago. Sorry.


By Glaucio on 25 September 2015

muito bom


By steve on 11 October 2015

what about pre-flower stage – know it is in flower stage – but many people start counting flower times when 12/12 cycle starts. but, it really starts when there there is 1st sign of bud development (pre-flower stage 1-2 weeks) thoughts on ?


By latewoodl on 15 October 2015

I agree. Very nice explanation. That would solve many growers misconception as to the length of time it takes to grow. Thanks.

So we could say that; The pre-flower stage is the transition phase…basically.


By Yodaoldschool on 28 October 2015

To many growers do this your plants take about a week after you switch to 12/12 to realise they are in flower so you should never count week 1 same goes for flower feed don’t give your girls this until you see first sign of flowers


By james roberts on 3 November 2015

Thanks for the free book, I would like to know if we can grow 2 strains in the same grow box. Thanks again for book I love it. When I start growing I’m getting my seeds from you. I need to get my grow box first. Thanks again.


By ak47luver on 3 November 2015

Is it possible to harvest a super skunk female at day 42 of 12 and 12 it is showing what I a newby thinks is signs of being finished please enlighten me it has cloudy tricomes about half and half clear and cloudy no amber but the hairs have changed Color from white to orange and the calaxes are swelled up but some are reopening and have white hairs sticking out the calaxes looks kinda like swirles should I chop are wait till all the calaxes are opened up and those hairs change color also also alot of the leaves are changing to yellow even sugar leaves l think it’s a deficiency but since I have 5 plants in a 5 gallon container in DWC can’t adjust for the 2 that looks like they are having a deficiency the other 3 look good but are still all white hairs no calxes


By ak47luver on 3 November 2015

Is it possible to harvest a super skunk female at day 42 of 12 and 12 it is showing what I a newby thinks is signs of being finished please enlighten me it has cloudy tricomes about half and half clear and cloudy no amber but the hairs have changed Color from white to orange and the calaxes are swelled up but some are reopening and have white hairs sticking out the calaxes looks kinda like swirles should I chop are wait till all the calaxes are opened up and those hairs change color also also alot of the leaves are changing to yellow even sugar leaves l think it’s a deficiency but since I have 5 plants in a 5 gallon container in DWC can’t adjust for the 2 that looks like they are having a deficiency the other 3 look good but are still all white hairs no calexes much but there buds are big going to give those the full 56 days maybe more


By latewood.ILGM on 5 November 2015

It is possible to harvest anytime you want. If you have no amber trichomes, then the plant is not ready. Potency will suffer.


By Joan on 26 November 2015

We have a plant that has been in bud stage for 12 weeks. Leaves are turning purplish on upper and lower buds are like pods that are not filling out. Very pretty buds. Lots of crystals. Any thoughts?


By latewood.ILGM on 27 November 2015

Joan,

A plant that has been flowering for 12 weeks is probably ready to finish. At what stage is your trichome development? If you have 20%+ amber trichomes, I would think it time to flush and harvest in a few days.

Before I would say there is something wrong, I would advise you to check your trichome development.


By Joan on 8 January 2016

Thank you for answering Nov. question. Appreciated! New plant in flower for 6 wks. Textbook. Now sweet leaves are wavy and twisty but very pretty. No brown spots. I looked at Boron but it’s definitely not that. Would appreciate any input. Thank you, Joan


By Diane on 23 January 2016

Anxiously awaiting my seeds. Previously, I was given seeds from a friend which germinated. I was so excited. But then the stem grew and grew and grew and thinned out at the bottom; the tiny plant fell over and died. This happened time and again and I just gave up. Could this have been because they were old seeds?
I hope I have better luck with better seeds!!


By Gongalee on 8 April 2016

Hey Diane” what’s growing on. I have had success in rescuing a stretched out seedling that I did not want to go to waste. I simply scored one side of the excess stem, apply a little rooting powder to the scored area. Cover up with more soil or media then use something to prop it upright. It may affect, growth, yield but will continue to grow with care.

I hope this helps in some way
Gonga


By DankFrank on 28 January 2016

how many days of 12-12 lighting “flowering stage” does a raspberry diesel plant need to complete its budding.


By latewood.ILGM on 3 February 2016

DankFrank,

There is not set amount of days for any strain. All finishing times are approximate and can be varied due to grow methods, and lighting. You induce flowering by setting lights to 12/12 photo period. After that you wait until the plant appears to getting ready to finish. At this point you must monitor the “trichome development” in order to determine when to flush before harvest.


By Mike on 2 February 2016

Thanks Robert!


By latewood.ILGM on 3 February 2016

Joan,

You would be well advised to join our support forum. Faster help, and many great members that can help you out.


By latewood.ILGM on 3 February 2016

Diana,

If the seeds germinated, then there was nothing wrong with the seeds.

If your sprout is growing tall and stemmy, and then falls over; It is because, you light is too far away, and/or you did not provide a light fan to move the stem, allowing it to strengthen.


By phadre on 24 February 2016

i am not a new grower but have a powdery mildew problem for the first time.my grow is in the house and i have to many animals in said house to use sulphur. my questions are, when using the vinegar solution or the baking soda solution, how often do i apply it? do i stop if i dont see any new spots?i assumed i should do it during lights off, is that correct?also part of my plant are three weeks from harvest part are only three weeks in,how close to harvest is it ok to use these methods without tainting the finished product.thank you so much for your book and blog. i saw those spots and had a little panic attack! ok big panic attack! thanks for helping me save my crop.in the near future i am going to invest in a clean light. can i get your grow book in actual book form? i prefer a book i can make notes in. thanks again.


By latewood.ILGM on 24 February 2016

phadre,

It is advisable to treat your plants approx. once a week.

Application should be done at 1st light and plants need to be completely covered, especially the underside of the leaves.

Make sure to add some dormant horticultural soap, or insecticidal soap as a form of wetting agent. Milk can also be added.


By Mal on 28 February 2016

Thanks Rob for the tips, and of course THE Book.
Don’t know if you can comment on this one, but here goes.

My third grow, Master Kush feminized (sorry from Nirvana in Holland) but this time indoors, under 250Watt Full Spectrum LED, plus 2 x 50w CFL’s for luck! , just the one plant for pers use, just fimmed a week ago, and immediately 4 x new tops.
Feeding regime is BIOBIZZ kit, CO2 also, and really all is going fine BUT:-

This plant is a damned midget, leaves good color, but now at 5 weeks its only 18-20 cm high.

Foliage is dense and packed but nodes up the stem (which is now half an inch thick !) are so close together, like 2 mm’s apart.

Fimming any more below is just about impossible due to this strange compact form its taken.

Ever seen this before ?

Thanks Mal


By latewood.ILGM on 19 March 2016

Mal,

How did you start these seeds?

What type medium and system are you using? This would give us a little more to go on. 🙂

Sounds like you have a nice compact grow going, despite this issue


By latewood.ILGM on 2 March 2016

Mal ,

You gave us no info on how you are attempting to grow your seeds.

I advise you to join our grow support forum ar ilovegrowingmarijuana.com where we have many knowledgeable members and experts to help you out.


By D.J. Rollingwater on 19 March 2016

Seems there is one hell of a lot of dis- information in some if not all of the pot grow books you all have read ….. study ” the tomato plant ” it requires all a pot plant requires so mimic what is written of them and forget what the books on pot told you ……….


By David on 27 March 2016

Is it OK to flush with tap water that is low PH ? The plants were grown with good PH water but I hate to waste it on a flush.


By Robert on 7 April 2016

Bizniss mate….Am hooked already,cheers MA man


By pedro on 7 April 2016

Dear. What happen when a plant is not flourishing even one month of induced to 12/12 and the other plants have no problem at all and they were raised together and all from good banks?
Thanks for the good articles!!


By latewood.ILGM on 8 April 2016

Pedro,

This is hard to answer when you have provided us with no more that I have a plant that is not thriving…

I suggest you join our grow forum and share your methods in order for us to give you a more informed decision 🙂


By Shae on 11 April 2016

Great tips guys. I am attempting to download book ,but I am not receiving any emails.? Could I get some help please 🙁


By Gongalee on 3 May 2016

Hey Robert!!
Thanks a bunch for the literature kind sir.
And also for the Choco beans, which are so far growing nicely.
Certainly more than I could say for TrueNorth, a waste of time and money, very dishonorable.

By the way does anyone know what happened to Seedshare forums?


By latewood.ILGM on 4 May 2016

ongalee

We are so happy that you are succeeding with our genetics. We are not interested in disparaging other seedbanks. We can only guarantee our quality seeds. I also have no idea in regards to SS forums.

Happy growing 🙂


By Tennessee Steinmetz on 18 May 2016

I have had some seeds from old school plants and have had them (new ones every year) for about 15 years. These are old school hardy plants. I plant 4 every year and one always produces viable seeds. A friend said it must be contamination from elsewhere; if this were so then all plants would produce some seeds. In my case only one plant produces all the seeds.


By latewood.ILGM on 24 May 2016

thanks T. S. for4 sharing. I did not see a question so, I am just going to welcome you. Perhaps you shopuld jhoin our support forum. Happy growing

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