What is a Marijuana Plant

April 19, 2019

The Plant Kingdom is the foundation of almost every single ecosystem on the face of the Earth. Without plants, there would be no life on Earth.

Animals and humans, depend on plants for food. Plants, however, are not held down by the same restrictions. They transmute their food through the process of photosynthesis, requiring only water, C02, and sunlight.

Plants of the Cannabis genus are no exception. But what characteristics identify cannabis? How do the mechanisms of photosynthesis function within the plant itself? These questions are simple but significant. In order to properly grow marijuana, we must first understand how it works, down to each constituent part.

Plant growth


Marijuana plant growth
Marijuana plant growth – Image powered by Leafly.com

The sum growth of a plant occurs through cell division and cell elongation. Division is when the plant cells split apart and create copies of themselves, while elongation is when the cells expand outwards and become bigger.

The most cell division in a plant occurs at the crown, the tips of the roots, and at the fringes of any leaf nodes. If a plant is growing at all, it means that cell division is occurring in these areas, often at astounding rates. If you had the patience to  watch a plant for a day, you could actually see it grow.

New cells created through cell division then undergo cell elongation and absorb water from the xylem and swell up to significantly larger sizes. A healthy plant being cultivated in a well- provided for environment can easily grow up to 3 inches in a day.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for tips on how to grow your own marijuana

New cells start out being unspecialized— which means they can grow to meet a variety of needs for the plant, depending on what’s required. For example, a newly divided cell at the end of a petiole might become a leaf cell, one of the building blocks of photosynthesis.

There are many types of cells, which we can organize into groups of tissues. To make things simple, we can divide cells into three primary groups: ground, vascular, and dermal tissues.

Most of the cells of a plant are ground cells, called parenchyma. These are the functional parts of an organism. For example, leaf cells are made up primarily of parenchymal ground cells, with the exception of the stomata and the veins.

The next set of tissues are the cells systems responsible for transportation of nutrients and water within the plant— vascular tissue. Xylem carries water and minerals up from the roots to the rest of the plant, while phloem carries the products of photosynthesis from the leaves to anywhere else they’re needed. Sugars produced in the leaves, for example, are required for energy in other parts of the plant. Vascular tissue is what makes it all work.

Finally, the external outer layer of plant cells— the dermal tissue. This is the protective layer, which guards against pests, parasites, high heat, and cold.

The dermal tissue includes cell wall, waxy outer layers, and also the stomata, the locking door mechanisms of the plant, which allow it to breathe in and out, absorbing CO2 and evaporating water.

The marijuana root system

The marijuana root system
The marijuana root system – Image powered by Royalqueenseeds.com

What humans imagine when they think of plants is usually just the tip of the iceberg. With a wild cannabis specimen, for example, only half of it is visible.

Underground, a root system extends tendrils out beneath the visible stem, sometimes reaching the size of the rest of the plant itself. These extensive root systems are what allow plants to survive droughts and dry times, as well as reach out more widely for nutrients in the soil.

The good news— a cultivated, domestic plant can survive with a denser, smaller root system. A cannabis plant will thrive in a pot or hydroponics system, as long as the grower is careful to provide it with all the water, light, and nutrients it requires.

Roots absorb water and nutrients, keep the plant safe in the soil, and store extra nutrients. A healthy root tip is white and covered with tiny hairs. If the tips of your roots are brown, it’s probably an indication of an unhealthy plant. If this is the case, you might want to double-check the soil levels, or see if you can find any symptoms of root disease.

Evaporation is the foundation for water and nutrient uptake in a plant. Extra water is evaporated through the stomae in the leaves while, below the ground, water presses up against the roots and creates pressure.

The combination of root pressure below and evaporation above create a suction system in the plant that helps promote the flow of nutrients and water from the bottom to the top. Download my free marijuana grow guide for more information about growing marijuana at this link.

Stems: the nutrition highway

Stems the nutrition highway – Image powered by Bigbudsmag.com

The stem is the primary structural axis of a plant. This is the highway over which nutrients and water are transported throughout the plant, as well as what keeps it standing straight and reaching for the sun.

As discussed earlier, leaves meet the stem at the node, whereas the rest of the stem (between nodes) is known as the internode. The height of a given plant is determined by the number and length of its internodes. Remember, once a plant begins to flower, it produces buds, and the number of internodes will not change.

Like the leaf, the stem contains xylem and phloem, which run all the way down to the root. Xylem transport water and minerals from the grasping roots all the way up to the newest leaves, bringing it all up from the soil. Originating in the leaves, the phloem transports sugar and energy all over the rest of the plant.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for tips on how to grow your own marijuana

A solid stem is essential for any plant, but especially for cannabis. A thick stem both maximizes the efficiency of energy transportation and also ensures that the plant is sturdy enough bear a harvest of dense buds without falling over.

One thing a grower can do to help create a sturdy  stem has to do with air flow— make sure a fan is always blowing on the plant (not too hard, especially when it’s a young plant).  This will cause the plant to thicken its stem in response to the stimuli as it grows.

The function of leaves

The function of marijuana leaves
The function of marijuana leave – Image powered by Liwts.orgs

The most important part of every plant is the leaf, where photosynthesis occurs, and therefore the source of food. Photosynthesis is conducted by chloroplast cells, which gather sunlight and store it as ATP.

A plant leaf is comprised of a petiole (stalk), mesophyll and veins. Mesophyll is the meat of the leaf, where the cells with chlorophyll capture sunlight and convert it with CO2 into energy. Veins extend from the very tips of leaves all the way down to the roots, comprised of xylem and phloem.

The xylem transports water and phloem transports sugar (energy). Stomata are located on the underside of the leaf. These function as the locks to the interior of the plant, opening and closing at different times to allow for the transmission of CO2, oxygen and water vapor.

From a practical standpoint, leaves do better in sunlight. They will grow to be healthier, more robust, and more full of chlorophyll. More chlorophyll means more sugar, which means more energy, which means a better plant. Leaves in shade have a much lower threshold for sugar production than leaves in sunlight.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for tips on how to grow your own marijuana

Nodes are the intersection points of leaf bundles.One way to help ascertain the health of a plant is to examine the nodes. The first node of a plant always sprouts single-fingered leaves, the next three-fingered leaves, the next five-fingered leaves and so on.

The better the plant’s environment, the more fingers the leaves will have, and the healthier the plant will be. Keep this in mind while you are pruning. Pruning can be advantageous, but it is important to know what you are pruning and why.

Because of the way leaves intake carbon dioxide and output oxygen, it’s important to note that the air directly surrounding your leaves might have a different temperature or humidity than the rest of the air in your greenhouse or growing environment. In order to help maintain a more accurate control over the environment, be sure to install fans to maintain proper air flow.

Marijuana plant flowers

Marijuana plant flowers
Marijuana plant flowers – Image powered by Hytiva.com

Like other members of the plant kingdom, it is the flowers of the Cannabis plant that serve as reproductive organs. Cannabis usually has imperfect flowers, meaning that plants are separated into male and female. Male flowers contain stamen, which are composed of a thin tube-like filament capped by a pollen covered anther. Female flowers have pistils, with a pillar-like stalk (called a style) ending in a stigma. The stigma is usually sticky or feathered so that it can catch grains of pollen.

Cannabis plants reproduce by getting pollen from the stamen of a male plant to the pistil of a female. In plants, this style of reproduction is known as pollination. In addition to being vital for reproduction, it is the cannabis flower that contains THC and CBD, the two primary active ingredients, and the reason the plant is smoked.

In order to maintain high levels of these active ingredients, and thus maintain a high-quality product, it is important not to let the female flowers be fertilized. After fertilization, a female plant begins to put resources into the production of seeds. Unfertilized, a plant will devote resources to producing more calyxes, teardrop nodules that typically contain high concentrations of trichomes. Those are the glands that secrete THC and other cannabinoids.

If you want to start growing, download my free marijuana grow bible and order some marijuana seeds. All top quality marijuana seeds are available in my marijuana seed shop. We ship seeds to the US, Australia and many other countries. For any grow related question please visit the marijuana support page.


The founder of I Love Growing Marijuana, Robert Bergman, is a marijuana growing expert that enjoys sharing his knowledge with the world. He combines years of experience, ranging from small-scale grows to massive operations, with a passion for growing. His articles include tutorials on growing... [read more]


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  1. By Nebula Haze ,19 Jan 2015
    Nice info! A small correction for the biology enthusiasts - a cannabis plant doesn't actually have a "trunk" since it's not a tree, they have a long main stem with strong apical dominance. Also, one last thing - more "fingers" […]Read More
    1. By Robert Bergman ,20 Jan 2015
      Hi Nebula, Good to see you here! I made some changes to the article thanks to your comments. How are things at growweedeasy? ;-) Robert
    2. By Victoria ,04 Aug 2020
      Hey Robert, Having trouble reaching customer service on a issue. Could you ask them to contact me. You have my email address. Thanks, Victoria Lail
  2. By brad ,20 Jan 2015
    what i would like to know is how do you check to see if your roots are healthy if your growing in soil and how do you know if yor plant is getting the right amount of nutrients and water
    1. By Robert Bergman ,20 Jan 2015
      Hi Brad, If the roots of your marijuana plant are not healthy, you usually see some discoloring of the leaves. Similar to underwatering sings. I will write an article about testing the pH and EC (ppm/TDS) of your soil and […]Read More
  3. By Budzu Brother ,20 Jan 2015
    Your site was one of the first i ever found and i have been reading it ever since, all because you explain things well. Alotof people who grow weed could do with reading this article and getting a basic understanding […]Read More
    1. By Robert Bergman ,20 Jan 2015
      Thank Budzu, spread the word...
  4. By Smok’n Pa ,20 Jan 2015
    since discovering your website I've gained valuable info on growing my own buds. and will continue to read your comments and articles. Thanks.....
  5. By J-Budz ,22 Jan 2015
    Funny how Nebula was quick to respond. Lol I get a great deal of useful information from you AND the great genetics to make it all happen. I also get good info from Serius and Nebula but all they can […]Read More
  6. By mark ,22 Jan 2015
    Robert the onlt thing i can say is AWESOME is what you are
  7. By kiltyk ,23 Jan 2015
    I have been given conflicting advice regarding the shading leaves on plants ,, some say when the plant begins to bud, produce the flowers, that its is best to remove these larger shading leaves a) to let mor light get […]Read More
    1. By latewood ,11 Jun 2015
      You never remove fan leaves unless they are damaged past the point of recovery. If you remove all your fan leaves, then the plant Does Not!; concentrate on flowers; It attempts to heal itself, taking away from flower production.
  8. By Shane ,23 Jan 2015
    Thanks for posting all of your good advice. You have definitely helped readjust my self taught ways, and thanks for the high quality products.
  9. By Nadine ,23 Jan 2015
    Along the lines of pruning while growing, how do you know which leaves to prune and which to leave. I would hate to remove the wrong thing and kill my plants. I have three healthy plant at about 30 inches […]Read More
  10. By jimsamillon.. ,23 Jan 2015
    Mr.Bergman.. i have been a lover of motherearth sense I was a young teenager..I have grown Outdoors for over 30 years.....until I found your grow guild .i have never grown in doors.I studied your guild for indoors... on just some […]Read More
  11. By Robert Bergman ,23 Jan 2015
    Thanks for all your positive reactions! Growing marijuana still is one of the best things to do! Using your hands, busy with nature while creating a beautiful product :) @Kyltyk @Nadine The opinions on trimming plants are still divided. Personally […]Read More
  12. By jason rhodes ,23 Jan 2015
    orgasmient plants grow well in warm waters
  13. By dogday7 ,23 Jan 2015
    Hi Robert, I grew my first plants last year, eight total. I reviewed many sources for information and in the end chose to follow both you and Nebula Haze. You both offer clear, logical instructions and insight into the growth […]Read More
  14. By ken stelma ,24 Jan 2015
    I am in week 4.5 of flower. Got to learn to lay off the water.Just received 20og and 10ss total turnaround 18 days sent cash.I love this guy Thanks.
  15. By Chris ,25 Jan 2015
    Hi rob just got a few questions for you. I want to purchase some white widow and super skunk from you but how long will it take to send to Australia? Also do you have any coupons you can offer […]Read More
    1. By Robert Bergman ,26 Jan 2015
      Hi Chris, I forwarded your message to Claire. For any questions about ordering marijuana seeds you can contact her at [email protected]
  16. By Brian ,26 Jan 2015
    Hi Robert, your web site and the help you offer is amazing , I now really enjoy the growing process, nearly as much as the end product . You will be highly recommended .
  17. By kiltyk ,27 Jan 2015
    Ref trimming ,, yeah i can go for that ,,, is there any main reason that the disease or nutrient imbalance always goes to shading (fan) leaves first is it becauese they are the main work house of the plants […]Read More
  18. By John doe ,27 Jan 2015
    What nutrients do you recommend in the last for weeks of growth ( hydroponic )
  19. By danispitz ,28 Jan 2015
    Hello to all my fellow growers out there. First want to say that I very much enjoy this site. Great guides to growing some beautiful ladies. My question was about "Gold Leaf***". Is there anymore information about her. SOG? SCROG? […]Read More
  20. By Chris g ,30 Jan 2015
    I have a few questions about lighting I have 1000 50 watts of CFLs and my buds are not growing bigger I am using the marijuana booster as directed I'm in my third week of flowering any suggestions
  21. By tony kroah ,04 Feb 2015
    Indoor growing/lighting....I am considering a 12" by 12" led panel with red, white, blue & orange lights . 4 different wave length to cover the various stages of growth. My question is, have you had any experience with this as […]Read More
  22. By Mike ,12 Feb 2015
    First off let me say that I was very skeptical about ordering beans online; But after downloading the Grow Bible and reading some of the other reviews I jumped right in & Am I glad I did! I placed my […]Read More
  23. By amlu ,21 Mar 2015
    Hi Robert Following your tips and enjoying growing outdoors... Harvested too
  24. By Tommy ,04 Apr 2015
    I have a lot of South African sativa seeds,mainly the swazi variety i would like to swop seeds,can you let me know if anybody is interested thank you
    1. By derek ,10 Apr 2015
      would like to swap beans with tommy, i have several different variety's
  25. By john knotts ,19 May 2015
    Great post. Appreciate your words about marijuana plant. Brandsy a marijuana marketing agency to promote your product effectively in targeted market.
  26. By Nathi ,04 Jun 2015
    Does it help in any way to water your plants with sugary water? Also, in the Limpopo province in south Africa there is always a considerable amount of sun shine almost everyday in winter , now my question is is […]Read More
  27. By latewood ,11 Jun 2015
    Sugar water is useless, unless you want every bug and pest on the planet on your plants. Growing in S. Africa is up to you. I have no idea what the climate is like in the Winter there. Can farmers […]Read More
  28. By latewood ,11 Jun 2015
    Best thing for all you active posters is to join the forum and be recognized. You will get faster support there also. :)
  29. By Steph ,13 Jun 2015
    Hi, just found you. Great info. I enjoy your articles. Its been 8 years since my last grow, I'm just a" homer". Working on SOG with 16 girls. Wow! What a change from early 00's with the avalibilty of information. […]Read More
  30. By Steph ,13 Jun 2015
    I see post about water leaf, sugar leaf, fan leaf ect. Could you please explain what each specific function is for those leaves and where they are located. Thanks.
  31. By LATEWOOD ,15 Jun 2015
    We are here to help, but again, I strongly advise you to post your quesions in the grow forum. All the leaves you asked about are the same thing. Sucker, Sugar, Water, Fan leaves; All the same. Perhaps someone is […]Read More
  32. By Stop Tobacco Mosaic Virus On Marijuana Plants Now! ,20 Jul 2015
    […] infected plant and then come in contact (or your clothes or tools come in contact) with a healthy marijuana plant, the healthy plant has a high chance of catching the […]
  33. By Select Seeds Based On THC Level And Genetics ,03 Aug 2015
    […] For the planting method, choose a few seeds and put them in half an inch of dirt inside of a small cup. Soak them in warm water. Leave the cup in a room temperature environment for approximately one week, […]Read More
  34. By How Much Sunlight Do Outdoor Marijuana Plants Need? ,03 Aug 2015
    […] to grow it using just a skylight. This is possible because of the durability and hardiness of marijuana plants. The size of the plant and buds will be much less […]
  35. By Stop Caterpillars On Marijuana Plants Now! ,03 Aug 2015
    […] into the stems creates an open doorway for other pests that will complete suck the life out of your marijuana plants. Hemp Borers will damage the buds (see […]
  36. By Stop Rats And Mice Harming Your Marijuana Plants Now! ,03 Aug 2015
    […] might notice signs of gnawing or chewing on the stalks of your marijuana plants. You also might discover concentrations of rat stool or damage to your plants’ buds. You might […]
  37. By Stop Snails and Slugs On Marijuana Plants Now! ,03 Aug 2015
    […] covering for house frogs and toads gives an organic process of the food chain that will free your marijuana plant of both snails and slugs. Frogs and toads will eat these suckers […]
  38. By Stop Whiteflies On Marijuana Plants Now! ,03 Aug 2015
    […] marijuana plant will show signs of damage from whiteflies. One of the mains signs is chlorosis deficiency, which is […]
  39. By Watering Marijuana Plants Outdoors ,10 Nov 2015
    […] be too laid back when choosing a river bed location for your marijuana plants. They come with their own security risks. Rivers tend to attract more than just animals and […]
  40. By Stop Deer Eating Your Marijuana Plants Now! ,10 Nov 2015
    […] in the middle of the night when fewer humans are walking around. If they do stumble upon your marijuana plants, they will have a heyday, devouring your precious plants’ leaves buds, and entire […]
  41. By Stop Damping Off On Marijuana Seedlings Now! ,10 Nov 2015
    […] probably won’t even notice a problem until you see atrophy in the stalk and lower leaves of your marijuana plant. You will also notice discoloration of the section of the stalk that is closest to the base. This […]
  42. By Stop Verticillium Wilt On Marijuana Plants Now! ,12 Nov 2015
    […] note of any changes in your marijuana plants. There are certain signs you can see that will indicate that your plant has Verticillium wilt. For […]
  43. By Stop Mealybugs On Marijuana Plants Now! ,12 Nov 2015
    […] mealybugs find the crevices in your marijuana plants and adhere themselves onto these places. They create a wax-like protective layer over themselves so […]
  44. By Stop Fungus Gnats On Marijuana Plants Now! ,01 Dec 2015
    […] mistaken for fruit flies – make sure you are aware of which one is buzzing around your marijuana plants. Fruit flies and fungus gnats have very different behaviors (and, therefore, different deterrents), […]
  45. By Stop Bud Rot On Marijuana Plants Now! ,01 Dec 2015
    […] the gray mold circles all the way around the stem, it will weaken it until it has lots of cankers and is actually soft. There will be breakage where […]
  46. By Best Places To Grow Marijuana Outdoors ,28 Dec 2015
    […] plants should be used for extra coverage – you can even plant some nearby to cover up your cannabis plants even more […]
  47. By Tobacco Mosaic Virus On Marijuana Plants My Health Secrets ,26 Feb 2016
    […] infected plant and then come in contact (or your clothes or tools come in contact) with a healthy marijuana plant, the healthy plant has a high chance of catching the […]
  48. By James ,27 Aug 2020
    I want to learn more about marijuana

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