As with any plant, cannabis needs time to develop and grow. When doing so, it goes through several stages, all of which are important. A grower must understand the timeline, so they don't harvest the plant too early or allow it to languish too long. What are the different stages of growth, and why is each stage important?
It all begins with a seed. You need to know about the different strains available if you're buying marijuana seeds, as you don't want to invest in Sativa seeds if your goal is a calm and relaxing high. If you don't have time to weed out male plants, you need feminized seeds, and if light cycles are a concern, autoflowering seeds are best. Knowing what to look for ensures you get the right seeds for your needs.
Once you have the seeds in hand, they need to germinate. This stage is where the seed takes in the water and nutrients needed to develop its taproot. The process takes anywhere from one day to one week, with moisture levels, genetics, and more playing a role in this timeline.
Next comes the seedling phase. As the plant begins to grow, leaves will appear, and the stem becomes more robust to hold the weight of the growing plant. Expect the plant to remain in this stage for up to three weeks, and provide the seedling with lots of humidity and gentle light.
After a few weeks, the plant exits the seedling stage and moves into vegetative growth. At this point, it begins growing quickly, and you will see branches and foliage emerge. The goal of this plant now is to develop a strong root system and expand its canopy. Plants vary in terms of how long they spend in this stage. They may move to the next stage after a few weeks or remain in vegetative growth for several months. Strain genetics play a role in this as does the desired plant size.
Once the root system is established and the canopy has grown, the plant enters the pre-flowering phase. This is when you determine which plants are male and which are female. You must then remove any male plants if you do not buy feminized seeds, as pollination of the female plants will ruin the crop. The plants remain in this stage for one to two weeks.
Cannabis plants don't produce buds until they enter the flowering stage. The strain determines how long the plant remains in this stage, which can last anywhere from six to 12 weeks. Light cycles play a role in the length as do genetics. Nutrient availability also dictates the length of the flowering period.
A grower must know when to harvest their crop for optimal potency and effects. The strain determines the harvest time as does the cannabinoid profile. Harvest most cannabis plants between eight and 14 weeks after they flower. Some stains, however, require more time in the flowering period. When this time arrives, cut the plant, dry the buds, and cure them. Doing so enhances the potency, flavor, and aroma.
Every stage of this process is vital to the result. Growers who understand the different stages find marijuana cultivation easier. However, knowing the strain and its unique requirements is vital, as these requirements dictate the timeline. With this information, you can provide the plant with everything it needs to grow and thrive.