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Cannabis Column | March 28, 2022

How Long Does It Take to Grow Weed?

If you’re looking to learn more about how to grow marijuana and how long it takes to grow weed, you’re in the right place! In this Jointly article we’ll go over the marijuana plant life cycle, the duration of time it takes for your cannabis to flower, and how long the flowering stage outdoors is.

How Long Does It Take to Grow Marijuana?

Contrary to popular belief, growing weed can take months – even with all the best equipment and an indoor grow setup. There are also a few variables worth mentioning, like if you’re growing your weed from seed or already have a clone. The Cannabis Training University, a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, explains that it generally takes around 4 to 8 months (or 14 to 32 weeks) to grow weed from seed to harvest time. If you’re germinating your cannabis from a seed, Jointly recommends that you know what kind of seed and strain you’re looking for as fast flowering, regular, and autoflowering seeds all vary in flowering time and grow time. We also recommends that you look into your cannabis seed provider and choose only high-quality seeds or seeds that have a smooth, undamaged, hard surface. Be wary of cannabis seeds that look white or green in color and have a soft shell. This is because these seeds usually have a much lower chance of sprouting and are often why sellers price these damaged seeds so cheaply. Indoor grow time versus how long the flowering stage outdoors is vary as well. This is due to outdoor climate variables like how much sun your marijuana plants get daily, the temperature outside, and how well they’re protected from animals and outdoor elements. (Looking for helpful tips on how to grow weed at home?)

How Long is Flowering Stage Outdoors?

When growing your cannabis outdoors, the flowering period can vary depending on your location and environment. For growers in Northern California, you can comfortably harvest your cannabis in late October to mid-November. The flowering stage can take as little as 6 weeks to up to 3 months depending on how warm your environment is and how much sun your plants get each day. Cannabis plants naturally start to flower during the fall months when it starts to get dark earlier. The lack of sunlight triggers a process called the photoperiod where the long periods of uninterrupted darkness cause cannabis plants to enter their flowering stage. As mentioned above, the different strains can also influence the marijuana plant life cycle, particularly how quickly or slowly your cannabis will flower. On average, most cannabis plants flower for around 8 - 14 weeks, but it can vary depending on the strain.

Weed Plant Stages

Your cannabis plant will undergo various stages during its marijuana plant life cycle. The more you know about each stage, the higher yield you can get from your weed plant. Below, we’ve outlined each stage from seed to harvest, with a time estimate for each. Please note, this is based on the environment of the Northern Hemisphere.

Germination Stage: 2 to 10 days

Seedling Stage: 1 to 3 weeks

Vegetative Stage: 3 to 16 weeks

Flowering Stage: 7 to 12 weeks

Harvesting Stage: 1 to 4 days

How Long Does It Take to Grow Weed: Germination to Seedling

After you’ve gotten all the necessary equipment and purchased your feminized seeds, you’re ready to begin germinating! If you’ve purchased a clone from a breeder then it’s already been germinated and is currently in the seedling phase, so feel free to skip this step. The easiest way to begin germinating marijuana seeds is to use the paper towel method. If you’ve ever had to grow bean sprouts in elementary school, you’re probably familiar with this method. All you need is a few paper towels or coffee filters, a container with a lid, or a sealable, plastic sandwich-size bag.
  1. Dampen the paper towel and place on the bottom of the container.
  2. Place seeds in an area where they’ll get roughly 16 hours of sun per day.
  3. Check on your seedlings each day and add water as needed to keep the paper towel damp.
  4. Watch your seeds start to turn into seedlings!

How Long to Grow Cannabis Plant: Vegetative Stage

The vegetative stage of a cannabis plant can vary from 3 to 16 weeks depending on if you’re growing indoor or outdoor. The vegetative stage is where your plant begins to grow rapidly. The marijuana plant life cycle indoors is around 16 hours of sun per day (since you control the environment) and for outdoor growing it’s around 6 hours of full sun per day. The vegetative stage begins when you transfer the seedlings into larger pots, after which the plants start to grow rapidly, and you’ll want to start topping or forming your plants in the direction and width you want them to grow. Here are a few tips for this stage:
  • Start watering more and away from the stalk as the plants grow. (This is so the roots grow outwards and can absorb nutrients from the soil and water more efficiently.)
  • Check your soil for adequate nutrients so your plants can reach their full potential.
  • Start giving your plants a higher level of nitrogen.
  • Determine the sex of your plants and discard the males since they don’t produce any buds.

Flowering Stage

The flowering stage has three key phases. This includes flower initiation which happens in weeks 1 to 3 where the female plants develop pistils or the beginnings of buds. During the mid-flowering stage (weeks 4 to 5) those same buds will start to thicken and get fatter. The last stage is late flowering, also known as ripening. From week 6 and on, trichome density or the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) will increase. You can visibly see the bud start to have that crystallization-like shine to it and you should be able to feel the stickiness when touching the bud. Here are some key tips to get the best yields from your marijuana plants.
  • (Depending on your growing methods) consider adding phosphorus nutrients to the mix.
  • Do not prune your cannabis as it will upset the plant’s naturally occurring chemical balance.
  • Support all buds with planting sticks, bamboo, or even wooden chopsticks.

Harvesting Stage

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the final stage of your cannabis plant’s life cycle! You can tell your weed is at the end of its marijuana life cycle by viewing the pistils on your plants buds. When the pistils are no longer white and have coloring to them (often a bright looking yellow, red, or even purple tint) is the best time to harvest. Do this when about a third of the pistils have changed color. Here are a few other ways you can tell if your bud is ready for harvest.
  • The trichomes have turned significantly darker.
  • Pistils are curling and have coloring.
  • About half or one-third of your buds have darker trichomes or colored pistils.
When harvesting, we recommend that you use shears to cut the branches and trim the excess leaves. (Learn how to harvest marijuana.) Leave the branches on trays to dry in a moderately cool environment. Happy harvesting!

Get Started on Your Cannabis Wellness Journey

Have you started your cannabis wellness journey? Jointly is a new cannabis wellness app that helps you discover purposeful cannabis consumption so you can achieve your wellness goals with cannabis and CBD. On the Jointly app, you can find new cannabis products, rate products based on how well they helped you achieve your goals, and track and optimize 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience. These 15 factors include your dose, the environment in which you consume cannabis, who you are with when you ingest, how hydrated you are, the quality of your diet, how much sleep you got last night, and more. Download the Jointly app on the App Store or the Google Play Store to get started on your cannabis wellness journey.
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