Jack Frost Landscapes & Garden Center blog for updates on sales and products as well as gardening tips and tricks, recipes, crafts, and more! Everyone's wondered how long marijuana plants take to grow at some time, and the answer is quite relative but we'll do our best to give you a general idea! When it comes to preserving the genetics of cannabis plants, pollination is key to any grower. Thanks to this natural process for cannabis you can gather new seeds of …
Stages of Growing Cannabis
Cannabis, weed, marijuana, kush, ganja – whatever you want to call it, it’s now legal to own and grow in the state of Virginia. So what does this mean for those interested in growing it?
Growing Cannabis for the first time can be quite overwhelming. A quick Google search will lead you to hundreds of results with more information than you can ever sift through. There’s so much to learn – lighting, pH, soils, training methods, curing, and so much more. Where does one start?
It’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of information online. The sheer amount of information can almost hinder you when you’re first getting started. I think it’s easiest to just get started and learn as you go.
Starting with gaining a general understanding of the stages of growing Cannabis is a great place to begin before you try growing for the first time. It will help you have a decent idea of what to expect along the way.
How long does Cannabis take to grow?
How long Cannabis takes to grow can vary based on the variety of the plant and conditions it is grown in. On average, from seed to harvest, it takes anywhere from 10-32 weeks (about 3-8 months). It’s a quicker process if you start with a clone (rooted cutting) or an autoflower seed. The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative stage—after the seedling phase and before flowering.
Stages of Growing Cannabis
Every plant begins with a seed. Cannabis seeds should be germinated just like any other seed. They can take anywhere between 3-10 days to germinate, although it can happen in as few as 24 hours or as long as 2 weeks. To germinate, you can place the seeds in a damp paper towel, which you should then place in a dark place, such as inside a drawer. Check on them after a few days to see if the primary root, called the radicle, has emerged. This will look like a little white “tail” coming out of the seed. Once germinated, move them to damp soil.
Alternatively, you can place the seeds directly in damp soil to germinate and grow, without having the trouble of moving them. For this method, I would recommend a seed starting mix. These are usually lighter and fluffier than traditional potting soil, which gives your fragile germinating seeds a start on the right foot. We carry Coast of Maine Sprout Island Blend Organic Seed Starter Mix. It has additional perlite that aerates the soil and helps prevent damping off. It also has mycorrhizae, worm castings, lobster meal, hen manure, and kelp to get your plants off to a healthy start.
2. Seedling Stage
Once your seed has germinated, it’s now time to move the germinated seed from its paper towel to a growing medium. If you started them in a seed starting mix, you will want to move them from the seed tray to a larger pot with a high-quality potting mix, such as the Coast of Maine Stonington Blend Grower’s Mix. This is a super soil, that works especially well for growing Cannabis. It contains mycorrhizae, kelp, alfalfa meal, fish bone meal, worm castings, perlite, manure, peat, coir, and lobster compost that feed your plant throughout the growing cycle, with no need to use additional nutrients.
Plants are considered seedlings for about 2-3 weeks after germination. During this time, the plant should be moved to a spot with direct sun, if growing outdoors. If growing indoors, set your grow lights to run for 16 hours a day.
3. Vegetative Stage
After the seedling stage, Cannabis plants move to a vegetative stage. This is the time when the plant focuses on leaf production. It will not produce flowers at all during this stage, as the plant needs to grow plenty of leaves to take up enough photons (sunlight) to create the necessary energy to produce large flowers. The vegetative stage can last anywhere from 3 to 16 weeks, depending on the variety.
During this stage, indoor plants need 16-18 hours of light per day, and outdoor plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (“full sun”), plus several hours of indirect sunlight. They will also need plenty of Nitrogen during this point, as Nitrogen is the nutrient that promotes healthy leaf growth.
The flowering stage is the last stage of the Cannabis plant life cycle. This is the time when your plant will stop putting as much energy into leaf growth and will instead focus that energy on creating the flowers (buds), which are used for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Stages of Flowering – Source: Katie Plummer
Cannabis is triggered to flower when the hours of light it receives are reduced. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until the sun starts to go down in fall for it to flower and then harvest. If you’re growing indoors, you get to play mother nature and can force your plant to flower at any point. When you’re ready for plants to start the flowering stage, change your lights to a 12/12 cycle ( 12 hours with the light on and 12 hours with it off ). You will see signs of flowering in 1-3 weeks . On average plants will be ready to harvest after 8-11 weeks of flowering.
Your plant will be ready to be harvested once flowers are compact and the pistils turn orange/brown. These pistils look like “hairs” coming out of the flowers.
To dry your Cannabis, hang sections of the plant upside down in a dark, cool space, such as a closet. You want to aim for 55-65% humidity and 60-70°F in the spot that you’re drying your plants in. Prolonged periods of light, friction from handling, and humidity/dampness can degrade resin glands, so you will want to avoid all of these.
During the drying process, plants lose roughly 75% of water weight, which increases the cannabinoid to weight ratio. It also helps equalize moisture content, preserve cannabinoids, and shed chlorophyll.
Cannabis is ready to trim once the stem snaps when bent, typically after 3-7 days of drying.
After your plant has dried, it’s time to trim! Trimming makes your fingers very sticky, so wear gloves if this is something you want to avoid. Simply trim off the larger leaves and stems. You can leave smaller sugar leaves if you’d like, as these still contain a good amount of cannabinoids and terpenes that provide the medicinal properties of Cannabis. It’s all personal preference of exactly how much you trim off. And you can save all the trimmings to make edibles, tinctures, salves, and more.
Curing is an essential part and the last stage in growing Cannabis. It helps the buds achieve full aroma. Curing is as simple as placing your freshly trimmed buds in a glass jar with a lid, like a mason jar. You’ll then want to place the jar in a cool, dark place, such as inside a drawer or in a cabinet.
During the first week of curing, you will want to “burp” your jars. This means you should open the containers once or twice a day for a couple minutes to allows moisture to escape and replenish the oxygen inside the container. After the first week, you only need to burp containers once every few days.
You should allow buds to cure for at least 2 weeks, but some people choose to cure for as long as 6 months. This helps stop the loss of moisture and to preserve flavors and aromas.
How Long Marijuana Plants Take to Grow
Are you not sure how long marijuana plants take to grow? Well, the first thing we recommend is to have patience, something that applies to pretty much everything in life. Plants need enough time to grow and develop correctly, and time is what can tell a nice productive plant from a pile of branches lacking in both foliage and yield.
Today we’re going to talk about normal growth times and the different stages that your plants will go through. Maybe some of these questions sound familiar to you;
- How long does cannabis take to germinate/flower?
- What can I do to make my plants flower earlier?
- Can I speed up the growth?
- Which is the fastest, highest yielding plant?
These questions are probably best answered with the age old phrase, time is gold. Obviously a lot of the answers are quite subjective and we can’t give any absolutely concrete times, but we’ll do our best in this article to provide you with a general idea of how long a marijuana plant takes to grow.
Firstly, we’ll begin by dividing the plants’ life cycle into a series of phases:
Germination is defined as the period and process through which the seed changes from a seed to a sapling.
If you’re planting cuttings, then the germination period is known as the cloning and rooting period.
Germination techniques are varying in method, although the one we tend to use the most and is the most recommended involves damp kitchen paper as a base for the seed; many people use other methods, like damp cotton, straight into the earth or a jiffy, or in water.
Some growers even use germination stimulators that work with the seeds initial metabolism and reduce the germination time to about a day in most cases.
Of course, time is relative. It will depend not just on the strain, but the actual quality of the seed itself. Some determining factors are the age of the seed, how fertile it is and how it has been kept.
Saplings tend to take around 24-72 hours to sprout, although sometimes it can take 5 days and in extreme cases it can take up to 15 days. Make sure to pay attention to the water and humidity conditions, as well as the temperature which should be at around 21-24ºC.
This is also called the vegetative phase. It’s the main period of growth that your plant will go through, and probably the most important.
After managing to get your sapling to sprout and transplanting it (into soil or a jiffy), the growth period begins. Just like the name says, your plants will grow the most it’s ever going to grow and stretch upwards during this period, allowing it to get the correct shape and size to proceed to the next stage; flowering.
Like many of you probably already know, your plants will need more light during the growth phase than any other phase. Generally, 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness are recommended per day. A proper balance between light and dark is the key element to a successful growth period. The light is obviously very important in as far as photosynthesis, but those hours of darkness are incredibly important as well, as during that time there’s an exchange of essential elements in your plants’ metabolisms.
This period will take more or less time depending on the seed, strain and growing method. Autoflowering plants will be much faster than feminized plants and indoor crops are generally much faster than outdoor crops. Also, if you use a stronger light your crops will generally grow faster than those with less powerful bulbs.
It’s difficult to put a number on how long the growth period takes due to environmental and external factors (fertilizers and the grower’s expertise) that can interfere with crops. Generally, indoors autoflowering plants take about 3 or 4 weeks (21 to 25 days) and around 6 to 8 weeks, maybe more, for feminized strains.
Outdoors regular and feminized seeds tend to take around 8 to 9 weeks, but by growing indoors you can mess around with the timings to make them begin flowering earlier.
This is your cannabis plants’ last period. When it starts will depend obviously on the growth period, but the plant must also have the necessary characteristics developed to allow it to grow buds.
This means that sometimes, a month after germination your plant might still look weak or small, which means that you’ll have to let it continue its growth period for more time.
It’s also important to note that autoflowering strains will flower at their own whim; you’ll need to change the light period once they start showing signs. However, seasonal seeds will need to be helped into the flowering phase by a change in light period. To be exact, you’ll need to switch them to a 12/12h light period which induces your plants into the flowering phase.
I know we said that the growth phase’s timing was relative, but true relative is how long a flowering period can take. There really are no rules apart from certain ones preached by seed banks about their strains, although in most cases these rules are simply guidelines.
The important thing to keep in mind when trying to figure out when the flowering period is coming to an end and you need to wash out the roots is how the buds look. Although times stated by seed banks can give you a general idea, the best way to find out is to watch your bud grow until they’re buried in pistils.
Once they’ve developed that fair, the harvest time will be indicated by the maturity and oxidization of the pistils and trichomes, which become that nice amber/honey color.
Indoors, autoflowering strains will generally finish up at around 8 weeks of flowering, and feminized versions can take longer depending on the growth period, and it’s normal for them to take anywhere between 10 to 12 weeks, and in a lot of cases even more.
Drying and Curing:
This stage isn’t even classifiable like the plant’s life cycle, although we can tell you that it’s a process that will take a while and it’s just an important as the plant’s periods when it comes to gett ing top quality taste, aroma, effect and potency.
First, you’ll have to differentiate between drying and curing; the first thing you’ll need to do with your freshly-cut harvest is dry it.
Basically, you’ll have to place your harvest, cut and trimmed, in a dark, cool and dry place in a drying mesh or sock (don’t forget to clean your plants roots out thoroughly towards harvesting time). All you’ll have to do is move the buds around the mesh or sock every day so they don’t become inclined to one side or another.
This process can take a while depending on placement and terrain; from two to four weeks. The sign of a properly dried bud is being able to bend it without breaking it, but while also hearing that nice crispy sound.
After the drying process comes the curing process, like a good cheese.
It simply involves placing all of your buds in a container and leaving it to sit with a periodic opening to let the air flow. Curing can be done in different containers; plastic, glass or wood, although wood is faster than glass and glass is the most recommended as it doesn’t emit or contain any sort of toxic substances.
The container in which you deposit your harvest will need to be kept in a dark, cool and dry place. The only thing you’ll need to do will be to open the container for about five minutes a day so that the humidity can leave your bud, and you end up with a perfectly chlorophyll-free product.
This process can take anywhere from two to six weeks. The main indication of a proper curing is that the bud crunches when pressed in slightly, if you bend the stem it breaks water than bends, and the intense green color should fade, as well as the leafy green smell.
According to these estimates, marijuana takes about three months to grow completely for autoflowering versions, and four to five or more months for feminized strains depending on crop method and expertise. Don’t forget that drying and curing will take a month or two more.
We’re going to insist on the fact that depending on how you grow your plants as well as the strain you choose to grow, each phase will be longer or shorter, and therefore so will the entire life cycle. Feminized strains will take longer to be harvestable, and autoflowering strains will take less time. There’s also a new version called the “fast version” that the Sweet Seeds seed bank has developed. Also, indoor crops will take less time to be harvestable than outdoor crops.
How Do Cannabis Plants Pollinate to Produce Seeds?
Anyone who starts out growing cannabis should know that there are two ways of going about planting: with seeds acquired from banks of cannabis genetics, like Dinafem; or from cuttings, that is, fragments removed from a mother plant for a reproductive purpose, to replicate its features.
In this way, plants have two forms of reproduction: one asexual, corresponding to cuttings, layering or grafting; and another sexual, characteristic of seeds and based on pollination. It is, precisely, pollination that we are going to stop and look at, as it is a way to sustain, or even improve, the genetics of cannabis plants. Many are actually familiar with it by accident, much to their chagrin.
What happens is that growing conventional cannabis tends to eliminate all the males as soon as they display their sexual characteristics, which means that females do not pollinate, essentially remaining virgins, so that they put all their energy into the production of resin, instead of seeds. The result is a cannabis that has traditionally been called “seedless,” one much more potent than that offered by pollinated marijuana.
Step 1: Identification of males and females
To begin the pollination process, first we first need plants of different genders; that is, male plants, responsible for producing pollen, and female plants, recipients of this pollen and producers of seeds.
Growers can determine a plant’s gender when it reaches its pre-flowering period, which occurs between the fourth and sixth week of growth. Far from needing any magnifying glasses, microscopes or extensive botanical knowledge, one simply needs to pay a little attention and look at the stems of the newest leaves. More specifically, in the area where they join the main stem.
In these parts, female plants develop “pre-flowers” that resemble a pear-shaped ball, from which grow two small hairs, usually white, commonly called pistils (though, actually, the pistil is the whole set of the stigma, calyx and ovary). They develop in a V shape, and in later stages group up, forming our precious buds. If you cannot locate them, don’t panic. This just means that your plant has not yet reached sexual maturity, so you’ll have to wait a few more weeks to determine its gender.
If you have a male plant, you will find the same little ball, but without the white hairs. Instead, it develops kinds of little bags, whose function is to later contain the pollen. Among other differences males feature, distinguishing them from females, is that they are usually taller, their branches are more irregular, and they have fewer leaves and internodes.
Once you have discerned the sexes, the next step is to select the most appropriate plants to carry out the fertilisation.
Step 2: Selection of the best plants
If this is the first time you are pollinating cannabis plants, it is best to avoid experiments. That is, don’t try to create a new strain, or mix them, as this requires painstaking work more appropriate for specialised genetic banks and veteran growers. If you try to, your combination could be successful, but it also may might be a real flop, and you could waste a whole crop by creating genetics that are highly unstable. To avoid an unnecessary fiasco, at least until you get the hang of pollinating cannabis, it is best to select males of the same genetic as your females.
This does not mean that those chosen to pollinate will be the largest plants. Rather, the selection of both males and females will depend on their capacity to adapt to their growing environment, those that are the most vigorous and productive. For example, those that have adapted best, suffered least, are the most potent, have developed the most, and required the least nourishment. Details should also be sought in the plant’s structure; for example, those that present short distances between nodes, and other traits important to growers, such as their smell, taste, and resistance to mould and pollutants. Once the selection has been completed, separate the males in a different and sealed space or cabinet in order to prevent any type of pollen contamination.
One must remember that the male contributes about 25% of the plant’s final genetic material. Hence, until the crossing is carried out the grower will not know the final composition of his seeds. But what one always looks for, in order to get as many as possible, is a strong male with lots of flowers at the tip, and buds presenting dense pollen, as the prime objective is for a single male to be able to impregnate the greatest possible number of female plants.
Step 3: Obtaining pollen
As a reference point, from the point at which the male begins to flower until its first flowers open, releasing pollen, some two to three weeks transpire. In just 10 days, however, one can begin to see those “little eggs” (which are nothing but male flowers), while the first stigma of the female plant also come into view.
The development of the male’s flowers is progressive. First the flowers gradually turn yellow, changing from their original green colour. When the first male flowers begin to indicate that they are about to open, it is a good idea to turn off the fans in your grow room, while maintaining the air circulation, to keep the humidity from rising. Moving air can lead to the loss of pollen from the first flowers that open. About 10 days later most of the male plant flowers have yellowed, and then you’ll have to reduce your watering, without drying the plant, but without excess water either, as moisture helps flowers open faster.
When the male plant is mature, the flowers open their sepals, exposing the stamens and releasing pollen into the air. This is when you should proceed to pollinate, because if you wait three or four days the pollen can significantly lose its fertility. Remember that when the moisture level exceeds 75% the pollen starts to die quickly, so it is best to keep it as dehydrated as possible.
Step 4: Cutting the male flowers
Pollination can be done by cutting parts of the male plant at the peak of their maturity, or using the whole plant to spread the pollen on the female plants. If you choose to cut it, to handle it better and carry out a more controlled pollination, you must take into account a number of conditions. Don’t overdo it with the scissors: just cutting some flowers will be enough to produce hundreds of seeds.
With tweezers, select the most mature flowers (which will present a more intense yellow colour) and leave them one or two days in a glass bowl or plate, in order to let the pollen dehydrate. Another option is to hang the flower upside down and let the pollen fall into a container, if you don’t want your table spattered with yellow powder. After that, tap the flowers gently with tweezers so that the rest of the pollen falls and the stamens are devoid of powder.
Step 5: Conserving the pollen
To maintain the properties of the pollen every grower has his own tricks, but all are based on achieving the maximum dehydration of these particles. Conserving them calls for controlling the humidity and temperature, as these variations can damage their reproductive qualities.
Also, if you have acquired a generous amount of yellow powder, you can also store it in the freezer in order to carry out future pollinations. Yes, pollen can be frozen, and stored for months. To do this you just need to use a good jar, and keep it from getting damp when you take it out of the cold. One way is to leave the jar at room temperature a few hours before opening it. This is important, because if the pollen comes into contact with moisture, the whole process will be ruined.
Step 6: All ready to pollinate in a controlled manner!
Females are ready to be pollinated after their early flowering stage, and when they have developed large heaps of flowers forming buds of a decent size. The best time to pollinate the female is when the flowers have fully-formed stigmas (the little white hairs), as long as possible, usually four or five weeks after the beginning of flowering, or 25 to 35 days, always depending on each strain. There are even strains that can be pollinated 20 days after flowering has begun.
But remember that the times for male and female are different, because the male flowers before the female does: as a general rule male plants tend to mature about two weeks earlier than females. With this temporal divergence, day 30 of flowering to pollinate the female is day 45 for the male, which is how long it takes to have the greatest amount of pollen: the more pollen the male has, the more likely it is to pollinate the female, and the greater the final number of seeds.
The application of the pollen is very simple: if you have cut flowers and saved the pollen, with the help of a brush, a cotton ball, or even your fingers, sprinkle it on the feminised plant. Do this repeatedly for two or three days.
In this regard, it is important that the pollen not reach the buds of the lower parts of the plant, or its willowy parts. Nor is it advisable to pollinate complete buds, but rather the parts that retain the white, most receptive stigmas. It is also useful to prune all the flowers that have not been pollinated, as in this way the energy is concentrated on the buds that really matter to you, and the plant does not waste resources on parts you are not going to use. In this “artisanal” way, for low volumes, you will obtain several hundred seeds without any problem.
Step 7: What if I want a lot more seeds?
You must remember that there is nothing better than fresh pollen taken straight out of male flowers. So, another form of pollination is to directly grab a male plant and shake it on the females. You can use a small stick to tap the branches of the male so that its pollen falls on the buds and produces fertilisation with the help of gravity.
It is important to turn on your fans before shaking the plant so that the pollen goes everywhere before falling to the floor. The temperature of the room where pollination occurs should be 24° C, with humidity no greater than 65%, as the hotter it is, the less oxygen per cubic meter of air, allowing the specks of pollen to remain suspended in the air longer.
The pollen, once it touches the stigmas of the female plant, still takes 3 to 5 days to reach the calyx and the ovary, and for fertilisation to occur. So, once you have carried out the first pollination, return the female plant to its place, irrigate it after 3 or 4 days, and pollinate it again, just in case. As what we are after is the greatest pollination possible, some growers finish the process by shaking the females too at the end so that all the pollen that has stuck to the leaves can reach the buds below. In this way thousands of seeds can be obtained per plant, rather than the hundreds of seeds achieved manually.
Step 8: Harvesting seeds
If the process has been carried out properly, in just a few days you will see the seeds begin to grow inside the calyx of the female flowers. Once the plants have been pollinated, most of the seeds will take 4-6 weeks to fully mature (always depending on the strain). At the end of flowering period they will be ready to be harvested, so that you can enjoy another pleasant cannabis harvest. This is just when the seeds begin to darken, going from green to brown or dark grey, and the calyces begin to open so they can easily get out.
You can test the seeds to determine whether they are mature, and how hard their hard shell is, by taking one and pinching it between your fingers to see if it breaks. Seeds with stripes and other patterns are usually a good indicator that they are mature, but remember that not all strains produce stripes on their seeds. And bear in mind that the seeds of different genetics can be of different sizes: some strains can offer you seeds that are smaller than normal, and this could be misinterpreted as a sign of immaturity.
And, as always, remember that one of the basic rules is to use sterilised tools, and keep good records on the dates and details of the strains you have decided to work with. With these simple tips, you can now get down to work and start pollinating your cannabis plants.
Dinafem Seeds The Dinafem team comprises cannabis experts and growing specialists eager to share their knowledge and expertise with the entire cannabis community. Don’t hesitate to give us your feedback on our posts. We’ll be happy to answer your queries and, above all, to learn new tricks and techniques.
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