As any seasoned horticulturalist will tell you, the key to success in absolutely any growing effort lies in understanding your plants lifecycle. The more you know about what it is you are attempting to grow, the more likely you are to succeed. And it’s exactly the same case with cannabis plants, as while you do not necessarily have to know every last scientific detail from top to bottom. But you do at least need to know what it is you are dealing with.

Which is why it’s a good idea for anyone new to marijuana cultivation to take the time to acknowledge the lifecycle of cannabis plants. There are a few extremely important stages to be aware of along the way. Each of which playing a vital role in the outcome you can expect. There are certain difficulties and challenges you may face along the way that are largely inevitable. By better understanding the cannabis life cycle you will be in a much better position to handle almost any scenario. So here goes the marijuana plant life cycle all four stages of plant growth from seed to flower.

Cannabis Life Cycle 1: Germinating Seeds

Cannabis Life Cycle seedling stage

Having decided on exactly which strain of marijuana you intend to grow, the first stage in the plant’s life cycle is the germinating of the seeds themselves.  This is basically where the seed’s shell splits open and a very first roots begin to emerge. Then slowly begins reaching downward to pull in essential nutrients and water.  Around the same time, the beginnings of the plant’s stem will also emerge in the form of a small green stalk. This will quickly present the first two tiny leaves.

Seed germination is a surprisingly simple process and can be approached in a few ways. The most common and popular method is that of placing marijuana seeds between two wet pieces of kitchen towel. This involves placing it all in a plastic tub with a suitable lid and leaving it somewhere dark and warm for a few days. It’s also perfectly possible to germinate seeds simply by dropping them in a glass of warm water and again leaving them in the dark for 48 hours or so.

Cannabis Life Cycle 2: Seedling Stage

cannabis growth cycle seedling stage

The seedling stage immediately follows the germinating stage in your plant’s life. This marks the transition between the seed bursting into life and the plant itself actually being planted. The seedling stage can last from a fortnight or so right up to six weeks. It all depends on the strain you have chosen and a variety of environmental factors. It is during the seedling stage that much of your plant’s future health, strength and resilience will be determined – not to mention whether or not it survives.

During this stage, the ideal temperature at which to keep your seedlings is around 25° C. In addition, humidity should also be kept relatively high as it was the case during the germination process. Seedlings can be fatally damaged by nutrients in high concentrations, meaning that very few are needed during this stage. A good 18 hours a day of white light will be required for the best possible results, while looking to maintain humidity levels in the region of around 60%.

Cannabis Life Cycle 3: Vegetative Stage

Cannabis Life Cycle vegetative stage

It’s during the vegetative state that your marijuana plants begin to look like real cannabis plants. Then your efforts begin showing real signs of fruition. As your plants begin to take in the nutrients and carbon dioxide, they produce those beautiful and unmistakable leaves you have been waiting for. It is during the vegetative stage that your plant will quickly gather the strength and robustness to deliver its ultimate yield. They can also grow incredibly fast at this stage, sometimes in the region of 2 inches over the course of 24 hours.

Light exposure has the biggest impact on what takes place during the vegetative stage. This will vary in accordance with the strain you have decided to grow and your chosen growing methods. If you are growing indoors, you have full control over light exposure. Therefore you have the option of keeping your plants in the vegetative stage for as long as you like. Keep things going longer and you could be looking at a higher yield and higher THC content as a bonus.

As a general rule of thumb, humidity should be kept somewhere between 50% and 70% during this stage. White light should be provided for approximately 18 hours every day. The temperature should be kept between 20° C and 25° C and high quality nitrogen-rich fertiliser should be used.

Cannabis Life Cycle 4: Flowering

marijuana life cycle flowering stage

Undoubtedly, the most exciting and critical stage of all. The flowering stage is when all your hard work and patience to date begin to pay off.  Flowering occurs when light exposure is reduced and the plant reaches a stage where it is ready to spread its genes. It is the marijuana plant’s equivalent of sexual maturity and the stage during which the sticky resin you’ve been waiting for will start to appear.

More importantly, it’s also the stage when those characteristic buds will begin their transformation into supreme-quality marijuana.

How much THC you can expect and the bud to leaf ratio of your plants is determined by the strain. Most importantly though it will be determined by your approach to growing. The flowering period lasts anywhere between 6 weeks and 12 weeks, during which time extremely careful monitoring is required. The temperature should be kept the same as during the vegetative stage. Humidity is kept between 50% and 70% with an even split of 12 hours darkness and 12 hours orange-red lighting.

Eventually, you will notice that the leaves begin to turn yellow in growing numbers. The buds become denser and produce plenty of sticky resin, along with the notable slowdown in the development of calyxes. At this stage, and depending on the strain you are growing, this is usually your green light to begin harvesting.