Growing Weed: The Stages of Cannabis Growth

Flowering Marijuana Plant
Photo by: Canna Obscura/Shutterstock

Similar to growing tomatoes, spinach, turnips, and flowers, growing weed is a complex process that requires patience, time, dedication, essential nutrients, and plentiful resources. A combination of all of these elements is key when growing weed because nature can throw you some unexpected curveballs, and this is where patience and dedication come into play.

Growing weed is not for everyone, but if you feel like you’re up for the task, or if you’re interested in the process, read on to learn more about the plant’s growing stages and details about its growth cycle.

Things to Know Before You Grow

Marijuana Seedling Hand Dirt
Photo by: tom kawila/Shutterstock
Before diving into the weed-growing process, it’s important to start off with the right seeds. When choosing a cannabis seed, pick it up, closely examine it, turn it over, feel the weight of it, and take note of its shape and color.

From this point, you’re on your way to growing weed. Also, before beginning the growing process, make sure you select a strain that’ll provide you with what you’re looking for.

Essential Beginners WeedGrowing Tips

Before planting your desired seeds, it’s important to know the difference between male and female plants. In general, female plants are the ones that produce the trichome-rich buds that most of us all know and love, whereas the male plants don’t produce any trichome-rich buds. Sometimes, the male plants can even be a detriment to the overall cannabis harvest if they’re grown alongside female plants.

Therefore, it’s essential to separate the male and female plants as soon as possible so that you can have an abundant harvest. Once you’re able to tell which plants are male and female, label them immediately so that you won’t mix them up in the future.

Cannabis Plant Growth Stages

Germination Stage:

This is the first stage of the weed-growing process, and water is a necessity in this phase. According to Green Rush Daily, moisture causes the cannabis embryo’s tissues to swell and grow until they split the seed’s outer shell, which results in the embryo growing into a little sprout. From there, the sprout sends a root into the soil and begins stretching up towards the sun to prepare for its first leaves.

Once the sprout has established its root and the embryonic leaves begin to soak up sunlight, the plant is ready for the next stage.

Seedling Stage:

This is the second stage, in which the sprout develops its first set of leaves, which initially won’t look like the traditional marijuana leaves we’re used to seeing. During this stage, the plant starts growing a strong root structure while growing taller and sending out additional sets of leaves.

Also, during this stage, it’s essential for the plant to receive enough water, light, and nutrients to jumpstart the growth cycle. Additionally, the seedling stage could last anywhere from 1-3 weeks, depending on various factors, including the soil, the amount of water it receives, the environment it’s grown within, etc.

Vegetative Stage:

This is the third stage of the growing process, which normally lasts between 3-6 weeks. With the right amount of light, water, and nutrients, the plant will grow rapidly. At this point, it’ll develop new nodes, which will produce more leaves and branches. After the plant receives enough water, nitrogen, and soil space, it’ll grow into a 2-3-foot-tall tree.

Then, once the amount of light drops down below a certain level each day, this stage ends, and the flowering stage begins.

Pre-flowering Stage:

This is the fourth stage of the weed-growing process, and it can take anywhere from 1-5 months for the plant to enter this stage. Once pre-flowering begins, you’ll be able to tell if the plant is male or female.

Occasionally, a plant could be hermaphrodite, which means that it contains both male and female reproductive organs. However, it’s important to separate and/or destroy this plant so that it doesn’t ruin your THC cannabis harvest.

Flowering Stage:

Flowering Marijuana Plant
Photo by: Canna Obscura/Shutterstock
This is the fifth stage of the growing process, and light triggers this phase. When the amount of light dips below a certain point, the plant’s hormone is activated, which triggers the flowering stage. During the flowering stage, the plant receives less than 12 hours of light each day, and it focuses its energy on producing buds.

Overall, the plant’s buds produce long, thin, and milkywhite hairs or pistils, which will pop up in the 8-10-week mark.

Harvesting Stage:

This is the last stage of the growing process, and it begins when there are few trichomes left on the plant. At this point, the trichomes transform into crystal-covered white frosty buds, which contain psychoactive effects. Many growers suggest harvesting when the hues of the plant’s pistils on the flowers transform from a milky white color to a reddish-orange color.

In general, when growing weed, the presence of more amber-colored trichome heads likely indicate that there’s a higher ratio of CBD to THC in its trichome resin, as also mentioned by Green Rush Daily.


If you’d like to grow weed on your own but haven’t tried it yet, consider giving it a go; but be sure to take detailed notes from an experienced grower in order to create the most abundant harvest possible. If you’re able to legally grow your own marijuana, why wouldn’t you?

To inform yourself of the difference between male and female cannabis plants, read the article here:

What’s the Difference Between Male and Female Cannabis Plants?

To learn the potency differences between growing marijuana indoors versus outdoors, check out the article here:

Growing Marijuana Indoors vs. Outdoors: Effects on Potency