The Life Cycle of a Cannabis plant

When growing cannabis, it’s important to understand the stages it will go through during its life.

Cannabis is an annual plant, meaning it goes through its entire life cycle, from seed to seed, within the space of a year. In the case of cannabis, this is actually closer to 4-10 months.


Stage 1 – Germination

So what exactly is germinating? Simply put – germinating refers to the act of sparking growth within your cannabis seeds. When a seed germinates, the seed’s embryo breaks through the shell of the seed to form a root. This root fixes itself in your growing medium, allowing it to then push itself upwards.

Eventually, as the root grows taller, two embryonic leaves will form. Believe it or not, this whole process can take anywhere between 12 hours to 2 weeks. Once germination is finished, the cannabis plant will enter the seedling stage. Read on!


Stage 2 – Seedling

Now that the cannabis plant is receiving light through its embryonic leaves, it will begin producing more substantial leaves. You’ll start to see the development of 3 fingered leaves. As the seedling continues to grow, more and more of these leaves will start to form.

The seedling stage can last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks. Pro tip: A good way to know when the seedling stage is complete is when your cannabis plant has created 4 to 8 new leaves.


Stage 3 – Vegetative Growth

SUCH an important stage! Why? Because this is the stage where the plants really flesh out, and focus on maximum growth before they flower. During this time of their lives, cannabis plants will require a lot of energy, and need a lot of light and nutrition to produce it.

This is the stage where a plant really begins to look like a cannabis plant. Its grows quickly and produces a thicker stem with more branches and fully fingered leaves. With this growth comes the plant’s ability to produce flowers because now it has a larger surface area, which means more light exposure and structural integrity.

The sex of the cannabis will also begin to take shape towards the end of this stage. Male plants will need to be removed from the grow area before they have the chance to release their pollen. If male plants are left with the female plants, you’ll end up with seeds instead of bud! The entire vegetative stage usually takes anywhere between 1 to 5 months to complete.


Stage 4 – Pre-Flowering

The pre-flowering phase is a stage of the cannabis grow cycle just before flowering. It’s sort of a sub-stage of the vegetative stage. It’s when you begin to see the distinct male or female characteristics of your plants. This phase of the life cycle can last from up to 1 day to 2 weeks.


Stage 5 – Flowering

Our favorite stage! It’s the last major step of the cannabis life cycle. This is where the female plants begin to produce their buds. It is during this phase where you will be able to clearly identify the sex of your cannabis. PRO TIP – Last chance to check for any male plants. If you spot any, remove them!

So how do you distinguish a male plant from a female plant? Male plants produce little clusters of balls, filled with pollen; whereas female plants focus their energy on producing their flowers with little white pistils. This entire stage can take anywhere between 1 to 4 months depending on the strain of cannabis being grown.