How Long Does It Take To Grow Marijuana? All About The Stages Of Growth For Cannabis Plants

This article was originally published on AskGrowers and appears here with permission.

You can find hundreds of online tips and recommendations for growing hemp indoors. But which one works for sure? How to know beforehand how much time it will take you to harvest your first crop?

The excellent yield comes with time and patience – that’s what every newbie hemp grower needs to understand. In this article, we will unveil all the stages of cannabis growing, explain why it takes a certain time to grow and what factors can speed up or slow down cannabis budding.

The Average Time For Growing Marijuana

A professional grower will tell you that there is no fixed period for growing marijuana. If you want to get a short answer, then on average growing will take from 3 to 5 months. Once we get to details, things will get more complicated – the process may take from 8 weeks to over 8 months. Why is it so? That’s due to the multiple factors that we will discuss below.

What can speed up or slow down cannabis growing?

First, get the seeds from breeders or online banks. Then review the passport information that they provide about that particular strain and variation and necessary conditions for its growing, calculated beforehand. Actually how long it will take to produce weed will depend on the conditions, so following the guidelines will make the crops smashing. Yet, there might be obstacles on the way:

  1. It’s too cold or too hot indoors There is a consensus among growers that the perfect temperature for cultivating weed is around 75°F (or 25°C), however, it may vary between 70–85°F and 20–30°C during the day time and between 62-68°F or 17-20°C at night. If the temperature is lower or higher than that, it will take much longer for the cannabis plant to evolve.
  2. Too small or too large root system If there is no space in the pot for the roots to develop, the plant may simply die or bring no or little harvest. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with the large root, but if you want quick results, it won’t be the case. Cannabis with large roots in a spacious pot will have healthy and strong roots and in the long-run will bring smashing crops. However, as the entire process may be increased by weeks you will need to be more patient than usual. So here you should decide if you want a poor harvest in a short time or the big one in the long-run.
  3. Stress factors Just like human beings, plants experience stress. In this case, it can be an injury, overwatering, nutrient abundance, constantly changing environmental conditions and so on. Whereas the cannabis plant may still overcome all of these challenges, it will take time to recover from stress, therefore, the ripening season will be delayed.
  4. Sorts of marijuana. It is important to know what strain you are growing and what it needs. They differ in many things, in particular, the period of flowering.
  5. Knowledge of the grower Wrong steps at different stages of growth may prolong the cultivation if not ruin the yield. Therefore, it is crucial to know how long each stage lasts and what the plant needs during that time. That’s exactly what we will talk about below.

All Stages of Growing Marijuana

On the Internet, you can find multiple hemp growth stages. Here we will focus only on those which a newbie needs to understand and which a professional grower should always keep in mind.

Zero stage, or Preparatory Stage (0-4 weeks)

That’s the time when you learn about the plant, get the seeds, soil, pots and other supplies and get ready for the tough job ahead .

If you are an absolute novice in this type of gardening, you will need more time to prepare for germination. Here are a few things that you need to ensure:

  • You know the laws of your country and are aware of how much, how and for which purposes you are allowed to grow weed.
  • You have all the necessary equipment and supplies (this may take you from 1 day to 4 weeks because of the shipping if you order them from overseas). These include pots, LED systems, etc.
  • You have set up the area for growing (for example, a tent)
  • You have high-quality seeds of clones (same time frames here and for the same reasons)

You may ask: is there any shortcut? Is it possible to make the preparatory stage shorter? Yes, there are. One of them is having friends, acquaintances or so among growers, or being familiar with seed banks in your state. Asking for seeds from them will save you a lot of time. But if seed banks are abroad, you will have to wait and there is nothing one can do about it.

First stage, or Germination (1-7 days)

First Stage during which the cannabis seed sends shoots and produces its first set of “real” leaves .

At this stage you have two options:

  • Sprouting
  • Cutting

Sprouting is very easy if you are a newbie. You let the seed germinate in the soil by planting them into it directly or keeping them inside moist paper towels until it sends shoots. Seedlings will sprout in just one day, but you need to wait for 3-5 days more for them to strengthen and then you can plant them.

Cutting will suit those who have managed to get a mother plant (for example, from another grower or who grew it from germination). You need to take some cuttings off of it, so you will need:

  • a cutting board
  • snips
  • a scalpel
  • a rooting hormone
  • spray bottle with water

How to do the cutting?

  1. Clip a sprig
  2. Clean off some of the excess shoots
  3. Slice the cutting at 45 degrees
  4. Deep the spring inside the rooting hormone
  5. Put it inside a tray with soil, only a centimeter deep
  6. Spray it with water

That’s how you get the clone. After some time you will need to do transplanting. First, prepare the medium (a mixture of soil, dirt or coir) for that. Take the clone (it must be well-moisturized) and dip it in the medium. You can find videos online on how to do it properly. After plants have grown bigger (but have not started blooming yet), you have to plant them in bigger pots to give them more space.

Whatever your case is – either sprouting or cutting – remember that your little plant must develop strong roots, so being careful with planting the seed or transplanting the clone. Moreover, maintaining ideal conditions is also very important for cannabis to get strong. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Keep the average temperature around 80-82°F or 27-28°C
  • Maintain high humidity levels in the area of growing
  • Remove lamps and other lights sources, only dimmed light is allowed at this stage

Do not use fertilizers and be careful with mineral solutions – watch online reviews on growing hemp and see what’s the best.

The Second Stage - Vegetation (from 3 to 8+ weeks)

Vegetation is the cycle when the plant develops most long stems and sharp leaves, therefore, as a result, you will see large and lush cones that will start to appear. Most hemp plants need a minimum of three weeks to remain in this stage before they put out buds, and after that, it is you who will decide how long the plant should keep being “sexless” before entering the blooming cycle.

How to do that? Allow more light into your tent or wherever you grow plants – cannabis flowers need them like humans need air. If you allow less light at the transition stage, the plant will shoot with many buds but they will be small in size and will mature faster. That’s because the plant will «think» that the winter is coming and it needs to make sure «babies» are made on time.

But before we jump onto the blooming stage, let’s talk a bit more about the conditions weed needs to stay during vegetation. This is the time you should introduce fertilizers as a top dressing.

How long the plant stays in vegetation depends on the type of cannabis – whether you are growing Indica or Sativa. In this article, we will not ponder on the stereotypical effects of each of the types but simply describe how they look and what they need.


Visually, this one is tall in structure and has narrow leaves. As far as the growing conditions are concerned, this one of the main cannabis types better suits for warm climates with a long season and has a longer blooming stage. Because of this, it is better to independently adjust the transition period between the vegetative and blossoming stages of Sativa. What conditions should be maintained?

  • Temperature: 68-82°F or 20-28°C
  • Fertilizers: based on potash, nitrogen or prefabricated ones


This is the second most popular hemp sort. In contrast to the above-mentioned, it is shorter and has broad leaves. Condition-wise, it is suitable for colder climates with a shorter season, hence, it has shorter blooming cycles. Overall, this cannabis needs one or two fortnights in vegetation. To let the plant mature, you should reduce the daylight hours to 12. What are other conditions?

  • Temperature: 69.8-82°F or 21-28°C
  • High humidity and specific type-driven fertilizers

Auto-flowering types

For this kind of weed, the average growth cycle lasts for about 2-2.5 weeks. Other conditions include:

  • Temperature: 64-82°F or 18-28°C
  • Fertilizers: based on potash or nitrogen

In conclusion, give cannabis at least 4 weeks to develop leaves and bushes. As a result, your plant will double or even triple in size and bring you more yield than if you rush and let it transit into blossoming during the third week. For success, give the plant over 18 hours of light daily, and do not contain its roots with a small pot – get a bigger one. Hence, your hemp will grow big and your buds will fatten up as much as possible.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Third stage - Flowering (from 5 to 16+ weeks)

As we have mentioned before, first buds may start appearing as early as during the third week, but on average the hemp is expected to flourish during the fifth week. For how long will the cannabis keep producing flowers? Once again, there is no certain answer as that depends a lot on the strain or the genetics of a certain variation. But in the majority of the cases that should last for 8-12 weeks. Some sorts will begin to produce buds while just being 3 weeks old (they are usually auto-flowering sorts), and during the fifth week, one may already collect the harvest. Some other variations of cannabis will need months to develop buds but they will also have smashing crops because their flowers will be exposed to the light for longer. All in all, this stage takes between 5 weeks and over 16 weeks.

For how long the plant stays in the blooming stage largely depends on the strain. After you switch the plant from the second to the third stage it will start producing buds. They will fatten up, ripe, and then you can harvest them. Let’s break down this entire process into weeks:

  • 1-2nd week – transition to blooming
  • 3-4th week – small buds appear
  • 4-6th week – buds grow
  • 6-8th week – they ripen and pistils darken (this process may take even longer depending on the sort of the plant)
  • 8-12th week – fend of blossoming, harvesting of cones (once again, for some strains it may take longer)

What are the differences in conditions for Indica and Sativa at this stage?

  • Sativa will need around 11 weeks to ripen, and it requires a lot of light to develop big inflorescences. Be careful with overwatering the plant at this stage as it may lead to the formation of fungi. Overall, constant daylight will stimulate Sativa to be more fertile.
  • Indica will need around 2-2.5 months for ripening, other conditions apply as well.

The ripening or maturation process will be accompanied by a strong racy smell, so if you grow weed indoors, you need to ensure proper ventilation of the area. But overall, this is a nice stage that many growers love, particularly because of the aroma.

Once your cones are ready, you can go on to harvesting them. There is usually a 2-3-week gap for that. However, if you keep your plants in the blooming stage for longer, your chances of getting greater crops increase. Just waiting for an extra week can bring you 15-25% more harvest, so yes, patience brings about perfection.

Fourth stage - Harwesting (from 2 to over 4 weeks)

This is the favorite stage of all growers. Why? First, because they reap the fruits of their hard work. Second, because it’s exactly the stage when cannabis gets that wonderful smell and look. After harvesting, the racy buds need to be kept for about a week of «resting» (basically, drying). Later on, the «curing» comes. One needs to put the buds into jars for at least a fortnight. This last step is crucial as it helps to get the best out of buds, in particular, make them even racier, and improve their quality (consuming cannabis that has been processed in this way would not lead to headaches or some other unpleasant effects). In total, this may take from 2 to over 4 weeks.

Many articles name harvesting the last stage of hemp growing, but for your fruits to be of the best quality, you will need to do some post-harvesting procedures. This will take you from a fortnight to around 2 months.

This processing includes drying and curing.

  1. Drying should last for 4-10 days, but you need to remember that 10 days is better than 4 as this will reduce the risk of mold. At the same time, you have to be careful not to overdry the plant – do not use heating to speed up the process as it will negatively affect the quality of the harvest.
  2. Curing takes from a fortnight to over a month. That’s when the dried buds are placed in jars. As a result, your cones will have less «speedy» and unwanted effects and will be more suitable for medical purposes (e.g., pain reduction, treating depression and anxiety, etc.). Also, this stage will help to get rid of the harsh taste and unwanted smell.

The Bottom Line

We have just gone through all the lengthy stages of growing weed. Doesn’t it seem that it’s almost like bearing and giving birth to a baby? It does, especially when you consider the time frames. From the moment you start buying seeds from a seed bank to the moment you can finally consume the racy cones, as much as nine months may pass.

We told you at the start that there is no certain answer to the question of how long it takes to produce cannabis. But now, considering all the stages – from preparation and germination to harvesting and curing, you can see that the average of 3-8 months is justifiable, especially when keeping in mind the specificities of weed variations and strains.

So, if you want to grow hemp, keep in mind these factors:

  1. What are your goals – are you growing it for consumption or selling (this will determine how much harvest you should expect)
  2. What is the type of your plant (Sativa, Indica and auto-flowering types have different blooming seasons lengths)
  3. How fast you want to get the yield (if quick results are more important for you, you can transit the plant from the vegetative to blossoming stage just at the third week, but your crops would rather be modest than smashing)

We hope this article will help you to get the best out of your little cannabis seeds!

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