Categories
BLOG

how long to grow cannabis from seed

The 7 Easy Steps of Growing Marijuana

Legal cannabis is becoming the norm across the United States and in many other countries of the world. Hooray!! Although not official, it is ostensibly legal in most of Europe and if not legal, then certainly tolerated.

So, you have come to the decision to grow your own cannabis. Well done! Soon you will be part of a rapidly growing culture. The phenomenon of homegrown marijuana that is sweeping the world.

Growing your own cannabis is a fun and inexpensive way to put high-quality buds in your jar. Marijuana is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of climates, in greenhouses or indoors all year round.

CANNABIS IS YOUR FRIEND

Like all gardening, cannabis growing is a skill developed over time. It is easy to learn but takes a happily stoned lifetime to master. There is no reason to be intimidated by growing your own. The process is not complicated and can be as inexpensive or expensive as you like.

Understanding the fundamentals of cannabis growing is a good place to start your marijuana growing journey. Making informed decisions early will maximise your end yields. These seven basic steps will give you an excellent knowledge base to become an expert marijuana gardener.

STEP 1: CHOOSING YOUR CANNABIS SEEDS

The choice is staggering. Sativa, indica, ruderalis, any number of hybrids, all available at a click. You know what you enjoy from personal experience. What strains have fitted your groove in the past? What strains have performed as a satisfactory medicine for your particular ailment? They are probably a good place to start.

With your personal taste in mind now consider your growing circumstances. Are you growing in a small cupboard where small fast-maturing plants like autoflowering strains or indicas will be the most effective use of your space? Or do you have a nice big backyard where you can grow one or more monsters directly in the soil or in large pots?

STEP 2: CANNABIS FUNDAMENTALS

In order to grow at its best and give you the juicy buds, you love cannabis requires some fundamental things.

LIGHT: For healthy vegetation marijuana needs over twelve hours of light per twenty-four hour period. Indoors this is controlled by you with timers. Outdoors germination must be delayed until the plants can be exposed to more than twelve hours of daylight and receive at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.

GROWING MEDIUM: Organic growers will use some kinds of soil every time inside or out. However, soil isn’t the only choice. Neutral mediums that are entirely nutrient dependant include coconut coir, perlite, vermiculite or rock wool. Aeroponics, purely hydroponic or deep water culture do not use mediums at all. The suspended root matrix gets nutrients directly from the nutrient mix.

AIR: For strength and proper exchange of gases, cannabis requires fresh moving air. Outdoors this is no problems your plants will be exposed to breeze and gale alike. Indoors your plants will need a fresh air intake, stale air exhaust and a fan for air movement. Still, environments encourage pests, moulds and weak growth. A buildup of aspirated gases will stunt plant growth.

WATER: Like all living things cannabis needs water to grow, thrive and carry out its biological functions. If you live somewhere with regular rainfall your outdoor crop may get all it needs from nature alone. Large cannabis plants are notoriously thirsty. If you are going big then you will certainly need to supplement water between rains.

Indoors water becomes the medium that carries nutrients. Unmodified water is used to flush hydroponic and soilless systems regularly. The pH of your water is very important. The canny cannabis grower has a good pH meter as part of a comprehensive grow kit.

TEMPERATURE: Cannabis is a very hardy plant and can survive cold and heat well. Just like you or me though, it can get stressed and not function well in the extremes. Cannabis can freeze or boil to death. It can stop growing or go into stasis. It will go into survival mode if the temperatures are too high or too cold for too long. Twenty-seven degrees centigrade is the accepted ideal for vigorous cannabis growth. Indoors this is easy to achieve with fans, air conditioning units, heating and cooling mats. Lights will certainly generate heat that needs to be vented.

Outdoors you need to pick your time. Know your particular climate well. Have a sun cycle app or chart to make sure you get your timing right. Too early and you risk your plants going into flower immediately, then re-vegging when the daylight increases. This is unwanted. Your flowers will not form properly when blooming begins. Too late and you will have small plants with fewer flower sites.

NUTRIENTS: Like all living things cannabis also requires fuel to grow. A good friable soil mix that is rich with compost, living organisms, vitamins and minerals can supply your plants with enough food for their whole life cycle.

Watering with compost tea and other organic mixes like molasses or feather meals improve soil quality and encourage healthy plant growth.

With hydroponics or neutral mediums you supply all of the plant’s lifeblood with pre-formulated nutrient blends. Usually customised for marijuana especially. Specialised concoctions are made exclusively for whichever soil-less medium you choose.

HUMIDITY: Outdoors you don’t really have any control over this factor and you are at the mercy of your climate. The upside is that the variations in humidity and the robust biological functions needed to adapt to a changing grow environment makes your plants exceptionally strong!

Indoors humidity control is very important from seed to flower. Leaves aspirate atmospheric moisture as part of their day to day functions. Properly balanced humidity makes for a healthy pest and mould-free environment.

Cupboard, grow tent or dedicated grow room. Directly in the soil or in pots outdoors. Even in a companion planted garden your marijuana will need to satisfy all these needs to grow well and supply you with high-quality resin soaked nuggets.

STEP 3: LIGHTS FOR INDOOR CANNABIS GROWING

With legalisation, there has been an absolute explosion in the choices of lights and grow chambers for growing cannabis indoors. Your budget then will be the deciding factor.

GROW CUPBOARDS: Fully customised for cannabis and ready to go sophisticated grow cupboards made by people with decades of experience are available. If you have the thousands of dollars to spare. Lights, fans, separate clone, veg and flower chambers, timers and carbon filters all ready to plug and play.

LIGHTS FOR EVERY BUDGET: At the other end of the scale, you can have a rudimentary yet very efficient CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) or small LED panel (Light Emitting Diode) setup for less than three hundred dollars. Growing great buds in a spare cupboard. Other compact fluorescent lights like T5 battens come in a range of spectrums for vegging and flowering and can fit in a small space well.

HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) and MH (Metal Halide) lamps are traditional types of grow lights. A 1000W HPS with reflectors can efficiently light a 1.5 x 1.5-meter space and provide excellent growth. Similarly, a 600W MH lamp will light the same sized space and give you world class flowers at the end of the grow cycle. The heat factor generated by these lights must be considered. If not exhausted efficiently your grow space will quickly become too hot for healthy cannabis growth.

STEP 4: GERMINATION AND CANNABIS SEEDLINGS

Beginning your whole cannabis grow adventure is the germination of your seeds. Each viable seed contains all the information needed to grow the strain of plant you have chosen. All they need are the right conditions and the life cycle will begin. Seeds won’t germinate until three specific needs are met. Water, correct temperature (warmth) and a good location.

Growing cannabis is an organic process without strict sets of rules. It is not a linear system to learn, but an art to be mastered. There are a number of equally effective methods for germinating cannabis. Over time you will find the one that works best for you.

STRAIGHT INTO THE MEDIUM: Place seeds directly into your medium, this way you can avoid any transplant shock. More often it is easier to germinate in a small pot of your chosen medium then pot on to the garden or bigger pots.

PAPER TOWEL: Seeds are placed on moistened paper towel on a plate and placed in a warm dark place. Usually covered with plastic or an upturned plate to retain moisture and humidity. After a few days to a week, your seeds have sprouted.

JIFFIES, PLUGS AND ROCK WOOL STARTERS: Easy to maintain as you can have fifty seeds germinating in a very small space. Once the seedlings are established they can be put in their final position without damaging roots.

IN WATER: Simply soak seeds in enzyme enriched water until you see the tap root appear then put in your medium. The seedling will quickly strike and break the surface about a week later.

GERMINATION STATIONS: Offering substantial control over the germinating environment germination stations provide humidity, temperature control and can accelerate germination times.

When your plants have broken the surface and the cotyledons have shed the seed husk and opened to reveal the first set of true leaves photosynthesis has begun. Now you have a true marijuana seedling on its way to becoming a heavy resinous indoor miniature or booming outdoor tree.

STEP 5: THE VEGETATIVE PHASE OF CANNABIS

The moment green leaves meet the light photosynthesis begins in earnest. Your plants start to metabolise and the vegetative phase has begun.

INDOORS: Lights are set to an eighteen hour day, six hour night light regimen. This doesn’t have to coordinate with the actual daylight hours, you can set it to times of day that suit you. Running electrical equipment during off-peak periods can save you a lot of money.

Your plants are happy in an organic soil or they are being fed nutrients designed for the vegetative phase. Lots of fan-forced breezes keep temperatures under control and strengthen your young plants. Exotic disciplines can be used like adding carbon dioxide to the environment. Low-stress training and scrogging can be used to increase the growth rate and flower potential of indoor cannabis.

How Long Does The Vegetation Phase Last?

The vegetative phase can last as long as you like. Depending on whether you want lots of small plants taking up your space as with the Sea Of Green grow method. Or, choosing a few larger plants topped and mainlined to produce large flower clusters.

OUTDOORS: Cannabis grows rapidly once the daylight hours start to increase during spring and on into summer. Unlimited root room and good genetics can see a plant grow to three or four meters during the vegetative phase.

Most contemporary plants are topped and under-shucked continually during the whole growth phase. This encourages an even canopy that will fill with homogeneously sized buds during the bloom stage. Cannabis will continue to vegetate while there are more than twelve hours of daylight. The further away from the equator, you are the shorter vegetation time your cannabis will have before starting to flower.

STEP 6: THE BLOOMING PERIOD OF HEALTHY CANNABIS

Blooming, flowering and budding all refer to the same phase of growth for the marijuana plant. The next few months will be exciting times as aromas start to develop. Interesting floral arrangements also begin to emerge that are particular to your choice of strain. The blooming phase has distinctive chapters that are common to all cannabis plants and begin when vegetation finishes.

Outdoors the first stage of flowering can be seen when Summer’s heat has passed and autumn approaches. Indoors you control when the flowering begins by changing the lighting schedule to a twelve hour day, twelve hour night photoperiod. <<<<<

Depending on species cannabis responds to hormonal changes that make it continue vegetating or begin blooming. There are typically two types APD and autoflowering:

  • APD or Absolute Photo Determinate plants rely on a hormone that is sensitive to light to keep vegetating. This hormone prevents flowering when it is active. It is rendered inactive in low light levels and as nights become longer. Twelve hours or more of night will induce flowering.
  • With autoflowering strains, this same hormone is age dependent. The plant stops producing it when it reaches a certain species-specific age and flowering begins regardless of photoperiod. This can be as little as two weeks after germination.

The Different Stages Of Blooming

DIFFERENTIATION: At the very beginning of the flowering phase a noticeable change in growth pattern happens. Rather than the striving and stretching symmetry of vegetation the branch growth begins to zig-zag and compresses with less distance between nodes. Differentiation is very noticeable.

BLOOMING: Flowering follows the same stages in all species, but for different lengths of time. A quick indica will be cured and in the pipe weeks before a long maturing sativa.

Soon after differentiation, proper flowers will start to form. Calyxes will emerge at branch internodes quickly forming pistil covered puffballs. Much desired resins are already forming in young trichomes on the pistils, calyxes and leaf surfaces.

The puffballs of calyxes start to stretch along their own spike. This makes room for fresh fluorescent clusters and bud-specific leaves. Unlike sugar leafs, these new leaves are thicker, smaller, often heavily crinkled and covered in trichomes. They are eventually partially submerged by the swelling flower clusters.

Over the weeks these flower clusters multiply and form large colas covered in resin swollen trichomes. Left to mature further the calyxes and the trichomes swell with copious amounts of desirable resins. Full maturity quickly approaches.

STEP 7: HARVESTING, DRYING & CURING FOR BEST QUALITY BUDS

During the last few weeks, nutrients are ignored and your plants will be flushed out with clean water. This guarantees a pure flavour free of nutrient and built up salt aftertastes.

When Is My Cannabis Mature?

Now covered abundantly in trichomes, pistils are shrivelling back and changing colour. Deep orange, mauve, brown or scarlet may emerge depending on species. The swollen resin sacks begin to change colour in waves all over the plant. First, going from clear to milky then milky to amber. The flower clusters are so swollen they seem to have turned inside out.

These signs mean it is time to harvest the results of your hard work.

  • For higher THC content harvest when trichomes are 20-30% amber.
  • For a broader cannabinoid profile harvest when trichomes are 60-80% amber. Watch carefully as the differences here may only be twenty-four hours.

Harvesting The Marijuana Plant

There is no set way to harvest. Be rakish and learn by doing.

Some will wet trim which is removing all the leaves while the plant is still standing then break the plant down further. Hanging branches to dry or laying individual buds on a drying rack. Some will remove the large sugar leaves only then harvest and hang the whole plant.

There are no set rules except be careful when handling. You want to disturb the delicate trichomes as little as possible.

Drying And Curing Cannabis

Dry your buds in a dark cool place with little humidity. Ideally, this process is very slow and should take a minimum of two weeks.

Check things often for over drying or moulds

When dry, thin branches will easily snap. Thick branches will still be slightly flexible.

The chlorophyll has degraded and the green of growth has been replaced with species dependent colours. Fawn, tan, a pale green or even deep blue and purple can emerge as the buds true dry colours develop.

Storing Cured Buds

At this point loosely pack a well-sealed glass jar with your treasure. Open the top or “burp” the jar once a day for the first two weeks. This releases built up humidity that can moulder your buds. Once the flowers are dry to the touch only burp the jar once a week. You don’t want weeks of hard work to be wrecked by lack of attention.

How Long Does Cannabis Take To Cure?

You can cure for as long as you like. Remembering that the psychotropic compounds drop a water molecule when properly cured and become more psychoactive. This takes at least six weeks when cured under ideal conditions. The longer the cure the smoother the result. Keep your jars in a dark cool place. THC breaks down into other cannabinoids over time when exposed to light.

If you are unsure about bud dryness sample your wares as they dry so you have a future reference. Dry cannabis doesn’t really feel completely dry because of the waxiness of the resins. You will develop the feel and skill quickly.

Enjoying your own well-grown cannabis is not difficult. Some attention and patience can reap stinky benefits even from the smallest of spaces.

Happy growing friends!

TOP 6 CANNABIS STRAINS THAT ARE EASY TO GROW

GREEN CRACK PUNCH: FAST, BEGINNER-FRIENDLY SATIVA

Most sativas are finicky and require lots of time and experience to be able to do their thing. But smokers can’t stop raving about the energetic high and delicious taste. If you’re throwing caution to the wind and starting off with a sativa anyway, Green Crack Punch is a great choice.

This Purple Punch X Green Crack cross can take all your mistakes in stride no matter what you throw at her. She won’t care if you over or under water, if you don’t mix your nutrients just right, if the pH is a bit off or you have a few minor light leaks. She’ll still yield very well! After just 55–60 days of bloom, Green Crack Punch will reward your efforts with up to 500g/m² of beautiful, multi-coloured buds that are dense and totally saturated with resin.

Green Crack Punch’s high, on the other hand, doesn’t take it easy on novice smokers. At 20% THC, the power is dead serious, starting off with Green Crack’s raging energy and focus, before settling down, hours later, into a pain-relieving physical stone that’s the perfect way to wind down. Thank Purple Punch’s touch of indica for that final touch of peaceful calm. The smoke is smooth, silky and filled with hints of tart citrus, ripe blueberry and sweet grape.

EASY BUD: STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

Autoflowering hybrids are popular because they’re both fast and simple to grow. Easy Bud is no exception to that rule. She gets straight to the point with fast finishes, short heights and a very forgiving nature. If you’re on the hunt for cannabis seeds that are virtually guaranteed to give you some nice buds even if you’re still figuring this growing thing out, Easy Bud is the way to go.

Easy Bud is a smart choice if you don’t have a lot of space. Indoors, she’ll stay under 60cm, but get fat and chunky. The branches will be sturdy enough to hold her 275–325g/m² payload without needing any type of complicated support system. Her white indica heritage results in green buds that sparkle with a frosty sheen of resin, nestled within healthy, dark green leaves.

If you’re not an experienced user or you need a little more wake-and-bake in your stash, Easy Bud has your back! The THC is in the mild range at 12%, for a functional stone. The buzz takes the edge off, allowing you to chill, but it probably won’t lock you to the couch even if you have zero tolerance. Even hard-core stoners could use a few of these flowers just in case one of their lightweight, or overly paranoid, mates shows up.

CRITICAL: SERIOUSLY SIMPLE CUP WINNER

Super easy and a Cannabis Cup winner? That’s exactly what you’ll get with this medium-sized cash cropper. Although it’s simple enough for pure newbies, Critical delivers enough potent weed to attract the attention of professional growers. Whether you’re new to the game or go by the “work smarter not harder” creed, this 7-week Afghani X Skunk could easily become your go-to variety after just a single try.

When grown indoors, Critical is easy to work with because she never gets above 140 cm tall. If you need shorter plants, use either low or high-stress training techniques, depending on what you prefer. The plants will recover quickly either way. The colour is predominantly green with some autumn hues showing up during the last week. Even beginners can see up to 600g/m² after a very rapid bloom period.

As a 60% indica, 40% sativa, Critical has a fairly balanced stone that affects both the mind and the body for total relaxation. It’s very mellow, with no excess energy or anxiety. Get a little paranoid when you smoke high-powered weed? That won’t be a problem with Critical, even though it has an 18% THC level. This weed is as calm as they come. The flavour is classic: pungently sweet with earthy notes.

WHITE WIDOW: CRYSTALLISED PERFECTION

Known as the mother of the “White” family, White Widow has spawned countless hybrids, but the original Brazilian Sativa X Indian Indica is still the best and the easiest to grow. She’s won her share of cups, she’s dazzled generations of growers and no true stoner can turn down her snow-covered buds or her euphoric buzz. Compared to any other strain, White Widow is a real show piece!

White Widow is a classic Dutch strain, and that wouldn’t happen if she couldn’t thrive outdoors in colder temperatures. She does like a lot of light for super-high yields, so this hybrid is best grown indoors. Other than that, White Widow isn’t fussy. She doesn’t require any special attention or have any peculiar nutrient needs. Just use a good soil or other medium, don’t let your plants dry out, use feed designed for cannabis and you’ll have a spectacular harvest after just 9 weeks of flowering.

Although White Widow only has 50% sativa genetics, she smokes like pure Haze, for a totally cerebral high. The buzz starts off as a tingle across the face before it explodes into a huge euphoric cloud of happiness. It’s slightly trippy if you aren’t used to smoking this type of weed, so take care if you usually associate herb with a more physical stone. The taste is crisp and refreshing, with an unmistakable pine flavour, accented by clean notes of tart citrus.

ROYAL JACK AUTO: CARRYING ON THE JACK HERER LEGACY

With a shorter height and faster flowering period, Royal Jack Auto puts classic Jack Herer buds within reach of novice growers. This version stays true to the original strain, with medical-grade head highs and Jack’s signature spicy aroma. Pair this one with White Widow and your first few grows will feature a Dutch duo that’s hard to beat.

Royal Jack Auto is a fully autoflowering strain. That means she’ll start to show signs of bloom within two weeks of germination even if the lights are on around the clock. Flowers are fully mature and ready to cut in just 10 weeks total. Why not grow a few of these automatics side by side with some photoperiod strains? That way you’ll have fully cured, smoke-ready Royal Jack Auto in hand to make your second trim way more pleasant.

At 16% THC, Royal Jack Auto has a decent potency level for medical use or mild recreation. It’s even good as a functional morning smoke for the highly tolerant. The high starts off with a burst of creativity and motivation before it eases slowly into a chill body buzz for a pleasantly mellow ending. The taste is almost exactly like Jack Herer’s fresh herbal flavour.

SPECIAL QUEEN 1: TOP QUALITY AT A LOW PRICE

Few beginners make it through their first few grows without ruining a few seeds or killing a plant or two. Special Queen 1 is a classic Skunk mix that’s reasonably priced so you can harvest a nice supply of pungent flowers without breaking the bank. Save the more expensive seeds for after you learn the ropes.

Although she’s relatively cheap, Special Queen 1 is no slacker. After just 8 weeks of bloom, sometimes 7, these plants will be covered from head to toe in Sativa-dominant blooms that have a heavy, permeating smell. They’ll grow well just about anywhere including soil or hydro, indoors or out, trained or untrained. Yields are very generous at 550g/m² inside, or 550g/plant outside making Special Queen 1 just as appealing to professional growers as mere amateurs.

Special Queen 1 improves on original Skunk’s potency with an impressive 18% THC rating that gives this strain staying power. Even though the effect is a bit stronger and longer lasting, it’s still a classic high that’s mostly cerebral with a definite mood lift. Just a few puffs and your eyes will droop, your smile will widen and your thoughts will expand. Special Queen 1 has a sweet, fruity taste with a spicy edge.

Well-linked marijuana tutorial about growing great cannabis indoors or outdoors. Soon you will have a big brain full of essential marijuana growing knowledge.

The Cannabis Cultivation Timeline

An overview of the 5 stages of cannabis cultivation.

  • 1. Getting started
  • 1.a. Photoperiod plants
  • 1.b. Autoflowering plants
  • 2. 5 stages of cannabis cultivation
  • 2.a. Stage 1: germination — 1–7 days
  • 2.b. Stage 2: seedling — 2 weeks
  • 2.c. Stage 3: vegetative phase — 2–8+ weeks
  • 2.d. Stage 4: flowering — 6–12 weeks
  • 2.e. Stage 5: harvest, trimming, drying and curing — 1–2 months
  • 1. Getting started
  • 1.a. Photoperiod plants
  • 1.b. Autoflowering plants
  • 2. 5 stages of cannabis cultivation
  • 2.a. Stage 1: germination — 1–7 days
  • 2.b. Stage 2: seedling — 2 weeks
  • 2.c. Stage 3: vegetative phase — 2–8+ weeks
  • 2.d. Stage 4: flowering — 6–12 weeks
  • 2.e. Stage 5: harvest, trimming, drying and curing — 1–2 months

Growing cannabis comes with a lot of uncertainties. That said, cannabis cultivation itself can be broken down into five distinct stages, regardless of which seeds you’ve selected.

GETTING STARTED

Before you just start throwing seeds into soil, consider what kind of grower you want to be. Are you running an indoor operation, or working in the great outdoors? Do you have the supplies fit for your growing environment? Have you made sure to pick seeds that’ll thrive where you’re planting them, indoors or out? Speaking on that last point, any aspiring grower should know the difference between photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis plants. There are a few key differences to note.

PHOTOPERIOD PLANTS

The main marker of a photoperiod plant is the potential for indefinite vegetation—as long as you keep the plants on an 18/6–24/0 light/dark cycle. We’ll talk more about that later, but it means these plants can withstand more mistakes in the growing process. It also means you can ensure your plant produces the best crop possible once you initiate flowering. All you need to do to make the switch is adjust the light cycle to 12/12. This becomes even more useful when you’re able to make unlimited clones of your optimised plant. The main drawback is that it’ll take around four months to get a substantial yield. However, you’ll have a larger and usually more potent plant once you’re there.

AUTOFLOWERING PLANTS

The way these differ from photoperiod plants is written in the name. Regardless of whether you feel the plant is ready, it’ll start flowering at a certain time depending on the strain’s genetic programming. In one sense, these plants are easier for novice growers because there’s less to think about in regards to light coverage and cycle adjustment. On the other hand, due to the limited vegetation time, you have fewer opportunities for mistakes. This isn’t ideal for first-timers, but the fact that it only takes two months from germination to harvest is definitely appealing. Autos tend to produce lower, milder yields than their photoperiod counterparts, but modern advances are bridging the gap.

5 STAGES OF CANNABIS CULTIVATION

Now that you’re familiar with the distinctions between photoperiod and autoflowering strains, we can begin to break down each stage involved in cannabis cultivation.

STAGE 1: GERMINATION — 1–7 DAYS

Even when your plant is a mere seed, the work you put in will dictate its success or failure. Germination is the stage when the first root cracks out of the seed’s shell, which takes between 1–7 days. The wet paper towel method is a classic approach here, but you start out with the major setback of tiny fibres all over your new root. You can plant directly in the soil, of course, but you need to ensure temperature and moisture are dialled in.

If you want to keep all your seeds safe and clean, we recommend the Royal Queen Seeds Starter Kit. With that, they can enjoy clean, undisturbed germination. Once they get to 2–3cm high, you can remove them from the starter and place them in a suitable growing container.

STAGE 2: SEEDLING — 2 WEEKS

Breaking through the germination stage, plants enter the seedling stage next. At this point, they’ll need about 18 or more hours of daily light. After two or so weeks of proper care, though, they’ll be well on their way to robust growth.

This is the point where it starts to look more like a cannabis plant. There will be one ridged blade per leaf at first, but the blades will get closer to their typical 5–7-finger stage by the end of this period. Until they get the full 5–7 blades, though, the plants are considered seedlings. Along with the increasing blade count, a vibrant green colour is another mark of a healthy plant. To keep them healthy, the two main things to keep an eye on are water and cleanliness. Seedlings are still fragile, so only light watering is necessary. Cleanliness is equally vital due to their disease and mould vulnerability. The perfect home for cannabis seedlings is a propagator, ideally with 70% RH and temps 20-25°C, under either white CFL lights or LED’s.

STAGE 3: VEGETATIVE PHASE — 2–8+ WEEKS

Vegetative growth is normally associated with a transplant at some point as plants outgrow the starter medium be it a Rockwool block or paper cup filled with soil or coco. Continued development of the root zone and robust branching are the top priorities for the grower. High RH of 50% is ideal and cooler temps 20-24°C can promote more females if growing regular seeds.

Autoflower cultivators have even less time to play with than photoperiod growers as most autos will race into flowering after just 2-3 weeks of vegetative growth. It’s for this reason that many auto growers plant their autoflowering seeds directly into the final container. The clock is ticking with autos from the moment of germination.

Photoperiod strains can be kept in vegetative growth indefinitely so long as 18+ hours of light and suitable conditions prevail. This is what allows indoor growers to keep mother plants for years and why outdoor grower’s plant in springtime. Indoors or outdoors 18+ hours of light facilitates taking cuttings too.

This is the stage to pot up photoperiod plants into final containers, at least a couple weeks before switching to bloom or prior to Summer outdoors.

While the photoperiod strains can be kept in veg weeks or even months to allow for all kinds of pruning and training to boost yield like topping, FIM, LST or even a ScrOG the Auto grower is somewhat limited by time.

STAGE 4: FLOWERING — 6–12 WEEKS

At this stage, the focus of the grower and plants switches to the production of buds and the grower is already dreaming of a frosty marijuana harvest in the near future. RH needs to be reduced to 40-50% and temps kept between 20-28°C.

Cannabis plants will first give you an indication of their sex in the early phase of bloom. Typically within the first two weeks of flowering females will develop pistils or “hairs” to confirm their femininity.

If you see “nanners” or anything resembling a cluster of grapes protruding from flowers or anywhere on the stem then you have a male cannabis plant. Should you see both hairs and nanners then you have a hermie to remove right away.

Photoperiod strains are induced to bloom by the hours of light they receive; indoors the grower changes to a 12-12 light-dark cycle to artificially promote flower growth.

Outdoors Mother Nature dictates the grower’s schedule and flowering will only commence in Summer/Autumn as the hours of daylight naturally diminish, making for a longer more gradual flowering period. Weed growers in the Northern hemisphere don’t refer to October as “Croptober” for nothing.

Of course Autoflowering strains don’t follow the rules due to their Ruderalis genetics, so they will begin to bloom in about a month post-germination. Auto’s prefer to stay in 18+ hours of light for flowering and will be more productive on a light-dark cycle that would inhibit photoperiod strains from blooming at all.

Flowering generally lasts 7-10 weeks for indica and hybrid photoperiod cannabis strains, while the more Sativa dominant strains can take 10-14 weeks to fully ripen into primo head stash.

Autos really only flower for 30-45 days with a much more sudden transition into flowering, choosing feminised autos is a wise choice for novices that don’t want a seeded stash.

It’s always best to evaluate if a cannabis plant is ready to harvest by taking a closer look at those resin dripping buds. Using an inexpensive scope to zoom in on those resin heads to make sure they are milky and amber rather than clear removes all the guess work.

Once you confirm you’ve got a ripe marijuana crop on your hands it’s time to break out the trimming scissors and get harvesting. After two weeks slow drying in paper bags or hung up, at room temp and approximately 50% RH, you’ve got a stash.

STAGE 5: HARVEST, TRIMMING, DRYING AND CURING — 1–2 MONTHS

HARVESTING

Harvesting is the most rewarding part of the cultivation process for many growers. Watching your plants grow over several months is mesmerising, but finally harvesting the fruits of your labour truly is the peak of the experience. The flowering phase of the grow cycle typically lasts between 7–11 weeks, after which it’s time to strip your plants down of their buds. However, you don’t want to do this too early and prevent your flowers from fully maturing. Likewise, you don’t want to wait too long. Timing harvest is a crucial step, and there are multiple signs you should look out for to know when the time is right.

One of the best ways to truly tell if your flowers are ready for harvest is by getting up close and personal with a magnifying device. This visual advantage will enable you to detect minor changes that wouldn’t be noticeable to the naked eye. Some growers choose to use a jeweler’s loupe, which is essentially a pocket-sized magnifying glass encased in a piece of metal. Others choose to use devices such as digital microscopes, which provide greater detail.

Ultimately, the most important use for your magnifying glass is to detect the progress of your trichomes, and therefore, the proper time to harvest your buds. Trichomes are small mushroom-shaped glands that produce resin which contains the vast majority of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Looking for shifts in trichome appearance is the most accurate way to determine the stage of maturity of your crop. Trichomes are hard to miss and appear as a white frosty substance that covers the buds and sugar leaves. Zooming in on these structures will allow you to know how far along your plants are, and whether they are ready for the chop.

Earlier on in the flowering phase, trichomes will appear translucent, meaning they are still developing and should be left to mature. When approximately 60% of the trichomes develop a milky look, they are ready to harvest. It’s at this stage where they will produce the most significant high . However, some growers wait until up to 90% of trichomes move past this milky look and become amber, as this will cause the buds to develop a more stoning and sedating effect.

Another sign that your buds are maturing is when the pistils of the flowers change colour. Pistils are small-hair like structures that grow out of the calyxes, and are the reproductive organs of the female cannabis plant. They are the site where pollination occurs—if male pollen were allowed to land there. Pistils appear bright white during the early stage of the grow cycle, and eventually shift to an orange-brown colour.

Aside from the buds themselves, another way you can tell your plant is approaching harvest is by examining the colour of the leaves. Provided you haven’t overfed your plants during the final stage of flowering, a yellowing of the leaves will signal that your plant is reaching peak maturity, and that its nutrients are being fully utilised by the buds. By flushing out nutrient salt buildup with pH-balanced water for a couple weeks before harvest, a smoother, more pleasant smoke is guaranteed from each plant.

Now that you know when to start harvesting your buds, it’s time to learn how to trim them.

WET TRIMMING

You can trim your cannabis plants in one of two ways: wet or dry. Both have their own advantages, and each grower will differ in which one they prefer. Wet trimming refers to trimming off the sugar leaves surrounding the buds immediately after harvest while the plant still has a high water content and feels “wet”. This method is the most common, and arguably the easiest, as it doesn’t require a large room to dry out plants beforehand. However, wet trimming is literally sticky business. The resin from the flowers will cover both your hands and your scissors, but there is an upside to this. By scraping the resin from your scissors every now and then, you’ll quickly build up a supply of “scissor hash”, allowing you an early taste of your harvest.

DRY TRIMMING

Dry trimming takes place after your entire stash has been dried, and little water content remains within the buds and leaves. Trimming dry buds is definitely easier on your scissors since they won’t become as inundated by clumps of resin. However, accurately manicuring dry buds can be somewhat of a hassle too, making for a potentially less visually appealing final product. Moreover, dry trimming does require a fair bit of space. Growers usually hang entire branches of buds from a line of string within temperature-controlled rooms to let them air-out until sufficiently dry.

CURING YOUR BUDS

Now that harvesting and trimming are complete, it’s time to cure your flowers. Curing is an essential process that removes the last of the residual water from the buds, minimising the chance of mould and greatly prolonging shelf life. Curing also enhances the taste and quality of the smoke, making for a smooth and potent experience.

If you opted to use the dry trimming method, then your flowers will be ready to cure straight away. If you chose wet trimming, then your flowers will need to be properly dried before you go on to cure them.

  • To do this, spread them out over some cardboard, newspaper, or, even better, a wire drying rack. Whichever you choose, make sure they are spread out over a large surface area and exposed to as much fresh air as possible. Aim for a steady room temperature of 21°C and a relative humidity of 50% to ensure a longer but gentle drying process to maintain as much flavour as possible.
  • Now we can move on to curing. For this, you’ll need airtight glass jars to minimise mould from taking hold. Fill each jar so it’s ⅔ full, leaving adequate room for air. This is the perfect environment for excess sugars and chlorophyll to be broken down, a process which is key for those smoother hits of smoke.
  • For the first two weeks of curing, open each jar once or twice per day and remove each bud, checking for any signs of cobweb-like mould. If you detect anything, remove this bud from the jar and place it in the bin. Opening jars this regularly will also serve to replace the air within the jar, keeping it fresh.
  • After a few weeks, the need to check your buds as much will reduce; the drier they become, the less chance there is of mould striking. At this stage, you’ll only need to check around twice per week to expose your buds to fresh air. After a few weeks, your buds will be cured; however, some growers choose to go a few weeks further to develop pristine and high-quality flavour. You can smoke-test you buds as the weeks go by to see if the current taste suits your preference.

For more info on drying and curing your herb, check our blogs Top Tips To Successfully Dry And Cure Your Fresh Cannabis Buds and How to Cure Your Cannabis Buds.

Royal Queen Seeds produces some of europe’s best cannabis seeds, ensuring hobby growers everywhere have access to the finest marijuana strains around.

Royal Queen Seeds produces some of europe’s best cannabis seeds, ensuring hobby growers everywhere have access to the finest marijuana strains around.

From germination to curing, understanding each stage of the cannabis growth cycle is vital to achieving a healthy cannabis crop.