Marijuana Growth Stages Review

Marijuana growth stages are generally discussed in terms of the three main growth stages of germination, vegetative, and flowering, but there are, in fact, six stages to the cannabis plant life cycle. In order to achieve the best possible results in growing marijuana, it is important to understand the six stages of cannabis growth and how each can affect yield and potency.


Here are an overview of the six growth stages: Germination stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative Growth stage, Pre-flowering stage, Flowering stage, and Seed stage.

1. Germination Stage:

The initial stage in the cannabis plant life cycle is the germination stage. The seed opens and produces a root to anchor itself into the soil while opening two embryonic leaves as it reaches the surface to receive sunlight (or simulated sunlight in the form of indoor grow lights). It can take anywhere from 12 hour up to 3 weeks for seeds to germinate.

2. Seedling Stage:

Once the embryonic leaves are receiving sunlight, the plant will enter the seedling stage. The seedling stage is where the plant will begin to take on some marijuana characteristics by producing a new set of small leaves. These seedling stage leaves will have the familiar three-rounded finger shaped points that are identified with the cannabis plant.  The seedling will produce more  of these leaves and push upward with a stem. The seedling stage can last between 1 to 3 weeks. The plant should have around 4 to 8 leaves at the end of the seedling stage (some of the old leaves at bottom will begin to drop off). One thing to keep in mind during this stage is that the seedling stems can be very weak at this point and may require a support.

3. Vegetative Growth Stage:

The vegetative growth stage is where the plant begins to really grow and producing leaves.  This is the stage where the plant needs all the light and food it can get to maximize growth. The plant will grow upward producing news leaves with thicker stems and branches. The plant will spend approximately 1 to 5 months of its life in the vegetative growth stage and start to show early indicators of its sex as the plant enters the pre-flowering stage.

4. Pre-Flowering Stage:

Once the plant moves from the vegetative growth stage to the pre-flowering stage, the cannabis plant will slow down in growing upward and being to “fill out” by producing more branches and nodes.  The pre-flowering stage is characterized by calyx at the nodes (part of the plant where branches meet the stem). The sex of the plant will become more apparent with the development of calyx. The pre-flowering stage lasts anywhere from 1 day up to 2 weeks. The pre-flowering stage is where male plants are generally separated from the female cannabis plant.

5. Flowering Stage:

The plant will continue to fill out and show its sex clearly during the flowering stage.  The “grape-like” clusters distinguish the male cannabis plant, while the female plant will have pale hair like pistils coming out of a “pod”.  During the 4 to 16 weeks of the flowering stage, the cannabis plant will continue its growth until the flowers fully develop. The male plant’s “grape-like” pollen sacks will burst and spread its pollen during the flowering stage.

6. Seed Stage:

The seed stage is where any pollinated female plant produces seeds within the plant’s buds. The seed can take between 2 weeks up to 16 weeks to grow fully to maturity.  Left alone, the female plant’s seedpods will burst and drop the seeds. Most breeders will harvest the seeds prior to the seedpods bursting. If the male cannabis plants are separated from the female cannabis plants prior to pollination (generally in the pre-flowering stage), then the female plant will not progress to the seed stage and no seeds will be produced.