How Cannabis Grows: The Plant’s Life Cycle

Cannabis plants have a life cycle that can be divided into several stages: germination, seedling, vegetative, pre-flowering, flowering, and ripening. Learn about each stage and how to properly care for your plants.

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Cannabis is an annual plant, meaning it has a life cycle that lasts one year. In that time, it will go through four key stages of growth: seed, sprout, vegetative, and flowering.

Each stage has specific requirements in terms of temperature, humidity, light, and nutrients. The most important thing to remember is that cannabis is a very adaptable plant. This means that with a little bit of knowledge and effort, you can grow it successfully in a wide range of environments.

Seed: The first stage of the cannabis life cycle is the seed stage. This is when the plant is just a seedling, and it will need to be germinated in order to begin growing. You can learn how to germinate cannabis seeds here.

Sprout: Once the seeds have germinated, they will enter the sprout stage. During this time, the plant will develop its first set of true leaves. The sprout stage lasts for about 2-3 weeks.

Vegetative: After the sprout stage, the plant will enter its vegetative phase. This is when it will begin to grow rapidly and develop its secondary leaves. The vegetative phase lasts for 3-16 weeks, depending on the strain and growing conditions.

Flowering: Once the plant has reached its full size, it will enter the flowering phase. This is when the plant will begin to produce flowers (or buds). The flowering phase lasts for 6-8 weeks, again depending on the strain and growing conditions.

After the flowering phase is complete, the plant will die and the cycle will start over again from seed

The Plant’s Life Cycle

All plants go through a life cycle, this includes the cannabis plant. The life cycle starts with a seed, which then sprouts and grows into a plant. The plant will then flower and produce more seeds. Once the plant has produced seeds, it will die.


To kick off the growing process, you first need cannabis seeds. These are small, dark brown to black, teardrop-shaped seeds that come from the female cannabis plant. Once you have your hands on some quality seeds, it’s time to focus on germination — aka, getting those little seeds to sprout into full-blown cannabis plants.

The first step is to soak your seeds in water overnight. You can also put them in a damp paper towel, which some growers prefer. The idea is to get them nice and hydrated so they can break through their hard outer shell and start growing roots.

Once your seeds have had a chance to soak (or if you’re using the paper towel method, once they’ve sprouted tiny white roots), it’s time to plant them. You can do this directly in soil or in a small container of water. If you’re growing in soil, plant each seed about ½ inch (1.3 cm) below the surface of the pot or plot of earth where it will grow. If you’re growing in water, put each seed in its own cup or container and then transfer it to your chosen growing medium once the roots are a few inches long.

Vegetative Growth

During the vegetative stage, the plant is focusing its energy on growing roots, leaves, and stems. For cannabis, the vegetative stage lasts between two and eight weeks, although most growers keep their plants in vegetative growth for four to six weeks before beginning the flowering stage.

There are a few key things to keep in mind during vegetative growth:
-Lighting: Cannabis plants need a lot of light during vegetative growth. The amount of light will depend on the type of grow light you’re using (LED, fluorescent, HPS, etc.), but generally speaking, you should aim for 18-24 hours of light per day during this stage.
-Nutrients: This is the time to give your plants plenty of nitrogen-rich nutrients to encourage leafy growth.
-Pruning:Top early and often to encourage branching and a fuller plant.


The final stage of a cannabis plant’s life cycle is flowering. This is when the plant grows its sex organs (aka pistils and stamens) and produces THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Flowering usually starts when the plant receives less than 12 hours of sunlight per day. For most cannabis strains, this happens in late summer or early fall.

Fruiting and Seed Production

After the male pollen fertilizes the female flowers, the calyxes around the ovules swell and form seed pods, or fruits. Seeds develop over a period of six to eight weeks and must be mature before harvest. Depending on the species, a cannabis seed can be either black, gray, brown, or green.

As a general rule of thumb, if 50% or more of the seeds in a given sample are dark in color, they are mature and ready for harvest.


Cannabis grows best in warm, sunny climates with moist soil. The plant can adapt to a variety of different habitats, but it prefers areas with long days and short nights. Cannabis grows best in soil that is loose and well-drained. Heavy clay soils can be amended with sand or peat moss to improve drainage.

The cannabis plant has a life cycle that consists of four distinct stages: germination, growth, flowering, and seeding. Germination is the process by which a seed sprouts and grows into a young plant. Growth is the stage during which the plant develops its leaves and roots, and begins to store energy in its stem. Flowering is the stage during which the plant produces its distinctive flowers. Seeding is the final stage of the life cycle, during which the plant produces seeds that can be used to grow new plants.

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