It's not uncommon to hear about cannabis described as having three main growth stages: germination, vegetative, and flowering, but there are actually six stages in the cannabis plant life cycle. In order to achieve the best possible results in growing cannabis, you should know each stage and how they can affect yield and potency of your plants.
The six stages are:
- Germination stage
- Seedling stage
- Vegetative Growth stage
- Pre-flowering stage
- Flowering stage
- Seed stage.
1. Germination Stage:
The germination stage is the initial stage when the seed opens to produce a root to anchor itself into the soil while opening two embryonic leaves as it reaches the surface to receive sunlight, or artificial sunlight if you are using grow lights. Be patient because it can take up to three weeks for this stage to occur. You wouldn't typically use any nutrients during this stage, but some growers suggest that it beneficial.
2. Seedling Stage:
After embryonic leaves begin receiving light, your cannabis plant will begin the seedling stage. It will produce a new set of small leaves and will begin to look more like cannabis. The seedling will produce more leaves and begin to form a stem and push upwards. This can take anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks and by the end of the seedling stage your plant should have between 4-8 leaves but may require some support to stand. Seedling's root, stems and foliage will benefit from a liquid base nutrient.
3. Vegetative Growth Stage:
This is where your plant will really begin to grow and will need all the light and food it can get to maximize growth. The plant will grow upward producing news leaves with thicker stems and branches and will spend about 1 to 5 months of its life in this vegetative stage. Here it should show early indicators of its sex as the plant enters the pre-flowering stage. This is a crucial period that will require Bloom base nutrients. You may also want to consider adding terpene, soil, and flavour enhancers
4. Pre-Flowering Stage:
During this stage, the plant will begin filling out by producing nodes and branches. The pre-flowering stage is characterized by calyx at the nodes (part of the plant where branches meet the stem) and the sex of the plant will become more obvious. This stage lasts anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks and at this point the male plants are generally separated from the female cannabis plant.
5. Flowering Stage:
The plant will continue to fill out and male plants will begin to form small clusters of coconut-shoped buds, while females will have light hairs that stick outward. During this 4 to 16 week period, your plant will continue its growth until the flowers fully develop and the male's pollen sacks will burst and spread its pollen during the flowering stage.
6. Seed Stage:
During this stage, female plants that have been pollinated will produces seeds within the plant’s buds. Left alone, the seedpods will burst and drop the seeds, but many breeders will harvest them prior to this point. If male plants are separated from female plants prior to pollination (most likely during the pre-flowering stage), then the female plant will not progress to the seed stage and no seeds will be produced.