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The Growing Stages of the Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant is a complex one. In fact, this particular plant produces benefits that we still don’t fully understand. The growing stages of the plant itself are also quite complicated, but they’re more than worth discussing if cannabis is something that piques your interest.

Each stage is just as important as the next during the growing process, and if you’re hoping to cultivate a proper cannabis plant, you have to be familiar with every step of the way.

Growing Cannabis: The Basics

Before we discuss the actual growing stages of the cannabis plant, it’s important to talk about the basics of growing and what to expect. After all, growing cannabis isn’t as simple as growing carrots or basil.

First, you should always be aware of the cannabis laws in the state where the plant is being grown. Unfortunately, cannabis is only legally grown in a handful of states across the US. If you’re interested in starting a commercial grow operation, it is integral for you to know the legalities surrounding where you’re growing, and for what reason. You must make sure to follow your state’s regulations when it comes to how much can be grown, where, and other restrictions.

Currently, cannabis is recreationally legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine. However, you may be able to get a specific license for a grow operation in a non-legal state, particularly if it’s for medicinal purposes. Recreationally, however, it is highly recommended to grow your cannabis in one of the 11 legal states.

It’s also crucial to understand that cannabis takes quite a long time to grow and become the plant you know and love. Growing outside, the plant will require several weeks--often even months--to fully blossom and be ready for harvesting. It takes quite a bit of passion and dedication as well: this isn’t a plant you can grow and forget. Patience and dedication are key when it comes to cannabis growth.

Below we have a detailed outline of the multiple growing stages the cannabis plant goes through. Take your time in becoming knowledgeable about every stage. Soon, cannabis and cannabis growth will feel much more straightforward, and so much easier to understand.

Seed Germination

The first growing stage of the cannabis plant is seed germination. At this point, the grower has to bring the seed out of dormancy to produce a plant. The seed will be hard and in various shades of brown. If the seed happens to be squishy and green, it’s not ready to be planted yet.

Now, the seed must be germinated to be prepped for soil, or the specific growing medium. This process can take up to ten days. After some heat, water, and air, these seeds are finally ready for planting. As they grow, their roots will stem downwards and leaves begin to pop out of the stem.


When the signature leaves begin to sprout from the seed, it has entered the next growth stage: it’s a seedling! During this stage, the cannabis seed will produce many variations of the fan leaf we’re familiar with. At first, these leaves may just have one or two ridged blades. That’s an indication that the plant has not yet matured.

Once several ridged-blade leaves start to sprout--typically around five or so--it’s no longer a seedling, and it’s beginning to properly germinate. The plant will boast a vibrant green color that’s hard to miss. As it’s sprouting its famous fan leaves, growers must be extra careful during this stage: the plant is highly susceptible to adverse environmental factors that might hurt your cannabis. At this phase, growers must keep a ‘round-the-clock eye on their precious plants.

Vegetative State

After the cannabis seed has begun sprouting, it must be transferred to a larger pot for proper growing. This next stage, the vegetative state, is all about growth.

As the cannabis plant sprouts rapidly during the vegetative state, growers have to be careful about both over-watering as well as trimming. The plant must be trimmed or “topped” as new leaves grow to allow for proper breathing for the plant. Overcrowded plants will not flourish properly and it can even damage the flowers that are trying to grow.

How these plants are trimmed wholly depends on what variety of cannabis being grown. An indica strain is going to have a different composition than a Sativa strain, with flowers on indicas being much denser. Growers must keep in mind what strains they’re producing to adhere to proper topping procedures. The trimming of a cannabis plant is an extremely delicate and integral step, so mindfulness is key.


Finally, after weeks and weeks of preparation, careful watering, and even more careful light cycles, the cannabis plant reaches the flowering stage.

As the name suggests, this is the stage where the potent flowers that cannabis is known for starts to grow. Growers can start to see the trichomes and feel sticky resin as the flowers flourish. These flowers are exactly what every grower has been waiting for, as these are the plant components that hold the most therapeutic benefits.

During this stage, growers must also separate the female plants from the male plants. Male plants simply do not produce the sought-after effects that female plants do, and, thus, they should be discarded. They do not hold value to growers; in fact, these male plants can spoil a grow.

Towards the end of the flowering cycle, cannabis growers will notice a huge influx in growth. Typically, the last few weeks show the most growth of the plant, so growers have to be patient throughout this stage. Plants must undergo regular pruning and be fed nutrients to keep up with this explosive growth.

Time to Harvest

Once the flowering stage has passed, it’s simply time to harvest. The flowering stage is technically the last step in the growing cycle of the cannabis plant, and the only thing that’s left to do is separate the flowers from the plant, either before or after letting them dry and cure. Then, they’re ready to be utilized.

While the growing cycle of the cannabis plant might be a long and complicated one, it makes sense for such a complex, multi-faceted plant. Though it may take some time, the cannabis growing process is more than worth it for the incredible result.

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