Like humans, cannabis plants go through multiple developmental stages. When their needs are met, these plants will grow like weeds (see what we did there?). However, success isn’t a certainty. Understanding the stages of cannabis seed growth, as well as the plants’ needs at each stage, will help you get the most out of every crop.
No discussion of the growing stages of cannabis would be complete without mentioning dormancy. Seeds are storehouses for genetic material. When they’re properly stored, cannabis seeds may retain their viability for up to 15 years. Store seeds in a dry, dark, and cool area, such as an opaque jar in the back of the refrigerator. When removing the seeds from storage, allow containers to warm to room temperature before opening them.
Storing seeds in a cold, dark place increases their germination percentage. Known as cold stratification, the technique is often used by breeders to pull seeds out of dormancy.
When cannabis seeds are viable, they germinate under the right environmental conditions. A temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as plentiful oxygen and water, are required for seed germination. As the germination process begins, a taproot will emerge, growing down through the soil. The seed’s coat will likely stay attached to the emerging plant until the first leaves grow.
After the first leaves have emerged, a cannabis plant needs plenty of light to reduce the risk of elongation or stretching. The seedling stage may last anywhere from 15 to 20 days as the plant establishes itself. Another set of leaves will appear with serrated edges, and additional leaf sets will increase in numbers as plants mature.
Once a plant has strong roots and multiple growth nodes, it is in the vegetative stage. Plants need 65-70% humidity as they grow taller and develop mature five- or seven-bladed leaf sets.
Seedlings are typically potted in larger containers to allow for continued root expansion and foliage growth. When cannabis plants are cared for properly and growing quickly, pruning and training will shape them for higher production without sacrificing growth potential.
Most plants reach maturity when they’re 14 to 20 inches tall and have eight to 10 growth nodes. At that time, each node’s shoots and leaves will alternate instead of growing opposite one another. Some plants may pre-flower, growing reproductive organs that make it easier to separate them by gender.
Cannabis plants come in two varieties: photoperiod or autoflowering. While an autoflower plant will enter its flowering stage after 10 to 20 days in vegetation, a photoperiod plant will start to flower when it gets more than 10 or 11 hours of darkness in every 24-hour period. With organic nitrogen and plenty of water, gardeners can sustain continued growth.
As a plant enters the last portion of the flowering stage, its reproductive organs enlarge, and psychoactive cannabinoid content increases. Other substances, such as terpenes, esters, and flavonoids, are also synthesized during the late flowering stage.
A Successful Harvest
Picking the crop at the ideal time is a crucial part of the cultivation process. An early harvest will be smaller and have less THC, while vital psychoactive compounds will degrade if plants are harvested late. By examining a plant’s trichomes with a magnifying glass, you’ll be able to determine if it is ready to harvest.
After the buds are picked, they should be dried slowly at a low temperature. Hang-drying allows moisture to migrate from stem to flower, resulting in a higher-quality product. Growing cannabis from seeds isn’t difficult, but it’s important to pay attention to the plants at each growth stage.
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