The Lifecycle of Cannabis

On July 5, 2023 By KindCare Staff in General

When growing your own cannabis, it is important to understand each lifecycle stage and how to best manage your plant to ensure healthy growth. Each stage is unique and requires care and attention in order to promote a large harvest.


The germination process of cannabis is the first step in cultivating the plant from a seed. It involves activating the dormant embryo within the seed, causing it to sprout and develop into a seedling.

To begin germination, start by placing your cannabis seeds in a suitable germination medium. Many growers prefer using moist paper towels, cotton pads, or pre-moistened Rockwool cubes. These mediums provide the necessary moisture and a controlled environment for the seeds to germinate. Place the seeds on the medium, ensuring they are adequately spaced and not touching each other.

Next, create a warm and dark environment for the seeds. Place the seeds and germination medium in a sealed container or cover them with another layer of moist material to maintain humidity. Maintain a temperature between 70-85°F (21-29°C), as this range is conducive to seed germination. It’s crucial to keep the environment consistently moist but not soaking wet to prevent rotting or drowning the seeds. Check the moisture levels regularly and mist with water if necessary.

During the germination period, which typically takes 2-7 days, the seeds will begin to sprout, and a taproot will emerge. Once the taproot is around a quarter to half an inch long, it is an indication that germination has been successful. At this point, the seeds are ready to be transplanted into a growing medium, such as soil or a hydroponic system, to continue their growth into healthy cannabis plants.

Seedling Stage

Once the seeds have successfully germinated, it’s time to transfer the sprouted seeds into a growing medium. Many growers prefer using small pots filled with a well-draining soil or a suitable hydroponic medium. Gently place the germinated seeds in the medium, ensuring they are planted at a shallow depth of around half an inch (1-2 cm).

Provide a nurturing environment for the seedlings. Place them under a gentle light source, such as fluorescent or LED grow lights, positioned about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) above the seedlings. Maintain a light cycle of 18-24 hours of light per day during this stage to promote healthy growth.

Monitor the temperature and humidity levels in the growing environment. Aim for a temperature range of 70-80°F (21-27°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night. Maintain a relative humidity (RH) of around 50-70% to provide a suitable atmosphere for healthy seedling growth.

As the seedlings continue to grow, they will develop their first sets of true leaves. At this point, they are ready to be gradually exposed to slightly stronger light and introduced to a more regular watering and feeding schedule. With proper care and attention, the seedlings will grow into healthy and vigorous cannabis plants, preparing them for the vegetative stage of growth.

Vegetative Stage

The vegetative stage of growth will see the most significant cannabis growth where the plants focus on leaf and stem development before transitioning to the flowering stage. During this phase, the goal is to encourage healthy growth and establish a strong foundation for robust flowering later on.

Provide the plants with ample light during the vegetative stage. Depending on the grow setup, use high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, fluorescent lights, or LEDs to deliver at least 18 hours of light per day. Position the lights at an appropriate distance to ensure sufficient light intensity without causing heat stress. Aim for a temperature range of 70-85°F (21-29°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night.

If you are growing indoors, it may be necessary to introduce oscillating fans to gently move the air around the plants, strengthening their stems and reducing the risk of pests and diseases.

Monitor the plants closely for signs of nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. Use a balanced fertilizer specifically formulated for the vegetative stage, and follow the recommended dosage instructions. Adjust the nutrient levels as needed based on the plants’ response and any observed deficiencies or excesses.

Prune and train the plants during the vegetative stage to shape their growth and optimize light penetration. Remove any unwanted growth such as lower branches or leaves that receive minimal light. Employ techniques such as topping, low-stress training (LST), or scrogging to encourage a bushier and more even canopy.

Typically the vegetative stage typically lasts several weeks to a few months, depending on the desired size and development of the plants. Once you are satisfied with the vegetative growth, you can initiate the flowering stage by adjusting the light cycle to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness.

Pre-flowering Stage

Towards the end of the vegetative stage, cannabis plants may exhibit pre-flowers, which are small structures that indicate the plant’s sex. Male plants produce pollen sacs, while female plants develop bracts with stigma. It is crucial to identify and remove any male plants to prevent pollination if the goal is to produce seedless flowers.

Flowering Stage

Once the light cycle is adjusted to a 12/12 (12 hours of light and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness), cannabis plants transition into the flowering stage. This stage is where the plant produces buds, the desired part of the plant containing cannabinoids and terpenes. Female plants develop flowers with pistils (hairs) that catch pollen for pollination. If left unpollinated, the flowers will continue to develop and produce resinous trichomes.

Maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels during the flowering stage. Aim for a temperature range of 65-80°F (18-27°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night. Control humidity levels to prevent excessive moisture buildup, which can lead to mold or mildew. Lower humidity levels to around 40-50% to minimize the risk of bud rot.

Regularly monitor and adjust nutrient levels to meet the changing demands of the flowering plants. Switch to a bloom-specific fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium to support flower development. Follow the recommended dosage instructions and be mindful of nutrient imbalances or deficiencies, adjusting as needed.

Support the plants’ structure and promote even bud development by implementing techniques such as trellising or using plant stakes. This helps prevent branches from bending or breaking under the weight of the developing buds and ensures light penetration to the lower bud sites.

Towards the end of the flowering stage, observe the trichomes on the buds using a magnifying tool. The trichomes will change from clear to cloudy or amber, indicating the optimal time for harvest based on your desired effects.

Pollination and Seed Production

If male plants are present, they release pollen that can fertilize the female flowers, leading to seed production. The pollinated flowers develop seeds within the buds. However, if seedless flowers (sinsemilla) are desired, it is essential to remove any male plants or separate the male and female plants during flowering.

If you intend to produce seeds and are hoping to create your own strain, take a look at our summary of the process.

Harvesting, Drying, and Curing

For a detailed walkthrough for harvesting, drying, and curing cannabis plants we cover it in depth in our Harvesting and Preparing Your Own Plants article. If you have any questions about the lifecycle of cannabis, stop into our store and we would love the opportunity to help!

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