The life cycle of the marijuana plant

The Cannabis Grow Bible

by Greg Green

marijuana field

We said before that a plant would grow in three main stages. Germination, Vegetative growth and flowering. Plants actually grow in 6 stages. Here is the life cycle of the cannabis plant.


This is the initial stage of growth and occurs when your seed’s embryo cracks open and the seedling produces a root. This root fixes itself into the soil and pushes the newborn seeding up and over the soil surface. Following surface contact two embryonic leaves open outwards to receive sunlight, pushing the empty seed shell away from the seedling. It takes anywhere between 12 hours to 3 weeks for seeds to germinate. Once the plant has reached this stage it goes into the seedling stage.

Seedling Stage

After the first pair of embryonic leaves are receiving light, the plant will begin to produce another small set of new leaves. These leaves are different from the last and may have some Marijuana characteristics such as the three rounded finger shaped points. As the seedling grows more of these leaves are formed and bush upwards along with a stem. Some stems are very weak at this stage and need the support of a small thin wooden stake tied to the seedling with some fine thread. The seedling stage can last between 1 and 3 weeks. At the end of the seedling stage your plant will have maybe 4 – 8 new leaves. Some of the old bottom leaves may drop off.

Vegetative Growth

The plant now begins to grow at the rate which its leaves can produce energy. At this stage the plant needs all the light and food it can get. It will continue to grow upwards producing new leaves as it moves along. It will also produce a thicker stem with thicker branches and with more fingers on the leaves. It will eventually start to show its sex. When it does this it is time for the plant’s pre-flowering stage. It can take anywhere between 1 and 5 months for the plant to hit this next stage.

marijuana buds

At this stage the plant slows down in developing its height and starts to produce more branches and nodes. The plant fills out in the pre-flowering stage. During this phase of the plant cycle your plant will start to show a calyx which appears where the branches meet the stem (nodes). Pre-flowering can take anywhere between 1 day to 2 weeks.


During this stage the plant continues to fill out. The plant will show its sex clearly. The male plant produces little balls that are clustered together like grapes. The female plant produces little white/cream pistils that look like hairs in a pod. Each of the plants will continue to fill out more and their flowers will continue to grow. It can take anywhere between 4 to 16 weeks for the plant to fully develop its flowers. During this time the male’s pollen sacks would have burst spreading pollen to the female flowers.


The female plant will produce seeds at this point if she has received viable pollen from a male plant. The seeds grow within the female bud and can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 16 weeks, to grow to full maturity. The female pistils may change colour before finally bursting the seedpods, sending them to the soil below. (Breeders like to collect their seed before the seedpods burst.)

These are the six stages of the life cycle of a cannabis plant. It is important to know that if the males are separated from the females and killed off then the females will not become pollinated. Let us go back a step and describe what happens here.

Cannabis Grow Bible

30 comments to The life cycle of the marijuana plant

  • Anonymous

    In veg State can it go under 40 and kill my plant

  • Derbybuddy

    Plants are 4 months old. Growing under LED grow lights. Have a 3×3 grow room. Using a HTG 300 (180 watts- 7 band ) and a platinum 300 ( veg and bloom switches 12 band ). Have been at 18/6 light schedule. Not showing any signs of male but still in veg growth. Will changing the light schedule to 15/9 induce bloom. Question is ; should I keep at 18/6 until enters bloom or should I slowly reduce light hours? Will going from 18/6 to 12/12 something I should do gradually or just change when plants start blooming?

  • Giuseppe

    Miracle gro just invested 500 million dollars into cannabis cultivation.. tell me again why not use miracle gro soil? Lol that person couldn’t be more incorrect… or wait do you think miracle grow invested millions into another company’s soil?? Lol ha jk absolutely not.


    I have cloned 2 plants while they were flowering. They went back into vegatation stage. Will they ever flower again. They are 4 ft tall and still have pistols that have turned red and reminents of budding are still present and the leaves are 3 pronged and some are just one part…

  • noob

    Listen… i just started growing… i am in the seedling stage after 8 days …. i would like to talk to someone who knows what they are doing to maybe get some tips ……..

  • Anonymous

    my baby grew alot in in about 1 and a half. He’s sprouted alot of leaves. I just been using miracle grow and it works like a charm.

    • Anonymous

      I would stop using miracle grow immediately what you put in your plant ultimately ends up in your body at the very least flush your plants with just water thoroughly for a a few weeks before harvest

  • isaiah

    I am 13 weeks into growing and still 5 weeks from harvest

  • Roger

    If a plant has signs of it being a female then out of no where get bulbs what is happening? and Do you get rid of the bulbs or do you just take the plant away?

  • gooftroop

    i just started my plants are in bud and has crystals all over it they are in soil they have been in the pots 3 mounths help please

  • anonymous

    Would any one know how to increase the THC on the plant?

  • Anonymous

    what does it mean when bud plants start to flower

  • briscyolo

    i have a question i think my plant is in the pre-flowering stage because it starting to show it calyx.but its starting to go from 5 leaves to 7 wat does that mean.

  • anonymous

    I have started two plants and there looking beautiful one is 2″4′ and the other is 2″6′ and I just trans planted them into bigger pots and they took great and I was wondering I know there still purity young but they look like there wanting to start flowering and budding is this possible and if so how much would you think I could yeild up to if there was a way I could send pics I would lol

  • new grower

    I have a new plant that is outside right now the leaves are kinda sagging and the tips of my first set of leaves are starting to turn yellow what am I doing wrong

  • rashid

    what happen after flowering?
    what happen if i do not harvest the bud?
    did it going to die or going back to veg stage?

  • Get sum

    Help please?
    Do females produce lil small tiny buds when starting to show sex? Mine are about two months old and I’m just curious, can i still top at this stage? Let’s just say 12 months , late June.

  • janr

    Help, confused and need advice please. Have a plant that has single little pods one on (each) branch total of 3. Should I pull them off? Don’t know how to send pic. Thanx for your help. Oh by the way the plant is a month old.

  • Zach

    I was just curious cause I am a new grower, only did one grow by myself and they got six feet tall, but i only got females. Out of curiousity dont male plants produce bud too? Why dont others want them, instead of all females what if it was all males? Could they grow buds, would it be less potent or less yeild if so?

    • kgb

      Male cannabis plant don’t produce flowers (buds). Instead, the male produce sacks full of pollen, which, when released, pollinates the females. Once pollinated, the females will produce seeds. So most growers get rid of males unless they want seeds.

    • Anonymous

      Males do actually produce buds but its a female plant you want

  • denzel

    Good stuff helping the stoners big time…

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Instagram Feed

Something is wrong. Response takes too long or there is JS error. Press Ctrl+Shift+J or Cmd+Shift+J on a Mac.