We occasionally recommend products we love and might be paid a share of the sale.
Like any other plant, growing marijuana takes time. But how much time exactly? A single cannabis plant can take anywhere from 13-32 weeks or more to completely reach maturity and be ready to harvest, though the exact time will depend on many factors.
How the cannabis is grown (whether indoors or outdoors), how much preparation you need to do, and the strains you’re growing are just some of the things that affect the growing time of these plants.
Keep reading to find out how long each growing phase of the cannabis plant lasts, and what you can do to speed up the whole process.
How Long Does It Take For The Plant To Grow?
From the time seeds are planted until smokeable cannabis is produced, the process typically takes between three and five months or more.
Let’s break the time it takes cannabis to grow into its individual stages so that you can get a better concept of how long each stage lasts. This will help you plan your crop more effectively.
Growth Time Of Each Stage In Cannabis Cultivation
Because you will need quite a few different supplies if you want to cultivate cannabis successfully, we start with a step that we have dubbed “preparation” which happens before the growth has even begun.
You can skip over this step entirely if you already own all of the necessary items.
1. Preparation – 0 – 4 Weeks
If this is your first time growing a cannabis plant, you’re going to need to buy all of the necessary materials for growing cannabis and make your set-up/growing area before you get started.
How long this takes depends mostly on your location, as it may take a while for the materials to arrive depending on where you’re based.
For example, most of the best and most well-known marijuana seed banks are in Europe, though some of them have offices in the United States, which helps cut down on shipping times.
Even if you have all of the necessary materials, you may still have to set up everything. This process can be completed in a few hours, but it could also take several days if you have to research the best way to grow marijuana plants.
2. Germination – 1 – 7 Days
If you have everything that you need, then your first step will be germination. This step must be done correctly so that your seeds can grow.
It usually takes about a day or two for the tap root to emerge from the seed once it has been germinated, regardless of whether the seeds were started in something like a quick rooter, on a paper towel, or directly in the soil.
If you did not germinate the cannabis seed immediately in the medium in which it will grow, you should wait until the root has developed to a length of 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3 to 5 mm) before planting it in a growing medium such as soil.
The plant will not begin to sprout and produce its initial set of leaves until a few more days have passed.
3. Rooting – 5 – 10 Days
If you are starting with clones, you do not need to worry about germination; however, before your clones or your starter plants can begin growing, you must get them to root. This process typically takes anything from 5 to 10 days to complete.
4. Vegging – 3 Weeks At Least But May Take Longer
When your seeds have germinated or when your clones have taken root, it is time to start growing your vegetation.
If you are growing cannabis indoors, this stage can take as long as you want (unless you are cultivating an auto-flowering strain), but you should let this stage happen for at least 3 weeks, no matter what seed or plant you’re growing.
Because you are the one who sends the signal to your plants (through the use of light) that it is ready to start blooming, this stage can continue for as long as you like while you are growing them indoors.
Outside, the lengthening nights signal to the plants that it is time to start producing flowers.
When you are inside, you should reduce the amount of time that the lights are on, bringing the total number of daylight hours down from 18 – 24 hours down to 12.
Or, if you are using an odd lighting pattern for vegetative growth, such as six hours of light followed by two hours of darkness, you can transition from that to a 12/12 plan.
So why should you leave this stage go on for at least three weeks, but ideally even longer?
Simply because your plants continue to develop in this time, possibly giving you a higher yield at the end.
If you remove them from the vegetative stage too early, they will be quite young, which will restrict the number of buds they can produce as well as their potential size.
Having said that, if you only have a small grow tent, it could make sense to keep them on the smaller side.
If you let the plants vegetate for a longer period, they will grow larger and will be able to produce a significantly greater number of buds.
Naturally, the size of the pots your plants are housed in, as well as the quantity and intensity of the grow lights, will all play a role in determining the maximum size your plants are capable of reaching.
You should also keep in mind that your plants will roughly double in size between the beginning of the flowering stage and the end of it.
This is an important fact to keep in mind as it can help you work out when to end this stage of the growing process.
You should end the vegging process when the plants are around half of the size you ultimately want them to be.
It is important to note that a low moisture content in the air might cause development to be stunted, which can result in prolonged vegging times; therefore, you may need to increase the humidity levels in your grow tent.
When you prune your marijuana plants, you also extend the amount of time they spend vegging.
5. Flowering – 5 – 16 Weeks (Depending On Strain)
When you turn your lights to a schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off, the blooming stage begins. This period lasts until harvest time. As was previously stated, the size of your plants will more than double throughout this stage of their development.
Various separate sub-stages can be found within the bloom stage of the life cycle, meaning that this stage is a bit harder to give an exact time for.
The strain you’re growing is the most important factor that plays a role in how long it takes a cannabis plant to mature to the point where it can be harvested.
The flowering period for sativa strains is typically longer, lasting anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks on average. Indica strains usually finish this stage after 7 to 9 weeks.
6. Post-Harvest – 3 – 7 Weeks
You will need to wait some time before you can light up after harvesting your cannabis. While you can smoke it straight away, we don’t really recommend it because it won’t be a quality product yet.
You should dry it as a bare minimum, but curing cannabis is the better option in almost all cases. The drying process typically takes between one to ten days, however, it is possible to complete it in four or five days.
The grassy odor and unpleasant flavor of dried buds can be eliminated by curing the cannabis beforehand.
Additionally, it lessens the intensity of the head rush that comes from smoking the buds, and it improves their ability to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, pain, or worry.
Cannabis grown with a photoperiod or auto-flowering cycle requires additional time for drying and curing. At the very least, your buds should be cured for two weeks, but ideally, they should be cured for at least a month.
How Can I Speed Up The Growing Process?
As you can tell, growing a cannabis plant can take a very long time. Still, you should never rush the process because doing so will result in lower yields of bud, and what you do get won’t be of very good quality.
However, you can speed up certain aspects of cannabis cultivation to ensure that you don’t waste any time.
The following is a list of some things you can do to increase the rate at which your marijuana plants grow, without sacrificing the quality of the final product.
Plant A Fast-Growing Weed Strain
As we said above, the type of marijuana you are growing will have the most bearing on the total amount of time it will take. You can significantly speed up the process by selecting a strain that is known for fast growth.
If you want to cut down on the total amount of time it takes to cultivate your pot, auto-flowering strains are almost always the way to go.
They begin to blossom considerably more quickly than other stains, and still produce a high-quality product in the end.
Spend Less Time Vegging
You might be able to move on from the vegging stage and start the flowering stage as soon as possible by switching to a light cycle of 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
While this may seem useful, ending the vegging stage too early will result in much smaller plants, which will then produce yields that are far lower than the plant can potentially provide.
Unless your goal is to have smaller plants because you lack space, we don’t really recommend you try this.
You might also keep your lights on continuously throughout the day. This has the effect of accelerating growth but at the expense of your plants’ health. This is not something we recommend either.
Use Clones Instead
Growing marijuana plants from clones rather than seeds is a little more efficient method because the clones have already reached a mature stage of development.
You have to wait for them to take root, but once they do, you will have a significant time advantage over if you had started with a seed.
Make A Vegging Room
You can double the number of times you harvest by cultivating the plants in one room and the flowers in another.
While one set of plants is going through the flowering stage and getting closer to being harvested, you can have the following group of plants growing in a different area.
After that, you can move them to the blooming stage as soon as the harvest from the group that is now flowering is complete.
Give Your Plants Everything They Need
If you provide your plants with the best possible conditions they need to live, not only will they grow more quickly, but they will also produce bigger buds faster.
To give them everything you need, you need to provide them with the appropriate lighting, a good growing medium, the right levels of water and nutrients needed for growth, and the perfect level of humidity in the grow tent in which they’re growing.
As you can see, the time frame for growing cannabis is a bit all over the place, as it depends on loads of variables and the specific growing conditions that’ve made for your plant.
In general, though, we can say that the average time for a cannabis plant to grow is anywhere from 3-5 months+.
While this is a very long time, there are a few things you can do to speed up this whole process. Growing a strain of cannabis that’s known for its rapid growth is the most effective step you can take to reduce the length of time between planting and harvesting.
As was said earlier, auto-flowering strains often have the quickest growth rates, however, any of these strains can be harvested rather quickly
Because some methods of speeding up plant growth, like decreasing the amount of time spent vegetating, will have a negative impact on production, it’s important to examine all of the available options very carefully when deciding how to grow your cannabis.
I’m an avid gardener and cannabis enthusiast. You can usually find me in my garden caring for my plants or at my computer crafting helpful blogs for my readers.