Cannabis Seed Germination Diagram

The North American cannabis industry will be worth $47B by 2027. Here are the basics around the anatomy of a cannabis plant, and how they are grown. To know more about the different parts of the cannabis plant will facilitate cultivation and help us achieve better results. In this post we explain t Knowing how to care for your cannabis plants at each of the four distinctive stages of their life cycle will provide a healthy, productive garden.

The Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant, and its Lifecycle

By 2027, it’s projected that the legal cannabis market in the U.S. and Canada could hit $47.3 billion in size.

That will make it bigger than annual global sales for raw metals like nickel and silver put together. It would be a size that even exceeds the North American pork market.

But while almost everyone has a sense of the basic mechanics of mining or ranching, knowledge around the essentials of cannabis are understandably not as well ingrained in our culture.

Cannabis Plants 101

Today’s infographic comes to us from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it breaks down the anatomy of a cannabis plant, the differences between types of plants, and also the basics around cannabis cultivation.

Here are some of the more important things you need to know about the plant:

Plant Anatomy
Commercial cannabis comes from the female species, which have long skinny stems and large, iconic fan leaves. The plant is trimmed down into buds, which come together in a cola at the top of the stem.

Trichomes are a blanket of crystal resin coating the cannabis plant, and they contain both terpenes and cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids
The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD, which also occur in the largest volume.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known to cause psychoactive effects or the “high” felt from cannabis.
Effects: pain relief, anti-nausea, sleep aid, appetite and mood stimulant.

Cannabidiol (CBD) lacks nearly any psychoactive effect, making it preferred as a medicine.
Effects: pain relief, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, seizure reduction.

Other cannabinoids such as cannabichromene (CBC), cannbigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN), have similar therapeutic properties. Research is also validating the plant’s efficacy in treating medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s.

Terpenes
Terpenes are organic, aromatic compounds found in the oils of all flowers, including cannabis. Interestingly, these oils have their own independent medical potential that is waiting to be unlocked.

Cannabinoids and terpenes work in harmony, resulting in an “entourage effect” and enhances the medical properties of cannabis

Sativa, Indica, Hybrid
There are two common types of cannabis plants: sativa and indica.

Sativa plants have long and thin leaves that are lighter in color. Buds are long and wispy, and feature red or orange coloring. They tend to contain high THC and low CBD levels – optimal for daytime use, described as being energizing, stimulating, and creative.

Indica plants have leaves that are wide, broad, and deep in color. Buds are dense and tightly packed, featuring purple coloring. Indica usually contains medium levels of THC, and a higher amount of CBD. Its effects are often described as being relaxing and calming, which is more optimal for nighttime use.

It’s also worth noting that hybrid strains can often bring together the best qualities of both into one plant.

The Lifecycle of a Cannabis Plant

Every stage of growth of a cannabis plant needs different care:

1. Germination (Seed): 1-2 weeks
Seeds ready for germination are dark brown, hard, and dry. Encourage sprouting by watering seeds in a paper towel.

2. Seedling: 2-3 weeks
Move seeds into growing medium. Plants need the maximum light at this stage, and appropriate water levels. Cotyledon (seed leaves) and iconic fan leaves will grow.

Light: 18-24 hours
Humidity: 70%
Temperature: 20-25°C

3. Vegetative: 2-8 weeks
Plants need flowing dry air, fresh warm water, and increased nutrients – especially nitrogen. It’s important at this stage to separate male and female plants before pollination to prevent female plants producing seeds instead of trichomes.

Light: 12 hours sunlight (18 hours fluorescent light)
Humidity: 50%
Temperature: 20-24°C

4. Flowering: 6-8 weeks
Gradually reduce light exposure to produce medicinal qualities. Increase phosphorous levels and decrease nitrogen. Fertilizers can help stimulate bud formation.

Light: 12 hours
Humidity: 40-50%
Temperature: 20-28 °C

5. Harvesting
Trim and dry the buds. The plant is ripe when buds turn from milky white to reddish orange. Harvest once 70-90% of pistils are browned for maximized taste and effect.

Humidity: 50%
Temperature: 20-25°C

As the cannabis industry matures, consumers will demand the highest-quality products. Growing cannabis in a natural environment is increasingly vital to create a premium end-product.

In the next part of this series, we will dive into various growing methods and the benefits of organic methods on quality and effects of cannabis.

How to Make Quality Cannabis, and the Role of Organic Farming

California Cannabis: A Golden Opportunity With Unique Challenges

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Mapped: The Most Common Illicit Drugs in the World

Mapped: The Most Common Illicit Drugs in the World

What are the most commonly used illicit drugs around the world?

December 17, 2021

Mapped: The Most Common Illicit Drugs in the World

Despite strict prohibitory laws around much of the world, many common illicit drugs still see widespread use.

Humans have a storied and complicated relationship with drugs. Defined as chemical substances that cause a change in our physiology or psychology, many drugs are taken medicinally or accepted culturally, like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

But many drugs—including medicines and non-medicinal substances taken as drugs—are taken recreationally and can be abused. Each country and people have their own relationship to drugs, with some embracing the use of specific substances while others shun them outright.

What are the most common drugs that are considered generally illicit in different parts of the world? Today’s graphics use data from the UN’s World Drug Report 2021 to highlight the most prevalent drug used in each country.

What Types of Common Drugs Are Tracked?

The World Drug Report looks explicitly at the supply and demand of the international illegal drug market, not including commonly legal substances like caffeine and alcohol.

Drugs are grouped by class and type, with six main types of drugs found as the most prevalent drugs worldwide.

  • Cannabis*: Drugs derived from cannabis, including hemp. This category includes marijuana (dried flowers), hashish (resin), and other for various other parts of the plant or derived oils.
  • Cocaine: Drugs derived from the leaves of coca plants. Labeled as either cocaine salts for powder form or crack for cocaine processed with baking soda and water into rock form.
  • Opioids: Includes opiates which are derived directly from the opium poppy plant, including morphine, codeine, and heroin, as well as synthetic alkaloids.
  • Amphetamine-type Stimulants (ATS): Amphetamine and drugs derived from amphetamine, including meth (also known as speed), MDMA, and ecstasy.
  • Sedatives and Tranquilizers: Includes other drugs whose main purpose is to reduce energy, excitement, or anxiety, as well as drugs used primarily to initiate or help with sleep (also called hypnotics).
  • Solvents and Inhalants: Gases or chemicals that can cause intoxication but are not intended to be drugs, including fuels, glues, and other industrial substances.

The report also tracked the prevalence of hallucinogens—psychoactive drugs which strongly affect the mind and cause a “trip”—but no hallucinogens ranked as the most prevalent drug in any one country.

*Editor’s note: Recreational cannabis is legal in five countries, and some non-federal jurisdictions (i.e. states). However, in the context of this report, it was included because it is still widely illicit in most countries globally.

The Most Prevalent Drug in Each Country

According to the report, 275 million people used drugs worldwide in 2020. Between the ages of 15–64, around 5.5% of the global population used drugs at least once.

Many countries grouped different types of the same drug class together, and a few like Saudi Arabia and North Macedonia had multiple different drug types listed as the most prevalent.

But across the board, cannabis was the most commonly prevalent drug used in 107 listed countries and territories:

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Country or territory Most Prevalent Drug(s)
Afghanistan Heroin, opium
Albania Sedatives and tranquillizers (general)
Algeria Cannabis (general)
Argentina Cannabis (herb)
Australia Cannabis (general)
Azerbaijan Heroin
Bahamas Cannabis (herb)
Bahrain Cannabis (general)
Bangladesh Amphetamine
Belarus Opium
Belgium Cannabis (herb)
Bolivia Cannabis (herb)
Brunei Cannabis (herb)
Bulgaria Cannabis (herb)
Burkina Faso Cannabis (general)
Canada Cannabis (herb)
Central African Republic Cannabis (herb)
Chile Cannabis (herb)
China Methamphetamine
Costa Rica Cannabis (herb)
Côte d’Ivoire Cannabis (herb)
Croatia Heroin
Cyprus Cannabis (general)
Czech Republic Benzodiazepines
Dominican Republic Cocaine (powder)
Ecuador Cannabis (herb)
El Salvador Cannabis (herb)
Estonia Cannabis (herb)
Finland Cannabis (herb)
France Cannabis (hashish)
Georgia Cannabis (herb)
Germany Cannabis (herb)
Gibraltar Cannabis (hashish)
Greece Solvents and inhalants (general)
Guatemala Cannabis (herb)
Honduras Cannabis (herb)
Hong Kong Heroin, opium, opioids
Hungary Cannabis (herb)
Iceland Cannabis (general)
India Heroin
Indonesia Cannabis (herb)
Iran Opium
Ireland Cannabis (herb)
Israel Cannabis (herb)
Italy Cannabis (general)
Japan Methamphetamine
Jordan Cannabis (hashish)
Kenya Cannabis (herb)
Latvia Cannabis (herb)
Lebanon Cannabis (hashish)
Liechtenstein Cannabis (hashish)
Lithuania Sedatives and tranquillizers (general)
Luxembourg Cannabis (general)
Macao Methamphetamine
Madagascar Cannabis (herb)
Malaysia Methamphetamine
Malta Heroin
Mexico Cannabis (herb)
Moldova Cannabis (herb)
Mongolia Methamphetamine
Mozambique Cannabis (herb)
Myanmar Heroin
Netherlands Benzodiazepines
New Zealand Methamphetamine, solvent and inhalants
Nicaragua Cannabis (herb)
Nigeria Cannabis (herb)
North Macedonia Multiple types
Norway Cannabis (general)
Oman Opium
Pakistan Cannabis (hashish)
Panama Cannabis (herb)
Peru Cannabis (herb)
Philippines Cannabis (herb)
Poland Cannabis (herb)
Portugal Cannabis (general)
Qatar Cannabis (hashish)
Romania Cannabis (general)
Saudi Arabia Multiple types
Senegal Cannabis (herb)
Serbia Benzodiazepines
Singapore Methamphetamine
Slovenia Cannabis (general)
South Africa Cannabis (general)
South Korea Methamphetamine
Spain Cannabis (herb)
Sri Lanka Cannabis (herb)
Sudan Cannabis (herb)
Suriname Cannabis (herb)
Sweden Cannabis (general)
Switzerland Cannabis (herb)
Syrian Arab Republic Cannabis (hashish)
Tajikistan Heroin, opium
Tanzania Cannabis (herb)
Thailand Methamphetamine
Togo Cannabis (herb)
Trinidad and Tobago Cocaine (crack)
Tunisia Cannabis (general)
Turkey Cannabis (herb)
Turkmenistan Opium
U.S. Cannabis (herb)
UK Cannabis (herb)
Ukraine Opioids
Uruguay Cannabis (herb)
Uzbekistan Cannabis (herb)
Venezuela Benzodiazepines
Vietnam Heroin
Zambia Cannabis (herb)

How prevalent is cannabis worldwide? 72 locations or more than two-thirds of those reporting listed cannabis as the most prevalent drug.

Unsurprisingly these include countries that have legalized recreational cannabis: Canada, Georgia, Mexico, South Africa, and Uruguay.

How Common Are Opioids and Other Drugs?

Though the global prevalence of cannabis is unsurprising, especially as it becomes legalized and accepted in more countries, other drugs also have strong footholds.

Opioids (14 locations) were the most prevalent drugs in the Middle-East, South and Central Asia, including in India and Iran. Notably, Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, supplying more than 90% of illicit heroin globally.

Amphetamine-type drugs (9 locations) were the third-most common drugs overall, mainly in East Asia. Methamphetamine was the reported most prevalent drug in China, South Korea, and Japan, while amphetamine was only the most common drug in Bangladesh.

However, it’s important to note that illicit drug usage is tough to track. Asian countries where cannabis is less frequently found (or reported) might understate its usage. At the same time, the opioid epidemic in the U.S. and Canada reflects high opioid usage in the West.

As some drugs become more widespread and others face a renewed “war,” the landscape is certain to shift over the next few years.

Anatomy of the Cannabis plant

When it comes to cannabis, the part of the plant that gets all the attention is naturally the bit we’re all growing for: the flowers. But while it’s easy to be enamoured with the beautiful frosty flowers we shouldn’t overlook the rest, because behind the bud there’s a whole plant, with all its component parts, each playing an essential role in bringing us our precious harvest.

Here at Alchimiaweb we strongly believe that the more we know about our favourite plants, the more success we’ll have cultivating them, and the happier we’ll be with the results! For these reasons here we’re going to take a closer look at the cannabis plant and identify all the different elements of its anatomy to help you get to know this wonderful plant a little bit better.

1, male flower, enlarged detail; 2, pollen sac; 3, pollen sac; 4, pollen grain; 5, female flower with bract; 5, female flower, bract removed; 6, female seed cluster, longitudinal section; 7, seed with bract; 8, seed without bract; 9, seed without bract; 10, seed cross section; 11, seed longitudinal section; 12, seed without hull (Franz Eugen Köhler 1887)

The Cannabis seed

For most of us, our introduction to cultivation comes when we buy or are gifted some cannabis seeds for the first time, so let’s set out on our examination of cannabis anatomy starting with the seed.

A healthy, mature cannabis seed will be well-rounded in shape with one pointed end and one flat end. They have a tough outer casing that is rigid to the touch, preventing the seed from being easily crushed. A seam separates the two halves of the shell (also known as the hull or pericarp) and is where the seed opens during germination.

Depending on their genetics, seeds can vary greatly in size, from really tiny (800 seeds per gram) to absolutely massive (15 seeds per gram). In mature seeds the outer shell should be covered with attractive dark markings known as “tiger stripes” which, like snowflakes, are unique to each seed and are in reality a thin layer of cells coating the seed and can be rubbed off easily, revealing the true tan/beige colour of the seed beneath.

Detailed view of a cannabis seed

Inside the seed we will find the embryo of the plant, everything needed to start a new life, dormant until the right conditions of moisture and warmth are met. We have the root, or radicle as it’s known while still in the seed, the cotyledons, those first, fat, rounded embryonic leaves containing the seed’s food reserves for early development. Cannabis is a “dicot” plant, meaning it has two cotyledons. Situated in between the cotyledons, surrounded by the first two true leaves is the apical tip, the point from which the plant will continue growing once germinated.

Roots

When we germinate a cannabis seed, the first thing that emerges from the opened seed will be the tap root which will begin to grow downwards, seeking out moisture and nutrition and colonising the substrate. The root system has three main purposes, not only does it anchor the plant in the substrate, it provides it with water and the nutrients, and it also acts as storage for sugars and starches produced by photosynthesis. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the roots in cannabis cultivation, they really are the foundation upon which everything else is built, without healthy roots we won’t harvest beautiful flowers!

Roots themselves can be classified into three types. Firstly the tap root, which is the principal component of the root system, the subterranean counterpart to the plant’s main stem, pushing vertically downwards and shooting off branches as it grows. These branches are the second type, the fibrous roots, which branch off from the tap root, extending outwards to form an underground network approximately the same size as the aerial part of the plant. A third type of roots are known as adventitious roots, these are the thick roots that sometimes sprout from the stem just above ground. These are the roots that make it possible to reproduce plants by taking cuttings and cloning them.

Adventitious root growing from the stem of a clone

Cannabis plants grown from seed will start life with a tap root system that develops into a fibrous root system, while clones don’t have a tap root, starting instead with adventitious roots before developing a fibrous root system. In all cases, a root system needs an adequate balance of moisture and air to be healthy and if care and conditions are right we will be able to see thick, bright white roots with plenty of fine hairs when we transplant.

The root crown

The part of the plant where the roots and stem join is called the root crown, or sometimes collar, or neck. This is a vital part of the plant, the dividing line between upward and downward growth, where the vascular system switches from roots to stem, and one of the places in the plant where most cell division takes place.

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The root crown is naturally situated very close to the surface, where aeration is at its most, however some growers will transplant with the crown buried well below the surface, which encourages adventitious roots to sprout from the buried section of stem. It’s good way to deal with those leggy seedlings that stretched to get to the light and ended up too tall.

Stem and nodes

The stem of the cannabis plant is the part responsible for keeping the plant upright and for supporting the weight of the plant. It contains the vascular system which works to carry moisture and nutrients from the roots to the leaves via xylem cells, and to transport the sugars and starches produced via photosynthesis around the plant for use or storage via the phloem cells. Phloem is otherwise known as bast, the part of the cannabis or hemp plant that is traditionally harvested for fibre to make rope, canvas etc.

Cross section of stem showing a node

The stem, which can sometimes be hollow, is divided by nodes where the lateral branches begin, with the space between them being known as the internode. Seedlings will begin by growing opposite pairs of nodes and leaves but as time passes the nodes will start to grow alternately, sign the plant is mature and ready to flower.

Taller, stretchier Sativa plants will have a larger internode spacing than squat, compact Indica varieties, although environmental factors can also influence internode space. The nodes are where the first flowers appear (pre-flowers), so it’s the first place growers look when trying to determine the sex of plants grown from regular seeds. The small, narrow spear-like leaf growing at each node is called the stipule, and shouldn’t be confused with pre-flowers.

Nodes are one of the parts of the cannabis plant where most growth happens and most hormones are produced, for this reason we always cut clones with at least one node to be planted below ground in the substrate, so it can produce auxins (rooting hormones) to begin root development in the undifferentiated meristem cells of the node.

Leaves and petioles

Cannabis leaves are palmately compound (shaped like the open hand, with multiple parts), with anything from 3 to 13 veined, serrated leaflets or fingers. Indica varieties will generally have wider and shorter leaflets of a lush dark green colour, but fewer in number, while Sativas will have longer, narrower leaflets and can be of a lighter green shade. Of course, cannabis is a hugely diverse genus and there are exceptions to this rule, most notably the Ducksfoot variety, with its webbed leaves. Autoflowering varieties will tend to have smaller leaves, with the shape depending on the individual genetics, but as a general rule leaning more to the Indica side.

Leaf and structure comparison of the different cannabis species

A cannabis plant will have large and small fan-type leaves, which we remove and dispose of at harvest time, and also sugar leaves, which are the small, resin-covered leaves that protrude from the bud. These will either be trimmed away and kept aside for resin extraction, or simply left on the bud and smoked with the flowers.

Leaves from two different hybrids

As a seedling grows, each set of leaves has an increasing, odd number of leaflets, so the first set of leaves above the cotyledons will almost always have a single leaflet, the second pair will have three, the third will have five and the fourth will have seven leaflets, and so on until the plant reaches the usual number as dictated by its genetics.

The leaflets join at the point known as the rachis, from where they attach to the stem or branch by a leaf-stem known as the petiole. Petioles can be of varying length depending on the variety and can naturally vary in colour from green to dark purple, although in normally green plants a purple petiole can often be a sign of a phosphorous deficiency.

The fan leaves function both as solar panels and air conditioning for the plants, with the darker green upper side of the leaf producing energy via photosynthesis and the underside regulating internal processes via stomata, tiny pores that absorb the CO2 needed for photosynthesis and at the same time release water and oxygen. The stomata will close at night to conserve moisture and during the day will respond to heat and humidity levels, opening and closing to constantly balance internal moisture levels with external environmental conditions and keep metabolic functions working.

Flowers

Cannabis is dioecious, meaning the male and female reproductive organs are on different plants. Unless we’re planning on doing some home breeding and making seeds, we won’t be growing any male plants to full maturity, but it’s important to be able to identify them, even if we’re growing exclusively from feminised seeds, just in case.

Female pre-flowers on the left, male flower cluster on the right

The male, staminate flowers effectively resemble green balls on sticks, composed of five petals which open to reveal five pollen-producing stamens. They grow in long, loose bud clusters from internodes on the branch and once pollen is released the male plants will soon die off. Male flowers contain low levels of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Female pistillate flowers are formed of tight clusters of bracts, the small, teardrop-shaped green petals that we growers refer to as calyxes. Each bract or calyx contains the ovary and the pistillate hair or stigma, which is what growers call the pistil and is the part of the flower that catches airborne pollen. Once pollen lands on the stigma, it is transported down the pollen tube to the ovary where fecundation takes place and the seed is formed, filling and swelling the bract as it grows. The thick, white pistil or hair will shrivel and turn a brown or red colour one it has served its purpose. The seeds are usually mature after a further 4-6 weeks time.

Both cannabis flowers and leaves develop beautiful colours

After pollination, female plants will devote their energies towards seed production, at the expense of resin. This means that seeded buds will have lower levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, and is one of the main reasons we strive so hard to grow sinsemilla (seedless) flowers, quite apart from the awful taste of smoking a seed in a joint!

Trichomes

Trichomes clustered on a bud

Botanists are still unsure as to exactly why cannabis plants produce such a large quantity of trichomes, but most agree that they most likely have the function of protecting the flowers and developing seeds, whether from harsh UV light, insects, grazing animals or extremes of temperature.

Trichomes have two different basic types: Glandular and non-glandular, with the principal difference being that non-glandular trichomes grow without a trichome head or gland, having the appearance of small hairs and mainly developing on stems, leaves, petioles and to a lesser extent on the flowers themselves, while glandular trichomes are found mainly on the flowers and sugar leaves, and possess the resinous gland where the cannabinoids and terpenes are secreted.

Glandular trichomes under the microscope

Glandular trichomes are themselves divided into three main kinds, which are: bulbous, the smallest and least numerous; capitate-sessile, which are larger and grow low, close to the leaf surface; and finally capitate-stalked, which are the largest, most numerous trichomes, found in highest concentration on the flowers and those with the greatest cannabinoid content, appearing somewhat like a tall mushroom, with a long stem and a large, rounded head – the iconic image of a trichome.

As the flowers mature, the trichomes will change colour, starting out transparent, passing through a milky-white stage nearing maturity and going on to become amber coloured when fully mature. Different growers will harvest their flowers depending on personal taste and the effect they’re looking for, but on our blog you can read a useful guide to harvesting according to trichome ripeness, which will help you to bring your crop down at the optimum moment.

Hopefully after reading this you’re now a bit more familiar with the anatomy of the cannabis plant and will become a better grower as a result. Knowledge is power!

The articles published by Alchimiaweb, S.L. are reserved for adult clients only. We would like to remind our customers that cannabis seeds are not listed in the European Community catalogue. They are products intended for genetic conservation and collecting, in no case for cultivation. In some countries it is strictly forbidden to germinate cannabis seeds, other than those authorised by the European Union. We recommend our customers not to infringe the law in any way, we are not responsible for their use.

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From Seed to Harvest: The Life Cycle of Cannabis

Knowing how to care for your cannabis plants at each of the four distinctive stages of their life cycle will provide a solid baseline of knowledge and healthy, productive gardens.

It can take four to eight months to grow a cannabis plant. During this time, it goes through four distinct stages: germination, seedling, vegetative, and flowering. It is essential for cannabis growers to understand each stage in the life cycle so they can properly care for their plants. Each phase requires different nutrients, hours of light, and type of light. There are also different tasks that can help make each stage more successful.

Germination Stage

It all begins with a seed. If stored in cool, dark conditions, a cannabis seed can remain viable for years. The best seeds are hard and dry and will be light to dark brown in color. Underdeveloped seeds tend to be soft and either white or green. It’s very unlikely these seeds will germinate.

The seed lies dormant until it is exposed to warmth and moisture. You can germinate your seeds by planting them in a moistened seedling starter mix, covered with plastic and placed on a heat mat. It is important to use a seed-starting mix instead of potting soil.

There is enough nutrition in a seed to feed a sprout for about two to three weeks. Any additional fertilizer can burn your plants at this tender age. Once planted, a seed can take five to 10 days to sprout.

Once your seeds have sprouted, the two seedling leaves will be the first to appear. Place a fluorescent grow light about two inches from the top of your plants for 18 hours per day. You don’t need a powerful light for them in the beginning. When the true leaves appear, your little plants can officially be considered a seedling.

Seedling Stage

The seedling stage of a cannabis plant can last three to six weeks.
The seedling stage of cannabis plant lasts three to six weeks, depending on environmental factors and the strain you’re growing.

During this time, your seedlings are focusing their energy on growing roots and foliage. Because the roots are so small, be careful not to overfeed or overwater. Use a fertilizer high in nitrogen and be sure to dilute it so you don’t harm your plants.

Fluorescent lights still work well at this point. Set your timer so the lights are on for 18 hours and off for six.

Seedlings are susceptible to pests and disease at this age, so this is a good time to apply a preventative neem oil treatment. It’s much easier to prevent spider mites and powdery mildew than to treat them while your plants are so young. If they do get infested or infected at this age, the stress on your plants will likely produce a smaller harvest down the line.

Vegetative Stage

The vegetative stage of a cannabis plant can last one to four months.
After a few weeks as seedlings, your cannabis plants will outgrow their starter pots and start demanding more food and light. The roots and foliage grow rapidly during this stage, which allows the plant to take in more nutrients and carbon dioxide. Don’t be surprised if your plant shoots up two inches in one day!

If you don’t already know, this is when you’ll be able to identify whether you are growing an indica or sativa. Indicas tend to be short and bushy, while sativas are lanky with less foliage.

You will also be able to identify the sex of your plants. About four weeks into the veg cycle, pre-flowers start to appear. By six weeks in, you should be able to determine whether those new buds are male or female. Most growers remove the males from their garden, so they don’t pollinate the females and cause seeds to form.

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When growing indoors, the vegetative stage can last one to four months, or even indefinitely in the case of mother plants. You control the length of this phase by the number of hours of light you give your plants. As long as they receive 18 hours, they will remain in this stage.

During the vegetative stage, you’ll need to trade in your fluorescent lights for a metal halide or powerful LED. This blue light mimics the light in spring and sends the message to grow roots and foliage to prepare for the flowers.

If you haven’t already, transplant your cannabis into larger pots and start feeding them more. As they grow, be mindful you will need to increase the PPM of your nutrient solution and transplant them into larger pots as needed.

At this age, your plants need high levels of nitrogen and modest amounts of phosphorus and potassium. Silicon is also beneficial at this stage because it helps to build strength in the stalk and stems, which you’ll need to support those big buds that will soon grow.

As your plants grow taller and fill out, you’ll need to start pruning and training them. This focuses their energy on growing large colas, opens up the plant so light can reach all the leaves, and prevents fungal diseases by increasing air flow.

The general rule of thumb is to flip the lights to 12/12 and trigger the bloom cycle when your plants are about one third of the size you want them to be at harvest.

Flowering Stage

The flowering stage lasts six to 10 weeks, depending on the strain you’re growing.
You imitate autumn in your garden when you reduce the light to 12 hours on and 12 hours off, and switch to a red high-pressure sodium bulb. This triggers your cannabis plants to start blooming so they can procreate before they die at the end of the season.

The flowering stage lasts six to 10 weeks, depending on the strain you’re growing. During this time, dense buds covered in a sweet-smelling, sticky resin will form on your plants. This resin is where the THC and terpenes are, and so growers do whatever they can to grow the stickiest colas possible.

Your fertilizing schedule will change during this stage. Start feeding your plants minimal amounts of nitrogen, moderate amounts of potassium, and high amounts of phosphorus. This is the time to add bloom boosters and sugars to your regimen.

Be on the lookout for nutrient deficiencies or toxicities during this phase. Brown leaf tips can signal nutrient burn, while yellowing leaves may indicate a nutrient deficiency. It is normal, however, for the lower leaves to turn yellow towards the end of the flowering cycle, when your plants feed on themselves for more efficient nutrition.

Keep feeding your plants until about 10 days before harvest, and then stop fertilizing and flush your crop. This clears your plants of excess nutrients and is crucial to making sure your end product is smooth instead of harsh.

As your buds grow large and dense, environmental conditions and poor air flow can cause bud rot. If you don’t catch it in time, you can lose all of your plants. Keep a close eye on your buds as harvest time approaches. Inspect your buds often and harvest immediately if you see signs of rot. If you catch it early, you can cut the rot out of your buds and salvage most of your crop. You’ll know your cannabis is ready to harvest when the pistils, or the hairs, turn the color of rust and the resin changes from clear to a milky white.

If you understand the life cycle of cannabis, you’ll be able to care for your plants the right way in each stage of their life and anticipate problems before they occur. You’ll be a better grower and have top shelf smoke to prove it.