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seed to flower cannabis

For repotting, discontinue the plastic wrap when the third set of leaves appear. When you see that the roots have reached the bottom of the cups, it’s time to repot the little darlings into the eight-ounce cups. In my experience, the plants do better stepping up to the bigger cup instead of going directly into three-quart pots. Repotting can be tricky, so take your time here. The plants shock easily with too much jostling or rough handling. Get the larger cups ready, poke the drain holes and fill with enough soil mix so the seedlings will be at the same depth as in the first cups. Before removing from the smaller cups, lightly water them so everything stays together.

How to Grow Your Own Cannabis Plants From Seeds

Takeaway: Back in the last millennium, before cloning swept the country like the hula hoop, people actually grew cannabis plants from seed. Primitive, huh? But where there’s a will, they’ll surely find a way. While that’s all changed now (hello, cloning!) you can only clone so many times before you have to buy more plants or get back to basics with seeds.

Growing from seed is all about the quality of your seeds. Plants will never be better than the seeds they grew from. Back in the day, there weren’t any seed shops, so seeds were saved from exceptional buds, but it was all a crapshoot with a lot of trial and error. Luckily, now we know better.

Starting from seed isn’t difficult and you don’t need to be an experienced gardener, but the process is a journey in stages, not a direct flight. Cannabis plants are perfect for growing from seed because they have a short life cycle. That being said, be prepared to check your plants every day for moisture, insects, diseases, nutrient deficiencies and light. If you can’t make the time and work commitment, perhaps you should forget the idea. Here’s my list of what I used for my first grow. Nothing high-tech—my grow room was a walk-in closet with louvered doors and a clothes bar to hang my lights.

  • A four-foot table or two sawhorses with plywood on top
  • A piece of thick plastic or a waterproof tablecloth for spill protection
  • Potting soil for seedlings
  • Clean sand
  • Seeds (of desired strain if purchasing)
  • Five-gallon pail for mixing soil
  • A four-foot shop light with chains and S hooks
  • One full-spectrum red fluorescent grow light
  • One regular white fluorescent tube bulb
  • Light timer
  • Five-ounce opaque drink cups
  • Eight-ounce drink cups
  • pH kit
  • Plant flats or trays
  • Plastic kitchen wrap

Best Lighting for Cannabis Seedlings

If you’re on a budget, fluorescents offer the biggest bang for your buck when getting light to you cannabis seedlings. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of electricity and bulb replacement. To make sure all my plants got an equal amount of light, I turned the trays 180 degrees every day. I especially liked the ease of raising the shop light one link at a time as the plants grew. You can maximize your light by using a room with white walls or surrounding your grow table with movable reflecting foil-covered cardboard or hanging sheets of Mylar—mirrors don’t work well for reflecting light.

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Germinating Cannabis

Mature cannabis seeds are dark brown, sometimes with swirly patterns or stripes. Discard immature pale or greenish-colored seeds. I’ve never started seeds in soil, preferring the Japanese method of “proving” seeds first; there’s no sense planting dud seeds. I germinated my seeds in a moistened, loosely rolled up paper towel on a plate in indirect light on the kitchen counter where I could keep an eye on progress. Keep the paper towel moist, but not lying in a puddle of water or the seeds will rot.

Some seeds germinate in a couple of days, while some take up to a week, depending on their temperature. It’s helpful to know that the seeds will produce male and female plants. Back in the Dark Ages, I always started 16 cups of seeds in hope of ending up with four females. That’s no longer a problem if you can buy feminized seeds, which are guaranteed to be females. I planted two sprouted seeds about one inch apart per cup because frequently one seedling will be bigger and stronger than the other. Go with the bigger one and pinch off the smaller one at the soil level.

The beauty of starting seedlings in the opaque cups is that you can see the root growth. Poke some drainage holes around the cup bases. It’s quicker to do the drain holes with the cups in a stack. As you finish each cup, slip it in the other end of the stack or you’ll waste crumpled up cups. Mix the potting soil with enough sand to give the fluffy soil more body. Add water gradually, mixing well to moisten.

Fill the cups with the soil mix and tap each cup a couple of times on the table to eliminate air pockets. Add more soil if needed, tap it down again to leave a half-inch space between the top of the soil and the rim of the cup. Repeat until all the cups are filled. Set up your grow table and lights. Ready? The table is all set. The lights are on. The cups are shoulder to shoulder in rows, waiting to fulfill their roles.

Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings

My tools of choice for planting were a small wooden matchstick and a wooden toothpick. I made two small holes with the clean end of the match about one quarter inch deep and a half inch apart and not too close to the side of the cup. I picked out two sprouted seeds at a time from the paper towel, careful not to touch the sprout, and dropped them into the match holes and used the tip of a toothpick to scuff soil into the holes, then lightly tamped the spots with one finger. Keep the remaining sprouted seeds covered so they don’t dry out. Repeat until all the cups are planted.

Put as many cups that fit into shallow flats or trays and then drape a long piece of kitchen plastic wrap over everything, tucking the ends under the trays to create a mini greenhouse. When this step is finished, the plants get to sunbathe under the lights for the next six weeks or so of the seedling phase.

In a few days, two primary leaves will appear and you can do your happy dance. Soon the next pair of leaves will appear and the first ones will drop off. If condensation forms under the plastic wrap, uncover the seedlings to release the excess moisture and then replace with fresh wrap. During the seedling phase, keep the soil moist but not wet and only water from the bottom from so the roots stretch down long and strong.

Water with a spray bottle until the first leaves appear, and then water from the bottom; the soil around the stem needs to stay dry to avoid stem rot. Fill pitchers or buckets with tap water and let sit uncovered until room temperature and the chlorine has evaporated into the air. Hard water is fine, but don’t use artificially softened water because it contains too much salt and other harmful additives.

I’m an organic gardener. While I don’t object to a little bloom booster to convince some reluctant annuals to step it up, I want everything that goes in my body to be as natural as possible. Plants need nitrogen to grow. When I had access to a mountain of free rotted horse manure, I fertilized with manure tea.

Throw a shovelful of manure in a bucket, fill with water, let it sit a couple of days and water with the tea. It worked fine for me. There are “hot” manures and “cold” manures. Hot manures have the highest nitrogen, but have to be aged. Cold cow manure has lower nitrogen but can be used hot out of the barn. Rabbit manure is cold, but some growers call it nitrogen on steroids. If slogging around in barnyards doesn’t appeal to you, you could use fish or seaweed emulsions or any of the other excellent natural fertilizers available at your local hydroponics supplier.

Check your soil pH regularly. Plants grown in soil like a pH about 7. If your soil drops below 6, add a light sprinkling of ground limestone before watering. If the soil is above 8—too alkaline—sprinkle around a concoction of cottonseed meal, lemon peels and ground coffee.

For repotting, discontinue the plastic wrap when the third set of leaves appear. When you see that the roots have reached the bottom of the cups, it’s time to repot the little darlings into the eight-ounce cups. In my experience, the plants do better stepping up to the bigger cup instead of going directly into three-quart pots. Repotting can be tricky, so take your time here. The plants shock easily with too much jostling or rough handling. Get the larger cups ready, poke the drain holes and fill with enough soil mix so the seedlings will be at the same depth as in the first cups. Before removing from the smaller cups, lightly water them so everything stays together.

Tip the cup upside down in your open hand with the seedling stem between your fingers. Gently squeeze the sides of the cup with your other hand and the seedling will drop out in one piece. Don’t pull it out by the stem! Place the seedling in its new home, filling around it with more soil, and make sure it isn’t deeper or shallower than in the smaller cup. This is important. Compress the soil lightly for any air pockets.

Entering the Vegetative Stage

During the vegetative phase, leave the lights on 24/7 and as close to the leaves as possible without touching. If the lights are too high, the stems will grow weak and spindly. You want the plants to remain compact. When your plants really take off, they may grow an inch a day. Keep a sharp eye on the distance between the tops of the plants and the lights. Fluorescents are cool and won’t burn the leaves, but keep adjusting your lights upwards to stay ahead of the growth.

Rotate your plants so they all get enough light. When plants are starting to bud, rough handling or a sudden change in temperature or light will drive them into shock. When you see your plants are beginning to outgrow the cups, it’s time to pot up again, this time to three-quart containers commonly found at nurseries. Always wash used pots in hot soapy water before reusing.

Sexing

Toward the end of the vegetative and budding phase, you’ll be able to sex your plants. Males have two pollen-filled sacs that are easy to see and females have a pair of white V-shaped hairs. One male plant is enough to pollinate all your females so they produce seeds. I didn’t grow for seeds, so I quickly yanked all the male plants. Male plants are low in THC, are harsh-tasting and give many people a massive headache. Unpollinated females produce more flowers, buds and THC.

For even more plants, remove the unproductive lower stems and leaves on your plants, and then make two or three shallow downward slices on the main stem with a clean blade and insert a graft slip dipped in root stimulant in each cut. Put a small piece of tape around the cuts. The grafts can be other varieties, not just the same as the host plant. Soon you’ll have new growth from all your grafts, giving you maximum yields.

Seed to flower cannabis
A good rule of thumb…

How Long Does It Take to Grow Weed Indoors?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from curious soon-to-be indoor cannabis growers: How long does it really take to grow weed? What’s the growing timeline?

It’s actually a really good question! Every new marijuana grower should know how much work they’re signing up for! The short answer is…

The Average Indoor Grow Takes 3-5 Months

The long answer is: from Day 1 of your weed plant’s life to actually smoking your harvest, it can take… 8 weeks – 7+ Months! That’s a huge range, right?

That’s why most cannabis growers won’t give you a straight answer. The truth is, there are many factors will affect the total time until you have ‘ready’ buds, by days, weeks or even months. This includes your strain, your setup, and how big you plan to grow your plants (bigger plants need more time!). So instead of giving you a huge range, an easier-to-swallow answer might be to say that the average grow takes 3-5 months for indoor growers.

This includes the time needed to grow your cannabis plant from seedling to harvest plus an additional 2 weeks (or more) which is used to cure your cannabis buds after harvest (making them more potent and better smelling).

Additionally, for at least the first time you grow, you also need to consider the time needed to get your equipment and seeds/clones.

This article will give you the total time breakdown, so you can plan out the details of your grow in order to achieve the harvest times you desire:

Ultimately, How Long to Harvest Marijuana Depends on the Desired Yields, Strain and Grow Style

Today I will show you how to plan your grow so it takes the amount of time you want!

Jump to the Section of the Tutorial You’re Interested in:

  1. Before You Start Growing Weed (0-4 weeks) – Get seeds and supplies so you’re set to start growing!
  2. Time Needed to Grow Weed, From Seedling to Harvest (8 weeks – 5+ months)
  • Germinate Your Seeds (1-7 days) – Learn about fail-proof methods to germinate perfectly in soil/coco or hydro.
  • Vegetative Stage (3 weeks – 8+ weeks) – In the vegetative stage, the cannabis plants are growing just stems and leaves. On average, most indoor growers vegetate their plants for 4-8 weeks. Seedlings are able to start flowering as early as 3 weeks from germination, but the resulting plants will be tiny. Most growers choose to let plants vegetate for longer because giving them more time to grow results in bigger plants, which tend to produce bigger yields as long as you have enough light to cover all the bud sites. That being sa >If you choose the right strain, you could be smoking your own buds as soon as 3 months from germination!

    Before You Start Growing Weed

    Total preparation time needed: 0 days – 4 weeks

    Here’s the breakdown…

    Get equipment: 0 days – 2 weeks
    This includes purchasing your equipment and/or waiting for it to show up in the mail. Once you have your marijuana growing supplies, you’ll need to setup your growing area and equipment. Depending on how you purchase your equipment and how quickly you setup, you could be ready the same day or in two weeks (after factoring in shipping time).

    Check out examples of new grower shopping lists to learn exactly which supplies you’ll need.

    Get seeds or clones: 0-4 weeks:
    If you have instant access (like knowing a grower, or ordering seeds from a seed bank in your country), this should take only a little time. If you order from a seed bank overseas (especially US residents), expect a wait of about 1-4 weeks to get seeds.

    Time Needed to Grow Weed, From Seedling to Harvest

    Total growing time needed: 8 weeks – 5+ months

    Here’s the breakdown…

    Seedling Stage
    Germinate your seeds: 1 – 7 days
    Seedlings can sprout in as little as a day, but by 3-5 days they should be good to go. If you have access to clones, you can skip this wait.

    Learn my fail-proof method to germinate your seeds in soil/coco or hydro.

    Vegetative Stage
    Vegetative Stage: 3 weeks – 2+ months.
    The length of this stage is a matter of personal preference. Most cannabis plants need at least 3 weeks in the vegetative stage before they will start making flowers, but after that you get to choose how long your plant spends in this stage (unless using an auto-flowering strain), because you’re the one to ‘flip the switch’ and get your plant to enter the next life stage: flowering.

    When you start with a seed, even with an auto-flowering plant, you will always have at least 2-3 weeks of vegetative growth before any buds start forming no matter what you do. Growers generally allow their plants to stay in the vegetative stage from a few weeks to a few months.

    The size your plant achieves in the vegetative stage has a very large effect on your final yields since bigger plants produce more bud sites than smaller plants. However, you need enough light to cover all the bud sites or they will never develop properly. Light is like food for bud growth!

    These vegetating plants are about 4 weeks old from germination

    To give you an idea as to what your FINAL marijuana plant may look like depending on how long it spends in the vegetative stage…

    This plant didn’t spend any time in the Vegetative Stage. It was given 12-12 lighting almost immediately after sprouting. It’s so small that it spent its whole life in a solo cup, and its only light came from CFLs. I weighed down the bottom of the cup so it didn’t fall over. It ended up yielding about 0.75 oz.

    These auto-flowering plants spent about 3 weeks in the vegetative stage before they automatically started flowering, and were ready to harvest just 5 weeks later. They were about a foot tall at harvest and yielded approximately 2 ounces each. Read the step-by-step tutorial to grow plants exactly like this.

    This marijuana plant spent about 6 weeks in the vegetative stage before being changed over to flowering and yielded just over 6 ounces at harvest. View the complete grow journal with instructions on how to grow your plant so it looks just like this at harvest!

    These cannabis plants were vegetated for about 8 weeks before being flipped to the flowering stage. Although they were grown in the exact same conditions from seed to harvest, their final heights are remarkably different because their strains had vastly different genetics. The smaller plant produced 6.6 ounces, while the big plant produced 9.3 ounces. Strain can make a big difference! Learn about growing different strains together.

    These cannabis plants were vegetated for about 9 weeks before being flipped, in the exact same setup as above, and produced over 10 ounces each. Besides an extra week of veg, the biggest difference between this grow and the one above was simply the strains.

    This human-sized plant (one of my very first plants) spent a little more than 3 months in the vegetative stage before I realized I needed to turn it over to the flowering stage. It then spent another 12 weeks in the flowering stage before it was ready to harvest because it was a long-flowering strain. It got way too tall for its space (taller than me!) and started falling over. However, despite the huge size and more than 5 months of growth, it only ended up yielding about 6 ounces. This is because it was under weak CFL grow lights. Though there was a lot of buds, the lack of strong light made them airy, without a lot of weight. Click the picture for a close-up. ?

    Some people put their seedlings or clones right into the flowering stage if they want to harvest quickly though this makes for extremely small plants. For example, super-stealth growers who are growing in small hidden spaces – like out of a computer case – would want to put their seedlings into flowering nearly right away to keep their plants as small as possible. It’s also important to remember that container size and grow lights make a big difference. Small containers constrain the roots and keep plants from getting as big as they could, and small lights prevent buds from fattening up as much as they could.

    I personally recommend at least 4 weeks in the vegetative stage with 18+ hours of light each day for the best results. Plants that are forced to start flowering sooner than 4 weeks don’t yield much compared to how much work you put in. That being said, keeping plants relatively small does have some benefits!

    A good rule of thumb…

    Your plant will likely double in size (maybe a bit less, maybe more) from when you first put it into the flowering stage; this is known as the Flowering Stretch. So make sure you end the vegetative stage before your plant reaches half the final height you want, or your cannabis plants may outgrow your grow space during the flowering stage!

    Flowering Stage
    Flowering Stage: 5 weeks – 16+ weeks

    Here’s the breakdown…

    • Week 1-3 – Transition to Flowering
    • Week 3-4 – “Budlets” Form
    • Week 4-6 – Buds Start Fattening Up
    • Week 6-8 – Buds Ripen, Pistils Darken – some strains spend longer in this stage
    • Week 8-12+ – Flowering Ends, Final Flush, Harvest

    The length of time needed to stay in the flowering stage depends heavily on the strain. Once you have switched your plant into the flowering stage they will stretch (the ‘flowering stretch’), form buds and then fatten.

    Here’s a list of some of my favorite and best cannabis strains by length of flowering period:

    Short (6-8 weeks)

    • Northern Light – Known for being especially easy to grow
    • Critical Mass CBD – High-yielding, medical, high-CBD, medium-THC strain
    • Quick Critical + – Based on their award-winning Critical+ strain but with a much faster finish
    • Blue Cheese – This version of Blue Cheese is not only fast flowering, the plants grow fast and should be flowered when the plant is only 1/3 the final desired size because it may triple in height after the switch. This shaves extra time off the vegetative stage. Great effects!
    • Frisian Dew – One of the best strains for outdoor growing (and buds may turn pink or bright purple!)
    • Shiskaberry – A gem by Barney’s Farm, this strain “lifts you up” and causes a strong “head high” that can be a great way to relax after a tough day, or for when you want to get in a creative mood.
    • Seedsman Fast Collection – Seedsman sells seeds from a variety of breeders, but they also breed their own strains. They created a selection of 3 of their most popular “fast” strains that need about 6-7 weeks in the flowering stage. Anything that’s been bred by Seedsman is a great choice, and you will get exactly what they describe (very reliable strains).
    • Auto-flowering Ultimate – One of the most potent auto-flowering strains I’ve grown so far, ready in about 10 weeks from germination (7 week flowering stage) and just overall a healthy and high-yielding plant. I plan on growing another one in my next auto-flowering grow!
    • In fact, if you’re interested in a very short flowering time, most auto-flowering strains are ready to harvest less than 3 months from seed.

    Frisian Dew plant growing outdoors with deep purple buds

    Medium (8-12 weeks)

    • Original Amnesia – Strong effects and very easy to grow. View grow journal
    • Supreme CBD Durban – Medical strain, has a THC:CBD ratio of 1:1
    • Pineapple Chunk – An award-winning strain that’s fruity, vigorous and potent! Its yields are not necessarily the highest, but I believe it’s worth it for the extremely high quality of buds. One of my favorite strains I’ve grown, and I definitely plan to grow it again!
    • Liberty Haze – An award-winning strain that’s curiously strong and one of the few “haze” cannabis strains that doesn’t take forever to finish flowering. Good yields!
    • Gelat.OG – An amazingly well-done cross between Gelato and OG Kush, which are two extremely popular strains in the US on the west coast. Finishes on the faster side, yet has great yields, potency and smell!
    • Wedding Gelato – Another beautiful Gelato cross, this time with the famous Gelato 33 clone (a very specific cut of Gelato), with Wedding Cake (which has taken the west coast by storm in the last few years).
    • Strawberry Lemonade – As pleasant as it sounds, with high potency and uplifting effects. Also is typically very easy to grow.
    • Gorilla Zkittlez – Another west coast favorite, this is produces beautiful buds that are covered in crystals/trichomes and is also very high yielding.
    • Peyote Critical – This strain seems to get rave reviews from everyone who tries it. Buds produce powerful effects and occasionally the buds even turn purple.

    Long: (12-14+ weeks)

    • Many Haze strains, as well as some Sativa strains, and generally any strains that originated near the equator.
    • Arjan’s Ultra Haze #1 – A cross between some of the best Haze strains in Southeast Asia. If you want to try something different that is almost impossible to find in the US or Europe, this is it! It produces psychedelic effects that defy its cannabinoid content. May be too intense for some people!

    In general, most strains (besides auto-flowering strains) are in the medium range as far as how long they take to flower.

    It’s not exact – There’s a 2-3 week harvest window for most plants, and keeping your plants in the flowering stage for a bit longer tends to increase your yields. This is because the plants tend to really bulk up their flowers once they’ve become ‘ripe’.

    So often times, even though you could harvest at the shortest recommended time, waiting an extra week or two will give you an extra 10-30% more yield compared to harvesting as early as possible.

    Utopia Haze is a mix of Brazilian landrace strains

    Post-Harvest (before you smoke you should do this stuff too)

    Total post-harvest time needed: 2.5 weeks – 1.5+ months

    Drying: 4 – 10 days
    Good marijuana buds can be dried in as little as 4 days, but ideally, drying should be a slow process taking up to a week or more. Making sure your plants have been thoroughly dried (but not over-dried) will lower chances of mold during the curing process.

    Curing: 2 weeks – 1+ months
    Curing really seems to make the effects of buds feel less ‘speedy’ and be better suited to medical applications like treating anxiety, reducing pain, and improving feelings of depression.

    Additionally, curing gets rid of any ‘cut grass’ smell, harsh taste and other undesirable traits of some freshly dried buds. Over time with proper curing, those traits will be replaced by the ‘real’ smell and potency profile of your buds.

    Two weeks is considered the minimum time to cure your buds, but I personally cure all my buds for a month or even a bit longer because the buds continue to improve for several more weeks.

    So, after you’ve bought seeds and equipment, grown a plant from seed to harvest, trimmed, dried and cured your buds, that brings us back to the original answer…

    Total Time to Grow (and Be Ready to Use) Your Own Weed:
    8 weeks – 5+ Months

    Average Time to Grow (and Be Ready to Use) Your Own Weed:
    3 – 5 months

    If you haven’t started growing your own weed yet, today is the day!

    New Grower Shopping Lists – What You Need to Get Started

    How to Grow a Pound of Cannabis – Step-by-Step Instructions from Seed to Harvest

    7 Tips for Growing Top-Shelf Buds – How to Grow Better Cannabis than the Dispensary!