You can observe the quality of the seed by its color and texture. The seed should feel hard and dry, and be light- to dark-brown in color. An undeveloped seed is generally squishy and green or white in color and likely won’t germinate.
The first stage of life for a cannabis plant begins with the seed. At this point, your cannabis plant is dormant, patiently waiting for water to bring it to life.
Buds typically grow the most toward the end of the flowering cycle, around week 6-7. You probably won’t notice much budding out at the beginning of flower, and it will slow down toward the end of the cycle, when buds become fully formed.
Light cycle: 12 hours of light
Trevor is a freelance writer and photographer. He has spent years in California working in the cannabis industry.
The flowering stage is the final stage of growth for a cannabis plant. Flowering occurs naturally when the plant receives less than 12 hours of light a day as the summer days shorten, or as the indoor light cycle is shortened. It is in this stage that resinous buds develop and your hard work will be realized.
To begin growing from a seed, learn more about germination here. This stage can take anywhere between 5-10 days.
Cannabis plants are considered seedlings until they begin to develop leaves with the full number of blades on new fan leaves. A healthy seedling should be a vibrant green color. Be very careful to not overwater the plant in its seedling stage—its roots are so small, it doesn’t need much water to thrive.
Once the buds have reached full maturation, it’s time to harvest.
It’s important to understand the changes a growing cannabis plant undergoes during its life cycle, as each stage of growth requires different care.
You will know the time to transplant your seedling to a larger grow medium when you start seeing signs of its developing root base. Chances are your seedlings will be growing in individual, small pots. As their roots grow they will start to exit out the holes in the bottom of these pots. This shows that they need more room and are ready to be moved. Be very careful transplanting them though, roots are very fragile and any damage can have very serious implications into your cannabis plants’ ongoing health.
The seedling stage is usually over when you start getting leaves with their maximum amount of fingers. Other indications will include a stem with a thickness of around 4-6mm and a height of around 3-4 nodes. During this stage the seedling will also try and develop a strong root base, this will allow for strong future development and nutrient intake. Depending on where you grow, the seedling stage can take roughly 2-3 weeks indoors and 4-6 weeks outdoors.
Some cannabis growers use HID lighting for their seedlings. HID lights produce a much better quality of light for growing cannabis, leading to stronger, healthier plants. The offset is that they produce a lot more heat – something your marijuana seedlings are very vulnerable too. For this reason it is important to make sure your lights are at the correct height above your plants. Start by having your HID lights 80cm above your plants, lowering them by 5cm each day until you are in the region of 40-60cm (depending on the wattage of your bulbs). Also, always perform the ‘hand test’ to see if things are getting a bit to hot.
As an extra tip, it is usually advisable to set up a small, weak fan to blow on at your seedlings. This will help them gain fresh air and encourages strong growth. It does this by giving the plant something to resist. As the fan blows at your cannabis plants, your seedlings will recognize that they need to put extra effort into growing and developing their structural integrity to withstand possible future sources of resistance.
Generally speaking, seedlings are pretty self sufficient. However, as stated in our germination article, using a seedling/germination soil is recommended. This will have the finer, small amounts your cannabis seedlings can use. You should note, cannabis seedlings are extremely vulnerable to overfeeding, any excess will cause root burn, killing off your plants.
During the seedling stage, most cultivators will use an 18/6 photoperiod. It is also possible to do a 20/4 period, with some cultivators going as far as using a 24/0 period to really boost growth.
The seedling stage of cannabis follows on from germination. You will be able to tell when it has begun when your shoots start to develop a second set of leaves. These will look different to the embryonic cotyledons. They will be bigger, with a long serrated edge – a look that is much more associated with cannabis plants. However, these new leaves will only have one “finger”, instead of the 5 or 7 normally seen in adult leaves.
After this your cannabis plants will start to grow a third set of leaves, these will tend to have three fingers. This will be followed by more and more leaves, with each one beginning to resemble the expected cannabis leaf shape more and more. As mentioned, the most common and expected is a 5 or 7 finger leaf, but do not be surprised if you end up with 9 or even 11 fingers!
In terms of color-band, it is best to go for a bulb within the blue spectrum. This will encourage strong and healthy stem and leaf growth.
The seedling stage of cannabis plants follows on from germination. Read more about the nutrition they need and the kind of light they prefer.