One of the most frequently asked questions by soon-to-be growers is: how long does it take to grow cannabis plants?
That’s a good one, to be honest.
Every cannabis grower should know how much time it takes to grow healthy, aromatic, and potent weed. How long it will take to grow cannabis largely depends on its genetics. Most cannabis varieties are photoperiod, meaning they switch to the flowering stage only when given a sufficient amount of lights-off time. Such strains grow 3–7 months until they’re ready for harvest.
Autoflowering strains, however, don’t care about the normal light cycle. Once they get to a certain age, they start to bloom flowers, which is the main reason why it takes less time to enjoy your yields from an autoflowering bud.
In this article, we’ll mostly focus on the photoperiod strains. We’ll cover each growth stage, preferred growing conditions, and different growth times for sativa, indica, and hybrid varieties.
How Much Time Do You Need to Fully Grow a Cannabis Plant?
If you want to understand how long it will take to fully grow a cannabis plant, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the plant’s growth cycle. The numbers we’re going to show you below are just ballpark figures, and the ultimate growth time of your strain may vary depending on specific conditions.
Here’s a quick rundown of each stage.
Seedling Stage (Germination)
This isn’t technically a stage, but seedlings are where the growth of your plant begins. During this stage, your main goal is to germinate the seeds. It may take anywhere from 1–5 days. If you’re growing clones, you can skip this stage and move straight to vegetation.
In the vegetative stage, your cannabis plant will grow its structural elements, i.e. stems and leaves. It’s up to the grower to decide on the time they will keep their plants in this phase, but the average period is between 4–8 weeks. Theoretically, the plant can start blooming as early as 3 weeks from germination. On a practical note, triggering the flowering stage too early may lead to having poor yields, as the plants will be too small to develop big buds.
The ultimate time your plants will need to stay in the vegetative stage depends on the amount of light you’re going to supply them with. The minimum is 13 hours of light, but most growers extend that period to 18+ hours to speed up the vegging process.
As the name suggests, this stage is when your plants begin to bloom flowers. In order to trigger the flowering stage, the grower switches to the 12/12 light cycle. During that time, the plants will need more dark hours, as this is when they begin to grow buds.
The first 3 weeks are also known as the transition phase because your crops will need some time to switch from the vegetative to flowering stage. Once there, they can need anywhere between 4–16 weeks to stretch, form buds, fatten, and ripen.
The amount of time your cannabis plant needs to stay in the flowering stage depends on its genetics. However, most cannabis strains have a medium flowering time, being ready to harvest after 8 to 12 weeks.
Well, that’s not technically a growth stage, either. During the harvest, you cut all your cannabis plants and prepare them for drying and curing.
Speaking of the devil…
Drying & Curing
Drying and curing your cannabis flowers enhances their density, potency, and aroma profile. This element can make or break the quality of your yields, so it’s best to prepare yourself well for the job. Drying and curing takes between 2–4 weeks.
Growth Time of Sativa Strains
If you want higher yielding plants and have enough patience to grow them, sativa is the way to go. They have a bit longer flowering period than indicas — about 10–12 weeks — and are better suited for outdoor settings due to their height. A sativa strain can grow up to 20 feet in the right outdoor conditions.
Growth Time of Indica Strains
For those seeking cannabis strains that grow more quickly while producing impressive yields, indica is the best choice. With a shorter-lasting flowering stage — about 8–10 weeks — growers often prefer them because they are a great fit for indoor spaces. Outdoor cultivators, in turn, can time several growing cycles before the weather becomes cold.
Growth Time of Hybrid Strains
Hybrids contain a mix of both indica and sativa genetics, so their growing time may vary depending on which way the genetics turn towards. However, hybrids tend to grow faster on average in the vegetative stage than sativa, and they also have a shorter flowering period than indica — about 6–10 weeks.
Since hybrids are a blend of both indica and sativa, growers often prefer to choose them because of the higher output and, of course, higher time-efficiency.
Final Thoughts on Growing Cannabis Plants
Growing cannabis plants may take 3–7 months on average, depending on the strain. However, this doesn’t mean that your yields will be ready for consumption right after the harvest. If you want to get the most out of your flower’s flavors, aromas, and potency, you need to take proper care about drying and curing them. Once the herb is dry enough, two weeks of curing in glass jars should help you achieve just the perfect quality of the end product.
Don’t be discouraged by the time it takes to fully grow a cannabis plant. Although 3–7 months may sound like an eternity, you’ll be well rewarded for your patience.
If you want to speed up the growing process, we recommend buying the seeds of autoflowering strains. The ability to automatically trigger the flowering stage not only makes growing cannabis faster but also easier, as you don’t need to manually transition your plants from vegetation to blooming.
How long did it take for you to grow your first cannabis plants? Were you happy with your yields?