Before getting seeds or clones (small marijuana plants) in soil, cultivators should become familiar with the stages of marijuana plant growth and how to care for them. Generally, there are total four stages of the whole growth cycle of a cannabis plant: germination, seedling, vegetative and flowering.
The germination and seedling stages
The first two steps of the growth cycle are germination and seedling. Once the seeds or clones are in soil, growers should follow the best care practices for their plants. During these two stages, marijuana plants begin to sprout roots and develop leaves, which should be exposed to 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness.
The vegetative stage
During the vegetative stage, marijuana plants are the most fragile. Therefore, they should be moved to bigger containers to facilitate the growth of their roots and leaves. For three to sixteen weeks, marijuana plants should be exposed to 18 hours of soft light and 6 hours of darkness, in an environment with low humidity. 315 watt LED and fluorescent lights toward the end of the vegetative stage are recommended.
The flowering stage
The final stage of a marijuana plant's growth is flowering, during which time it starts to produce buds. This stage typically lasts between 8 and 11 weeks, and requires 12 hours of direct, intense light and 12 hours of darkness to mimic the conditions of fall. Growers can use lights close to 1,000 watts during this final stage.
When to harvest
Based on the opacity and color of their plants' trichomes, the microscopic hairs on cannabis buds, cultivators can determine when to harvest. Using a magnifying scope, you can observe the trichomes on the plants. At the onset of flowering, the trichomes will appear clear. As they mature, they become cloudy, and if they overripen, they will turn amber. To ensure the best quality and potency, it is recommended to harvest the crop when 10% of the trichomes have started to turn amber.