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Reading time - 8 minutes - November 3, 2022
Whether you are a fan of vaping marijuana, using CBD skincare products or simply eating gummies, it’s hard to deny the superb effects of marijuana. But have you ever considered the work that goes into creating these goods? Growing cannabis is no easy feat; it takes time and dedication. Currently, in the UK, growing your own cannabis is illegal. Still, as other countries relax their rules (we see you, Germany!), it’s always fascinating to understand the process and the dedication required to nurture a marijuana plant. Put it this way, if you are the type of person who struggles to keep a houseplant alive, then growing marijuana is not for you!
So, how long does it take to grow a marijuana plant? The short answer is anywhere from 3-8 months, and that depends on a number of factors, from the strain, climate and the growing technique. Still interested? Let’s dive in.
This answer depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, you can expect a plant to be ready for harvest in around 12- 32 weeks. There are many stages a marijuana plant goes through before it yields the good green stuff, beginning at the germination stage and going right through to harvest and curing.
Plus, it depends on where the plant is grown. Gardeners can manipulate certain conditions indoors to encourage the plant to flower quickly. Outdoors takes a little longer as the plant is at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Think of a marijuana plant as a young, needy child. They need constant attention, regular feeding, watering, and more to grow and thrive. Essentially, a marijuana plant needs the following to yield optimal results:
A marijuana plant requires an optimum amount of light to convert carbon dioxide into sugars, which helps it grow. Too much light, however, can have a detrimental effect and weaken the leaves. Light adjustment is a bit of a balancing act, as different types of marijuana plants will need varying amounts of light.
Feeding plants nutrients gives them everything that they need to flourish. There are several types of plant food on the market, but the essential nutrients for cannabis plants are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Collectively these are known as macronutrients.
Having suitable soil is paramount for growing robust plants. Ideally, the soil needs to be loam kept fairly dry with an effective drainage system in place.
Every plant needs water to grow, and marijuana is no exception. It helps it to flourish and also to regulate its internal temperature.
All marijuana plants need airflow. This isn’t a problem if you are growing outdoors, but indoors this can be simulated with a fan.
The temperature required for a marijuana plant to flourish depends on which stage of the process it is at. During the germination period, for example, it will require moderate heat, and as it reaches vegetation, the optimal temperature is around 68-78 Fahrenheit.
The average lifecycle of the marijuana plant
We can break down the average lifecycle of a marijuana plant into four stages:
This is the initial stage of growth, where the seed transforms into a sapling. Here, the embryo breaks out of the shell and begins to form a root. There are several ways to germinate a marijuana plant, but resting the seeds on a damp piece of kitchen paper is the most common. Once a root has formed, the seed is now ready to plant, either in a pot or outside. At this point, the seed will have changed from light to dark brown and feel dry and hard to touch.
How long this process takes depends on the strain and the quality of the seed. In general, Indica germinates faster than Sativa varieties, and it can take 24 hours to 5 days for a sapling to sprout.
As the sapling matures, it will start to poke out of the ground, and the characteristic marijuana leaves will appear. Slowly, other leaves will follow from the centre of the plant, and once there are 4-8 new leaves, it will move on to a vegetative growth stage. The seedling process is one of the most delicate stages of cannabis growth as it begins to strengthen its root system.
Whether the marijuana plant is being grown indoors or outdoors, keeping it inside at this point is a good idea. This is to avoid mould and allow as much light as possible.
During vegetation, the plant gradually grows in height and fills out with foliage. If outdoors, the marijuana plant will now be transferred to a larger pot and treated with fertiliser for healthy growth. During the vegetation stage, the plant will need a minimum of 16 hours of sunlight, daily, to transform into chemical energy (photosynthesis). And, if you have a magnifying glass handy, you can now determine the plant’s gender. Knowing the sex early can be useful for removing the male plants to prevent pollination of the females.
The vegetation stage can last from 3 to 16 weeks. How long this stage takes can depend on whether Indica or Sativa is growing. These plants bloom to look very different visually:
The ideal growing climate for a Sativa is warm with a long season.
Indica flourishes in colder climates with a shorter season.
The Flowering Stage (8-11 weeks)
The ultimate stage of weed plant growth, flowering can also be the longest. During this period, the plant gains most of its height and size, and buds begin to flower. Here, the plant gender also becomes distinctive. The male plant will produce tiny, bell-shaped, pollen-filled sacs, and a female plant will produce resinous buds crammed with cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. The flowering activity is triggered by a reduction in light which can easily be simulated indoors.
Harvesting and curing the marijuana plant
Harvesting at the right time is crucial. Too early, and the result will be a poor yield and potency. Too late, and the quality will be poor.
So how do you know when the time is right? There are several indicators: the fan leaves of the plant turn yellow, and the stigma hair-like structures on the plant will darken and curl. For further clues, it’s time to whip out that magnifying glass again. Get up close and personal and check out those beautiful trichomes. At the beginning of the process, trichomes are clear with a crystal-like look, but as the plant becomes ready to harvest, these change to a milky colour, indicating high levels of THC and CBD. Overripe trichomes will look amber.
Once the bud has been harvested, both drying and curing are vital. Drying removes moisture and the likelihood of mould growth. Curing is essential for preserving and accentuating flavours by retaining terpenes and cannabinoids and breaking down chlorophyll.
To dry, buds are hung in a cool, dark and dry room for approximately one week. They are then cured in a container which is opened once a day to ensure airflow.
Once ready, it’s time to enjoy! And don’t waste those delicious terpenes. Use a dry herb vaporiser to experience the full flavour, taste and potency. The Nectar Platinum Vaporizer allows you the best of both worlds with its dual-purpose vaping experience.
New to vaping? Check out our top tips for dry herb vaping here
For those who don’t have the patience, there are some ways to accelerate the growth of a marijuana plant. However, it can come with risks if they aren’t carried out correctly.
For those who want to accelerate growth, there are several procedures they can try, including:
Marijuana plants have grown naturally outdoors for thousands of years. Some types of marijuana thrive in dry regions such as the Middle East, whilst others flourish in tropical or continental areas. Unfortunately, the UK can’t mimic these conditions, so often marijuana is grown indoors.
Growing outdoors comes with many pros and cons:
Pros for growing marijuana outside
Cons for growing marijuana outside
Growing indoors also comes with many pros and cons:
Pros for growing indoors
Cons for growing outdoors
Growing marijuana isn’t exactly like growing your typical house plant; it takes time, effort and a whole lot of patience. So next time you kick back with cannabis, consider the long journey it’s had to get there. At Nectar, we believe how you use the herb is crucial to its experience. Click here to explore our range of dry herb vaporisers. A dry herb vaporiser, such as this Nectar v2 Vaporizer, offers discretion, optimised taste and potency. After all, a herb that takes such care and dedication to grow deserves to be enjoyed properly.
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