The growth cycle of a cannabis plant

The life cycle of a cannabis plant has different phases. As a grower, you have to pay attention to a number of things at each stage, in order to ensure that the plant grows healthy and strong and produces an optimal harvest. For the cycle of a cannabis plant, a distinction can be made in five phases. These phases will be discussed below to provide more insight into the needs of a growing cannabis plant during each phase.


The germination phase is the start of the life cycle of the cannabis plant. In this phase, the germination of the seed is central. The cultivation starts when your cannabis seed comes into contact with water for the first time. A first root will emerge from the seed after about two to three days. There are different ways to germinate your cannabis seed. The most common ways are to put them directly in the soil (or a germination plug), or to let them germinate outside the soil (often between two wet cotton balls). The advantage of the latter method is that you can clearly observe the development of the seed. In the soil, this is only possible when the seedling protrudes above the soil. During this phase, two embryonic leaflets will also emerge with the function of collecting light. If these leaves receive too little light, they will look for it and the stem will become unnecessarily long. It is therefore important that the plant immediately receives enough light. The process of germination takes about seven days, after which the plant proceeds to the seedling stage.

Seedling stage

Thanks to the emerged cotyledons, the plant can absorb light and use it through photosynthesis for further growth and production of leaves. By producing three-fingered leaves, the plant is already starting to look like a real cannabis plant. At this stage, the stem may also not be strong enough to support the weight of the growing plant. If this is the case, you can lend a hand by giving the plant extra support with a piece of wood and a thin string, until the stem has become strong enough to bear the weight without problems. The duration of the seedling phase is usually about one to three weeks. If the plant has developed four to eight new leaves, it means that the plant has reached the next stage of the growing cycle.

Vegetative growth phase

One of the most important phases of a cannabis plant’s life cycle is the vegetative phase. During this period, the plant mainly focuses on achieving maximum growth, so that the plant actually starts to expand. This is also the reason that the plant needs a lot of light and relatively more nutrition during the vegetative phase to allow the potential energy to reach maturity. It is during this period that the plant takes on the characteristic shape of a nice strong cannabis plant. The growth will maximize the plant’s ability to produce nice thick buds during the flowering phase.

Pre-flowering phase

This phase of the plant breeding cycle can be seen as a sub-stage. The pre-flowering phase begins when calyxes appear for the first time at the nodes where the branches meet the stem. It is therefore the phase that takes place just before the plant puts all its energy into flowering. During this short-term phase (usually one day to a week) the plant will still expand, with more attention being paid to the development of branches and the aforementioned nodes.

Flowering phase

The last and for many the most fun phase of the cannabis plant life cycle: the flowering phase. During this phase, the female cannabis plant will produce buds (flowers). The male plant will produce small clusters of balls containing pollen. If you find that there are also male cannabis plants in the same room as the female plants, it is important to remove them as soon as possible before they have a chance to spread pollen. The flowering phase can last from one to four months depending on the cannabis strain.