How Long Does It Take to Grow Cannabis? – A Timeline

Growing your own cannabis is a great idea for several reasons. It allows you to keep careful watch over what is going into your plant (and eventually, into your body), it can save you some money in the long run, and it can be fun to do. However, for most of us, the real reward isn’t the work itself – it’s the finished product.

With that in mind, one of the top questions new potential growers ask is “how long is this going to take?
The short answer is that cannabis plants are mature enough to be harvested after about 12 weeks of growth,
on average. The practical answer is a bit more complicated since grow time can vary widely.

Factors that will impact the time your plant will take to grow are:

  • Starting point. You can begin your grow from a seedling, or you can begin with a clone, skipping the earliest phase of your grow.
  • Location. Whether you are growing indoors or outdoors may affect the time your plants take to grow. In this article, we’ll be talking about indoor growing, as it’s much easier to make things happen on schedule when you’re able to control the weather.
  • Medium. Plants grown in coco coir, a medium made of ground-up coconut husks, grow faster than plants grown in soil. Plants grown in a hydroponics reservoir are more work but grow even more quickly.
  • Strain. One of the largest factors is the strain you’re growing. Just based on genetics, a plant’s life cycle can expand or contract by several weeks.
  • Size. Bigger plants clearly take longer to grow, so it makes sense that if you’re trying to grow your plants larger, it’ll take more time. 
  • Autoflowering vs. Photoperiod. As the name suggests, autoflowering strains will enter their flowering stage on their own between 7 and 12 weeks, depending on the strain. Photoperiod strains need to pass through a long vegetative stage in addition to their flowering period, which adds time.

Cannabis Growing Timeline

The life cycle of a cannabis plant can be broken down into four stages. The entire process will take 12 to 18 weeks:

  • Germination, which can take 5-10 days. This is simply giving the seed water and waiting for it to sprout.
  • Seedling stage. For the next 2-3 weeks, the small plant will begin developing cannabis leaves. At this point, each leaf may only have one blade, instead of the 5-7 blades per leaf that the mature plant will have. 
  • Next, the plant will spend 3-8 weeks in the vegetative stage (or longer if you want really large plants). At this point, your plant will be growing quickly. It’s possible to shorten your plants’ light cycle early in some cases for an earlier flowering stage and harvest, but plants that are left to grow for longer will likely have a larger yield. 
  • Finally, the flowering stage. For these final 8-11 weeks, your plant will be flowering! Buds will grow most at the end of the cycle, around the seventh week. Once they are fully mature, the plant is ready to be harvested.
  • The flower should be left to dry for 1 week. After drying it can be processed into oil or for the best smoke cure it for at least a month.

The most important factor in how long it will take to grow a cannabis plant is the strain. If you are an inexperienced grower (or just impatient), try to pick an autoflowering strain with a short life cycle. You could be harvesting in as little as eight weeks!

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2 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take to Grow Cannabis? – A Timeline

  1. Michael Pooley says:

    A question after the curing stage where is it best to store your containers. In a cool dark place? Where I live, we don’t have a cool place so a refrigerator a good place? In Hawaii I used to store it in my freezer. Is it to cold?

    • Mike Drouin says:

      Hey Michael, A freezer would be too cold for curing. Since curing is an organic process you need the temperature to be above freezing for the chlorophyll to break down. A shady spot in a cupboard might be all you need. A fridge could work but the process might take a while longer. The ideal temp and humi for curing are 70F (21C) and 60% RH.

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