Weed Plant Stages: Taking Your Plants From Seed to Smoke

Understanding plant science can be a bit intimidating for the cannabis grower.

The process from seed to bud requires a lot of attention, knowledge, patience and a keen understanding of what is happening within your plant.

Here we will look at the weed plant stages, in great detail so to be able to break down the components of plant growth.

We’ll seek to help the grower understand the steps that need to be undertaken to get to the marijuana flowering stage so that you can enjoy a harvest of beautiful buds.

From Seed to Weed

While there are two main steps involved in the marijuana flowering stage, there are many more stages involved in getting from seed to smokeable flowers.


The first process is called Germination.

To germinate, keep your seed in a wet, dark place.

It can be in a cup of water, or wrapped in a wet paper towel in a cupboard.

Your seed is ready for planting once you can see a little sprout called the taproot.

Once you plant your seed, it will be the taproot that attaches itself to your soil and soaks up all the nutrients.

From this taproot, your plant’s stem will grow above the level of the soil as it goes into the next stage.

Note: You can germinate your cannabis by planting seeds directly in soil in a cup.

When doing so, make sure the keep the soil wet and rubber band a Ziploc bag over the cup to maintain a high level of humidity.

Seedling Stage

Once the taproot of your planted seed has gained a strong hold on the soil it will begin to collect nutrients and to grow,

This seedling stage is when you’ll start to see your plant grow leaves.

First, you’ll see embryonic leaves, which don’t look like pot leaves.

Then under those, you’ll begin to see your little tried-and-true pot leaves growing with rounded points.

This stage can last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, and your plant can grow up to 8 leaves in this period.

Vegetation Stage

The vegetation stage is getting your plant healthy and ready to flower.

This is where energy becomes essential.

Your marijuana plant will be growing at rapid rates as it sucks up all the light and nitrogen you’ll be giving it.

This is when the light cycle becomes crucial as you move your plant from vegetation into the flowering stage.

During the vegetation stage, your cannabis will need anywhere from 18-24 hours of sunlight.

And it will start to resemble more of a tree than a plant as it grows its mighty leaves and strengthens its stem.

In this period, your plant will need plenty of room to grow.

1 plant per 4 square feet is a good rule of thumb.

Your plants should be evenly spaced out from other plants so that it can grow itself in the best way to receive light.

Pre-Flowering Stage

The pre-flowering stage is crucial for your plant health, especially if you planted without knowing the gender of your plant.

When your cannabis begins pre-flowering, you'll notice small banana-like sacs on the nodes of where your leaves meet your stem.

If you are wanting something to smoke, vape or make edibles, you’ll want to ensure you’re growing female plants.

The sac that grows out of the node of your plant will look longer and resemble leaves and a pistil rather than the pod-like for the male plant.

The male plant is still a valuable plant.

It contains CBDs,  which don't offer psychoactive effects.

Many strains of male plants don't produce THC at all.

It’s critical to recognize your plant’s genders at this stage.

You need to separate the sexes to avoid any of the male plant’s sacs pollinating the female plants, which can destroy its psychoactive properties.

Pollinated plants will also liter your yield with seeds.​

You may also find that you have hermaphroditic plants.

Hermaphroditic plants have not been fertilized and are the more potent plants regarding their psychoactive properties.

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Once you’ve recognized the genders of your plants, and have taken sufficient steps to separate the sexes, you can go on to observe the flowering stage.

This is one of the most exciting stages for the grower.

You finally know what you’re doing is working and you’re on your way to great bud.

The Flowering Stage

When you know the marijuana light cycle, which refers to the conditions under which light is placed on your plant to promote flowering, you’ll know that this stage is where you can tell if you’ve managed to grow quality cannabis.

To induce this stage, your plant needs to have 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark to fully bud and bloom through phototropism.

This process involves the plant recognizing its energy source for budding.

Phototropism is required to induce the flowering process.

Your cannabis will start to grow tiny little buds that finally start to resemble the herb we all love.

At this stage, your plant will start to be very particular about the conditions under which it’s growing.

So, it’s critical to develop a lighting system that promote flowering.

Make or Break Your Marijuana Flowering Stage

At this stage, even though you’ve gotten this far in growing marijuana, you have to be aware that a lot can happen to compromise your bud.

Some common problems that can occur during the flowering stage include:

  • Cross pollination if the plant genders haven’t been adequately separated, potentially causing your new bud to lose its properties.
  • Nutrient overdose if you overfeed your plants. Infusing your marijuana with nutrients should be a crucial part of the beginning stages of growing, but you can go overboard in the flowering process. You can risk the health of your cannabis, potentially even killing it.
  • Risk of mold if you are not taking precautions to monitor the humidity of your growing area. Many growers intentionally decrease the humidity in their growing space for this reason exactly.
  • Burning your plants if you don’t pay attention to the temperature, wattage of your grow lights and how close they are to your plants. Adjust your light temperature, wattage and height as necessary.
  • Throwing off the pH level of your soil if you are not paying adequate attention. Many growers use cannabis pH level test kits, recognizing that pH levels determine how well your plant continues to receive nutrients from your soil. The pH level is closely related to the potential for nutrient overdose, as well as starving your plant if nutrients are not sufficient.

Marijuana Harvest

You’ve gotten to the point where you’re able to start trimming your bud and enjoying the fruits of your labors.

It’s important to know that you can trim your buds too early, as well as too late, so these helpful marijuana harvest tips will help you know when it’s the right time to trim:

  • The long hairs, known as pistils will start to change color, initially starting out as white, moving to an orange-ish color and turning a dark red or brown when the bud is at prime harvesting time
  • You’ll be able to recognize the resin-producing properties of your plant—the trichomes. The attentive grower will monitor the color and consistency of the trichomes. If they started to turn amber, the plant may be past its prime trimming time.

When getting ready for harvest, many growers will start to remove the large fan leaves up to a week in advance before harvest.

You may also choose to start trimming excess foliage up to the harvest date—it makes harvesting both easier and faster.

Whatever your process, trimming is a critical process of maintaining a good product.

Hang up the trimmed cannabis, with the buds left on the stems.

Next you'll move on the curing your marijuana.

This is where the buds are finally dry enough to smoke.

While the grower may be eager to sample their bud, it won’t be truly ready to be smoked to its potential until thoroughly dried. You can usually start sampling 4 to 5 days into drying.

Learn and Repeat

You should be your own toughest critic in what your growing efforts yield.

Each time you go through harvest, take the time to recognize the parts of your process that contributed to a successful batch while recognizing the places where you could have improved.

You should constantly be learning and improving your growing knowledge.

The more attentive you are to the growing process and the needs of your plant during the weed plant stages, the more likely you are to produce a potent quality product.

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