Since its legalization, many people have become interested in growing their own cannabis plants from seeds.
After all, it’s surprisingly easy and rewarding, albeit requiring some patience!
Imagine growing a huge cannabis plant from tiny marijuana seeds all by yourself for your personal use. You can even turn it into a business and generate profit if your State allows it.
Here’s an easy guide to understanding marijuana plants. You can save a lot of money down the line by growing and consuming your own weed!
The Stages of Growing Cannabis
The primary stages of growth of a cannabis plant are as follows:
- Germination (4-10 days)
- Seedling (1-2 weeks)
- Vegetative (3-5 months)
- Flowering (9-12 days)
These stages aren’t that complicated to understand. Weed plants are just plants, after all. They also go through the normal life cycle we learned in Biology class.
Let’s dive deeper into what each stage entails:
Seed Germination Process (4-10 days)
Before a plant begins to grow, the seed needs to germinate and sprout. This happens when the seed is exposed to the right conditions.
Cannabis seeds require 18 hours a day indoors and six (6) hours under direct sunlight outdoors.
Note that the weed seed must be firm, dry, and have a nice brown color. Otherwise, they’re not liable to germinate.
When more roots and leaves sprout, it’s time to move them to the soil – you can either pot seeds or plant them on a soil bed.
If unable, transporting them on a wet paper towel or starter plug will do.
Once soiled, the germinated seed can grow and do its thing. Roots will grow downwards, and leaf growth will speed up.
Seedling (1-3 weeks)
You’ll know that your plant is in the seedling stage when it starts to show the familiar leaf shape that we all know and love. The more growth occurs, the more blades appear!
Light is crucial in this stage. Some indoor growers even set up some form of artificial light to provide a better plant environment.
Continue the light cycle of 18 hours per day indoors and 6 hours outdoors under direct sunlight.
While it’s tempting, avoid overwatering the plant during this stage. Seedlings have tiny roots and can’t handle too much moisture, or else you’ll run the risk of molds and diseases.
Vegetative Growth (3-5 months)
This is the actual growing stage of your cannabis plant. The stalks will start to harden, and the roots will grow even longer.
It’s time to transfer them to a bigger pot to help them grow more freely.
They will need more nutrients since they’re growing more extensively. Continue to give the plants enough sunlight, but make sure to water them more during this stage as well.
This goes the same for soil. Your plant will appreciate good soil with lots of nutrients like nitrogen. It’s also better if the soil isn’t too tightly packed.
The vegetative stage is the longest phase in the growth cycle, lasting a few months. Be patient and keep your plants healthy – your effort will be worth it!
Flowering Stage (9-12 weeks)
Finally, the flowering stage is when your plant starts to grow buds. The trichomes in these buds are the ones used for medical cannabis!
It’ll start to grow as leaves, but you’ll immediately notice its difference. It’ll have pistils (white hairs) and crystals, which sets it apart from the main plant.
Unlike the other stages, marijuana plants should have reduced sunlight during the flowering phase, as the darkness will trigger budding.
These are the phases of flowering marijuana:
- Pistil growth
- Buds will flatten (at this point, the plant will stop growing)
- More trichomes will develop
Observe the plant as it grows to know if it’s time for harvest (learn more in the section below). Don’t miss the harvesting opportunity. Don’t let the bud rot!
How to Grow Marijuana From Seeds
Now that you have a general idea about the cycle of cannabis plants, let’s go into the specific steps needed to guide you better:
Step 1: Let the Cannabis Seeds Germinate
We know you’re excited, but don’t immediately plant the cannabis seeds upon getting them. You have to germinate seeds to “wake them up” from dormancy.
The goal here is to soften the exterior of the cannabis seed to expose the embryo and let it receive the nutrients needed.
Note that only viable seeds will successfully germinate. Ensure that they’re dry, firm, and have a brown color pre-germination.
You can wait for the seeds to sprout naturally, but it’s wiser to trigger and speed up the process by putting them in a dark and warm environment.
The key is to keep the seeds moist without drowning them. There are various ways of doing this:
Place the Seeds on a Damp Paper Towel
- Paper towels are one of the most beginner-friendly methods. You simply wet the paper towels, place the seeds inside some distance apart, and fold the towel.
- Put the paper towel inside a ziplock bag, then blow some air into it before completely sealing it off. The bag should be placed somewhere dark for proper germination.
- This method is the best way to avoid rotting. Check the condition of the seeds within a couple of days to see if taproots are growing.
Soaking the Seeds in Lukewarm Water
- If you want to germinate seeds quicker, you can pre-soak them and hide them in a dark environment for 12-24 hours. But be careful not to overdo it, as they still need light.
- Soak (but not drown) your cannabis seeds in lukewarm water, then keep the container in a warm and dark place. Your seeds should be floating and spread apart. If you have, say, ten seeds, it’s best to get a larger container so they don’t crowd in one spot.
- Once the seeds sink to the bottom, they’re ready to be planted in the soil!
Soil Method or Starter Plugs
- If you want to skip all that and plant the seeds directly onto the soil, you can. It’s possible to germinate the seed in the soil by burying it and not covering it all through. Make sure the soil isn’t too compact, or else it won’t be breathable for the seeds, and germination will be difficult.
- Starter plugs are excellent options for those who want to use soil but have not yet begun the actual bedding. They’re small soil samples intentionally used for the germination process.
- Use a spray bottle to keep the soil damp enough – don’t soak or drown them. The advantage of this method is that you can skip an extra step of transferring as the seeds grow to be seedlings in the soil already.
Step 2: Plant the Cannabis Seeds
After the seeds germinate, they’re ready to be planted in soil (except if you used the direct soil method) to grow into seedlings.
It’s not advisable to immediately transfer them to large pots since the seedling stage is when they’ll need as many nutrients as possible.
Compacted soils are the best way to distribute them.
Some people use pellets as a growing medium. It’s perfect for roots to grow and absorb nutrients for growing indoors and portable enough to bring outdoors for sunlight.
Be extra cautious when transferring the seeds to soils and pellets. The seed becomes more vulnerable as soon as it germinates. Avoid destroying the taproot during the transfer process.
Step 3: Take Care of the Weed Seedlings
You’ll see huge improvements in your young plants during the seedling stage, as they move from plain seeds to growing leaves. As exciting as it is, this phase is also a delicate one.
At this stage, the seeds will be prone to diseases and molds. It’s important to not overwater your plant. Expose it to enough sunlight to evaporate excess moisture.
You’ll know your plant is progressing as it grows above the soil surface. The seed shell will come off naturally; there’s no need to peel it off forcibly.
Don’t feel disheartened if some seeds fail to germinate properly and grow. It happens! That’s why growers tend to plant more at a time in anticipation of failed seeds.
Step 4: Light and Water for Cannabis Seeds
How much light and water you apply is vital when you grow weed. Maintaining a proper balance helps your seedlings grow into healthy plants, viable for selling and smoking.
Too much of everything is never good! Make sure that your plant exposure is just right.
- Weed plants and seeds generally require ample sunlight to grow properly but overdoing it only leads to burning.
- That’s why some growers do it separately – 18 hours (outdoors) vs. 6 hours (indoors). In comparison, some set up artificial lighting to maintain the proper temperature.
- Don’t worry if you’re growing outdoors, though. Full sunlight is still better than not receiving any light at all. However, it’s optimal for seedlings to be indoors with sufficient sunlight from windows.
- All plants need water to thrive. The same is true when growing weeds. But for marijuana seedlings, in particular, a little goes a long way.
- It’s recommended to use clean or filtered water. If unavailable, you can boil tap water for 15-20 minutes and let it cool to eliminate chlorine and other chemicals.
- Keep the soil damp enough, but never soaking wet. Seedlings will rot quickly if constantly submerged and exposed to a ton of moisture.
Step 5: Set Adjustments for Your Growing Marijuana Plant
As your plant goes through vegetative growth, it’ll require certain adjustments to cater to its rapid growth stage.
The first sign of growth would be the cotyledons. They’re the first set of buds (more like embryos) that will sprout and fall off after growing bigger.
Next comes the exciting part! The famous fan-shaped leaf will succeed the cotyledons, indicating that your own marijuana plant is thriving.
- If you’re using a seedling pellet, you’ll see that the plant roots are starting to outgrow the soil. This is your indicator that it’s ready to transfer to a bigger pot or ground.
- Transplanting is also known as repotting. You transfer the seedling to a bigger space and let it acclimate to the new soil. Be careful, and don’t uproot the seedling from the pellet!
- After “mixing” the old and new soils, water the area so the roots can find their way through the new soil.
More Light Exposure and Water
- If seedlings require minimal water and sunlight, expect the amount to double as the same plant grows. It’s still not good to go overboard with the water, however.
- As their leaf blades become more prominent, weed plants will also need more sunlight. They must become more robust in order to generate their food.
- It’s during this stage that outdoor growing is most beneficial. The plant can get all the sun they need without you having to watch them constantly.
Step 6: Separate or Sex Male and Female Plants
Here’s the tricky part. You must separate the male and female plants a few weeks into the plant’s growth.
The flowers and nugs people want from cannabis come from only female plants. Female flowers are the ones that produce the THC buds that cause the iconic weed high.
If you fail to separate the male plants from female plants, they’ll produce seeds – which isn’t the primary thing we want from cannabis. Male plants can also hinder the flowering growth of female plants.
Step 7: Patiently Wait for Your Growing Weed Plant
The waiting game begins after the sexing and collecting of the female weed plants is done.
The vegetative stage is the longest of all phases, and it’s during this time you should be attentive to your plant’s progress.
Observe your plants to see if they are experiencing troubles, concerns, or unusual behaviors.
It’s a time for caring – give them enough water, sunlight, and nutrients needed to support changes.
Step 8: Harvest Time!
Finally, it’s time to prepare for harvest when the plant hits the flowering phase. You must be careful and avoid harvesting them prematurely.
To ensure that, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the flowering stages. Don’t make a move as soon as you see the first sign of these signs.
- Preflowering (Determining Gender for Step 6): Female plants will grow pistils, and male plants will grow pollen sacs.
- Mid-flowering: The buds will flatten, and the actual plant will no longer grow.
- Ripening: The pistils’ color will change to brown/orange-red, and the plant will be stickier. The color of the trichomes will become a cloudy white color.
The best time to harvest is during the third phase (ripening), and not a step sooner.
Things You Need to Know About Cannabis Seeds and Plants
Are you still trying to grasp the concepts? This section will explain the terms and technicalities to help you understand them more.
What Do Cannabis Seeds Look Like?
Cannabis seeds look like any other seed. Contrary to the leaf’s well-known green color, healthy and viable seeds are brown.
Some seeds have prominent stripes and patterns, while some are plain. This doesn’t indicate anything except the genetics of the parent plants.
As long as it’s brown – whether light or dark, it’s capable of germination.
What you should AVOID are seeds with a green or white color appearance. These are underdeveloped seeds, and you wouldn’t want to grow those.
Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants: What’s the Difference?
So, why are we so adamant about keeping the female plant and not the male plant variants?
- Female plants are the ones with high THC content. The flowers and nugs of a female plant are best for medical cannabis and give a more pleasant high.
- On the other hand, a male plant is best for pollination or reproduction. Growers who want to produce seeds instead of buying cannabis seeds elsewhere will benefit from males.
Determining Male and Female Plants
The most evident distinction is the presence of the pistils on a female plant. If it has white, hair-like structures sticking out, it’s likely female.
These pistils are used for catching the pollen released by the males. On that note, male plants have plain pollen sacs that store the pollen.
It can be challenging to tell, especially for beginners. To be sure, you can buy feminized seeds from the get-go to avoid playing the guessing game.
Feminized cannabis seeds are guaranteed by their breeders to grow into female plants. It’s possible by artificially crossing two female plants so that they can produce 100% feminized seeds.
It’s great for beginners or medical marijuana users who want to skip the hassle. But despite the guarantees, it’s still best to keep an eye out for male seeds that might’ve snuck their way into the mix.
Can All Cannabis Plants Produce Weed Seeds?
No. Only female plants can create seeds. However, this is only possible when a male plant pollinates the female plant. If not, the plant will produce flowers.
If you intend to grow marijuana seeds and let the plants mate, then keeping them together is a good idea.
A breeder or grower would benefit as he gets his own seeds, which they can sell or replant without needing to buy marijuana seeds from other suppliers.
However, if you’re after the female flowers for smoking and CBD, separate them, or else you’ll only get new seeds and none of the good stuff.
Can you imagine smoking a bud with seeds?!
The Different Types of Cannabis Seeds
Weed seeds have different types. You may find some terms confusing when you buy seeds in stores. These clarifications will help you make the best purchasing decision for your needs:
Regular seeds are essentially the more general ones. When you buy a pack, you’ll get a mix of male and female seeds, and it’s up to you to segregate them.
They’re likely cheaper but will require more effort. You have to be meticulous in determining the sex of the plants, or else you’ll get seeded buds.
Beginners or those in need of medical cannabis with no time to waste can buy seeds that are guaranteed to be female to lessen the risk of pollination. You can also harvest quicker.
But be careful; feminized seeds are prone to certain conditions, such as turning into hermaphrodites, although it’s not as rampant unless exposed to high-stress conditions.
Hermaphrodite plants have male and female sex organs, so you risk self-pollination.
This is why it’s also best to purchase from trusted breeders who know how to avoid these conditions and are sure to provide good-quality seeds.
Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
We learned about the flowering phase above. It’s not as easy to induce and maintain this stage because it requires more meticulous light and environmental adjustments.
Photoperiod plants, the opposite of auto-flowering plants, require strict schedules such as the 12/12 rule (12 hours of darkness, 12 hours of light) to trigger flowering.
On the other hand, autoflowering seeds naturally flower (thus the name auto-flowering), and all you have to do is wait and harvest.
Auto-flowering strains are made possible by crossing the standard cannabis strains with a relative species called cannabis ruderalis.
The cross produces auto-flowering plants with high THC but doesn’t require complicated care. It can easily flourish on its own.
Auto-flowering seeds are popular among indoor growers or those who live in a climate with extensive hot and cold seasons.
Where to Get Cannabis Seeds
Now that you know how to grow marijuana from scratch, the important bit is getting the seeds! Here are some ways to source high-quality ones.
DISCLAIMER: We must point out that marijuana is illegal in some states. If you live in a state where weed is illegal, growing and transporting weed are considered crimes. Ensure that you’re doing this legally and don’t get into trouble.
Licensed breeders mass-produce seeds and often have seed banks where they sell them. You can find many online seed banks that cater to your needs.
Don’t purchase seeds from an international seed bank unless trusted. Marijuana is still illegal in many parts of the world; international purchases may not pass customs.
As we’ve repeatedly pointed out, you can grow your own weed seed. If you have existing cannabis plants, you can set aside a couple of parent plants for mating.
Make sure to separate the plants you want to pollinate to avoid compromising the other buds.
Watch this video to understand more about proper pollination:
What to Look for in Marijuana Seeds for Growing Cannabis
It’s pretty overwhelming to be presented with various types of marijuana seeds. Some are good, some are not – but how will you know? These tips might help:
#1 Know the Source
Bad seeds will lead you nowhere. No matter how much effort you pour into it, you’re wasting your time if you get defective seeds.
For plants as delicate and expensive as cannabis, it’s worth being picky with your source. Look for trusted brands and reliable breeders from among your local stores.
We suggest looking into the genetic crosses and history of the seeds, if possible. Avoid those that say “unstable genetics.”
#2 Check the Appearance
You can’t tell the sex and strain just by looking at the seed’s appearance, but you’ll immediately know if it’s healthy or not.
Checking the seeds’ physical characteristics will do if you’re not particular about the sex and strain. Look for these characteristics:
- Teardrop-shaped (not perfectly round or oblong)
- Light to dark brown color; some may have stripes and patterns (green or white ones are underdeveloped and should be discarded)
- Hardshell structure (not mushy or soft)
#3 Read the Label
Most packages will already indicate everything you need to know about the seeds.
The specifics will now boil down to your personal preferences. Here are some factors you should consider:
Cannabis has three families: Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. Breeders usually cross them to form new strains with varying characteristics.
- Indica: short flowering period, great for indoors, body-soothing and medicinal effects
- Sativa: longer flowering time, best for tropical climates, best for recreational highs
- Ruderalis: lower THC but higher CBD levels, excellent for breeding, harder to extract
Labels will list how many of these species can be found in the seeds. If you have preferences, choose the ones most applicable to your needs.
THC, CBD, and Potency
Of course, you should care about the composition of your seeds. Different types will entail varying percentages of THC, CBD, and other goodies meticulous weed-users look for.
Some packages will give an estimated timeframe for harvest. Check if it aligns with your situation and circumstances before purchasing.
Tips to Grow Cannabis Better
Everyone will have unique experiences when it comes to growing weed — the environments and variables differ, leading to varying conditions.
However, there are a few general ways to help improve the processes. Here are some universal pieces of advice:
Avoid Stressing Out Your Plant
Yes, plants are living organisms that get stressed out, affecting their growth.
Some common stressors are environmental. The conditions around them are not ideal, and they’re trying extra hard to survive. It may be being exposed to too much heat or lack thereof, not having enough water, etc.
Another common stressor is usually during transplanting if the handler is careless during the process, such as nicking the taproots or destroying some parts.
Stress can lead to dormancy, slow growth, or hermaphroditism.
Don’t Use Specific Timeframes as Basis
When reading guides like this, it seems easier to follow everything word for word, number by number. But that’s not how it works.
As we said, our plants will grow in different circumstances and environments. Hence, the growth rate will vary.
Don’t solely rely on the timeframes, as they can still cause you to miss the windows for crucial adjustments.
Instead, check the appearance of your plant and attend to its needs accordingly.
For instance, you don’t have to wait for week 10 to harvest just because someone said so. If you see the pistils turning brown, it might already be harvesting time.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Let’s answer some more questions weed growers have about growing from seeds:
How Long Does It Take for Cannabis Seeds to Grow?
The complete growth cycle of a cannabis plant from seed to harvest lasts about 4-8 months. It could be more or less depending on its environment. It then dies after the annual cycle.
How Do You Transplant a Cannabis Plant?
Transplanting entails moving your seedling to a bigger soil bed. The process is relatively simple, but you must be careful with the handling.
- Remove the seedling from its old pot. Gently spread out the roots if they’re stuck together.
- Dig and prepare a hole in the new soil so that it can fit your seedling.
- Place the seedling (with its current soil – don’t uproot) in the prepared area.
- Cover the spaces and water the soil well.
Is It Legal to Grow Cannabis?
Laws differ per jurisdiction. Most States that have legalized marijuana allow growing, but with limits. Some States still consider cannabis illegal.
The states that allow the growth and cultivation of marijuana plants are as follows:
- Washington, D.C.
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
You can view the complete list and corresponding marijuana regulations here.
Growing your weed can be quite the experience and, realistically, a significant business venture.
If you get the hang of it, you won’t need to keep purchasing from others.
If it’s legal to grow weed in your State, give it a try! It requires some patience, but it’s worth it.