During its life cycle, cannabis passes through four main stages. These stages are germination, seedling, growth and flowering. Anyone who wants to cultivate cannabis needs to recognise these stages. Each stage brings its own challenges and problems. How to germinate cannabis seeds So, you’ve decided to grow your own cannabis plants. You purchased a pack of seeds, assembled cultivation materials, cleared a space in your garden, and are ready See exactly how a marijuana plant grows in these high-quality time-lapse videos. Watch plants sprout, get topped, fill up a ScrOG screen, flower and more!
The Life cycle of Cannabis: From seed to harvest
Cannabis passes through a series of stages in its life. The most important of these are the germination, seedling, growth and flowering stages. Each stage brings its own challenges. Novice growers need to be aware of these, to be sure of giving their plants the attention and care that they deserve.
Plants are living beings. They are at the base of the evolutionary tree, they heal our bodies and souls, they delight our senses. I think all our readers know by now which is our favourite plant: Cannabis sativa L. – a fantastic crop and medicinal plant, and one of the oldest plant genera in the world.
No matter why cannabis is being cultivated, to see with your own eyes how a small seed grows into a bulky plant, which then starts flowering, is a moving experience every time.
Cannabis is an annual plant, so its entire lifecycle takes place within a single year, with most varieties reaching the end of their life after between four and ten months. In general terms, the following four stages of life can be distinguished:
- Germination stage
- Seedling stage
- Growth or vegetation stage
- Flowering stage
A quick glance is usually enough to determine the current stage. Over time, it is not just the appearance of the plant that changes, its needs also change. Different stages require different quantities of light, water and nutrients. Furthermore, if you want to determine the sex of the plant or prune it, it is useful to know which stage the plant has currently reached.
1 – Germination stage (1 to 2 weeks)
All forms of life start from a seed of some kind. High-quality seed is the single most important factor for successful cultivation. Cannabis seeds should be hard, dry and brownish in colour. There are a number of different ways of getting the seeds to germinate. The easiest is the paper towel method.
In the germination process, the germ in the seed breaks through its shell and forms a root, which is known as the taproot. Germination takes anything from 24 hours to 7 days. Generally cannabis varieties with a high proportion of Indica germinate faster than pure Sativas.
The germinated seed can now be placed carefully into the growing medium. The plant will start to grow and force its way upwards.
While the first two cotyledons (seed leaves) are being formed, the plant shrugs off the protective seed husk. That signifies the end of the germination stage.
Top 5 Ways Cannabis Can Affect the Menstrual Cycle
2 – Seedling stage (2 to 4 weeks)
Particular care is necessary at this stage in the lifecycle. Seedlings are susceptible to illnesses and mould. Many novices get carried away with watering and give the seedlings too much fertiliser. Even if you plan to grow outdoors, it may be useful to give the plants a healthy start indoors, assuming that a location is available with adequate light (e.g. a windowsill). The plants need as much light as possible at this stage.
How long the seedling stage lasts depends on the variety and on the environmental conditions. The main focus of the plant is on developing a root system. This forms the foundation for its later growth.
Meanwhile the plant will grow its first “real” leaves with the characteristic marijuana shape.
The leaflets are long and jagged. Initially a leaf has just one leaflet, although a mature cannabis plant will have five to seven leaflets per leaf.
Once the plant produces the full count of leaflets for each new leaf, the seedling stage is over.
3 – Growth stage or vegetation stage (2 to 8 weeks)
Now the plant starts its main growing phase. Provided it receives enough light, it can grow up to two inches (5 cm) in a single day. It is obvious that the plant needs to be repotted if it is still growing in a small pot.
Leafy plants like a healthy soil that is rich in nutrients. The production of chlorophyll and proteins depends on a supply of nitrogen. It is worth investing in the right kinds of fertiliser or even producing them yourself.
As it grows, the plant also needs more water. Young plants are best watered close to their stem, but later on water should be distributed more widely so that the tips of the roots can absorb water more efficiently.
Have you ever heard of topping, super-cropping or lollipopping? Using these techniques you can train cannabis or manipulate the shape of the plant. Growers use them to develop stronger plants with more buds. Opinions vary, however, on whether these techniques actually deliver results. They are only necessary for special cultivation methods such as the Screen of Green (SCROG).
How long the growth phase lasts is not a simple question to answer. Autoflowering cannabis varieties move automatically on to the flowering stage within 2 or 3 weeks. Regular or feminised varieties only start flowering once the days become shorter (outdoor cultivation) or the grower reduces the lighting period to 12 hours (indoor cultivation).
How to germinate cannabis seeds
So, you’ve decided to grow your own cannabis plants. You purchased a pack of seeds, assembled cultivation materials, cleared a space in your garden, and are ready to grow your first cannabis crop . With everything in hand, it’s time to begin the very first step of cannabis cultivation : germinating seeds.
What is germination?
Germination is the first stage of the cannabis growth cycle : the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. After all, seeds in a bag don’t spontaneously start developing roots. Also known as “popping” seeds, seed germination begins when a seed receives environmental cues letting it know the setting is perfect to start growth.
Germination is the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
When a seed enters an environment with enough moisture, it will increase in size and slowly break out of its shell. A seedling or germ forms from which roots will emerge, helping the baby plant absorb nutrients from the soil. Seeds naturally develop roots facing down and stems stretching upward, allowing the young cannabis plant to simultaneously feed off light and earth.
It’s essential to acquire high-quality cannabis seeds for germination, as these will go on to become high-quality cannabis plants. Seeds that are fresh-feeling or too green indicate that they haven’t reached full maturity, while pale-green, white, or very dark cannabis seeds may have trouble sprouting. However, it’s tricky to know the outcome of a popped seed, so trying may be worthwhile. If you’re not ready to pop your seeds yet, store them in a dark, cool place until it’s time for germination.
Preparing to germinate cannabis seeds
Germination itself is a crucial aspect of cannabis cultivation. The seed germination process is the foundation of every marijuana plant, and steps can be taken to boost successful popping. For example, some cultivators improve germination attempts by soaking seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or a compost tea for 12 hours beforehand to kill any dangerous pests.
The environment in which seeds germinate also plays a role in the outcome. While there are several different germination methods, each requires proper moisture, minimal handling, and warm springtime temperatures between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to germinate cannabis seeds
The best germination method depends on the cultivator’s choice. Here are some of the most common ways to pop your cannabis seeds.
How to germinate seeds in soil
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds. The soil protects the fragile roots from any interference, and soil is, after all, where a cannabis plant would grow in the wild.
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds because the soil protects the fragile roots from any interference. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
First, make sure you use the correct type of soil, either gently fertilized potting soil or a seed starter with a pH level of approximately six (6). The soil contains the right acidity and enough nutrients to strengthen your young cannabis plants for the first two weeks. Be careful not to add more nutrients, or you risk overfeeding and killing your seeds.
Place the soil in a small pot and use your finger or a pencil to push a small hole in the dirt, a bit more than half an inch deep. Insert the seed into the hole and bury it with soil. From this point on, don’t touch your seed. The young plant is fragile and knows how to position itself in the soil bed.
Gently water the soil with a spray bottle and situate your pots under a fluorescent lamp. Keep seeds away from the windowsill, as the temperature is too volatile for germination. In general, you’ll want to keep the temperature in the range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Monitor your soil every day and keep it moist. Within four to seven days, you should see tiny stems sprouting from the soil.
When the seedling stems reach two to four inches in height, it’s time to transplant your cannabis into larger pots with more room for roots to spread down and out. After you’ve done this, you’ve successfully germinated your cannabis seeds into proper, young plants.
How to germinate seeds in water
You can also germinate your seeds by placing them in water. It’s slightly faster than the soil method, but you need to adjust your environmental factors accordingly. Remember, successfully germinating seeds requires a perfect balance of ideal growing conditions. When germinating in water, seeds need only 24-48 hours to pop their stems, though cultivators can keep them soaking for up to a week as needed. Water germination is faster because the seed gets all the moisture it needs immediately, and the shell softens and cracks more easily after soaking.
To employ water germination, fill a glass with tap water and let it sit until it reaches room temperature or around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Add two to three plant seeds per cup and allow them to sit, watching for any changes. Change the water to fresh tap water every two days, making sure it stays at room temperature.
The seeds should start sprouting in about two days, though older seeds can take up to a week to sprout. You can remove them from the water and place them in the soil at any point once they’ve sprouted. Once the roots are about five millimeters long, they need to be planted.
The downside of water germination is that once they’ve popped, you’ll need to maneuver them into their growing medium manually. This is a delicate process, as germinating seeds are extra fragile, and any harm risks the development of your plants. Make sure to place the seed roots down in the soil when you transfer to a pot.
How to germinate seeds using paper towels
The paper towel method is also a common way cultivators pop their seeds. Some even use this method with cotton pads instead of paper towels, but the necessary steps are the same.
To germinate seeds this way, lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel.
Lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Use a spray bottle to moisten the paper towels and then store the cushioned seeds between two plates, under a face-down bowl, or gently place them in a plastic bag. Maintain a temperature of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping the paper towel wrapped seeds in the dark and away from a windowsill. In two to five days, the seeds will pop inside the paper towel sandwich and emit tiny roots, ready to plant when they reach about five millimeters in length.
Use a spray bottle to moisten the paper towels and then store the cushioned seeds between two plates, under a face-down bowl, or gently place them in a plastic bag. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The paper towel method also has its risk, as the fragile seedlings can be damaged during the potting process. The tiny roots can also get tangled in the paper towels, so make sure to move the seeds to potting soil before roots grow too long. Use your hands or tweezers to gently remove each seed from the paper towels and place them in a prepared growing medium.
How do you germinate seeds indoors?
Whether you’re planning an indoor cultivation or outdoor grow, it’s best to germinate your seeds indoors. It’s easier to maintain proper temperature, light exposure, and moisture inside, and you can protect your seeds from the elements. Indoor germination, whether using soil or paper towels, will ensure your cannabis seeds have the best chance for survival.
To germinate seeds indoors, use any of the methods described above. Within a few days, you’ll have popped seeds ready to transfer to a growing medium.
Do you need to germinate seeds before planting?
While many plants can be germinated in the ground, cannabis seeds are fragile enough that you should germinate them before planting.
Once your seeds have sprouted roots, they should be planted in soil, a soil-less medium, or in your hydroponic setup. Make sure not touch the root, caring for and navigating the seedling so that the roots face downward. Plant the seed about one inch deep in your growing medium, cover lightly, and allow for about a week for the seed to emerge from the soil. If the seed hasn’t poked through by day ten, it likely didn’t survive.
Cannabis Time-Lapse Photography Videos
Today I would like to feature the following incredible marijuana growing time-lapse photography and videos, many of which were produced by fuzzygrow. View all of her time-lapse videos here: http://vimeo.com/user15676933/videos
A huge thanks to fuzzygrow for contributing these uniquely valuable time-lapse videos to the marijuana growing community!
New Life – The birth of a marijuana plant from seed
This time-lapse video spans 5 days, a frame was taken every 6 minutes. 24fps .
Watch two seeds sprout and grow their first two sets of leaves. The plant on the left is Super Lemon Haze and the one on the right is strain Tijuana.
Marijuana seeds first sprout two smooth “baby” leaves known as cotyledon leaves. These leaves were already formed in the shell. When the seed is put in warm wet conditions, the seeds “wake up” and the seed splits open. The white tip that first emerges becomes a root and grows downward.
The cotyledon leaves unfurl and start gaining height above the soil. You can see the first “true” (wrinkled) set of marijuana leaves nestled in between the cotyledons at first, and as time goes on these spread out to catch as much light as possible.
You may notice the young seedlings making slow circular movements. As far as we know, all plants do this while they grow and this movement is known as nutation, circumnutation, or nutational movement .
While we don’t fully understand the mechanism behind this movement, some scientists speculate that it was developed as a way for the plant to “explore” and find the best direction to grow, since even though plants are rooted, the difference of even a couple of inches can make a huge difference in the survival of the plants.
Recovery of Topped Marijuana Plant & Formation of 2 New Colas
This time-lapse video spans 7 days
In this video, a young marijuana plant is topped and you can watch as the two growth tips from the top node (quick picture cheat sheet explaining nodes & growth tips) turn into the two new main colas.
After the plant is topped, notice that not just the top two, but all the growth tips on the plant begin growing out (the plant is becoming more bushy). This is due to a hormonal response that happens in the plant when the main cola is damaged.
Watch as the two new main colas at the top get wider and taller, while their connection to the base of the trunk is strengthened and thickened to support their growth.
Young plant burned by Pyrethrum while lights are on & recovery
This time-lapse video spans 2 weeks, a frame was taken every 6 minutes. 30 fps.
This one is a little bit hard to watch as this Purple Haze seedling is hit by a strong insecticide (Doktor Doom) around 0:31 to combat spider mites.
The insecticide is sprayed while the lights are on, and unfortunately this combination of insecticide + light burns the young plant. You can see the plant struggles to recover for nearly the rest of the video.
I sprayed Dr. Doom on this young plant to try to combat spider mites. Plant is under a 42w CFL. The main apex was also burned which stopped growing but eventually a new one formed off center. New leaves sprouted just above the cotyledons as well.
Don’t spray pyrethrum-based products with any grow lights still on!
Pyrethrum is an ingredient in certain insecticides. In this case it came from Dr. Doom. Pyrethrum is very photoreactive so because it was sprayed with the lights on it created a bad situation on the plant as you can see. It almost appears to burn it. The growth was very gnarly for awhile afterwards!
You can see the extreme stress the Pyrethrum combined with grow lights has put on the young plant.
Although this plant recovers, you can see how badly the burns stunted its growth, and you’ll notice that the regrowth that follows is a bit odd as the plant “ditches” the burnt parts and then gets back into the swing of things.
Growing with ScrOG Time-Lapse
Watch as these young plants are trained to fill up a ScrOG net. ScrOG stands for “Screen Of Green” and refers to using a “screen” (usually made of string) to force plants to grow into a flat canopy.
Seedling & Vegetative Stage
The above time-lapse video spans 40 days of growth. A frame was taken every 6 minutes. 50fps .
Once the screen has been “filled out” with vegetative growth, the grower will switch to the flowering stage. The ScrOG technique is used to get better yields out of your indoor grow lights, which are most effective when plants are kept as close to the lights as possible. The ScrOG technique makes it so that when buds start forming, the lights shine directly on the buds and fatten them.
You just saw these plants fill up the ScrOG net in the last video. Now watch as the colas from these scrogged plants fatten up throughout the flowering stage until harvest time.
Why do marijuana plants seem to “breathe” in time-lapse photography? Why do the leaves begin to droop down and then suddenly spring back up?
All plants do that. It partly has to do with their Circadian rhythms. Plants must put energy into keeping cell walls rigid to hold up the leaves. Kinda like using their “muscles”. With plants like cannabis, the leaves tend to “rest” at night and “perk up” when they “think” the sun is going to come out.
The plants also wilt when they’re thirsty and perk up after being watered.
Here’s a timelapse showing a plant putting its leaves up and down in response to the light
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Bonus Marijuana Time Lapse Videos
These have been circulating around the internet for a while, but if you haven’t seen them before, you don’t want to miss these bonus marijuana time-lapse videos.
Growing Marijuana Time Lapse – 80 days in 45 seconds
Sweet And Sour Headband Marijuana Time Lapse Grow – seed to harvest
Seedling to Harvest – Marijuana plant grown naturally without any plant training