The Stages of Cannabis Cultivation

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If you’re jumping into the green rush, let us help guide you with some information about the stages of cannabis cultivation. With Prospiant as a partner, we can help your business succeed because we have leaders and experts with experience in the industry.

How much time does the marijuana growing process take?

To completely grow a cannabis plant, it takes approximately 10-32 weeks or 3-8 months. This process can be quicker when growing indoors. You can force a plant to flower in only a few weeks by controlling the light and dark it’s exposed to and its environmental conditions.

Outdoor growers have to rely on natural weather conditions. Growing cannabis plants in an environment that is unpredictable may make the outdoor cannabis cultivation process harder to succeed in. Though outdoor cannabis growers can control the hours of light that their plants get by using light deprivation techniques and tools.

When growing in a greenhouse indoor growers can cultivate cannabis year round and with 4-6 harvests per year while growing outdoors only allows for 1-2 harvests a year.

How long can a marijuana plant live?

Marijuana plants are annual plants which means that they live for one season outdoors and then they will die. If we go back to what we know about wild cannabis plants we’d know that when they die the seeds that they made while living will drop and those seeds will grow to be a plant in the next year. When indoor and outdoor growers cut down their plants when harvesting, the plants die and the grower will need to plant new seeds to grow more plants. 

When grown indoors it is possible that your marijuana plants could live for longer than one season. If growers are careful enough they may be able to harvest without letting the plant die and have to re-seed. Growers may be able to get the buds off of the plant and allow it to continue growing and provide new buds. 

A few months after the marijuana plants reach the pinnacle of their flowering phase, they will rot if they’re not harvested. It’s important in the flowering phase to pay attention to the plants’ changes to know the right time to harvest.

When should you grow marijuana?

To grow marijuana outdoors in the northern hemisphere, you will need to be on a stricter calendar. Outdoor growers should follow this outline:

  • January 15th – Buy seeds
  • February 1st through May 15th  – Germinate seeds
  • May 1st through July 1st – Move to outdoors and plant into the ground
  • May 15th through August 15th – Top/prune the plants
  • September 1st through November 15th – Harvest your plants 

Many growers start their growing indoors because the beginning can be a very delicate process and you can control the light cycle and watering needed for a successful start. A rule of thumb for cannabis cultivators to follow is that your plants should be outdoors by the Summer Solstice at the latest, the Summer Solstice is June 21.  
In a greenhouse with the proper environmental controls, growing marijuana is possible year round. You can begin to grow cannabis during any month and any season if your greenhouse has the right technology to simulate the right environment. Some advanced greenhouse technology that Prospiant has to make this possible is: heating and cooling systems, irrigation, light deprivation tools, supplemental lighting, environmental controls, and more. Cannabis is just like any other crop and needs to have the ideal environment. Thanks to other commercial flower and vegetable industries paving the way in growing conditions technology, growing cannabis can be made easier with high-tech greenhouses.

Cannabis cultivation growth stages

Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors the stages of cannabis growth will be the same. The only thing that will differ is the timeline because growing in an indoor facility like a greenhouse can be sped up. But the plant will still go through these stages: 


Your cannabis plant germinating is another way of saying it is sprouting. This process will be approximately 3 to 10 days. 

Germinating seeds need a steady warm environment and not too much water. The cannabis seeds should not be disturbed after they are put in soil because they are delicate and need to be left alone to develop. 


The seedling stage lasts about 2 to 3 weeks, this is when the sprout begins to produce leaves. The plant will at first only grow one leaf, when more leaves develop they are often called blades or fingers. When the plant is mature it should have 5 to 7 blades but it can also have more than that. During the seedling stage, growers should be careful when watering the seedling, it does not need a lot of water to survive. When the seedling is stable enough, outdoor growers who started the growing process indoors, can move outdoors and plant the seedling into the ground. 


After the plant sprouts it begins building the foundation of becoming a full-grown new plant. It begins to grow its root system and stem structure that allows the plant to stand and have support. Its leaves will then begin photosynthesis. Growers should increase the water they are giving their plant and widen the area they water because the plant’s roots are stretching out further as the stalk grows upward. The soil should be full of nutrients and growers should be feeding the plant nitrogen during this stage. Vegetative growth lasts approximately between 3 and 16 weeks.

In the vegetative stage growers can begin topping and pruning their plants. Topping is when the grower cuts off the main stalk to force the plant to grow more bushy. The reason for this is to yield more from the plant and allow it to grow healthier. The plant is able to grow bigger colas when topping is done to the main stalk because it’s not continuing to just grow upward. When topping isn’t performed then the main stalk will produce smaller colas that won’t provide growers with a good selection of yield. 

Pruning on the other hand is a different process. The act of pruning is removing leaves and branches that are dead off of the plant so that it can refocus and produce buds in different areas. Sometimes growers will prune parts of the plant that aren’t receiving much sunlight because they won’t be useful either. It can be healthy to prune your marijuana plant in order to allow fresh air to more directly hit the plant.  


Pre-flowering is the starting formation of the plants sex organs. The pre-flowers will form at the nodes of the plant, on a branch that comes out of the main stem. You will have male and female plants that will grow different pre-flowers. The male plants grow round sacs of pollen while the female plants will form oval-shaped bract with hairs or pistils coming out of it. You will need to separate the males from the females so that they do not pollinate. 


Formation of the buds that will be harvested happens in this flowering stage. You’ll know for certain in this phase whether your plant is a male cannabis plant or female. The plant’s light cycle should be 12 hours a day indoors and 6 hours a day of full direct sunlight for plants being grown outdoors. 

When growing in an indoor facility, your plant will enter the flowering stage when you change the photoperiod from 18-24 hours of light per day to 12 hours of light, 12 hours for dark per day. Doing this can trick the plant into thinking it is day and night and get them to focus on developing buds.

Plants should not be pruned when they are still in the flowering stage because it can upset their hormones. Giving plants bloom nutrients when they are flowering can help in development. 

At what point your plant flowers will be dependent on the strain of marijuana plant it is. Sativa plants typically finish flowering later than indica plants that tend to finish flowering earlier. Growers should keep that in mind when purchasing seeds to best satisfy when they want to be able to harvest. You may need to harvest early or late depending on when your strain of plant finishes flowering, that is why it is important to watch the flowering stage carefully. 


You will know that your plant is ready for harvesting when its buds are large and well developed. The hairs or pistils on the buds will be dark and curled and the plant’s trichomes will be cloud/milky white with amber-hued trichomes, if at least half of them are like this then your cannabis plant is ready for harvest. If the pistils are white and not curled then you should not go through with harvesting just yet. 

Paying close attention to the signs of your plant being harvest ready is important to the potency of the marijuana. Waiting too long to harvest will make the marijuana too potent to the point of having a sedating effect. When more than half (roughly 70-90%) of the pistils have darkened, your plant is at its most potent. If you are running a commercial business and selling your marijuana to a dispensary then you will need to perfect the time that you harvest for the safety of consumers. 

Female cannabis plant versus male cannabis plant

Cannabis plants will either be female, male, or hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodite plants are female that also produce pollen sacs. The plants share a similar anatomy but there are ways to tell them apart. Regardless of gender, the plant grows trichomes off of their branches. The trichomes produce and hold cannabinoids and terpenes which are the parts that will be harvested and extracted. 

Anatomy of female cannabis plants

  • Colas – These are the flowers that are produced by a female plant, they are commonly referred to as buds. Colas are covered with cannabinoids and terpene filled trichomes.
  • Bracts – Scale-like leaf structures that enclose around the seeds and protect them. Bracts are also referred to as calyxes, the female plant has calyx cells that are in the tissue between the seed and the bracts that hold it. 
  • Stigmas – This is the reproductive part of the plant that catches pollen from the male plants. 
  • Pistil – If pollen is captured by the stigma then the pistil reproductive organ is activated.
  • Sugar leaves – These are the leaves that hold the cannabis buds together. They got their name because of the high concentration of trichomes that have a similar appearance to sugar. 

Anatomy of male cannabis plants

  • Stamen – The organ that produces and releases pollen to be caught by the female plant’s stigma for pollination.
  • Anther – These are the sacs that produce and hold the pollen inside the stamen. Anthers hang by a filament and together they make up the stamen.
  • Pollen – Pollen is what fertilizes female plants. It is microscopic and is produced and contained in the anther. 

To have the greatest yield of your flowers and prevent cannabis seed production, growers should keep male and female cannabis plants separate from each other.

What can we help you with?

At Prospiant, we partner with cannabis cultivators to help you set up, grow, prove profitability, and scale fast. We use high technology combined with natural tools to create the perfect growing environment for the best crops and allow growers year round cultivation. 

Our cannabis growing expertise can help push you to success. We can be there every step of the way if you are just entering the cannabis industry. Get your sustainable and cost-effective greenhouse for cultivating cannabis from Prospiant.


At five weeks your cannabis plant will be in their vegetative state, this stage is where the plant growth really takes off. During this phase, its roots will grow down and the stem will grow up, allowing the plant to become stable. For outdoor growers who started the plant indoors, when it is stable enough after the vegetative stage, the plant can be moved outdoors and planted into the ground.

The vegatative stage for cannabis plants can last to be thirteen weeks long. The stage begins three weeks after germinating and lasts until sixteen weeks. This is when you can begin topping or training your plants.

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