How Long Does it Take to Grow Cannabis Plants?
T here are a lot of reasons to give growing your own cannabis a try. Regardless of whether you’d like to grow the herb for medicinal or recreational purposes, tending to your own cannabis plants can be rewarding for weed growing newbies and green thumbs alike, and may even be more affordable in the long run than purchasing marijuana at your local dispensary.
- Growing Marijuana: The Beginner’s Guide
- How to Grow Marijuana for Personal Use and Avoid Dispensaries
- How to Properly Distance Cannabis Plants in a Grow Room
- Closing the Yield Gap for Cannabis: A Meta-Analysis of Factors Determining Cannabis Yield
However, growing cannabis is not exactly like taking care of a potted plant, and one thing a houseplant certainly does not need is a deft hand to guide it through its grow cycles. After all, daisies will bloom if you can at least remember to give them some water and sun. Cannabis? Not so much.
To grow cannabis that can be consumed for its intended purpose, you’ve not only got to lead the plant through its many stages from germination to curing, but your plants require both attention and time. Which begs the logical question, how long does it take to grow marijuana plants? Let’s dig in.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Weed?
The very short answer is – that depends on whether you’re growing indoor, outdoor, greenhouse, coco, or hydroponic weed. Grow times for cannabis plants vary widely, but on average, expect about three-to-five months for indoor grows. However, there are many factors that could add or subtract from that range, including whether you choose to grow from a clone or a seedling, the target yield (how much consumable product) and the growing method you’ve chosen.
A very loose breakdown of a growing timeline could look like this:
Basic Cannabis Cultivation Timeline:
- Seed germination: 1-7 days
- Vegetative stage, when the plant is growing just stems and leaves: three weeks to eight weeks or more
- Flowering stage, when buds start to appear: five weeks to sixteen weeks or longer
- Harvesting, drying, and curing: two to four weeks
But the number one determinant of growing time depends on whether you’re growing sativa, indica, or hybrid cannabis strains. Let’s take a look at some average grow times for each.
Cultivation Time for Different Cannabis Plants
For those looking to grow cannabis more quickly or achieve higher yielding strains, indica is the way to go. With a shorter flowering period – about eight-to-twelve weeks – plus a generally higher end yield, growers often prefer them because they can be cultivated in more frequent cycles indoors, while outdoor growers can time several growing cycles before the weather turns cold.
Another benefit of growing indica seeds is that they tend to grow shorter and bushier than sativas, making them a better fit for indoor setups or growing in a backyard garden.
This cerebral and uplifting cannabis variety poses more challenges than growing indica. In addition to their longer ten-to-twelve week flowering period, plants grown from sativa seeds tend to produce a smaller yield (although this is certainly not true of all sativa strains).
Sativas can also grow to be very tall, up to 20 feet in an outdoor setting, which makes them difficult to conceal from neighbors in an outdoor grow setting. Even when confined inside, they may still grow long and lanky, a challenge for anyone trying to manage a small grow space.
A genetic mix of both indica and sativa strains, the growing time for hybrid marijuana strains may vary depending on which way the genetics lean.
Since hybrid seeds are a true blend of both sativa and indica, cultivators often prefer to grow them because of their higher output, generally faster growing time, and consumer appeal.
On average, hybrids tend to grow faster in the vegetative stage like a sativa, but may have a shorter flowering period like indica, about six-to-ten weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cannabis Plant Growth
What is the fastest you can grow weed?
One seed company says they have a strain that can go from seed to harvest in 49 days. Before you buy seeds from any company, be sure to do your own research on quality and reputability, and make sure you’re getting a strain that suits your consumption habits and preferences.
Is there a way to speed up cannabis growth?
There are a couple of hacks that could speed up cannabis growth, including growing autoflowering hybrids, growing from clones instead of seeds, growing hydroponic weed, and changing up the stressors put on the plant (although this option is probably best left to more experienced growers).
Do you have any experience growing cannabis at home? How long did it take you from seed to harvest? Share your stories in the comments below.
Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.
Cultivators grow all of the cannabis plants that are harvested, sold as flower, and made into products. Their operations look like other agricultural operations in California. Cannabis cultivation is a multi-step process that includes:
- Preparing the soil and growing medium
- Planting seeds or clones
- Irrigating, fertilizing, and managing pests
- Harvesting plants
- Drying, curing and trimming plants
If you want to grow cannabis and sell it in California, you will need a cultivation license. The type of cultivation license you need depends on:
- The size of your canopy (the area where you grow mature plants)
- What kind of lighting is used
There are different licenses if you:
- Grow seedlings and immature plants only for use by other businesses or sale to consumers (nursery license)
- Dry, cure and trim cannabis after harvest; package cannabis; or make pre-rolls for other licensees (processor license)
Use of pesticides
You can use pesticides on cannabis plants if they meet guidelines set by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). DPR has resources about:
- What pesticides are okay to use
- What pesticides cannot be used
- Pest management practices
- Pesticide safety
Pesticide use is enforced by DPR and county agricultural commissioners. Contact your county agricultural commissioner if you have questions about pesticides.
Cannabis cultivators have a responsibility to protect the environment and be responsible stewards of the land. That’s why it’s important to understand how your operations may impact the environment.
All agricultural operations in California are required to get permits and follow rules set by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Water Boards. These rules help protect water quality and conserve water resources.
CDFW and Water Board rules prevent:
- Degradation of water quality
- Excessive water diversions that can injure or kill fish or dry up small streams
- Sediment and debris being washed into waterways
- Changes to land that can harm streams and wildlife, like erosion or grading
- Damage to native fish and wildlife habitats
- Impacts to threatened or endangered species
Cannabis cultivators must have:
- A Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement with CDFW or written confirmation that one is not needed
- Any permits required by the Water Board’s Cannabis Policy
CDFW has profiles of cannabis cultivators who use best practices and tips for managing your cultivation site in a wildlife-friendly way.
Appellations of Origin
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is developing an appellations program for cannabis. Appellations are special names reserved for cannabis:
- Grown in a certain geographical area
- Grown using certain production standards
Appellations are used for other products, too. For example, the wine industry uses appellations to tell consumers which region the grapes were grown and wine was made.
The cannabis appellations program will:
- Help consumers understand where cannabis was grown
- Promote regional products and local businesses
- Prevent misrepresentation of the origin of a product
CDFA is working on regulations for the cannabis appellations program. Once they are adopted, CDFA will begin accepting applications to create an Appellation of Origin.