The answer is: It depends!
The stages of the cannabis plant
A seed that has germinated after being soaked in water for 3 days
Germination stage (2-5 Days): Although some growers start directly with a clone thus skipping this stage, the most popular way to grow is to begin with a seed. There are different germination techniques all of which take between 2-5 days before the seed is sprouted and the first roots appear.
A cannabis plant while it's still in the vegetative stage
Vegetative stage (2 weeks - Several months): How long you keep your plant in this stage is completely up to you (unless you go with auto-flowers) most growers will recommend keeping the plant in the vegetative stage for at least 2 weeks to allow a structure strong enough to ensure flower development.
How do you keep the plant in the vegetative stage?
The answer is simple: Light schedule. If you grow indoors, you can control this with a timer by setting it for 18 hours of lights ON and 6 hours of lights OFF. This will recreate the outdoor conditions where days are long and the plant will keep growing without developing any flowers.
At this stage, there is a lot you can do to optimize your crop and this will greatly depend on your personal style. There are many different ways you can train the plant with either Low-stress training and High-stress training. Those will stimulate the plant to grow bigger and stronger and have a decisive impact on the number of buds you will have and the size of your yield.
A cannabis plant during the flowering stage
Flowering stage (2-5 months): The flowering time of a cannabis plant will mostly depend on the genetic. Most seed packages have an average they recommend so this can give you an idea but ultimately, you will have to take a look at the trichomes to determine when you want to harvest. People looking for energetic effects will harvest earlier when trichomes are whites and people looking for stronger body effects will wait until the trichomes are more amber in color.
How do you induce the flowering stage?
The answer again is light schedule. The plant will need at least 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to start producing buds as this recreates the natural conditions when days get shorter at the end of the summer. Make sure your plant is not exposed to any type of light during the darkness hours as this can cause issues and revert the plant to its vegetative stage.
Cutting the whole cannabis plant at once
Post-harvest stage: (1-10 weeks): Now that your plant is ready to harvest, you still have to wait before you are ready to enjoy the final product. Don't worry we're almost there!
Hanging the whole cannabis plant upside down in the tent to dry it
Drying: There are different ways you can do this. Some will dry the whole plant immediately after cutting it, hanging-it upside down. Some growers prefer to trim the plant before drying to accelerate the process so the choice is yours. Make sure you have an environment available where you can control the humidity as this is crucial to properly dry the plant.
Dry buds after being trimmed
Trimming: Most growers will tell you this is their least favourite part of the process. But trimming is essential to remove the leaves and unveil the buds. You can do this by hand with scissors but there are mechanical trimmers for those who want to save time, especially when you have a large production.
Dried and trimmed buds resting in a special hermetic bag to cure
Curing: This is the last stage and a very important one. Curing your buds will make the difference between good and exceptional buds. Although curing can be long and boring, it will stop de degradation and ensure important compounds such as terpenes and cannabinoids don't evaporate.
Outdoor vs Indoor
Growing indoors will give you full control over the light cycle, this means you will decide exactly how long you keep the plant in the vegetative stage before switching the cycle to induce flowering.
If you grow outdoors, you don't have to worry about light cycles. Typically, growers will start their crop at the end of spring when days are increasingly longer and as long as there is a good amount of sun, this will keep their plant in the vegetative stage for most of the summer until the days start getting shorter. At this point, the plants will start producing flowers and the growers will harvest when they are satisfied with the result.
Feminized seeds vs Auto-flowering seeds
Feminized seeds are regular seeds but they have been genetically modified to ensure you have a female that will produce flowers. With these plants, you are controlling the plant stages with the light cycle. Giving them 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness will keep them in the vegetative stage and when you are ready to switch to the flowering stage you only have to adjust this cycle to be 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. This is slower and optimal for growers looking to grow big plants.
With Auto-flowers, things are slightly different. The seeds have also been modified to automatically start flowering regardless of the light cycle. This allows growers to give as much light as they want to the plant some even going with 24 hours of light and 0 hours of darkness which makes it by far the fastest way to grow cannabis and is optimal for growers looking to grow smaller plants more often.
Big fan of your online business. The tutorials are helpful. I’ve been growing for 45 years but always learning.