For the medical marijuana grower, it is important to understand the life cycle of the plant before growing medical marijuana. Marijuana consists of many medical marijuana strains, which all have various growth patterns. Discussed below is the basic life cycle of the marijuana plant. Marijuana is an annual plant also referred to as a short day plant meaning that the influence of environmental cues such as the photoperiod, which directs the stages of growth in the marijuana plant. The marijuana plant’s life cycle consists of different stages of growth. For the beginning marijuana grower we discuss the stages of growth of the marijuana plant: germination, seedling, vegetative growth, and flowering growth. It is important to note that an autoflowering marijuana plant’s life cycle is different than the one described below.
Germination is the period of time in the marijuana life cycle when the seed is growing a root and developing into a plant. Inside the seed is an embryo supplied with nutrients, when coming into contact with water the medical marijuana seed responds and begins to produce hormones that induce growth. As the root tip breaks though the seed the root grows and absorbs water. After the seed produces a root, the root continues to grow and fixes itself into the grow medium pushing the seedling above the grow medium. After the main stem has emerged a pair of embryonic leaves also known as cotyledons appear. The embryonic leaves unfold toward the light. Once the plant rises from the grow medium the plant’s growth follows the source of light. Germination time depends on age of seed, seed structure, and environmental conditions.
The seedling stage in the marijuana life cycle begins once the embryonic leaves appear. The embryonic leaves immediately start photosynthesis. As the seed grows the roots continue to grow deeper into the plant medium. Soon the apical meristem or the top new growth arises from between the embryonic leaves. Soon the first true pair of leaves emerges usually consisting of three bladed leaves. If the seedling is not getting enough light the stem will elongate stretching for light, you do not want this to happen. The seedling stage varies depending on genetics and environmental conditions.
In the medical marijuana life cycle vegetative growth is the time period when the plant grows at the rate its leaves can produce energy. It is the time period of maximum plant growth. This stage is where the plant is growing vigorously and becoming a healthy plant to flower. At this stage the plant continues to grow vertically producing new leaves and branches. The leaves start to have more blades, and branches begin to grow at the nodes. More branches continue to grow, as new ones appear further up the stem. The stem begins to thicken into a stock with thicker branches and leaves. In vegetative growth the plant grows no flowers. It is the time period when the plant grows a main stem, leaves, and branches. Some varieties, not all will start showing sex when they reach a certain age in vegetative growth.
In the medical marijuana life cycle the flowering stage is when the marijuana plant begins to produce flowers. Each week of flower brings new growth to the flowers. How does the marijuana plant know when to flower? It is very important for the medical marijuana grower to understand the influence of the photoperiod on the marijuana plant. The photoperiod is an environmental cue to the plant that it is time to flower. The photoperiod is the hours of light and dark that the plant receives in a day. Meaning that the marijuana plant regulates growth by measuring the hours of light and darkness to determine when it is time to flower. The natural photoperiod changes with the seasons. Naturally outdoors in the spring and summer the days are longer and the plant grows in a vegetative state. Naturally when the nights get longer it is an environmental cue that winter is approaching and it is time to flower. The hours of more darkness such as 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness cause a hormone called phytochrome to build up causing the flowering phases. With indoor growing these light conditions are replicated depending on what stage of growth you are in. Flowering weeks will vary with the variety, the age of the plant, the growing conditions, and the plant’s sex. In the medical marijuana life cycle after the flowers are fully-grown it is harvest time. When the marijuana life cycle ends it naturally ends in seeds and begins with seeds. But as medical marijuana grower you do not want seeds you want sinsemilla, which is, unpollinated medical marijuana flowers.