How Long Does it Take to Grow Cannabis Plants?
Thursday September 5, 2019
T here are many reasons to give growing your own cannabis a try. Regardless of whether you’d like to grow the herb for either medicinal or recreational purposes, tending to your own cannabis plants can be done for many purposes and may even be more affordable in the long run than purchasing marijuana at your local dispensary.
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, what it really needs is time and attention.
The Time it Takes to Grow Cannabis
Grow times for cannabis plants vary widely, but on average, are 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, whether indoor, outdoor, greenhouse, hydroponic, coco, etc. 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 Indica 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 is that they tend to be more short and bushy than sativas, making them a better fit for indoor setups or growing in a backyard garden.
Cultivation Time for Sativa Cannabis Plants
This cerebral and uplifting cannabis variety poses more challenges than growing indica. In addition to their longer ten-to-twelve week flowering period, sativas 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.
Cultivation Time for Hybrid Cannabis Plants
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. But, 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. Since hybrids 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.
If you do decide to grow your own cannabis, plan on approximately seven months from when you plant to when you can consume your homegrown stash.
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.
When it comes to how long it takes to grow cannabis, there really isn't a simple answer. Learn more about marijuana cultivation as we explore some of the general time-frames for different stages of the cannabis growing process.
How long does it take to grow marijuana?
From Day 1 of your marijuana plant’s life to a Smokable Harvest, you’re looking at 8.5 weeks – 7+ Months. Many factors will affect the total time, but the average grow takes 3-4 months.
These factors have the greatest impact on total time:
- Plant strain (strain has a big impact on growing time)
- Desired yields (do you want to grow a few grams, a few ounces, or a few pounds?)
- Growing method (differing grow methods/setups can add or subtract a few weeks)
How to grow marijuana as quick as possible:
In order to achieve the shorter 8.5 weeks, you need to choose a fast-finishing strain like Northern Lights and even still, at the low range, you’ll be growing tiny plants that produce just a few grams of smokable harvest.
The time from seed to smokable harvest averages 3-3.5 months for me with a strain like Northern Lights, where I grow the plants for 3-4 weeks in the vegetative stage, growing with cheap, regular CFL lights in coco coir, and with that setup I can get a few easy ounces per plant.
One of the fastest grow methods is growing marijuana with bubbleponics, which shaves a few weeks off the total time and will actually increase your yields, but it requires a bit more equipment to get started.
What if time is not an issue?
Strains from warm climates like Haze 1 tend to have long flowering periods before their buds are ready to harvest, adding weeks or months to the time needed. Long-flowering strains often produce higher yields than short-flowering strains because buds have more time to grow.
Additionally, many growers prefer to ‘cure’ their buds for longer than the 2-week minimum for added flavor and bag appeal, which accounts for why some grows could take several months from seed to smokable harvest.
Important Milestones in the Marijuana Plant’s Life
Depending on how you set up your grow, it can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months or more to grow a marijuana plant from a seedling to the point where the plant is ready to harvest. Some methods, such as growing hydroponically indoors, give your flexibility to get a harvested plant in as little as 2-3 months. Growing outdoors generally takes longer than growing indoors and is more dependent on when you plant your seeds and how long your growing season is.
Once your plant is harvested, there is a drying and curing process which takes about a minimum of two weeks before your buds are “ready” for use.
For more information about how to grow your own marijuana at home, then check out my Basic Marijuana Growing Guide or one of my more detailed How-To Guides which will explain how to grow your marijuana plant from beginning to end.
Or Jump to the Section of the Tutorial You’re Interested in:
- Before You Start Growing Weed (0-4 weeks)
- Time Needed to Grow Weed, From Seedling to Harvest (8 weeks – 5+ months)
- Germinate Your Seeds (1-5 days)
- Vegetative Stage (2 weeks – 2+ months)
- Flowering Stage (6 weeks – 4 months)
- Post-Harvest (This is when the smell/taste/look you love shows up)
How long does it take to grow marijuana? Short Answer: From Day 1 of your marijuana plant’s life to a Smokable Harvest, you’re looking at 8.5 weeks – 7+ Months . Many factors will affect the