The Growing Stages
Germination: If starting from seed, you must germinate the seed before planting it in soil, soilless medium or a hydroponic system. This can be done in a variety of ways. The most common method to germinate is by placing cannabis seeds in between two pieces of wet paper towel that are soaked with distilled water, storing this in a dark and protected space and make sure they are kept warm for about 2-3 days. The seeds will begin to sprout revealing the tap root, which signals that it is time to transplant the germinated seed into your growing medium. Poke a hole in the soil about a quarter-inch deep using a pen or pencil then use a pair of tweezers to transfer the seed into the hole with the trap root facing down. Finally, cover the seedling with a bit of soil or whatever your medium is.
If starting from a cutting, simply plant the cutting in your soil or soilless medium.
Seedling Stage: As the cannabis plant becomes a seedling, it will start to develop the first signs of leaves. Cannabis plants are typically considered seedlings until they begin to develop fan leaves with the full number of blades (usually between 5-7).
Vegetative Cycle: The vegetative cycle is where most of the growth really takes place. Both the roots and leaves will begin developing at a rapid pace. The stem grows thick and tall and begins to develop new nodes that will produce more branches and leaves. The vegetative cycle typically takes between 3 to 6 weeks. During this time, your baby seedling will transform into a plant that can be several feet tall.
Flowering Cycle: Most cannabis strains will stay in the vegetative cycle until the amount of sun or artificial light is progressively reduced, triggering the flowering cycle. The lack of light in this phase of the growing process is meant to mimic the sunlight patterns in nature as the seasons change. If growing outdoors, this will happen naturally. When growing indoors, it is essential to decrease exposure to light to around 12 hours as opposed to 18 hours in the vegetative state. The flowering cycle typically takes 10-12 weeks for Sativa-dominant cultivars and approximately 8-10 for Indica-dominant varieties.
There are a few signs that will let you know when the flowering cycle is complete, and it is time to harvest your cannabis. One signal is when the pistils begin to change colour from milky white to red or orange tones. The trichome heads will also transition from clear to milky to amber. Translucent trichome heads indicate that the plant has a high concentration of THC, while amber-coloured trichomes indicates that the THC has started converting into other cannabinoids.