A watched pot plant never grows? If you're a newbie to growing, or growing with a new strain, different setup or different cannabis nutrients, the biggest question on your mind is 'how long is it going to take to grow this weed?'
We could blow smoke and tell you all things in time, but in reality, there are timetables you'll want to see if your plants are keeping to. For instance, a seed not popping after 60 days in warm, moist soil isn't an exercise in patience…it's just dead.
Here's what you can expect, roughly.
Germination (if starting from seed): 3-8 days
The germination stage will be completely invisible for a good portion of it. The plant's breaking out of its seed (AKA popping), sending down roots, and pushing a stalk through soil to break free and take in some nutrients. The first leaves you'll see aren't true leaves, but little nondescript nubs meant to take in light until the permanent growth comes in. You'll be able to tell those by their characteristic pot leaf shape. Germination is considered done when you have at least two pairs of those true leaves.
Seedling (or clone phase): 2 weeks
This is where you'll see the most dramatic growth as your plant keeps growing stronger. At this point, you've moved it from a bitty seed pot/mat to a suitably sized pot (think pint of ice cream), but not its permanent home (think lobster boil pot). Going too big too fast can lead to overwatering, overwatering leads to rootrot, and rootrot leads to tears. Your cannabis will be putting down bigger roots and growing bigger branches and leaves in this stage, but won't need to drink nearly as much as a fully grown plant. They'll be in this stage until the full number of 'fingers' on their palm-like leaves have formed–5-11 depending on the strain.
Vegetation: 2-20+ weeks
Once your plant has a good number of branches with big iconic leaves, it's time to go to the next pot up, which will be the plant's permanent home. At this stage, you can begin a nutrient cycle as your plant spends a few months bulking up. You want to spend the most time here because of the original function of flowers–reproduction. Technically you could purchase a clone and flip it into flower after only one week of vegetation and be finished with your grow in under 10 weeks. However, this will result in a very low yield due to the underdeveloped plant size.
Forcing a plant to flower prematurely is asking for sad, shrimpy yields from a plant pushed to be ready for 'courtship' before its time.
Flower: 8-11 weeks
This stage includes pre-flower, which is when you'll be able to tell your plants' genders and separate accordingly if need be.
Flowers will develop, grow, and finally ripen to the perfection you're after–but again, this stage cannot be hurried without hurting the final result. However, buds can be encouraged to grow sticky and strong with a different lighting cycle, and tailored nutrients.
In short, yes.
Cannabis is a relatively fast-growing plant from seed to harvest. Compare it with the years of waiting for any given fruit tree to develop, and you'll see what we mean. However, there are a number of factors that can affect the speed of growth, not all of which have to do with cultivation technique.
Some strains are just early bloomers, while some take their time! Check your genetics, and you'll have a more exact timeframe (though nothing natural ever goes perfectly on schedule).
Is it a full, generic white? Is it polluted with a non-lightfast grow tent? Is it too far away forcing your plants to grow taller stalks before they grow fuller leaves? All of these factors will lengthen the amount of time until the ripening flower stage, as well as lessen the quality of your grow. Give your girls bluer light in veg, redder light in flower, and keep the lights close enough to illuminate, but not burn.
Need something to do while you wait for your grow to grow up?
We just started a grower subreddit! Check out INSERT THE THING HERE, APRIL for sharing progress pics and canna-karma.