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How Long Does It Take to Grow Weed? (Expert Opinion)


Growing weed takes time.

Depending on your strain, you need considerable time and effort to turn cannabis seeds into smokable buds. 

But how long does it take to grow a weed plant? Read on for when and how to speed up the process.

How Long Does it Take For Weed to Grow?

Basic Cannabis Cultivation Timeline

If you are wondering how long does it take to for a weed plant to grow, you must first understand that cannabis strains grow at different rates. 

Although all strains follow the same development stages, each cannabis strain has either a longer vegetation period or a longer flowering period, creating variations in total grow time. 

Generally, though, expect the process of growing cannabis from seed to harvest to take at least 14 weeks, 32 weeks at most.

Your cannabis plant’s total grow time also depends on whether you’re growing outdoors or indoors. 

Typically, indoor growing is a lot faster than outdoor growing because you can control the amount of light your plants get and other growth factors such as humidity and temperature.

Below we have a condensed cannabis growing timeline for reference:

Cannabis Growth Timeline

  • Germinating: 1-7 days.
  • Seedling: 2-3 weeks.
  • Vegetative: 2-8 weeks.
  • Pre-Flowering: 1-2 weeks.
  • Flowering: 6-8 weeks.
  • Harvesting.

Indica

Growers favor indica strains for many reasons.

For indoor growers, an indica strain is their ideal type of cannabis, as the strain’s seeds produce short plants that are perfect for indoor grow rooms

Indica Cannabis Leaf

Outdoor growers take advantage of the short plants that indicas produce to grow their weed discreetly.

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Although indica strains grow short, unassuming plants, they generally produce a lot more buds than sativas, which is why many high-yielding strains are indicas or indica hybrids. 

Lastly, indoor and outdoor growers prefer indica because they flower much faster.

Plants that bloom faster increase growers’ overall yield and streamline the timing of multiple batches of cannabis plants per growing season.

Sativa

Although popular because of the cerebral high that sativa offers, sativa strains are more challenging to grow than their indica counterpart. 

Sativa Cannabis Leaf
Sativa Cannabis Leaf

A typical sativa strain will produce tall plants that grow up to 12ft or higher, a sizable challenge indoors.

This is why they’re typically grown outdoors. 

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However, by applying plant training such as topping, you can reduce the height of your sativa plants and even increase the number of buds that they produce.

To further increase your plants’ yield, choose a high-yielding sativa strain.

Although this won’t change sativa plants’ long flowering time, a larger batch makes it worth the time and effort to grow a sativa.  

Hybrid Cannabis Leaf
Hybrid Cannabis Leaf

Hybrid

A hybrid strain mixes sativa and indica characteristics into one strain.

Each hybrid strain has a particular genetic lean, determining its growing time.

The three general types of hybrids are sativa-dominant, indica-dominant, and 50/50 sativa-indica. 

The hybrid’s ‘blending’ also influences cannabis buds’ effects; generally, you’ll find hybrid cannabis buds offering both sativas’ cerebral high and indicas’ body high.

Hybrid Marijuana Seeds

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In addition to blending both kinds of effects, hybrids also have a more complex flavor profile loved by many cannabis connoisseurs.

Hybrids mix indicas’ earthiness and sativas’ fruitiness.

Hybrids roll the best parts of both strains into one and combine the fast vegging that sativas have with the short flowering period of indicas, making them the ideal strain for any grower.

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The Cannabis Grow Stages

Not including the preparation phase, there are four stages in growing cannabis.

Each stage takes up a different amount of time, and you must let your plants complete it.

Don’t rush them, especially during their flowering period

If you harvest too early in your plants’ flowering phase, you’ll end up with loose and sparse buds that have half the size and reduced potency.

Germination of Cannabis Seed
Germination of Cannabis Seed

Germination

Seeds start to germinate within 24 hours.

The germination process can take up to three to five days.

When the plant is sprouting, you’ll see the taproot grow out of the seed.

However, there are no guarantees.

Some seeds, like older seeds, take much longer to germinate.

Older seeds develop a harder seed coat, impeding water from penetrating the seed to kickstart the germination process.

Always buy fresh cannabis seeds from a reputable source!

Not only do freshness and a solid source guarantee that the genetics are strong, the best sources, like ILGM.com, will also guarantee germination.

Cannabis Vegetative Stage
Cannabis Vegetative Stage

Vegetative

The vegetative stage begins once your seedlings are three to four weeks old. Once you reach this period, transplant the seedlings into a bigger pot

In this stage, your cannabis plants will start growing rapidly, developing a healthy root system, dense foliage, and bud sites.

Generally, vegging can take anywhere from two weeks to six months, depending on the growing method you choose. 

cannabis flowering stage
Cannabis Flowering Stage

Flowering

Flowering occurs when your cannabis plants begin to receive less light either because of the summer solstice (less daylight for outdoor cannabis plants) or an adjustment of the timing of artificial grow lights in your indoor setup.

To begin the flowering phase, cannabis requires 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

Outdoor growers may struggle to force their plants to flower since they rely on the sun and the changing season to achieve the ideal light to darkness ratio.

However, providing the ideal ratio for indoor growers is as easy as flipping a switch, which they can do any time so long as their plants have grown to their desired height.

The average cannabis strain has a flowering time of around 8-14 weeks. 

However, some strains flower faster than others, such as indicas that typically have only 8 weeks.

On the other hand, sativas are known for their long flowering time (12 to 14 weeks).

Some sativa strains take 16 weeks to finish flowering.

Harvesting Marijuana
Harvesting Marijuana

Harvesting

Harvesting includes trimming and curing your buds, which can affect how long the harvesting process takes depending on how you do it. 

The trimming process alone can take a day or a week, depending on your experience and whether you choose to do wet trimming or dry trimming. Read my trimming guide for an overview of these methods.

Typically, the initial harvesting process will only take one to three days. The process consists of: 

  • Cutting down your cannabis plants
  • Pruning off any unnecessary plant matter
  • Hanging the plant to dry or trimming buds.

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harvest guide
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What is the fastest way to grow weed?

Using hydroponics to grow cannabis is the fastest way to grow weed.

Not only will hydroponics cut down any cannabis strain’s total grow time by a couple of weeks, but hydroponics also increases the plant’s yield and the quality of its buds. 

The science behind why hydroponics speeds up plant growth lies in the nutrient-rich grow environment

Unlike traditional growing, where soil provides nutrients, hydroponic systems directly feed your plants the exact amount of micro and macronutrients via nutrient-rich solution. 

Your plants no longer need to stretch out and grow a complex root system, allowing them to instead focus on vegging.

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The idea of making your hydroponics system may seem complicated and expensive, but in reality, no sweat.

Learn how to set up simple and affordable hydroponics and aquaponics.

However, if you’re new to growing cannabis and don’t want to invest in something like a hydroponics system, you can always buy autoflowers

Not only are autoflowers the fastest growing cannabis strain you can buy, but they’re also low maintenance.

Autoflowers resist many diseases and drastic temperature shifts – perfect for any new grower getting into cannabis cultivation. 

And once you’re ready to take on photoperiod strains, start by purchasing fast-growing cannabis seeds such as Gorilla Glue and OG Kush from ILGM.com.

By picking fast flowering strains, you can have multiple harvests, increasing the overall yield you get per growing season.

To maximize your yield, grow fast flowering strains in a hydroponics system. This greatly reduces the total time it takes to grow cannabis.

Is there a way to speed up cannabis growth?

When making your cannabis grow faster, you have a couple of options depending on whether you’re growing your plants indoors or outdoors. 

Indoor growers have the advantage of forcing their plants to flower by changing the light cycle in their grow room to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, resulting in the cannabis plants flowering much earlier than outdoor-grown cannabis

Force flowering does have drawbacks–when forcing indoor plants to flower early; you lose a good chunk of potential yield by not letting them finish vegging.

Although tricky, you can force flower outdoor cannabis plants.

Put a large tarp over outdoor cannabis plants in the early evening and remove the tarp the next morning. 

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This deprives your outdoor plants of sunlight and creates the ideal light to darkness ratio needed to start flowering.

Strangely enough, force flowering works better for outdoor plants. Buds are larger, denser, and more resinous. 

Sunlight that outdoor plants get, especially during the peak of summer, is much more intense compared to the artificial grow lights that indoor grow rooms use.

Speaking of light, you can also speed up your cannabis plants’ grow time by increasing the amount of light exposure.

For indoor growers, simply increase the hours of light that your plants get. 

Usually, plants have 13 hours of daylight to 11 hours of darkness.

You can increase the hours of light to 18. This does mean a spike in electrical cost since you’re leaving your lights on longer. 

If you live somewhere sunny, a cheaper alternative is growing outdoors.

That way, you will rely on the sun and the season to provide your plants with the intense light they need to veg faster.

Smoking Weed
Smoking Weed

Conclusion

When growing cannabis, many factors affect the total grow time, from the quality and age of cannabis seeds to the growing method.

However, genetics are the biggest determinant of a cannabis strain’s grow time.

Whether the seeds are new or grow in hydroponics, if a strain has poor genetics, it can lead to slow plant growth.

That’s why, when buying cannabis seeds, you must first find a reputable source that always provides good genetics.

Waiting for a marijuana plant to grow is sometimes worse than waiting for water to boil; however, you can be a lot less anxious when you understand what to expect. 

Learn everything you need to know about growing marijuana in my free Marijuana Grow Bible, and if you get stuck while growing, visit my grow forums. I promise you, the wait is worth it. 

Happy Growing,

Robert. 

FAQ’s About How Long Does It Take To Grow Weed

How tall should a 4-week old plant be?

A cannabis plant that’s four weeks old has just entered the vegetative phase.
Your plant should reach 8 to 10 inches tall by this time, but this depends on whether you’re growing an indica, sativa, or autoflowering strain.

Why are my weed seedlings growing so slow?

During their seedling stage, your plants are at their most vulnerable.
If you notice that your marijuana seedlings are growing slowly, evaluate their surroundings.
To understand what’s affecting the growth of your seedlings, check out our guide to marijuana seedling problems.

How long will a weed plant live?

Depending on your growing method, your cannabis plants’ lifespan can range from less than a year to grow and thrive to more than five years. Typically, growers will plant their cannabis seeds, veg them, and then flower, a process that generally takes around 6-7 months. However, if you’re growing cannabis to produce clones, you can perpetually have a plant in its vegetative phase for as long as 5 years.



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