Getting to Know Your Cannabis Plant

by Brittney Graham

When the thought of starting a cannabis home grow first entered my mind, I felt a sense of both excitement and anxiety. Excitement because I was finally going to be able to grow my own medicine and know exactly what was going into my plant from start to finish. Anxiety because I had no idea where to start and I certainly did not want to harm any plants in the making of my dreams here.

I know that I am not the only one out here that has felt like this when it comes to cannabis growing, but that did not make me feel any less directionless at the time. I have since learned that the best starting point for a grow journey is learning more about the plant and what it needs to grow successfully. I say that I have since learned this because I have had to go through bouts of misinformation and over feeding, watering, and lighting to understand that I should have started with the basics in the first place.

So, in the spirit of growing a cannabis community that is full of everyone helping and empowering each other, I wanted to share what I think it important to know about your cannabis plant BEFORE you pick up your first seed.

Knowing the the life cycle of our plant and the perfect growing conditions for each step is paramount in this whole learning process. it starts with germination of the seed. This stage of the process takes 1-2 weeks depending on the seed and strain. Seeds that are ready for germination are hard, brown, and dry and at which point can be encouraged to sprout by using a damp paper towel.

The next stage is seedling and lasts around 2-8 weeks. At this point we should have moved the seeds into a growing medium. This is when we notice more of the traditional cannabis (fan) leaves starting to form with rigid blades. Once a fan leaf reaches about 5 to 7 blades the plant is then considered out of the seedling stage. This is also when Cotyledon (seed leaves) start to grow as well.

The plant should be a vibrant green color at this time, and it is important to not over water to keep it healthy. Since it is vulnerable to mold and disease at this point in its life, it is important to keep optimal growing conditions up. This means the lights need to be 18-24 hours, Humidity at 70%, and temperatures from 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

  The Vegetative state is up next, and it takes around 3-16 weeks to complete once again depending on the strain and genetics of the plant. Transplanting into a larger pot should be done at this stage when needed to prevent root rot. This is the time when topping and training our plants comes into play if desired. Increase water intake is paramount at this stage without over watering. It is important to note that when a plant is young it should be watered near the stalk and as it gets older the watering should be down towards the edge of the pot, so roots are encouraged to grow.

Our plant needs fresh water, flowing dry air, and increased nutrients with an emphasis on nitrogen currently in its life. Keeping an eye out for any male plants is an important part of this time of the process as well. We need to remove any male plants from the grow so that our females will flower. Keep temperatures from 68 to 70 degrees, lights at 12 hours sunlight (18 fluorescent) and humidity at 50%.

The final stage of growth for our cannabis plant is flowering and this can last from 8 to 11 weeks, or longer once again depending on the strain and genetics. To start the flowering process, the light exposure is gradually reduced to 12 hours. Increased phosphorus levels and decreased nitrogen levels can be achieved at this point by adding bloom to the feeding schedule. Fertilizers are also a good way of helping with bud structures during the flowering stage as well.  Keeping the humidity level at 50% and temps from 68 to 76 degrees is VERY important during this time as we do not want bud rot.

Once we have finished the flowering stage, we will be ready for harvest and finally ready to enjoy the fruits of our labor, literally! Starting a foundation of information such as the lifecycle and optimal growing conditions for each strain we intend to grow are just the building blocks of the fundamentals of growing our Cannabis plants. Growing is a learning process everyday no matter how long or short you have been doing it so get out there and learn more about medical marijuana and how you can start growing your own medicine.

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