The Life Cycle of a Marijuana Plant: 6 Essential Stages
Did you ever think that the life cycle of a marijuana plant is a lot like the life cycle of a human? Growers treat marijuana plants like their babies because they are! There are six key stages to the life cycle of a marijuana plant, and you can learn all about them by reading this article.
A cannabis plant goes through as many different stages in its life as a human being does. In fact, the marijuana plant (along with human beings) is one of the most complex organisms on the planet. The fact that this plant is dioecious (it can have individually separate male and female plants) makes it unique in the plant world and so much like the human world.
This will be a discovery into one of the world’s most loved plants and its life story. The life cycle of the marijuana plant is a mysteriously epic story and worth exploring in detail. So, here is the story of the life of a cannabis plant, from seed to harvest.
1. The seed and germination
Just like with almost all plants, marijuana starts out as a tiny little dehydrated thing stuck in a waxy nut. A seed is something that is just waiting for the right conditions so that it can get into gear and start growing. It’s a lot like the half of you that has been sitting in your mother’s egg for decades, just waiting for the right… information, for it to start growing something special.
So, when seeds are exposed to some moisture and some heat, they break open and the little dried up marijuana plant inside starts to sprout with life. This is the very beginning of the life span of a marijuana plant. In general, the seed is produced by the pollination of a female plant by a male plant. This means that every seed has genes from two different plants.
When some moisture has entered the seed and the seed cracks open slightly, two stems appear – this is called germination. One of these will form the root and one of these will form the above soil part of the plant. It is the environment itself that will decide which cells are going to be produced (whether it is root cells or bud cells), and otherwise these two stems are identical.
In fact, a cannabis seed even contains something a little bit like sperm, and rightly enough, that thing is called the endosperm. It is essentially a tiny store of nutrients (or calories) to get the ball rolling. The endosperm supports the growth in the soil until the plant is no longer an “embryo” anymore.
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2. From seed to seedling
The first two leaves that open up towards the sun are still considered to be in the embryonic stage, and the plant is still considered to be a seedling. This is where the points of the marijuana leaf appear rounded, and this is how growers usually identify that the plant is still a seedling.
The endosperm is still supporting the plant with some energy while it soaks up nutrients from the soil, developing roots and drawing in light. It can grow up to eight leaves as a seedling and can stay in this stage for up to 3 weeks before completely breaking out of the seed case.
By the time your baby plant is starting to grow out of being a seedling, the leaves begin to take the characteristic shape of a marijuana leaf. The rate of growth of the foliage is important in this stage, as it will also give you an idea of the general life span of the plant.
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3. The vegetative stage – not for vegging out!
The vegetative stage is, unlike the name suggests, not a time for the plant to be chilling out. Actually, this is one of the most exciting times in the plant’s life cycle.
Just like when a human being is a toddler, its growth and learning is accelerating exponentially, and this is right about where we are in the life of a cannabis plant. This time is all about growing and getting taller and stronger so that it can be ready to flower later on. The plant will take its shape during this stage, too.
During this stage, the marijuana plant produces so much more foliage than in other stages because it is capable of absorbing much more CO2 from the air. During this stage, growers are always alarmed by the rate that their cannabis plants can grow in just one day. It’s almost like hearing every parent say, “They are growing up so fast!”.
The vegetative stage is all about consumption and collecting all the ingredients your plant is going to turn into flowers later. For this reason, light exposure is the main key. If you’re growing indoors, you can vegetate for as long as you like and let your plant grow as tall as you like. If you’re growing outdoors, you will be limited to the rules of nature.
Nitrogen-rich nutrients are what the soil requires at this stage, as the entire system is growth spurting (including the roots). This will encourage the maximum number of nodes and leaves producing, so that there is maximized space for creating buds.
The more nodes there are, the more buds that are able to grow, and therefore the bigger the yield that can be harvested.
During the vegetative stage, growers will apply some training principles on the plant, such as low stress training or super cropping. This is really the only time to prune leaves or shape up. Your plant is almost an adult (in the biological kind of way)! Basically, this is the time for getting everything perfect so that you can watch the magic happen.
Canalization of Seasonal Phenology in the Presence of Developmental Variation: Seed Dormancy Cycling in an Annual Weed
Variation in the developmental timing in one life stage may ramify within and across generations to disrupt optimal phenology of other life stages. By focusing on a common mechanism of developmental arrest in plants-seed dormancy-we investigated how variation in flowering time influenced seed germination behavior and identified potential processes that can lead to canalized germination behavior despite variation in reproductive timing. We quantified effects of reproductive timing on dormancy cycling by experimentally manipulating the temperature during seed maturation and the seasonal timing of seed dispersal/burial, and by assessing temperature-dependent germination of un-earthed seeds over a seasonal cycle. We found that reproductive timing, via both seed-maturation temperature and the timing of dispersal, strongly influenced germination behavior in the weeks immediately following seed burial. However, buried seeds subsequently canalized their germination behavior, after losing primary dormancy and experiencing natural temperature and moisture conditions in the field. After the complete loss of primary dormancy, germination behavior was similar across seed-maturation and dispersal treatments, even when secondary dormancy was induced. Maternal effects themselves may contribute to the canalization of germination: first, by inducing stronger dormancy in autumn-matured seeds, and second by modifying the responses of those seeds to their ambient environment. Genotypes differed in dormancy cycling, with functional alleles of known dormancy genes necessary for the suppression of germination at warm temperatures in autumn through spring across multiple years. Loss of function of dormancy genes abolished almost all dormancy cycling. In summary, effects of reproductive phenology on dormancy cycling of buried seeds were apparent only as long as seeds retained primary dormancy, and a combination of genetically imposed seed dormancy, maternally induced seed dormancy, and secondary dormancy can mitigate variation in germination behavior imposed by variation in reproductive phenology.