This is one of the most common questions we receive from curious soon-to-be growers:
How long does it really take to grow weed?
It's actually a really good question! Every new grower should know how long they're signing up for!
The short answer is: from Day 1 of your weed plant's life to actually smoking your harvest, it takes...
Time Needed: 8 weeks - 7+ Months
That's a huge range, right?
That's why most growers won't give you a straight answer. The honest truth is, there are many factors will affect the total time until you have 'ready' buds by days, weeks or even months. So a more fair answer might be to say that...
The average grow takes 3-4 months.
This includes the time needed to grow your cannabis plant from seedling to harvest plus an additional 2 weeks which is needed to quick-cure your cannabis buds after harvest.
Additionally, for at least the first time you grow, you also need to consider the time needed to get your equipment and seeds/clones.
This article will give you the total time breakdown, so you can plan out the details of your grow in order to achieve the harvest times you desire:
Jump Right to the Section You're Interested in:
- Before You Start Growing Weed
- Time Needed to Grow Weed, From Seedling to Harvest
- Germinate Your Seeds
- Vegetative Stage
- Flowering Stage
- Post-Harvest (This is when the smell/taste/look you love shows up)
Before You Start Growing Weed
Total preparation time needed: 0 days - 4 weeks
Here's the breakdown...
Get equipment: 0 days - 2 weeks
This includes purchasing your equipment and/or waiting for it to show up in the mail. Once you have your equipment, you'll need to setup your growing area and equipment. Depending on how you purchase your equipment and how quickly you setup, you could be ready the same day or in two weeks (after including shipping time).
Get seeds or clones: 0-4 weeks:
If you have instant access (like knowing a grower, or ordering seeds from a seed bank in your country), this should take only a little time. If you order from a seed bank (especially US residents), expect a wait of about 2-4 weeks to get seeds.
Time Needed to Grow Weed, From Seedling to Harvest
Total growing time needed: 6 weeks - 5+ months
Here's the breakdown...
Germinate your seeds: 1 - 5 days
Seedlings can sprout in as little as a day, but by days they should be good to go. If you have access to clones, you can skip this wait.
Vegetative Stage: 2 weeks - 2+ months.
The length of this stage is a matter of personal preference. You get to choose how long your plant spends in this stage, because you're the one to 'flip the switch' and get your plant to enter the next life stage, where she starts flowering.
Wait, how do I switch my plant from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage?
When you start with a seed, even with an auto-flowering plant, you will always have at least 2-3 weeks of vegetative growth before any buds start forming. Growers generally allow their plants to stay in the vegetative stage from a few weeks to a few months.
The size your plant achieves in the vegetative stage has a very large affect your final yields, since bigger plants produce more.
Some people put their seedlings or clones right into the flowering stage if they want to harvest quickly though this makes for extremely small plants. For example, super-stealth growers who are growing in small hidden spaces, like out of a computer case (or better yet, a space bucket), would want to put their seedlings into flowering nearly right away to keep their plants as small as possible.
I personally recommend at least 3 weeks or more in the vegetative stage with 18+ hours of light each day for the best results. Plants that are forced to start flowering sooner than that don't yield much compared to how much work you put in, and the plant usually won't start forming any flowers until about week 3 anyway.
A good rule of thumb...
Your plant will likely double in size (or more) from when you first put her into the flowering stage; this is known as the 'Flowering Stretch'. So make sure you end the vegetative stage before your plant reaches half the final height you want, or she may outgrow your grow space during the flowering stage!
To give you an idea as to what your FINAL plant may look like depending on how long she spends in the vegetative stage...
← This plant didn't spend any time in the Vegetative Stage. She was given 12-12 lighting almost immediately after sprouting. She's so small that she spent her whole life in a solo cup. I weighed down the bottom of the cup so she didn't fall over.
← This plant spent about 4 weeks in the vegetative stage, with some plant training to create a well-managed indoor plant, before being changed over to flowering. (pic thanks to Endive from GrowMedical420.com - view a complete grow journal by this grower!)
← This girl (one of my very first plants, from 2004) spent a little more than 3 months in the vegetative stage before I realized to turn her over. She got way too tall for her space and started falling over. Click for a closeup. :)
Flowering Stage: 6 weeks - 4 months
Here's the breakdown...
The length of time needed to stay in the flowering stage depends heavily on the strain. Once you have switched your plant into the flowering stage they will stretch (the 'flowering stretch'), form buds and then fatten. Here's a list of popular strains by length of flowering period:
Short (6-8 weeks)
Medium (8-12 weeks)
Pure Power Plant (PPP)
New York Power Diesel (NYPD)
Sterling Haze (one of the few hazes that doesn't take forever to finish flowering, because it was crossed with Northern Lights)
Long: (12-14+ weeks)
As you can see, most strains are in the mid-range as far as how long they take to flower.
And remember, there's a 2-3 week harvest window for most plants, and keeping your plants in the flowering stage for a bit longer tends to increase your yields. This is because the plants tend to really bulk up their flowers once they've become 'ripe'.
So oftentimes, even though you could harvest at the shortest recommended time, waiting an extra week or two will give you an extra 20-30% more yields compared to harvesting early.
Note: Before you start trying to grow a 6-week plant, consider that it will produce just a few grams of smokable harvest. With a 4 week vegetative stage, the time from seed to harvest averages 3-3.5 months, but the yields can increase from a few grams to double-digit ounces.
Post-Harvest (before you smoke you have to do this stuff too)
Total post-harvest time needed: 2.5 weeks - 1.5+ months
Drying: 3 - 10 days
Good bud can be dried in as little as three days, but ideally, drying should be a slow process takign up to 10 days. Making sure your plants have been thoroughly dried (but not over-dired) will lower chances of mold during the curing process.
Curing: 2 weeks - 1+ months
Curing really seems to make the effects of buds feel less 'speedy' and be better suited to medical applications like treating anxiety, reducing pain, and improving feelings of depression.
Additionally, curing gets rid of the 'cut grass' smell, harsh taste and other undesirable traits of freshly dried buds. Over time with proper curing, those traits will be replaced by the 'real' profile of your buds.
2 weeks is considered the minimum time to cure your buds, but I personally cure all my buds for a month or even a bit longer.
So after you've bought seeds and equipment, grown a plant from seed to harvest, trimmed, dried and cured your buds, that brings us back to the original answer...
Total Time To Grow (and Be Ready to Use) Your Own Weed:
8 weeks - 7+ Months
Average Time To Grow (and Be Ready to Use) Your Own Weed:
3 - 4 months
(indoors, with a non-soil medium like coco coir or bubbleponics)
If you haven't started growing your own weed yet, today is the day!