Wanting to adventure with autoflowering strains? Here's all you need to know about the whole lifecycle of autoflowering strains and the most important stag Learn how marijuana seedlings develop by checking out the pictures of marijuana seedling growth day by day, With identification tips included
The Lifecycle of the Autoflowering Cannabis Plant
Growing cannabis isn’t child’s play. You’ll succeed only after mastering the basics, and it’s even more important to familiarize yourself with the lifecycle of the plant.
- 1. Germination
- 2. Seedling stage
- 3. Week 1 to week 3
- 4. Week 4 to week 6
- 5. Week 7 to week 9
- 6. Week 10 to week 11
- 7. Harvest
- 8. Drying, trimming, and curing
- 9. In conclusion
Growing cannabis is an art that requires patience. Only growers that understand the science and lifecycle of the plant will succeed. The rest either fail miserably or simply give up. It’s not uncommon for beginners to fail. And since practice makes a man perfect, keep at it until you finally harvest a big bunch of nugs that remind you of all the hard work.
I promise that it’s all worth it in the end. But first, you must understand how the plant grows. Not only will this help you save time, but you’ll also be able to bounce back even if you face setbacks. So, let’s take a look at the lifecycle of the autoflowering cannabis plant to make it a little easier for you.
The first step of the plant’s cycle starts with germination. Now that you’ve grabbed your favorite seeds, it’s time to plant them. People use different ways to germinate the seeds, but it’s important to stick to a method that works for you. Ideally, the seeds should be soaked in a glass of water for at least 24 hours. Some growers use a nail file to scratch the seeds gently before soaking them.
This ensures that the seeds soak in more water, but you shouldn’t attempt this if you’re a beginner. The seeds can then be transferred to a wet paper towel and stored in a zip-lock plastic bag. Within 1-2 days, the taproot emerges and the seeds are ready to be planted. Note that many growers simply stick their seeds in the soil, and you can follow the same route if you prefer.
For the most part though, we do recommend sticking with the paper towel method. This method allows for more control, which is what we are always looking for as cultivators. Be sure that the paper towel you use is totally unscented, unbleached, and without any sort of dye – all three of these can cause issues with germination and can even kill the seed.
When using the wet paper towel method, be sure to check the seeds daily to see if there has been any progress. The last thing you want is to leave germinated seeds for multiple days without planting, as this is a true recipe for disaster. Depending on the state of the seed, and the strain, it can take anywhere from 2 to 10 days for the tap root to emerge, but for most seeds, it should take no more than 3 or 4 days especially if you have soaked them to begin with. Remember to always check the pH of the water, and amend it to between 5.5 and 6.5 for the best chance of germination success. The EC or TDS should be low. For germination, the perfect temperature is around 80°F but anywhere within the 70°F – 90°F (21°C – 32°C) range will work just fine.
The seeds can be transferred to the soil at this point. It may take another day or two for the seeds to emerge from the soil and break their hull. Be patient and stop messing with the plants. You might be tempted to assist the seedling since it looks so fragile, but it will do fine without you. Also, remember to regulate the pH as it’s very important.
The seedling stage is the most important stage. The plant will take a long time to recover if there’s a mishap at this stage, so be very careful. If growing indoors, hang the lights at least 17-20 inches above the seedling (if using HID lighting, this is less important with LED and CFL panels as they produce much less heat). Reduce the distance as the plant grows bigger. CFLs, LEDs, MH, and HIDs will do as long as the seedlings are comfortable.
Week 1 to Week 3
The seedlings begin with only two true leaves. After a couple of days, a third leaf will appear. The plants don’t need any nutrients on the very first week if you’re growing in soil. For those growing in hydroponic setups, reduce the strength of the nutrients by half to allow the seedlings to adjust to them. You can kill the plants faster by overwatering them. Not a myth; it’s a fact. So, go easy on watering. And, make sure that you supply enough water to keep the soil moist. Moist, not dripping wet or dry. As the process of photosynthesis goes on, new sets of leaves will appear.
The seedlings become a little stronger during week 2. You can now introduce nutrients unless you’re using premade organic potting soil. Again, the nutes should be mild as the plants are still fragile. The distance between the lights and the seedlings should be reduced if the seedlings grow lanky.
By week 3, the seedlings show more leaves popping up. Some autoflowers may display their sex at this stage, but if you’ve planted only feminized seeds, you don’t need to worry at all. If using regular seeds, however, it’s important to distinguish between male and female plants. While female plants show their pistils, the males will produce little pollen sacs. It’s a good idea to remove the males since sensimilla buds are preferred. Nutrients can be used at regular strength now, but be cautious to check the plants for any nutrient burn. The seedlings will suffer a bit with low doses of fertilizer or nutrients, but they don’t recover quickly from an overdose or nutrient burn.
Week 4 to Week 6
This is the phase that determines how big the plants grow. You can use several training techniques including LST, Topping and FIMing to increase yields. Many growers make the mistake of introducing bloom nutrients as soon as the plant produces a few pistils, but that’s not how you do it.
Note that some plants may still be in the vegetative stage and nutrients must be provided at full strength based on autoflower feeding schedule recommendations. Also, this depends on the type of fertilizer you’re using. For instance, if you’re growing organically, use organic nutrients according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but make sure that it contains more nitrogen. If you’re using a brand that has two parts of Growth and Bloom fertilizers, use only the “Grow” part during week 4. Most brands of fertilizers provide the numbering of N-P-K to make it easy for you.
For example, if you’re using General Hydroponics, only FloraGro and FloraMicro (micronutrients) should be used during this stage. Remember to regulate the pH constantly when using nutrients, but if you’re using something like the pH Perfect from Advanced nutrients, for instance, pH can take a back seat.
All cannabis plants can have different sizes even if they’re the same age. Gorilla Cookies by Grey_Wolf.
Week 5 begins with the plants producing lush leaves with a few buds appearing slowly. Continue with the “Grow” nutrients even at this stage lest you want the plants to stop growing vertically. This is the stage where an explosion of growth occurs and you need to support it with nitrogen. Using more phosphorous or potassium at this point will force the plant to focus more on the buds rather than growing.
Many growers use bloom nutrients as soon as they enter the 5th week because they are satisfied with the growth of the plants. Some plants like Green Crack and Gorilla Glue have the tendency to grow very large, so you might be tempted to use flowering or bloom nutes. However, the yields can reduce significantly if the plant isn’t allowed to grow to its full potential.
As you enter week 6, the appearance of buds is even more apparent. A little defoliation doesn’t hurt now. Defoliation is the process of removing extra leaves to provide more light to the lower parts of the plant. Don’t overdo it, though, because the plant relies on the leaves to receive nutrients. Continue with nutrients meant for the vegetative stage as the plant will shoot up vertically.
Week 7 to Week 9
The plant is all geared up for its flowering stage and bloom nutrients can be used at full strength. The buds will begin to swell and the unmistakable aroma of sweet cannabis will fill up your tent. The pistils will slowly change colors from white to a light brown or red, depending on the strain.
It’s also a good idea to use nutrients to boost buds to improve the quality. Organic soil growers can use dried and powdered banana peels to introduce more potassium to the soil. The vertical growth stops sometime during week 7 but the plant does everything in its power to increase the size of the buds.
As you enter week 8, the leaves start yellowing a bit, but there’s nothing to be alarmed. This is just a natural way of the plant indicating that it’s nearing the end of its cycle. Continue to use flowering nutrients even as you step into week 9. Don’t forget micronutrients that are added right from week 2. Defoliate the plants again if the bottom parts of the plants display small buds.
Week 10 to Week 11
The plant is almost at the end of its lifecycle. Stop using nutrients and use plain water to remove any chemical buildup. This practice is known as flushing, and it’s very important if inorganic nutrients are used. Flushing also ensures that your buds don’t taste or smell like chemicals and improves the quality of smoke dramatically.
By week 11, all the leaves start turning yellow. Most of the pistils turn amber, indicating that it’s almost time to harvest. Admittedly, many seed companies including Fast Buds tell you that the plant will finish its cycle in 8-9 weeks. And yes, they do finish in 9 weeks if you grow in a good growing environment. However, your plants may take a little bit longer depending on the growing conditions you provide.
I received one seed of this variety as a gift and I can say that this is an excellent quality as always. I think it will be a great product)
You can harvest the plants now by chopping them all one by one. Use sharp sterilized scissors to prevent infecting the buds. Don’t forget to use gloves, especially if you’re harvesting buds of the Gorilla Glue as they are notorious for oozing resin all over.
You have a couple of options when it comes to harvesting, and it all really depends on the size of your plants and the environmental conditions at play. If you have grown plants that are smaller than about 1 meter tall and live in temperate conditions then you can probably get away with cutting the plant at the base of the main stem and just hanging the entire thing. On the other hand, if you have grown massive beasts and live in hot, humid conditions then you probably want to break the plant down branch by branch and hang them all separately to dry.
DRYING, TRIMMING, AND CURING
This is the last stage where the buds are dried, trimmed, and then stored in mason jars. The first decision you have to make is whether you want to wet or dry trim the weed. In almost all circumstances we suggest dry trimming, with wet trimming only being suggested when the ambient temps and humidity is high and you are unable to control the drying environment. There’s a bunch of ways to control the temps and humidity, from AC units and dehumidifiers (or humidifiers depending on the conditions) to heaters, and even your regular oscillating fans.
You want the drying period to be in the goldilocks zone – not too fast and not too slow. The ideal timing is strain-specific to a certain extent and is also dependent on the denseness of the bud, but anywhere between 7 to 14 days is great. To achieve this you want the temps to be anywhere in the range of 60-70°F (that’s 15-22°C) with a relative humidity of 55-65%. If after 2 to 3 days of drying you are not seeing much of a change in the moisture levels in the buds then you need to reassess your setup, as the buds are going to be in dire risk of developing mold issues.
Once they are all nice and dry it’s time to trim. But hold up there cowboy, the last thing you want to do is dive in headfirst with that old sh**ty pair of scissors that have been hanging around your kitchen drawers for the last decade. Trimming is a tedious and annoying job, so do yourself a favor and grab a pair of dedicated trimming scissors to catch all the falling keif. The first time we used a proper trim tray we almost fell off our trimming seat when we realized just how much keif we had been wasting trimming without one.
Curing comes at the last stage, but it’s the most important one if you want top-quality buds. Do not skip this process because all your hard work will be for naught if you skip this one. Again, environmental control is paramount to the success of the curing period. We cure weed to allow the terpene profile to fully maturate and for the capture chlorophyll to dissipate.
For this process to properly take place we need to keep temps around 70°F (22°C) with a humidity level of 60-65%. Place the weed into your resealable glass mason jars, and remember to not overfill them. You want the jars to be no more than around ¾ full so the buds have space and air to breathe. Last but not least, wait for at least 2 weeks to cure the buds even if you’re tempted to smoke them immediately. Doing so will reduce the harshness of the flower and your lungs will certainly thank you for it!
Not all strains will have fully cured in two weeks though, with some flowers taking up to 6 months to finish the maturation period. For the first 10 to 14 days you want to burp each jar once or twice a day to allow the remaining moisture to escape, and then twice a week for the rest of the cure. Can you smoke those buds as soon as they have dried? Of course, you can, but if you really want to get the best out of all of your hard work then be as patient as possible and let the curing process work its magic. It’s quite surprising how much difference just leaving the buds to cure can make to the end of smoke.
The lifecycle of autoflowering cannabis plants is basically the same as photoperiods. There are a couple of differences in how fast they develop and how they grow but most cannabis growers with a couple of grow cycles under the belt can definitely grow autos without any problem at all.
If you’ve grown autoflowers before feel free to share your experience with fellow growers by leaving a comment in the comment section below!
Marijuana Seedlings: Their Anatomy, Growth, and Identification
Your day-by-day and week-by week guide to marijuana seedling plants‘ progress from emergence to vegetative stage
In this post, we’ll talk about the normal growth of marijuana seedlings. It will give beginner growers a pretty good idea of what to expect day by day and help you keep your cool and not react with panic whenever you suspect trouble.
We understand that taking care of marijuana seedlings can be a nerve-racking experience. But it shouldn’t be. Just look at the pictures in this post and compare them with your little plants to see if they are doing okay. And if in doubt, consult our guide to seedling problems and how to solve them.
Table of Contents
Marijuana Seedlings from Day 1 and Onwards
So you’ve germinated your seeds between wet paper towels or using some other method and placed the sprout into a grow medium, like soil, or soil mix, or coco, or rockwool. We recommend covering the sprout by the medium completely, so that its tap root has something to push off from when it’s trying to dig deeper. And when the tap root has established itself in the medium, it pushes the seedling out of the medium and its ‘helmet head’ comes up.
If the medium is moist enough and coarse enough, the shell can peel off on its own. Otherwise, the seedling can be stuck in the shell and needs your help (see the link above to remedy this and any other problem). Below the shell, there is a thin film covering the cotyledons. Sometimes, it sticks and doesn’t let the cotyledons open, even after you have successfully removed the shell.
This is day 1 for three OG Kush Auto seedlings. Only one of them has cast off its shell on its own.
We have removed the shells from the seedlings on the right and in the center. The one in the center still retains the film though.
Sometimes, you will see the weed seedlings sprouting yellow. Don’t worry: it’s perfectly normal. The green color in plants is due to chlorophyll, a natural chemical that plants produce in the presence of light. And this process needs time. Give your yellow sprout a couple of hours under light, and it will start to turn green.
The First True Leaves
When the seedling sprouted, the pair of cotyledons will be ‘glued’ together – the way they used to be inside the seed, but soon they will move apart, and you will see the first tiny pair of true leaves tucked between them. Of course they will be whitish or yellow, too, at first.
On day 1, the cotyledons will be most probably pointing down, but on day 2 they will definitely straighten themselves (and so will the stem), and the first leaves with serrated edges will start to turn green and grow imperceptibly. These first leaves will have only one ‘finger’ each. The second pair – three fingers, the third – probably five.
Most of the Growth is in the Root Zone
The growth in the first week may seem painfully slow to you, but don’t you worry: the plants will pick up pace eventually, and right now a lot of progress is happening underground where the root system develops. The main root, called tap root, tries to reach as deep as it can.
That’s why it’s recommended to use deep pots or tall party cups for cannabis seedlings. But secondary roots also actively grow at this stage which will be evident to you if you use rockwool or jiffy pellets: the root tips will grow through their sides.
Control the Height of Your Marijuana Seedlings
Marijuana seedling height is controlled by the amount of light it receives. If everything is just right, the seedling is sturdy and not too tall: probably 2-3-4 inches the first several days, and hardly much taller when it is 1 week old or even 2 weeks old.
The seedling’s main business at this time is root development and the growth of leaves, not the overall height. If you see that each successive pair of leaves eventually grows bigger than the previous one, your young plants develop beautifully. At day 10, the span of the second pair should be the same as the span of the first one.
When Does the ‘Veg’ Begin?
It’s hard to point to the exact moment in time when a young plant stops being a seedling and begins its vegetative stage. You’ll see it happen when your cannabis starts to get noticeably bigger overnight. It may just grow higher, or rapidly develop side branches, or its leaves will get very large very fast. When you witness this sudden spurt in growth, congratulations: the vulnerable seedling stage is over and the plant has started vegging.
On day 1, one out of three OG Kush Auto seedlings has yet to ‘unglue’ its cotyledons.
This is Day 1 for Cream Caramel that managed to cast off the shell while emerging from the soil. It’s still yellow because it hasn’t yet been exposed to light.
Cream Caramel seedling at day 2. The cotyledons and the first pair of true leaves are already green. The stem is brownish-purple, but it’s perfectly normal.
OG Kush Auto at day 3. The seedling is in the process of straightening up.
This Six Shooter seedling is at day 4, and you can already see the second pair of true leaves.
OG Kush Auto at day 6. A bit stretchy and bent as a result, but oherwise healthy.
OG Kush Auto at day 8. Firts pair of leaves a bit wavy, probably due to overwatering at some point.
On Day 10 or so, the spans of the first and second pair of true leaves should be the same. This Six Shooter is actually 13 days old which means that its growth has been too slow.
A very sick seedling. Besides yellow, dry, and brittle leaves (due to too aggressive LED light), you may also notice that the second pair of true leaves, though developed, is much smaller than the first one. This assymetry is a clear sign of major trouble.
Green Crack by Fastbuds at day 11 develops nicely. However, there is evidence of mild heat stress.
This 2 week old Auto Euforia seedling has leaves with 1, 3, 5, and even 7 ‘fingers’.
With noticeable side shoots at every node, this young cannabis plant shouldn’t be called a seedling anymore. Now it’s entering the vegetative stage and will develop rapidly.
The Color of Healthy Marijuana Seedlings
Generally, your seedling’s leaves should be medium green, not too light and not too dark. If the green color is too deep, it can mean that there’s too much nitrogen (N) either in the medium (soil mix), or in the plant food that you’re feeding your cannabis.
If the green color is just a bit too dark or too light, maybe it’s the genetics (see below). And when the leaves are turning purple or you see purple veins, purple stem, or even red stem, it also can be attributed to genetics. However, sometimes the cooler temps, especially at night or during the lights-off period, may lead to reddish hues in stem or purple leaves. White stem (usually with some greenish stem color) doesn’t mean there are any troubles.
Yellow is the Color of Trouble
The yellow coloration is a different story. Most often, it’s a sign of trouble, so don’t be complacent and resolve the issue a.s.a.p.
The only exception is when you see yellow veins or yellow in the middle of leaves first thing in the morning. It’s because the growing parts of the seedling haven’t yet been exposed to light. Watch them for a couple of hours, and, most probably, these new leaf parts will produce enough chlorophyll to turn the healthy shade of green.
This picture was taken at lights on. The new tissue in the middle hasn’t received any light yet, that’s why it’s yellow.
Another case of normal yellowing is when cotyledons die off at some moment. They are necessary in the first few days of a seedling’s life, before true leaves develop. Then cotyledons become redundant, get yellow and dry. This is inevitable and happens sooner if the cotyledons are far from light or shaded by true leaves above them.
This plant is probably 3 or 4 weeks old. The cotyledons have already served their purpose, and now it’s time for them to die.
Marijuana Seedling Identification: How Much Can You Really Tell?
Some people are very impatient to identify their marijuana seedlings. Maybe, you’ve bought a mix of different seeds, and they are not marked in any way, so you can’t tell the difference between them. Or a friend has given you a bean or two, or you decided to try some bag seeds. So, what can a seedling tell you about your future rewards, if any?
Frankly, marijuana seedlings don’t reveal much. The only thing that you can tell with any confidence is whether your seedling is an Indica or a Sativa. Often, you can see the difference in the very first set of true leaves. Indica leaves have darker green color compared to sativa leaves that are more light. Indica leaves are also shorter, broader, and ‘rounder’.
Judging by broad, round leaves, this seedling has dominating Indica genes.
This Green Poison Early version has narrow, light green leaves that point to its Sativa heritage.
The Identification of Sex in Marijuana Seedlings
As for the seedling gender, you can’t tell male from female. Only when a young plant starts flowering, or, to put it more correctly, when it shows preflowers at the nodes, you can determine if they are female hairs or male fists.
This seldom happens earlier than at 3 weeks (in the quickest of automatic strains). For photoperiod varieties, you can only wait until the vegetative growth really kicks in and the first preflowers appear. Alternatively, you can speed up this process by switching your light schedule to 12/12, which can be done even from day one. However, it will be a significant stress for your seedlings if they start flowering like this and then you decide to revert them back to veg with 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness.
This plant has clearly shown its sex. It’s a boy. Note that you wouldn’t see male or female flowers in a seedling; only in mature plants.
A much younger cannabis plant has already shown male flowers.
Yet another plant (mature) showing male flowers at the nodes.
This young plant, probably 3 weeks old and not very healthy looking, shows the first white pistils (female hairs) on top. The yellow color in the middle probably means that the picture was taken at lights on.
Identifying a Keeper by Smell
There is one more thing that you can do to understand what you actually grow: you can slightly rub the leaves and smell them. The aroma should be rich and pleasant for you. That’s what breeders do who germinate hundreds of seeds and want to decide early on which ones to keep and which to discard. And, of course, you should look for marijuana seedlings that are healthy and vigorous, not sickly and small.
Not much of identification guide, we know, but it is what it is.
So now you know enough about marijuana seedlings to stop worrying and enjoy the process of growing. And if you want to make sure that your sprouts receive all the proper L&C, check out our article describing the ideal conditions for your weed seedlings and how to take good care of them.