Growing marijuana takes time.
That is unavoidable.
How much time it takes depends on a number of factors. That means it is not possible to give an exact time frame. It also means you can speed up the time it takes a bit.
If you are growing indoors anyway. Outdoors, you have to rely on the natural changing of the seasons.
The primary factor that influences how long it takes cannabis to grow is the strain. Choosing a fast-growing strain can shorten the time considerably.
We’ll go into more detail on how to speed up the process below. First, let’s try to answer the primary question as best we can.
- 1 How Long Does It Take For Weed To Grow?
- 2 How To Make Weed Grow Faster
- 3 Time It Takes To Grow Marijuana: Final Thoughts
How Long Does It Take For Weed To Grow?
On average, it takes 3 to 5 months to go from seeds to smokable weed.
But that is just an average. The time it takes for weed to grow varies greatly. As mentioned, it depends on a number of factors and can range from 8 weeks to well over half a year.
Let’s break the time it takes cannabis to grow down into the different stages, so you can get a better idea of how long each stage takes.
This should also help you see where you can cut out some time and shorten the process. For example, you can see in the graph below that the flowering stage takes up the most time, so there should be some opportunity to speed things up there.
And there is. Luckily, the flowering time is the easiest to shorten. We’ll follow up our breakdown of each stage with some specific tips for speeding up your marijuana grow. You can also shorten veg quite a bit, by growing smaller plants instead of larger ones.
Length Of Each Stage Of Cannabis Cultivation
The following chart shows a breakdown of how long each stage takes in relation to the total time required to grow weed from nothing to the point where you can smoke it. This is based on the average time required for each stage. As you’ll see below, the actual times can vary greatly.
We begin before the grow even starts, with a stage we called “preparation”, because you will need a number of supplies to successfully grow cannabis. If you already have everything you need, you can obviously skip this stage entirely.
Time Required: 0 to 4 weeks
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to get all of the necessary supplies together. This can take a few weeks, depending on where you source your supplies.
Most reputable online seed banks are located in Europe, but some have US offices, which cuts down on shipping times. Our article on the best places to buy marijuana seeds has everything you need to find the best seed bank.
Even if you have the supplies, you may have to get everything set up, which can be done in a few hours, but may take a few days. If you are not sure what all you need, check out our article and checklist of the things you need to successfully grow marijuana indoors.
Time Required: 1 to 7 days
If you are starting with seeds, you will need to germinate them first, before they can begin growing. Whether you germinate them in something like a rapid rooter, on a paper towel, or directly in soil, it generally takes a day or two for the tap root to emerge from the seed.
Once the root has grown to 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3 to 5 mm), it is time to plant it in a growing medium like soil, if you did not germinate it directly in the medium. It then takes a few more days for the plant to sprout and the first leaves to grow.
Time Required: 5 to 10 days
If you are starting with clones, you don’t have to worry about germination, but you do need to get your clones to root, before they can start growing. This process usually takes 5 to 10 days. We have an entire article on getting your clones to root faster.
Time Required: at least 3 weeks
Once your seeds have sprouted or your clones have rooted, it is time for vegging. This stage can take as long as you like when growing indoors (unless you are growing an autoflower strain), but should last at least 3 weeks for most plants.
Starting with clones obviously saves a bit of time over starting with seeds.
The reason this stage can last indefinitely when growing indoors is that you are the one who provides the signal for your plants that it is time to start flowering.
Outdoors, the shortening days tell the plants to begin flowering. Indoors, you shorten the amount of time you leave the lights on, going from 18 to 24 hours of daylight down to 12. Or, if you are using an unusual lighting schedule for vegging, like 6 hours on and 2 hours off, going from that to 12/12.
Why would you want this period to last any longer than it has to, though?
Because your plants keep growing. If you take them out of the vegetative stage immediately, they will be fairly small, which will limit the number and size of buds they can grow. That said, keeping them small might make sense, if you have a limited grow tent size.
If you let the plants veg for longer, they grow larger and are able to grow a lot more buds. Of course, the size your plants can achieve is also constrained by the size of the pots they are in and the amount and strength of the grow lights.
You also have to remember that your plants will approximately double in size from the beginning of the flowering stage to the end. This means you want to take them out of vegging when they are about half of the final desired size.
Note that low moisture content in the air can stunt growth and lead to longer vegging times, so you might need to raise humidity levels in your grow tent. Vegging time also increases every time you top your marijuana plants.
Time Required: 5 to 16 weeks (or more for select strains)
The flowering (or bloom) stage begins when you switch your lights to a 12 hours on and 12 hours off schedule and continues until harvest. As mentioned, your plants will double in size during this stage of growth.
The bloom stage can be broken up into several distinct sub-stages. You can read about that in our article on flowering time, which also covers how to know when it is time to harvest your buds.
The length of the bloom stage varies greatly. The primary factor that determines how long a plant takes to reach harvest time is the strain.
Sativa strains generally take longer, with an average flower time of 10 to 16 weeks. Indica strains generally complete this stage in 7 to 9 weeks.
Time Required: 3 to 7 weeks
After harvesting your weed, you can’t smoke it right away. Well, you can, but we would not advise it. You should dry it at the very least, but ideally you want to cure it as well.
Curing weed eliminates the grassy smell and harsh flavor of dried buds. It also reduces the head rush aspect when smoking the buds, and makes them better at reducing anxiety, pain or feelings of depression.
You should cure your buds for at least 2 weeks, but ideally a month or more. Drying generally takes a week to 10 days, though you could do it in 4 or 5 days.
But we always advise against rushing it. After all that time spent growing, why would you want to rush it now and end up with lower quality weed?
Read Why Does My Weed Smell Like Hay? for more on what can happen if you dry your buds too quickly. I’m sure you can already guess one issue from the title of that article.
How To Make Weed Grow Faster
While you should never rush the process, since that will result in lower and poorer quality yields, you can speed up certain parts of cannabis cultivation to ensure you don’t waste any time and your grow comes in at the lower end of the time estimate range, not the higher end.
Here are a few things you can do to get your marijuana plants to grow faster.
Choose A Fast Growing Strain
The strain of marijuana you grow has the largest impact on how long it will take. If you choose a fast-growing strain, you can speed up the process considerably.
You’ll notice many of them are autoflower strains. Autoflowers are always a good choice, if you are looking to reduce the overall time it takes to grow your weed. They start budding much faster.
Minimize Vegging Time
If speed is the only thing that matters, you could switch to a 12/12 light cycle and begin flowering as soon as possible. Of course, this will result in much smaller plants and correspondingly smaller yields. We definitely do not recommend this, unless it is your goal to have small plants.
You could also run your lights 24 hours per day. This speeds up growth, but also has negative effects on your plants. We do not recommend this either.
Start With Clones
Growing from clones instead of seeds speeds up the process a bit, since the clones are already fairly well developed. You have to wait for them to root, but once they do, you have a huge head start over a seed.
Use A Separate Veg Room
Vegging in one room and flowering in another allows you to harvest twice as often. While one set of plants is in the flowering stage moving toward harvest, you can have the next group vegging in a separate area. Then you can move them to flowering as soon as the group currently flowering has been harvested.
Provide Ideal Conditions
If you provide your plants the perfect conditions, they will grow faster, and produce buds faster as well. This means you need to give them the right type of lighting (quantum board LED lights from HLG are perfect; if you are on more of a budget, check out Spider Farmer), a good growing medium, the right amount of water and nutrients, and the right temperature and humidity.
Our simple guide to growing marijuana covers everything you need to know.
Time It Takes To Grow Marijuana: Final Thoughts
The amount of time it takes to grow cannabis can vary greatly, but there are things you can do to speed it up. Some, like shortening the vegging time, will have negative effects on yield, so you should always weigh the options carefully.
The single best thing you can do if you want to shorten the amount of time it takes before you can harvest your cannabis is to grow a fast-growing strain. As mentioned, autoflowering strains generally grow the fastest, but any of these strains are quick to reach harvest.