The Flowering Stage of Cannabis Plants

The first stage of life for a marijuana plant is called the vegetative stage. In this stage, the marijuana plant will grow new leaves and new stems. It will grow more with each passing day. During this time, the marijuana plant has great recovery properties and we’ll bounce back from problems it may encounter. If your cannabis plant has a problem you can usually bring it back even if it is close to death by simply addressing the issue and taking care of the plant as it’s growing.

In the next stage called the flowering stage, the cannabis plant will grow differently and it becomes more sensitive to problems. You don’t have a lot of room for error in this stage of growth and if you’re not careful, you could have a lower yield for your plant. You need to focus on the various parts of the flowering stage which we will address here so you know what to do. During the week by week cycle, the cannabis plant is beginning to make buds so you want the best yield in the best quality possible. Let’s have a look at what you’re going to encounter.

The Transition to Flowering During Week 1 Through 3

When you are growing a marijuana plant inside the flowering stage will begin after you change the grow lights 12 hours of light as well as 12 hours of darkness each day. When the plant is getting 12 interrupted hours of darkness every day then this is the signal that it’s time to start the flowering stage. The plant begins to think that the winter is coming so it starts to flower. It’s not the light that starts the flowering phrase It’s the darkness that is going to start the plant to flower. If your plant is getting light during the dark. For even just a few minutes it’s not going to make buds. The flowering plant may express hermaphroditism or could revert back if it is getting any light during the night.

When a marijuana plant is outside and the days start to get shorter this will cause a cannabis plant to make buds during the later summer months. The buds outside will develop on a different schedule depending upon the climate that they are in. This guide will help you understand the flowering phase of your marijuana plants when grown inside. This will assume that they are grown under controlled conditions and that the plants are going to be grown in the same way

To get the marijuana plants into the flowering stage so you have buds, you need to have a timer on the grow lights so that there is at 12/12 schedule which indicates that there will be 12 hours of light as well as 12 hours of darkness. If you have an auto-flowering strain of cannabis then you won’t need special lights for the flowering process to start. The vegetative state for an auto-flowering strain of cannabis will last around three to four weeks as long as you are counting from around week 3 to 4 then this flowering timeline will apply to your auto flowering plants as well although they may finish a little bit later than other cannabis plants.

Once a cannabis plant has been switched over to a 12/12 cycle then is going to start gaining weight and growing it like mad. Once this cycle switch is over the cannabis plant can grow as much as double and its height. This phase is sometimes referred to as the “flowering stretch” since the cannabis plant is growing so rapidly.

The female plant will start to grow quite a few white pistils, but no real buds are going to start growing quite yet. It’s important to indicate that only female marijuana plants are going to grow your buds.

To figure out whether the plant is a female or male during the vegetative stage there are a couple of things you can look for. If you have a male plant then there will be some distinct pollen sacs and you need to remove these from the grow room because they will end up pollinating the female plants and you could get marijuana buds that are quite seedy which you don’t want. The female plant grows pistils and these look like a wispy white hair emerging from the joints of the plant.

When the plant is in the first couple of weeks during the flowering stage then single leaves will form at the tops of the major colas. through the middle of the bunches, you will see white pistils and these will turn into the main buds. Around week 1-3 during new leaves and new stems will be growing larger. The plant in this stage is still quite resilient and will handle problems that could occur but you need to take care of the plant during this stage.

As it goes through this “stretch phase” the buds will begin to grow even more. You don’t want to have stunted growth during this phase because the plant might make fewer or smaller buds when compared it to if it was growing quite quickly. If you have extra room in the grow space now is the time to begin to space your plants out more. If you don’t have as much room, you should bend the stems that are stretching down so they are away from the plant center as this will give a flatter canopy. We refer to this process as low-stress training or LST.

If you can get the cannabis plants through training to grill flat during the stretching flowering phase then you will ensure that the stems are staying around the same height as each other. When you have new stems, these are quite easy to bend and are flexible. as they grow they will get woody and a lot harder to bend. Keep an eye on the marijuana plant and when you have branches that are too tall bend them down away from the center of the marijuana plant as soon as possible.

This maximizes the yield because the flat shape of the plant uses the grow light efficiently. If all of the main buds or spread out and they are around the same height then the yield can be up to 40% or more. You have to be quick with this because you don’t have a lot more time to do training for your plants. You need to shape the plant during this phase and this is critical especially if you don’t have enough room in your grow area to spread the plants out.

The Formation of Budlets Week 3 Through 4

At around week 3 to 4 the stretching that occurred before is going to slow down. The plant will still be growing in an upward fashion but you will begin to see real marijuana buds now and not just hairs. I like to refer to these as budlets.  You will also notice that the pistils are sticking straight out and white.

around three weeks into the flowering stage of the plant you will start to see new buds. During this phase, things start to get a little trickier because the plant will want nutrients and the environment is going to have to be right. you need to pay attention to the groin area during this time. You want the plant to stay as healthy as possible during the end phase of the flowering stage. You have around a month of growth left and you don’t want any major health problems for your marijuana plants during this stage.

Leaves at this time might be deficient in nutrients. This will be a problem if the leaves aren’t getting the light that they need. They may turn color or fall off but it is quite normal to lose a few leaves during this stage of growth. Your plant should be green and Lush during week 3 to 4 while the budlets are forming. If you notice a lot of yellowing of the plant then it is not a normal process during the flowering stage so it has to be addressed before the issues start to infect the entire marijuana plant.

Fattening of the Marijuana Buds Week 4 to 6

Around week 4 to 6 the marijuana buds are going to start to fatten up and you will have buds that have a lot of substance. They will still have white pistils which are standing up in every direction but the buds will start to become larger. During this time, you will not have to pay any attention to training at the marijuana plant.

If you have a plant that is grown into the light then you might have to use a last resort style solution like super cropping which is a kind of high-stress training technique that forces to stems to bend at a 90 degree angle but you usually don’t want to do this in the later part of the flowering stage. You are not going to get many more new leaves during this phase so you have to take care of the leaves you already have.  You can defoliate the plant a little bit if you’re an advanced grower as this can expose the buds more. The plant still needs enough lLeaf coverage which powers the growth of the buds. You should notice that the white pistils on the plant begin it to darken around week 6 which is when the plant is going to go into the next phase of its growth

Ripening of the Marijuana Buds and the Darkening of Pistils Week 6 through 8

During this phase of growth, there won’t be any new stems or leaves that are growing. The plant is now fully away from the vegetative growth and all of the energy is going towards growing the buds until harvest around 6 weeks you’re going to have buds that are growing and fattening a very quickly. The bottom leaves of the marijuana plant will most likely turn yellow as the plant is putting energy into the leaves and the buds. your plant should still be quite and green from the bottom to the top of the plant even during week 6 through 8.

At around week 7, the plant will be healthy and green but the plant will probably lose a few leaves during this time especially around the plant bottom. You’ll have to pay attention to the pH level at the root of the plant so you have to take care of the plants during this growth phase. If you’re losing leaves around week 6 to 8 this means that the plant is losing leaves too early. This is usually caused by light burn or a problem with nutrients.

You want to address these problems quickly so that the yield of the buds is superior. if you see a new Bud that is growing out of the side of a bud that has already developed then this could indicate light or heat damage. To prevent further damage, you should pay attention to your light levels and the temperature to reduce the problem.

This point onwards to the harvest time you have to avoid high levels of heat or light because the buds may burn, bleach, or just color and some of the potency of the THC may be reduced. if everything is going according to plan then the plant will really start growing buds quickly over the next several weeks. Around the last part of this growing phase which is week 7 through 8 then the buds should really start to be fattening up and looking great.

End of the flowering stage, Final Flush of the Plant and Harvest Time Week 8 Plus

During this final push towards the harvest, you want to spend a lot of time taking care of your plants. Most strains of marijuana are not going to be ready to harvest before around week 8. There may be a few shorter strange that are getting close to being harvestable. during the final flush before harvest, you should be giving the plants just plain water for a few days or weeks before the harvest time.

Around week 8 the buds are starting to fatten even faster than before. You will have both pistils and trichomes maturing as well as new pistils on the buds as they grow. during this time, you simply want to maintain your plant until it is ready to harvest. Certain strains will be harvested at different times. Keep an eye on the entire plant as it grows so you’ll be ready for the harvest time.

After week 8 you can start to take pictures of the marijuana buds if you want. Around week 8 to 10 the buds should be grown completely and you’ll begin to get that overpowering smell of cannabis. The leaves at this time we’ll probably start to yellow rapidly. As long as this is not impacting at the buds then you should be fine. Once the marijuana plant has wrapped up its flowering stage yellowing of the leaves is common so you should not panic. The yellowing leaves will not impact the buds that are growing.

There is no need to raise the nutrient levels at this stage because it doesn’t stop the yellowing and it is not recommended. You may even stunt the growth of the buds I see need lower levels of nitrogen in the flowering stage for the buds to grow properly. If you have bugs that are falling over or getting too heavy then there are some tools you can use. One tool is called a yo-yo and this can be hung from the ceiling area and it will hook around the buds to hold them up and it doesn’t damage them. Your local growing supply store will probably have these or you can order them online.

Some growers give the plants a final two-week flush before it is time to harvest them. this is to ensure the plant is used up any nutrients that might remain that could impact the smell or the taste of the marijuana buds. If you notice that the plant is starting to look a little unhealthy you might want to harvest the buds a little bit early or if you have factors in your life that are forcing you at to harvest early. If the plan looking at quite unhealthy than you should Harvest everything to ensure that you get the best quality out of the buds and that they themselves don’t end up dying. In most cases, you’ll be able to harvest when you feel like it but this one and upon the health of your plant and your individual situation.


This guide should give you a good head start on the flowering phase of your marijuana plant growth. As you grow marijuana, you will get better used to the flowering stage and how everything is going to work. Take your time as you learn how to grow marijuana as it will take you a little bit of effort to get used to the entire process and how the plants actually grow.