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The Two Primary Stages

Cannabis’ life cycle in the wild: The cannabis seeds sprout during spring. The plant grows during the summer. The days get shorter, fewer hours of sunlight. The cannabis plant starts making flowers or pollen. The plant gets pollinated. The pollinated female cannabis plant makes seeds. The plant spreads the seeds and dies off for the winter. - The process repeats.

Growing indoors is tricking your plants into thinking they are outside. – Jim

The Two Primary Stages

A cannabis plant’s life consists of two main stages: vegetative and flowering.


In short; cannabis plants will keep growing and stay in the vegetative stage for as long as you give them more than 12 hours of light a day. Most growers give their cannabis plants either 18 or 20 hours of light while in veg. When the lights are reduced to 12 hours or less the plant begins the process of switching to the flowering stage where it produces flowers.


A cannabis plant will keep growing during its vegetative stage as long as it “believes” it is in spring or summer. When you switch down the lights on the plant, it fools it into thinking winter is on the way and the plant starts producing flowers. This occurs naturally outdoors as the seasons change. However, indoor growers have the ability to control their environment and use their lights to ‘tell’ their plants when it’s time to start flowering.

Cannabis plants that react to light changes are grouped together under the term photoperiod cannabis strains. There is an exception for strains that start flowering regardless of light changes, these are called autoflowers and are explained in the topic “Autoflowering and Photoperiod Cannabis Strains”.


As a grower, it is very important to understand that cannabis plants in the wild have their life cycle set in stone.