In order for marijuana to complete its annual life cycle, marijuana must flower, be pollinated, and produce seeds. Marijuana is a dioecious plant, which means that it produces either male (pollen-producing) or female (ovule-producing).
However, some plants and plant varieties can be hermaphrodites (bisexual) which will produce both male and female parts. In marijuana’s natural life cycle within nature, marijuana flowers in the fall after the long hot days of summer have passed.
The growth patterns and chemistry of marijuana change entering into their flowering cycle, this is when the changing of the season signals for them to flower. During the marijuana lifecycle, the stems will elongate, leaves grow less, cannabinoid production increases and flower formation begins.
Nutrient requirements for marijuana life cycle change as they progress to and through the flowering stage of their life. Flowering marijuana begins the uptake of phosphorus and potassium to promote flower growth while nitrogen requirements are lowered and less water is used.
When marijuana is grown indoors, you will be able to induce flowering to your plants by giving them 12 hours of the day and 12 hours of the night, in contrast to the vegetative state of 18 – 24 hours of light a day.
Cannabis Plant Lighting Schedule
Once plants have been introduced to 12 hours of light a day they will begin to show their sex within about two (2) weeks of flowering growth. Marijuana plants take anywhere from 6 – 12 weeks to fully flower.
During the flowering stage of marijuana, you will not want to remove any leaves from the plant unless they are either dead or 50% damaged by pests, disease, or nutrient burn. Large leaves are necessary to keep the plants healthy and producing well.
Once marijuana has started to show whether it is male or female, you will need to remove the males if you do not want to have a seeded crop. If you wish to save pollen for breeding in the future, you need to contain the male and place the male in another room that is away from the female plants for the male pollen to fully develop.
If pollination is to occur within your garden, pollen from the male (staminate) flower is carried away in the wind and lands on the female pistil (pistillate) flower. Once the pollen is able to make it to the female flower it is able to fertilize the flower which will then start to form a seed within the seed bract of the female flower.
In nature, there is usually a 50/50 chance for the seed that is created to be either a male or female.
Pre-Flowering In The Marijuana Life Cycle
The first signs of marijuana’s sex are referred to as pre-flowers and show themselves on the nodes of the branches, just behind the little leaves. You can see pre-flowers within the first two (2) to three (3) weeks in the flowering stage.
If you cannot tell which is male and which is female then you may wait for another week to be able to better determine their sex.
After about eight (8) weeks you can accurately determine the sex of the plant when it is in its vegetative state when using a 10x – 30x magnifier.
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