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marijuanas plants

Cannabis really stands out in its flowers—or buds—where unique and intricate formations occur: fiery orange hairs, sugary crystals, and chunky buds enveloped by tiny leaves.

Sugar leaves are the small, resin-coated leaves that buds form around. Sugar leaves are usually saved as “trim” during harvest and can be used for pre-rolls, extracts, and other cannabis products.

Parts of the cannabis plant

The cannabis plant has several structures, many of which we can find on any ordinary flowering plant species. Cannabis grows on long skinny stems with its large, iconic fan leaves extending out from areas called nodes.

Mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungus, can be added to soil to improve root systems.

Female plants produce the resin-secreting flower that is trimmed down into the buds you smoke, and males produce pollen sacs near the base of the leaves. Male plants pollinate females to initiate seed production, but the buds we consume come from seedless female plants—these are called “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”

Marijuana light cycle: 16 hours a day

It’s important to know these stages and how long each lasts to know what the plant needs and when. Knowing where your cannabis plants are in their life cycle will dictate when to prune, train, and trellis your plants, and when to harvest.

Notes on marijuana growth phases

The Spring Equinox is a good reminder that it’s time to kick off the outdoor growing process and start germinating your seeds.

Seedling stage length: 2-3 weeks

Vegetative plants appreciate healthy soil with nutrients. Feed them with a higher level of nitrogen at this stage.

Michael Betts / Getty Images

John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Marijuana Joints

If you see plants like this growing around your home, chances are they did not just pop-up in the wild—they were purposely cultivated. Cannabis plants have a palmate leaf with serrated leaflets. You are likely to recognize them from popular art. While there are plants with similar leaves, the serration pattern for Cannabis is distinctive.

Marijuana buds are higher in THC than other parts of the plant and are sold at a premium. As marijuana has been increasingly bred to produce more buds, you may find this type of marijuana in your home. It is probably much more potent than the average street-grade weed.

First of all, don’t over-react. Before you force your child into a professional drug treatment program that you may not be able to afford and they may not even need, take a step back and try to evaluate the situation.