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Cannabis plants go through different stages of their life cycle. As a general statement, the indica strains mature faster and flower more rapidly, which makes them popular for larger scale production. However, both strains, sativa and indica, go through the same stages that are based on the number of weeks from planting.
Most strains of sativa will mature at about 10 to 16 weeks, while indica strains will mature and have flowers at about 7 to 10 weeks. There are variations within strains, and lighting, moisture, and temperature can also impact the maturity rate. Indica varieties are colder tolerant than sativa. Some growers may reduce temperatures for the indica variety to create a reddish or purple color to the flower.
The life cycle of both sativa and indica is the same, although on a shorter timeline when it comes to the indica strains. Germination can take as little as three days to up to ten days, followed by the seedling stage, where the young plants develop the first leaves, which are known as cotyledons. Next, serrated leaves form, with the recognizable cannabis leaves finally developing at about three weeks.
The vegetative state follows, which can last up to 16 weeks for the sativas. This is the time when the plant grows taller and starts to become bushier if it is an indica strain. Sativa strains tend to grow taller and more upright. The leaves of the indica strains also become wider and darker green in color, while sativa leaves are narrower and lighter green.
Keep in mind, growers typically choose hybrids, allowing them to develop strains that mature more rapidly but offer the same effects and more robust flower. The heavier, fuller flowers of the indica and sativa hybrids are more appealing to consumers and also offer greater variety.