What does "N weeks to flower" mean?

I am very confused by the term “flowering time” or “time to flower”. Leafly says it is “The length of time it takes a cannabis plant to flower, or grow buds . Different plants have short or long flowering times based on their genetics.” I had come to understand it as “the number of weeks to spend in the flower phase before you can harvest.” That’s based on seeing a lot of people posting about flowering for 8 weeks, or so I understood it. Could someone kindly explain this term to this beginner?

Also, thank you all for your generosity in answering my many questions.

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Yeah you’ve got it right. It’s the breeders estimate as to when you can harvest - like tomatoes. It’s around that time when you want to check the buds for ripeness.

They’ve got it pretty accurate for the photoperiod varieties, at least the ones I’ve grown. I’ve heard quite a few folks here report a lot of variance in the estimates for autoflower varieties, but I’ve yet to grow any myself.

Here’s a ripeness chart a lot of us refer to:


Thanks. I had that clear/cloudy trichome stuff already from a commercial grower who posted to YouTube, but the terminology on flowering time seemed to conflict.

Awesome chart. Been looking for one like this. TY