Germination is the transformation of a seed to a plant; it is where your cannabis plants start their life. Therefore, it is important to germinate marijuana seeds in the right way to ensure a quality harvest. Marijuana seeds are available from various sources and have varied qualities.
Germination of cannabis seeds
Look for mature seeds that have dark brown covering with a hard feel and lighter accents. Seeds that appear green and feel fresh have not attained full maturity. Germinating marijuana seeds is done in many ways where some methods have a higher success rate than others. This article will illustrate various methods to germinate marijuana seeds to ensure that you achieve the best results.
SEEDLING PLUGS AND STARTER CUBES
This is the best seed germination method as it is simple and reliable. There are endless options for starter cubes but the most common ones are made of peat or Rockwool. The two methods have slight differences but they determine how you will grow the plants post germination.
Peat plugs are the organic option, which sometimes have a starter nutrient charge that is useful in germination of young seedlings. Peat plugs contain large amounts of water than air in comparison to Rockwool cubes, making them unsuitable for hydroponic growth.
They are composed of compacted peat, which comprises partly decomposed vegetable materials and is just delicious for young plants. The pellets enlarge when immersed in water, which forms an alternative to nutrient-dense soil around the germinating seeds.
Peat has a TDS of 625 and a pH of 5.5, which makes it readily optimized to germinate marijuana seeds; no adjustments are required. You only have to soak the pellets in lukewarm water. When you spot the first root transfer the pellet into rock wool, soil, or coco coir to continue the growth process.
On the other hand, Rockwool cubes have fibrous wool-like material that allow air exchange and water, which is perfect for hydroponics. The mineral wool is made from limestone, basalt, and volcanic rock. It is man-made through melting of its ingredients to molten lava, which is then spun to produce threads. The threads are then compressed, treated, and cut. Rockwool is an idyllic growing environment, but it needs slight amendments to suit marijuana seeds.
The first adjustment is to add fertilizer before using it; ideal TDS, 600ppm. Secondly, you will have to lower the pH as Rockwool’s Ph is 7.0, which is not ideal for germination as it is too high. You can reduce the pH by soaking the plugs in water for one day; water pH is 5.5 enough to lower Rockwool’s.
It is important to note that Rockwool has serious drawbacks. It is not good for the environment because it is not a naturally occurring substance. Also, it can affect your health hence you are advisable to cover your eyes and mouths, and wear gloves when handling Rockwool. Due to the additional adjustments needed, that is adjustment of pH, nutrients, and handling issues, Rockwool can be challenging for beginners. You need to buy a TDS meter for the germination to succeed. Other than that, Rockwool is easy to find and very affordable. It is the best method to use as it does not need soil to facilitate germination.
- Soak the cubes or plugs in water until they acquire full saturation
- Place the seeds into pre-cut holes located in the plugs; cover the opening with part of the plug material.
- Place the plugs in a tray or square box and use a plastic dome to cover it. This creates an environment with high humidity increasing germination success and is useful to the seedlings after they germination.
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DIRECT PLANTING IN SOIL
Sometimes it is easier to just let the seeds germinate in its final growing medium. Out in the fields, untended marijuana seedlings sprout in soil where they emerge as taproots to grow downwards. Apart from the soil, you can plant the seeds in the ultimate growing medium although some are tougher.
A notable advantage of direct planting in soil or other growing medium is that you avoid shocking the young seedlings when transplanting. Since the seed is in its ultimate resting environment, it will quickly adjust to the environment. Transplanting a sprouted seed causes stress as it needs to readjust to the new surroundings.
- Buy quality soil from a credible supplier. The soil should have good drainage to facilitate air exchange; seeds require moisture but not to the extent of drowning them.
- Plant the seeds at the correct depth. It is advisable to use a depth that is two times deeper than the seed width.
- Water the seeds by soaking the container with the soil in a tray with about one inch of water. This will uniformly moisten the soil, preventing over-watering. It is also the perfect condition for seed germination.
Planting directly into the soil is good but if you are not careful, you can have problems. Seeds require water and air to germinate, if there is too much of any of these components, germination will not occur. If you plant too deep, the seed will not have enough energy to get to the surface; this will starve the seedling leading to its death. Alternatively, if the depth is not enough, the seedling will dry out or fail to obtain moisture necessary for germination.
SOAK SEEDS IN WATer
Another way of germinating marijuana seeds is by soaking them in water overnight. The water should be lukewarm and it is mainly put in a drinking cup or glass. The method is mostly preferred for seeds with extra hard shells or older seeds that are over several years old. The warm overnight soaking helps ‘wake up’ aged seeds. If the seeds are viable, they will start by floating and then settle at the bottom of the glass after being in water for a few hours. If you are using a clear water glass, the white tap root will be visible as soon as it breaks out of the shell.
Some seeds sprout more slowly than others. Older seeds take longer to break through the shell, but if you soak them for too long without sprouting, they will drown. Therefore, seeds should soak for 24-32 hours to avoid drowning. If the seeds have not germinated after soaking for 24 hours, put them in a moist and warm place to complete the process.
- Soak your seeds in a container with clean water and leave them overnight or for 12 hours.
- After the 12 hours have elapsed, remove the seeds with clean hands or sterilized tweezers. Transplant the seeds without delay into your growing medium; the soil or a plug.
Before removing the seeds, tap the ones that are still floating and observe which float and which sink. The seeds that sink is an indication that they have absorbed enough water, which is ideal for germination. Floating seeds indicate that they did not absorb water, which minimizes their probability of germinating. Soaking the seeds in water increases the rate of germination; it prepares the seed by absorbing water and breaking dormancy making it ready to break the initial roots.
USING PAPER TOWELS
Wet paper towels are another way to germinate feminized marijuana seeds. This is done by placing your seeds on a wet paper towel, fold the towel with the seeds in it, and place it in a warm place.
Cheap towels are the best! Cheap paper towels are the best choice with this method as they are non-porous. Seeds and their emerging roots lay on the paper towel without attaching on anything. Paper towels that feel like a piece of cloth are not good for germination as the roots will grow inside the towel in place of lying on top.
Germinating marijuana seeds using a paper towel puts the tap root at a risk of damage when transplanting. Therefore, be cautious when assessing for sprouts and when transplanting. Also, there is a possibility the towel drying out, which will result in your seeds dying. To prevent this, put the paper towel under a bowl or place it between two plates to minimize evaporation.
Check the seeds after every 12 hours and don’t interfere with them or the roots. You can take out the seeds that already have roots or wait for another day for the others to sprout.
The biggest problem with using paper towels for germination is the additional handling. Despite being careful with the seedlings and observing cleanliness, you can still contaminate the seedlings. Early damage and contamination will kill the seedlings or cause stunted growth.
HOW TO PLANT THE GERMINATED MARIJUANA SEEDS
Once the autoflower marijuana seeds sprout, it is time to plant them. Avoid touching the white taproot with bare hands, use tweezers if available. If you break or touch the root, it can survive but will have stunted and slow growth from the start.
Roots facing downwards
The white root of the seedling should be planted facing downward, with a depth the size of a knuckle. The upper part of the seedling should be below the surface of the soil or the alternative growing medium you are using. The young seedling will take a few days to emerge from the growing medium. If it has not yet emerged after 10 days from the day of transplanting, chances are that it won’t make it. It is normal to lose some seeds even after observing best practices and using high quality seeds.
Sometimes the taproot comes out bent or curved; do not attempt to straighten it. Other times the shell sticks on the seedling, it falls off without your help. But, if it is really stuck, gently remove the shell to save the seedling although you might damage it if not careful. After safely transplanting your seedlings, turn on the grow light. The heat emanating from the lamp helps in improving germination rates, and also helps the marijuana seedlings open their initial leaves. As a matter of fact, the initial leaves often remain yellow until they receive light.
If you intend to transplant your seedlings for a second time, wait until they are deep-rooted with several sets of leaves. You can grow seedlings in a peat pot and just cut it when you need to transplant again. However, constant transplanting the seedlings stresses them out, which stunts their growth; they can even die from too much stress. It is therefore advisable to have a clear plan from the start to minimize movement of the seedlings. When they get bigger, it will be easier to handle them as they can withstand more movement and stress.
Apart from the material you used to germinate marijuana seeds, positive results will be achieved through a proper grow environment. The seeds require the right temperature and moisture levels to germinate into strong and healthy plants. Here are tips to create the best germination environment.
WATERING SPROUTING SEEDS
Sufficient water supply is vital in the life of the marijuana plant, which includes the germination stage. Insufficient water leads to your seeds not germinating while too much water kills the seeds. Excess amounts of water prevent oxygen from reaching the roots and also attracts mold; hence you should be extra careful when watering the seeds.
If you are germinating your marijuana seeds indoors using soil, it is easy to observe water levels. Water the seeds until water starts dripping underneath. Evaporation occurs quickly; therefore, ensure that water is always available. If you water until it drips from below, moisture should last for a few days.
Temperature and Lighting
Just like water, a marijuana plant needs lighting. When the plant is mature, light enables it to create sugars from water and carbon dioxide. The sugars are then used to aid its growth; this is what we call photosynthesis. Sufficient lighting is beneficial to a seed in providing heat necessary to help it open the shell and direct the root downwards into the earth.
The most ideal method of giving light to your seeds is through fluorescent lights. These types of lights are fitting because they do not produce too much heat and consume little power. Place the light close to the young plant to help the first leaves when they emerge from the soil.
Incandescent light bulbs are also useful in generating heat, but they cannot be used as grow lights; they work better in germination. There are also seedling heating pads that are available in a gardening store near you. The heating pad heats the seeds from the bottom; however, these are not sufficient when the plant starts growing.
The soil temperature should be around 72 degrees, if the temperature is higher than this, remove the lamp near the plant. Marijuana seeds need warm and humid temperatures to germinate, such as are available in springtime. You can generate a humid environment by wrapping the pot with a plastic wrap to create a biodome for the plants. But, remember to remove the plastic wrapping as soon as you spot the first sprouts emerging from the soil.
WHICH IS THE BEST PLACE TO GERMINATE MARIJUANA SEEDS?
When planning to grow your marijuana outdoors, it would be best to germinate the seeds indoors. The reason is that maintaining water levels, temperature, and light exposure is much easier indoors. Do not start your plant’s life outdoors even if the ultimate growing medium is located outdoors. There are clouds, rain, and other harmful things outside that will prevent sprouting of your seeds. Also, you cannot germinate your seeds outdoors at any time; you have to await passing of the final frost. Germinating the seeds indoors will put you ahead and provide your plants with a better chance of survival.
If you insist on germinating outdoors, pick a location that will house the plants to its maturity. Take time while choosing the growing space as you will not move the plant. Wait for corn planting season to plant the seeds. Dig holes with a spacing of three feet and put potting soil in the soil. The soil contains sufficient starting nutrients. Inside the potting soil, dig a ¼ inch deep hole and place the side inside. Water the soak to soaking point and repeat after a few days if its warm enough. Before the plants emerge from the soil, cover the soil with row covers for protection of the seeds and maintenance of warmth in the area; remove them as soon as the plants break out.
The main benefit of germinating your seeds outdoors when you also want to grow them under the same environment is that they have enough time to adjust. By the time the first root appears, the plant will have adjusted to outdoor conditions, which will minimize their shock and stress when moved to another outdoor location.
Remember to space the plants as they can spread out quite a lot, be aware of your area’s weather patterns, be on the lookout for seed eating animals, and germinate using potting soil as it has the right nutrient amounts.